Lacrosse Jersey Chocolate Sugar Cookies

Baking and decorating dates: April 15 and 18, 2018

My youngest son made the JV high school lacrosse team this year. In total, the Varsity and JV lacrosse teams aren’t large, and JV often played 8 on 8 games with other teams, having no subs.

The program is rebuilding under a new coaching staff. The boys had grueling practices and conditioning sessions. In addition, there were tough grade requirements (tougher than the county mandated minimum) and community service activities.

There was a Senior night celebration this year. I offered to make jersey cookies and started with a chocolate sugar cookie base. The jersey cookie cutter I bought is rather large, but that gives plenty of room for decorating/names on the jersey. Just make sure you have enough cookie dough if you have a large team!

I started by using cookie icing in royal blue.

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I also used white, and colored some of it golden yellow. This finished up the jerseys for the Senior players and the one student manager. I used a number 1 tip to pipe on the names.

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Some players are moving on to the collegiate level of play. Others are not. Regardless of where their path takes them next — congrats to these hard-working Seniors, and all the best!

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Retirement Chocolate Sugar Cookies

Baking date: April 15, 2018

A colleague recently retired after a long tenure with the Association. He was instrumental in building a resource for medical students, called Careers in Medicine.

I wanted to offer a special treat for him as a thank you for his service; it wasn’t the first time I had made retirement goodies for a long-time employee.

I made chocolate sugar cookies and cut out the 4″ college font letters CIM.  I decorated them with green and white cookie icing. In addition, I made a giant oval cookie and piped the Happy Retirement message on it.

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Congrats, George. And thanks for the amazing work you did!

Sea Salt Caramel Chip Chocolate Cookies

Baking date: March 31, 2018

When you see a bag of sea salt caramel chips, you grab them.

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That was the case when I was looking for the very elusive Hershey’s Cinnamon Chips one day while in Walmart.  Even though I didn’t find the cinnamon chips, I was intrigued by the sea salt caramel chips, which had a recipe on the bag. I decided to make them for our family’s Easter gathering.

The recipe is simple, and as you would expect, the cookies are soft and yummy.

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I’m thinking they would also be a great addition to brownies. Perhaps I’ll try that next (because, of course, I bought two bags!).

Football Banquet Cookies and Cupcakes

Baking date: January 12 and 13, 2018

Last year our town’s football team were the State champs in our division. I baked a boatload of goodies for the celebratory banquet, including cakes and cookies. This year, our team won the conference title again, but was knocked out in the quarterfinal round of the playoffs on a controversial play.

But it was still an amazing season. And this year, my son was selected for varsity in just his sophomore year.

I purchased a t-shirt cookie cutter and decided to start a new tradition of creating personalized jersey cookies for the graduating seniors. The remainder of the varsity team get personalized football-shaped cookies, and the JV players get a cupcake with their number. This is the jersey I modeled the cookie after (it’s my son in the picture – he’s a lineman):

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I decided to make a favorite chocolate sugar cookie recipe. It makes a ton of dough — and I would need it because the t-shirt cookie cutter was bigger than I anticipated. There were 25 seniors on the football team this year.

Here is a look at the cookies as the first layer of cookie icing went on – white for their home uniforms. I think it looks like a bunch of undershirts:

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I piped on blue numbers and their last names, as well as some yellow and blue piping along the sleeves and sides. And I added football mini-decorations from the large sports sprinkles set:

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And then there were the rest of the Varsity players, coaches and team mom cookies in the shape of footballs. I added yellow paw prints and topped them with gold sugar sprinkles (yes, yes, I see the one that didn’t get the paw print):

Varsity Football Cookies

With the rest of the football cookies, I added on the laces for the many siblings that would be attending the banquet.

Plain football cookies

For JV, I made chocolate cupcakes with royal blue and gold foil cupcake liners and topped them with vanilla frosting. Then I dipped the tops in gold pearlized sugar sprinkles and blue sugar sprinkles, alternating the cupcake liner color with the sprinkle color. I added each players’ number on the top.

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For the extras, I added the football decorations.

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Here’s the whole production on my kitchen table, ready to be transported to the banquet:

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Congrats to my son on earning his varsity letter in his sophomore year (this is his ‘I’m trying to be cool and act like I don’t care’ face) …

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Even though back-to-back State championships weren’t in the cards for the team,  congrats to the Walkersville Lions on their back-to-back Conference Championship seasons!

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Christmas Cookies and Mini-breads for Our Baseball Family

Baking dates: December 21, 22, and 23, 2017

Each year at Christmas, I bake goodies for our Summer rec baseball family and deliver them on Christmas Eve. Six of the players have gone on to play with elite teams, but we still see them for high school games. And some of them we see at football and basketball during the rest of the year.

These are the people who welcomed us into the community when we first moved here in 2004. They are the people I have spent many weeknights and weekends with as our boys practiced, played games and competed in tournaments. I have watched their sons grow into fine young men.

This year, there were 24 families with 110 family members to personalize cookies for. In addition, I make mini breads. Some are from scratch – snickerdoodlebanana and sour cream chocolate. Some are from a box mix gingerbread, pumpkin, and cranberry.

