DREARY WEATHER CRAVING

It is a cold, rainy and dreary day in Pittsburgh. I don’t know about you but this is when I crave a sweet cinnamon and molasses cookie. I look in my pantry to see what I can create with ingredients that I have on-hand. I then pull off the shelf Paula Deen & Friends cookbook, she has a gingerbread boys & girls recipe. But I don’t have all of the ingredients, oh well, lets just improvise!

Paula Deen’s recipe, what I used in parenthesis:

  • 3/4 Cup Dark Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Butter (softened)
  • 2 large eggs (3 eggs, moister)
  • 1/4 Cup molasses (heavy 1/4 Cup)
  • 3 3/4 Cups flour
  • 2 tsp. ginger (2 tsp.pumpkin pie spice)
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon (1 tsp.)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp fresh nutmeg (Omit, it’s in the pumpkin pie spice!)
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Cream butter and brown sugar, add eggs and molasses. Combine. Sift flour with the rest of the ingredients. Mix until dough comes together.

If I were rolling out the dough and doing cut outs I would refrigerate, but I cannot wait that long. So I roll the dough into walnut size pieces then proceed to roll them into sugar and pumpkin pie spice, I used up my cinnamon! (1 Cup sugar with 1tsp. spice) Place on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Flatten balls with tines of a fork. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 12 minutes. Since they don’t spread you can space them rather close.

The house is smelling like autumn, the scent of molasses, cinnamon and yes, that pumpkin pie spice we purchased almost a year ago, and never seem to use.
I anxiously await as my craving bakes. Drool runs down my chin. When the timer goes off, I throw up the shutters and open the sash, I mean the oven. I cannot wait for them to cool, I pop one in my mouth while hot! Hmmm…. not sweet enough. So Paula does have an icing recipe below the gingerbread boys & girls recipe.

Paula’s Icing

  • 1 Cup powered sugar, sifted
  • 1 Tblsp. milk

Plus, I add:

  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice ( I am determined to use this up by Thanksgiving!)

Mix together. I make a cone out of wax paper, for I am out of parchment.
Let cookies cool completely, then drizzle with icing. I drizzled them twice, so they crisscross.

This is an easier and quicker way to get to the finished product. They may not be as cute as gingerbread boys & girls, but they sure do taste the same. My tea is steeped, it is time to do some serious dunking

A bevy of desserts

I am making a bevy of desserts for Saturday. I am creating cupcakes, cookies, brownies and a carrot cake. I like to put an 8 ounce can of crushed pineapple into my carrot cake batter, it makes it very moist.

I adore chocolate, who doesn’t? Well I know some people don’t, but for the true chocoholic, like myself, when you make brownies try this; frost them with chocolate buttercream then a coating of chocolate ganache! Now that is chocolicious!

Fondant Sugar Flowers

I just made some fondant sugar flowers.  I hadn’t made them since pastry school, over seventeen years ago.  So I went to my bakery supply store on a mission to buy the Wilton kit and caboodle, and rediscovered how to make them.

I started as soon as I got home.  I laid out my kit on the kitchen table and got ready to color the fondant various shades of blues and purples.  Next I chose the cutters that looked the easiest to roll out, I chose the apple blossom, pansy and large daisy cutters.  I preceded to cut and roll out the pedals of each flower as directed in the handbook.  They are drying now and tomorrow I will use some royal icing to place stamens in the centers.  They turned out better than I thought they would but I am not close to being a flower sugar artist. Yet!

As I read further on in the handy handbook of sugar flowers I found out that I would need floral tape and floral wire. I didn’t have these items on hands, so my flowers will be cascading over the cake without stems or wires.  This week I will buy more supplies and continue to practice on my sugar flower making skills.  I would love to learn more about making sugar flowers and the different techniques that are used to make them look so realistic! Do you have any tips?

Your First Baking Experience

My childhood memories seem to revolve around the kitchen table.  Someone was always cooking or baking something. I remember the comforting aroma of polish sausage or coffeecake in the morning.  I still prefer to hang out in my kitchen, there is something about sharing food with loved ones that satisfies your soul.

One of my fondest memories of baking would be baking cookies with my mother. I must of been seven years old or so, we were making Marys’ Sugar Cookies from the red Betty Crocker book.  The smell of vanilla and butter still lingers in my senses. We would roll out the dough together and cut out various shapes. The part I enjoyed most was making a paint out of egg yolk, water and food coloring.  We would paint the raw cookies using a small paint brush.  After they were baked, the egg yolk paint had a shiny finish to it and a smoothness you could feel on your tongue.

Baking instilled a feeling of accomplishment, pride and enjoyment then and even now. I get a thrill when someone enjoys a dessert as much as I enjoyed making it for them. I am a people pleaser through my pastries.

I would like to hear about your first baking experience. Do you recall with whom you baked with and what age you were at the time. Could you describe your feelings when you took that first bite of your freshly baked goodie!