sugar and spice and everything nice
I finally did it! Cutout gingerbread men cookies! And they taste fabulous!
Sorry for the enthusiasm but I was so happy with these cookies. These will definitely join my repertoire, re-rolling and refrigerating be damned. You see, I have an aversion to cutout cookies. I do not have the patience to let the dough sit for an hour to overnight and then re-rolling and putting it back to the ref to stiffen it some more. I have only baked two kinds of cutout cookies in my life: Honey Snowflakes (how else can I achieve the perfect shape without using a cookie cutter?) and Buttery Jam Tarts that I make as “parol” for my Christmas cupcakes.
However, I was inspired to make these after a Yahoo article caught my eye. It’s the holidays so why not try something new, I thought. Fortunately, one of the recipes just called for 1/4 cup of molasses. There was also a vegan recipe, something I will try later perhaps.
I’v always used this test: if the batter or dough tastes good, the baked product will also taste good. I was so excited when this recipe made the cut that I jumped up and down prompting my niece who was sitting nearby to give me the side-eye. Walking on air, didn’t care.
The first batch I baked got a bit burnt because I followed the baking time to a T. For the second batch, I adjusted the oven temp and baking time. The cookies turned out perfect!
I thought the naked cookies were good but when decorated, they become truly wonderful. I am so in love with these cookies I promise to bake them every year, even if it is not Christmas time.
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Laura’s Gingerbread People – (from Yahoo Food)
2 1/2 cups + 2 tbsps all purpose flour
2 1/8 tsps ground ginger
Scant 1 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
Scant 1 1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 c unsulfured molasses
1 c unsalted butter
1/2 c packed light brown sugar
1. Whisk together the dry ingredients. Set aside
2. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, abut 2 minutes. Add the molasses until marbled in appearance. Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight to allow the flavors to develop.
3. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll out the dough in between plastic wrap to 1/4 inch thick. Cut into desired shape. The original recipe calls for a preheated oven set to 350 deg. with baking time of 12-14 mins for chewy cookies and 16-18 mins for crunchy cookies. I adjusted the temp to 300 deg and baked for about the same time, watching diligently not to overbake. Let cool and decorate as desired. Enjoy!
December 21st, 2015
Harry Potter’s Happee Birthdae Cake – inspired by the pink cake in the movie “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” Price available upon request.
My cousin J._ is an artist and could have easily baked this cake for her daughter herself but she again asked me to do the honors for her this year. Maybe because she has a lot on her plate on the big day with all the preparations and stuff. What’s so endearing is that she travels some 17 kilometers from Quezon City to Makati just so she can meet with me and pick up the cake. Everytime. I myself comes from Paranaque so we meet halfway.
This year’s theme was Harry Potter’s pink cake that Hagrid baked for Harry’s 11th birthday. Except that the cake I was tasked to make was for Gwen’s 14th birthday. My cousin told me the color must be Pepsodent pink. Hmm, is Pepsodent in the market still? I’ve forgotten what shade of pink it was.
The cake was devil’s food chocolate because that’s what the book said. I filled it with dark chocolate ganache just because. The tricky part was getting the pink frosting not to turn into a nauseating hue. I found a tip: add some cocoa to temper the brightness and make it a bit wee pinkish brown. I added some red color too for good measure. I threw away the first batch I made because it tasted yuck (I followed a cocoa-flavored whipped cream frosting and just added the coloring but somehow the flavor was so off) and it turned darker, on the red side. So I just used the normal proportions for the whipped cream frosting, added just a bit of cocoa and adjusted the colors by eye. From the looks of it, I think it worked.
I made sure to include all the cracks on the cake. It was so funny because when I opened the box, there was this little smudge of frosting on the inside of the box. Perfect! Just like in the movie!
I was also testing some cauldron cupcakes and when I got this cake request, I thought it was perfect timing. So I added three little cakes to go with the main cake. More on the cupcakes later.
J. _ said the birthday girl was so thrilled with her cake and that her words after the first bite was “MMMSARAAP”, yes in all caps! Translation: So good!
Tha’s good enough for me. Thanks, J._, as always!
October 30th, 2015
Frozen-themed Cake and Cupcake Project v. 3 – Elsa and Olaf on the cake and cupcakes. Price available upon request.
let it go, not!
