Little Bunny Family

A few weeks ago, my friend Melissa texted me a picture of two bunnies sitting side by side. In the picture, you see their backs as they look out into the sky behind them. It looks like they are either enjoying a nice conversation, or enjoying a comfortable silence together. Either way, they were obviously bunny friends having a nice time together.  She said she had sent the picture to our other friend, Kim, because it reminded her of them. Then, she said, she looked at it and it reminded her of me and my kids. I’m kind of obsessed with them. I really liked that, the idea of sitting and looking at the stars with a child on either side of me, talking about their day.

So I made the idea into cookies.

Easter Bunnies (Ellie's Bites)

The larger of the bunnies is my absolute most favorite cookie cutter for Easter (it came in a two pack with a carrot last year or the year before from Walmart or Target- I really should have been more diligent about remembering). You could make it a front facing bunny, absolutely, and give it a little face with whiskers and eyes, and little buck teeth, maybe include little paws holding a little carrot. Absolutely. (I may be a little dependent on the word “absolutely”?) Since I was making this based on a picture of bunnies facing AWAY from the camera, I made their backs… with little sugar bead cotton tails.

Since this is my ABSOLUTE favorite Easter bunny cutter, I wanted to make a smaller version of the same shape to be my little bunny Ellie and bunny Ben. This is what I came up with.

Mini Easter Bunny (Ellie's Bites)

I used the mini bunny face (again, I forget where this is from- maybe Wilton’s Easter mini set?) and a small heart (that I KNOW came from Wilton’s graduated heart set). I cut out the bunny face, and a heart. Then I used the pointy part of the heart to cut a notch into the bunny face. I fit the heart, upside down, into the notch, then used a knife to cut the heart flat. Then I used my fingers to pinch the bottom of the heart into two little feet. Now we have little mini bunnies that match my favorite bunny cutter!

This is a quick easy bunny set you can make if you need something for tomorrow. After baking your bunnies and letting them cool, mix up your icing and divide it into several bowls. (As many bowls as shades of icing you want.) Dye one bowl with white food coloring (if you use clear vanilla in your recipe, you may not need to do this.) If you want an ombre shading like I did, line your bowls up next to each other. Start with two drops of color in the first bowl, one drop in the second, one drop of color with a drop of white in the next, and one drop of color with two drops of white in the last. Reserve some white thick icing for outlining. Thin the rest of the white and all of the colors down to a thicker flooding consistency. I like about a five second count for this.

Outline your bunnies with white and let them set for a few minutes. Then begin to flood your bunnies with your colored icing. Do one to two at a time (depending on your climate and how fast your icing dries) then add your white polka dots while your colored base is still wet. Add a large sugar bead for a tail. Continue until all of your bunnies are covered and dotted and… tailed. Let dry completely, or overnight if you can.

So, speaking of my friend, Kim. Keep and eye out for her blog, The Cookie Puzzle, all throughout April.

Speaking of Melissa, I’m linking these bunnies to her blog, Simply Sweets by Honeybee for Simply Sweet Saturdays.

 Simply Sweets by Honeybee

Chocolate Cherry Almond Cookies

I had never tried a baking emulsion until last week. One of my best baking/blogging friends sent me a bottle of lemon emulsion and I really want to try it, but I am waiting for warmer, Springier, more lemony type, weather. So with my curiosity about baking emulsions piqued and an extra twenty dollars floating around my bag, I ran into Home Goods (because of it’s reputation for carrying a wide assortment of discounted baking emulsions) to see what I could find. I didn’t hit the jackpot, but the trip was worthwhile. I found a bottle of vanilla bean paste (another thing I have been meaning to try) and almond emulsion.

When I got home, I opened the bottle of almond emulsion- just to smell it- and it reminded me of something I haven’t thought about in years. Amaretto. Back in my college, just starting to discover alcohol, but not sophisticated enough to try something that doesn’t taste like dessert days, one of my favorites was Amaretto and cream. I know- I’m trying not to think about how many calories I consumed in an average night. But there is something about the memory of that flavor that I wanted to try to capture in an actual dessert (now that I focus on EATING my calories instead of DRINKING them). And there is something about approaching Valentines Day that makes me want to cover the whole thing in chocolate.

