March, 2010

Did Someone Say Easter?

Friday, March 5th, 2010

Or did someone order 220 cookies on a Wednesday for Monday delivery?? (Not hand delivery, UPS delivery. Which takes one day to get to Boston From VT. Giving us exactly 2 days to bake, ice, dry, detail, dry, package and ship.)

Hmmmm, I think both.

mbta map

The order was for 100 T signs and 120 trains, 30 of each of the four colored lines. Those of you not familiar with public transportation in Boston, the T is the underground (and above ground) network of subway/trolley cars that take you around Boston and the surrounding towns.

mbta cookies

Making the train cookies is about as fun as waiting for a D train at Park St. Station. (once I was so late for a doctors appointment because of the T, the doctor had to reschedule my appointment once I arrived. I cried. And then I never took the T to the doctors again) True story.

T cookies

The T signs aren’t as much of a pain, only two colors, but YOU try outlining a perfect circle and then a perfectly centered T. It ain’t all that easy.

mbta cookies

So many colors, so many outlines!!!

chickadee cookies

Now for something more fun than public transportation. Easter!! Easter is coming, and someday, maybe, Spring will be here in Vermont!! Until the snow melts I’ll have to live vicariously through all the Spring pictures on everyone elses blogs.

I did make our Easter Brunch reservations, so that’s something exciting!

pink peeps cookies

We made our first Easter cookies yesterday. Pink Peep bunnies.

peep chicks cookies

Yellow Peep Chickies.

purple peep rabbits

And purple Peep bunnies.

Peeps are one of my once a year guilty pleasures. They’re a bit cardboardy tasting, but I love them. I love super fresh ones. Some people like them aged, not me. Give me fresh Peeps, please. I even belong to the Peeps fan club. True story.

Old MacDonald Had a Farm

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

And some answers to your questions.

But first, some farm animals.

barnyard cookies

A client requested some Barnyard Animal cookies for a childs Birthday party, and originally I was just going to make the cookies from our Barnyard collection. After seeing the paper goods that were to be used at the party, we decided to make some new cutters and go with the whimsical animals from those.

cow cookie

The cow and the horse cutters are rather large, but still cute.

pig cookies

A big pig face. I think I could have done a better job on the snout, but this is only one of the 15 I made. It was late when I finished and I obviously didn’t choose one of the best ones for the photo!! I think it kind of looks like Piglet from Winnie the Pooh….

horse cookie

And finally, the Horse cookie. He’s as big as the cow face.

barnyard cookies

You can’t see the horse in this image, but the cow is a bit more “realistic” than the cow face.

Now someone asked about bubbles in the royal icing. Yes, it happens, but there are some things you can do to reduce the bubbles in your icing. First, don’t beat the daylights out of it in your KitchenAid. Beat it slowly for about 7 minutes.

When you mix your colors, don’t beat it like a maniac. Gentle. Once you have your desired color, scoop out what you need for stiff consistency and then add water to the rest and thin it to your desired consistency for flooding. Again, GENTLY. Cover the bowl of thin icing with a damp towel and let it sit for a few minutes. The bubbles will have risen to the top. GENTLY stir out the bubbles.

Now all this will NOT eliminate bubbles, just reduce the number of them. You need toothpicks, or a clean exacto knife. We keep several exactos at hand just for popping bubbles in our icing.

Finally, when your pastry bag is close to empty, you will find a lot of bubbles. Think about it, the end of the bag is the top of the icing and all the bubbles rise to the top. Get it??

I use pastry bags for everything, I’ve never used squeeze bottles and I failed at parchment triangle bag making, so the disposables are perfect for me. I use #’s 1, 2, 3 tips depending on what I’m working on, outlining, filling, detailing, writing. The size of the tip also depends on the size of the cookie. I do have #’s 00, 0, and 1S that I use for tiny details and also filling tiny spaces.

I use a basic royal icing recipe:

1# 10x
3oz hot water (hot helps reduce clumps in the meringue powder)
1/4c meringue powder

You can find this recipe almost anywhere.

You can also find bubbly icing remedies on Sweetopia, and Bake at 350.

And the last question that I’ll answer today is one that was sent via email. And I might go on a bit of a tangent here, but bear with me.