I am training for my second full marathon happening next year but somehow, I had not been as enthusiastic as I was with my first. Maybe because I had covered the distance already and know that I am capable of finishing it. Recently, a running buddy asked my progress and I said I missed a couple of training days because as with all non-elite runners, life happened.
I once made a mistake of accepting a last minute project two days before a half marathon. I was up on my feet all day and was so exhausted I forgot to put my legs up the wall after my day was done because I went to La La Land once I hit the bed. My race did not go well as I missed my goal time and worse, I suffered cramps at the 18k mark, just as I was about to crank up my pace to hit my target time.
Lesson learned: do not accept projects close to my scheduled races. Now you see where my priorities lie.
I had already done two Frozen-themed cake projects so I can say that I’m turning to be quite the pro at this but this latest one had been somewhat challenging. My friend N._ requested if I can add Olaf cupcake toppers to the snowflake ones I did in my previous project. Sure, I said.
The tricky part was drawing a resized Olaf as cupcake toppers. I ditched the idea of drawing just the head because to me it is unappealing. So I painstakingly drew each Olaf all in his full body glory. They looked really nice, don’t you think?
I was persuaded by N._ to stay and join the festivities. I did and I was glad because two of my closest friends in elementary and high school also came and it was fun touching base with them.
Thanks, N._ for the continued support! Now back to my running.
September 23rd, 2015
Emoji Cupcakes – featuring various emojis, decoration made of white chocolate. Price available upon request.
I hadn’t planned on doing these but a friend suggested I make them so here goes. I was making Olaf toppers (yes, the snowman from “Frozen”, but more on that in another post) for a cake and cupcake project. My friend saw the outcome and was impressed. A few days later, J._ sent me a video of a baker decorating cookies with emojis. Ok, I got the point – challenge accepted!
I was testing chocolate cake recipes for another project. I needed a cake that was firm enough to handle the white chocolate coating because my go-to devil’s food chocolate is too soft. After flipping through a stack of baking books, I finally just reached out for my tattered recipe notebook and used one of the very first chocolate cake recipes I did culled from a Good Housekeeping baking book. I baked a quarter of the recipe into cupcakes. They were buttery and chocolaty. But will they taste good with the white chocolate coating? Then came the light bulb moment. What perfect timing for the emoji cupcakes!
I had my iPhone right beside me as I was consulting it for the emojis. Fortunately, I had all the colors I need, leftovers from my previous projects that used white chocolate modelling clay. It was really a challenge but when I saw the finished product, I could not help but muster this:
I offered my nephew P._ a cupcake and he said he will just have a tiny bit. But when he tasted it, his eyes lit up and asked if he can have the whole thing. I guess that solved my conundrum. No words. Just
September 17th, 2015
Frozen-themed Cake and Cupcake Project v.2 – featuring Anna on the cake and chocolate snowflakes on the cupcakes. Price available upon request.
welcome back, jenny!
We are very close to our neighbors and we consider them family. I remember when the boys A._ and J._ were still little, they used to come over our house early in the morning in their pjs just so they can play with my hamsters. Every New Year’s eve, we set up tables and sound system in our street and have a party, blow horns, light sparklers and firecrackers and watch the spectacular fireworks as we countdown to the last seconds of the old year and usher in the new year. Years went by and we grew older and some of our friends/families moved to other parts of the world. So when they came home to surprise their dad who was dealing with a health issue, everybody went ballistic, in a good way of course.
They planned a thanksgiving party to celebrate their dad’s recovery. It was also little Janey’s birthday so it was part of the festivities. Jane is a Frozen fan but she is more enamored with Anna instead of Elsa so her mom requested a cake featuring Anna. Since I already made that cake, all I had to do was look for an Anna drawing.
But wait, there’s more. Cupcakes were also to be served. I thought a snowflake topper would look nice so that’s the design I made. With chocolate. I was working against the clock because the project was a last-minute request. How can I say no to family?
The party was a loving tribute to the patriarch of the family. They were still not complete as one daughter was unable to come due to scheduling conflicts. Nevertheless, it was still a happy occasion. Though people left to go on with their lives in their neck of the woods far from their family, everyone will have wonderful memories frozen in their hearts and minds. See you again, somewhere, sometime!
July 17th, 2015