Chocolate Cherry Almond Cookies (Ellie's Bites)So- firstly: is the picture a little busy? I got carried away with the Valentines features on PicMonkey (almost carried away enough to sign up for the paid package). Secondly: I’m going to share the recipe I used,because it tasted REALLY good, however something happened in the baking process which caused the surface to bump and crack a little. I’m not sure what it was and I’ll play around a little the next time I can make cookies for fun and see if I can find the issue. Since they are covered in chocolate, the surface of the cookie didn’t matter much. In fact, I also used some cookies from this batch for a few upcoming projects and the surface didn’t even effect the royal icing. SO it might not even matter.

Chocolate Cherry Almond Cookies (adapted from LilaLoa’s Vanilla Variation)

  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter- room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
  • 1 tsp almond emulsion
  • 2 large eggs-room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips (or semisweet chocolate finely chopped)
  • 1/2 cup almonds (finely chopped in a food processor)
  • 1/2 cup dried sour cherries (cut into small pieces)
  1. Preheat oven to 375F, line your baking sheets with parchment
  2. In a standing mixer, beat the butter until it is soft- scrape the sides of the bowl if needed
  3. Add the sugar and beat until fluffy
  4. Add the vanilla and almond emulsion, then add each egg beating between additions
  5. Add baking powder and salt, mix until combined
  6. Add flour- one cup at a time and mix until combined.
  7. Using about a quarter of the dough at a time, knead the dough until a smooth ball forms (you may need to coat your surface with a bit of flour, but the dough shouldn’t be too sticky). Roll out the dough to 3/8 inch and cut out your shapes.
  8. Bake for about 9-12 minutes depending on your oven. I checked after nine and needed another 1 1/2.
  9. When the cookies are finished, take them out of the oven and immediately sprinkle with about 1 tbsp chocolate chips (depending on the size of your shape)
  10. Let the chocolate sit for about 2-3 minutes until it starts to melt then use an off set spatula to spread the chocolate.
  11. Immediately drop on some cherries and chopped almonds.
  12. Let the cookie sit until the chocolate hardens and the cookie cools completely.

Chocolate Cherry Almond cookies Collage

If you let these sit for a day or two, in an airtight container, the cookie will get really soft and the flavors of the chocolate, cherry, and almond will marry. In this case, it’s okay to have a marriage of three.

Chocolate Almond Cherry Cookies (Ellie's Bites)

Yes, that heart bokeh is one of the PicMonkey effects.

 Simply Sweets by Honeybee

Orange Chocolate Chip Roll Out Cookies

So, I am apologizing in advance if I say anything today that makes no sense. If you read my post last week, you might remember Ben started climbing out of his crib. So, we converted his crib to a toddler bed, and gated his door. And sometimes to get him to sleep I would have to rock him.

That didn’t last long, as soon as I’d get him to sleep and try to lay him down, he’d wake up and that was it for the nap. So I started just leaving him in his room, eventually he’d fall asleep, or at least play quietly for a while.

Last Saturday, he figured out how to get over the gate. He used anything he could push up to the door to boost himself up. So bit by bit, I removed his box of diapers, laundry basket, ottoman, and even rocking chair from his room.

Yesterday, Bryan called me at work to say we have a problem. He (Bryan) was in the shower while Ben was “napping” when all of a sudden he hears, “Hi Daddy” and peeks out of the shower door to see Ben standing there wearing all of his sister’s jewelry.

How did he get over the gate this time? He removed the bed rail (the thing that keeps him from falling out of bed) and propped it up against the gate and just scaled it like a tiny mountain.

I have been so exhausted that, when I went to make cookies for Bryan to take to work for Nurse’s Appreciation Week, I wanted to make a recipe that could stand on it’s own without any icing. I was just too darned lazy to base coat these.

(Forgive the picture, too. It was taken at night.)

Ever since LilaLoa shared her vanilla variation, it has become my go to recipe. It tastes similar enough to the cookies I have been making for the past five years, but they are soft, and stay soft literally for weeks. They hold their shape, and the edges don’t brown. They are amazing.

I wanted to try to bring out the orange flavor a little and I remembered another amazing cookier, Sweet Ambs, and the description of her recipe on her Etsy page. I was intrigued by the thought of adding cardamom to the cookie, but since I am not all to familiar with that spice, I was hesitant to buy a whole jar of it. Then I discovered that Whole Foods sells some of the rarer spices in bulk, so you can just scoop a little into a baggie and give it a try!

