Heaven In A Bag

Heaven In A BagI found this recipe back in 2009 and have been making it ever since. I usually made it and brought it to work, but I didn’t want everyone sticking their hands in the fudge, so I would wrap a couple of pieces in a bag. It first started off being called ….(come closer and let me whisper in your ear…crack), but when my kids started talking and going to school, it was time to change the name. I mentioned this at work and said that we have to come up with a better name. Nothing like having a co-worker yell across the store…”Hey, do you have any crack left?” Hence the name change to “heaven in a bag”. Heaven it was…it is so rich that two pieces in the bag was enough. Some of the guys liked it so much they were licking every morsel out of the bag…just like they do to an empty bowl of ice cream. We are going to change subjects now, because, you do not want me to start talking about that bad habit.

Let’s talk about some tips & tricks. Basically, we are altering the instructions. First, I take a piece of parchment paper and line the bottom and sides of a 9×13 pan. I use clothes pins to hold the parchment to the side of the pan. Second, have your Oreos already chopped up. I have two bowls. One, is chopped up fine to go inside and the other bowl is coarse to sprinkle on top. Also, I add an extra 1/2 cup of Oreos to both bowls. I love Oreos, but that’s just me. Third, after you have the butter/sugar mixture finally (because I cook on medium heat) come to a boil, I stir in the chips and let them melt a little bit, before I turn off the stove. I add the marshmallow crème and vanilla, stir, and then pour in the finely chopped Oreos. Fourth, I pour everything into the already lined pan and add the coarsely chopped Oreos on top. Now, with clean hands, I pat the Oreos down a little, so they will stay put when I cut the fudge. Finally, the most important tip I can give you…DO NOT LICK or USE YOUR FINGERS to SCRAPE OFF THE EXCESS FUDGE INTO THE PAN!!! IT WAS JUST BOILING! If you must scrape every bit off the spatula, use a butter knife. Then you can let the spatula and butter knife cool off, before you start taste testing. Now, I know that I just wrote “finally”, but I still have a few side notes. I put the fudge pan on top of an ice pack to get it to cool off faster, so I can put it in the fridge to chill. After the fudge has chilled (seems like an eternity), you lift the parchment paper out of the pan and your fudge should be rock hard. I will now tell you my trick to cut this wonderful deliciousness…a pizza cutter. I just cut lines about 1 inch apart, long ways. Then I cut again perpendicularly to make squares. Because this stuff is hard to cut through, my lines are never straight. My husband doesn’t mind. I give him all the ugly broken pieces. They still taste the same. P.S. My husband says that the fudge does taste better after it has been refrigerated. He should know. He’s been eating all the broken pieces for over 5 years now…lol.

Cookies_Cream FudgeSo, how did I get it red? Well…I’ve been planning this post for a year now. Last year, I made some fudge. It turned out perfect, but we had eaten it all before I thought to take pictures. I knew then, I had to make Valentine’s Day fudge this year, but I had to wait until this past holiday to purchase Christmas Oreos again. You know, the ones with the red centers. I bought one package as soon as they started selling them this year and then bought a “few” more after Christmas when they were 75% off. The package said they are best by April. Maybe, I will make more fudge in the spring. When Nabisco makes the yellow Springtime Oreos. Heavenly!…Enjoy.

Hang Your Favorite Ornament On The Tree.

Marbled OrnamentsThese were on my list of cookie ideas that I had last year, but they didn’t make the cut. So, this year they were a must have. I love blue ornaments. We even have them on our tree.

Oddly enough, I don’t own any ornament cookie cutters, and because of this I had to make my own. These were super easy and icing them was fun. I got to do marbling. I flooded the cookie, piped a few lines and drug a toothpick through the wet icing to make a cute design. Once the blue icing was dry, I piped out a bit of icing on the top and added silver sprinkles.

Have A Sweet Holiday TopperThe bag toppers were the most tedious part of the whole cookie process. Design the toppers in Photoshop (done by my husband), print the toppers, cut the toppers, fold and hole punch the toppers, attach hand punched holly leaves and rhinestones, and tie on a ribbon. Needless to say, it took me two days to do 150 toppers. The next time I have to make toppers, I will definitely do them as soon as I know they will be part of the cookie order! Have A Sweet Holiday! Enjoy.

A Christmas Tree Found In The Snow.

