Halfway through the first month of 2018. Anyone still writing 2017 on everything?! I’ll be doing that until June.
Let’s catch up! First, I have to show you these football sugar cookies I made. I posted them last week, but backdated the post since it’s not really a “new” recipe. (Just my favorite sugar cookie recipe!) Still, I wanted them to have their own spot on my blog so you can see the tips/tools I used to make them. If your team’s still in the playoffs, make them. And definitely try them for the Super Bowl too.
Some of you have asked how to make the red wine chocolate ganache without red wine. Easy: just make chocolate ganache! When we include red wine in chocolate ganache, we have to add a few extras to produce a delicious texture and flavor. Things like butter, sugar, a little cocoa powder, etc. But pure chocolate ganache is just 2 ingredients: heavy cream and chocolate. You can find a basic chocolate ganache recipe with this cake.
2018 baking goal = let’s step outside our comfort zone.
Equipped with determination, I studied and tested and retested and retested some more until I figured out the big question that is madeleines. While their fancy appearance and classy name can be intimidating, these airy teacakes require the most basic ingredients. They aren’t difficult, but they do demand your attention, patience, and precision. And a solid (very detailed) recipe to produce the light texture doesn’t hurt either!
Let’s figure this out first: are madeleines cookies or itsy bitsy cakes? A big debate! They’re a delicate little butter cake that most people refer to as cookies. However you categorize them, madeleines are known for their beautiful and distinct scalloped shell shape and need nothing more than a sprinkle of confectioners’ sugar on top. Though a dunk in dark chocolate is nice too!!
Throwing you a curveball today!!
No we’re not baking a cake or cookies or muffins or making dinner. Though if you’re having red wine chocolate ganache for dinner, can I get an invite?
Will you just look at this stuff? It’s every bit as rich, thick, dark, and indulgent as you can imagine. Made from life’s most crucial ingredients like cream, chocolate, butter, sugar, and red wine– this ganache is as handy, versatile, and dreamy as salted caramel. It can be used for everything.
Bakers! How the heck are you?
I just spent 4 days in the kitchen testing new recipes for the coming weeks. One of my assistants and I baked up a storm Monday – Thursday. It was awesomely productive. And that’s how I plan to approach recipe testing this year. “Power weeks” in the kitchen so I can spend the rest of the month on photography and writing. And having a relatively normal life outside of work! I really have no clue how to balance it all, but this feels like the best plan for my new role as a mom. We’ll see how it goes!
Side note. While it feels incredible to be back at it, I feel guilty not spending time with Noelle. Do any of you new moms ever feel that way when going back to work?
This strawberry cake completely blew me away.
After years of mediocre from-scratch strawberry cakes, my expectations were pretty low when it was time to taste-test. Biting into the first pastel pink forkful was a moment of truth. And I cried tears of joy.
Or were those real tears because I just dirtied every dish in my kitchen with all this strawberry cake recipe testing? Hmm.
I find it challenging to pack real strawberry flavor into cake without the crutch of fake strawberry flavoring. My goal was to create a strawberry layer cake made entirely from real strawberries. We’re talking strawberries inside the cake and in the frosting as well. With the help of freeze-dried strawberries, I tackled strawberry frosting. I’ll get to that below. But for strawberry cake? Things have always been pretty lackluster in the flavor and texture department.
With the start of a new year, an opportunity for growth is upon us.
On a personal level, my 2018 goal is to experience the world with my husband and daughter. It’s easy for me to get caught in the live-to-work cycle, but I’d much rather hang out in a work-to-live pattern. This is a goal for me every January, but as I get deeper into the year– I often put life on hold and work until I’m fried. Life completely passes by me. I take on more projects than I can handle and end up saying yes to anything that flies in my inbox. I have total control over it, I have the ability to say no, but it happens every year.
As a new mom, my priorities have changed and *work-to-live* is on the forefront of my mind. But even if you aren’t a new parent, 2018 is a wonderful time to begin treating yourself with more grace, allowing for breaks, and really putting a work/life balance into practice. For me, this means doing anything that makes me feel alive. Travel, exercise, hiking, photography, finding new running trails, reading, concerts, girls’ nights, mommy & me classes, working on Noelle’s baby book, starting traditions, cooking new foods with my hubs, broadway shows, decorating cakes and cookies for fun (rainbow piñata cake!), date nights,...