So I brought home my new spice, and set out on a Google search, hoping to find a recipe that would give me a guideline as far as how much to use. It is a pretty powerful spice. Most of the recipes I found were for chocolate cardamom cookies. And since I love the taste of dark chocolate and oranges, my recipe was born!

Orange Chocolate Chip Cookies   Adapted from LilaLoa and inspired by SweetAmbs

  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1-2 tbsp orange zest
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1-2 tsp orange extract
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom (more or less depending on your preference, 1/4 tsp was perfect for me)
  • 4 1/2 cups flour (see note about the flour on the original recipe)
  • 1 cup mini semisweet or dark chocolate chips
  1. In a small bowl, add the orange zest to about 1/2 cup of the sugar and mash them together with a pestal or the back of a fork.
  2. Cream the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer and add the orange sugar, then the regular sugar. Beat them together until fluffy.
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla and orange extracts. Mix well.
  4. Add the salt, baking powder, and cardamom, and mix.
  5. Add the flour a bit at a time and mix after each addition.
  6. Mix in the chocolate chips.
  7. Preheat oven to 375F
  8. Turn 1/3 of the  dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead it until it forms a smooth ball.
  9. Roll out with a lightly floured rolling pin to 1/4 inch, and cut out your shapes.
  10. Move shapes to a parchment covered baking sheet and chill while the oven finishes preheating.
  11. Bake for 7 1/2- 8 minutes.
  12. Let cool before decorating.
  13. Repeat with the other 2/3 of dough.

Just a note, you’ll want to use a sharp, sturdy cutter to get through the chocolate chips.

Also, these cookies taste just as good with a coat of royal icing. I used them for my mother’s day cookies. I will share them later this week!

These cookies will not make your children sleep, but they might make it easier for you to ignore the fact that they are not. (But if you are interested, the only sound I have heard for the last half hour from upstairs is the sound of furious pacifier sucking!!!!)

Another Daisy Cookie

Remember when I participated in Haniela’s “Smell the Flowers” cookie party? I was so nervous that I made several versions of daisies and I said I would probably be sharing some of them? Here is another, I call it a “field of daisies”.

When I asked just about everyone I knew which version they liked best, all but one person liked these. But that one other person said what I wanted to hear, so I used the other one. This one, though is just as easy to make.

Start with a square or shape of your choice and outline and flood in the color of your choice. I used sky blue, but I think a light green would look great.

Immediately after flooding, drop several yellow dots (in the same consistency as your background icing), and drop five smaller white dots around each yellow dot. Pipe green “stems” from each “flower” to the base of the cookie. Then allow them to dry overnight.

Once thoroughly dried, go back and pipe (with a piping consistency icing) several yellow dots with five white dots around each yellow dot, and green “stems” from each “flower” to the base of the cookie. Allow them to dry a few hours before wrapping them up, or a few minutes before eating them :)

Enjoy your weekend!

A “Cookie Monster” Birthday (Part 2)

I’m hoping my computer holds out just long enough so that I can share the rest of the party treats with you!

Let’s see. I already shared the cake and cupcakes. There was another dish at the dessert table and that one held cookies.

The pictures I took at home came out much better than the pictures from the party. These minis were served on a plate of chocolate chip cookies.

And these cookies went into the favor bags.

Just one more, because I love how these cute little guys turned out!!!

Each of these “Cookie Monsters” was packed into a cellophane bag with a large chocolate chip cookie, and tied with a ribbon.

I made enough of those to include in the goody bags, and I also put some out in a basket for the moms and dads to take home.

Along with the cookies, the kids each got a monster mask (found at Target) and a MYO monster plush (I found those at 5 Below). Do you see Wendi’s monster on the bags?

So my little monster had a blast, and I am told all of the kids enjoyed themselves. I hope they all slept as well that night as my kids did!!

One last picture…

I would LOVE to know what Ellie and her cousin are talking about here. Any guesses? (There were a few very cute five year old boys at the party. Could it be starting already?)

I hope you enjoyed looking at the pictures of the treats as much as we enjoyed eating them!

