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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Star Cookies

I haven't forgotten about you! As soon as Christmas was over, my body realized that I'm not Superman by any chance, and gave out on me. I was sleeping for 3 whole days with a heavy version of the flu! I went to work today and I went to work yesterday afternoon.. oh it is terrible!! You know how it goes...runny nose, coughing...sneezing very loudly (I can't help it while I'm sick!). Yesterday I had to run away from the customer I was helping to grab a tissue! It was sooo embarassing!!!

So as you can tell from all my adventures, I wasn't able to be in the kitchen! I baked a Pecan Tart on Christmas morning, and that was it! I haven't done ANYTHING in the kitchen since.. not even washed a plate or cup or nothing!

Before all that though, I had the time to bake my Butter Cookies. I usually bake them into hearts or flowers or whatnot..this time they were stars, for Christmas. I filled half of them with Nutella and the rest with Raspberry Jam. They were completely sold out by the next day!

I promise you that these are SUPER yummy! I only had one. The rest I knew had to be sold so I kept away from them.

And this is a picture of the Christmas Cake I baked for my friend. The Gingerbread People on top are the ones I had made for my Gingerbread House that never finished. The little Teddy and Merry Christmas sign are from my favorite baking supplies shop, Sprinkles & Sparkles. The ornaments at the bottom are the Gingerbread Baubles I baked and decorated.  The inside of the cake was red and green layers, just like the cake here.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas !!!

I just wanted to with to all of you a
Very Merry Christmas
this year. I also wanted to thank everyone that's supporting me by placing orders with me.
And I want to thank you all that visit my blog.

Those that live close to me, stop by my house and share some Christmas Cake with me and some coffee or tea. The door is always open. :)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Gingerbread House

I've been talking about this Gingerbread House in all my past Christmas broke! Right before the finish line, the cleaning lady stumbled on the table it was sitting and floup! It fell and broke... You have no idea how devastated I was. I was going to finish it that evening and send pictures of it to my friend Jody. If you don't know who Jody is, you can read all about her at my post Gingerbread People.

Thankfully, I took a picture with it that I posted on Facebook. See, my friend Michelle sent me a customized chef's jacket and apron that says "Fairy Cakes Joy" on it :) So I took a picture wearing the jacket to send to her. Thank you thank you thank you my Michelly!!! She also sent me a picture which has smaller pictures of her on it wearing my jacket and making one of her recipes. The back of the picture has her recipe written down. She's soooo thoughtful. I feel blessed to have a friend like her!

See, I had made a Snowman Cookie and 2 Gingerbread people, a boy and a girl, that I was going to put in the garden of the house. I bought sweets and candy to make a red and green picket fence, too! I was going to finish up with more decorations and such, but oh well. It tasted good, so I don't regret eating it after the accident :)

But I'll show you some pictures to see the process.

This is the front and back of the house. One side had a broken tip [on the left].

This is the roof of the house. I wasn't done with the chimney. I was going to put snow on it.

This is the side view of the house. Under the windows I was going to make a green bush with red flowers on it. Next to it is the snowman. I was going to give him a black hat :) And on the top are the boy and girl I was going to put in front of the house. They went to a different post..coming later.

All glued and waiting for the roof.

And this is the support I had for the roof while it dried.

Next year I promise to make a Gingerbread House till the end. It was the first time I made it from scratch, so I was in the learning process. I really enjoyed myself. I took the time to make it and decorate it with so much joy. I wish I had a picture of it on its own, at least to the point I had reached but oh well, next time :) Maybe I'll make a pink one for Valentine's Day or something.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Baubles

They are finally done!!! Not that they should take too long, it's just that I had to go to work between making the dough, letting it sit, making the cookies, baking the cookies, cooling the cookies, making the royal icing, coloring the royal icing, filling the cookies, decorating the cookies, making mistakes, fixing mistakes, and eating a cookie here and there!

The base for these is gingerbread, so I had to let it sit for a few hours in the fridge. I made four different bauble sizes and some round ones. The packet of cookie cutters I bought also had a mini round cutter to cut out holes so you can actually hang these if you wanted to. They came out very tasty.

After these were completely cool, I started flooding them. I got the idea of the colors from Peggy Porschen's Book Simply Spectacular Cakes.

(Don't mind the gingerbread people on the top right. They are for that other movie we talked about, "Gingerbread House").

After these were completely done and dried, I started adding the details and embellishments.

They all have ribbons, too, in case someone wants to really put them on their tree. I did that once, when my goddaughter was little, only it was with chocolates. We just saw the whole tree fall and she was under there, still holding on to the chocolate ornament!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Gingerbread People

For the first time EVER, I made gingerbread people from scratch! Super exciting! Plus, it's so Christmassy! But before I tell you about my gingerbread cookies, I have to tell you the story behind the scenes :)

