Showing posts with label Valentines Day. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Valentines Day. Show all posts

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Will You Be My Valentine?

     When you're in second grade, Valentine's Day is wondrous. In the days leading up to it, you  thoughtfully decorate your mailbox with hearts and stickers, all the time anticipating what it might hold when the magical day arrives. Red and pink scraps of paper litter the classroom floor, evidence of hastily cut, glued, glittered and lettered missives of friendship that will be surreptitiously slipped into your classmates' expectant receptacles.

     In second grade everybody's your friend. You don't have to worry about girlfriends or boyfriends or dating or any of those drama inducing love triangles that will come all too soon and fill your Valentine's Day with more angst than should be allowed.

     In second grade, instead of worrying about who's sending you flowers or candy, you can tell jokes. Corny jokes. And riddles that you ask your friends over and over and they will always laugh. When you're in second grade, jokes are always funny. Classics like:

What did the boy bird say to the girl bird?  "Let me call you Tweet Heart."
What did the boy bat say to the girl bat? "Let's hang around together."
What did the boy cat say to the girl cat? "We're purrrfect for each other."

     The long awaited fourteenth  arrives, and all day long eyes are glued to the bulging bags on the classroom counter.  Not soon enough, little fingers are busy unearthing and poring over the hidden treasures within; little envelopes with colorful cards and maybe a piece of candy or two. Affirmations of friendships. And hopefully, cookies.

     These Iced Spice Cookies have been the "go-to" cookie in my household for years. Simpler to decorate than the last Valentine cookies I posted, they were a breeze to make. I used Sweet Sugarbelle's "Twenty Second" royal icing since the cookies were smallish. I loved that I only had to make two different colors of frosting, but you could make yours as colorful as you like. The hearts on the cookies were made by immediately piping dots of frosting onto each freshly frosted cookie, and then drawing a toothpick through the dots from top to bottom. Do this immediately, before the frosting crusts, and be sure to wipe off the toothpick after every pass to keep your hearts neat!

     Make some of these for someone you love. And if you know any second graders, ask them to tell you their favorite joke. Be prepared to listen to their peals of laughter while you secretly groan inside. :)

Iced Spice Cookies
(printable page)

recipe adapted from Patti Paige, Creative Ideas for Living Jan/Feb '89
2/3 cup shortening (I use butter)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt (I only use 1)
1 large egg (from a happy hen if you can find one-mine aren't laying right now)
3/4 cup molasses
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

  • Cream together the first six ingredients. Add the egg and mix thoroughly. Add the molasses and mix again. Set aside.
  • Sift together the flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Add to molasses mixture and mix until dough forms.
  • Divide the dough into two balls (flattened), wrap in plastic wrap and chill at least three hours. (I chilled it overnight) This dough is hard to work with unless it's chilled.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Roll out one ball of dough to a thickness of 1/8 to 1/4 inch. The original recipe calls for rolling the dough out between two sheets of lightly floured wax paper or a floured pastry cloth. I didn't have those so I just checked my dough frequently to make sure it wasn't sticking to my surface.
  • Cut out desired shapes. Gather scraps into a ball and put in the freezer while you repeat with the rest of your dough.
  • Transfer cookies to parchment covered (or greased) baking sheet.
  • Bake for 8-10 minutes, making sure edges don't burn. Cool completely on a rack before frosting. For me this recipe made about 4 dozen small cookies.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Ode to a Pink Sno Ball

Oh lovely Sno-Ball, your glowing pink coconut beckons. Your silken vanilla creme- a treasure hidden deep within your chocolate deliciousness- concealed under your marshmallow dome. You stole my heart years ago, and I am still hopelessly smitten.

 How about you? Do you hold the same affinity for that time honored Hostess treat? Do you watch for the changing colors of Sno Balls like you watch for the changing of the seasons?

 One of my students gave me the January Cook's Country magazine for Christmas (Thanks again, M.!) and this Chocolate Snowball Cake was pictured inside the back cover. Being a long time lover of those tasty Hostess treats, I knew I had to pay homage to the Sno Ball I've known and loved, by baking this tasty tribute.

 It was absolutely wonderful even though it hasn't replaced the original Sno Ball in my heart of hearts. (It must be something about the preservatives and the crinkly plastic wrapper that keeps bringing me back.) It has, though carved out its own special place in my world, the perfect treat for a birthday or as a special sweet for my Valentine.

No special pan is needed to make your own little bit of nostalgia. You could even use a cake mix if you want. If you're not a chocolate fan, make your cake any flavor you like. It won't be a Sno Ball, but I'm sure it will still be yummy!

