Swirled Cookie Suckers for Easter

April 22, 2011

Cookie Suckers Plate Rows

We’ve got one more fun project for you before Easter hops on in, and it’s another one you can get your little bunnies and chickies involved with!

Several years ago, I made 3oo to 400 of these fun cookie suckers for the volunteers who were serving on Easter weekend in my church preschool.  Yeah, it was a pretty big church with LOTS of preschoolers!

I can still vividly remember staying up until 3 am, swirling and twirling the dough into cookie suckers on sticks, wrapped up in a treat bag and tied with a ribbon.  Even though it was exhausting, my main memory is that it was a really fun project!

Let me show you how to make these so you can enjoy them too!  I used a vegan cookie dough recipe this time, but the recipe I used to use is a rich one with cream cheese that’s usually called play doh cookie dough.

Cookie Suckers Plate

I want to experiment with other vegan cookie recipes, since this one spread a tiny bit more than I would have liked, but it held up surprisingly well.  You just need a basic sugar cookie dough that will stay together and be pliable while you’re rolling it out into a snake.  If it’s too soft, it’ll fall apart, but if it’s too stiff it will crack instead of roll.

Whatever cookie recipe you prefer, make a couple of batches, then divide it up and mix in your favorite paste food colorings.  I like to use 4 different colors of  dough for each cookie, but you could use more or less.  That’s the beauty of this project: you can use your imagination and do whatever you feel like!

Cookie Suckers Colored Balls

After the dough is made, refrigerate it overnight or until very cold, then start rolling!  This is where you call in the kids to help.

I use the bigger end of my melon baller to scoop out the dough, and then roll it lightly in my hands until it’s semi-round.  My balls were probably close to 1″ in diameter, but I didn’t measure.  The key is to make the balls the same size and use the same number of balls per cookie so that they all bake evenly.

Once you have the balls made, chill them again.  If you start out with soft warm dough, you’ll have a hard time rolling it out.  When the dough is cold, take 4 balls of any color and line them up in your hand.

Cookie Suckers 4 Balls

Gently roll the  balls together between your palms so they start to mingle and get happy with each other.

Cookie Suckers Balls Mingle

Then lay the dough onto your work surface and gently form it into a snake.  I thoroughly cleaned my granite counter, and it worked great for rolling.

Cookie Suckers Log

Keep gently rolling until you have a dough snake about a foot long, more or less.

Cookie Suckers Snake

As I’m rolling it, I like to roll one end one way, and the other end the other way.  That’s how you get the swirled candy cane effect.

Cookie Suckers Swirled

If the dough breaks, just mash it back together.  No one will ever know!  Now start coiling the snake around itself until you get to the end.

Cookie Suckers Coil

Add a sucker stick, and you have a finished cookie sucker ready to bake.

Cookie Suckers Bake

Repeat with the rest of the balls.  If you don’t have cookie sticks, just bake the cookies as is.

Cookie Suckers 6 Bake

If you want to, you can add a sprinkle of colored sparkly sugar before you bake, like I did in the cookie below.

Cookie Suckers Baked

Cookie Suckers 1

Cookie Suckers 2

Cookie Suckers 3

Cookie Suckers 4

I like to insert the cooled cookie suckers into a treat bag that will fit, and tie on a little ribbon bow.  These make great gifts for your friends, neighbors and coworkers, and would be a really cute addition to your Easter table or to a special someone’s Easter basket!

Cookie Suckers Platter

Happy Easter!

~BigSis

Decorate Your Easter Cookies

April 12, 2011

Chocolate Cookies Decorate Easter

I said the other day that Easter required chocolate, and I meant it!

These are my favorite chocolate cookies right now, since I made them for the SPCA Bake Sale last December.  They’re Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Mexican Chocolate Snickerdoodles from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, and they’re delicious!

They do need to be dolled up and decorated just a touch for Easter though, don’t you think?  I thought!  And this is what I came up with.

Easter Stencils Cookies Decorate

I found these cute Easter stencils at Hobby Lobby.  If you have a Hobby Lobby near you, you know that no one does adorable holiday food packaging and goodies like they do!  Most of our decorative bake sale packaging comes from Hobby Lobby.

Back to the Easter stencils.  For just $1.99, I got 6 reusable plastic stencils that can be used with cookies, cupcakes, or anything else that is flat.

All you do is choose a cookie or cupcake with a level surface.

Chocolate Cookies Decorate Bare

Place a stencil on the cookie.

Chocolate Cookies Decorate Stencil Easter

Sprinkle it with powdered sugar, as heavily or as lightly as you like.

