Monday, February 15, 2010

So I'm Pregnant!

In late November we found out that I'm pregnant!!! We were and are over the moon excited.

However, I soon became very very tired and just getting up in the morning was a huge challenge, let alone even thinking about baking a new cookie or documenting it... Nevertheless I did bake. The kids like it when I bake, it's fun for me and it's great for them to measure, pour things, learn to crack eggs and stir. Though it's not documented I baked nearly every week and even made stain glass cutout cookies and my (Martha Stewart's) famous gingerbread for cookies and houses for the holidays. We actually made 6 gingerbread houses this year and they all stood up. Which is an accomplishment considering the kids (3-7) did most of the work.

As I've moved into my second trimester, I have regained some of my lost energy. I still don't know if I've got in me to bake and document something new every week but I'm hoping to at least get a few more cookie posts in before baby makes it's grand entrance. Also, I have to make a few cakes in the near future. It's something I started just last year and really like doing!!!

I made this Star Wars Death Star cake last April. It was my first 3D cake and I learned a lot from my experience. I'm still upset that the cake is not round... it's more oval then I anticipated, but I think it still turned out okay.

In October I made a Batmobile cake. My husband actually helped to carve it and did a fantastic job. He thought it would be so easy... and it was!! I'm hoping I can use his skills again. The cake required some gum paste accessories and I was thrilled with the results.

In the next few months I need to make 3 cakes. A Cookie Monster cake for a 2 yrs. old. A baby shower cake for a dear friend and lastly we are approaching April and now I have a little boy who dreams big when it comes to cake!!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Peanut Butter Balls

When I was in grade 3, our teacher wanted the class to create a recipe book for our mothers on Mother's Day. The only catch was the the recipe needed to be presented in class and we weren't allowed the use of an oven.
So having drawn the dessert category, I remember being a little stumped. So I went home and searched through all of our cookbooks. It wasn't until I cracked open this very old French Canadian cookbook that had been passed down to my mother from her mother I found a recipe that needed no cooking.

These crispy little balls are wonderfully messy to make. The kids got a kick out of rolling the balls in the sugar and coconut. The messiest part of the job, which meant there was always something to lick off a sticky finger or ten!

Here's the recipe.

1/2 cup butter
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
1 cup rice cereal
1 cup chocolate chips
2 cups shredded sweetened coconut
splash of vanilla
splash of milk

Combine the butter and peanut butter. Add 1 cup of icing sugar. Mix well. Stir in the rice cereal and the chocolate chips.

Place the coconut in a shallow dish.

In a separate shallow dish create a slurry with the remaining icing sugar and a splash of each vanilla and milk. You want the mixture to be thick enough to stick to the balls and yet not running off. Adjust the thickness with milk.

Now here comes the messy parts. It helps to create an assembly line.

Roll the dough into little bite sized balls, then roll the dough in the icing sugar bath followed by the pool of coconut. Let the peanut butter balls firm up on a piece of parchment paper.

I hope you enjoy a piece of my childhood!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Failed Macaroons and Chocolate Chip Cookies

As my adventure continues I'm really having to think about what to make next. I could visit several websites that give out daily cookie recipes or I could go and buy a cookbook, but where the fun in all that. I wanted this to come mostly from me and my own baking experience. I knew that along the way things wouldn't always work out, and this week would be my first failure.

I decided I would try Coconut Macaroons. We use to make them when I was a child at Christmas, they were simple and took few ingredients. So I spent some time looking at various recipes and decided to go with a very basic one, egg whites, sugar, coconut, vanilla.

Well they kinda tasted okay... the kids ate them. But it's like the egg and sugar oozed out of the coconut and left a sticky round mess around a mound of bland coconut. Needless to say the mounds didn't hold their shape very well because the egg seeped out.

Now I'm more determined than ever to find and create a recipe that works better. But we couldn't go a week without a good cookie. So I whipped up a batch of chocolate chip cookies figuring it was a good opportunity to blog about the cookie that started off this whole adventure.

My never ever fail Chocolate Chip Cookie... and no you can't have the recipe. Sorry I know I'm blogging, but there are few recipes I hold sacred.

I don't know there's something so maternal about whipping up a batch of chocolate chip cookie... kids trying to steal the chips off the counter, others picking at the dough while you're busy putting a baking sheet in the oven.

