Moose Themed Baby Shower Cake

Yesterday I delivered a cake for a baby shower.  It was a moose themed shower.  The daddy of the baby-to-be is Canadian, so the family thought a moose themed shower was in order.  I had never seen a moose themed party before, but the shower hostess did a fantastic job with the decorations and invitations.

Moose themed baby shower cake - Smalltowncookie.com

The invitation as well as an image used in the decorations for the shower were my inspiration for this cake.

Moose themed shower invite

Moose with baby

As you can see the color palette for the cake was taken directly from the invitation.  As soon as I saw the invitation I had an idea in my mind of how I would decorate the cake.  I knew I wanted to create the plaid pattern on the cake using stripes of brown colored fondant.  I also knew that the top of the cake would be green like the green color on the invite.

It was obvious that the cake would have to have a little fondant moose on top.  I did a google image search for “fondant moose” and pulled inspiration from the images I found.  The moose was easier to make than I thought it would be and I think he turned out great.

Fondant moose - Smalltowncookie.com

He does have a little bit of a “moose caught in the headlights” look, but I imagine that is what daddy-to-be will look like in the delivery room.

I also knew that this cake would need a sweet little baby on it.  A quick search for “fondant baby in blanket” led me to this tutorial by Cutie Cakes.  The tutorial is great and it really made it easy to create this little sweetie.Fondant Baby in a blanket

Next I added fondant ruffles to the base of the cake to soften things up a bit.  To make the ruffles I cut strips of green fondant.  Then I rolled the ball tool from a gum paste decorating set down one edge of the long side of the strip.  Rolling the tool back and forth flattens out the fondant and causes it to pucker up a bit creating the ruffled appearance.

At this point the cake was really starting to come together, but it still needed something.  Originally, I didn’t plan to put flowers on the cake, but after some thought I decided they might give the cake that finishing touch I was looking for.  I cut the flowers out of fondant that had a small amount of Gum-Tex kneaded into it.  I used the cutters from a gum paste flower set to create the different layers.  After assembling the flowers, I allowed them to dry for a bit before attaching them to the cake with royal icing.

Moose themed baby shower cake - Smalltowncookie.com

The delicate little blossoms added a softness to the overall look of the cake.  I think they were the perfect finishing touch.

Moose themed baby shower cake - Smalltowncookie.com

 

Moose themed baby shower cake -Smalltowncookie.com

I am very pleased with the way this cake turned out.  I love it when I am able to take an idea that I have in my mind and turn it into something that makes peoples eyes light up.   I get a lot of joy out of creating these types of cakes.

If you like this cake, please feel free to leave me some comment love.  :)

Happy Baking!

-Lacey

www.facebook.com/stcookie

@SmallTownCookie

Woodland Theme Baby Shower Cake

Hi, I’m still here.  I know I haven’t posted in quite a while, so I just wanted to let you know I’m still here.  Unfortunately everyone in my household has been sick at least twice since New Year’s.  It’s been a bit of a rough go and as a result this here blog has been neglected.  Thankfully we’re all starting to feel better and I plan to get back in the kitchen to do a lot more baking and cooking so I can get back to writing for my blog.

Recently I was asked to make a cake for a baby shower.  The baby shower was going to have a woodland theme and the shower invitation had a whimsical little hedgehog and mushrooms printed on it.  The invitation was the inspiration behind this cake.

Woodland Theme Baby Shower Cake - smalltowncookie.com

Woodland Theme Baby Shower Cake - smalltowncookie.com

The cake is composed of three 8″layers of chocolate cake and it is filled and frosted with peanut butter buttercream frosting.   The cake is covered with brown tinted marshmallow fondant.  I scored the fondant using tools from a gumpaste flower set, to make it look like a tree stump.  I then hand painted the fondant with a little brown gel color mixed with vodka.  When painting fondant, Vodka is used because it evaporates, leaving only the brown color behind.  Adding the brown “paint” gave the cake depth and character.

Woodland Theme Cake - smalltowncookie.com

To create the heart cut out, I placed a piece of fondant, just larger than the heart, on the side of the cake where I wanted the heart to be.  Next, I wrapped a large piece of fondant around the entire cake.  Then I used a heart shaped cutter to score the fondant over top of the piece of fondant that was underneath.  I made sure to only cut through the top layer of fondant.  Then I carefully removed the top layer of fondant, revealing the piece underneath. I used the paint technique described earlier to add a darker color to the heart.

See to the right of the heart, just behind the mushrooms, it looks like there’s a knot in the wood?  Well that was actually a happy accident.  When I was wrapping the cake in fondant, part of the fondant got stuck to itself.  I was able to peel it apart, but it left that mark.  Rather than re-rolling, I just went with it and carved some lines around it, and wouldn’t you know, it looked like it was supposed to be that way.

Woodland Theme Cake - smalltowncookie.com

The ferns were made using a fondant and gum paste mold from Wilton, similar to this one. The directions on the packaging were quite vague and I didn’t have all of the tools that were required, so I just kind of winged it.  I brushed the mold with a little shortening and sprinkled powdered sugar over it to help keep the fondant from sticking.  However, the fondant still stuck.  Most of my ferns came out of the mold in sections rather than one large piece.  To be honest, the mold was kind of a pain to use and I’m not sure I would invest in anymore of these types of molds.

