Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Holiday Baking

Usually "Holiday" refers to the Christmas season, but we're not quite there yet, and I'm way behind on my blogging. So this Holiday post refers to the wonderful day we celebrate our fathers. I know, it's August. I'm late... way late. But I couldn't pass it up to share these SUPER cute cookie/cupcake/brownie desserts that everyone will love.

Unfortunately I can't say this is the easiest and quickest baking experience, but if you have a few hours, and you enjoy baking, it's totally worth it. Not to mention their extreme cuteness.

The hardest part I had was balancing the mixing, stirring, baking, cutting, decorating all at the same time. You need to be able to cook brownies, cupcakes, and sugar cookies, which is why it's not the simplest project. But you can even spread the baking over two days if you wish to keep sane and have a somewhat decently clean kitchen.

Of course I found this awesome idea from none other than the awesome Bakerella. She is amazingly creative. Here is her post, and it's way better than mine. So maybe don't look at it just yet...

Before you start baking you'll need to print out some templates from Bakerella for the tray, french fry holder, and tissue paper. I printed the trays on card stock, french fry holders on vellum, and the father's day paper on tracing paper. Just be careful if you use the tracing paper, it can smear if it's not dry.

Once you have printed those out, start baking! I'd suggest starting with the brownies first. They are the easiest and allows them to cool for cutting. While they are baking, start cutting and assembling the trays and fry holders.

Secondly, bake your cup cakes. I definitely recommend using paper cupcake liners as opposed to none or the silicone cupcake liners. These are the ones I baked with the silicone liners.

Sure, they look good in the liners, but once they are peeled off, they look better in the trash.

They got destroyed. So, as I mentioned before, paper is better for this project. After we said our eulogies, we started round two of the cupcakes, and they turned out much better. Just let them cool before peeling off the paper liners.

Your next step is making the delicious french fries. These are made with the sugar cookie dough. Make your dough (from scratch, or if you want to have a life, use a mix). Spread the dough out on parchment paper or on a silicone mat. Cut the dough in small strips with a long cut down the center, hot dog style (remember that from kindergarten?). I failed to remember to take pictures of the french fry steps, so please refer to Bakerella if you need help. She has some great visuals. Remove alternating strips so it won't bake into one giant cookie. (See example) Sprinkle on sugar, and bake for about 8 minutes in a 350 degree oven. If they spread out too much and become steak fries, you can immediately cut them in half as soon as you take them out of the oven. If you wait too long they will harden and break. So slice fast! Once the fries are done, load 'em up in their cute holders and refrain from eating them all.

Once your cupcakes are cooled, cut them in half. These will be used as the buns. Then cut your brownies to be the meat- using a cookie cutter that's similar diameter as the cupcakes. Or, if you're ghetto like me, you can use the top of a PAM spray can. I didn't have a two inch circle cookie cutter, so the PAM top worked like magic.

Now comes the decorating part! You'll need one can of frosting as well as green, red, and yellow food coloring. Separate icing in to three bowls, one bowl using a bit more than the other two. The bowl with more frosting will be used for the lettuce since you'll need more green than yellow or red. SO mix the colors until you are satisfied with your lettuce, mustard, and ketchup. Place the icing in piping bags, or you can use plastic sandwich bags, cutting small holes at the tip of a corner. Now decorate your "meat" with delicious mustard, ketchup and lettuce.

Last but least, assemble your burger, placing the meat in the buns, and pressing lightly so they stick together a bit. Just don't squish too much or your beautiful lettuce will look more like mold. For the finishing touch, dip your finger in water, and lightly rub the top of the bun with the water and sprinkle sesame seeds. The water helps them stick.

Place the burger in a tray with the tissue paper, pair it with a bag of fries, and you've got yourself one darn delicious happy meal!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Heavenly Combo

I found this recipe on Bakerella which she found from Betty Crocker. The thing I like the best about this recipe is it's SOO easy and SOO good. Want a super easy recipe that will taste like you spent extra time? This is totally the answer.

One box of brownie mix (and the water, eggs and oil it calls for)
One tube of pre-made chocolate chip cookie dough
Extra chocolate chips (optional)
Confectioners Sugar (optional)

And that's it!! If you want to make things harder on yourself, you can make the cookie dough from scratch, but that just seems foolish.

Heat your oven to 350 degrees.

Mix brownie mix together according to the box directions. Pour mixture into a greased 13 x 9 pan or greased glass dish.

Remove the cookie dough from it's package and make balls or scoops like you would if you were making regular cookies. Drop the cookies into the brownie batter, pressing lightly so it squishes it a bit into the batter.

You might not need to use all the cookie dough, so if there's extra, don't let it go to waste- let is go to your waist! Anyways, after you've devoured the left over cookie dough, place your delicious pan of goodness into the oven, and bake for 35- 40 minutes.

Now you have a few choices. You can leave it be, and enjoy the delicious creation you just made just as it is, or you can add toppings. Bakerella did a chocolate ganache topping, but I thought it was too much work. So I just topped with extra chocolate chips once it was out of the oven, so they'd melt a bit. Once it was cooled, I sprinkled with confectioners sugar. I'm sure you could even frost it like a cake, but that'd be a bit too much for my personal pallet. Once it's cooled, serve as is, or cut into pieces and display proudly!