How do you package your cookies for shipping?

Well, let’s see, when I was starting out this was a problem. Many of my first customers received damaged cookies, so we had to do some research. I ordered cookies from other established cookie companies to study their packaging, shipping supplies, methods, etc.

Nowadays you can read many a cookie blog or site that will share this information. I write this blog to share some information, but it’s also a vehicle for our business. You know, the way we make a living, pay the mortgage, feed our family, put clothes on our backs?? So I’m not giving away EVERYTHING that took me lots of research and trial and error to develop.

You can also just look on our website to see our packaging. Or you can do what I did and just order some.

What is Fluff???

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

I’m working on a Spring Swap idea, but it’s taking me some time to get it all together so stay tuned for more info this week.

fluff

Someone left a comment that had never heard of Fluff!! I know it’s an East coast or New England thing, but it’s so difficult for me to imagine someone growing up with out Fluffernutters. Since the company is based in my home state Massachusetts, I suppose it’s no wonder that I love it so much.

First off, Fluff is a not so healthy, guilty pleasure, food of the Gods type of food (it’s a formula of whipped corn syrup, sugar syrup, vanilla and egg white). Think of campfire marshmallows and S’mores. How good are S’mores? So good! Well fluff is marshmallow cream. It doesn’t have cream in it, but it’s like spreadable marshmallows, most commonly used in the classic sandwich, the Fluffernutter.

fluffernutter

Photo from marshmallowfluff.com  

A Fluffernutter is the most amazing sandwich typically made of a soft white Wonder type bread, but you could glam it up by using home made white bread, or a nice crusty boule sliced up for sammys. Another way to fancify your Fluffernutter would be to use a fancy peanut butter, like natural PB, OR, some delicious Peanut Butter from Peanut Butter and Co. in NYC. Their PBs are available in most supermarkets, or online at IlovePeanutButter.com

peanut butter and co

On one slice of bread spread your favorite peanut butter, it really can be any kind, smooth or crunchy. On the other slice of bread spread some Marshmallow Fluff, then put the two slices together and you have nirvana. A delicious balance of sweet and salty, gooey and sticky. I might have one of these for lunch.

whoopie pies

Now, some other things you can use Marshmallow Fluff for is Whoopie Pie filling, which is why I have an abundance of Fluff containers and why occasionally Dave will drink some milk out of a Fluff container. (we don’t keep glasses in the bakery)

Our Whoopie Pie filling is made with Marshmallow Fluff, butter, confectioners sugar, pure Madagascar bourbon vanilla, and a splash of whole milk. Super nutritious and healthy. NOT. (but so tasty)

cocoa with fluff

People are  STILL  asking for our Whoopie Pies in the Bake Shoppe, but I’m done with the Whoopies for a while. Another use for the Fluff is the filling for a home made Hostess cupcake, and one of my all time favorite uses for Fluff is in hot cocoa. Oh, it’s so good that way, I would never think of having cocoa without Fluff.

I used to have the Fluff mug in the picture above, but Franklin knocked it over and busted the handle.

If you’ve never experienced the pleasures of Marshmallow Fluff, go over tho their website and get yourself a tub, or 3 for $17.99. I would stick with the original flavor, although I’ve never tried the other flavors, I feel there is no need really.

I’m going to go try out that recipe for a Fluffernutter Whoopie Pie. Now how good does that sound???

Cakes and Cookies and Stuff

Monday, March 1st, 2010

Let’s start with cake. I love cake. I crave cake. Sometimes without frosting and sometimes with mashed potatoes. Not on top of course, mashed potatoes with cake for dessert.

I made a special order cake a couple of weeks ago for a regular Bake Shoppe client. She came in with her husband to order her own Birthday cake. I’d do the same thing, if I wasn’t going to make my own cake.

coconut almond cake

A delicious coconut almond cake with almond cream cheese frosting and the very last of my fancy candied almonds from Paris. Bye bye almonds!!