Woodland Theme Cake - smalltowncookie.com

The mushrooms were created from pieces of white fondant.  The mushroom stems and tops were made separately and then joined together using a toothpick and a bit of royal icing.  Before attaching the mushrooms to the cake I dusted the tops of them with cocoa powder to make them look more realistic.

The dirt around the base of the cake was made by combining chocolate cookie pieces (think Oreos without the filling) with graham crackers in a food processor.

Woodland Theme Cake - smalltowncookie.com

The cute little hedgehog on the top of the cake is made completely out of fondant.  I found this great tutorial online by Tea, Cake & Create that showed step by step how to make a fondant hedgehog.  The tutorial made creating the little guy very easy.

Prior to making this cake, I had never made marshmallow fondant.  I typically make my fondant using a combination of gelatin, corn syrup, and glycerin among other things.  I decided to give marshmallow fondant a try because it seemed to be quite popular among home bakers for its ease of use and also for its flavor.

I used the recipe and tutorial from howtobaker.com to make the fondant.  The recipe was very simple and the tutorial gave clear directions.  There are directions for making the fondant by hand and directions for making it in a mixer.  I made mine in the mixer and it turned out great.

I also think the marshmallow fondant was easier to work with.  It rolled like a dream and didn’t crack or tear when I placed it on the cake.  In fact I liked it so much, it’s now my go to recipe for fondant.

Have you ever made fondant?  Do you have a favorite fondant recipe?  I’d love to hear about it if you do.

I’ve got another cake to make later this week.  I look forward to sharing it with you when it’s finished.  Until then, happy baking!

-Lacey

www.facebook.com/stcookie

@SmallTownCookie

Felt Christmas Stocking Tutorial

This Christmas will be Samuel’s 3rd Christmas, so I figured it was time he had a stocking of his own.  I had been looking for just the right one, but had not had any luck in finding it.  I wanted to find one that matched the silver, white, and blue color palette that I decorate with.  I also wanted to find one that was kind of cutesy and appropriate for a little boy.

After looking and looking I finally found one I liked in the Red Envelope catalog.  It was the right color and it was cute and great for a little boy.  The only down side was that it was $40.  I’m pretty frugal and I don’t buy anything that isn’t on sale, so there was no way I was going to spend $40 on a stocking.  So I decided to make it myself.

Materials Needed

Felt (the amount needed will depend on your stocking size. I used about a half yard of grey for the stocking and a few small pieces of other colors (black, white, orange, light blue, and slate blue) for the appliqué.

Embroidery Thread in coordinating colors

Thread in coordinating colors

Craft Glue

I was able to purchase all of the needed supplies for less than $8.  To be honest, I actually purchased way more felt than I needed, but it was on sale and I had a coupon which made it cheaper to buy more.  I have enough material left that I could probably make two more stockings.

My sewing skills aren’t that great.  I just began sewing in October and this stocking is only the 4th project I have completed.  I didn’t use a pattern or a tutorial to make the stocking.  I basically just did what I thought would work.  So if you are a sewing pro, please don’t tell me that I did it all wrong.

The first thing I did was cut out a stocking stencil.  I created the stencil by tracing an existing stocking on a piece of freezer paper.

stocking stencil

I then used the stencil and traced the stocking shape onto the felt.  I cut out 4 of the shapes.  Two for the front and two for the back of the stocking.

Stocking cutouts

I used my Silhouette to cut out the stencil for the penguin.  The penguin was a shape that I purchased in the Silhouette online store.

penguin stencil

I then used the penguin stencil and traced the different shapes onto my desired colors of felt.  I used two strands of embroidery floss and a needle to hand sew the pieces together.  I also used a little craft glue to help hold everything in place.  Next I sewed the assembled penguin onto one of the front panels of the stocking.

penguin aplique

I then used my Silhouette a second time to cut out a stencil for “Samuel”.  I used the offset feature to add the outline.  I then traced the letters and the outline onto my desired color of felt.  I used a little craft glue to tack the letters in place.  Next I used two strands of embroidery thread to sew the letters onto the outline.

Name

Next I used more embroidery floss to sew the name onto the stocking panel above the penguin.

stocking front

After that I took the two front panels and placed them wrong sides together and pinned them together at the top.  I did the same thing with the two back panels.

pinned tops

Then I used my machine and sewed along the top of the front panels and along the top of the back panels.

tops sewn together

Once the two panels were sewn together, I turned them so that they were right side out and the seam was now on the inside.

To make a hanger for the stocking I used a piece of felt about 6″ long and 1.5″ wide.

felt for hanger

I folded the piece in half (hotdog style) and sewed on all 3 edges.

felt hanger sewn

After sewing, I folded the piece in half and stitched it onto the inside of the back panels.

hanger sewn on

I then pinned the 4 panels together so that they were inside out and sewed along the outside edge of the stocking, but not across the top.