Chocolate Cookies Easter Decorate Stencil

Carefully remove the stencil and admire your pretty image!  How fun is that!

Chocolate Cookie Decorate Easter

I experimented with colored coarser sugar on a cookie, and it didn’t work out too well.  So I had to eat that one.  Oh, darn.  This blogging thing is rough.  :-)

Chocolate Cookie Decorate Easter Goof

Powdered sugar looks pretty on a cookie, but it doesn’t stick so you have to be careful not to disturb the image.  I bet it would stick better if you sprinkled the sugar on a frosted cookie or cupcake.

I already showed you the “Happy Easter” cookie close-up.  Here’s the Easter basket

Chocolate Cookie Decorate Easter Basket

the Easter Bunny

Chocolate Cookie Decorate Easter Bunny

the flowers

Chocolate Cookie Decorate Easter Flowers

the butterfly with tulips

Chocolate Cookie Decorate Easter Butterfly

and the chickie!

Chocolate Cookie Decorate Easter Chick

This was a fun and super-easy project to do, and I bet your kids would love to help with it!  You may be cleaning up powdered sugar til next Easter, but at least you’ll have great memories to show for it!

We’re still hatching up more Easter fun, so check back with us soon!

~BigSis

St. Patrick’s Day Clover Cookies

March 9, 2011

St. Patrick's Day Clover Cookies

Don't look too close! My royal icing didn't turn out too great!

We sisters have a little Irish in our genes, but not much. For some reason, though; maybe because my hubby is half Irish, we always have fun celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. We usually have friends over, cook some corned beef and cabbage, listen to some Irish music and possibly have a green beer or two. Last year I made this Glowing Gecko Cocktail for some friends and it was a huge hit.

St. Patrick's Day Clover CookiesI love the legend about how every Leprechaun has a hidden pot of gold and how they’d rather turn you into a frog than be captured. Even though these guys don’t look like it, they are considered to be faeries and I’ve always been a bit fascinated by the “faerie world.”

I was in Michael’s a few weeks ago looking for something completely unrelated to St. Patrick’s Day but when I saw their St. Patty’s Day display, I couldn’t resist picking up a four leaf clover cookie cutter and some green sprinkles.

St. Patrick's Day Clover Cookies

To this day, I can’t pass a clover patch without stopping to look for a four-leaf clover. :-)

Even though I’ve made a few cookie recipes lately, I have to be honest and admit that I really don’t like to bake. If you look at my Thanksgiving Turkey Cookies and my Linzer Heart-Shaped Sandwich Cookies, I usually choose a recipe that’s more about the decoration, which is the fun part for me.

For these St. Patrick’s Day Clover Cookies, I used Alton Brown’s Sugar Cookie recipe that I found while browsing Food Network’s website. And since I had pretty good luck with the Wilton recipe for the Linzer Heart-shaped Sandwich Cookies, I decided to go with Wilton’s royal icing recipe.

St. Patrick's Day Clover Cookies

I think I may have bitten off more than I could chew with the icing recipe. Who knew that royal icing had to be mixed for 10 to 12 minutes with a hand mixer? (And, yes, I have survived my entire adult life without owning a stand mixer.) I even had to recruit my hubby to help me with the mixing of the cookie dough when my arm got tired.

This sugar cookie recipe was pretty simple and the cookies turned out perfect! I’m not a big sweet eater but if I’m going to eat a cookie, I like a soft cookie and I prefer something like a shortbread so that’s probably why I like these so much. They were soft and moist and not overly sugary!

St. Patrick's Day Clover Cookies

For me, the royal icing was a royal pain in the “you know what” and these sugar cookies are perfect without it!

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~LilSis

Linzer Heart-shaped Sandwich Cookies

February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

Linzer Heart Shaped Sandwich Cookies

Not that we need any more cookies in this house since we’re still loaded with Girl Scout cookies, but I thought this would be a fun treat for Valentine’s Day.

Linzer Heart Shaped Sandwich Cookies

My friend from New York calls these Linzer Tarts and they’re one of her favorite cookies so I’ll be dropping some off at her house today so we don’t end up with too many left to tempt me.

Even though I’ve seen a few variations of this recipe, I used the original Linzer Sandwich Cookie recipe that was on the package of the Linzer cookie cutters.

Linzer Heart Shaped Sandwich CookiesI was a little out of my comfort zone when making these because I haven’t rolled out cookie dough in many years, but the recipe was pretty simple and I think they turned out pretty good!

HayHay came in right after I finished the photos and he must have thought they were okay because he devoured 3 or 4 in a matter of seconds!

