Monday, July 21, 2014

Safari Giraffe Jars


Safari Giraffe Jars!  Giraffe Cookies!  Well, kinda giraffe cookies.  I had time to make these cute animal jars but not time to go my usual crazy pants self for the cookies.   Why not?  Because these were for Pam's bachelorette party last weekend and I was too busy crafting all the things to cut out tiny giraffe cookies like I had originally planned.  But they are color coordinated and let's face it -- adorable.  So all is well.


I made two batches of shortbread cookies; one chocolate chip and one orange almond.  (Recipes below)


And then I alternated cookies as I stuffed them in these decorated giraffe jars. 




To make jars like these you will need:
1. Clean Mason Jars
2. Stickers/Label for the front (Michael's)
3. Giraffe ribbon (Etsy)
4. Giraffe Charms (Etsy)
5. Plain Cupcake Liners (Michael's)
6. Hot Glue Gun

General Assembly Instructions:
1. Hot glue the ribbon around the side of the lid.  (I found it easiest to tie the ribbon in a bow and then attach it to the lid separately.)
2. Fill jar with yummy cookies.
3. Place the top lid over the jar, and then cover it with cupcake liners.  Screw on the side lid over the liner.
4. Hot glue charm on top of the liner.

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies
I followed this recipe, but omitted the orange zest and juice and added 1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips instead. 

Almond Orange Cookies
I followed this recipe, but added two small drops of orange food coloring instead.  Not enough to make them bright orange, just enough to make them more giraffe colored.  =)

Both recipes and flavors worked well together.  

But wait why was I making giraffe jars for a bachelorette party?  Because we went on a Safari, duh.   Pammy isn't big on the traditional Vegas-esque, drinking clubbing bachelorette parties and neither am I.  She's getting married at the zoo in September, so a Safari made sense.   And she's also going through a giraffe phase.  After all of this prep work  it kind of made me into a fan too! 


For the record the Safari was not in Africa. HAHA.  It was in Santa Rosa (Northern California) at Safari West.  Hopefully the bride to be had fun!  There were a bunch of animals to look at, we went glamour camping and took a "winos and rhinos" tour.  We dressed in animal print pith helmets and animal shirts.  Oh and I also made her wear a zebra veil that was attached to one of the hats because what on earth could she possible wear that day? You can see more pictures of the adventure on Pam's blog here.  

Aaaaand now it is time to plan Bachelor Party #2.  The life of a Maid of Honor is hard.  

xoxo,
Anna 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Puff Pastries: Inspired by miette



Hey guys, I lied a little.  Well no, I lied a lot.  Instead of properly preparing for Colombia by only eating lettuce and dustballs for the last three weeks, I have been eating big ol' burgers and  lots of  fancy artisan ice cream instead.  It's hot and ice cream is good okay?  Can ice cream be my spirit animal?  Is that possible?  Or just weird? Oh it's definitely weird... okay, I was just kidding anyway.

This last minute treat was completely justified though.  It was a baking date with the fair Rachelle and it allowed me to get some quality time in (with her and a toy I hadn't played with before) AND have something to blog out!  Win-win. She emailed me, suggesting eclairs and it only made sense to proceed with our endeavour since we had both bookmarked a recipe in our miette cook books ages ago.  I first went to miette  about two years ago and fell in love with their colors and decor, the whole shop and of course... the pastries!  We each have our own copies.  They both came in handy.



I was reminded of a very important life lesson on our date.  You can't always be perfect.  And that's okay because chocolate ganache and sprinkles can, in fact,  fix most anything.

This applies to broken hearts (obviously) or puff pastries.  But today I am talking about the latter.  Neither of us had made puff pastries before.  We certainly did not excel at our task.  We did quite a few things wrong, actually.

Our biggest mistake was assuming that we knew better than our cook book.  We were directed to pipe the puff pastry into 5x1 inch strips using a 1/2 inch diameter piping tip.  We used math and convinced ourselves that they must have meant TWO strips. Two strips of dough would bake itself together, right?


