Friday, October 28, 2011

One-eyed, one-horned flying purple people eater (cookies)

Please tell me you know the song....Purple People Eater?  Here's a link if you don't (or even if you do).
I don't know if a bunch of songs like these were all on the same KTel album in the 70's, but Purple People Eater, Monster Mash and Witch Doctor were the songs that played at every Halloween party when I was a kid.  Good stuff.

Now, my Purple People Eaters kind of look like they are wearing party hats...I assure you that is a horn.  It just *doubles* as a party hat.  Where do you think he finds all of those people to eat? ;)
To make you One-eyed, One-horned Flying Purple People Eater cookies, you will need:

  • cookies: I used a circle and attached wings on the sides and a triangle on top
  • royal icing, tinted with AmeriColor Regal Purple, Egg Yellow, Electric Green, Bright White and Super Black
  • disposable piping bags
  • tips: #2, #12, #5, #1
  • squeeze bottles (2)
First, here's a peek at how to put the cookie together.  I used a template for the wings and just "winged it" (ha!) for the horn. 

Use a #2 tip to outline the monster in purple.

Use another #2 tip to outline the wings in egg yellow.

Use a #2 tip to outline the horn.  Use a back and forth motion to fill in the horn outline.

Thin the purple and yellow icings (reserve a bit for later) with water, a little at a time, until it is the consistency of thick syrup.  Cover with a damp dishtowel and let sit several minutes.

Stir gently with a rubber spatula to pop any large air bubbles that have formed. Transfer to squeeze bottles.

Fill (flood) the monster head/body with purple.  Use a toothpick to guide to edges and pop and large air bubbles that have formed.

Flood the wings.

Switch the tip on the purple icing bag to a #1 and add a little striped detail to the horn.

Let the cookies sit for at least one hour.

(So, here's where it got dark and I lost my natural light for pictures.  Boo.)
Use a #12 tip to pipe an eye in white.  Immediately, pipe the pupil in black on top of the white using a #5 tip.

Switch the tips to #1's and add a mouth and teeth. (Ya gotta have teeth to eat people.)

Use a #2 tip to pipe a little detail on the wings in yellow.

There you have it...
One-eyed, one-horned flying purple people eater cookies!  

{The song is stuck in your head now, isn't it?  Welcome to my world.}

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Permanent Templates for Custom Cookie Shapes . . . Works for Me Wednesday

So, here's the deal.  You guys are smarter than I am.

{But you already knew that.}

A while back, I wrote a post about making templates for cookie shapes when you don't have a cutter.  I was making them with clean cardstock or cutting up a new manila file folder.

Well, I got a sweet email from a reader who suggested I use plastic made for quilting templates.

Ding! Ding! Ding!

A. Using this method, the templates are reusable and WASHABLE!
B. My mom, who was a quilter, would have just loved this!

It's how I make all of my templates now.  All you do is...
go to the fabric store and buy the template plastic,

place the image to be traced underneath the plastic,

trace (I like a Sharpie),

cut out (I used my "good" scissors just for you guys).

Voila!  A cookie template you can use over and over again.  Works for me!
**Dear sweet reader who sent in the tip, please let me know who you are in the comments, so I can give you proper credit.**

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Lady, er, LADIES' Fingers

Halloween is in one week.

In honor of that fact, I give you the finger.

Well, fingerS.  Creepy lady fingers.

I've had these on my to-make list for a few years now.  They come from Martha....the Queen of Halloween.  I think I could happily spend a year making projects from Martha's Halloween issues and books.

I adapted the original recipe and technique just a bit based on the comments from Martha's website.  While the fingers did "fluff up" a bit, I still think you can tell they are fingers.  The original recipe is here.

Ladies' Fingers

red gel paste food coloring
30+ blanched, slivered (but not chopped) almonds
2 eggs
1/4 tsp pure vanilla
1/2 cup salted butter (1 stick), cold
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
3 TBSP granulated sugar
pinch of coarse salt
1 & 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
Place the almonds in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Mix together a couple of drops of food coloring with a couple of drops of water.  Using a small paintbrush, color one side of each almond. Set aside to dry.

"Painting" the fingernails is a great project for kids.

Use a toothpick to hold the almond in place or it will scoot across the cookie sheet.

{Please excuse all of the pictures of kiddo...I can't help myself.  I love pictures of those hands working.  Trust me...there are 14 more on my computer that you aren't seeing here.} 

Separate 1 egg. Place the white in one bowl and set aside.

In another small bowl, whisk together yolk, remaining egg, and vanilla. Set aside.

Cut the butter into chunks and combine with confectioners' sugar, granulated sugar, and salt. Beat on medium speed until well combined.

