Chocolate and Vanilla Cupcakes

Baking date: November 10, 2018

My son Alex, who is a junior in high school, helped coach a youth football team this year.  A number of his teammates do this each season, at various age levels in the youth sports program. My son was assigned to the D2 JV football team (the D1 team is the more competitive group), comprised of 6th and 7th graders. For the Bowl game they had, I made mummy football player and coach cookies.

The JV teams had a group dinner and I brought cupcakes. I made french vanilla and triple chocolate fudge, with white frosting in royal blue and gold foil cupcake holders.  After putting a swirl on the cupcake with a 1M tip, I topped the cupcakes with royal blue and shimmer golden sixlets. I then dusted them with royal blue and yellow sugar sprinkles.

Here they are on the trays, ready to head to the dinner.

img_2160

And here’s each version, up close.

img_2164img_2163

 

Halloween-themed Gingerbread Cookies

Baking date: October 31, 2018

Each Friday night there is a home game for our varsity football team, the families provide a dinner for them and the coaches. I usually don’t get the sign up information until late, and dessert is always taken by the time I log on.

For the final game of the season, we invite the varsity cheerleaders to join the meal. I asked the team mom to put my name down for desserts before she launched the potluck sign up.

I made gingerbread cut out cookies that I could decorate with royal icing. I used a recipe from the Mary Meade’s Country Cook Book:

Ingredients: 1 cup softened butter, 1 cup sugar, 1 beaten egg, 2 cups molasses, 2 tablespoons vinegar, 8 cups flour (yes, 8  cups!), 1 teaspoon salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, 2 tablespoons ginger, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, 3 teaspoons baking soda, 1 cup boiling water

Directions: Sift flour, salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg – set aside (for amounts this large, I place all the ingredients in a bowl and use a whisk to “sift” them). Beat egg in small bowl; set aside. Cream butter and sugar. Beat in egg, molasses and vinegar.  Dissolve the baking soda in the boiling water (it will fizz up!). Add water alternately with flour mixture. Chill at least one hour prior to rolling out.  Bake at 350 degrees for 14 minutes (oven temps and cook times may vary, also the size of the cookie may mean more or less baking time).

I made some generic Halloween-themed cookies, using white, black, orange, red, purple and green cookie icing, a variety of sprinkles, as well as large and regular candy eyeballs. (Wilton also makes bloodshot eyeball candies – next year!)img_2111img_2113

There were also cookies with royal blue and golden yellow cookie icing, which are the team colors. There was also one huge pumpkin that I shaped from the remaining dough.

img_2112

Here are the cookies on the plates:

45370948_10156914047550742_3717659438706851840_n45201179_10156914047540742_4862870351735947264_n.jpg

The players and cheerleaders were well fed and enjoyed the cookies. Thanks for a great season to all of them!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Football Player Zombie Gingerbread Cookies

Baking date: October 28, 2018

As  member of the Athletic Boosters for my sons’ high school, I do a lot of picture taking (in addition to managing both the Facebook and Twitter feeds). I take pictures for the JV football team, as we have another football mom with a MUCH better camera/lens than mine who takes pictures of varsity games.

The JV team had a game originally scheduled on Halloween, but due to weather, it got moved to November 1. Unfortunately, the move meant I would not be able to attend the game. But that didn’t stop me from preparing a fun post-game snack for their final contest of the season.

I decided to make Zombie football helmet gingerbread cookies. I used a recipe from the Mary Meade’s Country Cook Book:

Ingredients: 1 cup softened butter, 1 cup sugar, 1 beaten egg, 2 cups molasses, 2 tablespoons vinegar, 8 cups flour (yes, 8  cups!), 1 teaspoon salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, 2 tablespoons ginger, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, 3 teaspoons baking soda, 1 cup boiling water

Directions: Sift flour, salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg – set aside (for amounts this large, I place all the ingredients in a bowl and use a whisk to “sift” them). Beat egg in small bowl; set aside. Cream butter and sugar. Beat in egg, molasses and vinegar.  Dissolve the baking soda in the boiling water (it will fizz up!). Add water alternately with flour mixture. Chill at least one hour prior to rolling out.  Bake at 350 degrees for 14 minutes (time may vary, depending on your oven and the size of your cut out cookie. The gingerbread man cut out I used was 14 minutes).