Wrong.  As evidenced above, we ended up with really big donuts... that could be divided into two.  Like one of those popsicles from childhood.  I get strawberry, you get orange but we break them in half and share!  Not much of a pretty sight to see.

And piping into them was much of a disaster since they didn't fluff up properly and we had to fill them in at least two places!  Pastry cream all over the place!  At least I got to use my cool little machine though...

Yet we had a great time laughing over our mistakes and then trying our best to fix them.  This is where we were saved by chocolate and sprinkles, the real heroes of today's story.

We zig zagged the ganache instead of dunking them.  (Bonus:  You can see the vanilla bean specks!)


We added some straight-from-miette sugar flowers to the prettiest ones.  ... and ta-dah.


We had eclairs!


We had cream puffs!


Sure there's a few flaws in them but thats okay!  At the very least TWO of them looked and photographed wonderfully,right?  ;)  Plus they were delicious. Just like an eclaire should taste like.   And we had an awesome afternoon.  We didn't let puff pastries defeat us!

I am quite confident that for our next date, Rach and I will master our technique and I will bring something even prettier to share!

xoxo,
Anna

(For the recipe, I encourage you to buy the miette book and follow the directions properly. I don't like to post exact recipes from books, nor will I post recipes when I don't think I have the recipe down enough.  Soon though, soon!)

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Chocolate Covered Caramel Macaroons


Coconut macaroons!  The perfect spring cookies.  Except you know, I live in California and it's halfway into May which pretty much means it's summer.  Oops?

I wanted to make and post these in February.  I had really cute Valentines Day ideas for them.  And then Spring happened.  Which meant February, March and April was spent going on lovely hikes with the puppies,  baseball games(go giants!) and enjoying the pretty view the outdoors had to offer.  And then it was May, which meant more baseball, rodeos, and trying to steal red pandas from the zoo.

So yes, I definitely made them too late to be springy.  No problem.  Let's cover them in chocolate and caramel and they are perfect for any time of the year!!!



Chocolate Covered Caramel Macaroons
Makes 30, bake at 325* for aprox 14 minutes

4 egg whites
Dash cream of tartar
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla
20 oz (1.5 large bags)  sweetened, shredded coconut

1/2 c. dark chocolate, melted for decorating

Caramel Filling
1/2 lb (8 oz) caramel candies
2 tbs. heavy cream

Directions for Caramel Filling
1. Place unwrapped caramels and heavy cream in a microwave safe bowl.
2. Microwave on high for 1 minute and stir.  Continue to microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring each time.  Do not let caramels scorch.

Directions for Cookies:
1. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar on high until stiff peaks form.
2. Add in salt and vanilla while mixer is still on, after peaks have formed and then immediately turn off.  Don't over beat your eggs.
3. Fold in coconut flakes into egg whites.
4. Using a medium cookie scoop, scoop dough and place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
5. Using your thumb, make an indentation in each cookie ball.
6. Bake for about 14 minutes, or until the edges start to darken and the coconut no longer appears wet.
7. Remove from oven and let cool completely on a wire rack.
8. When completely cooled, fill indentation with 1/2 a tablespoon of caramel.
9. Drizzle melted chocolate (with a spoon or using a piping bag) over entire cookie.
10. Let chocolate and caramel dry a room temp for 1-3 hours and enjoy!


Now, I know I went a little crazy with covering these sweet coconut confections with more sweet things...  But you don't have to be as enthusiastic about sugar as I am.  You don't have to put caramel in them.  You are free to eat them plain.  Or covered in a lot of chocolate.  Or a little chocolate.  Make them your own. They taste delicious any way you make them.



But I suggest you make just a few with the caramel. Just because you want to take a bite of them now, don't you?


I will mostly likely be quiet the next few weeks.  Well, I HOPEFULLY will.   Mostly because I need to somehow find a way to get Shakira's abs in exactly 4 weeks. (Does anyone know how to do that, by the way?)  I am going to Colombia with the boyfriend in June (omg, so excited!!!) and i'm pretty sure positive that my baking is not even a little conducive to that goal...

