Tuesday, February 12, 2013

You Made That? Valentine's Day Guest Post

Happy Thursday my friends, even though it's such a cloud day today, it's still a happy one. Today i have a special treat for ya'll. i am super giddy about this guest post, not only is Suzanne one of my good friends, but she is an amazing cook, and blogger. Her website is full of amazing and delicious recipes, when i am in need of making something flabbergasting, i turn to her site to see what amazing thing she has created, so i can copy and paste. i love how detailed all of her explanations are, and so much information on how to get it done perfect!

On behalf of Valentine's Day this week, Suzanne made some yummy Valentine treats to share with us all. They are super easy, and super cute! Check out the links to see what beautiful things she has made and how to make them, Such as these:

So without further due, here is the lovely Suzanne.
Hello, I'm Suzanne from You Made That?  I'm excited to be guest posting here at Claudia's lovely blog.  Claudia has a knack for making things functional but beautiful, a talent not all of us posses.  I like to craft and cook but cooking or I should say baking comes much easier to me than crafting.  I started my blog almost 3 years ago  when I was involved in writing crafty and food posts for another site called The Mother Huddle.  I wanted my own creative outlet that I had control over what I posted and a place I could document my recipes for my children.  I wish I had my Grandma's recipes written down because she was a fabulous cook and baker but she passed away and we are left with trying to find similar recipes that taste like Grandma's, so my goal is that my kids will have all of our families beloved recipes.  I've found that cooking for my family is a great way to get closer to my family.  Cooking, eating and cleaning up together gives us time to talk and in this electronic world we live in we could all use more of that. It's so easy to eat take out or even a quick frozen meal, but with a little planning we can have healthy and delicious meals.

I love Valentine's Day and I usually make homemade Valentine's for my kids and husband along with other small gifts and goodies that I share with them. If you are like I am and like making things homemade then you will love to try out making your own bakery style cookies.  I have been admiring the professional looking cookies decorated with royal icing and using a technique called flooding but I was a a little nervous about it but I finally got inspired enough to just try it out.  What is the worst that could happen, a pile of ugly cookies but still very edible and delicious...doesn't sound like much to loose.Well let's get talking cookies, I want to share with you a great recipe for sugar cookies and frosting that will make you feel like your a professional cookie baker.  I can't take credit for the recipes I use here (although I've made slight changes) because I found a wonderful blog called Bake at 350. Brdiget shares all her secrets on making the prefect cookies and frosting, plus tons of cute cookie ideas. I was inspired by her long ago when I wanted to try out a new sugar cookie recipe, her recipe is simple,delicious and predictable. I also use her frosting recipe because after trying another recipe hers worked best.

3 cups all purpose flour
2  tsp. baking powder
1 cup sugar
1 cup butter, cut into chunks and still cold
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
 1/2 tsp. almond extract

Step 1:  Pre-heat oven to 350 F
Step 2:  Cream the butter and sugar together.  Add the egg and extracts and beat well.
Step 3:  Gradually add the flour to the wet mixture.  If you do not have a stand mixer, the mixture will be crumbly and you will need to knead it together by hand.
Step 4:  Roll the dough out  onto  a floured surface to 1/4 inch to 3/8 inch thick, cut out shapes.  Place on parchment paper on cookie sheet and put into the freezer for 5 minutes before baking.  I highly recommend you do not skip this step, it really makes a difference and holds the shape of your cookies.
 Step 5:  Bake for 10-12 minutes.  Cool in the pan for 5 min, then transfer to cooling rack.

Ingredients for icing:
4 Tbsp. meringue powder
 scant 1/2 cup of water
1 lb. of powdered sugar (sifted)
1/2 - 1 tsp. corn syrup
a few drops of flavored clear extract (optional)

Step 1:  Put meringue powder and water in a large mixing bowl, I use a stand mixer.  Using a  paddle attachment mix until the mixture is frothy looking
 Step 2:  Add the sifted powdered sugar, the corn syrup and extracts if desired. 
Step 3:  Beat the frosting at medium high for 5 minutes until shiny and stiff peaks form. The stiff frosting is perfect for outlining the cookies with tip #3 and then you will need to thin the frosting with a teaspoon of water at a time until you get a nice flowing consistency ( a bit runny in my opinion).
Decorating Must haves:

I bought a cheap decorator set at the grocery store this past week.  I found it was perfect for flooding or filling in the cookie after you have outlined it.  It was a small accordion looking squeeze bottle, it had 3 or 4 tips with it.  The small round tip worked perfect for filling in the cookie with frosting.
Step 1:  Divide frosting 3/4 of it you will make pink, and 1/4 you will leave white. Royal frosting drys fast so it's necessary to cover the unused portions with plastic wrap so the air does not dry it out.  Cut off the end of the disposable bag, not too much and then put a coupler into the bag.  Put the bag into a large canning jar or drinking glass so it stands up and fill with your pink frosting. Put a piece of wax paper down on your work surface and outline all the cookies with tip #3, it works best if you pull the frosting toward you as you outline. If you try to just outline like you would draw on a paper you will get frustrated with how it looks.

Step 2: Then empty the pink frosting into a bowl and add a teaspoon of water at a time and stir well until you get a thinned frosting. Flood about 6 cookies with the pink frosting you thinned out.  It would be helpful to have 2 small decorating bottles like I found for flooding, you can use the disposable bags for flooding it's just harder to control the frosting.

Step 3:  Thin out the white frosting and make small dots on the top of the cookies you flooded pink. Let dry completely before putting into a air tight container.  I made the mistake of thinking mine were dry and put a textured plastic wrap over the cookies and when I pulled up the plastic wrap a texture was on most of my cookies :(.  Repeat the above steps for the rest of the cookies.  If you try to flood more than 6 cookies at a time the dots will on sink all the way into the pink frosting and you will have raised dots.

I hope you enjoyed learning to make these cookies. Please visit Bridget's blog for tips and questions she has lots of experience, much, much more than me.

Happy Valentine's Day!!
Thank you for stopping by Suzanne, visit Suzanne at You Made That? for more!

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