Monday, December 31, 2012

The Tastiest Gift Of All

My oldest daughter turned a whopping *9* years old right before Christmas.

I honestly can't figure out where the time goes.

When i asked her what kind of birthday cake she wanted this year, she said "I want my cake to be a present, with a bow made out of fondant."

I told her i had never done a bow before. She said "I know! I am challenging you!"

Oh, boy. No more Cake Boss for her! See what i got myself into? A kid who wants to challenge mom's skills! Let's face it, each cake is a new experience anyhow, but she really went for one of those techniques that make me freak out on the inside.

I went onto YouTube and started watching some videos on making fondant bows. These ladies make it look so easy.

Turns out, they're not easy at all!

It might help if i had a ribbon cutter. But i don't. I thought it looked like something i could do freehand with my knife and a ruler. Then i came up with the idea to use the guides on my large fondant roller to help me out. I probably would have been better off with a stick ruler. Lesson learned.

I was kind of rushed, so i didn't do any pictures of the process. I had 5 kids under the age of 9 in my house all weekend, the youngest being not even 2, so i skipped all that.

I was semi-pleased with my result. I am a big perfectionist, and the bow was driving me insane. I should have stayed up extra late cutting ribbon pieces to dry overnight instead of assuming a couple of hours dry time would be enough.

It's difficult to see in the photos but i used lustre dust (in gold) all over the cake with a dry brush. I didn't brush the bow loops because they were already wanting to sink and i didn't want to encourage them. The whole cake glittered and it was a really lovely effect, and much nicer than plain matte teal.

I definitely think i could improve a lot of things on my next attempt at bows, but that's what i am all about. You have to try it in order to learn.

I have some new tools to add to my wish list, and a new cake under my belt, and my daughter was happy, and my kids being happy on their birthdays makes every cake i make for them a success!


I was still cranky about the bow but i did the best i could, and for my first attempt, i think it was decent enough.

I also hope it's awhile before i need to do another one. I need to practice.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies

My Mother-in-law wanted to move up Christmas this year.

Yes, the whole end-of-the-world thing.

Being the good DIL i am, and for a dreamer, rather grounded in reality, i had to poke a little fun at her. It's my job, right? Keep everyone real. Because, honestly, i prefer my flights of fancy as solo trips, or at least i want to bring a good friend with a good sense of humour along.

Originally, i had a whole menu of desserts and appetizers planned. But as the family dinner approached, i lost steam. Part of it might have been guilt. Because i love my MIL and would never hurt her feelings on purpose. To be fair, i ran the idea past her first. I asked her how she felt about it, and she didn't seem to care, but she wondered if anyone would have the appetite for all that after a big Christmas dinner. I also figured this into my plans and i decided that it was a bit overkill, but i had to do something, because it's not every day your family holiday gatherings get moved around for possible cosmic calamity.

Martha always has some good ideas. My Google-fu skills take me to her page quite often. She intrigues me and makes me try new things. She's like my crack dealer, but my crack comes in the form of recipes and food and decor tricks.

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies (From Martha Stewart)

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon chile powder (optional)

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down side of bowl. Add eggs and beat to combine. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture and beat until combined.
  • In a small bowl, combine remaining 1/4 cup sugar, cinnamon, and chile powder (if using). Using heaping tablespoons, form balls of dough and roll in cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place, about 3 inches apart, on two parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until cookies are set in center and begin to crack, about 10 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Let cookies cool on sheets on wire racks 5 minutes, then transfer cookies to racks to cool completely. (Store in an airtight container, up to 1 week.)

(Note: I used ground Chipotle powder as the chile pepper for my cookies, because i was trying to be Mayan-authentic. You can probably use whatever chile powder floats your boat, but this has a nice heat to it without being an overpowering taste.)

Just roll your cookie dough around and get it coated.

They are very similar to Crackle cookies, and were firm. I let them cool on the tray for a couple minute and them removed them to a rack to cool the rest of the way.

Even though my MIL didn't think she'd like them, she asked me to leave her a bag of them when we left.

I also made a batch of Alton Brown's hot cocoa mix. I brought a canister with me so i could have a little hot cocoa bar. I kind of made i up as i went along with what i had in my kitchen. I brought marshmallows (of course), whipped cream (in a can), peppermint and vanilla extracts, Christmas nonpariel sprinkles, ground chipotle pepper, candy canes, and Hershey's chocolate syrup.

My cocoa pictures aren't the greatest, because for some reason i was trying to take pictures on my phone instead of my camera. But it was delicious, no matter how you chose to have it.

This one you can see that we were decadent and had marshmallows under the whipped cream, which was interesting. The girls had to have sprinkles, of course.

My husband went for the more exotic cocoa sprinkled with chipotle powder drizzled with chocolate syrup. Yum!

Me personally, i added a few drops of vanilla extract, added a few marshmallows and a dollop of whipped cream, plus sprinkles.

I have a cute idea for a Hot Cocoa bar for Christmas, when things are going to be quiet and we can spend all day in our jammies playing with presents. The kids will love it, and maybe we'll make the adult cocoa Irish.

Hopefully it helped take the weird out of having Christmas almost 2 weeks early at Grandma's house.

I hope to have more posts coming soon as i complete more of my Holiday treats list.