Red Egg and Ginger Party!

I had the pleasure of making sugar cookies for a Red Egg and Ginger party for the little Miss Selah, Aletheia and Josiah’s beautiful daughter. A Red Egg and Ginger party is a Chinese tradition for newborns, typically occurring one month after they are born to celebrate and welcome them. Eggs are a symbol of fertility and red is a color of good luck, so hard boiled eggs are typically dyed red and present as a symbol at the party.

Aletheia wanted to send all of her guests home with a lucky red egg favor, so asked me to make red egg cookies with a little “S” and heart on them, in gold. IMG_2914I outlined and flooded the egg shaped sugar cookies with red royal icing.

IMG_2917After drying, I added a little “s” and heart.

DSCN0277A tin of cookies!

IMG_2923 All packaged and ready for the favors.

Welcome, little Selah! 🙂

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Steph! We are so sad you are Mooo-ving!

Good-byes are never fun, but are still an occasion for cake. Our dear friend Steph got an amazing job opportunity in Switzerland, and of course we wanted to send her off in style. What’s a better theme for her going-away party than good ol’ America! (‘Murica will miss you, Steph) We started off with some red, white, and blue cupcakes- frosted in buttercream and dusted with red and blue sanding sugar.

IMG_2638I actually never have “official” colored sanding sugar on hand- I guess I don’t use it too much- so usually end up making my own version. It’s not as shiny and the crystals aren’t as large as store-bought sanding sugar, but it works! I usually just add a dab of gel food coloring to a zip lock baggie with normal sugar and massage it around a bit.

The second half of our going-away cake… took a little bit of brainstorming. Lauren, Meg, and I were trying to think of something somewhat Swiss (before we knew the theme of America, because otherwise we could’ve done a hot dog or something)… and came up with a cow. Yep, a Swiss cow- kind of like the type you’d see on a Milka wrapper.

2.2.1_milka_cowExcept, not purple. Anyways… having decided this, we dove straight in and made a cow cake:

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It’s a layered 9×13 funfetti cake with buttercream and fondant. I had to carve the cake a bit to make the curvy shape, but I’m happy we made it work with just the 9×13.

So post cake making, we’re proud of our cow but don’t really understand how we are going to present it… the theme just didn’t make sense. Then, a light bulb moment. Meg rolls in and says, “We are so sad you’re Mooooo-ving!”

Have you ever had a moment of realization like that? As soon as she said that, we were completely dumbfounded at how obvious and fun that was, but how none of us saw it earlier. Nevertheless, we were happy that our cow now made more sense. 🙂

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Here’s our little bovine friend at the party, with a Milka eyepatch and a Swiss Flag in the cupcake by his left ear. We’re having cake steak!

We miss you, Steph! Come visit soon 🙂

Christmas Cookies!

I know it’s only 4 months past Christmas 2013…. but never too late to revisit some Christmas cookie making. As you can see, I’m catching up on my post backlog 🙂

I had the girls over for a Christmas cookie decorating party and wanted to post the fruits of our labor. We had an assortment of sugar cookies and gingerbread cookies. I love the basic sugar cookie recipe by Sweet Sugar Belle, found here. There really is minimal spreading during baking, hence less cookie shape distortion. As far as the gingerbread, I just used the Pillsbury ready-made cookie dough- which surprisingly holds it’s shape well and also tastes delicious!

Steph's Iphone 1893The cookie spread!

Steph's Iphone 1885We had a few standard Christmas cookies- candy canes, Santas, reindeer… and then some unique ones- ninja bread men, Hawaiian gingerbread men…a Spartan mitten!

  Steph's Iphone 1887Lauren brought an ugly sweater cookie cutter and decorated these amazing little gems! So stylish.

Steph's Iphone 1888Another fun assortment by the crew- Steph, Nancy, Meg, Karen & Lauren!

Only 8 more months till our next round 😉

 

 

 

Doughnuts, anyone?

Occasionally, I like the shake it up a bit. And this time, instead of turning on the oven, I opted for a deep fryer. Well, a ghetto version of a deep fryer, that is. What was that delicious fried pastry that captured my interest? Glad you asked. Apple Cider Doughnuts. So heavenly! I had them for the first time at an apple orchard in the fall and I really wanted to try to replicate them. I didn’t really get close, as mine were more dense and cakey with a crisp exterior than soft, lighter and slightly chewy, but it was a good exercise in frying something (for the first time!). It got me on a doughnut kick and believe me, I’m working on becoming a connoisseur. (Of eating them, not making them.) I had to clarify.

Steph's Iphone 1651

I’m also trying to keep the recipes that I use on here for anyone who wishes to try them! So here’s a copy of the one I used. I found this recipe on the Food 52 blog via a Yahoo article. It seemed straightforward… Find the original blog with pictures here.

Apple Cider Donuts (originally from Food52 blog)

Makes 10 to 12 donuts, plus donut holes

1 cup apple cider
2 3/4 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons non-hydrogenated shortening (or lard, if you have it)
1 egg plus one egg yolk
1/3 cup buttermilk

2 1/4-inch and 1 1/4-inch round cookie cutters

Canola oil, for frying
1/2 cup sugar, for topping
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, for topping

First, boil and reduce your apple cider until it reduces to 1/3 cup, and then set it aside to cool while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Sift your dry ingredients, and cream your shortening and sugar together. Add in the egg and egg yolk and mix on high (with a handheld mixer or stand mixer) until light and thickened, about 5 minutes.

Combine the reduced apple cider and buttermilk. Then alternate adding the flour mixture and the milk mixture to your stand (or handheld) mixer, until just combined. The dough will be soft and sticky, much like cookie dough.

Transfer the mixture to a clean bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough for at least one hour or overnight.

When you are ready to roll and fry the donuts, heat a large pot or dutch oven with at least 2 inches of oil over medium heat until the oil reaches 370° F on a candy thermometer. (Note: I used an electric skillet with a temperature control unit… see pictures below… ). On a generously floured board or piece of parchment paper, gently roll the chilled dough into a circle about 1/2-inch thick and about 8 inches wide.

Steph's Iphone 1663Fry the doughnuts until they are deep golden brown on each side, (I timed it for 1 min each side) remove them from the oil, gently blot off excess oil, and toss immediately in the cinnamon sugar.imageI found that chopsticks and tongs helped a lot in this process.Steph's Iphone 1666Doughnuts!

Steph's Iphone 1669Crispy on the outside, dense on the inside.

Steph's Iphone 1670My doughnut “holes” didn’t exactly stay round, but that didn’t change their flavor (which, surprisingly, isn’t like apple cider, but more just cinnamon sugar).

I noticed that at the apple orchard, the doughnut batter was more like cake batter and less like a dough that you can roll out. Perhaps achieving this will be my next doughnut endeavor! Till then, Happy Frying 🙂