Valentine’s Day Cookies Year II

Hello and welcome to my second ever Valentine’s Day post!! Inspired as I always am by Molly Yeh, I have been making variations on these cookies ever since I came across the original recipe. They are versatile and greatly exceed any other sugar cookie you will ever make with the addition of lemon zest and almond extract, and that’s not even the HALF of it. These babies aren’t complete without a mirror-shiny glaze and a bit of buttercream on top, and the best part is you can do as little or as much as you want!

So because I have too much time on my hands and I’ve been trying to improve my piping skills, I set out to cover these cookies in some good old fashioned buttercream roses. I wore my comfiest clothes, put on my headphones and got to work. And, 2 hours later, I couldn’t flex my right hand out of piping position, but I ended up with some GOOD rose cookies and I was very satisfied. They were almost too pretty to eat….almost.

I’ll be honest, Valentine’s Day is not really my ~thing~, and although I can always count on a mini box of chocolates from my mom (LOVE YOU MOM!!), it’s easy to feel sad or simply indifferent on a day focused so much on love and relationships. My solution? Bake it out! Whether or not you have a Valentine to share the day with (@Harry Styles, call me), why not make the day that much cuter! (P.S. you can see last year’s version here, slightly different, just as cute!)

Before we bake, here are 5 things to be happy about today:
ONE. A rainbow of ribbons.
TWO. Chocolate covered cherries.
THREE. White on the evergreens.
FOUR.
Breaking out of an old routine.
FIVE. Bacon frying in cast iron skillets.

 

Let’s bake!

MAKES: About 3 dozen cookies
PREP TIME: 1 hour + decorating to your heart’s desire
BAKE TIME: 10 minutes

SUGAR COOKIE INGREDIENTS

4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
¾ tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
zest from ½ a lemon
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract

SUGAR COOKIE STEPS

ONE. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter and the sugars until the butter is pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the lemon zest and mix to combine, then the vanilla and almond extracts. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix between each. Finally, add the flour mixture and mix until combined.

TWO. Turn the mixture out onto a large sheet of plastic wrap and form a disc of dough. Tightly wrap the disc and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before proceeding. When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375ºF and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

THREE. Cut the disc of dough in half (it’s easier to work with a smaller batch at a time), and roll out on a lightly floured surface until about a quarter to a half inch thick. Cut out your desired shapes and lay them on your prepared cookie sheets about 1 inch apart.

FOUR. Bake the cookies for 10 minutes, until they’re just turning brown, and cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Processed with VSCO with al1 preset


GLAZE INGREDIENTS

4 cups confectioners sugar
¼ cup corn syrup
5 Tbsp whole milk
½ tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp almond extract
pinch of salt
1 tsp maraschino cherry liquid or food coloring (optional)

GLAZE STEPS

ONE. Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl until thoroughly combined and smooth. If the mixture is too thick, add a little more milk at a time, if it’s too thin, add a little more powdered sugar.

TWO, Once the cookies are cooled, carefully dip each cookie face down in the glaze, making sure the whole surface is coated, and then allow the excess to drip back into the bowl before placing the cookie back on a wire rack over a sheet of parchment paper (this will catch the drips and make cleanup soooo much easier). If you’re continuing with buttercream on top, let the cookies dry slightly, but if you’re just adding sprinkles, add them now before the glaze dries and you’re all set!

 

BUTTERCREAM INGREDIENTS

3¾ cups confectioner’s sugar
½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
3-4 Tbsp whole milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
Food coloring

BUTTERCREAM STEPS

ONE. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the softened butter and confectioners sugar together until incorporated- you may want to drape a dish towel over the bowl at the beginning, the mixer tends to throw a lot of loose sugar.

TWO. Add the milk a tablespoon at a time until the desired spreadable consistency is reached, keeping in mind that a slightly softer frosting will be easier to pipe with. Add the vanilla and food coloring (if using) and mix until thoroughly incorporated.

THREE. Fill a piping bag fitted with a coupler and decorating tip (the coupler allows you to switch tips without using multiple piping bags) and decorate away!! (Read here for some buttercream rose tips!)

