Saturday, January 22, 2011

THINK SPRING

Now that snowmen are hopefully looking the worse for wear be sure to let that make you think of spring.

Meanwhile turn the oven on and bake something.

OOOOoooo - I LIKE my new convection oven!


Happy Birthday to me every time I use it!
Thanks - again.

This fellow is really trying to hold it all together.

I choose to spend yesterday cozied up in the kitchen.

It's been a long time since I baked anything (except a random pie every so often that doesn't count because I purchase the crusts and just pretend to bake - but don't tell that part - apple pie always smells and tastes good.)


I made 3 loaves of bread (mixed in a bread machine), and some very fun cookies.

Want to make some 'spring thinking' cookies yourself?

You can look up 'melting snowman cookies' or just read about the ones I put together. There are several websites that say they are the first and the original but I will let you toss the coin, if you are so inclined, while I decorate cookies.


Let's go in reverse today and start at the finish and finish with the start - the cookies really are so easy that I think you need to see the final fun before you even think of getting flour out.

hmmm - WHO ate the rest of that new loaf of bread?

Fresh bread is the ultimate 'comfort' food to me and I never had a sweet tooth.  If I can do 'cute' while waiting for the bread though - why not? Even small children can create a melted snowman.

there is a little fellow as cheerful as his sunny buttons

The buttons went on last - (just after the heart) after the nose was settled at a nice angle. Use any available and suitable edible material - come on get creative - these noses are an ancient gummy bear that was abandoned in the candy dish. It happened to be orange and I happened to not feel like making orange icing for such a small amount. I cut it into 4 strips that are cut in half on an angle. A tiny dot of white icing, applied directly to the cookie, secures buttons and noses as they are put in place.


Before the buttons and noses I pressed the scarves out of decorating tube 47 (Wilton). I chose green because today I am thinking spring! Just squiggle and wiggle it around the head/ neck area - be sure the grooved side is up. You may need to practice on wax-paper or foil if you feel a bit insecure.  Other options abound - cut strips from fruit rollups or use licorice strings ... any other good ideas?

[Children decorate better with small candies. Piping may be beyond their abilities.]


Dots of chocolate frosting (of course it was ready made - do you think I am totally insane?) from decorating tube 4, mimic lumps of coal for the eyes and mouth but any color or candy could be used.  What about Nerds? mini M&M's? chocolate chip miniatures? or any number of other bits of things. It is like building a snowman - use what you have on hand and get creative.

While I had chocolate frosting in the bag I pushed some 'sticks' for hands/arms randomly onto the cookie.


After sprinkling with edible glitter I let the cookies and melted frosting/marshmallows cool over night.


Half a marshmallow seemed to be enough for this size of cookie. I cut them with my kitchen shears before I start and set them aside.  When I needed to pop them into the microwave (about 5 seconds - don't let them puff too large) the cut side had dried a bit.  I put it down onto a lightly greased saucer.


The marshmallows are coated with a powder so I could carefully, but very quickly, pick them up and set them onto the cookie - where? - pick a place!


 I turned the saucer upside down and tugged gently without squeezing and they pulled away readily.


We all know that if we put frosting on warm baked goods it melts.  I don't like royal icing (never have) so I decided to thin my butter cream slightly - just enough for it to almost flow.  I then placed a sufficient spoonful onto the cookie and spread it out to the edges. Sure enough it ran and dripped and then dried - viola! Melting snowmen needing heads! Best of all no waiting for the cookies to cool.


While waiting for the cookies to bake mix some butter cream frosting - be sure to use at least 1/2 shortening and add a drop of lemon juice. The tangy tart offsets the sweet nicely.

Bake the cookies at about 325 degrees F (or as your favorite dough directs) until the bottom is golden brown but the brown does not come up onto the top - about 15 minutes for cookies this large and thick.


I hate rolling dough - why not pat out a ball and 'mis-shape' it after I flatten it?


 worked I think - and super easy.  Kids would love this part -
 WHERE are the kids when you need them??


After mixing the cookie dough I put it in the fridge while I mixed the bread and washed some dishes.  I like clean counters to work on - no I need them to keep my books and papers clean as I multi-task.  I can study some Old English Scripts for Family Search Indexing (if you haven't tried that you are missin' out) and mess around in the kitchen chasing away the chill gray of January rain and even pay bills or talk on the phone/work on the Internet too!


I used a shortbread recipe that is intended for a cookie press.  It always works and what's not to taste good? It's all butter and sugar.  I added enough flour to make a stiff dough that could be handled easily when chilled.

Cream 2 cups butter [ thoroughly - and yes that IS an entire pound] with 1 cup of icing sugar - and add a drop of real vanilla. Add 1 cup of flour and 1/2 cup cornstarch blending in gradually. Add up to 2 cups more flour but only until dough is the correct consistency - for the press I sometimes only use 2 cups total flour (besides the cornstarch). On very humid days the dough may need more flour.  Some flour is very dry, other flour is more moist. Blend well and use immediately if using the press. For rolled or shaped cookies chill several hours or overnight in a sealed container.

I love how this guy seems to be holding up his britches

Thinking of baking something?

Get out the flour and sugar.

And real vanilla - put it in everything.