Good thing you can make other sweet things in the oven.  Like oven-roasted plantains.  And I may try granola soon?  We'll see.   I won't stray too far though, and i'll be back soon enough.  Just wait 'till you see what I am cooking up for Pammy's bachelorette party favor!


xo,
Anna

Monday, April 28, 2014

Sprinkle Thumbprint Cookies with Tayberry Jam


There are so many of my favorite things in this post!  Sprinkles.  Cookies.  My kitchen mascots.  My new favorite jam.  My new favorite plate.  It's a lot to take in, I know.  Let's contain ourselves and start with the cookies.

The boy's  favorite cookies are thumbprint cookies, which I had shockingly never made before.  When he told me this, however I acted quite uninterested.  I filed it away in my brain, though.  I'd make them when the time was right, and when I found a way to make them special.

And then I was given a jar of tayberry jam from Inna Jam (based out of Emeryville, CA) and I immediately knew I had to make him his thumbprint cookies using this jam.  I did not know what a tayberry even was, but the second I tasted it I welcomed it's amazingness.  A tayberry is a cross between a raspberry and blackberry and the jam it produces begs you to spread it on a carb.  Toast. French toast. Pancakes. A donut. A cookie.  Any carb, all the carbs.

I have about half a jar left of the Tayberry jam.  I am trying my hardest not to eat it all and to save it for another baking project.  I can just fantasize how this would taste with dark chocolate...  Or in a jelly roll?  OMG.  I think I am just going to eat my little jar of jam on a really big pile of french toast this weekend and buy another 10 jars of these.  Problem solved. I digress though. Back to the cookies at hand.


When he left over Easter weekend, I grabbed my bunny rabbit spatula and set to work on these cookies for him.  Plus a few extra things.  I had been out of the kitchen for so long that I felt I owed my stand mixer some quality time.



Sprinkle Thumbprint Cookies with Tayberry Jam
Adapted from:  Food Network
Makes 20, bake at 350* for aprox 12 minutes.

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp
1 c. sugar
1 egg, room temp
1 3/4 c. flour
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1-2 tablespoons of your favorite sprinkles
1/3 cup of your favorite jam

Directions:
1. Combine flour, salt and baking powder in a bowl.
2. On medium speed, cream butter and sugar together until fluffy in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
3. Add egg and vanilla to the sugar-butter mixture.
4. In 2-3 additions, add in flour mixture and mix until fully incorporated.
5. Add 1-2 tablespoons of sprinkles to dough, as desired, if at all.  (But who doesn't love sprinkles???)
6. Using a small cookie scoop, scoop dough and place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
7. Using your thumb, make an indentation in each cookie ball.
8. Fill your thumbprint with 1/2 a tablespoon of your favorite jam.
9. Bake for about 12 minutes, or until the edges of the cookie are lightly brown and the jam begins to bubble.
9. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack.  Add a sprinkle in the middle of the jam if desired.


I added sprinkles to the dough because SPRINKLES.  It makes everything cuter, instantly yummier.

Along for the ride were my two kitchen mascots; Cupcake Andy in Vanilla and Chocolate.  They love sprinkles and sweets as much as me, and live next to my sprinkle jars.  (We all have sprinkle jars, is my assumption.)



And yes, I added some extra heart sprinkles in the cookies' jammy centers.  To cover all my bases.  :)


Aren't the polka dots on these plates adorable too?  I had a hard time choosing between dots, squares and hearts at the Daiso store last month.  I am running out (okay I ran out a long time ago) of places to stash prop plates though.


The tayberry tasted pretty awesome on these cookies.  And the boy agreed.  He had more than his fair share.  That means he totes ate his and proceeded to steal a few that were intended for others.  =x


 He is forgiven for his theft not only because I am generous and lovely, but because  I am just as bad of a cookie monster as he.  Okay, maybe worse.  I am in the last position to judge.



xo,
Anna