Saturday, December 3, 2022

Some of My Favorite Baking Tools for Sugar Cookies and Why

 I was asked about some of my favorite tools, and here they are and why:

1.    I love my 3/8" precision rolling pin that keeps the cookies all uniform height. I also love the 5/16" one for thicker cookies, but I'd start with the 3/8" one first. I used to have a more inexpensive one that had rings for each side, but these are clutch.

2.  I love this "fondant smoother." When my cookies come out of the oven, if they are puffind up, I can flatten them with this and they are easier to pipe on.

3.  Need good piping bags. Here are cookie countess ones:  I go with the larger ones so I can tie a knot at the top.  Or get some clips:

These work well too:

4. Speaking of clips, I like these to clip the ends of the piping bags when I am putting them away. I fold them over twice and clip them:

5. Being a neat freak while baking makes this one of my fav things:

It covers my counter, I roll out my cookies on it and then it is easy-breezy clean up.

6.  My DiOro spatulas are the best ones ever and can get heated to 600 degrees. I love these sturdy spatulas that come in a "scoop" or "straighter" version and a mini. Plus you can get them in different colors which makes me happy:

7. I love to use LorAnn flavorings. Here is my fav vanilla  although it's ridiculously expensive:

Here's the almond:

Here's the butter:

I shop around for where has the best price when I need to order it.

8.  Fav meringue powder for royal icing:

9.  I always use Domino sugar -- the confectioners sugar has less cornstarch than cheaper brands and the granulated sugar melts fastest when making caramels or swiss meringues or any type of meringues.

10. I like to use AmeriColor food coloring.

11. For eyelashes and details I use a food safe marker:

12. Gold glitter spray:

13. Silver glitter spray: (need a bottle to put this one into:

14. If you start conquering some of the normal things, you may want to advance to getting an airbrush system to do stencils on cookies:

15. Then you will need to pick out stencils, airbrush colors, and additional "guns." 

16. Don't forget some cookie cutters too! Put in the design you want and look on Etsy or google and "shopping" and see where you can get some! Or check out your local cake and candy shop. There is Sarah's Cake Decorating and Candy Supplies, 5917 John R Rd, Troy, MI 48085, Phone: +1 248 828 3430, and Party Cake Supplies, 48919 Hayes Rd, Shelby Township, MI 48315, Phone: +1 586 566 5050

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

How to Make Royal Icing for Sugar Cookies

This recipe is pretty much the same as the Cookie Countess (where I also get a lot of my baking supplies -- she is amazing and so helpful):   Her website is:

Here is my Facebook Live for making this if you want to follow along with that!

Here is the live to follow along with for decorating some cookies!

Royal Icing Recipe

1/3 c Meringue Powder (I prefer Genie's Dream Meringue Powder, but I heard Wilton's is good too if you have to get it right away from JoAnn's or Michael's or Hobby Lobby)
1/2 c warm water (start with 2T more if you prefer NOT to use the lemon juice from the next steps)

I whisk this in my mixer bowl until doubled in size and frothy, about 1-2 minutes. Do not overmix.

Then just whisk in just until incorporated:

1 t butter flavoring (I use LorAnn's) -- You may question whether this step is worth it - but it is!
1 t vanilla (try to use clear to keep your icing really white) (I use Genie's Dream Clearly Not Vanilla or Watson's)
2 T fresh lemon juice (optional but cuts the sweetness of the icing)

Mix in:

1 lb. confectioners sugar (I prefer Dominos)

Then mix in just until incorporated:

1T light corn syrup

Then mix in just until incorporated:

1 lb. confectioners sugar

I mix it in until I know it won't spray confectioners sugar all over my house, then I put it onto my stand mixer and mix for about 3 minutes on high -- your icing will start to turn white and have a fluffy look. But do NOT over mix! Overmixing can cause the icing to collapse.

Remember this yields a VERY stiff icing. If you feel it is too stiff even to start with add a few drops of water.

