Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Western Sugar Cookies

I had mentioned in my previous post that I had been busy baking up a storm...and below you will find out why. I made cookies, lots and lots of Sugar Cookies to be exact. You see one of my best friends got married in Austin a couple weeks ago. Their rehearsal dinner was at the SaltLick in Driftwood, Texas (outside Austin). If you live near and haven't been...go...its soo yummy! Their BBQ is out of this world and the sauce is amazing!

Anyways the bride had told me she wanted cookies at the rehearsal and of course I jumped at the chance to help. After discussing we decided on western cookies to go with the Texas theme for the wedding weekend. She had originally wanted to use the cookies as place settings but after struggling with the seating chart for the wedding, we chose to set these on the tables as favors.

Now all of this was sounding great and then I realized the size of wedding and number of people attending the rehearsal was near 300. Inside I was freaking out but of course I told her no problem :)

A little over a week before the wedding, I started making the cookies, a batch per night. After cooling completely, I put into freezer safe Tupperware and froze them until the day I decorated them. Note: When pulling them out of freezer to decorate, allow to come to room temperature before removing from the container.

The shapes I used where: Cowboy boot & hat, cactus, longhorn, Texas, horseshoe, and lastly horse head.

Here is how my kitchen looked for several days....

This is the horses and hats drying...

Horseshoes just about done and the Texas' minus the stars.

I couldnt get this picture to load the right way...but this was the only shot I got of the finished horse, so I included it anyways!

Same here with the boots...I dont understand why the picture wont turn? Anyone know how to fix this?

The Texas's I think were my favorite...

I wrapped each cookie individually and tied with white and red ribbon. I had great plans of taking photos of this step, but it was so late when I finished...I forgot :(

I additionally have no photos of the cookies on the tables at the dinner, but I did snag a photo of a friends purse she filled for cookies for later on that night. Haha...guess they were good then huh?

And this is one of my best friends, Sharon, about to eat her cookie on the bus leaving the dinner. She will probably kill me for posting this photo...but I thought it was cute!
For the cookies I used the recipe that is originally from Bridget at Bake at 350 that I blogged about here and here. This time however I made a few changes. Instead of using almond extract I used both vanilla extract and vanilla bean paste. I just love seeing the black speckles in the cookies. I believe I used about a teaspoon of each. I know, I am sorry about not having the exact amounts but after that number of batches you sort of lose count!
For the royal icing this time I actually used Ateco Meringue Powder. I think it taste better than any of the other brands I have tried to date. Also since I didnt used almond extract with the cookies, I skipped it here too and opted for just vanilla extract. I used the recipe I blogged about here.
All in all I think these cookies turned out pretty good. It was time consuming but I had a blast doing it and learned so much along the way. I look forward to my next venture with sugar cookies and royal icing :)
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Butterfly Cupcakes & Cake Pops

It has been a crazy couple of weeks around my house and you will get to see part of the reason in this post and part in my next post. I have been super busy in the kitchen as well as traveling for weddings and graduations.

My cousin little girl, Adelynn, turned the Big 1 at the beginning of May and her mom and I had been planning her birthday for several months. Once she picked the butterfly theme, I immediately started brainstorming ideas for the cupcakes. I instantly thought of the Butterfly Cupcake in Hello Cupcake then I stumbled upon a close vision of what I was already thinking on Annie's Eats. Perfect :)

In addition to the cupcakes, I made cake pops in flower and butterfly shapes to put in these pot we made at a pottery place here in Houston. (You can see them in the pictures below)

I tried to take step by step pictures for these cupcakes. The butterflies were made out of candy melts and made a few days in advance. If you have the book, they have pretty good instructions in there. If you dont I will try to walk you through the steps below.
To start I just traced the butterfly wings from the book on wax paper. I cut individual wax paper squares for each of the butterfly wings, 52 in total.

Using the candy melts, (I colored mine black) outline the butterfly wings and make a deep "V" shape for the antennae's.

Do one butterfly at a time, starting with the outline and then filling with the color. This allow you time to move the color around and swirl to the edges of the wing before it begins to dry.

I used bowls to melt the candy coating and then transferred to squeeze bottles. I used a toothpick to swirl around the color to the edges. Sprinkle each wing with the white nonpareils.

I made 3 different flavors of cupcakes for the party. For the chocolate I used the Hershey's recipe I have used in the past here. For the vanilla cupcakes I used my favorite recipe here. But the last flavor, my cousin requested specifically was yellow cupcakes. After looking through my recipes I realized I didn't have a "go to" yellow cupcake/cake recipe. I went searching online and decided on the recipe below. However I have to warn you...I wasn't too impressed with these cupcakes. They were a tad too dry for my taste. So if you have a favorite yellow cake or cupcake recipe, please share!

Yellow Cupcakes from BakingBlonde (She used it as a sheet cake)

2 1/2 cups cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1.2 cups sugar
1/2 cups butter, softened
3 eggs
1 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 drop Yellow Food Coloring

Preheat oven to 350F. Place the liners in a cupcake pan.

Sift cake flour, baking powder and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer. Add sugar and using the paddle attachment, mix on low speed to blend. Cut butter into 4 or 5 chucks and drop into the bowl with the flour. Blend on low speed until mixture looks sandy and no large chucks or butter remain, about 1-2 minutes.

In large measuring cup, combine eggs, milk, vanilla and food coloring. Beat lightly with a fork until combined. With the mixer on low, pour 1 cup of the egg mixture into the bowl. Turn speed up to medium and beat for 1 1/2 minutes. Reduce speed back to low and pour in the rest of the egg mixture. Continue to beat at low speed for an additional 30 seconds, until liquid is fully incorporated.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for a few more seconds. Pour into prepared liners. Fill about 2/3 full. Bake 18 minutes at 350. Allow to cool in pan for 5 minutes then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the frosting, I used the recipe I blogged about here. Just a simple buttercream I found on Bakeralla.

Supplies Needed for the Butterfly Cupcakes:

wax paper
plastic squeeze bottles
Cocoa candy melts (I added an oil based Black Candy Color)
Colored Candy Melts ( I used pink, green, blue and orange)
White Nonpareils
Chocolate Chips
Plastic Baggie
Frosted Cupcakes

As the cupcakes were cooling off, I whipped up a few batches of icing and began separating it into bowls to add the color. I decided on orange, pink, blue, and green for the icing colors to match the candy melt colors of the butterfly wings. Frost your cupcakes as you desire.

To begin assembly of the butterfly cupcakes, first press down slightly on your frosting to create a slightly flat surface.

Place 2 chocolate chips about a 1/2 inch apart towards the top of the cupcake. Insert one wing into the icing and let it use the chocolate chip for support. Continue on to the next one using the same steps.

After the wings are inserted, create the body by piping chocolate blobs in between the wings. I used a plastic bag and just cut off one of the corners.

Next, place the antennea's into the frosting just at the head of the butterfly.

Here they are all lined up before getting packaged in the box.

And a picture of the dessert table at the party.
A close up...(Note I made several extra sets of antennae's and brought with me because they are a little fragile)

The birthday girl with her special cake. Her cake was a 6 inch double layer vanilla cake, frosted with the pink frosting and had 3 butterflies on the top.

Here she is sharing with her daddy!
These cupcakes turned out beautiful! I got so many compliments on them, they were definitely worth all the work. If anyone has suggestions for a yellow cake/cupcake recipe please let me know!!
Happy Memorial Weekend to everyone!
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