The house fills with the familiar smell of warm cookies and it brings a smile to every ones face... MMMmmm warm cookies!

If your looking for a good recipe or you just want to try a new one I suggest the original Toll House recipe. It's easy to find on the back of any Toll House Chocolate chip bag.

And since it was Sesame Streets 40th anniversary this week I will leave you with this.

"Now what start with "c", cookie starts with "c", now let's think of other things that start with "c." Ahh, I don't care about those other things. C is for cookie, that's good enough for me!" -Cookie Monster

If you would like to watch Cookie Monster in his prime singing this classic just head to


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Peanut "Peanut Butter Cup" Cookies

So looking back at my first post, I realize that the task of making cutout cookies is a little bit daunting. So this weeks selection is much much easier. I whipped these up yesterday afternoon while the kids sat and ate their after school snack. They only took an hour start to finish. Needless to say they're exponentially faster than the 2-3 day cutout cookie saga.

I came across a wonderful idea for using up some of our left over Halloween Candy. This week we will be using a dozen peanut butter cups!! Or in my case, the kids got 1 peanut butter cup and thus I had to go out and buy a bag, but it was on sale! The original recipe was featured in Real Simple magazine, October 2009. I've adapted it slightly as I was hoping it would have more of a peanut butter cookie base. I think the modifications have actually helped enhance the flavour created by the addition of the cups.

Leftover Halloween Candy Cookies
-Peanut "Peanut Butter Cup" Cookies-

1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1 tbsp. baking soda
1 tbsp. baking powder
12 regular size peanut butter cups

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl cream the butter and peanut butter. I melted the butter slightly in the microwave using the defrost setting. I made sure not to melt it fully as I just want to soften it so it would blend well with the peanut butter.

Add the sugars and vanilla to the "butters" and mix well. Next, beat the eggs into this wet mixture. Set aside.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder and baking soda. I didn't add any salt to this recipe and I almost never add salt. I generally buy salted butter, so instead of keeping unsalted in the house for baking, I just omit salt from recipes.

Cut your peanut butter cups into chunks, about the size of a chocolate chip, set aside.

Add the flour mixture a 1/2 cup at a time to the wet mixture. By the final addition you'll have to use your hands to get the dough mixed well.

Gently fold in the candy chunks.

This dough will feel very dry, and it's impossible to stir with a spoon, you'll have to get your hands dirty. The heat from your hands will warm the butters and make the dough a little more pliable.

Roll dough into balls and press down lightly onto baking sheet.

Bake for 8-12 minutes or until golden. Transfer to a rack to cool.

While you have the first batch cooking, I like to continue rolling the dough and setting it aside to save time.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Halloween Cutout Cookies

Halloween is a wonderful time of year to experiment with cutout cookies. You can make them as simple or as complicated as you like, or in my case you can try and fulfill the desires of a 5 yr. old boy whose only request was spiderweb cookies. I decorated this batch of cookies with my "little monkeys," four boys aged, 4, 5, 6, and 7 yrs. old, and a little "girl" friend age 6. So if I can do this with 5 kids, you can all do this!! I also did a batch of Jack-o-Lanterns all on my own.

The first thing we need is a no fail cutout cookie recipe. This is really the only challenging part of this whole process. Finding a cookie recipe that does not stick to everything, that holds up to the abuse of little fingers, and can be rolled and re-rolled is a challenge. This is truly the only recipe I actually follow to a T. I also found it in the most surprising place!!

It's a cream cheese recipe, that can be found at Yes I did say cream cheese and it's surprisingly doesn't really taste like cream cheese. This dough will need to be refrigerated for at least 2 hours, I like to do it overnight. One day I make the dough, one day I bake the cookies and decorate them. It's a good system.

You'll need;

250 g. Cream cheese at room temperature (very important!!)
3/4 cup Butter at room temperature (very important!!)
1/3 cup Sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla
2+ cups All-purpose flour

As well, it's good to have parchment paper, cooling racks and obviously you'll need cookie cutters.

The first step is to make sure the butter and cream cheese are at room temperature. So I like to cut them into little 2cm X 2cm cubes. This speeds up the process of making sure they come up to room temperature and makes it easier when combine them. Do not melt them in the microwave!!! You'll have to refrigerate them longer, the dough will demand more flour, and it wont roll as nicely.