Add egg yolk mixture, and beat until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the flour in two additions;  mix on low speed just until incorporated. Wrap the dough in plastic, and chill until firm, 20 to 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350.  Line two cookie sheets with parchment.

Divide the dough in half. Work with one piece at a time, keeping remaining dough covered with plastic wrap and chilled. Divide the first half into 15 pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll each piece back and forth into finger shapes, 3 to 4 inches long. Pinch dough in two places to form knuckles. Score each knuckle lightly with a small knife.

Place the cookies on the cookie sheet and place in the freezer for 5-10 minutes.

Lightly beat the egg white with a fork.  Remove the cookies from the freezer and immediately brush lightly with egg white. Position almond nails; gently push into dough to attach.

Bake until lightly browned, about 10-12 minutes.  Remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Repeat with the remaining dough.

Creepy Lady Fingers...MWAHAHAHAHA! <---that's my best sinister online laugh.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Please Eat the Wrapping Paper (cookies inspired by Paper Source)

Have you ever been to a Paper Source shop?  Oh, they are so beautiful..and fun...and inspiring.

I don't get to ours very often because it's about 45 minutes away and in a pretty dangerous part of town.  By dangerous, I mean, it's next door to Sprinkles Cupcakes and just a few steps away from Crate and Barrel. See what I mean?

Well, Paper Source has the most beautiful wrapping paper sheets.  I've used them before for photo backgrounds, like for these Homemade Oreos:

And for these Posie Cakes:

When I saw this wrapping paper, I decided to use it ON an cookie.  Well, not the wrapping paper itself, the wrapping paper printed onto a frosting sheet.  

So, that's just what I did.
  • I scanned the wrapping paper. 
  • printed it onto a frosting sheet,
  • baked the cookies (remember these?),
  • (you can see a bit of the rough edges from the trimming)
  • outlined and filled the cookies with white royal icing,
  • plopped on the edible images, 
  • and added a few details.

    That's it!  These went to school with kiddo for his teacher's birthday.  I hope he didn't tell her she was eating wrapping paper.  I guess we will find out when report cards come home. ;)

    Tuesday, October 18, 2011

    Strike While the Cookie is Hot . . . Works for Me Wednesday

    Have you ever needed a cookie to be cut out to an exact shape?

    In Julia Usher's new book, Ultimate Cookies, she uses a special technique when she needs perfectly even cookies for 3D cookie construction...

    ...I decided to give it a try on some cookies to be adorned with an edible image.

    Here's the skinny...cookies expand when you bake them.  Cookies are good at that...expanding in the oven, expanding my waistline. 

    So, when they come out of the oven, they aren't *exactly* the same shape as when they went in.

    I wanted to cut my edible images, using my cookie cutter as a guide and thought it would be cool if they were exactly the same size.

    So, as soon as the cookies come out of the oven, use the cutter to press down on the warm cookies.

    Push away the excess.

    Voila!  Perfecto cookies. 

    {Those scraps....they're cookie french fries.  Totally worth doing this just for that bonus.}

    Now, would I do this for EVERY cookie?  No.  This technique leaves cookie edges a little rough, but for certain applications, like cookie construction, or when you *really* need an exact shape, it works!
    {{Want to see a video of the process? It's over at University of Cookie.}}

    Saturday, October 15, 2011

    Wanna kick your cookies up a notch?

    Are you tired of *just* making decorated cookies?  Wanna take cookie decorating to the next level?

    Let me introduce you to Julia Usher.  You may know her from the book Cookie Swap
    Well, Julia has a new book called Ultimate Cookies...and let me tell you, the cookie projects in here might just blow your mind.

    These are not your everyday cookies. These are cookie projects that will impress even your mother-in-law.

    Julia explains the how-to's in detail...and her cookies are flawless and perfect in every way.  I'm going to call her "Cookie Ninja."

    Ultimate Cookies isn't officially out yet (although, you can pre-order it), but guess what?  You can win a copy!

    To enter:
    • leave a comment on this post telling me your current favorite cookbook.
    One random winner will be chosen on October 20th at 8pm CST.
    Giveaway closed...congrats, Meredith!!!
    Good luck!
    *Giveaway now closed!*

    Thursday, October 13, 2011

    Rolled Cocoa Cookies . . . from Teresa of Blooming on Bainbridge

    You know how you can read someone's blog and exchange emails and all of a sudden, you feel like the person is one of your very best friends?  That's how I feel about Teresa.  I've never seen her sweet face in person, but we are going to rectify that SOON!

    Teresa blogs over at Blooming on Bainbridge.  She's an Alabama girl now living in the Northwest.  If I had one word to describe Teresa's blog, it would be JOYFUL!  It doesn't matter if she's blogging about cookies or soup or yoga or her precious doggie, Doogan....each and every post is filled with joy.  This is one of my favorites.

