Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Happy Happy Happy (cookies)

I love happy. I strive for happy.
(Although, as I was stuck in traffic yesterday, HAPPY was a definite struggle.)

happy floral decorated cookies ... with how-to's and tips
These cookies are HAPPY. {Start humming Pharrell Williams here; better yet...let's all watch the video. I'd like to live in there.}

happy floral decorated cookies ... with how-to's and tips
It's funny...for a girl who has probably 500+ cookie cutters, I was stuck with a capital S when deciding on cookies to make for a bake sale. Some dear friends of ours are heading to Haiti on a mission trip over spring break and a bake sale was part of their fundraising efforts. I signed up to make 4 dozen cookies and couldn't think of a single design.

happy floral decorated cookies ... with how-to's and tips
What to make? What to make? My fallback cookies are hearts, but the bake sale was right after Valentine's Day and I didn't want people to think they were leftovers. (You could probably say that I over-think things.)

happy floral decorated cookies ... with how-to's and tips
I looked though my cookie archives (which I desperately need to update), I scoured Pinterest, I spent DAYS thinking about what cookie to make. Clearly, I need more hobbies. Anyhoo...I started looking at invitation and stationery websites because I think they always have pretty and modern design ideas. On Minted, I came across this set of garden party decor, and BINGO, inspiration.

I originally planned for only the white with dots and the solid pink cookies, but then I could tell I was running low on white icing and this happened...
happy floral decorated cookies ... with how-to's and tips
happy floral decorated cookies ... with how-to's and tips

Here's what you'll need to make some Happy Cookies that would make Pharrell proud:

The cookies were outlined with a #2 tip and white icing. Then, they were flooded with thinned icing. To thin icing for flooding, add water a bit at a time, until it is the consistency of maple syrup. Stir gently with a silicone spatula. Transfer to a squeeze bottle and fill in the outlines.

For the dots, thinned icing was dropped right on top of the wet base coat. See this post for more details.

happy floral decorated cookies ... with how-to's and tips
To make the flowers:
  • big roses: pipe a swirl using the #14 star tip 
  • rose buds: pipe a dot with a #3 tip. Use a #1 tip to add a swirl on top
  • leaves: use a #349 leaf tip. Practice on a plate of sheet of waxed paper first, releasing the pressure on the piping bag as you pull out and away. 

Always let cookies dry 6-8 hours or overnight UNCOVERED. 

happy floral decorated cookies ... with how-to's and tips
I think these are my new go-to when I can't think of any other cookie designs to make. :)

Hoping your day is filled with a big dose of HAPPY! ♥

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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Sweet on Trader Joe's Saturday: Chocolate Brooklyn Babka

Happy Saturday, friends! Today, we're reviewing Trader Joe's Chocolate Brooklyn Babka.

a review of trader joe's chocolate brooklyn babka
Now, maybe because I grew up in the suburbs of Houston and went to college in Oklahoma, but I'd never even heard of babka until watching Seinfeld. Remember Elaine wanting to bring a chocolate babka to a party...gets stuck with the "lesser" cinnamon babka...and Jerry breaks his no throw-up streak due to a black & white cookie?
That was my introduction to babka...and I've wanted to eat one ever since.

a review of trader joe's chocolate brooklyn babka
Trader Joe's describes this as "a sweet rich pastry layered with chocolate." An 18-ounce babka costs $4.99. In our Trader Joe's, I've seen this come and go. It's always right by the first register and nowhere else in the store that I have seen. Keep your eyes peeled.

a review of trader joe's chocolate brooklyn babka
A mom's (my) take: BABKA...where have you been all my life? Oh, y'all. This is my ultimate food. This is like a cross between bread and a croissant, all marbled and swirled with chocolate. The top is glazed and studded with chocolate chips. Bonus: babka is super fun to say. You know they have those forks by the door at Trader Joe's? (I'm sure they're for to-go salads.) I may grab one on my next trip and eat one of these in my car.
Overall rating: (a very enthusiastic) 5 of 5 stars

A teeanger's (kiddo's) review: I've never eaten any sort of babka before, but this particular one was amazing. To me, it tasted like several layers of crossiant-ish bread spaced by chocolate and all sorts of sugary goodness. The consistency was very interesting, as the outside and bread was sort of chewy but the inside, especially the chocolate, was very soft and rich. I could EASILY eat the whole thing.
Overall rating: 5 out of 5 stars

a review of trader joe's chocolate brooklyn babka
Trader Joe's Chocolate Brooklyn Babka: 
Elaine wants you to have one. (So do we.)

Read all of our Trader Joe's sweet treats and dessert reviews!

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Crunchy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

crunchy oatmeal raisin cookies
Can we talk? (< homage to Joan Rivers)

A crunchy oatmeal raisin cookie is one of the few cookies I can easily turn down. A chewy oatmeal cookie, a soft oatmeal cookie, a chocolate chip oatmeal cookie...sign me up, but crunchy? No.
crunchy oatmeal raisin cookies
These cookies, however, are not for me. They're for my dad. Remember for Christmas I promised to make him one batch of oatmeal cookies each month?

For these cookies, I started with a recipe I knew would be good...it's from King Arthur Flour, and I find I can always count on their recipes. I played with the amount of oats, and added in some oat flour for extra oat-iness. I also traded some of the brown sugar for white to make these extra crunchy.

crunchy oatmeal raisin cookies
As I was making them, I nibbled on quite a bit of the cookie dough. Practically like eating a bowl of oatmeal, right? The cookies, I wasn't so sure about. Like I said, crunchy oatmeal raisin cookies are not my cup of tea.

The day I made them, Mr. E and I were like ships passing in the night. As he was coming in from work, I was heading out of the door. I gave him strict instructions, "eat some of those cookies and tell me what you think."

When I came home later that night, he said, "those cookies? I ate 5 of them." He told me that he loved them so much that he didn't even slow down eating them to pour of cup of milk.

Well...there you go. I guess these are manly cookies. Rugged, craggy, crunchy...definitely not the puffy, soft, pretty, or gooey cookies I'd normally prefer.

Dad, I hope you approve.

crunchy oatmeal raisin cookies
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Crunchy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

{makes a lot, adapted from King Arthur Flour}

2 & 3/4 cups rolled oats
1 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
1/2 cup oat flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup salted butter, cut into chunks
1/2 cup shortening
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 325. Line cookie sheets with parchment.

Stir together the oats, flours, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon. Set aside.

In a large bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the sugars, butter, and shortening until combined and creamy. Beat in the egg and vanilla.

On low speed, add in the flour/oat mixture, then add in the raisins and pecans. Mix on low just until combined.

Scoop onto cookie sheets and flatten the dough using the bottom of a juice glass. (Dip the bottom of the glass in flour first.) For 2-teaspoon scoops, bake for 18 minutes. For 2-tablespoon scoops, bake for 20 minutes. (I made some of each.)

Remove to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

crunchy oatmeal raisin cookies
Are you a fan of the crunchy oatmeal raisin cookie?

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