HAPPY 4TH OF JULY!

In this post I share chocolate cookies and brownie cupcakes, all dressed up for the occasion. Recipe for cookies can be found here, and brownie cupcakes with a click here.

Four types of decorations, depending on how much icing and how much work you’d like to put into the cookies. The simplest is the chocolate star with the sprinkle border. All you have to do is pipe a little line of icing all around and then dip the cookie gently in sprinkles. The hexagons were featured recently on my baby blog.

These stars were inspired by Haniela. They started with a flooded white cookie, and then some were air-brushed with a combination of stencils (stripes and stars), and some were outlined with a three-color icing using a flat icing tip.

The 4th of July Hearts were inspired by something I saw on Instagram last year and saved for the future. And the future is now!

Cupcakes were made using 1/8 tsp of orange oil to flavor the cake batter. The icing was flavored with chai extract, as described in my post from a couple of months ago. Patriotic sprinkles complete the look…

I hope you are having a wonderful 4th, and please if you are into fireworks, think a little bit about all those pets getting terrified out there. If you can minimize your fun, or do it away from residential neighborhoods, please consider doing so.

ONE YEAR AGO: 4th of July Inspired Baking

TWO YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, July 2019

THREE YEARS AGO: Brigadeiros for the 4th of July

FOUR YEARS AGO: Kaleidoscopic Macarons

FIVE YEARS AGO: Zucchini Noodles with Sun-dried Tomato Pesto

SIX YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, July 2015

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Sous-vide Pork Chops with Roasted Poblano Butter

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Roasted Strawberry-Buttermilk Sherbet

NINE YEARS AGO: Amazing Ribs for the 4th of July!

TEN YEARS AGO: Baby Back Ribs on the 4th of July

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Blueberry Muffins

TWELVE YEARS AGO: A Pie for your 4th of July

GROWN-UP SPICY CHOCOLATE COOKIE

I bake cookies often. So often that I ended up starting a new blog just to document my adventures in the subject. But whenever I want to share a new recipe, it will be here, in the good old Bewitching Kitchen. This cookie is super versatile. It is so flavorful and complex that it can stand on its own without icing, without filling. But I’ve used it in many different formats, as you will see in my post published simultaneously in my baby blog. It resembles an Oreo in texture and basic taste. But then the chipotle and cinnamon kick in… and all of a sudden you are in love.

GROWN-UP SPICY CHOCOLATE COOKIES
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

226g butter
200g sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
380g flour
12 g cocoa powder
12g BLACK cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 to 1/2 tsp chipotle pepper
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Mix flour, both types of cocoa powder, chipotle pepper, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl. Reserve.

Cream butter with sugar with a Kitchen Aid type mixer. Add vanilla and egg. Mix until incorporated, then add the dry ingredients in three portions, mixing on low speed. When the dough starts to glue together, stop, check if it holds well when you press a small amount of it with your fingers. Adjust with more flour if needed. Pat the dough into a disc and place in the fridge. It can also be rolled out immediately if you did not have the butter too soft in the beginning.

Roll to desired thickness, cut in shapes, freeze for 10 minutes before baking at 350F. Baking time will depend on size of the cookies, usually 12 minutes.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I did something totally different to get the pattern on these cookies. I used a fondant impression mat, laid it on top of the rolled cookie and then cut the rounds and baked. Inspiration came from the great Dawn Williams, a virtual friend from Facebook, aka Queen of Molded Cookies.

This is the mat… Available on amazon.com

And this is the dough after imprinted with it (dough is rolled over parchment, mat goes on top, then a rolling pin presses it gently over the dough. Peel the mat off, and you are left with this:

Cut rounds, freeze for 10 minutes and bake straight from frozen…

The cookies will be ok without any further adornment. But you know I cannot resist some bling, so I used gold luster dust mixed with vodka and brushed lightly on the design. The suspension needs to be a bit on the thick side, so that it won’t puddle inside the whole pattern.

For the dough, you can also skip the cinnamon and use orange extract + orange zest. Works great too. If you don’t have black cocoa, simply use the full amount of Dutch cocoa. I find that mixing some black with it makes it perfect for my taste. I’ve done in countless times, tweaking the recipe a bit and pretty much anything works.

Now, I invite you to visit my baby blog
to see how versatile this simple dough can be…

See you there!

ONE YEAR AGO: The Home Bakers Collective, May Project

TWO YEARS AGO: Purple Star Macarons

THREE YEAR AGO: Smoked Salmon, Fait Maison

FOUR YEARS AGO: Kouign-Amann, Fighting Fire with Fire

FIVE YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, Yin and Yang

SIX YEARS AGO: Chocolate Toffee Banana Bread

SEVEN YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, June 2014

EIGHT YEARS AGO:  Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

NINE YEARS AGO: Baked Coconut and “The Brazilian Kitchen”

TEN YEARS AGO: Honey-Glazed Chicken Legs

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: French-Style Rolls

COOKIE THERAPY, ANYONE?

