One of the best things about teaching in Ohio is the opportunity for snow days. It’s one thing to take off a day from work for a personal day, or if sick a sick day. But to get that call when you are practically ready to head out the door that you DON’T have to work? It’s priceless. I hate missing work because I swear it is more work for me to miss school then to just go, but when there is a snow day, none of that applies because NOBODY has school. Anyway, if you couldn’t figure it out, I had a snow day on Friday. Of course this led to some originally unplanned baking – Oatmeal Raisin Cookies! I love Oatmeal Raisin, but way too often they are crispy. I would rather no cookie than a crispy cookie, and I have been known to throw a perfectly good cookie in the trash if it isn’t soft enough. Seriously, why waste the calories on a hard cookie? So, I decided to try the recipe from The Sweeter Side of Amy’s Bread with fantastic results! The only thing that I might change is to up the vanilla a little bit next time. The texture was spot on – soft, almost doughy, full of raisins, and didn’t fall apart. After eating one on Friday night I immediately brushed my teeth to prevent further cookie eating damage. Anyway, here are some pics of the finished product.
Joe was kind enough to let me break his in half to show the inside of the cookie 🙂
I also decided to test out a new brownie recipe I have been brainstorming. My brother turns 30 in 10 days and I want to send him a surprise. He and his wife both love chocolate and peanut butter (I mean, who doesn’t???). Since I live in Ohio, buckeyes are a must for all chocolate PB lovers. The wheels turned in my head and I decided to make Buckeye Brownie Bites – brownies in a mini muffin pan, buckeye filling, drizzled chocolate – HOLY YUM! They came out fantastic. I must say, if you plan on making any cookies/brownies in mini muffin pans please invest in a silicon pan. It is by far the easiest way to get the cookies out of the pan because you can just push the whole thing out from the bottom instead of using a knife to help, which usually leads to you breaking the cookies along the way. Here’s the results of my idea… I must say they are delicious!
Peanut Butter Balls – ready to go in the cookies:
First round in the pan (I started with 8 to check baking time, etc)
With the Peanut Butter Balls added:
Drizzled with chocolate – the final product:
For the brownies I used my favorite recipe – Outrageous Brownies by Ina Garten, as posted by Brown Eyed Baker. I reduced the espresso powder to a rounded teaspoon, used 4 oz of mini chocolate chips instead of the extra 6 oz or regular chips, and omitted the nuts due to the PB filling. My buckeye filling is a secret though, sorry! It is the best ever and I don’t share it due to some secret ingredients 🙂
Last but not least… Joe and I took a cake decorating class today! I recently won a class for two at the Viking Cooking School (think the Viking Range Company – they have a store nearby) for commenting on my favorite soup at our local grocery store, Heinen’s. Heinen’s and Viking have a partnership, so they often give out free class certificates. This class came complete with a pastry decorating set. Joe and I had a great time. I was being my typical perfectionist self and got frustrated. But, for my first cake, I don’t think it turned out so bad!
Here is the basket weave that I practiced:
My cake – crumb layer done and chilled:
Here is my finished cake – dedicated to Sawyer of course 🙂
And Joe’s finished cake. He was a little more inventive with his colors!
And some goodies we left with (got 10% off for taking the class). We got 2 cake decorating sets (covered in the class fee); a cake turn table, and 2 new spatulas that are pretty sweet.
All in all I had a great time. I got frustrated, but I have confidence now that with practice I can become a decent cake decorator! I also learned how to make Swiss Meringue Buttercream, which tastes a million times better than regular buttercream (but still no cream cheese frosting).
Next weekend – TWD Thumbprint Cookies and who knows what else!?!? A cake perhaps???
Any tips you have for cake decorating? Share them in the comments, I sure appreciate any help I can get 🙂