Saturday, April 10, 2021

Easter Cookies

 Easter Cookies

I hope everyone that celebrates Easter had a wonderful one. This was the first time in over a year since COVID-19 that Allen and I were able to go to a small family gathering. It was great spending time with everyone, and I hope things get back to normal soon. Now onto cookies and I mean it when I say these are the best vanilla sugar cookies I ever tasted. The ingredients feature vanilla 3 ways: vanilla bean paste, vanilla extract, and vanilla sugar. The taste is a perfect vanilla flavor profile, and the cookie texture is chewy but firm. Since my nephew has an egg allergy, I did not use royal icing but an egg-dairy free icing. I love this icing as it has a lovely shine, tastes great, and have used it for many years. I highly recommend this recipe alternative if you cannot use egg whites. Happy Spring and stay safe!


Vanilla Sugar Cookie Ingredients
5 cups All Purpose Flour

1 1/2 cups Vanilla Sugar

1 teaspoon Coarse Salt

2 cups (4 sticks) Unsalted Butter, softened

1 tablespoon Coconut Milk Cream (or Almond or other dairy free blend)

2 Large Eggs

2 teaspoons Clear Vanilla Extract

1 tablespoon Vanilla Bean Paste



Directions
Whisk together flour and salt; set aside. 

Cream butter and vanilla sugar in a hand held mixer or stand mixer with paddle attachment on low; 1-2 minutes. Do not overmix.

Scrape sides of bowl with spatula and mix for 10 seconds.

Add eggs one at a time, mix until incorporated. Scrape sides of bowl and mix for 5 seconds.



Add coconut milk, vanilla extract, and vanilla bean paste, and mix on low until incorporated; about 20-25 seconds.

Scrape sides of bowl and mix for 5 seconds.

Turn off mixer and add the flour mixture, and cover mixer with kitchen towel, and turn mixer on low speed and incorporate. 

The dough is ready when it begins to clump around paddle attachment.

Form into a disk shape and cover with plastic wrap and chill in fridge for 1-3 hours or overnight. I chilled the dough for 2 hours.



Heat oven to 350°F.

Use two sheets of parchment paper with dough in between and roll with rolling pin until desired thickness is reached.

Take cutters and make shapes. Repeat until you use all the dough.

Place onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper, and put in freezer for 20-30 minutes. The cookies hold their shape when you do this.


Bake 12-15 minutes or until the edges have slightly browned. 

Wait 2-3 minutes before transferring cookies on cooling racks to complete cooling.

Decorate once cookies have cooled completely.



Egg-Dairy Free Icing (Double recipe if you have more than 40 cookies)

6 cups Powdered/Confectioners' Sugar, sifted

1/2 cup Coconut Milk + 1 tablespoon extra (for flooding cookies) (or Almond)

1/4 cup Light Corn Syrup

2 teaspoons Clear Vanilla Extract 



Directions
In a large bowl, sift powdered sugar; set aside.

Using stand or hand held mixer with paddle attachment on medium-high speed, combine sugar and 1/4 cup of coconut milk and mix for 1-2 minutes until smooth.

Add remaining 1/4 cup of milk one teaspoon at a time until you reach the consistency you need.   

Add corn syrup, vanilla extract, and mix for 10 seconds.



I separate the icing in plastic containers with lids according to how many different colors needed for tinting.

Keep the containers covered until you are ready to color.

Transfer the icing immediately into squeeze bottles, pastry bags fitted with desired tips, or tipless bags.



Outline each cookie and then immediately flood it.

Decorate as desired.

Let cookies dry overnight.
The flower designs were inspired by, The Cake Blog:

Enjoy!

-Sophia/Two Frys

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Hershey's "Especially Dark" Chocolate Cake

 Hershey's "Especially Dark" Chocolate Cake

I did not make Valentine's Sugar Cookies this year as I am still working from home due to the COVID pandemic. Since I am not around many people to share my baked goods with, I thought it better to make a cake for Allen and me. All week I was reading cake recipes from various cookbooks, and when I went in my pantry to check stocked ingredients, I picked up the Hershey's Cocoa Special Dark 100% Cacao Dutched Cocoa, looked on the back and found this recipe. Well, I was intrigued and happy as I had all the ingredients to bake the cake. I wanted to bake a simple from scratch cake and this was a great choice. The other cakes I considered will be shared at a later date, as I did not have some of the ingredients. This cake is so tender with a light crumb. The dark chocolate flavor is rich but balanced and not too sweet. I am in love with this cake. Happy Valentine's Day!