So Dave made the cake and I made the frosting and assembled the whole thing. Nothing too fancy. I’m not so great at fancy cakes. Fancy cookies, most definitely, but not cakes.

coconut almond cake

Up close with my awesome cake decorating. (I AM kidding, it’s very basic cake decorating).

maple oat pecan thins

Here are some Maple Oat Pecan Thins that we’ve been selling in the shop. I’ve considered offering them online, but the shipping would be more than the actual packet of cookies, so I’m trying to develop a mixed gift box of unique baked goods, confections and sugar cookies to offer online. It’s going to be a while so don’t even ask me when it will be available. Rest assured that blog readers, Facebook group members, and Twitter followers will be the first to know!

maple oat pecan thins

These are buttery, crispy and delicious!! My Dad kept eating them right off the display when he was here in the Fall.

tiffany present cookies

We made more of the Tiffany box inspired cookies last week.

Paris cookies

A run of Paris cookies (which are already sold out and I have to make more next week)

lemon swirl cookies

I made these lemon swirl cookies that pretty much sold out in 4 days. The recipe is from a new blog on my sidebar there: Sprinkle Bakes.

Her cookies look better than mine. If you look at the pics on her blog, the dough looks a little tighter. Mine has quite a few holes. However, I used lemon zest and fresh lemon juice to flavor mine. Sprinkle Bakes used strawberry extract, which is nowhere to be found in Vermont. I found some natural strawberry and raspberry extracts on line that should be arriving this week, so I’ll try it out again then.

The cookies are delicious and not too difficult to make, but I’m going to make them again on a larger scale. Next time I’ll do a double batch of dough to get larger rounds that will be baked on a stick to look like those big spiral lollipops. I think they’ll be great for Easter baskets, especially tied with a big pink bow!!

I’m working on our Chocolate Chip Cookie Cupcake and so far the cake is DELICIOUS!! The cookie toppers and the buttercream are my next projects, as well as some new drop cookies for the shop.

I’ll post pictures as soon as I make some progress.

And because we’ve been a little Franklin and Lily heavy here on the blog, here’s my Perfect Princess Casper in one of her favorite places.

Casper

Next to me, under the covers in bed.

Casper 2

Bye for now…………….

Cupcakes!! And Hey, We Were Featured on Cakespy!!

Monday, March 1st, 2010

That’s right, the entire title of this post was shouted out, double exclamation points. TWICE.

Check out what Jen and Cakespy have to say about A Dozen Eggs HERE.  It’s all so exciting. Jen told me she wrote to Cakespy, but I never thought we’d get our own post.

Well, we did, and it’s great. And dopey me didn’t see it until tonight. I’ve only just started to read Cakespy on a regular basis (following her trip to Paris right now) and as I was scrolling along reading about Oscar themed desserts and Opera Cake, there were our cookies!! So go over, give it a read and say something nice.

I’ve finally figured out a cupcake cookie design that I’m happy with. I tried a couple of years ago, but ugh, were they awful.

icing bags

I think it may have been the colors. This time I decided on chocolate brown, pale pink, green and blue.

cupcake cookies

A cherry on top, or a shiny red orb, is the finishing touch. The red could be a candy, or my most recent obsession, gumballs. I got gumballs for our Valentine’s Day get together and I’ve been chewing on them for days. Franklin likes to try to pop the bubbles and Lily just looks confused and tilts her head.

Then she’s afraid of them.

If you’re new here, Franklin is my incredibly naughty Gray Tabby cat (see below, and Lily is my equally naughty Yellow Lab/Basenji mix. (I have another pure white cat, Casper, who is a perfectly well behaved pet)

cupcake cookies

Speaking of Franklin, he’s been getting in some trouble lately. He ate half a pack of whole grain tortilla wraps. In like 30 seconds.  Poked through some plastic wrap and had a bowl of potato salad, tried to run off with a fluff container that Dave had just had some milk in (don’t ask why we drink out of fluff containers, please, just don’t) and stole some Hershey kisses out of a candy bowl. Oh, yeah I almost forgot the third of a baguette that fell out of the freezer. I found it under the bed several days later half eaten and all gummy. Incorrigible.

franklin

He’s so cute though. You can’t stay mad for long. I just hope he doesn’t kill himself with all the weird food he steals. I put his giant face on my laptop. It makes me smile every time I open it up.

And that is all for Sunday night.

Oh yeah, how ’bout those cupcake cookies?? Purdy huh??