But it is best to start with very stiff icing for a few reasons. If you are going to store it at all before using, the less water the less it separates. When you color your icing, this adds liquid, so you may regret adding too much water to start with. Add your color, and then your water to bring it to the consistency you want. For more about icing consistency check out the blog at Sweet Sugarbelle: Tons of great info! 

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Sweet Sugarbelle Basic Sugar Cookies

Sweet Sugarbelle Recipe

Basic Sugar Cookie

1 c (2 sticks) of unsalted butter, softened
1-1/2 c confectioner's sugar
1 egg
2-1/2 t pure vanilla extract 
1/2 t almond emulsion
2-3/4 c all-purpose flour (I use 3 c)
2 t baking powder (I leave this out)
1 t salt

  1. Cream together softened butter and confectioner’s sugar. Crack the egg into a separate bowl, and add the flavoring. I use emulsions, but extract also works well. Add that to the butter sugar mixture and mix until the egg is thoroughly incorporated. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt, then add little by little to the mixture. I can tell the dough is ready when it no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl. When I touch it, it has a little give, but does not stick to my fingers.
  1. Roll out on parchment to about 1/4 an inch thick, use flour for dusting as necessary. Then, cut and bake at 400 degrees for 7-8 minutes. (Note: I bake at 370 -- know your oven though). This version makes 2-2 1/2 dozen, doubled, it makes 4-5 dozen.

If you want to follow along with me on a FaceBook live to watch me make these here is the link:

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Skyscraper Carrot Cake/Cheesecake

Most times, I make the cheesecake and carrot cakes in advance and after the cheesecake is cooled completely and then refrigerated a few hours I take it completely out of the pan and wrap it well with plastic wrap and freeze it. I wait until the carrot cakes are completely cool and do the same (you don't need to refrigerate them for a few hours first). I take them out while I make the frosting, and then I put the cake together.

2 c all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 c dark raisins; boil raisins about 15 minutes in boiling water until plump and drain and place on paper towel
5 large eggs
2 c sugar
1 c vegetable oil
1/4 c heavy cream
1 Tbsp vanilla
2 c finely grated carrots
3/4 c minced apples
3/4 c chopped walnuts or pecans (we prefer pecans)
3 pkg cream cheese; 8 oz. each
2 stick unsalted butter
3 c confectioners' sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla
1/4 c heavy cream, whipping
3 pkg cream cheese; 8 oz each
1 1/3 c sugar
3 Tbsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp vanilla
3 large eggs
2/3 c heavy cream

