Friday, February 27, 2015

Cake Mix Hamentaschen for 5775


Cake Mix Hamentaschen

Every year at Purim it seems that I find myself with an abundance of boxed cake mix in my pantry.  I'm not entirely sure how they all sneak into there, but it seems like a good a time as any to use them up.  Several years ago I found a recipe from Mommzy for hamentaschen using cake mix and I've been trying variations on the that recipe since then.  This year was definitely no different.  A couple of years ago I posted about the cake mix confetti version.  I made that again this year, but changed the recipe a bit.  I added a bit of oil to the dough and it seemed to make it much more pliable and less dried out.  I also decided to try the same marshmallow filling, but add it before baking rather than after.  I'm so glad I did.  The dough is much easier to work with this way and the marshmallow filling is super good when it bakes into the center.  I hope you try it for yourself!

Here is the recipe again with the changes.

Cake Mix Confetti Hamantaschen

1 box cake mix (I used yellow)

2 Tbs. sprinkles (jimmies)

1 cup flour

2 Eggs

2 Tbs. vegetable oil

2 Tbs. Water

Marshmallow filling

Mix all the ingredients in a medium-sized bowl until a ball forms.  Roll out dough on a floured surface to approximately 1/8th inch.  Cut the dough into 3" circles with a cookie cutter or a glass.  Add a teaspoon of marshmallow filling to the center and pinch closed into triangle shapes.  Bake at 375 degree oven for about 10 minutes.  Remove cookies to cool on rack.

Marshmallow filling

1/2 cup vegetable shortening

1 cup powdered sugar

1 cup marshmallow fluff (about half of a 7 oz. container)

Add the shortening, 3/4 cup of sugar, and marshmallow fluff to the bowl of a mixer.  Mix ingredients together on a medium speed until a thick, spreading consistency is reached.



  

Monday, February 16, 2015

South African Crunchies - GS World Thinking Day


This year our troop chose the country of South Africa to participate in Girl Scout World Thinking Day.  As part of our WTD presentation, we thought we would like to offer a little treat to our "visiting" troops.  Crunchies are popular cookie (or biscuit) in South Africa and are reminiscent of a chunchy-style granola bar.  There are several recipes out there on the web.  I based our recipe mostly on this recipe from "Lick Your Own Bowl".  I adapted the recipe a bit for American ingredients and added a chocolate drizzle on top for an extra finish.  Truthfully, they are excellent plain and actually my daughter prefers them that way!

South African Crunchies



1½ sticks butter
2
Tablespoons golden syrup, or cane syrup*
¾ cup
brown sugar

1 tsp baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole wheat
pastry flour or whole wheat flour
2 cups whole rolled oats
1 cup coconut
1 Tablespoon grated orange zest (from one orange)
1-2 oz. chocolate melting wafers, optional

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Prepare a 9 x 13” pan by greasing lightly and lining the pan with parchment paper. Measure the dry ingredients (oats, flour, coconut, zest, and salt) into a large mixing bowl. 

 In a saucepan, melt the butter with the sugar and syrup on a medium-high heat, stirring to combine. When the mixture reaches a low boil, turn off the heat. Carefully add the baking soda and stir gently. The mixture will bubble up a bit, so be careful. Add the hot butter/sugar mix into the dry ingredients and stir to combine until evenly coated. 


Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and spread evenly. 


 Place another piece of parchment or waxed paper on top and smooth and press the mixture into the pan.

 Remove extra paper and bake for 15 minutes until golden brown. After removing from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes before removing from the pan and cutting in to squares. 
Crunchies

Optional – after cutting into squares, melt chocolate in a microwave safe dish. Drizzle melted chocolate over crunchies using the tines of a fork. Allow chocolate to set before serving. (Makes about 4 dozen)


* may substitute dark corn syrup if you can't find the cane syrup.

Crunchies with chocolate drizzle



Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Pom Pom Pens

So I saw these really cute Pom Pom Pens on Pinterest a couple of weeks ago and thought "How cute?".  That sentence alone should have been my first clue that this was going to end up being a much bigger project than I anticipated.  I thought I could buy some nice valentines-themed fabric and just make a couple dozen for teacher gifts.  Not a problem.  As I'm scrolling down the tutorial given by SewSara, my 9yo daughter is peering over my shoulder and says "Ooh, cute!"  Second clue.  So somehow a couple dozen becomes 5 1/2 dozen to make enough for the teachers and my daughter's classes.  Yes.  And actually, I'm still working on the last few before Friday, but wanted to share them now.  I found this really sweet valentine printable from Positively Splendid to add to the pens as a gift.  And yes, I do think they are pretty cute although I probably wouldn't suggest making more than a couple of dozen at a time  :)

Teacher Gifts


V-day Exchange

Monday, February 2, 2015

Soccer Ball Cookies



Soccer Ball Sugar Cookies

I made these cookies for LD's last game of the season.  His teammates loved them and I thought I'd share the technique since I've used it several times now. Scroll down to the bottom for more examples.

The sugar cookie dough is a wonderful find from Sugarlicious.  The dough is firm and more like a shortbread dough.  It will hold up nicely to cutting shapes and even putting in on a cookie stick if you roll the dough a bit thicker.  Usually I bake them slightly less than what is called for in the recipe, but that could just be my oven.  Make sure you check on the cookies for doneness ( a bit of golden brown on the edge is usually a good indicator). 