Brushed Christmas TreesI had other cookie design ideas, but when I saw this one, I decided to give it a try. I had a rectangle cookie cutter, but I wanted it to be fluted. I had a fluted rectangle cookie cutter, but it was way too big. What was I going to do? What anyone with a little imagination would do…I grabbed my Pampered Chef potato crinkle cutter. I need the cookies to be a certain size. So, I took a piece of wax paper and folded it into a 2 inch strip. Worked like a charm.

I needed stars for the tops of the trees. I took some yellow icing and piped it out into star transfers and then sprinkled them with some disco dust while they were still wet. Let them dry overnight and then peeled them off. Transfers need to be one of the first things you do, before you start icing the cookies, since it takes a day for them to dry.

I chose white as the background for these cookies. I figured that it would look like snow. I was up until 4am with the gingerbread men and flooding white icing onto these cookies. The next day was crunch time, since the base coat was now dry. Time to brush on the trees. I still need a lot of practice with embroidery brushing, but for my first time, it wasn’t too too bad. The tree reminded me of the ones in the movies, where the family goes into the forest to find the perfect tree and finds a big huge one. Only to remember that they have to drag it all the way back to the car. After I brushed on a few trees, I noticed they needed a little something. So, I attached some red sprinkles before the green icing started to dry. It wouldn’t be a Christmas tree without a few ornaments and a star on top. Enjoy.

Gingerbread Man…I Think Not. Let’s Make Him Chocolate!

Gingerbread MenIt’s that time of year again…to make Christmas Cookie Treat Bags for my brother, that is. What cookies will I make this year? My brother wanted chocolate and regular sugar cookies again.

I had quite a few ideas roughly sketched out for the chocolate ones.  Ultimately, I chose a gingerbread man. The whole time I was making these, the movie Shrek came popping into my head. “Not my gumdrop buttons!” I was going insane for days…lol. Speaking of gumdrop buttons, I had to put a heart somewhere in the cookie designs and this was an excellent choice. A man needs a heart, not some silly gumdrop buttons. Right?

Before I cut out the dough, I got out my cookie cutters and laid them on top of the treat bag to see how and if the cookies would fit. They were too big. Someone was going to have to go. I didn’t own a smaller gingerbread man cookie cutter, so I made my own. He fit perfectly. Now, I tried to make the icing a nice brown color, but I couldn’t get it a dark enough shade. The cookie was a dark chocolate color, so I was hoping it would be able bring out the color of the brown. At the end, I still was not satisfied. But am I ever? I was planning on making heart transfers and then attaching them to the man, but I got lucky and found some heart sprinkles. That took a couple of hours off of my time.

At 4 in the morning, I was finally finished flooding the base coat of the men and attaching their hearts. Now, it was time to go to bed. I’ll let them dry, wake up in 3 hours to take the kids to school and then do some more decorating. At the end, when putting on the finishing touches to all the cookies, I added the eyes, mouth and arm/leg clothes markings to the men. Done…Now, if they could only walk themselves into the bags. Enjoy.

Read Me. I’m Irish.

Clover PlateClover's CloseupClover TreatsMy daughter’s second grade class had a party to celebrate meeting their reading goal.  Since the date for the party fell just two days before St. Patrick’s day, I decided to make these cookies for the kids.

I used the same 3 leaf clover cookie cutter as I did in my previous post. I took a smaller cutter and made little clovers from dough that I had colored green. I wanted to do something fun and something that I had not done before, so I lightly pressed the green clovers into the larger cookies. Now, one thing that I do recommend, if you ever try this technique, is to press down using food handler gloves or a piece of plastic wrap. That way you do not leave noticeable finger imprints and it’s just sanitary.

I can not express the importance of using up all of your leftover icing. Do not toss it out. Instead, make icing transfers. Around Christmas last year, I made a ton of eyeball transfers. I am glad that i did. It is amazing the time savings those pre-made eyeballs did for me.

I wanted to work in a “pot of gold” reference. These were for kids, so I added gold sprinkles. Kids like sprinkles…right? I was trying to make it look like they had big poofy gold hair. I do not think that it really turned out how I envisioned it in my head, but oh well. After I attached the eyeballs and piped a mouth, they were ready to dry for a bit. Before I went to bed, I put them in individual treat bags and boxed them up to go to school.