Four top-notch cookie decorators. Two from the US, one from Canada, one from Spain. Marlyn and Amy get together virtually on Tuesdays for Cookie Therapy (I am undergoing treatment). On Fridays, Marlyn, Haniela and Amber join efforts in their Cookie Lunch Break (videos available here). Both virtual events showcase cookie decorating techniques live, as they chat, share tips, and answer eventual questions from those watching. It starts at noon where I live, so it is now a nice routine for me, I have my lunch and cookie therapy at the same time. Today I share two examples of goodies that were recently showcased by Marlyn and Amy in their Tuesday series. They have in common the use of wafer paper flowers. Needless to say, I fell in love with the technique…

HONEY SUGAR COOKIES WITH WAFER PAPER FLOWERS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen, decoration following Amy’s tutorial)

1 cup butter (226g), cut in pieces, cold
200g sugar 
zest of 1/2 lemon
2 eggs
1 tsp honey extract (Olive Nation)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
420 g all-purpose flour
60 g cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder

Mix the flour, cornstarch, salt and baking powder and reserve. 

Cream sugar, butter and lemon zest in the bowl of a Kitchen Aid for a couple of minutes until the sugar is incorporated well and does not feel gritty. Add the eggs, honey emulsion and vanilla extratc slowly and mix until incorporated, but don’t over-mix. 

Add the flour mixture slowly, mixing in low-speed. If needed, add a little more flour, up to 1/4 cup. Once the dough comes together, stop, and form three discs. You should have three discs with about 330g each. Dough can be rolled out immediately or placed in the fridge to roll out later. It also freezes extremely well. 

Cut in shapes, freeze the cut-outs for 10 minutes, then bake in a 350F oven for about 13 minutes. Ice and decorate as desired. 

For my favorite Royal Icing recipe, visit Tanya’s blog with a click here.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The hexagonal cookie tutorial with detailed explanation on making the flowers, starts at 41 min this video. Wafer paper sheets are available from the seller of all things, amazon.com. To make the flowers and leaves, you’ll need mini puncher cutters, (several other kinds available like this) or a considerable amount of patience to cut the shapes by hand. The wafer paper is white, so you have two options to color it: before or after cutting the shapes. I strongly advise that you spray paint or brush color on the sheet, let it dry and then cut the shapes, because they are very delicate and harder to paint after cutting. When you cut them, they will be flat. To give a tri-dimensional look, you can gently wrap them around the tip of a small plastic bottle (eye-drop bottles will work great), or what Amy suggests, using the tip of an air-brush dye bottle like these. Both methods work like a charm, just be gentle. Even if the center rips a little bit, when you add the centers it will hide the boo-boo. As to the centers, they can be dry Royal icing transfers, or you can just pipe a little blob of icing when you glue the flowers on the cookie’s surface. The great thing about these decorations, is that they last a long time, so you can make a little treasure chest with flowers, leaves, and save them for a cookie (or cupcake) emergency.

CHOCOLATE TWIG COOKIES

I find these cookies absolutely adorable! I cannot share the exact recipe I used, as it is available exclusively for Marlyn’s supporters through her Patreon site. You can certainly use your favorite chocolate cookie recipe, as long as it does not have leavening agent. It is also a good idea to pick a recipe that calls for some brown sugar, so that the dough will be more flexible and smooth.

Detailed method for shaping and decorating can be found here starting at 32 min and 30 seconds. Her flowers are logs above mine, with added details that I felt were beyond my skill level. She performs magic with the air-brush! They end up looking exactly like cherry blossoms, but I am still pretty thrilled with my little babies.

The secret to get the bark look, is brushing the cookies with Americolor Ash right before baking. This step is optional but I believe it adds a lot of charm.

As you might notice, I re-use parchment paper. The twigs were baked right after the hexagonal cookies from Amy’s tutorial, as well as some stick cookies, you can still see their ghost images in there…

After baking, you’ll need green Royal icing in stiff consistency to pipe leaves and glue the flowers over the surface.

Another way to use the wafer paper is sticking them on the surface of a freshly baked cookie, the residual heat will make the decoration stick and lay flat on it.

Now, I should also mention that the decorations look very nice, but not everyone will enjoy the mouthfeel of the wafer paper. So tell your guests or whoever will be enjoying the cookies that they can just peel off the decorations if they prefer. You can also minimize the amount of wafer paper by coupling the flower with Royal icing leaves.

I hope you’ll consider joining Cookie Therapy on Tuesdays, or Friday Cookie Lunch Break, at 1PM EST. They are always coming up with interesting things that will open your horizons to cookie making and decorating. I promise you will love it!

Watch it at 13:00hs EST (or anytime later) via youtube here..

ONE YEAR AGO: The Quasi-Vegan Quiche

TWO YEARS AGO: Not Quite Moqueca

THREE YEARS AGO: Roasted Butternut Squash with Cashew Nuts

FOUR YEARS AGO: Mississippi Roast and the Open Mind

FIVE YEARS AGO: Walnut-Raisin Bran Muffins

SIX YEARS AGO: A Star is Born!

