A few weeks ago I was asked to do a dessert table for a little boy’s firetruck/firehouse birthday party. Of course I said yes! It sounded like so much fun. But then I realized…what kind of desserts do I do for a firetruck theme?! I have done plenty of dessert tables for weddings, baby showers and bridal showers but a boy’s firetruck birthday party? Ummm, no.
I immediately turned to Google for ideas and was able to come up with some fun stuff! I honestly am not a big decorator/detail person when it comes to desserts. I like to make stuff that tastes amazing and just looks good. Fondant and decorated sugar cookies have never been my thing. So it was challenging to find desserts that I could do that didn’t require crazy decorating skills. But I came up with a great spread! If I do say so myself.
We had Twizzlers to represent a firehose, fire hydrant sugar cookies, “flaming” yellow and red swirled marshmallows, red and yellow Jelly Belly’s and of course, cupcakes! I was SO happy with how everything turned out and so was the client (which of course is the MOST important thing). It was a fun challenge and more importantly everything was delicious!
If you’re like me and LOVE frosted sugar cookies but don’t have the patience for the whole rolling and cutting part, I have a solution! A completely delicious solution. I had seen recipes online for sugar cookie bars but all the ones I was finding called for an absurd amount of flour (5 cups!), etc and a huge baking pan that I didn’t have and there was no way I was going to go look for and buy one just for this recipe. So I played with the amounts of ingredients and am happy to report that I hit it out of the ball park on the first try! These sugar cookies are made in a 9×13 pan and are absolutely, incredibly, amazingly YUMMY. I love almond so I added that flavor. If you’re not an almond fan, feel free to substitute more vanilla extract. These bars and soft and slightly chewy and in my opinion perfect in every single way. To say I had a couple would be an understatement…but we won’t get into that.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing after each egg. Add vanilla and almond and mix well. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda. And to butter/sugar mixture and beat until just combined. Spread into baking pan.
Bake for 15-20 minutes until a toothpick/tester comes out clean (mine were done closer to 15 minutes). Cool completely and frost.
For the Almond Buttercream
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter until smooth. Add almond and vanilla extracts. Add powdered sugar, one cup at a time, then add heavy whipping cream and beat until smooth. Spread onto cooled sugar cookie bars.
I am not the craftiest. I have admitted this before but I just thought I’d state it again. So when I spied these dark chocolate sugar cookies online, I knew I would make them but needed to come up with a way to make them cute that didn’t involve royal icing and piping and such.
So behold, the chocolate sugar cookie sandwich! Also known as cutely shaped, cut-out homemade Oreos. Really freakin’ amazingly good, never-buy-store-bought-again, homemade Oreos. Yes, they are THAT GOOD. I just cut out about 14, 4-inch cookies and then cut smaller shapes out of the middle of half of them. If you don’t bake the small shapes like I did, you could reuse the dough and get about 16, 4-inch cookies. Which is what I’d do next time because the tiny ones didn’t turn out terribly cute. But tasty! And that’s what really matters, right??
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until just incorporated. Do not over-mix at this stage or the cookies may spread while baking. Add the egg and vanilla. Mix on low speed, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl intermittently as needed.
In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa powder and salt. Add to the butter and egg mixture. Mix on low speed until a dough is formed and there are no longer any streaks of butter in the mixing bowl. The dough will clump around the paddle attachment but that's ok, it's normal and a good sign your dough is the right consistency. With your hands, form the dough into a ball.
On a clean counter-top, roll out your dough to ¼-inch thickness. Cut out desired shapes from the cookie dough and carefully transfer to your baking sheets. Bake the cookies for 15 minutes, rotating pans and switching racks halfway through to endure even baking. Let them cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. Frost with frosting and decorate with sanding sugar, sprinkles, etc.
For the Buttercream Frosting
Beat butter, sugar and milk about 5 minutes. Beat in extracts.
Makes 16, 4-inch Sandwich Cookies.
Tip: These cookies are best eaten within 24 hours or the same day they are made. They are still very good but not be quite as crisp the next day.
If you want to add that sporty touch to your Superbowl 2012 dessert offerings, try out one or two of these cute football goodies! I think my favorite is the double chocolate cupcake with the piped frosting that looks like a football–creative and simple?! Touchdown! (sorry, cheesy, I know!!)
Well now that Christmas and New Year’s is behind us it’s on to the next holiday–Valentine’s Day! There are so many cute things to make and bake for Valentine’s Day it’s really hard to know how to choose or where to start. But, I had seen these cookies on Pinterest and the ingredients alone made me want to make them immediately. I have a thing for cherry-almond anything. And cute, pink baked goods.
Speaking of pink, you can’t make much for a holiday that is trademarked in pink and red without using UNGODLY amounts of dye. And these cookies are no exception to that but you could always omit the dye and bring in the color with the sprinkles and sugar…at least it cuts back on the unnatural ingredients a little.
These were supposed to be a shortbread cookie but the dough was so incredibly dry I just couldn’t resist adding more liquid, plus I wasn’t happy with the flavor and wanted to amp up the cherry and almond in it. They might not have quite the crumbly shortbread texture and actually more closely resemble a soft sugar cookie, but these cookies are AMAZING. Jeremy and I could have eaten them all and according to him they are the best cookie I’ve ever made and I never need to make him a birthday cake ever again, just these cookies. Done.
½ c. Maraschino Cherries, drained, squeezed (somewhat) dry with paper towels and finely chopped
11 oz. White Chocolate Chips
3 t. Almond Extract
½ t. Pure Vanilla
6 T. Cherry Juice, reserved from the maraschino cherries
Pink or Red Dye
Sprinkles, sanding sugar, etc for decor
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour and sugar. Using a pastry blender or two forks (I actually prefer to use my fingers), cut in the cold butter until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Stir in drained and chopped cherries and ⅔ cup of the white chocolate chips. Stir in the cherry juice, almond extract, vanilla and food dye. Knead the mixture a bit to get it into a more cohesive mass. Pinch off a chunk of dough and form a ¾-inch ball. Place on the cookie sheet and press down slightly with a drinking glass that has been dipped in granulated sugar.
Bake for 10-12 minutes (mine took 12 minutes exactly) or until the centers are set. Do not overbake. Cool for 1 minute on the cookie sheet and then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.
In a small bowl, melt the rest of the white chocolate in the microwave at 20-second intervals, stirring between each. Dip half the cookies in the melted white chocolate and decorate with sprinkles, sugar, etc. Place on foil and let dry completely.
For a thinner white chocolate coating, use use white chocolate candy melts. That's what I will use the next time.