One of my goals in 2018 is to HAVE FUN with decorating cakes and cookies. I’ve always struggled with making beautifully piped confections, but the more I do it– the better I get and the more fun I have. Gotta show up to practice, right?
Here’s one of my latest: little footballs.
They’re adorable. Perfect treat for the NFL playoffs and Super Bowl right around the corner. They’re pretty simple, require two basic piping tips, and some brown food coloring. Here’s how I made them:
Make the basic sugar cookie recipe. Hopefully you’ve tried this recipe by now! Remember the most important step is to chill the cookie dough *after* you roll it out. Not before.Tools & Gadgets
There’s a zebra loose in our kitchens!!
You’re looking at chocolate and vanilla cakes baked together in a striking striped pattern. Pretty, right? Much easier than you think to pull off, too. Like marble cake but a little more flashy. Zebra cake is often baked as a single layer cake or a bundt cake, but I needed a fun and towering cake for our friend’s birthday. And an excuse to make chocolate cream cheese frosting.
And if you came here looking for a Little Debbie zebra cake, so sorry! Man those little things are good.
Let me walk you through my mindset as I was preparing and testing this zebra layer cake. Beware: my mind is a very jumbled space.
Because I know many of us are looking for healthier eats this time of year!
Big fat sugar-filled muffins are great and all (helloooooo) but a healthy muffin that’s also a delicious muffin? I’ll use and reuse that recipe until it’s drilled in the back of my brain. I always enjoy testing out new healthy-ish muffin recipes because they’re (1) easy to make (2) quick to make (3) portable (4) acceptable for breakfast, snack time, and can even be called dessert and (5) they’re perfect for freezing even though they never make it to the freezer because we eat them all.
Oh and (6) baking muffins when it’s single-digits-weather out there only seems appropriate. Man it’s COLD.
This is my latest muffin test. Banana nut because many of you have been requesting it! I decided to go for it in the wintertime since bananas are winter baking’s fave fruit. I’m loving these muffins right now because they feel like a treat...
Welcome to 2018!! I’m not really sure where 2017 went, but I know where 2018 is going: BREAD. Or at least that’s where January’s headed. This is the 1st baking challenge of the year and I hope you’re just as excited as I am.
Tie on your aprons, gather your determination, and heat up that creamy soup. Let’s dive right into 2018 with homemade bread bowls!
Breadmaking probably seems impossible, but think of it this way: it’s one of the most basic foods. Just simple ingredients mixed together, left alone to work some magic, shaped, and baked. That’s the process and it’s 100% something you can handle.
And a giveaway 🙂
Before we dive into 2018 and a new year of baking challenges, let’s take a moment to appreciate all the time, work, and effort you put into participating in these challenges. 2017 was the first year I started our monthly baking challenge and I’m FLOORED at the response this series received. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for making the monthly baking challenges a success. And, more importantly, for making them fun!!! I look forward to them each month.
For anyone just joining us:What is the Baking Challenge?
Click on each link to view the challenge recipe.
Juuuuuust in case you need one more thing to bake this weekend, here are buttery cake donuts topped with brown sugar cinnamon crumbs. Bake them in your donut pan. If you don’t have a donut pan, here’s another reason to get one.
Our ovens aren’t catching a break anytime soon, are they.
I’m sharing a sweet and kid-friendly recipe on my blog today for 2 reasons: (1) maybe you need something small and special to add to your Christmas morning brunch? and (2) maybe you need something fun to bake (that’s not cookies!!!!) during winter break. And, well, here’s a 3rd reason and say it with me:
CRUMB CAKE TOPPING!!!
Merry almost Christmas! This is the week that everyone’s tying up loose ends, cramming in all their shopping, cleaning, wrapping, shipping/mailing, baking, and generally going nuts. So it only makes sense to procrastinate our responsibilities. Let’s sit down and have a chat!
