Sneak peek: Holiday season

I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve ever made holiday season cookies so early (we’re not even out of November yet?!)

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Stay tuned, as I have lots of baking to come in the next month or so, and I’m excited to share it all with you!

Jo x

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Holiday Treats!

Happy 2014 everyone!

For this post, rather than give an in-depth look at everything I baked this holiday season, I thought I’d give you an overview of the cookies and cupcakes I made. This is partly because some of the cookies I made are extremely basic and don’t warrant an entire blog post, and partly because there would be a lot of posts to cover everything. So I figure it’d be simpler to put it all into one holiday treats post, so you can feast your eyes on what I baked (and maybe keep to your resolutions too).

Holiday Cut-Out Cookies

I made these as the end-of-year treat for my colleagues. I actually spent an entire week on them, baking them the previous weekend, and decorating them a little bit every evening.

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I made nearly 120 cookies. I then personalized some of the stockings and the stars, with the first initial of my colleagues, and separated out the cookies.

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Each person got 4 cookies. I placed them into a holiday bag, with a note from myself and Josh.

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Old-Fashioned Butter Press Cookies

I went home for a few days at Christmas, so I had to make some cookies there too! Since I left my KitchenAid mixer and everything at my place, I made simple, hand-mixed, butter cookies. These were Mom’s favorites.

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My dad found a new cookie press tucked away in a corner, and to my delight, it had a tree form! (and a pumpkin, but that’s for a different holiday). I decorated these simply, with red and green sugar.

British Pudding – American-style

Actually, these aren’t mini British Christmas puddings at all. They’re leftover chocolate cake and icing, which I transformed into cake balls. I had a bit of white candy melts left, so I whipped these up and topped with festive sprinkles.

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Apple Pie

Okay, so maybe it’s not that festive, but it was one of my contributions for our annual Christmas dinner at some very dear friends of ours, so I figure it deserves it’s place here.

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My apologies for the bad-quality photo, it was hastily taken before I put it out on the buffet.

New Year’s Eve Cupcakes

My last festive piece of baking, were these pink champagne, New Year’s Eve cupcakes. What else would you need to finish off the year with a flourish?

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These were quite the hit at the party I took them to!

And so here ends my first blog entry for 2014. I can’t wait to see what new baking adventures the year brings me! In the meantime, one of my resolutions is to form healthier eating habits… so I guess whatever I bake, I shall have to bring in to work ^_^

Thanks for reading!

Happy Halloween!

Okay, okay… so Halloween was three days ago. Problem is, I like my scheduled Sunday updates, and I guess that means that if there’s a holiday involved, its related post is going to get delayed by a few days.

Besides, the only really exciting thing here is that I baked super cute Halloween cookies for our Halloween party.

We had some guests over for the week of the holidays, so baking these cookies took about three times the time it should have. My friend Jenna had given me a neat cookie making and decorating book for my birthday last year, with lots of recipes and techniques for using royal icing (of normal consistency and liquid consistency). My brother Keenan also sent me a link a few weeks ago to SugarBelle‘s website, which has a bunch of easy-to-follow cookie decorating tips.

So I was all set.

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I used my brand-new Halloween cookie cutters that I got from The Craft Company, and got lots of cookies out of the recipe. I just made a basic vanilla cookie, as that would suit everyone’s tastes.

After the cookies cooled, I mixed up the royal icing.

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I had A LOT which was good, because I was going to need several colors. That being said, I still have some plain white left over, even after making a second batch of cookies and decorating those. I read the instructions about royal icing both on SugarBelle’s website (Outlining and Filling Cookies) and in the recipe book, and starting icing the outlines. I started with the ghosts, because there was no color to add to the icing, so I figured they were the easiest to start with.

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They were quite easy and I was really pleased with myself.

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I also made bats and cats – although getting the black really black for the cat was tough, and I actually ran out, so some of my cats just had outlines. My bats looked pretty cool with outlines and accents too.

I was most pleased with how the pumpkins turned out though.

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Using royal icing was both tricky and simple. Simple, because there was no fancy opening or tip in the piping bag; I just sniped a tiny piece off at the end, and that was all I needed. The tricky part was diluting the icing to flooding consistency. Beginner’s luck allowed me to get the ghosts’ just right, but I added too much water to the black and purple, which meant they took much longer to dry. As it was, they were taking several hours.

I was pleasantly surprised that, despite the cookies laying out for the icing to dry for hours on end, they didn’t actually go stale at all. Some of these cookies are nearly a week old now, and still taste just as fresh.

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I found that decorating these cookies gave me a similar sense of satisfaction as decorating a cake. Of course, a cake is a one-off piece, with lots of smaller decorations coming together, whereas these cookies were four designs repeated many times over.

I had lots of fun, and I look forward to using different cookie recipes, and using my next set of holiday cookie cutters… Christmas is just around the corner!

Thanks for reading!