Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Halloween Cookies (2 months later)

Ok, now this is embarrassing. How have I fallen so far behind that I couldn't be troubled to post a simple blog about Halloween cookies? I'm ashamed. Sorry.

I followed my mom's trusted butter cookie recipe as well as use her antique (at least to me) cookie cutters and a simple royal icing recipe (from martha stewart, gasp). The cookies are so simple to make it's ridiculous. Like a pie crust. Now, like the pie crust, the mixing of the ingredients is a breeze, that is, if you have a food processor, the molding/rolling/cutting of the mixture is not on the other hand. As I've said many times before, I have little to really no patience during most moments of my life, so decorating cookies is rather a hardship for me. I struggle with giving up, but what happens most times, is that I "decorate" the cookies as fast as I possibly can by slapping on a glob of frosting that if it all doesn't run off the cookies, remains an amorphous blob in the center (these cookies not shown, due to pride). So, if I'm making cookies I make something stress-free and patience saving, like snickerdoodles, or say sugar cookies (unfrosted). The key to decorating 50-100 halloween cookies? Employ help (for free) in the form of boyfriends, friends, and family. Luckily I had some help which not only saved me, but more than likely the cookies as well. It also adds some variety to the cookies, instead of each one looking like a perfect carbon copy of the one previous.............

The cookies cutters included a cat shape which naturally we turned into Penny....

and Murphy. Note the mustache.

Most cookies not shown due to either drinking too much or glob/patience issues. These were the survivors. Cookies aren't for me. Plus, they're meant to be eaten no? Who cares.

Photos and Cookie Assistance by Collin Monda

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Cinnamon Frosting

This is almost embarrassing, but I can hardly remember when I baked these cupcakes. It must have been sometime in October, perhaps even early November. What I do remember however, was how tasty they were. I made these before in the form of a cake and nothing was lost in translation I assure you. I switched up the frosting a bit and made it with cream cheese and cinnamon instead of maple syrup. Both ways go wonderfully with pumpkin so you can't go wrong. All of it was a cinch to make and really had a great pay off. Perfect Autumnal treat. Except now, oh god, it's nearly January. Sorry. Well if you love pumpkin and don't care that the month isn't September, October, or November then make these. I promise you will wish it was Autumn. Or at least it will feel like it. I loved all the photos Collin took of these so I'm posting nearly all of them. Enjoy.

Photos by Collin Monda

Friday, December 10, 2010

Annual Apple Pie and Triumphant Return

How has it taken me this long to post?! Even though I have failed to blog, I promise you I never stopped baking. The problem is that I need a camera, a decent one, and I need to start taking my own photos. My usual lovely photographer has a full time job now and for some reason doesn't want to fill up all his free time not only taking the photos (which he always does) but editing them (making them beautiful) and then sending them me. The whole "job" thing has really gummed up the works here on the blog. But now, I am the one to blame, for I have had several photo sessions sitting in my inbox all week and have not done anything with them. I hope this dry spell will end today. Now I just need to get that camera and not go completely broke buying it. Stay tuned.

Since my last post on October 5th, I went into full holiday/fall/then-winter-mode and baked all things festive. To start out, I made my typical whisky apple pie. The people (labmates) spoke, and they clamored for the apple pie, so how could I refuse them? I whipped up one normal size (not nearly enough for 16 people I realized later) and two tart-sized ones for Collin (payment) and his office-mate. They turned out wonderfully and even though I will never be a "pie person" I thoroughly enjoy this pie. Probably because I make it with honeycrisp apples which are the best apples, hands down. They bring such a brightness and subtle tartness to the pie. The honeycrisps are truly irreplaceable.

This reminds me, if you are going to make an apple pie, you really must consider the type of apple you want in it. Not all (actually most) apples work well in a pie. They get overly mushy and sometimes tasteless and even off-putting. A pie apple must be firm and if you like it, just a bit sweet, but not overly (you add a fair amount of sugar to pies usually and a sweet apple is not required). It's nice to have a bit of sourness too for contrast. I find granny smiths to be delicious but just a bit too tart. I am a honeycrisp gal through and through and I can't imagine using anything else. If you can, or there is a sale, go for the organic honeycrisps. They taste better, are better for you, and are better for the Earth. Also, the organic honeycrisps at my local grocery store are gigantic. They dwarf the pesticide-ladden apples. Way to show 'em organics!

You can find the apple pie recipe here.

Happy extremely late Halloween and Thanksgiving!

Photos by Collin Monda