You will also need a small batch of royal icing.  I make my royal icing with meringue powder just because it's super easy and safe to eat raw.  

Royal Icing (for icing cookies)

2 Tbs. Meringue powder
3 c. powdered sugar
¼ c. cold water
food coloring paste

Beat meringue powder, powdered sugar and water at high speed in a heavy-duty stand mixer with a whisk attachment until glossy, stiff peaks form. Tint with food coloring paste to desired color, and beat until well blended. Transfer to pastry bag fitted with small round tip (#4) and store with a damp paper towel placed on bottom of a tall drinking glass.

Last, but not least, I make the fondant topper.  I use my Marshmallow fondant.  You can check out the recipe I use here.  
For this cookie, I used a 3.5 inch round cutter for the cookie and the fondant circle of white.   I left most of the fondant white, but dyed a small amount black.  I like to use Americolor Super Black.  It is always good to try to make the fondant a few days ahead, but especially if you are using very dark of deep colors.  The color will deepen if you let it rest for a day so you won't need to add as much color.   I cut out pentagon shapes in the black fondant.   You may need just the tiniest dab of water on the fondant to attach the black pieces.  Try not to use too much or the colors will run and the marshmallow fondant will get too mushy!  
So I basically tried to follow this image (kinda-sorta).
I used the quilting fondant tool to make the stitching marks on the ball and went over the marks with a bit of food color marking pen.  Once the soccer ball design is made in the fondant circle, I attach the whole thing with the royal icing acting as glue.  Allow them to sit out while the royal icing dries.


The first few cookies, trying to get the lines right.
Wrapped and ready to go!

Butterfly Sugar Cookies, using just royal icing and sanding sugar.
For Girl Scout Bridging ceremony.  Green and Brown fondant for the vest sleeves and rainbow Airhead Xtreme candy for the stripe.
Here's a Football Jersey version of the cookie


Thursday, January 8, 2015

Handprint Quilt

I finally finished the second handprint quilt!  It only took five years and a new sewing machine. And yes, this is the second one. If you remember back in 2010 (ha!), I made this quilt for Miss D's Early Childhood class. I traced and appliquéd each child's handprint and then helped each one embroider their name on the block. I pieced and quilted the blocks together and then put the quilt up for an art auction to raise funds for the school. Miss D loved the quilt and begged us to bid on it. Well, we did but the bidding got too deep for our pockets :). I promised her that I would make another quilt with our family members. As typically happens here, I quickly tried to get going on the next quilt gathering handprints, signatures, adding appliqué and embroidery to each block. I ran into a snag, actually several, when my 40 year old sewing machine up and quit on me. And so the project sat, in a box, for over a year while I figured out what to do. I ended up with a beautiful new machine for my birthday and started working on the quilt again. Unfortunately at this point I had lost that initial drive and energy to finish it and again it sat waiting to be finished. Well fast forward a few years and I found a new quilt project that has inspired me. The only problem was this unfinished quilt waiting in a box. So I promised myself that I needed to finish this quilt first. And despite the fact that my perfectionism has kept me stuck for all these years I decided that a finished quilt is far better than a perfect quilt!  So here you go.  Although far from perfect, it is a finished quilt that my family can enjoy- finally!
Working on the quilt - the dog approves!


Sunday, December 21, 2014

Happy Hanukkah

It's been a full week of baking, cooking, gifting, and partying.  I think I can honestly say "I'm done" - for now :)










Friday, September 19, 2014

Yom Tov Challah



Yom Tov Challah

2 pkg. yeast, 4½ tsp.
1½ c. warm water
½ c. sugar or honey
6 – 6½ c. bread flour
2 tsp. salt
½ c. oil
3 eggs + 1 for egg wash

(For Rosh Hashanah – use honey in place of sugar and 1 tsp. vanilla extract)

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook, place the water and sprinkle with the yeast.  Mix gently until dissolved.  Add the oil, eggs, sugar  (vanilla, if using) and about half of the flour.  Blend on low until well combined.  Add the salt and continue slowly adding flour to the dough until it begins to pull away from the sides and form a ball.  Knead the dough in the mixer or by hand for another 5-10 minutes adding any remaining flour, if needed.  Place the dough in a large, oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Allow to rise for 1 to 2 hours.  Alternatively, the dough can be placed in a large container with a cover and placed in the fridge overnight.  To form the loaves, divide the dough into 2-3 pieces.  Roll the lengths into long ropes (about 18" long).  Holding one end, wrap the rope around in a spiral. tucking the end under the loaf.   Place loaves on lined baking sheet.  Brush with egg and sprinkle with poppy or sesame seeds or with a streusel topping*(see below).  Allow to rise a second time for about 20 - 30 minutes.  Preheat the oven.  Bake for 40- 45 minutes at 350˚F.  Allow the loaves to cool on a rack.

If adding raisins, flatten out the lengths of dough before shaping in to ropes, add the raisins and roll back into ropes.  Also, chopped apple can be added in the same way.

*Streusel Topping:
Mix equal parts Sugar, brown sugar, flour, a good sprinkle of cinnamon and just enough oil to make a crumbly topping.

Makes 2 large loaves.  Can make 3 smaller loaves, only bake 35-40 minutes.