Stocking sewn together

Once the edges were sewn together I turned the stocking right side out and I was finished.

stocking turned right side out

The stocking turned out really cute and it’s better than I expected.  Samuel likes it too.

hanging up

 

Did you make any Christmas decorations this year?  If you did, please feel free to share them in the comments.

-Lacey

www.facebook.com/stcookie

@SmallTownCookie

Peppermint Mocha Cake

This time of year one of the most popular drinks is the peppermint mocha.  The rich chocolate and peppermint flavor blended with fresh brewed espresso is enough to put anyone in the Christmas spirit.  Not only is the peppermint mocha a tasty beverage that I thoroughly enjoy, it is also the inspiration behind my latest cake.

Peppermint Mocha Cake

This Peppermint Mocha cake is full of flavor.  Rich mocha cake is layered with vanilla and peppermint buttercream frosting.  Then the entire cake is enrobed in a silky chocolate icing.  Rosettes of chocolate ganache adorn the top of the cake and peppermint candies give a hint to the flavors inside.

The inside of the cake is pretty amazing.  I love the candy cane effect from the alternating frosting colors.  The cake is whimsical and looks like something out of Dr. Seuss’s The Grinch.  Think of your guests delight when you cut this cake and reveal the inside for the first time.  They’ll think it’s some sort of Christmas miracle.  Ok, maybe not, but it will still be fun.

There are multiple components to this cake, and at first glance it may seem intimidating to make.  However, I have provided step by step instructions that I hope you will find easy to follow.  So what do you say?  Are you ready to give it a try and make this decadent dessert a part of your Christmas dinner?

Peppermint Mocha Cake

Serves 12 - 16
A rich mocha flavored cake is layered with vanilla and peppermint buttercream. The whole thing is glazed with chocolate icing and topped with chocolate ganache rosettes.

Ingredients

Cake:

  • 10oz Water
  • 3 tablespoons Instant Espresso Powder
  • 2 1/4oz Cocoa Powder
  • 14oz Sugar
  • 8 1/2oz All Purpose Flour
  • 2 tablespoons Cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large Eggs
  • 5 1/4oz Vegetable Oil
  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla

Buttercream Frosting:

  • 8oz Egg Whites
  • 12oz Sugar
  • 16oz Butter, Unsalted (softened)
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon Peppermint Extract
  • Red Gel Paste Food Coloring

Chocolate Icing:

  • 6oz Dark or Semi Sweet Chocolate (chopped)
  • 6oz Whipping Cream
  • 2oz Butter, Unsalted (softened)

Chocolate Rosettes:

  • 3oz Dark or Semi Sweet Chocolate (chopped)
  • 3oz Whipping Cream
  • 12 to 16 Peppermint Candies