1. FOR CHEESECAKE: Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch spring form pan and wrap the outside with heavy duty foil (making sure it is waterproof).
2. Combine one package of cream cheese, 1/3 cup of sugar, and the cornstarch in large bowl and beat on low until creamy (about 3 minutes) scraping down the bowl a couple of times.
3. Blend in the remaining cream cheese one package at a time scraping down the bowl after each addition.
4. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat in the remaining 1 cup of sugar, then the vanilla.
5. Blend in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after adding each.
6. Beat in the cream just until it's completely blended, be careful not to over mix.
7. Gently spoon batter into the foil-wrapped springform pan and place it in a large shallow pan containing hot water that comes about 1" up the sides of the springform pan.
8. Bake at 350 until the edges are light golden brown and the top is golden tan, about 1 1/4 hours.
9. Remove the cake from the water bath. Transfer to a wire rack and cool in the pan for 2 hours.
10. Then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate while still in the pan for about 4 hours until completely cold. I put it in the freezer about one hour before I assemble with the carrot cake and slide a long frosting spatula under it. Dip it in hot water first then dry it off or hold the cake over very low heat and remove with a spatula.
11. CARROT CAKE: Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
12. Generously butter the bottom and sides of three 9-inch round layer cake pans (you’ll need three layers, two for the cake and one to break into crumbs for the top). Very important: Line the bottom of all three pans with parchment or waxed paper (don’t let the paper come up the sides).
13. Sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda together in a medium sized bowl 2 or 3 times. Set aside.
14. Place the raisins in a small saucepan, cover them with boiling water, Cover the pan and let soak until nice and plump, about 15-20 minutes. Drain well and let stand on paper towels.
15. Beat the eggs in a large bowl with an electric mixer on high until light yellow, about 5 minutes.
16. With the mixer still running, gradually add the sugar. Then slowly drizzle in the oil. Then the cream and vanilla. When the batter is light golden and airy, it’s ready (this usually takes a total of 15-20 minutes of beating).
17. Stir in the flour mixture. Then stir in the carrots, apples, walnuts, and raisins.
18. Divide the batter evenly between the three cake pans and bake until the centers spring back when lightly touches and a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out with moist crumbs, about 45 minutes.
19. Let the cakes cool in the pans on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Then turn them out onto the rack and peel off the paper liners. Let the cakes cool completely, about 2 hours. Then wrap each layer in plastic wrap and refrigerate.
20. FROSTING: Beat the cream cheese and butter together on high speed.
21. Add the sugar then the vanilla. With the mixer running, gradually add the cream. Beat until frosting looks whipped and creamy.
22. CAKE ASSEMBLY: Place one layer of the carrot cake on a large oversized cake stand. Frost the top of the first layer then add the cheesecake and do not frost the cheesecake but add the second layer of carrot cake on top of the cheesecake.
23. Then frost the two layers of carrot cake with the cheesecake in the middle.
24. Frost top and sides of cake; then coarsely crumble the extra layer and use for garnish on the top and around the bottom of the cake on the cake stand. I don't use all of the 3rd layer for garnish, it is just too much. So sample it with a little of the frosting.

*By Connie Osborn Just a Pinch

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Instant Pot Sous Vide Egg Bites

I used a combination of these recipes:

I make them different every time! I loved the feta in them, and I have used hot cheddar. Usually use the cottage cheese, and I add 1 t potato starch (Bob's Mills makes it and it is at most grocery stores or fruit markets), because that makes it super smooth like the Starbucks one! I bring them to my mom and she pops them into the freezer and then takes them out a few at a time. You can pop them in the microwave just until they are hot!

Here is how I pretty much make them:

Chop a handful of spinach and roasted peppers (from the deli, drained if in oil or something), you could add onion here if you like it.
Divide between 2 of these little egg bite containers: 

Mix well in blender:

6 egg whites + 2 eggs 
1 t potato starch (or rice starch)
1/2 c small curd cottage cheese
little salt & pepper
(you can also add 1/4 c water but I usually don't)
1/2 c shredded cheese (jack, pepper jack, or whatever)

Optionally add 1/3 c feta crumbles and pulse until blended.

Pour into little cups that are sprayed with cooking spray. Cover with lids and lower into an insta pot with 1 c water added. Close cover and make sure your lever is turned to the cooking side (not the venting side) and steam for 10 minutes. Release vent and let sit 10 more minutes. Pop out.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Caramel Brown Butter Cake

This recipe is from Emma's Goodies,

I just added the drip because I wanted to master it (lol). This is not a super-sweet cake, but just perfect. 

Caramel Brown Butter Cake 

- 1 stick of Brown Butter
- 3 Tbsp Coconut Oil
- 5.5 ounces of Caramel*** ( , make the caramel sauce using my recipe, then weigh out the amount you need for the cake.) *** NOTE: To ensure you get a strong caramel flavor in the cake, make sure you take the caramel to a dark amber color.***
- 2 tsp Vanilla
- 3 Eggs
- 1 3/4 cups Flour
- 3 tsp Baking Powder
- 3/4 cup Milk
- 1/2 tsp Salt

1.  Make brown butter...  cook the stick of butter over medium heat and bring to a boil.  You will know it is ready when it becomes slightly brown, it will darken in color and have a nutty aroma. Take off heat or it will burn. Let it cool (set aside).

