Taking Care of your Cookie Cutters

As I carefully wash and dry all the Valentines cookie cutters used in the last few weeks, I thought it might be a good time to discuss the care of cookie cutters.
There are 3 basic cookie cutters that most of us have used.
Molded Plastic, Tin or Stainless Steel, and Copper (my fav.).
Plastic: Great all round cookie cutter. Simple shapes, easy to use, can be use for several ‘cutting jobs’.
Plastic cookie cutters are the only cutters that may be placed in the dishwasher. Most will be just fine.
I would bundle very small ones so they don’t get lost. Just tie a plastic bread wrapper twisty to bundle them together.

Tin or stainless steel: Never place these in the dishwasher. Only wash by hand with a mild soap. Dry completely before storing. (I hand dry all my cutters) Never let them just ‘air dry’ unless you keep turning them to drain the water out of the small gaps. (Water left in the cutter seams, will cause rust.)

Copper: LOVE copper cutters! They are so beautiful, easy to use, release cookie dough well and you can use them for decorations! Hand wash and dry. Sometimes you will need to use a copper cleaner to keep them looking bright. Be sure to completely clean the copper cleaner of the cutter before the next use.

Storage: Storing your cutters is easy. After they are all washed and dried, place them in large plastic bags by holiday.
This way they will be clean and ready to use next year!

Happy Baking!
Cathy

National Sugar Cookie Day!

Hello Cookie Decorators!

Have you baked, iced, eaten, gifted, or crumbled a sugar cookie today??  It’s National Sugar Cookie Day!  Yea! It’s like Christmas/New Years/ and The 4th of July to all of us cookie bakers and decorators!  I’m so excited about it…..I made and gave cookies away yesterday!  (Photos to be posted this week on a new cookie tutorial).

So…..you have the recipes, go bake some cookies.  Give some away……..It makes you feel so happy!

Really Happy Baking!

January Cookie reflection!

January is a great time to start to slow-down and just breathe.
I took a week off and spent time in Colorado. Something about the mountians, LOTS of snow, and being outdoors just calms me down.
It seems like everyone else, I get caught-up in all of the “Holiday Spirit” that I sometimes miss the meaning of Christmas.
Time spent with family and friends is what I really LOVE about the holidays. Re-connecting and making new memories with love ones still with us.
I got to see my sweet nieces and nephew from Orlando, and their folks, We ate cookies, of course! Then, went to parties, carved out time with my family, shopped and shopped and made thousands of cookies for customers across the country. Also taught lots of new cookie classes throughout the Midwest and (starting last spring) began teaching new Skype online cookie decorating classes.
Oh, my…….this is a lot for this little Midwestern gal!

I would encourage each of you to take just a moment to refelct on Holiday, 2010. Would you do anything differently? Yes, we are all scattered and crazy in December, but we must love it!? We do Christmas every year!

Happy New Year!
Cathy

Christmas Cookies on Video!

It’s here! Just when you need it most!
Check out my “Bolg” for the newest “Video Tutorials on Cookie Decorating”.
These are about 2 minutes of quick, little cookie tips to help you with those last minute gingerbread cookie decorating ideas.
They are FREE! Just let me know if they helped.
Happy Holiday Baking!
-Cathy

Cookies for Sweethearts!

Can you believe it??!!  We just took down the Christmas decorations and it’s nearly time for Valentine cookie baking!

Be sure and check out my cookie tutorial “Flying Hearts!”  You’ll find a step by step lesson on how to create beautiful cookies for Valentines Day.

With just over 3 weeks to Valentines Day, now is the time to make and freeze your cookie dough.  You can even bake and freeze un-iced cookies.  This do-a-head will make cookie decorating day go so much faster.

Happy Baking!

Cathy

Cookies of Louisville!

A really big Thank you to all of the students in my Cookie Decorating classes in Louisville, KY this week!

Classes were held at Campbell’s Gourmet Cottage in Louisvillewww.gourmetcottage.com (ph.502-893-6700).  The class members made wonderful Holiday cookies in the “Christmas in July” Cookie Decorating Class.  About 18 students participated in each class. The students learned several decorating techniques and applied them to a Giant Santa cookie, as well as several other cookies we created in class.  Everyone’s cookies were simply outstanding!  Students were able to take home 4 beautiful Holiday cookies they decorated in the class.

In addition to the Giant Santa Cookie, the class made a large Holiday Cottage, an adorable Snowman and a Decorated Christmas Tree.

