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Cookie Covet.

22 Nov

This post is in preparation for the food consumption of this week. Ok, the next few months.

You know those chocolate peanut butter cup cookies that you saw all over pinterest last week. And repinned. And drooled over. And then came back a few hours later and imagined eating one… or four? Well we made them. And ate… a few.

Annie’e eats is a miracle. She has birthed a child. She saves lives. And she blogs. Like really blogs about delicious foods. In her spare time. I have trouble blogging at any time.

Chocolate + peanut butter is a fail-proof combination. They go together. Like Cam and Mitchell. Or Christmas and Mariah Carey. I don’t often claim desserts as too rich nor do I rarely leave leftovers. These cookies are a little dense, good for that best-of-intentions portion control. However, I would make them again. And share them with friends.

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cookies: white wedding

18 Jul

A few weekends ago I packed up and headed south to Jacksonville for a bachelorette weekend. Most important item stowed away in the backseat, you ask? Cookies (shocking I know). Beautifully iced and hand-piped for the bride-to-be. What better way to make absolutely sure that we all fit into our respective dresses than with cake and dress themed cookies? I mean, they are white and bridal and should only enhance our feminine figures…

Let’s be real honest for a minute. Diets are dumb. You think a wedding will be that prized occasion to miraculously derail your sweets addiction to Kaminsky’s Tollhouse Cookie Pie or your unhealthy attachment to all those fantastically photographed fancy foods you stalk on blogs, to have those toned arms you always wanted. It’s not. Sometimes its stressful, more times than not you stuff your face with engagement party libations and wedding shower finger foods (dipping vegetables in ranch does not, in fact, count as “watching what you eat”). So I say order a bigger dress size. Eat what you want. Ok, don’t go that far. But seriously, if the wedding industry knew what was up they would falsely size those bridesmaid’s dresses.

easter egg cookies

25 Apr

Would you rather:

 Have 2 dozen vinegar-dyed hard-boiled eggs that may possibly end up in your child’s toy chest only to be discovered several weeks later?

or

Have 2 dozen perfectly decorated sugar cookies? Uh-huh, me too. Maybe this was a little bit of a lead-in question, I’m ok with that. These cookies didn’t last long around my house. They are the perfect combination of shortbread cookie and sugary icing- not too sweet but sweet enough.

Hope you had a wonderful Easter weekend. I am so thankful for the resurrection of Jesus, for friends that are family, and for potluck dinners on the water at sunset.

royal icing: revisited

13 Apr

Charleston + new roommates + no job = lots and lots of free time. Well that was over a  year ago, but oh how I wish I could go back to those days. Plenty of sleep, days at the pool, and hours of perfecting our baking skills. I think Cory and I baked our way through a gigantic muffin cookbook and enjoyed several hundred cookies. So naturally, when we get together these days – it is to bake. We have taken it to a new level, however, and are experimenting with royal icing. It is very forgiving and shockingly easy to make and use. Cupcake cookies were our first venture. We even made some sailboats for boy Corey. To make them manly – she made them Y-Flyers. And no, I didn’t know what a Y-Flyer was but now I do. And I decided some of the sailboats needed polka dots.

Stay tuned – marbled Easter eggs are coming soon!

love: red velvet whoopie pies

22 Feb

The only part of Valentine’s Day I ever truly cared about was the day after when my best friend and I used to buy 1/2 off boxes of chocolates. That’s right. We waited until they went on sale, because who really eats and enjoys a heart shaped box filled with assorted milk chocolate covered fruit creams and nuts? No one. I am that girl that “samples” each chocolate. I love surprises but not if I know they are coming. So we would drive around with the windows down and those chocolates that didn’t make the cut after one bite – they went straight out the window. Now that my faux-chocolate-tossing-Valentine is engaged and living in Florida, I explored other celebratory options. And Russell Stover’s got nothing on these heart-shaped red velvet whoopies pies. I’ve decided that red velvet may actually be my new favorite cake. With a distinctive taste and a hint of cocoa, this sweet is only perfected with rich cream cheese frosting.

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies
For the cookies:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. cocoa powder
½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 oz. red food coloring

Ingredients:

For the frosting:
8 oz. cream cheese
5 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 375˚ F.

Who didn’t love kindergarten? I enlisted my stencil skills (only this time I made my own heart-shaped stencil) and traced hearts onto a piece of parchment paper. This ensures consistency in the shape and size of your red velvet hearts when the whoopie pie assembly process begins.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and brown sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Beat in the egg until incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.  Blend in the vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, beat in about a third of the dry ingredients, followed by half of the buttermilk, beating each addition just until incorporated.  Repeat so that all the buttermilk has been added and then mix in the final third of dry ingredients.  Do not overbeat.  Blend in the food coloring.

Fill a piping bag, fitted with a large round tip, with the red velvet batter. When piping the hearts, leave about a 1/2 inch perimeter inside the pencil line to allow room for the hearts to rise and spread.

