Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Irish Eyes Are Smilin'

My dear grandmother's maiden name is Kelly, therefore I began considering myself at least mostly Irish after I became of an age to legally buy a pint of Guiness. I've never considered Irish cuisine to be of anything desirable, I mean, it mostly involves potatoes, right?

After several hours with my faithful compainion, Google, I discovered that there is more to Irish eats than potatoes. Like Irish Shortbread. Like, yeah...it's awesome.

I love simple flavors...and shortbread is just that. There's 3 ingredients: Butter, Sugar, Flour. That's it. 3 of my favorite-est foods. And I really love textures, and this is a marriage of crispy and soft.
All these really need is some green buttercream frosting to become little Irish sandwich cookies.

While we're on St. Patrick's Day, I also did the customary Shamrock decorated cookies:

Which I thought looked really cute in a box with ribbon (I'm trying to get rid of these boxes, can you tell?):

Cute for a gift, right?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Brownies. Are. Awesome

I consider myself a pretty laid-back kinda gal. I don't get super excited about much (outside of Cardinal Baseball and Illini Basketball), and I'm definitely not picky about much. With one exception:

Brownies. I have brownie issues. Big ones. We should really call them Brownie Volumes.

Lo, not so long ago, I couldn't make a brownie to save my life. Scratch, box mix, microwave...I would burn them, underbake them, over-mix, under-mix...you get the idea. And not only could I not make them for myself, I didn't like anyone else's brownies...too cakey, too fudgy, too dry...I was like Goldilocks on acid when someone would bring me brownies.

I decided one Thursday morning last summer that I was going to tame the beast I knew as Brownie. I researched brownie recipes online and from my grandmother's recipe box. I went through all the cookbooks I could find...I made 7 sheet pans of brownies that day, finally finding a recipe that made brownies the way I like them. Amy Brownies. Dense, chocolatey, chewy...and no edges.

With Amy Brownies, I am constantly trying to come up with variations. Amy Brownies come with cream cheese filling, espresso, dark chocolate mint, chocolate chip, s'mores...you get the idea. While sitting in awe of my Amy Brownies this week, I had a vision. And it was good.

Red Velvet Brownies. Yes, you read that right. Red Velvet Brownies. So I got online to see if anyone else had had a similar vision: Duh, of course they had. Lots of red velvet brownie recipes. Lots of red velvet cheesecake bar recipes. Mostly cake mixes, some from scratch were actually fudge brownies with red food coloring.

I love the authenticity of a Southern Red Velvet Cake, and (I know this is weird, but it's true) I spent many late night hours online researching the history and development of the Red Velvet Cake. Determined to keep this authentic flavor, I decided to start from scratch...I took Amy Brownies and smashed it with my favorite Red Velvet cake recipe (thank you, Paula Deen)...Then I decided that it needed some cream cheese filling. And here it is:

These are headed to work with me tonight for an official tasting. I can already tell they need more cream cheese filling. Everything is better with more cream cheese filling.
And as I sit here, I'm having another brownie vision: Hot Chocolate Brownies.

Friday, February 5, 2010

I got the Blues, the Reds and the Pinks...

Yeah, so...it's almost Valentine's Day. And my little bakery is being run over with all things red and pink.

Starting at the top:

Obviously, a nice little variety of heart cookies is a nice offering this time of year. It's easy: 3 batches of frosting in white, red and pink. Done and done.

I'm all into sprinkles. This is a 5" cookie, and I package it in a card box with food safe tissue. I think it's a neat little gift, I'm working on a "Thank You" and "Happy Birthday".

More sprinkles. These make me laugh. I'm trying to work them into "Kiss me, I'm Irish" for St. Patrick's day.

I had to cut this by hand: I can't seem to find a rose cookie cutter that suits me. These would be great as a wedding favor, yes?

One of my roommates and I used to leave conversation heart poetry for each other. These are little 2" cookies and bring back a lot of laughing memories of our obscure private jokes in college.

And finally:

Remember Luke: the EIU Panther-music-lover-with-a-chocolate-allergy? His big sister Abby is turing 8 and is having a Girls Rock! birthday party. She got a pink version of the guitar cake.

I'm now headed to the store to replenish my red and pink food color supply.