When it comes to Thanksgiving desserts, I know my place. And that place is holding a fork and waiting to eat. That’s just how it works! I happen to have two sisters who make totally killer pecan, sweet potato, lemon meringue, and (of course!) pumpkin pies. So it’s really just my job to stuff my face come Thanksgiving time. Since I’ve been making so many cookies these days, I decided to make the cookie version of Thanksgiving dessert.
With Christmas coming it was time to bust out the trusty gingerbread cookie recipe for Christmas cottages. The recipe (at the end of this post) is a bit more work than the usual sugar cookie recipes I do, but oh-so-worth the extra time. The resulting cookie is soft and delicious with the perfect blend of baking spices.
Last week my sister and I got together to decorate the cutest batch of Valentine’s Day cookies. We had a big assortment of flower and heart-shaped cookies, plus some royal icing in the brightest pink I could mix. Basically, we had the makings for cookies you might imagine when thinking of Valentine’s Day cookies. There’s a snapshot right below there. But what I really want to share are the cookies I decorated after I got the cute stuff out of my system.
Why didn’t anyone tell me how awesome strawberry cupcakes are? I had to find out all by myself when I made some last weekend. These cupcakes are made with lots of fresh strawberries and were perfect for our 4th of July BBQ (that we had on the 6th of July).
Here I go again with the coconut!
I LOOOOOOOVE coconut macaroons and so does my family. For Sunday’s Easter brunch I thought it would be cute to make bird nest macaroons for everyone, especially with all the egg-shaped candy in stores right now.
I picked up two kinds of M&M’s. The solid color on the left are almond and the speckled ones on the right are the new coconut flavor they have – both are perfect for macaroons.
Macaroons are pretty easy to make and don’t take many ingredients. The recipe I used today is a bit more involved, so if you have another favorite recipe, feel free to use that one instead.
Once all of the ingredients for the macaroons are mixed up, scoop tablespoonfuls onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Press down the center of the mound and shape each one into the nest shape you want. You can just use your hands, but I imagine the back of a measuring spoon would work as well.
Since these macaroons aren’t the usual rounded mound shape, they take fewer minutes to bake. Instead of the recommended 20-25 minutes, try 18-22 minutes.
Once cooled, all you need to do is add the egg candy.
If I were serving these at home, I would have left them as they were, with the eggs resting inside the nests. Because these nests are hitting the road, I just used a bit of melted chocolate to secure the eggs. I didn’t want a pool of chocolate on the nests, so I just dipped the ends of the M&M’s in chocolate (just enough to make them stick) and placed them inside the nests.
I should resolve to not make anything with coconut for at least the next five recipes.
Coconut Macaroons, Recipe by Alton Brown
Yes, these are really weight measurements. This recipe makes about 30 nests.
14 oz sweetened shredded coconut
2 oz sweetened condensed milk
Pinch kosher salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 large egg whites at room temperature
5 oz granulated sugar
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Combine the coconut with the sweetened condensed milk, salt and vanilla in a medium mixing bowl.
In a separate large bowl, beat the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Gradually add the sugar and continue to whip the whites until medium peaks form, 6 to 7 minutes.
Gently fold the egg whites into the coconut mixture. Scoop tablespoon-sized mounds onto a parchment-lined half sheet pan. Shape each mount into the nest shape and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately transfer the parchment with the macaroons to a cooling rack.
If using chocolate to hold the eggs to the nests, just melt the chocolate (any kind is ok) in the microwave at 30 second intervals, mixing occasionally until smooth. Dip the ends of the eggs into the melted chocolate and place the eggs in the nests. Once the chocolate has cooled, they will be safe to move around without the eggs falling out. Store the macaroons in an airtight container, assuming you don’t scarf down the entire batch within minutes.
Store shelves are crammed with Valentine’s Day candy starting the day after Christmas. It’s on those candy-filled shelves that you’ll find boxes of classic VD candy, like conversation hearts. You know, the small pastel candy hearts with silly things printed on them? They’re classic, cute, and made of sugar. What’s not to love?
