Monday, November 11, 2013

Decorated Sugar Cookies for Breast Cancer Education and Awareness

October is national Breast Cancer Awareness and Education month, so my ZTA chapter, Eta Zeta, does a bunch of profit shares and hosts a big Think Pink event every year. At the event we have tables full of baked goods, we hand out ribbons and breast exam pamphlets, have a breast cancer survivor tell their story (amazing), and have games and live musical performances by the incredible acapella groups at Elon, Sweet Signatures and Rip Chord. I love events like these because they are the perfect opportunity for me to practice my sugar cookie decorating skills. It takes a ton of work, so I need a really good excuse to take over and ultimately destroy the kitchen, and pretty much any surface area in our living room for 2 days.

Breaking the process up into 2 days (if not 3) is the best and least exhausting way to go about making sugar cookies like these (especially when you have other things to do, like, I don't know, maybe go to CLASS for example...). Day 1 is for preparing, refrigerating, cutting out and baking the cookies. It's nice to have a system worked out with cutting out, baking and cooling, because I think it is best to only bake one sheet at a time. (In an ideal situation - preparing the dough can also be day 1, baking on day 2, decorating on day 3 - with day 4 being the day of the event) Baking and decorating also produce their own unique messes, so it's good to completely clean up, go to sleep and start fresh the next day. This also guarantees that the cookies will be completely cool and ready for decorating. The cookies also get softer overnight if you accidentally over bake some. My oven is complete crap, so every batch baked for a different amount of time. I had to watch them like a hawk - while simultaneously rolling and cutting out the next batch).

This time I think I did a really good job cleaning up as I go…Not perfect by any means, but it does make the process go significantly smoother. Most recipes also say the ENTIRE process of baking, cooling and decorating takes 5 hours. like WHAT? hoowwwww. like actually HOW? Maybe I just need more practice, but that is just absurd. There is NO WAY - no way you can decorate that many cookies in that amount of time.

Rolled Sugar Cookies 
I got the recipe here and followed the advice from the comments

1 ½ cups butter, room temperature
3 cups of sugar
4 eggs
5 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 tsps vanilla

In a medium sized bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt.
In a large together, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Then add the eggs and vanilla.

In 3 increments, add the flour mixture to the large bowl, using a spatula (not the mixer).

Either cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or over night. You can also separate the dough into two balls or disks and wrap in plastic wrap. (It was hard digging out the hard dough from the bowl, so I prefer doing it this way and breaking off pieces at a time)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly flour your work space and rolling pin and roll out the dough to about ¼ to ½ inch thickness. Cut out shapes with a cookie cutter and place on a silpat or tin foil (I rotate between the two because I only have one silpat)

If your oven maintains a consistent temperature, bake for 6 to 8 minutes – making sure the edges don’t get too brown. A faint brown edge is ok, but maintaining a light tan color is preferable.  Cool completely.

For my decorating icing I use this recipe from Sweetopia, but I add a teaspoon or so of almond extract to tone down the strong flavor of the confectioners sugar. Also, in order to write words on the cookies without too much spreading (everything in turqoise), I put some icing on research and added an additional teaspoon of meringue powder. These were very cute, but the mouth feel wasn't the best because it was harder - so I wouldn't go overboard.

These little strawberries were my favorite! Strawberries are one of zeta's national symbols, so I thought it would be a cute way to tie together Breast Cancer Awareness and our sorority (well fraternity actually…). At first I was afraid not making them all red was a dumb decision, but I'm so glad I didn't. They were so small and popable, and surprisingly weren't hard to decorate either considering there were so many of them. I'll definitely be making these again!

Think Pink
me (and very little sleep) and MY LITTLE, Jessica (well one of my littles….) 
Everyone in our chapter brought one of their bras as decoration - SO CLEVER
Laura and her bedazzled black bra (costume purposes only, of course) 
The all girls acapella group at Elon, Sweet Signatures. They were amazing!
The cookies in action
I just loved these too much - Rice Krispy Boobs!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Salted Nutella Stuffed Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Salted Nutella Stuffed Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe and directions from Ambitious Kitchen, found here 

2 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda
¼ teaspoon of salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter (browned and set at room temperature)
1 ¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon plain Greek yogurt
¾ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ cup milk chocolate chips
½ cup dark chocolate chips
1 jar of Nutella, chilled in refrigerator
Fleur de Sel or course sea salt for sprinkling

**Helpful links for how to brown butter found here and here. Make sure to let it get room temperature though. It doesn't specify in the original recipe but when I made browned butter cupcakes with the hot butter, they turned out incredibly dense. Cookies and cupcakes are very different, but I still didn't want to make the same mistake twice - so exercise caution.