I encourage everyone in the greater Louisville area to check out the classes at Campbell’s.  Sign-up for a cooking class, and bring a friend!

(Special thanks to Jennifer for bringing her gal friends Cindy and Amber!  We all had way too much fun!)

Looking forward to September!

Happy Baking!

To Hot to Bake Cookies???

What??! No baking cookies??  Hey, “It’s too hot to bake”,  you might say. (Even though it’s almost National Sugar Cookie Day!)  Remember….”must make cookies” for July 9th.

Idea, what’s wrong with buying a few baked cookies from your local bakery? (Shop from locals whenever you can.)

The best part of cookie making is the decorating!  Make up some fun, bright colors of Royal icing and let the kids decorate!  Round cookies can be the sun, a beach ball, logos, badges, baseballs, soccer balls…..whatever they can think of.  Just let them have fun!  (Sort of like Dec. cookie decorating in the kitchen, what a fun mess)! Pull out all of the holiday sprinkles, jimmies and silver dragees.  What a great way to fill up an afternoon!  Plus you get to eat cookies!

This is a great rain-y day activity for all ages.  Plus it’s fun when it’s too hot to go outside!

A neat idea: If the ‘store bought’ cookies are soft enough, try cutting shapes with your own cookie cutters.  Just be sure and use simple cutter shapes.  Place the cookie on a hard surface, (cutting board works great) place the cutter on the cookie and press.  Cut all the way through the cookie.  Heart, square and round cookie cutter seem to work best.  You can even use a mini cookie cutter to cut out the center of the  baked cookie for a ‘fun look’.  Decorate cookie as usual.

Happy Baking!

Independence Day!

Happy 4th of July!

  I love the 4th of July!  Fireworks and picnics, get out the lawn chairs and wait ….(what seems like forever) for the fireworks to begin. 

This year I am going  to fireworks celebrations Fri. and Sat. (maybe even Sun. somewhere?)  Can’t wait for that first ear-shattering……BOOM!  Then it begins!  Sometimes 20 minutes, sometimes 1 hour of “open your eyes and turn on the party lights in the sky“.

One of my very favorite July 4th  memories is a yearly party with the Swemm family.  Kerrie Swemm was my very dear childhood friend and our families would meet near the American Legion Post in my hometown of Danville.  There was always wonderful picnic food; grilled hotdogs, red potato salad and  garden fresh tomatoes from my dads garden.  Then there were the desserts!   On one end of the food table lay a massive amount of all things sweet and tasty.  I remember the pies; berry, apple and lemon.  Also, my moms famous blond brownies and a sheet cake iced with homemade buttercream iced to look like the flag; red, white and blue.   Then there were the cookies!  Chocolate chip, molasses and ginger, peanut butter, and of course sugar cookies.  I helped make the sugar cookies. (go figure?)  My job was to sprinkle red or blue sparkling sugar onto the cut out cookies.  Then my mom would pop them into the oven and we would wait.  12 minute later………joy and happiness!  Cookies!  We could each have just one cookie before the picnic. Guess which one I wanted?

I remember all of this like it was last week……….can it really be over 30 years ago?  My mom no longer bakes so I carry on the cookie tradition for her.  So here’s to you mom (and dad).  Happy 4thof July!  Enjoy the fireworks tomorrow! I love you both!

Happy Baking!

Coffee and Cookies

Don’t you just love coffee?  People that know me, know I NEED my morning coffee!  I like to sit outside and drink my first cup and slowly greet the morning.  (It’s even better with a plate of cookies!)

Did you know, by adding strong, cooled coffee to any chocolate dessert, you bumb up the flavor of the chocolate? Just a tablespoon or so, really adds to the taste.  You will not really taste the coffee, but it will make whatever you bake with chocolate so much better.  You can also use espresso powder.  Yum!

Some of my favorite chocolate parings: Add orange, real vanilla or hazelnuts for a wonderful taste treat.

  I can never leave a recipe alone.  I am always experimenting with unusual flavors.  But…….trust me……sometimes they do not work.  (Like the time I added hot peppers to brownies.)  Now, a bit of heat in chocolate brownies can be quite tasty, but these were awful!  See?……..even I make baking “boo boos”.  The point is, I try…….I experiment.  And sometime it turns out to be a wonderful new treat!  NOTE: A word about altering recipes for baked goods. Be very careful not to alter the liquid/dry ratio or the fat/dry ratio in baked goods.  You want to add ‘flavor’ not change the structure of the basic recipe.

So go bake something today!  Let me know what you come up with! I love to hear from you!

Happy Baking!