Directions

Cake
Spray two 8" round cake pans with pan spray. Line the bottom of the pans with parchment paper and spray again. Preheat the oven to 350°.
Heat water to boiling. Stir in espresso powder and cocoa powder. Stir until completely dissolved. Cool to room temperature.
In a large bowl, sift together sugar, flour, cornstarch, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
In a separate bowl combine eggs, oil, and vanilla. Whisk to break up the eggs and combine everything together.
Stir the egg/oil mixture into the dry ingredients. Stir just until the flour is moistened.
Stir in the water/cocoa/espresso mix. Stir just until everything is combined.
Divide the batter between the two pans.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until cakes are done. Use a toothpick to test for doneness.
Allow the cakes to cool in the pan for 15 minutes before turning them out onto a rack to cool completely. Once the cakes have completely cooled, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and place them in the refrigerator for at least one hour.
Buttercream Frosting
To make the buttercream frosting, begin by setting up a pan for a double boiler.
Place the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk together.
Place the bowl on the double boiler and continually whisk the eggs and sugar until the mixture reaches 140° on an instant read digital thermometer. It is important to continue whisking. Also, do not let the mixture get too hot. Once the eggs/sugar have reached the proper temperature they will have thickened and look foamy.
Once the eggs/sugar reach 140°, remove the bowl from the heat and place it on the stand mixer. Use the whip attachment and whip on medium to high speed until the sides of the bowl feel just slightly warm, about 15 minutes. The mixture will look white and thick.
Turn the mixer down to low speed. Add in the butter, about 1 tablespoon at a time, allowing each addition to become incorporated before adding more. Continue this process until all of the butter is in then turn the mixer up to high speed for just a moment. The frosting should be thick and fluffy.
Remove half of the frosting from the mixer bowl and place it in a separate bowl. Stir the vanilla into this frosting.
Add the peppermint extract to the frosting that remains in the mixer bowl. Begin by adding 1/2 teaspoon. Add more until you reach your desired flavor. Stir in a few drops of red gel paste food coloring to tint the peppermint frosting.
Filling and Frosting
Once you are ready to assemble your cake, remove the cakes from the refrigerator. Use a serrated knife to slice each layer in half horizontally.
Fill a piping bag with the vanilla buttercream. Fill an additional piping bag with the peppermint buttercream. You do not need to use a piping tip. Cut an opening in the tip of each bag.
Place a layer of cake on an 8" cake board.
Peppermint Mocha Cake How To
Pipe a ring of vanilla frosting around the top edge of the cake.
Peppermint Mocha Cake How To
Pipe a ring of peppermint frosting inside the ring of vanilla. Continue alternating frostings and piping rings until the entire layer of cake is covered.
Peppermint Mocha Cake How To
Top with another layer of cake and repeat the steps for adding rings of frosting.
Peppermint Mocha Cake How To
Add the 3rd layer of cake and repeat the steps for adding rings of frosting.
Peppermint Mocha Cake How To
Finally, add the 4th layer of cake. Combine the remaining peppermint and vanilla frostings in a bowl. Use this frosting to crumb coat the cake. Place the cake in the refrigerator to chill for about 15 minutes.
Remove the cake from the refrigerator and add a final coat of frosting. Return the frosted cake to the refrigerator.
Chocolate Icing
Before preparing the chocolate icing, line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place a wire rack over the parchment.
Place the cream in a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat to scald the cream. Remove the cream from the heat and stir in the chopped chocolate. Stir until the chocolate has melted. Add the butter and stir until the butter has melted and everything is combined.
Remove the cake from the refrigerator and place it on the wire rack over the parchment lined sheet pan.
Peppermint Mocha Cake How To
Pour the chocolate icing over the cake. Begin by pouring it onto the center of the cake and work your way out around the edges of the cake, allowing the icing to run down the sides of the cake. Continue until you have used all of the icing.
Place the cake in the refrigerator.
Use a bench scraper or rubber spatula to scrape up any of the chocolate icing that has pooled on the parchment paper. Place the chocolate in the pan and rewarm over medium heat until the chocolate becomes liquid again.
Peppermint Mocha Cake How To
Pour the rewarmed chocolate over the cake, making sure to cover any part that was not covered the first time. Place the cake in the refrigerator. Reserve any chocolate that remains on the parchment paper.
Chocolate Rosettes
To make the ganache for the chocolate rosettes, place the chopped chocolate in a small bowl. Add any chocolate reserved from the parchment paper to this bowl.
Scald the cream over medium heat. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate.
Stir until the chocolate has melted and combined with the cream.
Place the bowl over an ice bath and continue stirring until the ganache has cooled and firmed up.
Place the ganache in a piping bag fitted with a star tip. Pipe 12 to 16 rosettes onto the top edge of the cake. One rosette marks one slice of cake so pipe accordingly.
Peppermint Mocha Cake How To
Finally, top each rosette with a peppermint candy.

Note

To prepare the buttercream, I recommend the use of a digital instant read thermometer.  You will also need to use a double boiler.  No need for special equipment.  You can make your own with a cooking pot.

The recipe for this cake was adapted from King Arthur Flour’s recipe for Favorite Fudge Birthday Cake.

Peppermint Mocha Cake

You want a slice, don’t you?

Peppermint Mocha Cake

 

Merry Christmas!

-Lacey

www.facebook.com/stcookie

@SmallTownCookie

Cranberry Apple Spice Cake

When it comes to baking, fresh cranberries are often over looked.  There are many recipes that call for dried-sweetened cranberries, but rarely do I come across one that uses them in their most natural state.  Perhaps it is because their season is so short; the fresh cranberry is only available during the fall months.  Or perhaps it is because 95% of fresh cranberries are processed and turned into juice, sauce, or dried cranberries.  Whatever the reason may be, fresh cranberries just do not get the credit they deserve.  While they may not taste so great on their own, the tart flavor of cranberries can be used to enhance many recipes.

My recipe for Cranberry Apple Spice Cake is a perfect example of how the tart and bitter flavor of fresh cranberries can blend beautifully with the sweet, crisp flavor of Fuji apples and spices to create a dessert that would be an excellent ending to any Christmas dinner.

Cranberry Apple Spice Cake - Smalltowncookie.com

 

Cranberry Apple Spice Cake

This cake is moist and flavorful. Fresh cranberries, Fuji apples, and spices blend together to create a sensational flavor combination for a dessert that is perfect for any holiday party.

Ingredients

Cake

  • 13.5oz All Purpose Flour
  • 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/8 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/4 + 1/8 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1 teaspoon All Spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon Cardamom
  • 1 tablespoon Cinnamon
  • 6 large Eggs
  • 3 medium Fuji Apples
  • 6oz Cranberries (Fresh)
  • 7oz Vegetable Oil
  • 21oz Sugar

Cranberry Sauce

  • 12oz Cranberries (fresh)
  • 7oz Sugar
  • 1 Whole Cinnamon Stick
  • 8oz Apple Juice (I prefer 'Simply Apple')

Whipped Cream

  • 8oz Whipping Cream
  • 1oz Powdered Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla

Directions

Cake
Line a 9" x 13" pan with parchment and spray with pan spray.
Preheat the oven to 350°.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour through cinnamon.
Place the eggs and oil in a medium sized bowl. Beat lightly to break up the eggs.
Peel, quarter, and core the apples. Use a food processor to shred the apples. Add the shredded apples to the bowl with the eggs and oil.
Place the cranberries in the bowl of the food processor, fitted with the blade attachment. Pulse about 10 times to roughly chop the cranberries. Add the cranberries to the bowl with the shredded apple.
Add the sugar to the bowl with the apples and cranberries. Stir everything together.
Stir the wet ingredients into the dry. Stir just until combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the middle. The cake will be a deep golden brown after baking.
Cranberry Apple Spice Cake - Smalltowncookie.com
Allow the cake to cool in the pan for at least 1 hour.
Cranberry Sauce
To prepare the cranberry sauce, combine the apple juice and sugar in a medium saucepan. Stir and cook over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved.
Add the cranberries and the cinnamon stick to the pan. Turn the heat to medium and allow the mixture to cook. As the sauce cooks, the cranberries will pop and the sauce will thicken. Cook until most of the cranberries have popped, about 10 minutes. Remove the sauce from the heat.
Whipped Cream
To make the whipped cream, place the whipping cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla in a mixing bowl. The cream will whip easier if the bowl has been chilled.
Whip on medium speed until soft peaks form.
Serving
To serve the cake, cut the cake into squares, or use a biscuit cutter to cut rounds from the cake.
Top each piece of cake with a desired amount of cranberry sauce and whipped cream. Sprinkle lightly with cinnamon.

Note

The cake and the cranberry sauce can be made a day ahead.  After baking and cooling, wrap the cake tightly with plastic wrap until ready to cut.  Store the pre-made cranberry sauce in the refrigerator and re-warm before service.

Cranberry Apple Spice Cake - Smalltowncookie.com

Cranberry Apple Spice Cake - Smalltowncookie.com

Are you a fan of fresh cranberries like I am?  If you weren’t before, I hope you are now.

Enjoy!

-Lacey

www.facebook.com/stcookie

@SmallTownCookie

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap: Hazelnut Dusties

fbcookieswap2012_badge

If you’re looking for my giveaway, click here.

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap is exactly what it sounds like: Food bloggers from all over the US (and even some in other parts of the world) bake up delicious cookies and swap them with one another.  Not only is it something fun to do, but the cookie swap also supports Cookies For Kids Cancer, a non-profit that raises funds to support research for new and improved therapies for pediatric cancer.

When a food blogger signs up for The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap he/she must pay $4.00 to register.  That $4.00 goes directly to Cookies For Kids Cancer.  This year there were 575 participants from 8 countries.

Not only did the food bloggers donate $2300, but OXO matched the food bloggers donations with an additional $2300.  Raising $4600 with one simple cookie swap isn’t too shabby.

This was the first time that I had participated in the swap.  I wasn’t sure what to expect but the lovely ladies from The Little Kitchen and Love & Olive Oil did a fantastic job of organizing the exchange.  They made it very easy for a newbie like me to take part.

I was provided with the names and addresses of 3 other participating bloggers.  These were the 3 people that I was to send my cookies to.  I could make any kind of cookie I wanted, as long as I had not blogged about it before.  Then I was to send each of the 3 people one dozen of my cookies.  This way each blogger would receive 3 dozen cookies.

The cookie recipe that I chose to make is called Hazelnut Dusties.  It is a variation of Mexican Wedding Cookies or Russian Tea Cakes.  As the name suggests, these cookies are made with hazelnuts.

Hazelnut Dusties - Smalltowncookie.com

The recipe that I used comes from chef Michael Recchiuti.  I came across the recipe about a year ago while searching for Christmas cookie recipes on the internet.  I printed the recipe out and tucked it away, but had yet to actually make it.  While looking through recipes, trying to decide what I would make for the GFB cookie swap, the Hazelnut Dusties recipe surfaced and I knew it was the one to make.

Hazelnut Dusties

Website Recchiuti Confections
These cookies made with hazelnuts are a variation of Mexican Wedding Cookies or Russian Tea Cakes.

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups Butter, Unsalted (Room Temp.)
  • 2/3 cups Sugar
  • 2 large Egg Yolks (Room Temp.)
  • pinch Table Salt
  • 1 1/3 cup Hazelnuts, toasted and finely chopped
  • 3.5 cups All Purpose Flour
  • Powdered Sugar
  • Dark Chocolate
  • White Chocolate

Directions

Begin by toasting the hazelnuts. To do this set the oven to 325°. Place the hazelnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet. Place them in the oven and toast for about 7 minutes. Roll the hazelnuts around on the tray to turn them. Place them back in the oven and toast an additional 5 to 7 minutes. When the nuts are toasted they will have a nutty aroma and they will look a little shiny. Be careful not to burn the nuts. Wrap the warm nuts in a kitchen towel and allow them to steam for about 10 minutes. After roasting and steaming, roll the nuts around in the towel to help remove the skins.
Place the hazelnuts in a food processor fitted with the blade attachment and pulse until the nuts are finely chopped.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or use a Silpat.
Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Use the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed until smooth.
Add the egg yolks and salt to the butter and mix until smooth. Scrape down the bowl and the attachment.
With the mixer running on low, add the flour in 1/4 cup increments.
Add the hazelnuts and mix just until combined. The dough will look a little dry.
Cookies: blond on top, golden on bottom
Use a spoon and scoop the dough into walnut sized balls. Place the dough balls on the prepared pan. Bake at 325° on the middle shelf of the oven until the cookies are a light blond color on top and slightly golden on the bottom, about 15 - 20 minutes. Turn the pan 180° halfway through the baking time.
Bake only one pan of cookies at a time. Keep the dough in the refrigerator when you're not scooping or baking.
When the cookies are finished baking, allow them to cool on the pan for about 5 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack and allow them to cool completely.
Before serving, roll or dust the cookies in powdered sugar.
Cookies drizzled with dark chocolate.
For a variation, try drizzling or dipping the cookies in melted dark or white chocolate.