I used a drinking glass with a wide mouth for the round cut out. I flooded the cookies with white royal icing, and then added the eye section with black royal icing, red royal icing and candy eyeballs, following the basic tutorial video I found on Nicki Lee Bake’s channel. I used royal blue cookie icing to make the helmets, and more of the white royal icing dyed golden yellow to make the helmet stripes and facemask.

Here are the cookies in various states of the decoration process:

img_2092

And here are the cookies in their final format. I didn’t personalize them since I wouldn’t be there to help hand them out. There were enough for coaches, as well as the players. Some of the other team moms were gracious enough to take the cookies to the game and hand them out.

img_2101

Great season, JV. I look forward to seeing a number of you move up to varsity next year, joining my son Alex as he plays in his senior year.

img_6931

Football Player Mummy Gingerbread Cookies

Baking date: October 26, 2018

This year, my son helped to coach players in the junior football program he grew up in. The kids on the team he helped to coach are 6th and 7th graders, who are on the D2 team. The D2 team is more of an instructional level than the competitive D1 squad.

My son always played on the D1 squad when he was in the program. His D2 team made it to a “Bowl” game, that took place October 27. Because it was so close to Halloween, I decided to make the players and coaches football player “mummies”.

I used a gingerbread cookie recipe my mom sent me from the Mary Meade Country Cookbook. The edition my mom has is probably from the mid- to late- 60s. The recipe is:

Ingredients: 1 cup softened butter, 1 cup sugar, 1 beaten egg, 2 cups molasses, 2 tablespoons vinegar, 8 cups flour (yes, 8  cups!), 1 teaspoon salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, 2 tablespoons ginger, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, 3 teaspoons baking soda, 1 cup boiling water

Directions: Sift flour, salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg – set aside (for amounts this large, I place all the ingredients in a bowl and use a whisk to “sift” them). Beat egg in small bowl; set aside. Cream butter and sugar. Beat in egg, molasses and vinegar.  Dissolve the baking soda in the boiling water (it will fizz up!). Add water alternately with flour mixture. Chill at least one hour prior to rolling out.  Bake at 350 degrees for 14 minutes (time may vary, depending on your oven and the size of your cut out cookie. The gingerbread man cut out I used was 14 minutes).

When decorating the cookies, I started with an all white royal icing base. I then piped on a black royal icing square where the eyes would go – I got the idea for the eyes from a Nicki Lee Bakes video tutorial. At first, I thought it looked like a bunch of astronauts!

Spacemen

After I added the red royal icing and then candy eyeballs, I added strips of white using a #46 basket weave tip.  I then used royal blue cookie icing (pre-made royal icing, if you will) to pipe on the helmets, with royal icing dyed golden yellow for the facemask and stripes on the helmet. Finally, I added each players’ number in royal blue cookie icing.

Here are the finished cookies for players:

Player Cookies

These are a few on the ones that I made for the seven coaches (including my son), For those, I piped a baseball hat instead of a helmet:

Coach Cookies

And, of course, we can’t forget the Team “Mummy”:

Team Mummy

I placed each cookie in a treat bag. After the game, as the coaches spoke to them, I handed out cookies to the kids and coaches. I also had made cinnamon spice drop cookies (I use butter, not shortening) for parents, siblings and other fans in attendance.

The kids were a muddy mess after the Bowl game:

img_7743b

Even though they lost, the kids loved the cookies! I believe you should always be paying it forward as much as possible. Cookies were one way I could do that for these kids.

Below is a slide show of my gentle giant (Walkersville High School varsity O-line tackle), with the kids throughout the season.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Get Well Soon Red Velvet Cake with Basketball “Court” Frosting

Baking date: October 21, 2018

The head coach of our high school girls basketball team — who is also head of the rec basketball league for ages 5 – 19 — recently had bypass surgery.  While I know that dessert is not necessarily what the doctor ordered for post-op recovery…well, I just can’t help myself.