Birthday Cookies For A Special Birthday

When a friend of my parents contacted me to ask if I could make cookies for her mother’s birthday party, of course I said yes! She would need a total of sixty.

She really liked the hearts I made for Ellie, so she asked for some of those with her mother’s name. Her favorite color is lavender, so lavender hearts it was. She also wanted some shamrocks. So I made some shamrock cookies, and some fancy cookies with some lavender polka dots, and a shamrock. Twenty of each style. No problem!!

She was going to pick them up from me on Thursday (yesterday).

So, Monday, she calls me at work to ask for seventy five cookies instead, because she got a few more RSVPs. No problem!

Tuesday morning she calls to say there were a few more RSVPs, can we make it eighty five? No problem (I made ninety five just to be safe.)

The moral of the story…..

NO ONE RSVPs “no” to a 100th birthday party. (And apparently those who said they couldn’t be there changed their plans to be able to go!)

Happy 100th Birthday, Agnes! Thank you for allowing me to bake for such a special occasion!

 

*****Update*****

It occurred to me later, that it may be insensitive to say that I was able to whip up an extra 35 cookies with three days notice. So I just want to add that I do not have a business baking cookies, I only do it for fun, family, and friends. I didn’t have any other cookies to bake this week, and I really didn’t have much going on other than my typical weekly stuff and some extra Girl Scout things. I was STILL up til 1-2AM finishing up! Please don’t take this to mean that anyone with a baking business and many clients should be able to squeeze in so many additional cookies on short notice! I love all of the cookie friends I have made, and I know how hard they work to manage their businesses and make beautiful baked goods at the same time! OK, I feel better, lol!

I Heart….

So it has been so long since I have posted anything, that I almost forgot my password to WordPress. Whoops!

These cookies were inspired by a conversation I had with my almost two-year-old son. It went something like this-

Me: “I love you, Ben!!!!” (kiss kiss kiss hug hug hug….)

Ben: (looking over my shoulder) “ELMO!!!!!!” (Squirms out of my arms to get the book he spotted on the floor)

Hmmm. I rank somewhere below Elmo.

Definitely below Cookie Monster. And some days, I feel like I even come after the Mouse from “If You Give A Mouse A Cookie”.

Oh well. He loved me enough when I gave him this:

And, of course, for Ellie who tells me she loves me a million times a day (and not always followed by “can I have…?”) I made a version for her, too.

I know she loves me more than she loves Hello Kitty. But I think I still rank a little lower than Rebecca, her American Girl Doll.

Someday they’ll appreciate me. I think I learned to appreciate my parents somewhere around my junior year of college.

I am linking this post to SugarBelle’s Valentines Roundup

I am linking this post to Kitchen Fun With My Three Sons

Personal Style

When you started making cookies, did you start out with a style of your own, or did you see so many great cookies out there with such a wide range of styles, that you wanted to be them all? Me too. I mean, be them all. I wanted to make really cool puffy and full looking cookies like SugarBelle, and I wanted to make gorgeous detailed cookies like Ali Bee’s, and I wanted to make unreal cookies like JP Creatibles, and for a while I outlined everything in black like something I had seen on Sweetopia. And the list could go on and on forever. In the beginning, I just flat out copied other cookies I saw and liked (if you ever see one on FaceBook or Flickr, please remind me who did it originally and  I will be sure to go back and give credit).

Anyway, I have a point! As much as we would like to make cookies EXACTLY like our cookie idol, and sometimes like more than one of them, at some point we find our own style and that’s when we know we have it in us to make some gorgeous cookies.

A few months ago, a friend asked me to make some baby cookies for a shower. She gave me NO information, just that they didn’t know the baby’s gender, there was no theme, and no particular color scheme. Then she said, “just do whatever you want, I know they’ll be great” (like she always says, lol). So I mixed up some white, yellow, and green icing, with no real plan in mind, I thought I’d make them white with some cute wet on wet green and yellow designs. Once I started, I HATED them. I cried. I almost threw them out. But I let them dry, and later piped on some details in white. Then I couldn’t stop looking at them. I LOVED them, I almost couldn’t give them up!

I did the same thing with some of my Christmas cookies. I found a swirly tree design I liked on Pinterest, and planned to pipe it onto a tree shaped cookie. At the last minute I decided to pipe on some “lights” using wet-on-wet.