2.  Make caramel... 

- 1 1/4 cups Sugar
-1/4 cup + 1 tbsp Water

Add at the end:

- 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp Warm Water
- 1 tsp of Salt

Important and interesting facts about caramel:
◘ Do NOT taste the caramel when hot. Allow it to cool before tasting.
◘ When the caramel has turned an amber color it can burn within seconds. Do not walk away. ◘ More water is added at the end otherwise the caramel will harden.
◘ The amount of water you add at the end will determine how loose or how thick your caramel will be. For a looser caramel add more water. For a thicker sauce add less water at the end.

In deep good pot add sugar & water & over low until sugar dissolves without stirring.
Then put on high and it will bubble -- after 10 minutes or so it will become slight yellow then deep amber. Turn off stove immediately or in seconds it will burn.
At this point, add WARM water... be careful because it will bubble over. Add salt.

Strain into heat proof bowl. Chill 4 hours plus.

3.  Make cake...

Mix together oil, browned butter, caramel. Add eggs one at a time (3 large or 4 small). Sift dry ingredients together in separate bowl.  Add milk and dry ingredients sifted together... mix just til together -- don't overmix. Divide between 2-3 prepared cake pans (greased floured and parchment). 350 20-24 minutes. Check with toothpick. Cool for 5 minutes and take out.

Caramel Popcorn :

- 3 ounces Popcorn( already popped)
- 2 1/2 tbsp honey grams Honey
- 1/2 tsp of Salt
- 3/4 stick Butter
- 3/4 cup Brown Sugar
- 1/3 tsp Baking Soda

Put popcorn in tall saucepan. In another add butter, brown sugar & honey. Melt and boil and cook about 2 minutes. Add salt & baking soda (mixture will rise). Turn off stove and add to popcorn. Fold in. Spread on baking sheet with parchment. 260 degrees 15 minutes. Stir. Cook another 15 minutes. Take it out and cool completely. Don't touch until hardened. Break into big pieces.

Frosting: Italian Meringue Buttercream: OR for those of you that don't eat eggs and would like to know what frosting to pair with my caramel cake, you can either make my regular buttercream frosting or my stabilized mascarpone whipped cream or even cream cheese frosting if you prefer! The options are endless and all so good! :)

Ingredients in grams and cups:

- 6 Egg Whites ( ROOM TEMPERATURE)
- 300 gr Sugar ( 1 1/2 cups)
- 300 gr Soft Butter (2 1/2 STICKS) (you can use vanilla bean into butter instead of vanilla)*
     *some recipes say to whip butter up separately to get it to stage to be easily incorporated
- 2 tsp Vanilla Extract ( Use good quality)
- 85 gr Water ( 3 ounces)
- Pinch of Salt
- 1/4 tsp Cream of tartar

→ Additional things you need to know about this frosting:
 ● Allow the sugar to dissolve and then bring to a boil. Let it boil for around 2-3 minutes. Don't boil more than that and don't stir! If you're using a thermometer don't let the mixture go over 120 degrees celsius (or 240 degrees) -- whenever water evaporates.  
● This frosting can be kept both in the fridge or at room temp (unless it's summer).
● Please don't be discouraged if the first time you make this frosting it doesn't turn out as expected. It takes some practice and patience, but once you understand how to make it, it's super easy!

Have sugar melt and boil gently about 3 minutes -- you will see bubbles thicken. 

Beat egg whites and cream of tarter when sugar has been melting only 1 minute. When mixture is boiling, once egg whites are in soft peaks, add sugar mixture in in a stream. Whip until COMPLETELY cooled. You can begin to add butter ONLY when meringue is completely cooled and at room temperature. Add butter a bit at a time, and the meringue will deflate. Don't panic. It will get grainy. Whip another 3-5 minutes.

You can put it bowl covered tightly for 2 days for best flavor and refrigerate. Develops better flavor. BRING TO ROOM TEMPERATURE COMPLETELY -- at least 2 hours before whipping. Whip it up before using. If it separates put hot towel around it.

When frosting, you can drizzle caramel between layers if desired.