Bake 7-9 minutes or until the tops are set, rotating the baking sheets halfway through. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheets at least 10 minutes, until they can be easily transferred to a cooling rack.  Repeat with any remaining batter.  Allow cookies to cool completely before proceeding.

To make the cream cheese frosting, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat the cream cheese and butter on medium-high speed until well combined and smooth, about 2-3 minutes.  Mix in the vanilla extract.  Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar until totally incorporated, increase the speed and then beat until smooth.

Pipe the cream cheese frosting on half the hearts and top with the remaining half to complete the whoopie pies. Fill thoses hearts with lots and lots of cream cheese goodness. Don’t be shy, the more filling the better. I had plenty of left over icing, so don’t worry about running out (or eating the frosting before it actually makes it to the cookie).

. Recipe from Annie’s Eats .

bridal luncheon: bebe bites

19 Jan

Post-college means one thing in the life of a southern girl: weddings. And I don’t just mean weddings in the sense of day-of-attendance… I mean full-out months of preparation, engagement parties, bridal showers, bridal luncheons, and matching dresses. But I don’t mind. In fact I LOVE every last second of scouring wedding magazines and talk of flowers and twinkle lights. Bring it on.

Last summer one of my sweet friends married in the quaint town of Winnsboro, South Carolina. Her bridal luncheon boasted of porcelain teacups collected over many years, polished silver goblets, and family recipes coveted by all in attendance. Here in the South, one should expect prying minds to inquire about the recipe behind these concoctions. So naturally, I am going to fill you in on all the details of these miniature delights: Bebe Bites. (Nevermind the uncontrollable urge to insert multiple bites at once. Oh, and it will happen.)

Ingredients:

2 (8oz.) packages of cream cheese, softened
2 cups of sugar (divided)
2 egg yolks
2 loaves of Sunbeam King white bread
2 1/2-3 sticks margarine, melted
4 tsp. cinnamon

Remove crust from each slice of bread. Mix the cream cheese, 1 cup of sugar, and egg
yolks. Spread about 2 teaspoons of the cream cheese mixture on each slice of bread. Roll each slice jelly-roll style.

In a separate shallow dish, pour the melted margarine.

In another shallow dish, mix together the other 1 cup of sugar and cinnamon. Dip each
rolled bread into the margarine quickly. Squeeze off any excess butter or they will
become soggy. Roll into the cinnamon/sugar mixture.

Place each piece in a baking pan lined with wax paper. Place them side by side
putting wax paper between the layers. After you have finished all the bread, cover with
aluminum foil and freeze overnight.

The next day, remove from the freezer. Cut each roll into thirds. They may now be
baked or put into ziploc bags and stored in the freezer until ready to use.

To bake, place them on a cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees for about 10-15
minutes. Serve immediately… or eat each and every one – your choice.

Your best friends only get hitched once, right?

the good stuff.

29 Sep

cookies are made of butter and love.

shop: sugar snap pea

22 Jul

Most of my life has been dedicated to the following thought process: go to college, graduate with a degree, land a job in that field, work for the rest of your life. I blew this thought process way out of the water my first month post-graduation. So, it has been introspectively encouraging to learn in the past year how utterly wild it is to operate on the belief that our paths in life are so conventional. The more I talk with people and the more stories I hear, the more I realize what a journey our lives are- that there is no straight path, or even one way to get to where we are going- rather the more indirect route taken, the greater the opportunity to learn, grow, and figure out what truly makes our hearts happy. After all, how do we honestly seek the outcome to this dilemma without first determining those things that fall short of our strongest desires?

Tonight, as the warm and sticky summer air filled the narrow district of lower King Street, I observed the edifying experience of a sweet friend’s unconventional path leading to an idea being realized; a passion that kept her up late at night with thoughts, rather healthy-obsessions, concerning baby get-ups and snack-food containers. Sugar Snap Pea, a modern baby and toddler boutique, debuted its grand opening with deliciously mini cupcakes and eager mommas at the appropriately fitting, half-sized address of 161 1/2 King Street.

What toddler doesn’t love a little sparkle… or anything that creates a mess? My contribution to the event was to hand cut the letters G-R-A-N-D O-P-E-N-I-N-G from foam board (this is where an exacto knife made its way into my best friend spot), slather with everyone’s favorite childhood school glue- Elmer’s, and sprinkle heavily with silvery glitter. Glitter still remains stubbornly attached to my hands and face- and I’m sure this ingenious art supply will continue to surprise customers and Sugar Snap Pea’s owner, Zhenya, on more than one glorious occasion.

I may have tasted 1 or 2 or even 3 cupcakes… but who’s counting? It all started with the carrot cake and naturally I had to taste the chocolate and red velvet. A little self-control was exerted though- I created a solid boundary between myself and the petite cake donning Sugar Snap Pea’s giraffe logo.

Truth: one of my many dreams is to write a book about the unconventional stories of compelling people I meet to encourage others to embrace the seemingly stagnant or unknown stages of life and find comfort in knowing that where they are is significant. I’ve learned how important it is to realize that right now is my life, that if I continue to wait for what is next or tell myself “when this happens, my life will begin”- my live will never begin and I will have lived my entire life waiting for “it” to begin. Ours lives are now, they are unconventional, and they are significant.