    Alrighty...without further ado, welcome Teresa!!!  I'm so happy she is here!

    Hi! I'm Teresa from Blooming on Bainbridge! I live on an island. Delighted to meet you!
    Sugar cookies piled high with icing and sprinkles have always been a LOVE in my life.
    Several years ago...before I began blogging...I happened upon Bake at 350.
    I honestly couldn't believe there was a blog that was whole~heartedly devoted to the love of 
    iced sugar cookies!
    I can remember the very first time I emailed Bridget about a problem I was having while icing sugar cookies for a BAMA football game. She emailed me back...
    coaching me through the process of achieving the perfect shade of RED icing!
    I've totally been hooked on Bridget and Bake at 350 since that day!
    Well I've been more than just "hooked" on Bake at 350.
    I've grown to love and adore Bridget as if she were a bestie that lived next door. 
    Bridget is without a doubt one of the loveliest~sweetest~funniest~inspiring girls I know.
    I am honored to call her friend. 
    I am BEAMING so BRIGHT that she is creating a cookbook.
    And I am thrilled to be sharing one of my favorite CHOCOLATE cookie recipes with YOU!
    Rolled COCOA Cookies!
    These are without a doubt one of the yummiest~easiest cookies you will ever ever make.
    Trust me!
    I wouldn't bake anything but THE BEST for Bridget...would you? ;)
    Here's what you need to bake these cookies.
    3 cups all~purpose flour {I use unbleached}
    1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    1 tablespoon baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    2 cups sugar
    1 cup shortening
    2 eggs
    1/4 cup milk
    1 recipe Cocoa~Butter Frosting
    {I suggest doubling the frosting recipe. Trust'll want lots of frosting!}
    ~recipe adapted from The Ultimate Cookie Book~
    If you're baking for may wanna shine up the kitchen aid!
    Make sure it knows who it's baking for. ;)
    You'll also wanna tie on your favorite apron.
    If you're baking for've gotta look CUTE!
    Let's begin with the cookies.
    Stir together the dry ingredients.
    Set them aside.
    In a large mixing bowl beat the sugar~shortening~eggs~and milk.
    Beat on medium to high speed until combined.
    Gradually add the flour~cocoa mix.
    Beat in as much of the flour~cocoa as you can with the mixer.
    Stir the rest in by hand.
    When the cookie dough is ready...divide it in half. Cover and chill the dough for 2 hours.
    One thing you need to remember if you're baking for Bridget!
    Bridget LOVES good music!
    So ROCK~OUT as you bake! Crank up some oldies ROCK!
    If by chance the Eagles begin playing Hotel California....
    don't resist the urge to LIGHT~UP a candle!
    Pretend you and Bridget are at an Eagles concert ROCKIN' out!
    It's all in the name of BAKING! ;)
    After the concert the dough should be chilled.
    Now comes the fun part.
    Roll out the dough one half at a time. You will love the way this cookie dough rolls.
    Use a 2 - 3 inch cookie cutter to cut shapes from dough.
    Place the cookies on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
    Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
    Bake the cookies about 7 minutes. The cookies will be soft to the touch when you take them 
    out of the oven. Let them cool on a wire cooling rack.
    Mean while...whip up the Cocoa~Butter Frosting.
    2 3/4 cup powdered sugar
    2 tablespoons cocoa
    1/4 cup softened butter
    3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
    1 teaspoon vanilla
    Don't forget to DOUBLE this recipe if you want plenty of frosting.
    Begin with the butter. Beat the butter til fluffy.
    If you're baking for Bridget...make sure you SIFT the powdered sugar!
    Sift the cocoa in with the powdered sugar.
    Don't ever let Bridget know if you don't SIFT the powdered sugar. ;)
    Gradually add 1 1/2 cups of the powdered sugar and the cocoa to the butter.
    Beat in heavy whipping cream and vanilla.
    Gradually beat in 1 1/4 cups remainder powdered sugar.
    This is what you get.
    The best~most yummiest COCOA frosting ever!
    Make sure the cookies are completely cool. 
    Get busy frosting. 
    You can spread the frosting on if you like. It goes a bit quicker for me if I pipe it on.
    I used a #12 tip to frost these cookies.
    Then I sprinkled them with a little LOVE...just for Bridget.
    Rolled COCOA Cookies!
    You're going to LOVE these for the holidays!
    Blowing Bridget and the readers of Bake at 350 oooooodles and ooooooodles of SWEET~KISSES
    from Bainbridge Island.
    I wish you all the loveliest of days!
    Happy Baking!
    If you look like a crazy girl after pouring your heart out in the kitchen for BRIDGET...
    no worries!
    It's all in the name of BAKING...with lots of LOVE!