Christmas Wreath Cookies

wp-1450917409879.jpg

Okay, Friends! If you don’t have any cookies baked yet, you’re either not going to or you don’t have any quick, easy ideas. I can’t help you with the former, but here is a great recipe for the latter. My boys and I whipped these up today (for Santa and Mrs. Claus).

wp-1450917414775.jpg

They are rich with butter, crumbly in the best kind of way, and packed with vanilla and almond flavors.  I can almost guarantee that you have all the ingredients already (don’t quote me on that).

wp-1450917418413.jpg

Wreath Cookies

1 C butter, softened

1/2 C sugar

2 1/4 C APF

1/4 t salt

1 egg

1/4 t almond extract

1/4 t vanilla bean paste (or extract)

5-7 drops of green food coloring

sprinkles

Preheat oven to 400F.  Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl. Add the flour, salt, egg, almond extract, vanilla bean paste (or extract), and food coloring. Roll the dough into little balls and form a hole in the center (I used an icing tip). Put on the sprinkles.  and place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 10 – 12 minutes, or just before the cookies turn brown. Transfer to a rack to cool completely. 

My boys also made these little masterpieces:

wp-1450917421963.jpg

I let them go nuts with M&Ms, sprinkles, marshmallows, and icing. I think Santa will both enjoy them and go into a cookie coma!

wp-1450917426324.jpg

Memories were made and that’s all that matters. ❤

The Merriest of Christmases to you and your families! May you feel God’s love and know the real reason behind this special season.

God bless!

Kristin

Snowman Cupcakes

What a sweet week it’s been! And it’s not over yet. I’ve got more baking to do. So far this week, I’ve made Christmas Crack Candy, Christmas Chocolate Cake, Christmas Tree Brownies, and lastly, for now, Snowman Cupcakes!

wpid-20141211_112356_hdr.jpg

I took the semi-homemade route, again, this time. So, these were pretty easy. Sort of. I’ll get to that. But if you plan to make them, they will be easy.

wpid-20141211_112131_hdr_20141211195105320.jpg

Aren’t they darling? I was in charge of dessert for my Bigs’ class’ birthday party for Jesus today. I thought about going the Jesus/religious symbol route when it came to decorating, but I was nervous about the kids having to eat Baby Jesus. It could go all kinds of wrong. I’ve seen some cute Jesus decorations, but knowing me, I’d make a disaster out of it.

wpid-20141211_112222_hdr.jpg

So, I decided on snowmen.

wpid-20141211_112159_hdr.jpg

I like the way they came out. I really enjoyed making these.

wpid-20141211_112245_hdr.jpg

And just like real snowmen, they each have their own little personalities*.

*decorating inconsistencies

These cheerful cupcakes were delicate and had a soft crumb, were rich in chocolate flavor (thanks boxed mix!), and covered in a delicious, fluffy, marshmallow-y frosting. The crushed peppermint added a refreshing, festive flavor. These were a hit!

Snowman Cupcakes

1 box of your favorite cake mix (or one batch of homemade) – I used chocolate

ingredients used to make cupcakes

silver cupcake wrappers (other Christmassy ones would be cute too)

1 batch of 7 Minute Frosting (recipe below)

candy canes, crushed (I crushed up 12, but didn’t need it all)

Wilton Icing Decorations, snowman variety

Follow the directions on your cake mix box and bake cupcakes, as directed. Let them cool completely. You can expedite this process by placing the cupcakes in the freezer or refrigerator.

While those are cooling, make your 7 Minute Frosting (recipe, directions, and a short story below). I iced the cupcakes using a swirled effect, to make them look peppermint-y. If you want to do that, you’ll need to paint a stripe of food coloring (I used Americolor Red gel) on the inside of your icing bag, before filling it with the frosting.

Once the cupcakes were iced with the swirled frosting, I sprinkled them with the crushed candy canes, and placed one of the Wilton Icing Decorations on top.

I ended up making the frosting twice.

7 Minute Frosting – Recipe #1

Source: Paula Deen, Food Network.com

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar or 1 tablespoon white corn syrup (I used white corn syrup)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup water
2 egg whites
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Place sugar, cream of tartar or corn syrup, salt, water, and egg whites in the top of a double boiler. Beat with a handheld electric mixer for 1 minute. Place pan over boiling water, being sure that boiling water does not touch the bottom of the top pan. (If this happens, it could cause your frosting to become grainy). Beat constantly on high speed with electric mixer for 7 minutes. Beat in vanilla.
I have made this dozens of times before, and it’s always turned out beautifully, but ran into a problem this time. I used the white corn syrup, while I usually use the cream of tartar. I had both on hand, so I’m not sure why I chose the syrup. Anyways, it didn’t set up and the sugar didn’t fully melt. It was a grainy, soupy mess. And I know that my boiling water wasn’t touching the bottom of the glass bowl on my double boiler. Ohhhh wellllll.
wpid-photogrid_1418424722208.jpg
I tried a different recipe for the second batch. I actually used a recipe I hadn’t used before and it worked out perfectly.
Fluffy White Frosting – Recipe #2
Source: allrecipes.com
1 C white sugar
1/3 C water
1/4 t cream of tartar
2 egg whites
1 t vanilla extract

In a saucepan, stir together the sugar, water and cream of tartar. Cook over medium-high heat until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is bubbly.

 

In a medium mixing bowl, whip the egg whites and vanilla to soft peaks. Gradually add the sugar mixture while whipping constantly until stiff peaks form, about 7 to 10 minutes.
I’m sure that either one you choose will work out fine. I’d stick with the cream of tartar though. That one always works for me. #nowiknow #lessonlearned #themoreyouknow
Since I only needed a dozen cupcakes, I had a little fun with my leftover batter.
wpid-20141211_112451_hdr.jpg
I baked a mini chocolate bundt cake. Then, I filled the hole with the red swirled marshmallow frosting (the good batch), sprinkled crushed peppermints on top, took a few pictures of it, then ate it, off of my “Cookies for Santa” plate. It was good. I had to test my product before it left my kitchen. Bakers and Chefs, you know this. It’s an important part of the process. I did this for you.
wpid-20141211_112531_hdr_20141211202358892.jpg
I happen to know that Santa loves his (or her) cookies, but would not turn down this sweet little bundt cake, if you left it out for him (or her).
Blessings!
Kristin

“Grinch” VPK School Lunch

You know when you try, not your hardest, but close to it, and something doesn’t work out? And you just keep it crappy and serve it? I’m referring to meals here. And in particular, lunches. Kid lunches. Christmas kid lunches.

This Christmas kid lunch:

wpid-photogrid_1417556985114.jpg

Oops. It looks like the Grinch left his mark on that left side of the sandwich. He left his heart there, as well as a green smudge from his Grinchy hand. Yup. That’s what this lunch is. It was supposed to be a holly leaf with three, distinct, little red berries. You can see that, right? RIGHT? While I’d never label [good] bread as a “mistake”, I think in this case, the hearty French loaf, filled with yummy bubbles and indents lent itself to the sad end result. Whatever. I’m already over it. It’s still good bread. Just with a Grinch hand on it. The other side is a candy cane. It’s PB&J. I put some colby jack cheese in there, as well as a mandarin orange, some red and green grapes, another TJ’s cranberry bar, and some red, green, and white chocolate covered sunflower seeds.

I wonder if my Bigs will even notice?

Blessings!

Kristin