Happy Valentine’s Day!! xoxoxoxoD

Sweet D’s First Birthday Baby Princess Cakes

HELLO ALL!! As you can tell from the title of this recipe, I am very excited to say that it’s Sweet D’s first birthday!!! My goodness how time flies when you get to do what you love! I won’t do some long, sappy post here since I did that ~fairly~ recently with my 50th recipe post, but if you’re feeling it, you can read that here. What I will say is thanks for sticking around a whole year, and here’s to many more years ahead!

Now it’s only fair to have a cake recipe for a birthday, no matter whose it is, and these cakes are so very important. A traditional princess cake is a full-sized cake rather than a set of mini ones, but following this recipe from Molly Yeh, these little babies just bring so much joy. They’re also very customizable, as the jam filling can be anything you feel like, the marzipan can be dyed any color of the rainbow, and your decorations can be as high or low maintenance as you please. Plus they look VERY impressive and almost too pretty to eat- the key word being almost, because not eating these would be a tragedy. Word to the wise, when the directions tell you to put the cakes covered in whipped cream in the freezer to set before covering, actually do it. It makes them soooo much easier and neater to cover with marzipan, and it will save you many a headache and ripped marzipan. Other than that, you’re ready to go!!

But first, here are five things to be happy about today:
ONE. Keeping fresh flowers by your bed, fresh herbs in the kitchen
TWO. The smell of a coffee can opening
THREE. Comfortable, stretchy clothes
FOUR. Large colonial fireplaces
FIVE. The soft splat of snow falling
Let’s get birthday baking!!

Makes: 24 Princess Cakes
Prep/ Decoration Time: 2 hours
Bake Time: 18-20 minutes

Almond Cake Ingredients

1¼ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup almond flour
½ tsp kosher salt
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp almond extract
½ cup buttermilk

Almond Cake Steps

ONE. Preheat your oven to 350ºF. Line a quarter sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside. In a medium bowl, combine the all purpose and almond flours, salt, and baking powder + soda.

TWO. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar for 3-5 minutes until pale and fluffy. Add the egg, vanilla and almond extracts and mix well. Alternating between the two, add a third of the flour mixture, then a third of the buttermilk, until all is just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared sheet pan and spread evenly using an offset spatula. Bake for 18 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Let the cake cool fully in the pan, then cut into 20 2-inch circles using a biscuit cutter.

Assembly Ingredients

1 cup heavy cream
½ cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp almond extract
1 jar store bought raspberry jam (or whatever jam you feel like!)
24 oz. marzipan
Assorted food coloring

Assembly Steps

ONE.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the heavy cream, powdered sugar, and extracts until stiff peaks form. Spread each cake circle with a layer of jam, then, using a piping bag, pipe a small, uniform mound of whipped cream on top in a swirl. Once all the cake circles are topped with jam and whipped cream, pop the tray in the freezer to set while you prep the marzipan.

TWO. Dust a clean surface with powdered sugar, and knead your desired food coloring into the marzipan to change its color. Set aside a small portion to use for decorations, such as rose buds, hearts, or polka dots. Roll the marzipan out into a 1/8″ layer, and cut out circles large enough to cover the cakes entirely without ripping. I ended up using a 3½” cookie cutter here and it worked out perfectly! This may take some trial and error depending on the size of your cakes, but you can always re-roll the marzipan if you make a mistake!

THREE. Cover each cake with a marzipan circle and trim off any excess from the bottom, re-rolling the scraps. For decoration, create small, flat strips and roll them into rosebuds and add petals, or use mini cookie cutters or the tops of piping tips to cut out hearts and circles to affix to the top.

Now bask in how cute these look and throw a tea party somewhere!! xoxoxoxoxoD

Funfetti Layer Cake!

Happy Tuesday friends! Today I’m back to talk about cake and Molly Yeh, but first, let’s talk about berry picking. I know this is quite unrelated to the recipe at hand, but I gotta tell you, I spent Saturday doing some classic summer activities and oh my it was good. We drove out east to Greenport and Orient on the North Fork of Long Island and all I can say is that I am moving there as soon as possible. Driving along the road scattered with family farms and vineyards, we stopped to pick blue and blackberries, had sweet corn ice cream at 10am (SO delicious), and found the Four and Twenty Blackbirds pop-up pie shop where I definitely added to my cookbook collection. It was everything I ever wanted and I can’t wait to live a wrap-around screened-in porch by the beach lifestyle thank you very much.