“leapfrog” for royal icing sugar cookies

15 Jul

For some reason I have this ambition to recreate most anything I see, I’m all about trial and error. It can easily be described as a blessing and a curse- I learn way more about the processes of creating and design and truly appreciate the craftmanship of my inspirations… but occasionally my visionary pursuits lead to late nights and frustrations. If you had asked me whether or not my execution was going to be possible of one such attempt at 1:00am last night I may have given you a different answer, or shooed you out of my kitchen until I cleared the countertops (and floor) of any and all evidence alluding to the contrary.

Recently I’ve been interning at Leapfrog: a boutique public relations and marketing firm specializing in “lifestyle” related businesses – from specialty food products, dining and fashion to real estate and design. With ideas and pitches readily in my ear and on my mind, I set out to create my own “Leapfrogs” in an attempt to prompt the flowing of additional creative juices.

Goal: Hand pipe frogs with royal icing onto sugar cookies.

Scene A: A light dusting of powered sugar covers the kitchen countertops as it’s mixing (hands free might I add- thanks to the beauty that is a KitchenAid mixer) with egg whites and lemon juice until falling ribbons of royal icing are incorporated back into the bowl after only 5 seconds. Heaps of cooling sugar cookies rest upon wire racks, waiting to discover just how the piping and flooding of royal icing works.

Scene B: Royal icing floods way beyond the intended area of confinement, slowly dripping through the holes of the wire racks onto the kitchen counter where it quickly hardens into sugary mounds. Little “leapfrogs” hop to life as their bodies and tiny toes are carefully piped onto rounds of soft dough. Pots and pans, sticky spoons and spatulas, and open food coloring containers litter the countertops from wall to refrigerator- boasting the love and artisanal persistance devoted to the quite cheery and sugary goodness of these “Leapfrog” cookies…

 Sugar Cookies:

3 cups all purpose flour

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup granulated white sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cap-full lemon extract*

1 cap-full orange extract*

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.

In a bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla, lemon, and orange extracts and beat until combined. Add the flour mixture and beat until you have a smooth dough.

Refrigerate for about one hour or until the dough is firm enough to roll.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes.

* Adding these extracts enhances a basic sugar cookie recipe with a slightly unexpected tinge of citrus, my mom truly does know best.

(recipe adapted from Joy of Baking)

Royal Icing

2 large egg whites

2 teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice

2 cups powdered sugar

Combine egg whites and lemon juice in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until incorporated. Add powdered sugar and beat on low until smooth (test the consistency by drizzling icing in the same mixing bowl- it should take the drizzle approximately 5 seconds to incorporate).

Use this thicker consistency to pipe the edges of your cookies and designs. Then thin the icing with small amounts of water until it reaches the consistency you want to “flood” the interior areas of your cookies.

Store icing in an airtight container as it does harden quickly.

If you are interested in ordering cookies with your company’s logo or personal design, pleace contact me at itsalwayssweeter@gmail.com for pricing information.

peaches: from blanching to preserves.

11 Jul

An impromptu Sunday afternoon peach blanching how-to quickly turned into the most delicious summer treat (not to mention a noteworthy way to escape the humid Charleston weather that only comes after seldom seen evening rain showers or well, let’s be honest- this is just typical July climate).

Peach blanching led to peach preserves which naturally led to ice cream and cookies.

Blanching, a first for this chocolate chip cookie connoisseur, is quite the magical process. Place the peach, either one by one or in small quantities, into a pot of boiling water for about 2-5 minutes.

Then plunge those tender peaches into a bowl of ice water. Here’s where all that small child wonder is realized, the transfer from heat to cool allows the skin of the peach to be easily peeled away.

But the surprises aren’t over yet. When slicing the peaches, you will discover that the blanching process has made the pit ever-so soft, allowing you to cut right through the entire peach. Slice the peaches, sneak a bite… or two or three, or sweeten the whole batch for peach preserves.

Equal parts peaches and sugar- that’s all you need to know to can your own peach preserves or to make vanilla ice cream yearn for a sweet, sweet topping. I combined one cup of sugar and one cup of peaches over low heat until the peaches appeared transparent. Stirring is essential throughout the process to prevent sticking and burning, never outcomes you want to accompany your trial recipes. Crank the heat up to medium-high heat and boil until the mixture of fruit and syrup drops from the spoon. I couldn’t resist the in-between stage of syrup and preserves as vanilla ice cream and ginger snaps made their way onto the counter. The combination of vanilla and warm, peach preserves syrup was quickly matched with the spicy crunch of old-fashioned ginger snaps.                                                        

Remove the leftover peach mixture from the heat (if you exerted enough self-control and actually have leftovers), stir to rid of foam, place in hot jars and seal. On a side note, blanching is also useful in preserving the color of vegetables and removing the skins from nuts. So go on and please the little kids or picky eaters in your life with bright, crisp vegetables, skinless fruits, and perfectly peeled nuts.

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