I use three vacation days prior to Christmas Eve to do all my baking for my baseball family (and my aunts and uncles who we visit on Christmas day). My kitchen typically looks like this for about 4 days:

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Cookies – I make the cookies first, since the royal icing takes a while to dry. The cookies are a chocolate sugar cookie. This recipe makes a lot of cut outs, depending on how large your cookie cutter is. This is one batch – it’s a thick cookie batter and clumps around the paddle with lots more still in the bowl:

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I made two batches this year. In the past, I have made Santa hats, and stockings, so this year I went with a long fancy plaque cookie cutter and a square plaque cookie cutter. Here they are:

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This year, I tried pre-made cookie icing in white, red, green and blue. It worked fine, however once you snip off the tip for the icing, that’s the size that flows out, and you have less control over the squeeze than you do with an icing bag and tip. So I decided to make the opening medium size for the general decorating and made a small batch of royal icing in white, red and green so I could pipe on names using a #1 tip. Baker’s note: this royal icing recipe called for a flavored extract. For a larger batch recipe, I add 1 tablespoon of almond extract in place of one of the tablespoons of water. I find that royal icing with an extract flavor tastes much better than with only water.

Here are the cookies halfway decorated  – there are very few that are exactly the same:

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And here are all the personalized cookies, by family (presented in slideshow format):

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Breads: for the pumpkin, I typically add milk chocolate chips on top before I bake the loaves. But this year, I emptied the one bag of milk chocolate chips I had into a batch of snickerdoodle bread and stirred once before realizing my mistake.

Baking Fail

Because of that mistake, I sprinkled white chocolate chips on the pumpkin bread. But those chips don’t hold up as well (they melt much more than the milk chocolate), so the loaves were not as pretty. I also used the white chocolate chips in the chocolate bread, instead of the chocolate chips. Because the chips were mixed into the batter and not sprinkled on top, they fared much better. (Baker’s note: a friend dropped off all the baking supplies she didn’t use this year because she got the flu and wasn’t able to bake. I think there were 4 bags of white chips!).

For the cranberry and gingerbread, I drizzled the leftover white royal icing (from the personalization of the cookies) on top.

Here are some of the banana breads. The bigger loaves are for some of the larger families. IMG_0964

And when it comes to baking mini-breads, I break out the big gun:IMG_0966

Here is the entire final production of baked goods:

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Another element I put in the bags is Christmas-themed chocolate candy minis. There is one baseball player with allergies to many ingredients in my baked goods, so I get candies like Sour Patch kids, nerds and Twizzlers for his family’s bag.

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For goodie delivery, this year I used plain white bags lined with a sheet of tissue paper, with the Christmas card for the family attached to the outside. I line the bags up for packaging in the order they will be delivered, with the last families we will visit in the front.

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Then, I transfer the bags to the back of my car in the reverse order, with the first families we will visit in the front.

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Then, my son Alex and I go about our business of delivering the goodies to the families on Christmas Eve. If people aren’t home, we have plastic grocery bags to place the goodies in (that pile of grey and white underneath all the paper bags). If they aren’t home, I text them to let them know we’ve made the delivery.

Everyone is so appreciative (presented in slide show format):

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I hope you were able to share a bit of the holiday spirit with family and friends.

A Very Special Snow Globe Cookie

Baking date: December 22, 2017

Two years ago, two different friends who have never met posted the exact same tutorial for how to decorate the snow globe cookie to my Facebook page.

I purchased a snow globe cookie cutter and had plans to make the cookie in 2016. But that holiday, I ended up suffering a bulging disc and didn’t get to do the amount of baking I was hoping to.

So this year, I busted out that cookie cutter and was determined to replicate the cookie. One thing I did differently was make the gingerbread man out of light cocoa candy melts. In hind sight, the royal icing would have been a better choice. The candy melts start to set quickly…more quickly than royal icing does. I found it difficult to shape and smooth the gingerbread man once I had piped the shape and filling onto the wax paper.

The base cookie was a chocolate sugar cookie. The cookie cutter was perfect and unlike the inspiration cookie, there were no parts to cut specially and push together:

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Here’s the cookie through the first stages of decoration:

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And here’s the finished product:

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This was a very special cookie and it was going to be part of a package for the family of a dear friend of ours who passed away after a massive heart attack in November. He was a coach to my son in both baseball and basketball for many years. He was also an organ donor, whose liver and kidneys are now helping others.

Like the scene in the snow globe, I remember our dear friend…a sweet, kind soul…suspended in time and living on in a unique way.

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Our son Alex and his coach Steve

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RIP Steve.

Christmas Goodies for Co-Workers

Baking date: December 17, 2017

Each year, I make goodie bags for my immediate team (6 individuals, including my supervisor). In addition, I make a variety of cookies (small cut outs of gingerbread and sugar) to share with the people on my floor.

This year, the base cookie was a gingerbread cookie. I decorated one for each team member with their name, and then filled the boxes with some mini-breads, other generically decorated gingerbread and sugar cookies and a $10 Starbucks gift card.

Here are the personalized cookies, along with some of the generically decorated cookies, mini-breads and gingersnaps:

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Here are more of the sugar and gingerbread cookies:

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Here’s the assembly line of cookies and boxed treats for my team:

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As one person commented: “Thoughtful, personal, and edible – I like it! Great job.”