Winter Cookies, What a Treat!

I am SURE all of you think January/Febuary cookies are a bit of a no no. But truth is…..a bit of sweet makes the chilly winter months seem more enjoyable.
One of my wintertime favorite cookies is a Snowball Cookie. Yes, it is the old fashioned mexican tea cake or pecan ball or sandies (as my mother called them). These buttery, nut ball are formed and baked just a few minutes then rolled while still warm in fluffy powdered sugar! Perfect with a cup of tea or hot cocoa!
Here’s the recipe:

1 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 teasp. pure vanilla
2 teasp. water
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup chopped pecans (or hazelnuts or almonds)
pinch of salt
1/4 cup powdered sugar
Beat butter for 30 seconds; add granulated sugar and beat until light and fluffy.
Add vanilla and water; beat well. Stir in flour and pecans. Don’t over work the dough. Roll into 1 inch balls, place on parchment lined baking sheets. Bake 15 to 20 min. in a 325 degree oven. Or until very lightly browned on the edges. Remove from oven and cool for 5 to 10 minutes then roll in the powdered sugar. Makes approx. 37 cookies.
Happy 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

Packaging your Treats

It does seem a little early to be discussing packaging and the how-to’s of wrapping your cookies for gift-giving.  But, I like to share this information in the summer.  This way, as you are out shopping you can keep an eye open for tins, boxes and baskets on sale that you can store away and use when gift giving season rolls around.  Funny thing, the holidays come exactly the same time every year yet we are some how ‘surpised‘ to see how fast they arrive.  Nothing is worse than  making some beautiful cookies and having nothing to deliver them in.  I shop/buy  year round for unusual containers, tins of all kinds, pretty boxes and totes to place my cookies in.  Even the most humble homemade treats look fabulous in a lovely tin or little hat box.  It’s like getting two gifts.  #1, the cookies or treats you made and #2, the tin or container they arrive in.  Many people re-use the containers to store items or pass it on to a friend.

Keeping the cookies fresh is really important.  I always package cookies in airtight containers.   Because home bakers do not use any type of preservatives, most cookies will last 4 to 7 days without loosing quality.  After this, most cookies or baked goods start to dry out or become stale.  The exception are highly spiced cookies like my gingerbread cookies.  These cookies will last several weeks if kept in an airtight container.

It is important to keep crisp cookies together and soft cookies, (like chocolate chip cookies) in a different container.  Do not mix the two types of cookies.  The crisp cookies will absorb moisture from the soft cookies making both cookies taste less than perfect.  If I am going to ship two different types of cookies together, I’ll place each type of cookie in different air tight containers.  Then place the two types in the same box and ship it off.  I know the cookies will taste great when they arrive.  It is fine to place your cookies in large zip-lock type bags.  Squeeze as much air out of the bag as you can before you seal it.  I like to wrap decorated cookies in their own little cellophane bags and hand tie the bags with a pretty ribbon.  This way, each cookie looks like a little “gift“. You can purchase these bags at party stores and hobby stores.

Happy Baking!

Valentines Day "Flying Hearts" Cookie Decorating Tutorial

Melt the heart of the one you love with these adorable cookies made fresh from the comfort of your kitchen.

To get started you will need:

  • Baked and cooled sugar cookies in any heart shape.
  • 2 colors of medium thin royal icing

Step 1: Outline cookie with white royal icing. Flood in outline with the same icing. Completely fill in the cookie.

"Flying Hearts" Cookie Decorating Tutorial - Step 1

"Flying Hearts" Cookie Decorating Tutorial - Step 1

Step 2: Working quickly, add 7 or 8 evenly spaced small dots of a contrasting color to the just iced cookie.

"Flying Hearts" Cookie Decorating Tutorial - Step 2

"Flying Hearts" Cookie Decorating Tutorial - Step 2

Step 3: Immediately take a toothpick and drag it through the small dots while the icings are still very wet.  This should be done in one slow motion.  Do not pick up the toothpick until you are finish with the last dot. You will have created “flying hearts”.  Let cookie completely dry.

"Flying Hearts" Cookie Decorating Tutorial - Step 3

"Flying Hearts" Cookie Decorating Tutorial - Step 3

Step 4: Add small dots of white to the outside edges, starting at the top of the heart and working way your down one side.

"Flying Hearts" Cookie Decorating Tutorial - Step 4

"Flying Hearts" Cookie Decorating Tutorial - Step 4

Step 5: Finish working your way down the other side. Let dry for about 2 hours. 

"Flying Hearts" Cookie Decorating Tutorial - Step 5

"Flying Hearts" Cookie Decorating Tutorial - Step 5

Alternatively, you can run a small outline around the outside of the cookie and sprinkle with  sanding sugar. 

You’re done! Package cookies in clear cellophane bags and tie with a beautiful ribbon for gift giving to your favorite Valentine!

Happy Baking!

Cathy

Bonus Tip: This same technique may be used for creamy soups or dips.  Just use a contrasting liquid.  (Sour cream works well in soups.)