stitch: Last minute Valentine’s Day Gift

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I decided to make mini aprons for all my single girlfriends this Valentine’s with Alexander Henry’s “Game of Love” fabric paired with Moda’s Pink Ombre fabric. I mean, who wouldn’t want to receive this on Valentine’s right? Right.

Supplies:
– 1/2 yard for the front, cut 22in x 18in
– 1/2 yard for the back, cut 22in x 18in
– 4 ft of coordinating ribbon

Directions:
Place front fabric and back fabric right sides together. Cut the 4 ft of ribbon in half. Place and pin one ribbon in the upper left corner 1/2 in from the top (between the front and back fabric), with about an 1in of the ribbon sticking out. Repeat the same process on the right hand side.

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Pin the rest of the sides together, sew the fabric with a 1/2in seam, but remember to leave an opening at the bottom of the apron. Turn apron right side out. Iron bottom seam close and top stitch with 1/4in seam.

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Viola! Valentine’s Day apron is finished.

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Enjoy! xo Kristi

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stitch: Last minute Valentine’s Day Gift

I got home last night and realized I had yet to create something for my friends at work for Valentine’s Day. So I rummaged through my fabric stash and came across the mother of all Valentine’s fabric, Alexander Henry’s Look of Love. Thank you CityCraft for carrying such awesome fabric.

Look of Love indeed!

Be still my heart! I had just enough to make coasters for my co-workers desk. Perfect accessory for the office, right? Right. I cut 4 inch squares, then placed the fabric wrong side together, top stitched with a 1/4 inch seam and then trimmed each coaster with pinking shears.

This project took all of 5 minutes folks, which is a big win in my book for last minute gifts.

Happy Valentine’s Day! xo Kristi

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

whisk: sweetheart cake

It’s no secret that I’m obsessed with Biscoff Spread.  So obsessed that I’m embarrassed (NO I’M NOT) to admit that I’ve gone through six jars in four weeks.  So obsessed that I tell everyone who will listen about it.  Lucky for me, blabbing about my obsessions sometimes works in my favor.  So when one of my friends who had heard me rave about Biscoff Spread, came across this recipe on design sponge and she immediately sent it to me.

And my mouth immediately began to water.  Just looking at the recipe,  I knew it was a winner.   Especially given my recent Biscoff adventures failures, I knew I had to try it.  The first time I made this cake, I followed the recipe to a T.  As is often the case, it was great but my mind started to wander thinking of how it could be better.  Within seconds, I knew that the Devil’s Food cake was no match for my favorite, nine-ingredient chocolate cake.   That nine-ingredient, simple cake never fails me.  It’s a cinch to make, right out of the pantry plus it is so moist it tastes as though pudding is the key ingredient – almost more of a brownie than a cake.  So for the second time around, I married the two and the Sweetheart Cake was born.  Easy enough for everyday and impressive enough for a special occasion, so if you’re entertaining and looking to impress this Valentine’s Day, look no further than the Sweetheart Cake.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Nine-Ingredient Chocolate Cake
+ 1.5  c. all-purpose flour
+ 1 c. sugar
+ 1/4  c. unsweetened cocoa powder
+ 1 tsp. baking soda
+ 1/2  tsp. coarse salt
+ 6 T  vegetable oil
+ 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
+ 1 T white vinegar
+ 1 c. cold water

Biscoff Ganache
+ 4.5 oz. + Milk Chocolate, chopped
+ 4.5 oz. + Dark Chocolate, chopped
+ One 14 oz. jar of Biscoff Spread
+ 1 pint less 1/3 cup heavy cream

To make the cake:
+ Center the rack in your oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and line an 8 inch round pan with parchment.  Butter parchment and dust with cocoa powder.
+ Sift flour into prepared 8in round layer cake pan. If you don’t have a flour sifter, place the flour in the pan and stir with a whisk for a minute.  Add the sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.  Using a fork stir together until the dry ingredients are mixed together.


+ Using a tablespoon, make three different “wells” in the dry ingredients.  One large, one medium and one small.
+ Add the liquid ingredients to the wells as follows: Large = Oil; Medium = Vinegar; Small = Vanilla
+ Then pour one cup of cold water over the entire pan.
+ Using your fork, stir the batter so that it is mixed.  You should be stirring for about 2 minutes at most.  Make sure there are no pockets of dry ingredients in the corners and make sure you get everything off the bottom and skim the bottom to make sure that the parchment is still flat.  Keep in mind you want it to be mixed but by no means do you need to go for broke here, use your judgement.
+ Put the pan in the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until when a toothpick or knife inserted in the center of the cake can be clean when removed.  Another hint is to gently push the top of the cake with your fingers.  If it springs back its ready.
+ Remove the pan from the oven and place it on a cooling rack and let it cool completely.

To make the Biscoff Ganache:
+Using a double broiler or your microwave melt the chopped chocolates until they are just smooth.  If using a microwave, heat in 30-second increments stirring between rounds. Should take about 3-4 minutes.  You don’t want to over heat this so make sure to go slow and stir.
+ Once melted, pour the chocolate into your mixer.  Add the entire jar of Biscoff Spread.  Whisk until just combined.


+ Add heavy cream straight from the fridge.  It needs to be cold so make sure you don’t leave it out.  Whisk slowly until the liquid is combined and then whip just until soft peaks form.

To assemble the cake:
You don’t have to make this a layer cake, it’s fantastic just frosted with the ganache but if you are feeling adventurous or have been wanting to attempt a layer cake, this is the one.  Both the cake and frosting are very forgiving so if you break a layer or your layers are uneven, the ganache will hide the crumbs + all manner of sins (see the picture below…the bottom layer broke… shhhh)

+If desired, cut the cake in half using a serrated knife.
+Using an ice cream scoop or spoon, scoop about a third of the ganache on the bottom layer.  Using a knife, spatula or offset spatula, spread the ganache from the center of the cake towards the edges.  Attempt to make the ganache as even as possible.
+ Place the second layer on the cake.  Scoop half of the remaining ganache on top.  Clean your utensil (knife, spatula or offset spatula) and then use it to evenly spread a thin layer of the ganache from the center towards the edges.  You want a majority of the frosting to spill over and frost the edges.  Use your utensil to spread around the edge of the cake.
+Scoop the remainder of the frosting evenly across the top of the cake.
+Using a potato peeler, cheese grater or microplane, shave additional chocolate on top.
+ Cover and chill for at least an hour so that the ganache sets.

Cut, serve and be prepared to swoon.  I know I say this every time, but this really is one of the best cakes I’ve made.  The combination of the dense, fudgy cake and ganache is outrageous.  The ginger/spice cookie flavor from the Biscoff Spread counterbalances the sweetness of the cake perfectly.     Let me know if you make it!

xoxo,

Katie