Have a terrific Valentine’s Day!

Visit SmileyCookie.com!

~LilSis

Favorite Christmas Cookie: Snowballs

December 23, 2010

Snowball Christmas Cookies

For many years, our kids would wait, with much anticipation, for the tin of Grandma’s cookies to arrive in the mail right before Christmas. Without fail, every year, until she wasn’t able to do it anymore, my mother-in-law would mail a gorgeous tin full of a beautiful assortment of homemade Christmas cookies to each of the grand-kids.

Everyone had their favorite, so if you wanted one in our household, you had to be quick! One year, our beloved, SarahGirl (1/2 Lab & 1/2 Great Dane) decided that she wasn’t going to wait for her cookie. The tin arrived as we were dashing out the door one day, so we quickly put it under the tree, not even thinking that the dog could possibly get into it since it was taped shut.

Yet, when we arrived home, we found that SarahGirl had somehow managed to remove the tape, open the tin and devour every single, ding, dang, last cookie!  (Shhhh… we never could bring ourselves to tell Grandma about the incident.)

Her Snowballs were always my favorite!

Christmas Snowball Cookies

My Mother-in-law gave me this beautiful Fitz & Floyd Santa Plate about 15 years ago and ever since then, it’s been the plate we’ve used to leave cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve night.

Santa Cookie Plate

Tonight, I’ll be serving the Snowballs on it for a Christmas get-together we’re having with a few friends.

Santa Cookie Plate with Christmas Snowballs

Snowballs

1/2 lb. butter, at room temperature
2 c. flour
1 c. chopped pecans
1 t. vanilla
1 c. powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut the butter into small pieces, place in a large mixing bowl and gradually add the flour, the pecans, then the vanilla, combining all with your hands.

Form the dough into walnut size balls and place on a cookie sheet about an inch apart. Bake for 18 – 20 minutes, just until the bottoms are slightly brown.  Let cool for 5  minutes, then roll in the powdered sugar. Once completely cool, dust again with powdered sugar.

(Before I made these, I did a little browsing online and I did find quite a few variations of this recipe. Some have salt, sugar and even eggs in the dough but I decided to stick to my mother-in-law’s recipe.)

The good news is that when my hubby tried one, he said they were perfect and tasted just like his Mom’s. In my house, that’s the best compliment I can receive. :-)

~LilSis

Thanksgiving Turkey Cookies

November 21, 2010

Thanksgiving Turkey Cookies

Here’s a quick and easy Thanksgiving dessert that’s a fun one for the kids. I recruited my 17 year old to help with the eyeballs.

BigSis mentioned this recipe for the Thanksgiving Turkey Cookies a couple of years ago but I never got around to making them until now. We’re celebrating Thanksgiving this year with a group of friends and I thought these cookies would be something a little different to take to the gathering.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not the baker in the family and I’m not particularly fond of baking from scratch so I love that you just use refrigerated cookie dough for this recipe.

Thanksgiving Turkey Cookies
(recipe adapted from Pillsbury)

1 roll Pillsbury refrigerated sugar cookies
1 container (16 oz.) chocolate creamy frosting
candy corn
orange decorating icing
Miniature M&M’s
Tiny black or blue nonpareils

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Bake cookies as directed. Cool completely, about 20 minutes.

Spoon chocolate frosting into resealable plastic baggie and seal bag. Cut a small hole in the bottom corner of bag. On each cookie, pipe frosting on outer edge of half of cookie. Arrange candy corn over frosting for feathers.

Pipe orange icing onto each cookie to resemble turkey face and brown icing for the feet. Use a small dot of icing to attach the M&M’s to the cookie for eyes and to dot on a tiny nonpareil for center of eyes.

These little guys were actually pretty fun to make! :-)

(Note to BigSis: Here’s a turkey that even a vegetarian can eat! ) :-)


~LilSis

Oatmeal Coconut Chocolate Chip Vegan Cookies

June 10, 2010

Vegan Oatmeal Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

Since our next SPCA Bake Sale is only 6 months away, I better get myself busy building a repertoire of vegan recipes!  I’m almost 6 months into “eating vegan”, but I’m not a big sweets eater so I haven’t done much baking.

After my coworker K-to-the-T brought these awesome Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Coconut Cookies to the office the other day though, I knew this was a recipe I had to adapt asap!  They were scrumptious, and reminded me of a Cowboy Cookie I used to make.  She had made a few tweaks of her own to the original Epicurious recipe, and I tweaked it even more.  Voila and ta da!  Here’s my first adapted cookie recipe, sans eggs and dairy products!