But anyway, back to today’s recipe. Who here has heard of Molly Yeh? For those of you who haven’t, she’s a food blogger, cookbook author, and now Food Network chef and honestly, I aspire to be her. Her recipes are thoughtful and beautiful, and often include a healthy dose of sprinkles. Now, anyone who knows me knows that baking cakes distresses me, so I approached this one cautiously. While babysitting last week, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the desire for a slice of cake, and couldn’t think of anything else until I made some. You know how it goes, right? My sisters came downstairs at 7:30pm expecting dinner to be on the table and only to realize that I hadn’t even STARTED that yet because dessert over everything. To my relief this recipe went just swimmingly. The secret? Clear, imitation vanilla!! I know, I was skeptical too but since I trust Molly I went for it, and the result? A homemade, buttery, moist cake with the nostalgic taste of those funfetti box mixes that were a staple of childhood birthday parties. An added bonus? This cake baked up perfectly flat on top so they stacked beautifully with no trimming required and it turned out to be the most beautiful cake I’ve ever made. I tried to leave this recipe as close to the original as possible, although I did find myself playing around with frosting. However,  you can also find the original recipe here on her blog, My Name Is Yeh, or her cookbook, which you can buy here. Anywho, let’s bake!

 

Makes: One 9-inch 2-layer cake

Funfetti Cake Ingredients

2½ cups flour (all-purpose)
¼ cup cornstarch
1 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1½ cups sugar
4 egg whites
¼ cup canola (or other flavorless) oil
1 tbs clear imitation vanilla
½ tsp almond extract
¾ cup whole milk
½ cup rainbow sprinkles (the cylinder ones, not nonpareils)


Funfetti Cake Steps

1. Preheat your oven to 350ºF. Line the bottoms of 2 9-inch round cake pans with parchment paper. (This recipe could also be used to make 24 cupcakes).

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking powder to combine. Set aside.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy, or about 3-4 minutes. Carefully add the egg whites one at a time, and mix after each addition to ensure everything is evenly incorporated. Add the oil and mix until combined.

4. In a liquid measuring cup, measure out the whole milk and add the extracts to it. Gradually add the flour mixture and the milk mixture to the butter mixture with the mixer on low speed, starting with the flour mixture and alternating so that the flour is added in 3 batches and the milk mixture in 2 (flour, mix, milk, mix, flour, etc…), until all is added and mix until just combined.

5. Add the sprinkles and mix with a rubber spatula until they are evenly distributed throughout the batter. Fill the cake pans so that there is an equal amount of batter in both. Bake for 25-27 minutes on the lower rack of the oven, testing with a toothpick or a cake tester for doneness. Allow to cool  for 15 minutes in the pan before removing and placing on a wire rack. Cool completely before icing.

Classic American Buttercream

7 cups powdered sugar
1 cup  (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temp
1 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp clear imitation vanilla
1 tsp almond extract
6-8 tbs whole milk


Classic American Buttercream Steps

1. In the bowl of the stand mixer, cream together the powdered sugar and butter- be careful when you turn the mixer on, the powdered sugar tends to fly everywhere!

2. Add in the salt and the extracts and mix to combine. Add the whole milk a tablespoon at a time with the mixer on medium speed until the desired spreadable consistency has been reached. Makes enough frosting to fill the inside layer, crumb coat, and second coat one 2-layer cake.

Funfetti Cake Assembly

1. To assemble the cake, place one cake flat side down on your cake stand. Spread about a ½ cup or so of the frosting on top of this layer, and place the second cake on top, this one upside down so that the bottom of the cake is on top, as this will create a flat top of your cake.

2. Crumb coat the cake with a thin layer of frosting and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Then, use the rest of the frosting to generously frost the entire cake, using an offset spatula to spread, and a bench scraper or long spatula dipped in hot water to smooth the edges.

3. Now the best part- DECORATING!!! You can do whatever you want here; more frosting to pipe around the edges, marzipan cutouts, or the classic, more sprinkles. This is the approach I took as you can see, as it was approaching 10pm and everyone just wanted to eat!

Now go forth and enjoy your masterpiece (and probably take a lot of pictures)! Xoxoxoxox