Note

This recipe yields 4.5 to 5 dozen cookies.

The original recipe called for dusting all of the cookies with powdered sugar.  I wanted to do something a little different so I dusted some of the cookies with powdered sugar, I dipped some of them in white chocolate, and I drizzled some of them with dark chocolate. I think this makes the cookies a little more special.

Once my cookies were prepared it was time to package them up in little treat boxes.

Hazelnut Dusties - Smalltowncookie.com

I wrapped each box with plastic wrap to make it as air tight as possible.  I didn’t want the cookies to get stale during their travels.  Next I tied some raffia around each box and attached a little tag.  Then it was time to pack them up and ship them off.

Hazelnut Dusties - Smalltowncookie.com

Not only did I send out 3 dozen cookies, but I also received 3 dozen cookies.  I received one dozen Strawberry Cheesecake Sandwich Cookies from Amanda at CulinaryQuirks.com, one dozen Italian Lemon Cookies from Tina at The Daily Bite, and one dozen Molasses Cookies from Adrianne at Bake Not Burn. All of the cookies I received were delicious!

In addition to receiving 3 dozen cookies, I also got a sweet new spatula out of the deal.  The good folks at OXO sent each of us cookie swapping food bloggers one of their “Be A Good Cookie” spatulas.  Not only is it super cute, but it’s also the perfect size for transporting a cookie (or two) from pan to cooling rack.

Be A Good Cookie Spatula

These spatulas are available for purchase from OXO.  If you buy one not only are you getting a fabulous little spatula, but you are also helping out Cookies For Kids Cancer because for each one sold, OXO will donate 50% of the proceeds to pediatric cancer research.  Want to order one?  Click Here.

I really enjoyed participating in The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap.  It was a great way to “meet” other food bloggers and raise money for a good cause at the same time.  I’m already looking forward to joining in the fun again next year.

If you want to join in the cookie swapping fun next year, you can sign up to receive email updates by visiting this link.

Happy Baking!

-Lacey

www.facebook.com/stcookie

@SmallTownCookie

 

 

Short and Simple Family Recipes: Review & Giveaway

This giveaway is now closed.

Amy Roloff, star of TLC’s series Little People, Big World, recently released a cookbook titled Short and Simple Family Recipes. The book contains 75 of Amy’s most loved recipes,  including recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, appetizers, desserts, side dishes and even recipes just for kids.  Several of the recipes in the book are illustrated with beautiful full color photos.  The book also includes photos of Amy and her family on the Roloff farm.

In early November I attended Amy’s book signing at Powell’s.  Before the signing Amy spoke about her passion for cooking and her desire to write a cookbook.  Amy told the audience that she began cooking for her family when she was a young girl.  At an early age she took on the task of preparing nightly dinners for her family as a way to help her mom.  Amy said that in the beginning some of the food she prepared was not great, but through trial and error she became more and more confident in her cooking.

Amy said she enjoyed cooking because it was something she could do, in spite of her size.  Now as a mom, Amy uses cooking as a way to bring her family together.  Many of Amy’s family memories are centered around good food and family meals that she has prepared.

While Amy was speaking about her cookbook one thing that really struck me was that she said she didn’t want to just put out a book with her photo on it because she is a reality TV star.  Amy said she wanted to write the book so that she could share the recipes that she prepares for her family as a way to bring families back together through gathering around the dinner table. She also wanted to show people that good, healthy food doesn’t have to be difficult to prepare.

After purchasing my copy of the book and thumbing through it for a couple of days, I decided that I would make a complete meal using only Amy’s recipes.  There are several recipes in the book that appealed to me, but I eventually settled on the Roast New York Strip Loin with Garlic Herb Crust, Roasted Brussels Sprouts, and Easy Mashed Potatoes.  The three recipes were all very simple to prepare, just as the book had promised.

I have to admit, I’m not a big fan of cooking roast beef, because I usually don’t get the result I am hoping for, but by following Amy’s recipe my roast turned out flavorful and moist.  It’s a recipe I will certainly make again.

The Roasted Brussels Sprouts were also a big hit.  I wasn’t sure if my husband would eat them, but not only did he eat them, he devoured them and went back for seconds.  I think it was the bacon that made them taste so good.  The potatoes were also very delicious.