For the Sno Ball Cake, you'll need:
  • Two nine-inch layers of cake- I used Hershey's Black Magic cake (recipe follows) but you could use your favorite.
  • A two-quart bowl- I used a Pyrex bowl. It is helpful if the bowl is glass so you can see through it when you arrange your cake in it. Mine was opaque though, and it worked fine. (original recipe called for a 1 1/2 quart bowl)
  • Plastic wrap to line your bowl
  • One recipe of Marshmallow Frosting (recipe follows)
  • Two cups of shredded sweetened coconut plus 2 drops of red or pink food color
Marshmallow Frosting
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened (as in not liquid but really, really soft)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 cups marshmallow cream (about 9-10 oz)
Combine water and gelatin in large bowl and let sit until gelatin softens, about 5 minutes. Microwave until mixture is bubbling around edges and gelatin dissolves, about 30 seconds. (Mine took at least a minute, but my microwave is small. Your mixture does need to heat and be bubbling around the edges.) Stir in butter, vanilla and salt until combined. Let mixture cool until just warm to touch, about 5 minutes. (Mine did not take this long to cool.) Whisk in marshmallow creme until smooth. I whisked about one third of the marshmallow creme at a time. When you finish, the mixture will be thin. Refrigerate the mixture until it is thick and spreadable, about 30 minutes.

To Assemble Sno Ball Cake:
  •  Prepare Marshmallow Frosting and put in refrigerator to set. 
  • Combine coconut and food coloring (I whirled it together in my food processor)
  • Line your bowl with plastic wrap, leaving the ends overhanging the edges of the bowl.
  • Cut one of the cooled cake layers into 8 even wedges. Line the bowl with the cake wedges, packing gently so there are no spaces between wedges. This was where I ran into trouble the first time I made it. I couldn't get them to fit together in the bowl.The second time though, I trimmed the top edge (diagonally) off of each of the three sides of each wedge. After trimming the wedges they fit together nicely. There shouldn't be any gaps on the inside or in the parts touching the bowl. If you have any gaps on the inside, fill them with with parts you trimmed off.

  • Fill cake lined bowl "cavity" with one cup of the marshmallow frosting.
  • Top with the remaining nine inch layer cake, trimming it to fit the inside of the bowl.
  • Pull the edges of the plastic wrap over the cake, and put it in the refrigerator about one hour.
  • Unwrap the cake and carefully invert it onto serving dish. Remove plastic.

  • Spread remaining marshmallow mixture evenly over the cake and sprinkle with coconut. (I found the frosting to be  difficult to spread evenly, but the coconut covered it nicely.)
  • Slice, serve and enjoy your little bit of nostalgia! :)

Hershey's Black Magic Cake
Recipe from Hershey's
2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1 cup strong coffee
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla

  • Preheat oven to 350°F 
  • Grease and flour 2 nine-inch round cake pans.
  • In your mixer bowl, combine dry ingredients.
  • Stir in eggs, coffee, oil and vanilla.
  • Beat on medium speed for two minutes.
  • Divide batter evenly between the two pans. (Batter will be thin.)
  • Bake 30-35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Remove from oven and cool on wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pans and finish cooling on racks.
This post is linked to Ingredient Spotlight: Cocoa @ Eat at HomeFull Plate Thursday at Miz Helen's Country Cottage, and  Sweets for a Saturday at Sweet as Sugar Cookies.

    Tuesday, February 9, 2010

    Iced Spice Valentines

    Iced Spice Valentines
    It took me twenty years to make these cookies. Well, sort of, anyway.  Back in the day when I was blissfully staying at home with my kids who are now grown and married, (and Richard wasn't even born yet!) the Jan./Feb. '89 issue of Creative Ideas for Living had a plate of beautifully decorated Valentine cookies on the cover. I loved those cookies. I loved them so much in fact, I saved the issue so I could make the cookies later. I did make the recipe. Just not the hearts. I made the recipe time and time again for Christmas, Easter, Halloween...but I never made those lovely hearts. Until now. 

    I decided that since I was snowed in yet again,making cookies was the perfect distraction to take my mind off of my predicament. I do love living back in the woods until it snows, especially with as much as we've had recently. There's no way I'm shoveling that half mile driveway! (We finally did get out...just in time to stock up before the next snowstorm. Last weekend I was snowed in with no butter in the house. I shudder to think of it.) Decorating the cookies actually wasn't as daunting of a task as I thought it would be. The most time consuming part was coloring the frosting! Want to make some for your Valentine?
    Here's how to do it:
    • Make a batch of Iced Spice Cookies. While they are cooling, make some Royal Icing. (recipes here)
    • After making a batch of royal icing, divide it into individual ramekins or small bowls, one for each color you want. Color the frosting in each ramekin. (I used Wilton Gel Food coloring.) Put some of each color in a decorating bag and leave some in the ramekin to thin with water later. The frosting you put in the bags will be used for outlining and decorating. The frosting left in the ramekins will be used to frost the cookies. Cover your ramekins to keep the frosting from drying out. Put your filled decorating bags tip down in a container with a damp paper towel in the bottom to keep the frosting from drying out.

    • Outline the hearts with royal icing. (I used Wilton #3 tip for this.) Let it set for about half an hour. (There's my vintage magazine with the cookies on the cover!)

    • Thin the royal frosting (that you left in the ramekins) with a few drops of water at a time until it is a thick syrupy consistency. Spoon some of the thinned frosting into the center of a cookie and spread it out to the outline with a small spatula or butter knife.

    • Let the frosting set for a couple of hours.  (I have a hard time waiting any longer than that.) Pipe on designs with the royal icing left in your decorating bags.(I used Wilton #2 tip.) After the designs are completely set (overnight is good) you can bag them individually or carefully put them in an airtight container with wax paper between the layers.
    • Enjoy them with your Valentine(s)...I know I will!
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