This is my first year hosting the holiday and I’m kinda nervous! It’s important to me that our families come together at our house so we can celebrate Noelle’s first Christmas at home. I’ve been thinking about the menu for a few weeks and finally narrowed it down. If you don’t have yours planned yet or need some last minute additions, here’s my plan:
What are you serving for Christmas dessert? The grand finale to your epic holiday feast? I plan to bring out a big platter of cookies for our families, but there has to be something else with a major WOW factor to celebrate the day. Cranberry orange cake is awesome, Christmas cupcakes are cute, but let’s get serious. We need a dramatic and fancy showstopper to fill these big shoes.
And I know exactly what should be on the menu.
This is a tuxedo cake. Striking black and white contrast is the idea behind this sultry beauty. “Tuxedo cake” is really for your own interpretation, as long as white and black coincide together. ♥ To me that means 3 layers of homemade chocolate cake dressed up with creamy white chocolate ganache filling and a layer of dark chocolate silk frosting so thick, it makes a fat marshmallow look like a string bean.
Baking cookies this weekend? Let me help! Today I’m sharing 5 easy and approachable ways to decorate Christmas cookies. Decorated sugar cookies is the December baking challenge and my goal with this post is to keep that momentum going. If you’re intimidated or nervous about making royal icing and creating adorably festive sugar cookies, this is for you.
And so you can fully understand and see it all come together, I’m going LIVE on my Facebook page today at 1pm EST! I’ll make the royal icing and decorate with you. If you can’t catch me at 1pm EST, the video is always saved in my video archive shortly after I’m done. Scroll down to the LIVE video section to find it.
Before we begin decorating, let’s review my sugar cookie recipe. This recipe produces soft sugar cookies with crisp edges and a nice flat surface for decorating. They have a pronounced vanilla flavor and taste unbelievable on their own! They’re my fave.
The post 1 Sugar Cookie Dough, 5 Christmas Cookies...
I’m a lunatic running on fragments of sleep. Noelle is almost 3 months old (my baby girl!!), I talk and sing in a high pitched baby voice/dog voice all day long, and can’t find one of my left shoes. Is this what it’s like to be a mom?
Let me walk you through one of my recent mornings.
Put Noelle down for a nap. I had plans to bake beautifully red and white swirly peppermint cupcakes. Like peppermint swirl candies, but in a cupcake wrapper. Oh my gosh they were going to be GORGEOUS for dessert when our friends stopped by that night! And they’d photograph like a dream for my blog, too. (Always a bonus.)
I got everything out to bake them. Noelle’s binky fell out, so let me fix that.
Sick of cookies? Of course you aren’t.
But just in case you need a little something different in your oven this week, here’s a cranberry orange bundt cake. You won’t regret this.
Peppermint and mocha. Pumpkin and spice. Butter and pecan. Ginger and molasses. Mint and chocolate. There’s no doubt that this time of year is home to some of the most delicious and irresistible flavor combinations. Helloooo red velvet and cream cheese. But there’s one duo that’s completely underrated. It stands up to even the most decadent peppermint, eggnog, or gingerbread treat. Tart cranberry and sweeeeet orange. Oh what a marriage!
Everyone is always chatting about cheese boards for entertaining, but I’m over here like… what about COOKIE boards? They’d be much more popular. 😉
Anyway!! Will you just look at all these cookies? Today I have a list for you to (1) build the ultimate cookie platter for your holiday entertaining (2) find Christmas cookie recipes to bake and (3) find Christmas cookie recipes to EAT.
You’ve got your baking cut out for you for the next few weeks!
We’re here. The 10th and final recipe in 2017’s cookie palooza!!! You’d think I’d be tired of writing about cookies after 6 years of blogging, 5 years of cookie paloozas, and an entire book about cookies. But when there’s millions of cookies and a million more customizations to each cookie… how can one ever get bored? The world is not your oyster. The world is your cookie.
Closing out our 5th annual cookie palooza with biscotti!
I never used to like biscotti. It reminded me of teeth-breaking cardboard.