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Chestnut Flour Sourdough Bread

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Kinpira Gobo and Japanese Home Cooking

NINE YEARS AGO: Walnut Sourdough

TEN YEARS AGO: Thai Chicken Curry

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Zen and the art of risotto

WOOD PLANK COOKIES, LEARNING FROM THE BEST

My cookie-baking adventures go on and on. So many different techniques to try, sometimes I am not sure which one to go for next. But the moment I saw my tent-baking friend Tanya sharing her method to make wood plank cookies, I dropped all other projects that were waiting, and jumped on it, like a Jack Russell on a snake. Or Oscar on an ankle (missed the story? click here). She shared a blog post and three tutorials to come up with a showstopper production, involving a bunny rabbit and gorgeous tulips. I confess that the skill to pipe the rabbit on the cookie is beyond my reach, so I opted to let the bunny go and bring butterflies, made as Royal icing transfers. A lot less stressful. I’m quite pleased with the way they turned out…

CHERRY-ALMOND SUGAR COOKIES
(from The Bewitching Kitchen)

1 cup (227g) unsalted butter,cubed, cold
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
zest of half an orange
2 eggs
3 1/2 cups (420g) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (60g) cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cherry extract (Olive Nation)
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (Olive Nation)

to decorate:
your favorite recipe of Royal Icing (I use Tanya’s)
royal icing transfers (butterflies and flowers)
food-safe pen

Heat the oven to 350 F and line baking sheets with parchment. Sift the flour, cornstarch and salt, and set aside. Mix the sugar with the zest rubbing it well to release the oils. Cream the butter with the flavored sugar, just until smooth and combined.

Mix in the eggs and flavoring extracts until incorporated. Add the flour mixture on low-speed, in three portions. The mixture will seem very dry and sandy at first, but after a couple of minutes the mixer it will start to pull away from the sides of the bowl.

Remove the dough from the bowl, cut in two pieces and wrap one in plastic. Roll the second piece of dough out between 2 sheets of parchment paper, to a thickness of 1/4 inch. Cut into rounds, press a detail flower using another type of cutter, and freeze for 10 minutes. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the size of the cookie. I like to have a slight golden tone at the edges.

Cool on a rack and decorate as desired. For the bee decoration you’ll need thick consistency Royal icing in cream color for the background, and leaf green for details. A brown food pen with reasonably fine tip, food gel dye in caramel or brown color, vodka, and royal icing transfers of the decorations you feel like adding to the plank.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: To see Tanya’s gorgeous cookies visit her site with a click here. Those who have been following my blog for a while know that I’ve never been into cookie decorating, and Royal icing scared every cell of my body. My approach for a decade had been “thanks, but no thanks.” Being part of the Great American Baking Show forced me to deal with the issue. Although I never got as far as making decorated cookies in the tent, I admit that what I had planned for that particular episode was not that great. Once the show was over, I set as a goal for myself to improve, and ended up following the footsteps of Tanya in her online tutorials. She literally turned me into a cookie addict. Cookie making, that is. So, if you suffer from the same problem I used to, check her blog. Consider also supporting her through Patreon (or offering a subscription to someone you love).

There are several ways to generate a wood appearance on cookies, but I like Tanya’s method because it minimizes the amount of icing you’ll need. She lays a background color with a spatula, gives it a little texture, draws the veins of the wood with a pen and goes over it all with diluted food dye. It is all very carefully detailed in her tutorial, step by step. For my decorations, I made small butterflies with Royal Icing. I drew templates by hand with a very loose butterfly format, and piped white icing. For transfers, you want icing that flows smoothly from the tip of your bag (I use tipless bags for that), or from the icing tip. But, it needs to be thick enough to hold it’s shape. I’d say about 20 seconds is what you want. For the base and the leaves and stems, you’ll need thicker than that. Once the butterflies dried completely (overnight is best), I painted them with luster gold and drew a pattern with a fine tip black food pen.

The daffodils were made according to a tutorial from Haniela which you can find here.

The plank is a very nice background to add to several shapes of cookies, and compatible with many different additions: birds, flowers, animals, butterflies, or even a simple monogram. And the plaque shape is also quite interesting to play with, even if you decide to go with a simple, solid color background.

ONE YEAR AGO: OMG Spinach Pies

TWO YEARS AGO: Avgolemono Soup, My Way

THREE YEARS AGO: Sourdough Chocolate Twist Bread

FOUR YEARS AGO: Dan Lepard Times Three

FIVE YEARS AGO: Turkey Portobello Burger

SIX YEARS AGO: Raspberry Ricotta Cake

SEVEN YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, April 2014

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Whole-Wheat Pasta with Lemony Tomatoes and Spinach

NINE YEARS AGO: Blood Orange Duck: A work in progress

TEN YEARS AGO: Grilled Mahi-mahi with citrus marinade

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Memories of Pastéis\

HAPPY EASTER!

For those who celebrate…

Vanilla Cupcakes with Mini-Chocolate Eggs

Meyer Lemon Sugar Cookies
(Flower Bunny design by Haniela)

Egg Nests Sugar Cookies with Buttercream Icing

Egg-Shaped Sugar and Chipotle-Chocolate Cookies

(Here Comes the Sun, design by @sugarbaked; Bunny with Mushrooms design by @montrealconfections)