Pinata Pookies

Pinata cookies have been on my radar for a while, popping up on many lists of cookies you need to make, or the best party food. So when a family birthday presented its self to me, with out the time to make a cake, cookies were the answer. They keep longer that a regular cake will, and stay just as tasty when travelling.

I used my usual recipe from The Biscuiteers, and using  a set of star cutters, made the biscuits – remembering to cut out the middle of a third of the batch.

naked biscuits

I stuck the middle one on to the base with some chocolate round the edge.

doubled up

Then I filled in the middle with lots of mini smarties!

Smartie filling

Then used a bit more chocolate to stick on the top cookie.

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I wanted to make them look very pretty, since I had avoided the usual brightly coloured dough. I coated the base in some chocolate, and let it set up on a chocolate transfer sheet.

Transfer sheet

Hey presto, lovely grown up pinata cookies.

Pinata cookies

Which you can even stick a candle in too!

Pinata cookies

Christmas Baking Inspiration

One of the best things about Christmas, like most holidays, is the food. Savoury wise, I have a hankering for roast parsnips. Sweet wise, I want to make everything! Time always escapes me though, so if I manage just one or two things I will be very happy.

I tried marshmallows the other week, and whether it was the unintentional use of vegetarian gelatine, or not beating them for long enough, I was left with green goo rather than festive green marshmallows.

If you want successful marshmallows, without having to do it yourself, the Edinburgh based Marshmallow Lady comes highly recommended, and I would love to try some myself! I’m not convinced that eggnog marshmallows are the way to go, but toffee apple or millionaire shortbread, yes please!

If you want to do something creative yet easy, this marshmallow tree from Planning With Kids (instructions here) looks like a good idea – easy and quick enough that it might even make it into my baking schedule.

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without Delia Smith –I suppose the same could be said for Americans of Martha Stewart, just looking at these candy cane marshmallows is making me jealous! If you want to give home-made marshmallows a go, the recipe is here.

Actually, I might need to go stock up on a lot of marshmallows – melted snowman cookies (or cupcakes) are always hugely popular at this time of year. With misshapen half – melted marshmallows, this tutorial from Truly Custom Cakery looks good.

Or, you could just stick with these traditional snowmen cookies, from the Pink Momma. If you don’t have a snow man cutter, cut two circles and then cut them so they fit together – they will bake together and be pretty solid!

The best festive bake I have seen this year though? These Hot Chocolate Truffles from Your Cup of Cake, that I doubt will make it onto my baking list this time round. I think any chocolate ganche recipe would do the job though, and then you can decorate to your hearts content.

As for Christmas cakes, if you need any last-minute inspiration, the Edinburgh branch of the British Sugarcraft Guild came up with plenty of designs to get you thinking at our November meeting, which you can see here. Hopefully everyone has a lovely Chrsitmas, and keep an eye on my facebook page for my Christmas cake pictures.

Butterfly Cookies

I made this batch a few months ago, not long after I had bought the Biscuiteers book, and was in the cookie zone. Again, they turned out very well.

Having rolled out the cookie dough between sheets of greaseproof paper, I decided to try the same technique with the sugarpaste. It worked well for this small size, although I am not so sure it would work on anything bigger.

As is often the way when it comes to me decorating cookies, I was feeling a little bit lazy, so I wanted something nice and easy which would still look pretty, since they were butterflies. I always have bits of sugarpaste that need used up, and it is easy to use. I put the sugarpaste on the cookies when they were still warm, which makes it stick, so you don’t need to use any kind of water or edible glue.

I started off by rolling out the red sugarpaste, and gently sticking on some yellow patterns, before rolling out again to smooth it all over. After the dots, I tried out some different patterns on the next batch.

These cookies made it to work as well, and were very popular. These butterflies  are quite small, but when people do not want to over indulge at work, small is good. And when they are so small you don’t mind eating so many!

Cookies for International Speak like a Pirate Day

On Monday 19th September, my day off, I wanted to try out a new chocolate cookie recipe from The Biscuiteers. I also had a set of pirate cookie cutters that I had been wanting to use for ages. And it turned out to be international speak like a pirate day. So everything came together very nicely, and I stayed up until 1 am to ice them nicely as well. That was maybe not so well planned, but it was pretty much worth it.

The recipe was pretty easy to make, and the fact the dough does not need refrigerated before you use it is an added bonus. Sift the cocoa and the flour together, and rub in the butter. Then spend ages getting the bits of mixture off your hands. The egg goes in a well in the entre before being mixed in, and then you have your dough.

For rolling out, I used a silicone mat on the bottom, and baking paper on the top – it means you keep the recipe as is, rather than using flour on the surface which then gets added in to the dough, which can dry out your biscuits.

With cookies, they can sometimes spread and loose their shape. There are many different tips and tricks to help them keep their shape, but I actually did not use any of them this time. And they kept their shape exactly, so while it is related to technique and the temperature of ingredients, it is also the sign of a good reliable recipe.

After cooling down on a wire rack, it is time for the icing. I cheated and used a royal icing mix, and for something like this it works really well. I didn’t really follow a decoration idea from the book, although they do have a pirate theme in there, I followed the decoration idea on the cookie box.

The first step in decorating the cookies is to outline them with a slightly thick royal icing.For the hat, I also used some white to make a stripe, before doing the outline in brown.

Then you can thin the icing down (I just used a little water) to fill in the sections. And for the hat, I used a little black icing to make a buckle.

For the skeleton, I had outlined and filled in white. Then I decided as well as the black facial features, I wanted a black outline to make the details to stand out more.

I did a boat as well, once the sails and main part of the boat were done, I used the thicker line icing to add a mast.

These cookies were also easy to do because of the limited colours. I only have one piping tip, so every time I swapped colours, I had to wash it first. For getting the colours, I used cocoa to make the brown. Then I used what was left of the brown, and added some black. Starting with a colour like brown means you need to add less colouring, so it doesn’t affect the taste or texture too much.

Having so few colours keeps life simple, and I think that made it a lot more enjoyable for me. Really, I do not know if I have the patience for much more intricate cookies. But having done these I do feel quite inspired to try something a bit more fancy. And of course, there is the more festive tale of what I did with the left over dough…

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