My daughter said that everyone liked the cookies and they tasted great. Happy kids. It works for me. Enjoy.

Do You Feel Lucky, Punk?

Shamrocks1Shamrocks2Nothing like a little Dirty Harry to start off a post. So, do you? Feel lucky, that is. You should, because it is March. What happens in March? St. Patrick’s Day. Where the world turns green…with envy.

I was in the mood to make shamrocks. I didn’t feel like making pots of gold at the end of rainbows. Mainly because I didn’t want to make black icing. It is not my favorite. Grey is prettier and tastes a lot better too.

Now, the only problem I had was I did not own a 3 or 4 leaf clover cookie cutter. I quickly remedied that by making my own. I cut the notch out of the leaves with the stem part of the cookie cutter, before I put them on the cookie sheet to bake.

There are not a lot of options on making a shamrock look pretty. I guess if you want to go elaborate, you could. But really? It is just green leaves. I decided to dress them up with sanding sugar. I think they turned out pretty. Enjoy.

Red Velvet Cookies

Heart CookiesI decided to try this recipe and make red velvet cookies for Valentine’s Day. They were easy to make, cooked up real nice, and kept their shape. However, the taste…not so much. I am not the biggest red velvet fan, unlike my brother-in-law, but I will never pass up an opportunity to eat cookies. These were a bit on the chocolate side. So, they had a cocoa aftertaste. I had some cream cheese frosting (the kind in the tub…shhhhh!). I thought I would try spreading that on the cookies and see if they tasted any better. Sorry to say, but still no. Before I threw them all away, I frosted four of the cookies, put on some cute sprinkles, and took some pics. At the very least, they looked really good.

Overall, I may make these again one day, but will definitely cut back on the cocoa powder. I learned something new, and that is the whole point of this baking world that I live in now. Sorry, I posted this way after Valentine’s Day. I felt that this learning experience and cute cookies were still worth posting. Enjoy.

Poinsettia Cupcakes

For my side of the family, we did Christmas a day early. It was suggested that I could bring a dessert, preferably cookies. I had too much going on to devote time to cookies, so I made yummy cupcakes instead.

 

 

 

I wanted to try something new. I thought that making poinsettias would be pretty. I didn’t take a picture, but the cake is colored red and green. Therefore, I decided to keep the frosting white. I took my # 70 tip and piped out leaves, alternating around the cupcake. I went to my drawer of sprinkles and decided to keep it simple with red and green. I wanted the sprinkles to be in the center of the cupcake, but had no idea how I was going to achieve that by just shaking them on. I thought..I will  hold a funnel just above the center and shake in the sprinkles. It worked like a charm.

I feel bad for my sister. Her homemade apple pie sat on the counter lonely. The cupcakes were a hit. I got a lot of compliments and had a request for the recipe for the buttercream  frosting. Enjoy.

Enjoy the Season

My husband and I devoted a few hours to placing hundreds of cookies into festive holiday bags.  If you plan on making personal treat bags ever, make sure that you add at least half a day to your project’s schedule to account for the actual bagging process.

You may notice that there is slack in the ribbon. They were going to be attached to a bottle of wine, so I had to make allowance in the ribbon.  My husband made the toppers in Photoshop and did a wonderful job, I may add. We printed them, and I got to use my paper-chopper to cut them out. You don’t use one often, but when you do, it is a wonderful thing to own.

Let’s talk a second about cookie freshness. There is nothing worse than making cookies and giving them as gifts all dried out. If you make cookies or simply make any edible treats, I highly recommend purchasing a sealer. It was super easy to use and made me confident in the final product. I am very pleased with the outcome of these cookies. Every time I make a batch, I learn so much. Enjoy.

Let it snow!

I have been waiting a long time to be able to use my Williams-Sonoma snowflake cookie cutters that my brother bought me many moons ago. I had no idea how to design the icing to make a snowflake from a cookie. I had only made snowflakes with paper and scissors, as a kid. So, I looked at snowflake cookies that were posted on Google images to get some inspiration.

I had a lot of fun doing the cookies with sugar crystals. I liked the way it kinda looked like snow. I showed my daughter and friends all the different holiday cookies I made this year, and they said that they liked the snowflakes the best. Just goes to show that everyone loves sugar and sparkles. Enjoy.