live: Week in Instagram

I don’t know about you, but March was a tough month for Katie and myself . We know we haven’t been blogging as much as we should be, but that’s how life is sometimes. We have some fun stuff lined up in the near future, but in the meantime, enjoy our latest pics from instagram. Can you guess which pics belong to Katie and I? Cheers! Kristi

whisk: chocolate covered cinnamon bears

going, going, gone.
Chocolate covered cinnamon bears are my absolute favorite candy in the world. But I hate that I can only find milk chocolate covered in the stores. So the other night, on sugar craving whim, I decided to make my own using a combination of bittersweet and milk chocolate. After tasting these bad boys, I know I’ll never go back to store bought again.


Here’s what you’ll need:
+ 8 oz. bittersweet chocolate (60% cacao)
+ 4 oz. milk chocolate
+ store-bought cinnamon bears
The key to this is tempering the chocolate, which essentially means, controlling the temperatures. So to do this, start by filling a pot with about 2 inches of water. Heat over medium heat until it just simmering. While the water is heating, take 4 oz. of bittersweet and 4 oz. of milk chocolate chop/break into pieces and place in a glass or metal heatproof bowl. Next, take a sheetpan/cookie sheet line it with parchment paper and place a cooling rack on top. Set aside.

When the water is simmering, remove from heat and place the bowl on top and stir with a spatula or metal spoon until it is just melted. Remove the bowl from the pan and stir in the remaining 4 oz of bittersweet chocolate. Stir until all the pieces are melted and then place back on top of the pot for about 30 seconds. If there are chunks, remove using your spatula or metal spoon.
Then about 10-15 at a time, add the cinnamon bears to the chocolate, roll them around until they are covered. With a pair of tongs gently shake the excess chocolate from them and place on a cookie sheet. Repeat until all of the chocolate is used and/or you are out of gummy bears.


Let the chocolate dry for at least 2 hours or overnight. Remove from the rack, serve and/or store. Consider yourself warned, these won’t last for long.


They are such a great combination of spicy with a hint of chocolate from the outer thin layer, I’m almost tempted to buy an enrobbing machine and open a sweet shop. I made about 4 dozen of these in 30 minutes on Tuesday night and 24 hours later, they were gone. I will admit that I took down my fair share of these bears and I’m nervous psyched to try others. I’m wondering if Sour Patch Kids can stand up to the heat of the chocolate and red swedish fish. I’m sure I’ll be back to share those results. In the meantime, melt some chocolate and share these with someone you love.

xoxo,
Katie

whisk: sugar cookies

A couple of years ago, after a particularly hectic holiday season, I started sending valentines to my friends and family in lieu of Christmas Cards.   And because I’m always eager to share my latest baking successes with my friends and family, these Valentine’s usually contain some type of baked good.  This year, I’ve decided to go with good old-fashioned sugar cookies.

I have to say, the recipe that I am most frequently asked for is a good sugar cookie recipe.  My first response is always, what kind of sugar cookie do you like?  Because like Chocolate Chip Cookies most people fall into the soft and chewy camp or team flat and crispy.   For a long time I was a flat and crispy with butter sugar cookies being my go to recipe.  Then about a year ago I was in Ft. Worth and tasted a cookie from J. Rae’s Bakery and I immediately switched teams.  Then I set about finding a good soft and chewy cookie. I’m going to show you how to make both.

First up, the flat, flaky, buttery goodness of French Butter Cookies

French Butter Cookies
Recipe via Martha Stewart
1 cup (2 sticks or 16 T) unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt

Notes:
+ The recipe says that this makes 5 dozen, but I’ve never gotten more than 3 out of it… maybe I like my cookies thicker than Martha.
+ Since this recipe is really all about the butter, use the best that you can afford.  I found the Kerrygold at Costco of all places.
+ If you’re like me and baking at high altitude, you’ll be happy to know that you don’t need to make any adjustments to this recipe.

To make the cookies:
In an electric mixer with your paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar, beat on high until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.

sorry for the shadow, but this is what creamed butter & sugar looks like when you are finished.

Then mix in egg and vanilla until combined.  Be sure not to mix this on high because it will spill over the edges of the bowl.  Sift together the flour and salt and add to the mix.  Stir on low-speed until flour is combined.  If you are going to make round cookies, then roll the dough into multiple logs (I usually make 4 so that they will fit into a gallon size ziploc bag).  If you are going to to roll them out, make four flat discs.  Place in a ziploc bag and refrigerated overnight.

Heat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment or silpat.  Allow the dough to come to room temperature and roll it out.  Be sure you are working on a clean surface and lightly flour it before rolling the dough. Cut using a cookie cutter and place on the baking sheet.  Bake for 15-20 minutes rotating the pan in the oven halfway through.  Allow to cool on a rack.  Set aside until ready to frost.

For the softer, chewier cookie, Old Fashioned Sugar Cookies
via Pie in the Sky

Ingredients (sea level)
1 1/2 sticks (12 T) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

Notes:
+ This makes about 50 cookies.
+ High Altitude Adjustments: Increase vanilla to 2 teaspoons, decrease baking powder to 3/4 teaspoons

To make the cookies:
In a mixer with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar.  Beat until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.  Then beat in the eggs and vanilla.  Scrape the bowl down and sift in the flour, baking powder and salt.  Mix on the lowest setting until combined.  Divide the dough into four discs and chill for at least an hour or overnight.

Preheat the oven at 350 degrees.  Lightly flour your clean working surface (I used my counter) then roll out the dough using a floured rolling pin.  Cut shapes using a cookie cutter.  Place on cookie sheets lined with parchment or silpats.   Bake for 8-10 minutes rotating the pan in the oven halfway through.  Allow to cool on a rack.  Set aside until ready to frost.

I like to ice these with Royal Icing, this recipe makes enough to frost about 50 cookies:
1 cup + 2 T powdered sugar
3 3/4 teaspoons of meringue powder
1/4 c water or milk
1/4 tsp. almond extract (optional)

Combine in a mixer and beat on low-medium speed for about 10 minutes.  Add food coloring and use a knife to frost the cookies.

On Monday I’ll show you a fun way to package your valentines.  Do you have a favorite sugar cookie recipe?

xoxo

kw