Cake Ingredients
2 teaspoons Unsalted Butter to grease cake pans

1 3/4 cups All-Purpose Flour, plus extra to coat cake pans

1 1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder

1 1/2 teaspoons Baking Soda

3/4 cup Hershey's Cocoa Special Dark 100% Cacao Dutched Cocoa, plus extra to coat cake pans

1 teaspoon Coarse Salt

2 cups Granulated Sugar

1 cup Milk 

1/2 cup Vegetable Oil

2 Large Eggs, room temperature

2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract

1 cup Boiling Water


Hershey's "Especially Dark" Chocolate Frosting
3 cups Powdered Sugar, sifted

2/3 cup Hershey's Cocoa Special Dark 100% Cacao Dutched Cocoa

1/2 cup (1 stick) Unsalted Butter, softened

1/3 cup Milk

1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract


Directions
Heat oven to 350°F.

Line 2, 8" or 9" cake pans with parchment paper and use baking spray (such as Wilton) or butter and sprinkle with cocoa powder; set aside.

Using a hand held mixer and large bowl or stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment and stir together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt just until combined; about 1 minute.

Add eggs, milk, vegetable oil, and vanilla extract and beat on medium speed; 2 minutes.

Scrape sides of bowl with a spatula and mix again; 5-10 seconds.


Slowly stir in boiling water and incorporate; 30 seconds.

The cake batter will be thin. 

Pour batter into cake pans.

Bake for 25-35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 

Remove from oven and cool in pans for 30 minutes, and then invert onto a wire rack lined with parchment paper to cool completely.


While the cake is cooling make the frosting.

Melt the butter in the microwave 15 seconds at a time or in pan on stove top; cool completely.

Using a hand held mixer and large bowl or stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment on low speed, add cooled melted butter and stir in cocoa; about 1 minute.

Alternately add powdered sugar and milk and beat until desired consistency; about 2 minutes.


Scrape sides of bowl with a spatula and mix again for 5-10 seconds.

Add vanilla extract and combine; 25 seconds.

Add small amount of milk if needed.

Place first cake layer top side down on cake stand or plate, and cover with the frosting.



Add the second cake layer top side up and frost the cake and decorate as desired.

Place the cake in fridge to set.

Cover and remove 1/2 hour before serving.

Store cake up to 5 days covered in the fridge.

Enjoy!

-Sophia/Two Frys 

Friday, December 25, 2020

Eggnog Christmas Cookies

Eggnog Christmas Cookies

Merry Christmas everyone! 2020 was a year like no other and I am glad it is almost over. We stayed home due to COVID-19 and did not travel to Northern California as we did last year. I hope 2021 is a better year and this virus goes away. I really want to travel again and am so tired of wearing a mask everywhere and my glasses getting all fogged up. I just want some normalcy back. Enough of COVID talk. I love eggnog and made eggnog as my flavor for Christmas cut out cookies this year, and they taste great. The cookies are chewy and have a balanced and delightful flavor from the vanilla sugar, ground nutmeg, ground cinnamon, and eggnog.

Yield: 3 Dozen Cookies (Depending on cutter size and thickness of cookie)

Eggnog Christmas Cookies

Eggnog Christmas Cookies

Ingredients
6 cups All Purpose Flour

2 cups Vanilla Sugar

1 tablespoon Ground Nutmeg

1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon Coarse Salt

2 cups (4 sticks) Unsalted Butter, softened

2 Large Eggs

1/3 cup Eggnog

2 teaspoons Clear Vanilla Extract
Close-up on some of the cookies

Directions
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, ground nutmeg, ground cinnamon, and salt; set aside.

Cream butter and sugar in a hand held mixer or stand mixer with paddle attachment on low; 1-2 minutes. Do not overmix.

Scrape sides of bowl with spatula and mix for 10 seconds.

Add eggs, eggnog, and vanilla extract, and mix until incorporated; about 1 minute. 

Close-up

Close-up

Scrape sides of bowl and mix for 5 seconds.

Turn off mixer and add the flour mixture, and cover mixer with kitchen towel. 

Turn the mixer to low speed and incorporate.
 
The dough is ready when it begins to clump around the paddle attachment.

Close-up

Close-up

Form into a disk shape, cover with plastic wrap, and chill in fridge for 1-3 hours or overnight.

Heat oven to 375°F.

Use two sheets of parchment paper with dough in between and roll with rolling pin until desired thickness is reached.

Cut out shapes.

Place onto cookies sheets lined with parchment paper, and put in freezer for 20 minutes. The cookies hold their shape when you do this.
Close-up

Close-up

Bake 8-12 minutes or until the edges have slightly browned. 

Oven temps vary so check the cookies at the 8 minute mark.

Make sure cookie sheets cool in between baking. I place them in the freezer for a few minutes, and repeat until you use up all the dough.