So now that I’ve told you about the book, I bet you want a copy for yourself, right?!  Well guess what, I purchased an extra one so I could give it to a lucky Small Town Cookie Fan.  And guess what else?…it’s even signed by Amy!  Want to win?  Here’s what you have to do…

Leave a comment on this blog post telling me:  What is your favorite meal to share with your family? And you will receive one entry.

After you’ve done that, if you want a second chance to win, “Like” Small Town Cookie on Facebook.  Then come back here an leave another comment saying you do.

For a 3rd entry visit the Home page and subscribe to my blog via email by entering your email address in the box on the right side of the page.  After you do that, come back here and leave a comment saying you subscribed.  

You must leave 3 separate comments to receive 3 entries.  

The giveaway is open to all residents of the United States.  The giveaway will close on December 18, 2012.  I will draw a winner on or after December 19 via Random.org

If you’re looking for a cookbook full of recipes that are not only short and simple, but also sure to please, then Short and Simple Family Recipes is the book for you.  The proceeds from each cookbook sold go to charity, so pick one up for yourself and give one as a gift.

If you are interested in purchasing a signed copy of the book, it can be purchased from Made in Oregon by calling 1-866-257-0938 or through the Love With Food website.

The opinions expressed here represent my own.  I have not been compensated for this post.  This giveaway is sponsored by Small Town Cookie.

Good luck!

-Lacey

www.facebook.com/stcookie

@SmallTownCookie

 

Butternut Squash with Browned Butter and Myzithra

Holy Cannoli!  Can you believe Thanksgiving is this week?  When did that happen?  It has definitely snuck up on me.  I’m not prepared at all.  I mean, I’ve got the groceries to make the dinner, but that’s about it.  I don’t have my game plan down yet.

There’s lots of prepping and planning to be done, but today is one of those days where I just feel like snuggling up with a blanket and a hot cup of coffee.  We are currently in the middle of a strong storm.  It’s really windy outside.  All of our patio chairs have blown over and as I type this, I’m watching my apple tree sway back and forth.  It’s not just the top branches that are moving either, but the entire tree, even the trunk is moving.

The rain is coming down sideways.  It has been raining hard since last night and some of the flower beds are already underwater.  Our county, along with a couple of others, has been issued a flood warning.  So you see, it’s just one of those days where instead of doing anything productive, I’d rather just watch it storm.

If unlike me, you are being productive today and planning out your Thanksgiving menu, then perhaps you would be interested in this recipe for Butternut Squash with Browned Butter and Myzithra.  It’s got a lot going for it that makes it the perfect addition to your Thanksgiving spread:

First of all, it’s very simple to make and you only need one pot or pan to make it.  Second, it’s very flavorful and at least for me, it’s a little bit different from how I’m used to having butternut squash prepared.  I also think it looks really yummy and will definitely impress your guests.  And last and certainly not least, you can cook it on the stove top so there’s more room in the oven for other dishes.

If you already have your menu planned and don’t want to make this for Thanksgiving dinner, then perhaps you will give it a try another time.  It would be great paired with pork chops or roast chicken.

Butternut Squash with Browned Butter and Myzithra

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons Butter, Unsalted
  • 2 heaped teaspoons Garlic (minced)
  • 2lb Butternut Squash (peeled and cubed)
  • 1 tablespoon Fresh Thyme (chopped)
  • Kosher Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Myzithra Cheese (freshly grated)

Directions

Place the butter in a large sauté pan or dutch oven. Heat over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, whisk it continually.
Butter beginning to brown
Continue to cook and whisk the butter until the milk solids in the butter begin to brown and turn the color of caramel. The butter will have a nice nutty aroma to it. Add the garlic and remove the pan from the heat. Take care not to burn the butter as it will cook very quickly once it begins to brown.
Squash tossed with butter, garlic, and thyme
Add the butternut squash and the fresh thyme. Stir to combine and coat the squash with butter.
Return the pan to medium high heat. Spread the squash into a single layer and allow it to cook for several minutes, without stirring, until the squash begins to brown. Turn the squash and allow the other sides to lightly brown.
Once the squash has developed some light browning, season with salt and pepper. Cover the pan, reduce the heat to low, and allow the squash to cook until it is soft enough to easily pierce with a fork, about 15 minutes.
To serve, place the squash in a serving bowl, sprinkle with freshly grated Myzithra cheese (as much as you like) and garnish with a little fresh Thyme.

Note

Myzithra (pronounced mee-zeeth-rah) is a cheese made with whole sheep's milk.  Look for Myzithra in the specialty cheese section of your local market.  If you can't find Myzithra, you can substitute with parmesan or pecorino-romano.

You can find 2 lb packages of cubed butternut squash at Costco.

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

-Lacey

www.facebook.com/stcookie

@SmallTownCookie

 

Autumn Spiced Almonds

As a kid, I lived in an area of California that was close to almond orchards. My grandparents house was surrounded by almond orchards, my aunt had almond trees in her front yard, and my parents close friends were almond farmers.  Maybe that’s why I love almonds so much.  They are one of my favorite nuts!

I have always called almonds, almonds.  I have heard some people call them “amonds”, without the “L” sound.  I really have no idea why it’s pronounced different ways.  I always figured it was just one of those words that people say different ways, you know, like tomato, “tomahto”.  Well finally, this past weekend I learned why some people say “amond”.