And, besides the red which bled into the green, I loved these, too!

So, even though I didn’t make any New Years Resolutions, (I have so many short and long term goals that I try to maintain all year)  I decided that this year, I would perfect my personal style, and stop trying to be others. I’m not saying that I won’t occasionally follow one of SugarBelle’s awesome tutorials or try to attempt to recreate one of JP Creatibles’ unreal designs. But my goal is to work on my own thing.

So for my first step, I am working on the art of piping. I’ll be doing a lot of piping practice and sharing my pictures here. I really hope to get some feed back and advice!!!

Here is my first set of Valentine Cookies. Can you guess who they are for (rather who was staring at me from the other side of the breakfast bar saying “write my name on that one!”)???

Oh, and I also want to work on my photography skills. I took five pictures of these two cookies and these were the only ones even worth using. So advice there is also welcome.

So do you have any resolutions? Have you found a style you like best?

Ellie’s Halloween Cookies (Day 7)

I won an awesome Halloween cookie care package from Toss Your Cookies which included mini halloween cookie cutters. I made some chocolate cookie dough and added a few drops of black food coloring to make the dough darker (this great idea is courtesy of Lila Loa) and let Ellie loose in the kitchen.

Even Ben got into the action…

The cookies baked, cooled, and the next day, she got to decorate them! I was actually considering letting her try royal icing and piping bags, but at the last second I chickened out and found an emergency container of canned frosting in the pantry (FYI- I’m not talking about a BAKING emergency but that’s our little secret, ok?).

I guess she hasn’t learned if you want to sample the icing, without being caught, don’t sample from the bowl that has been tinted black.

And, of course, Ben got to decorate his.

My best advice would be to eat at your own risk.

Easy Halloween Cookies: Mrs. Frankenstein and Alien Man (How-to)

Did you guess what summer cutters I never got around to using (besides the flowers and the sail boat)?  If you said soft-serve ice cream and the ice cream sundae (from Wilton) then you guessed right!!!!

To make Mrs. Frankenstein, I used the soft-serve ice cream cutter and (using a one-step consistency icing) I gave her a green face:

By “one step” I mean thick enough to make an outline, but thin enough to fill without showing lines (also known as 10 or 20 second icing-mine is usually around 10, any thicker and it is difficult for me to get smooth before it starts to set. I think the variations probably have to do with climate and it has been pretty humid here lately.) I outlined and then filled immediately so the outline wouldn’t show. I allowed this to dry overnight. With the humidity recently, I have had some bleeding issues and didn’t want to take any chances. Plus, it was about 1:30 in the morning.

When the green is set, add a face. And some black streaks in the hair.

I used a drop of the same green icing I used for the face to make the nose, then two big drops of white (using a Wilton #10 tip) immediately adding two drops of black (using a Wilton #5 tip). Go crazy with the hair… this is YOUR Mrs. Frankenstein. (And as I said before, I am not entirely sure she was green in the first place, so creative liberties are welcome to be taken!!!!) BUT if you are prone to bleeding, it is a good idea to make the black streaks first and let them dry for several hours, if not overnight, before adding lighter colors.

Fill in the rest of the hair (if you want to make sections, wait a bit in between each one to add texture) make sure, if you want to add disco dust or sanding sugar, either do those sections first or wait for the others to dry COMPLETELY! Then add any defining facial features or scars (to make her easily identifiable in a line-up if needed).

Alien Man is even easier…. mostly because there is no wrong or right way. I started with the “face”:

Then add “eyes” and a “torso”

Last, give them a “method of movement”.

I imagined my little guys come from a planet with a very rocky terrain, so I gave them wheels and a gliding-hover thing so they wouldn’t be constantly stubbing their toes.

I hope you enjoyed this! I would love to see your version if you decide to try them!

One question- does covering the cookie in silver disco dust make it entirely unappealing to you, or is it just me? I have no problem with white, or rainbow, but for some reason, I can not bring myself to eat the silver ones.

Have a great labor day everyone!! If you want to find me Monday night, I will be curled up on the couch in a little ball sobbing my heart out…….( I think I mentioned Ellie starts Kindergarten on Tuesday….) :,(

I am linking this post to Tip Me Tuesday at Tip Junkie