Vegan Oatmeal Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

Oatmeal Coconut Chocolate Chip Vegan Cookies

Adapted from K-to-the-T and Epicurious

1 stick (1/2 cup) Earth Balance, softened
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon ground flax seeds
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup + 2 tablespoons old-fashioned oats
3/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1/2 cup semisweet vegan chocolate chips
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Beat together Earth Balance and sugars in a bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until fluffy. Add applesauce and vanilla, and mix until blended. In a separate medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, flax seed, cinnamon, and salt. Stir to mix ingredients. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix at low speed until just blended. Stir in oats, coconut, chocolate chips, and walnuts.

Arrange 1/4-cup mounds of cookie dough about 3 inches apart on 2 ungreased large baking sheets (about 6 cookies per sheet), then gently pat down each mound to about 1/2 inch thick. Bake until golden, about 14 to 15 minutes.

Cool cookies on sheets until set enough to transfer with a spatula to racks to cool completely. Makes about 12 big cookies.

Note: The bottoms of my cookies were pretty brown. I think that using parchment paper might help with that if you prefer lighter bottoms.

My cookies had a slightly different texture than K-to-the-T’s, but they were absolutely delicious!  I never would have guessed that they were vegan.  They were moist and chewy, and had great flavor.  I will absolutely make them again…and yes, they may make an appearance at the Bake Sale!

~BigSis

Cherry-Pecan Meringue Bars

December 2, 2009

Cherry-Pecan Meringue Bars

Cherry-Pecan Meringue Bars

Gearing up for the SPCA Bake Sale, I had one more promising recipe to taste-test.  Like the Double Chocolate Peppermint Bars I tested recently, the inspiration again was Carole Walter’s “Great Cookies” – a James Beard Award winner and IACP winner.

These bars took a little doing – about an hour to put together – and are a touch too fussy for the Bake Sale.  You have a brown sugar shortbread base, with a cherry filling and a meringue pecan topping.  The combination of flavors was great, especially if you’re a nut lover.  All in all, pretty delicious, and lighter than a lot of the things that come out of my oven this time of year!

So, these bars gets thumbs up for flavor but don’t get invited to the Bake Sale!  I’ll be making Cookie Madness’ White Chip Raspberry Bars for the sale again, since they were well-received last year.  You get a similar zip from the berry jam (I use my homemade cranberry jam) with a nutty complement from sliced almonds.  If you double Anna’s recipe, it fits nicely in a 13 x 9 pan, and will give you 12 healthy-size bars.

If you have a little bit of time on your hands, do try these Cherry-Pecan Meringue Bars.  I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Cherry-Pecan Meringue Bars
(adapted from Great Cookies)

Filling:

1 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup water
1 cup cherry preserves or jam (I used homemade cranberry jam)
1 tsp fresh lemon zest
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch of ground cloves
pinch of salt
2 Tblsp POM Wonderful juice (the original recipe called for Cherry Heering liqueur which is a bit pricey, and unnecessary IMHO)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 13 x 9 pan with nonstick foil.

Place the cherries and water in a small saucepan. Cook, covered, over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes or until cherries are tender and almost all of the liquid has evaporated.

Add the rest of filling ingredients. Bring to a boil. Place the mixture into a food processor and pulse 5-6 times. The mixture should still have some texture, rather than being a puree.  Chill mixture for 30 minutes or up to 1 week.

Crust:

3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter (I used salted)
1/3 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1-3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt

Place the butter in a medium saucepan and barely melt over low heat, remove from heat and allow to finish melting. Set aside to cool to tepid, then stir in brown sugar. Blend in the flour and salt all at once.

Drop 8 spoonfuls of dough onto the prepared pan. Press dough evenly into bottom of pan. Bake at 350 for 15 to 17 minutes. Let stand for 2 minutes then spread the cherry filling evenly over crust.

Meringue:

8 oz pecans (2 cups chopped)
3/4 cup sugar
3 egg whites, at room temperature
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

Place the pecans in a food processor and add 1 tablespoon of the sugar and pulse 3-4 times, or until finely chopped. Set aside. In a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment, beat the egg whites on medium speed until frothy.  Add the salt.  Increase the speed to medium high and beat until firm but not dry. Add the remaining sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, taking about 1 minute.  Add the vanilla and beat 30 seconds longer to form a shiny meringue. Fold in 1 cup of the chopped pecans.

Spread the meringue evenly over the cherry mixture, smooth the top, and sprinkle with the remaining pecans. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes, until golden brown.

Cool on a wire rack. Remove from pan, using the foil to lift it out, and cut into bars.