Saturday evening the autocross club that I am a member of held its annual awards banquet.  During the banquet the club holds a raffle and gives away fun little prizes.  I wanted to bring something to include in the raffle, so I brought a few jars filled with Autumn Spiced Almonds.  When I was handing the jars of almonds over to the person in charge of the raffle he looked at them and said, “Amonds”.  Yes, he said “amonds” without the “L” sound.  I commented on his pronunciation and told him that I had heard other people say it that way, but never knew why.  And then he told me the answer to my question.  He said, “They’re called “amonds” because to get them out of the tree, you have to shake the “L” out of them.”  It was the most profound thing I’d ever heard. Ok, well maybe not, but I did get a good laugh out of it.

These Autumn Spiced Almonds make a great little snack.  They are crunchy, a little sweet, and a little salty too.  They are easy to make and that makes them even more fantastic!  You can save them for yourself or package them up and give them as a gift.

I used pint sized mason jars to package the almonds.  Each jar held about 8 oz of almonds.  The recipe makes enough to fill 4 jars.

Since these were for a raffle, I attached my business card to them with raffia.  If you are giving them as a gift you might want to attach a little notecard.

I also cut a piece of paper to fit over the lid of the jar.  On the paper I included the name of the contents and a simple ingredient list.

Ready to make some for yourself?

Autumn Spiced Almonds

Prep time 5 minutes
Cook time 40 minutes
Total time 45 minutes
These spiced almonds are a little sweet and a little salty.

Ingredients

  • 2lb Raw Almonds
  • 1/3 cup Pure Maple Syrup
  • 1 tablespoon Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 1 tablespoon Cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon Course Sea Salt

Directions

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat.
Preheat the oven to 325°.
Place the almonds in a large bowl.
Pour the maple syrup over the almonds. Stir until the almonds are evenly coated.
Sprinkle the pumpkin pie spice and the cinnamon over the almonds. Stir until the spices coat the almonds.
Place the almonds in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.
Sprinkle the almonds with the sea salt.
Bake the almonds at 325° for 35-40 minutes, stirring and turning the almonds every 10 minutes. The almonds will look "dry" when they are finished baking.
Once cool, the almonds should be crunchy. If they are not crunchy, bake a bit longer.
Store cooled almonds in an airtight container.

Note

Want to spice things up a little more?  Try adding 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper along with the other spices.

So tell me, do you say almonds or amonds?  Either way, I hope you enjoy them!

-Lacey

www.facebook.com/stcookie

@SmallTownCookie

Owl Costume for Halloween

This year I decided that I wanted to make Sam a costume for Halloween.  The costume I had in mind was inspired by one I had seen on Pinterest from the blog Martin Family Times.  It was a simple owl costume that consisted of a felt cape covered with felt feathers and a hat that looked like an owl’s face.  You can see the post that I was inspired by here.

The instructions on the inspirational post said to cut a cape shape and lots of feathers from felt.  Next, glue the feathers onto the cape and glue a ribbon to the top of the cape so it could be tied around the wearer’s neck.  I made Sam’s costume in a very similar fashion, but I sewed it together rather than glueing it.  I was concerned that if I glued the feathers on, they might not hold very well.  Instead of using ribbon, I used a hook & eye closure at the neck of the cape to keep it closed.  I also sewed darts into the shoulder area of the cape so that it would lay flat across Sam’s shoulders.  Sam already had a knit hat that looked like an owl face, so I didn’t need to make one.  To make the costume, I used felt in colors that matched his hat.

The costume was very simple to make.  I had just learned to use my sewing machine a week prior to making the costume.  I was able to complete the cape (with feathers) in one weekend.  That’s how easy it was.

I also made Sam a matching Trick or Treat bag with the leftover felt.  I found a great tutorial online from Diary of a Crafty Lady.  You can find the tutorial here.

To make the owl for the bag, I used my Silhouette and cut the owl out of a piece of card-stock.  Then I used the cut out as a stencil and traced it onto the felt.  I used a combination of sewing and craft glue to assemble the owl.  I attached the owl to the bag by hand sewing around it.

The bag turned out really cute.  Don’t you think?

On Halloween night I dressed Sam in his costume and Captain Awesome and I took him out Trick or Treating around our neighborhood.  Sam is still young, so I don’t think he really understood the concept, but I know he had a great time.  It was also a lot of fun for me and Captain Awesome.

Sam’s costume received lots of compliments.  Several people thought it was really cute.  Some of the other moms asked if I had made it and they seemed very impressed when I told them I had.

Costumes don’t have to be complicated and they don’t have to cost a lot of money either.  I was able to make Sam’s owl costume for less than $20.  That includes the materials to make the costume as well as the black sweatpants and shirt that he wore underneath his cape.

I really enjoyed making Sam’s costume.  Even though it was simple, I am still proud that I was able to make it myself.  I am looking forward to making him many more and I’m already contemplating what he will be next Halloween.

-Lacey

www.facebook.com/stcookie

@SmallTownCookie