Friday, February 17, 2012


What with the new jobs and moving and general chaos, it's been a while since I spent any time being creative in the kitchen.

Yup. New job. I started on January 9 at a new company, back in supplier quality. So far, so good! The only fly in my ointment right now is the 26 mile (each way) commute. As much as I love Petunia, gas mileage is NOT her strong suit.

The new job means, of course, new coworkers. And I like most of these people, which is a significant change over the last job and probably has a great deal to do with my willingness to spend hours slaving over hot icing.

I doubled this recipe, and it made 25 heart cookies. Each of them was approx. 3 inches across at their widest, and probably 1/4 inch thick. I LOVE this recipe... it's quick, you don't have to chill anything or fool around with it, it works fine with my kitchenaid mixer; it's forgiving, and since I'm usually baking at 1 am, this is a good thing; and the cookies taste fantastic.

My Mom's Cut-Out Cookie Recipe:
1 stick butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Cream together butter and sugar. When well mixed, add egg and vanilla. Sift together dry ingredients and add gradually. Note: once you start adding flour, you can toughen the cookie with handling. Use a low speed and be gentle - don't mess with the dough any more than you have to.

The dough will be kinda crumbly looking in the bowl. Lightly flour your work surface, grab enough dough to make a softball-sized ball, form the ball, then roll out. Thickness is up to you; I prefer these cookies a bit thicker so 1/4" is perfect. Use your favorite cookie cutters, then place cookies on a lightly greased cookie sheet. I just use my counter as my work space, and the dough will stick a bit. I have an offset spatula (from the Wilton Tent Sale, of course) that I use to remove the cookie from my counter. It is totally worth paying retail for one of these things, just in the sheer frustration saved.

I take my softball-sized ball, roll it out, fit as many cookies in as possible, and then put the bits off to one side. (I save one little bit to use as a thickness gauge for the new ball of dough.) Make another ball from the bowl (finish off what's left in there if doubling) and repeat. After I've used all of the "fresh" dough, I combine the scraps for the second run, and then the third.

Here they are on my wonderful HUGE cookie sheet (also from WTS)...

Bake at 400 degrees. I put them in for 6 minutes, then turn the cookie sheets and give them another 3 - 4 minutes. This will vary with your oven, size and thickness of cookies.

Scoop them off the cookie sheet onto a cooling rack and let them cool completely.

3/4 cup sifted confectionars sugar
~ 3-4 T water
food coloring

For the double batch of cookies, I used 2 cups of confectionars sugar, started with 11 T of water, and then just dumped a bunch more water in until it was the right consistency. Then I put some in another bowl, and added red food coloring. You can just brush the icing on and call it a day. I broke out the syringes, paint brushes, toothpicks, and my sprinkles collection.

For the marbled ones, I used the brush to paint on a layer of icing in one color, then I had another color of icing in the syringe. Put a squiggle of the other color on, then pull a toothpick thru in straight lines like you are drawing a checkerboard. It works better if you "draw" each line in a different direction. (So vertical line up, vertical line down, vertical line up all the way across. Then horizontal line left, then right then left, etc all the way across.)

Once the cookies were iced, I stumbled off to bed and left them to dry.

Any time I use confectioners sugar, I have an explosion with it and have to clean EVERY surface. Seriously, it's like my super power, to make confectioners sugar cover every square inch of my kitchen. Happily, my cabinents are white so it's hard to tell. The visible aftermath was bad enough...

All packed up and ready to go for Valentine's Day:

I brought these in for Valentine's Day on Tuesday. They were joined by my coworker's chocolate cake (OMG, best chocolate cake I've ever eaten!!), and her chocolate covered strawberries.

Then came Thursday, and this coworker's birthday. I'd ended up agreeing to bake the birthday cake but after Tuesday, I decided that bringing this woman a chocolate birthday cake was like bringing inferior tea to the Chinese - maybe not the best idea ever. So I went with a favored standby: Texas Sheetcake.

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups white sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup butter
1 cup water
4 tablespoons cocoa powder

6 tablespoons milk
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 cup butter
4 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a jellyroll pan.
2. Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in mixer bowl.
3. Add butter, water and cocoa to saucepan; bring mixture to a boil then remove from heat. Add cocoa mixture to the flour mixture, mixing until blended.
4. Beat in the buttermilk and eggs.
5. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

6. For the icing: In a large saucepan, combine the milk, cocoa and butter. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat. Stir in the confectioners' sugar and vanilla, mixing until blended. Spread frosting over cake. (Cake can be warm or cool when iced.) If desires, sprinkle nuts over top. (I usually put nuts on half the cake.)

So, yeah. I've pretty much spent the whole week in a sugar coma. I'm going to go have a salad for dinner tonight.