Wednesday, February 22, 2012

From Cookies to Cupcakes~

A couple of weeks before Valentine's Day 2012, I decided to try my hand at baking and decorating sugar cookies, though I've never personally been a fan of sugar cookies. They seemed not only too sweet, but for me, sugar cookies are somewhat bland. I'm more of an Ultimate Chocolate Chip-Pecan Cookie lover! So the search was on to find a suitable substitute for dullsville. What I found was an incredible, mouth-watering Vanilla Sugar Cookie which tastes much more like a rich shortbread cookie instead; along with that I found I had a renewed fondness for Royal Icing.

The *Vanilla Sugar (Shortbread) Cookie was the PERFECT solution. These cookies are light, buttery and perfect for cookie cut-outs and decorating. It you'd like to make cookies on a stick, simply insert the lolli-pop stick in the cut-out prior to baking. Gently hold one hand on the cookie surface to use as a guide while inserting the stick with the other hand. This prevents the dough from tearing or the stick from poking through. I also highly recommend baking on parchment paper (no added oil involved). As soon as you remove the cookies from the oven, with a small offset spatula, very gently slide the spatula under each cookie just to loosen it from the paper. This prevents the cookie from sticking to the paper once it's cooled. There's no need to move the cookie from it's original baking spot, you don't want chance  cracking it, they're still pretty delicate until completely cooled. Once cool you can easily handle without fear of it breaking! 

Here are a few of my Valentine hearts. There is a plethera of videos on YouTube with instructions on how to pipe Royal Icing and how to achieve the best consistency for Flow icing. With a little practice, parchment paper piping bags are a cinch and there's no sticky bag to clean up afterwards...just toss them out!

These cookies are 4" X 1/2". I prefer the larger cookies! They were so much fun to get as a child. It's kind of like getting that face sized lolli-pop, even though you probably weren't going to eat the whole thing, it was getting the 'BIG' one that made the difference. Though I have to say, pretty much everyone that recieved one of these Valentine Cookie ate the whole thing!

I experimented making my own cocoa Royal Icing. It was heavenly on these buttery cookies! I even added cocoa to the cookie recipe and made chocolate shortbread (that one will need some revamping). All in all these cookies were a huge hit. But this is where my baking journey turned into something more. The cookies are fun and make great gifts. With several friends and family members  suggesting that I start a business, I decided that perhaps I needed to think about my hobby more seriously.

 I've decided I need to fine tune my baking skills. I wanted to do something that expressed my love for baking. For now, experimenting with my own original recipes, perfecting them I should say, is my goal. I will be using the world's finest Indonesian Vanilla Beans and Valrehna Cocoa. It won't be long before I will be going public with my venture. I'm seriously leaning to cupcakes, with cookies being seasonal.

*Recipe courtesty of Elisa Strauss, Confetti Cakes via the Food Network and Paula's Party

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