Do not use hot cookie sheets or the cookies will spread and lose their shape.

Wait 5 minutes before transferring cookies with cookie spatula to wire racks to complete cooling; about 1 hour.

Decorate once the cookies are cool to the touch.

Fireplace

Royal Icing (with Meringue Powder)
Yield: 8 cups

Ingredients
2 pounds Powdered Sugar 

1/3 cup Meringue Powder (I use Genie's Dream Meringue Powder Premium Blend)

1/2 cup Room Temperature Water (plus extra if you need to thin the icing)

2 teaspoons Clear Vanilla Extract

1 tablespoon Light Corn Syrup

Eggnog Christmas Cookies

Directions
In a large bowl, sift the powdered sugar; set aside.

Add meringue powder, room temperature water, and vanilla extract in mixer with whisk attachment and mix on high for 1 minute. Do not overmix.

Turn off mixer and switch to paddle attachment. 

Birch trees and a cute cardinal

Snowman with scarf

Add the powdered sugar, cover the mixer with a kitchen towel, and turn the mixer to low speed and slowly add light corn syrup and then beat on high speed until smooth; about 1-2 minutes.

The consistency using this recipe is thick and great for borders, stenciling, writing on cookies, and detail work.

If you need a both a border and flood-like consistency keep reading below.

Melted Snowman

Birch trees and a cardinal

Hat with matching mittens

If you only need flood consistency icing, add small amounts of room temperature water and mix for 5-10 seconds, and repeat until you reach the right consistency. Be careful that your icing does not become too runny or you may have to start over.

Keep the containers or Tupperware/Pyrex covered until you are ready to color. Royal Icing hardens fast.

I use Soft Gel Paste Food Color in various colors.

Use 1-2 drops at a time until you reach the desired color.


Eggnog Dough

Just a small amount of the cookies 

Once you have the colors completed in each container, take the amount you need of the border icing consistency and place into icing bottles, tipless bags, or pastry bags fitted with tips.

Then with the remainder of the icing, add small amounts of room temperature water to make flood consistency icing. Stir together with a small spatula and repeat until you have the consistency you need. 

A little water goes a long way. This works for me and I get the flood consistency I need. This part takes some practice. Then transfer the flood icing into icing bottles, tipless bags, or bags fitted with tips.

I find doing it this way is easiest as you end up with the same color for both the border/detail work and flood consistency.

Royal Icing

Icing is set!

Decorate your cookies.

Do a border and then fill it immediately. If you are adding layers let the first layer dry completely. 

Use a cookie stick to reach edges, and the tip to pop any air bubbles. 

Let the cookies dry overnight.

Keep in mind if you are baking and it is humid, you may need more time for the cookies to dry.

Eggnog Cut-Out Cookie recipe adapted from Sweetopia: 

https://sweetopia.net/2019/11/eggnog-cut-out-cookie-recipe/

Enjoy!

-Sophia/Two Frys

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Mini Christmas Cookies

Mini Christmas Cookies

I made Mini Christmas Cookies for my nephew Matthew with an Dairy-Egg Free Icing. I love this icing as it has a lovely shine, tastes great, and have used it for many years. I highly recommend it if you cannot use egg whites.

Mini Christmas Cookies

Dairy-Egg Free Icing (Double recipe if you have more than 40 cookies)

6 cups Powdered/Confectioners' Sugar, sifted

1/2 cup Coconut Milk  (or Almond Milk) + 1 tablespoon extra (if you need to flood cookies)

1/4 cup Light Corn Syrup

2 teaspoons Clear Vanilla Extract

Mini Christmas Cookies

Close-up

Directions

In a large bowl, sift the powdered sugar; set aside.

Using stand or hand held mixer with paddle attachment on medium-high speed, combine sugar and 1/4 cup of milk and mix for 1-2 minutes until smooth.

Add remaining 1/4 cup of milk and combine.  

Close-up

Mini Christmas Cookies

Add corn syrup, and vanilla extract, and mix for 20 seconds.

If the icing is too stiff, add 1 tablespoon (or less) of milk and combine.

For both icing recipes, I separated the icing in plastic containers with lids according to how many different colors needed for tinting.

Keep the containers covered until you are ready to color.

Mini Christmas Cookies

Icing

I transferred the icing immediately into squeeze bottles and tipless bags.

I outlined each cookie and then immediately flooded it.

Decorate as desired.

For the Egg Free Icing Recipe visit, The Slow Roasted Italian:

http://www.theslowroasteditalian.com/2013/12/best-tasting-sugar-cookie-icing-recipe.html

Enjoy!

-Sophia/Two Frys