I reached out to his wife to find out his favorite kind of cake. Turns out his (and maybe his wife and daughters) favorite is red velvet. So a red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting was in order.

I started by making Trisha Yearwood’s recipe for red velvet cake. For the frosting, I used canned cream cheese frosting.  When it comes to canned frosting, I do not have a favorite, though I will gravitate to anything that is on sale.

I wanted to do something special with the cake and decided to decorate the top like a basketball court. I tried to think of something unique that would make it look like a court and I immediately thought of sugar wafer cookies. So I iced the top of the cake with the cream cheese frosting and pressed in the full cookies in an alternating pattern to represent the hardwood of a basketball court. I cut some with a really sharp knife for the areas where a partial wafer was needed.

Here’s the top of the cake. I used cream cheese frosting colored royal blue to spell out the message, and some colored black to draw the lines on the court.

Cake

I piped on star bursts around the top and bottom edges. I made a Lion (the youth league and high school mascot) paw in yellow and royal blue candy melts. I added yellow and royal blue candy melt hearts around all four edges.

Turns out the coach’s birthday was just two days after I delivered the get well cake. Happy Birthday, Troy. We can’t wait to see you back on the court!

Troy and Cake

 

Easy Carmelitas

Baking date: October 3, 2018

Each year, as part of Customer Service Appreciation Week, my organization has a number of events in support of the great work our front-line customer service staff do. Last year included a chili cook-off, so that was too much like making dinner and I did not participate. Sort of like how I feel about making dinner at my house every night of the year.

But this year, the category was brownies, or brownie-like bars. I was in. Until I heard they needed three 9″ x 13″ pans of your entry for official “best in show” judging and the “staff favorite” contest. Because three pans of anything like that is a big ask for someone like me who doesn’t get home until 6:00pm and gets up at 5:00am to start her next day,

I almost said no. But I cracked open the Out of the Box Desserts cookbook, and searched for the easiest 9″ x 13″ brownie or brownie-like recipe I could find.  The Easiest Carmelitas Ever fit the bill! Baker’s note: be sure you buy the biggest tube of cookie dough.The regular size will not be big enough. and not every store carries the 30 ounce larger size.

IMG_2226

IMG_2224

A better look at the recipe

The competition included 5 entries, which seems like a pitiful showing when you have over 650 staff on site. But I guess a lot of other people had concerns about making 3 trays of brownies on a work night. This is my entry:

Easy Carmelitas

So, I didn’t win the grand prize in the company bake-off, as judged by an esteemed panel of our executive leadership.

But this girl’s Easy Carmelitas recipe was voted Fan Favorite by all the other staff who sampled the entries in the contest.

Trophy

I get to keep the trophy until next year, when we have the next contest. For now, it sits on a top shelf in my office for all to see.

Trophy on Shelf

 

Hot Chocolate Cake with Chocolate and Marshmallow Creme Frosting

Baking date: October 7, 2018

There have been a number of times when athletes my kids are on teams with have experienced season-ending injuries. And while I know that sugar doesn’t take the sting out of not being able to finish out a season or the pain from the injury, having something sugary certainly doesn’t hurt, right?

One of the JV football players that my younger son Nick used to play with (Nick has given up football) chipped a bone in his heal and is out for the season. Of course, that meant I needed  wanted to get him a cake.

After asking his mom about favorite flavors, I settled on a hot chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream and marshmallow buttercream frosting. The recipe makes a three layer cake, but I went with two thick layers.

43292359_10217322088869344_2511397171882885120_n

Cake with the chocolate buttercream. I tried a new side decorating technique I plan to use on a cake for a bride and groom I’ve been asked to make in 2019.

43456467_10217322088949346_2449675176124612608_n

Finished cake with the marshmallow buttercream.  It’s a little more runny than the chocolate buttercream.

I hope the cake helps with the healing, Rhett. Looking forward to seeing you join the varsity team next Fall.

42058923_10217156934100578_1408227902712971264_o

Rhett (#55) making one of many tackles this season before his injury.

P.S. athletes, please stop with the injuries to get a sweet treat. Just ask, I’ll make it.