It seems I don’t know anyone who actually likes conversation hearts. So, I decided to make conversation heart-inspired sugar cookies. No one I know can turn down a sugar cookie.
Just insert your favorite cut-out sugar cookie recipe here. I used this recipe.
I planned to give these in individual treat bags, so I used a heart-shaped cutter that was a bit smaller than the bags I had. Before baking the cookies I put the heart-shaped dough cut-outs into the freezer for five minutes. By freezing the dough before baking, the hearts really kept their shape and size.
When the cookies were cooled to room temp, it was time to decorate. I first outlined them all and let the outline dry for about an hour. Ok, it was maybe ten minutes that I let it dry because I’m impatient. It wouldn’t be a terrible thing to let the outlines dry a bit longer than I do, though. Anyway, once dry, I flooded the cookies with royal icing.
Conversation hearts usually come in about six different colors. I decided to keep my sanity and stick with four colors here – pink, lavender, yellow, and green. Super cute, right?
Silly phrases are essential when it comes to conversation hearts. Rather than writing directly on the cookies, I made my life a lot easier and dressed up the presentation by printing sayings and cookie-sized hearts directly onto the glassine bags. I printed the bags in the same four colors as the cookies so everything would match perfectly.
Of course, after a run of the classic “XOXO” and “BE MINE” out of the way, I had to move on to non-typical phrases like “BITE ME” and “GET LOST.”
As a finishing touch, I ran the tops of the bags through a sewing machine with red thread. Now they’re officially sealed and ready to be delivered and devoured!
If it has coconut as a featured ingredient, chances are I’m going to like it. So, from the moment I stumbled upon this recipe, I’ve been daydreaming about it.
The recipe is easy and takes just a few ingredients that many folks will already have: butter, sugar, eggs, flour, baking powder, milk, and coconut extract. It’s so easy, in fact, that I took some action shots! These resulted in a bunch of sifted flour on the counter, so I don’t recommend you do the same.
I had lots of marshmallow fondant left from my little monogram experiment and wanted to find another cute use for it. New cookie cutters and food coloring gels were just delivered to my mailbox, so wouldn’t you know it, I had the perfect excuse to make another baking tornado in the kitchen.
I was inspired by these cookies my co-worker sent me a link to. (Did you check them out? Do it. They’re so cute it’s disgusting.) I still want to make those someday, stripes and all, but I was all about using up the marshmallow fondant this time around.
I baked up a whole bunch of sugar cookies to get things rolling. Any cut-out sugar cookie recipe you like should do here, but I tried out a Bake at 350 recipe. This recipe turned out to be super easy (and tasty to boot!).
Once the dough was ready to rock and rolled out, I cut out tiny hearts. I was afraid to commit to anything too large, so these hearts are only about one inch across. Next time I might consider using the next size up. These came out super cute in the end, though.
While the sugar cookie hearts were baking, I colored some marshmallow fondant with my new super red food coloring. I didn’t think I would ever get the marshmallow fondant THIS red. I guess I’ve just grown so accustomed to only getting really bright pink when I try to color something red. Isn’t it cool? I then used the same tiny heart cookie cutter to cut out little red hearts.
Once the sugar cookies were done, I put a tiny drop of royal icing on the cookie to act like a glue and then placed the red marshmallow fondant heart on top.
After I had them all placed, I used my finger to smooth out the edge to make them look more melded together.
While I was at it, I also made a bunch of square cookies. Just like before, I used the same square cookie cutter to cut out some white fondant. They looked like sugar cookie pillows! Then, with a little bit of royal icing help, the hearts were placed on the white square cookies.
I decided to makes some single layer cookies as well. Instead of adding an extra heart-shaped cookie on top, I cut a tiny heart out of the fondant. As I was cutting these squares out, they reminded me of ravioli. Yes, while I was making cookies I was daydreaming about pasta. Am I crazy?
For the cut-out ones, once the fondant was on the cookie, I filled the empty heart with royal icing. I then sprinkled colored sanding sugar over the royal icing heart. The sanding sugar only sticks to the heart, which made this bit super easy to do. Easy, but still messy.