~BigSis

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Almond Meal Gluten Free Cookies: Fail

November 30, 2009

You know how some people always say that this or that is a “hot mess”.  Have you ever wondered exactly what a hot mess is?  What does a hot mess look like?  Wonder no more…voila!

AlmondMealCookies1

This, my friends, is a bonafide hot mess.  No, this is not what I was going for.  Ha!  Not even close.  I was aiming for a variation of Peabody’s Hazelnut Honey Cookies.  A few of her commenters mentioned trying almond meal in place of the hazelnut flour.  I thought, well, hecky darn; I have an endless supply of dried almond meal since I’ve been making my own almond milk for months now.  Why don’t I conduct a little experiment with the almond meal substitution, and report back on my marvelous success; much to the delight of Peabody and her readers!

Instead, I have to fess up to my failure hot mess and submit my name to the Baker’s Hall of Shame.

Where did I go wrong?  I subbed agave for half of the honey but I don’t think that would cause a disaster of this magnitude.  I also added a tablespoon of cocoa powder, and even added an extra half cup of almond meal since the mixture seemed loose.  Little did I know, it had only begun to be loose!

When I first looked into the oven, the cookies seemed to be spreading a tad, but on the second look…good gravy!  I had a sea of bubbling, bumpy, grainy goo.  Not what I was going for at all.  :-D Looks a bit like the surface of the moon or Mars, doesn’t it?

AlmondMealCookies2

I think the problem was with the almond meal.  I probably should have only substituted almond meal for part of the hazelnut flour.  I also might have goofed in using the almond meal in it’s coarse state.  Maybe it would have behaved better if I had pulverized it.  I’d certainly like to pulverize it, now that I’ve wasted those tasty little cherries and other ingredients!

It was a fun little experiment, even though it flopped.  If you try something new, you have to be prepared to fail sometimes, right?  Thank you, Almond Meal Gluten Free “Cookies”.  You gave me the best laugh I’ve had in ages!  :-D

~BigSis

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Chocolate Coconut M&M Cookies

October 2, 2009

Chocolate Coconut M&M CookiesI happened to find a bag of Coconut M&Ms at a random Kroger a couple of weeks ago, and decided to make cookies out of them.  I love M&M cookies!  I think it’s because our grandmother in west Texas would make a batch whenever we came for a visit, and I just have warm memories of her with M&M cookies.  We only had one grandmother, and she was a good one!  :-D

For an excellent cookie recipe, I looked to Anna the Queen of All Cookie Madness, of course!  She didn’t let me down.  She recently did an M&M Cookie Roundup, and linked to a chocolate M&M cookie recipe from One Ordinary Day.  I made a few changes to that recipe, and came up with these beauties.

Chocolate Coconut M&M Cookies

Chocolate Coconut M&M Cookies

(Adapted from One Ordinary Day)

2 c flour
3/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Penzeys Natural Cocoa)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c butter, softened
1/2 c shortening, at room temperature
2/3 c granulated sugar
2/3 c packed light brown sugar
1 tsp mexican vanilla extract (Penzeys Mexican Vanilla, of course!)
2 large eggs
1 bag Coconut M&Ms (1 cup for the batter plus the rest for the cookie tops)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in a small bowl.  Whisk to combine.

In a large bowl, beat butter and shortening with sugars and vanilla until creamy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each one.  Beat flour mixture into butter/sugar mixture, in 2 or 3 additions.  Stir in M&Ms with a wooden spoon.  Drop by tablespoons (I used a tablespoon-size cookie scoop) onto ungreased cookie sheets.  Add a couple of M&Ms to each cookie.  Bake for 9 or 10 minutes.  Cool on cookie sheet for a minute or two, then remove to wire rack to finish cooling.

Makes 3 dozen cookies.

Chocolate Coconut M&M Cookies

These were delicious, chocolatey, almost fudgy cookies.  The flavor of the mexican vanilla was awesome with the cocoa and the coconut.  The Coconut M&Ms worked beautifully!  Everyone gave them a big thumbs-up!  The cookies were best the first two days; after that they started to dry out a little bit.  Now there are only crumbs left and a couple of empty cookie containers…

One of the things I adore about M&M cookies is how the M&Ms that touched the cookie sheet have gotten all crispy-ish and kind of caramelized on the backs of the cookies.

Chocolate Coconut M&M Cookies

If you see Coconut M&Ms, grab a bag and turn them into these scrumptious cookies!

Chocolate Coconut M&M Cookies

PS:  We’re going pink for the whole month of October for Breast Cancer Awareness, so enjoy the pink type!

~BigSis