So with all that said, combine the butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer. Beat in the vanilla and the sugar.

Now with a wooden spoon, add in the flour a 1/2 cup at a time. When you have added the last bit of flour you'll need to use your hands and make sure the dough all comes together, you can do this either in the bowl or dump it out onto the counter.

Once the dough has come together, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap in a brick shape and refrigerate. If you wrap it in a ball, the middle will take longer to cool down and it's harder to roll out later.

Now is the perfect time to clean up the first mess and decide which cookie cutters your going to use, how your going to decorate your cookies and make sure you have all your ingredients for your icing.

My favorite icing recipe is super easy. Egg whites, icing sugar and a splash of vanilla. Now some people worry about using real egg whites because of bacteria, but usually the cookies are eaten within a week and I always make sure to buy fresh eggs for the icing. You can use either separate whole eggs, or now you can buy cartons of just egg whites which works the same.

So now that you have some refrigerated dough, preheat your oven to 350 degrees C. I also like to line my baking sheets with parchment paper, which means nothing sticks and clean up in a breeze.

I like to cut the dough into at least 3 even parts. Roll out each section to desired thickness and cut your cookies with cutters. Place cut cookies on baking sheet. Repeat until you pans are filled with cookies.

Bake approx. 8 minutes, or until firm. Bottoms should be slightly golden, but with little to no colour on the edges. Move cookies to cooling racks or a lined counter with parchment paper.

Continue rolling, cutting and baking until all the dough is gone. Makes about 36, 2 inch cookies.

Let them cool completely before decorating.

Now we need to make some icing, which I have no recipe for. I use this icing anytime I need an icing that dries hard. First beat your egg whites until they form stiff glossy peaks. For this batch of cookies only needing 2 colours I used only 2 egg whites.

Now add about 2tsp. vanilla, and slowly add some icing sugar about a 1/2 cup at a time. Now keep adding icing sugar until the icing has the desired consistency. I usually need up to 3 cups of icing sugar... it all depends.

Since we were making spiderwebs I wanted a thinner white icing and and thicker black icing. In a separate bowl I thickened the icing with more icing sugar and dyed it black using gel colours. I only use the gel colours which I find at our local bulk food store.

Making the spiderwebs was actually easier then I thought and the kids loved helping out. First I coated the cookies with thin layer of white icing. Then the kids pipped on black circles. Lastly, the kids pulled lines through the circle, always starting in the middle. There you go spiderwebs!!

We used the leftover black to decorate cats, using silver dagnets for eyes. I also made some pumpkins and decorated them as jack-o-lanterns.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Challenge

My friends keep telling me that I should post a blog about my personal baking challenge, to track all my trials and tribulations with baking a new cookie a week for 52 weeks. I must say I was on the fence with this whole blog thing. To have a successful blog, you need to keep it up to date, and I'm not certain I have the time from week to week to post the new creation and pics of my weekly adventure. After all I'm not a baker, I'm a nanny who was just fed up making the same chocolate chip cookie recipe over and over and over again,and there's the catch, 99% of all these cookies need to be kid friendly. They need to be able help and enjoy eating them.

Personally, I think my friends just want all my cookie recipes. What they don't know is, I usually don't have recipes. I know the basics of a cookie dough recipe and I adapt it to suit whatever flavor I'm experimenting with from week to week.

Nevertheless, I've decided to try out this whole blog thing. Let's hope it goes well.

So here's the thing, I'm actually already on week 8. I'm going to try and recap the first 7 cookie recipes, within the next 3 weeks. The kids will enjoy all the extra treats anyways.

The 7 previous weeks were;
-1- Chocolate Chip
-2- Apple Buttons
-3- Oatmeal Raisin
-4- Peanut Butter
-5- Chocolate Cookies
-6- Pumpkin Cookies
-7- Rainbow Pinwheels

And week 8 is Halloween Cookies. A fabulous roll out sugar cookie recipe that never ever fails. I've probably made this recipe just as much as my chocolate chip recipe!!

My goal is to post my results by Friday, so if you want to try them out for yourselves, you'll have the weekend to get messy in the kitchen!

Don't forget to let the kids help.

Cheers Crystal :)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Coming Soon!

My adventures in baking a cookie a week for a year! The challenge, never repeating a recipe.