Thanksgiving & Turkey Sugar Cookies

Baking date: November 12 & 18, 2018

Given that November was over 6 months ago (!),  and that was the last time I posted an update, I guess you could say things have been busy. And yes, I’ve been busy, but I haven’t stopped baking, so be prepared for a flurry of postings — I hope to get up-to-date this weekend.

For Thanksgiving at work, I made my traditional turkey cookies for my co-workers. More accurately, sugar cookies decorated like turkeys. I use a sugar cookie recipe from Food Network. I baked them a week early and stored them in the freezer until the following weekend, when I was ready to decorate them.

Baker’s note: if I’m working on sugar cookies that I’m going to cover in royal icing and don’t have a ton of time to make cookies from scratch, I find that our local Walmart sells sugar cookies by the dozen for under $2. The surface is not smooth, so I only use them if I am going to cover the cookies completely with icing. 

I decided to change up the eyes for the turkeys this time. Instead of an M&M with a dot of black icing, I went with pre-made candy eyeballs secured on top of the M&Ms with some of the cookie icing. I liked how they turned out much better that just a dot of black icing because the white background makes them stand out, even on the darker red and brown M&Ms. Here are all the eyeballs, ready to go on after I iced the cookies.

IMG_2193

I iced the cookies with white and chocolate pre-made cookie icing. I added candy corns around the top edge — 3 or 4 candy corns depending on how big the cookie is. I typically make a few cookies in a large size, and those get 5 candy corns. I placed M&Ms with the candy eyeballs just under the candy corns. I sprinkled multi-colored jimmies between the candy corns and the eyeballs.

Once the chocolate and white icing had set, I used yellow cookie icing (similar to the Betty Crocker brand, but it may have been Walmart’s Great Value brand), I piped on the triangular shape of the beaks, as well as the “feet”.

Here’s the final product:

I also used the icing, M&Ms, and candy corns to create some non-turkey cookies. Here’s the entire batch:

IMG_2198

Of course, I always have to protect my work from our canine counter surfing labs as it dries. Here’s my clever way to do that: IMG_2195

Baker’s note: A few months later, the taller of our two labs showed me just how ineffective this protection method is. 

Making cookies and sharing them with co-workers is just one way to give thanks for all their hard work all year.

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.

State Championship Celebration Cake – Unified Track Team

Baking date: June 17, 2018

For the 2017-2018 school year, our high school swept the state championships for Unified Sports. We participate in Unified Tennis, Unified Bocce and Unified Track. I had made a celebration cake for the Unified Bocce team’s banquet and decided to make one for the Unified Track team as well. Clearly, Unified Tennis needs to win again so I can fete them appropriately!

I made a three tier white cake, using the Wilton square pan set. I used a white frosting for the cake. I piped on the team name in white icing, dyed royal blue and golden yellow.

IMG_1572

I added royal blue and gold Sixlets candies around the edge of each tier, and used them to spelled out 2018 STATE CHAMPSIMG_1576

I decorated the cake with personalized candy sneakers.

I used royal blue and gold rhinestone bling cake pop sticks with a sneaker lollipop candy mold I found. I used bright white candy melts, put a yellow royal icing stripe on the sneaker and added each athletes name in blue icing. Baker’s note: These lollipops are very heavy given how much candy melt is needed. Keep that in mind for the stability of your final product!

IMG_1571IMG_1575IMG_1574

Here is the final cake – my husband helped with the 360 degree view. But an important note —  the sneaker candies were so heavy, they actually fell through the cake while being transported to the school. I was terribly bummed about this and learned my lesson — add the heavy embellishments after the cake has arrived at its destination! Then take the picture/video.

I posted the video on the Facebook group page for our school’s Unified teams, so that those that follow could see the cake. Here are the comments:

Facebook

In addition, I made a cake to thank the coach, who retired after this season. It was all the same ingredients and embellishments, with the exception of a large Lion paw candy melt mold in royal blue and yellow:

IMG_1578

It’s always a pleasure to make treats for the amazing kids in our community.

Bridal Shower Cupcakes: Chocolate with Mocha Buttercream; White with Strawberry Buttercream

Baking date: March 2, 2018

I was commissioned to make cupcakes for a bridal shower. I was asked for chocolate with a chocolate frosting, and a white cupcake with strawberry frosting.

I ordered purple foil liners, since that was the color for the wedding. For the chocolate cupcakes, I used one of my favorite chocolate cake recipes – one bowl chocolate cake with a chocolate mocha buttercream. I piped on the frosting with a 1M tip. I hand piped chocolate heart shapes and added a gold sugar pearl and purple sugar sprinkles on each heart.

Chocolate Cupcakes

Here’s the cupcake up close:

ChocolateCupcake2

The base for the other cupcakes was a white cake recipe. The strawberry icing recipe received rave reviews, but I found it difficult to pipe on in a fancy swirl. It wasn’t firm enough to keep it’s shape, like in the inspiration photo:

InspirationStrawberryFrosting

I may have added too many strawberries, so it was not as firm as it needed to be. I topped the strawberry frosting with white sparkling sugar sprinkles.

Here’s a photo:

StrawberryCupcakes

In the future when using this strawberry frosting recipe, I’ll stick with the recommended amount of strawberries. And if I still find it won’t pipe on and hold it’s shape, I’ll probably add fresh strawberry garnish to improve the aesthetic appeal of the cupcakes.