When I lived in California, I had a neighbor, who is also my bestest friend in the whole wide world, called Jody (she's still my friend! She just lives in California still and I moved to Cyprus). Jody is 74 years old now. I'm 27. We met when I was 20. We got along so well that I couldn't ever leave her house! She cooked for me almost everyday, I cooked for her a few times, and I NEVER did her dishes! She doesn't like it if you do her dishes! She used to have a ranch with cows and all. Has 3 children who are grown and live about an hour and a half from her little appartment. So she still visits family, and they visit her, but I was right next door. We used to do EVERYTHING together. Grocery shopping, paper making (I lie.. her sister, Coralie, was involved in that one, too), go stay up in the snowy mountains for new years ...Coralie was there, too. Watch movies.. put up her tree for Christmas (I don't have a picture after all these years, but it's the BEST tree you've ever seen, trust me! She puts like 5 strings of Christmas lights on so that the tree is ALL LIGHTS and THEN we put the decorations.. that she's been collecting since...if I remember well 1967? She has dates under all her ornaments and who gave them to her.. I think the pair of slippers, which is her first ornament, and the first to go on the tree, is dated 1967). AND make gingerbread houses!

Jody used to buy the kit and put the house together, and I'd decorate it with her. Well..more like eat all the frosting is what I did! One year we did this with Coralie's great-nieces, and I would eat the green frosting and Jody would pretend telling me off, and the girls had so much fun! The frosting...being green, was all over my face! I remember we also made Snickerdoodles that day. That's when I found out they are my favorite cookies! Thanks Coralie!

So with all my beautiful Christmas memories with Coralie and my dear Jody (I have to also mention Niki, Jody's Japanese Chin, the only little dog I love to death!-I'm a big dog kinda girl) and River.. Coralie's dog.. and Lola, the cat! (we are such a big family after all!), I decided this year, after a whole page of reading for you guys, to bake gingerbread people from scratch, and also make a Gingerbread House...from scratch!

This is the first gingerbread man I cut :) I got the little cutter rather than the big one, and these came out looking really cute. With the same batch I cooked the pieces for the house, too.
I thought the dough was kind of dark, but once cooked, it lightened in color.

All cute and ready to be decorated! What I liked was that after making the dough, you let it sit in the fridge for up to overnight. So between my full time (plus over time for the holidays) job and baking cookies, I had some time to rest. Under normal circumstances, I would've baked other cookies while these rested, but unfortunatelly, I'm not a robot of any kind.

Now if you remember my post The Making of: Cat Cookies, then you should also remember that, that was my first time decorating cookies. So this is my second time. So judge lightly if you may, please :)

See the top left one? I ATE HIM! He looked more like a ghost rather than a gingerbread man! So I indulged! I did different kinds to have variation. Don't mind the snowman, he's there for the other movie, Gingerbread House!
Some are even wearing scarves...with a little pin on it..

Don't mind the top left one.. he's just sad because he wasn't wearing the scarf!

And don't tell anyone...shhhhhh...but here's a little preview of my house (if I can ever put the roof together!):

I bought my supplies from Sprinkles & Sparkles

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Special Brownie Order

I know it's been a few days, but I promise, I was super busy! Before I post anything about Christmas, I have to tell you about this brownie order I did. It was for my friend's husband who's in the military and wanted to give treats for his name day. He doesn't like sweet stuff that much, but when he came to my tasting event, he tried my Swirly Cheese Brownies and LOVED THEM! He immidiately ordered brownies for his name day [3 months in advance]. One little detail: He wanted me to add Hazelnuts!

Ok no problem. I don't like to disappoint my customers. Only thing was that it was a bit difficult to get a nice swirl with the nuts in between the knife. But this is how it went:

I smashed the hazelnuts with a mallet. They were completely raw. Not toasted whatsoever. I put them in a little baggie little by little and smashed them. It was fun!

Then I did the cream cheese mixture. This wasn't as much fun as the smashing, but it was till fun :)

After I was done with the brownie mixture, I added the hazelnuts. If he wanted any more brownies, they'd be outside my mixer bowl! Haha not really, I would had made another batch.

You put the brownie mixture in the pan, then you add the cream cheese mixture, and then you swirl away!

And here are the brownies just before they hit the oven!! I delivered today and I hope whoever tries them is happy with the result! I know I was ;).
Now that all my non-Christmas orders are done and over with, I'm ready to do some Christmas stuff!! Here is a little preview of what's coming your way :)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Christmas Baking Please!

Let me tell you a little something that you might not know: if you're Greek, you come with a name day! A name day is celebrated on the same date every year. If you have the same name as someone else, they celebrate that day with you. Since each day has a set date, it is easier to know when someone's name day is, rather than remember their birthday. Therefore, people give treats for their name day more than they do on their birthdays. Makes sense so far?

One of the most popular male names here in Cyprus, is Andreas. And the name day for that was yesterday. I had TONS of orders for that!!! I hadn't slept in 4 days! Up baking all night, waking up early to finish up! I delivered my last order yesterday afternoon after work, bought some more supplies (getting ready for Christmas), came home and stayed in my PJs! Made me a cup of hot white chocolate (I have to tell you the recipe for this one day.. it's delicious!) and rested.

NOT REALLY! I kept thinking about Christmas!!! So I sat by the fireplace with my hot chocolate, brought out all my books, and started to pick out the recipes I will bake this year along with which Christmas Cake I should pick.
I have my grocery list ready so I can start, and I'm attempting to do a Gingerbread House from scratch! If it looks good, I'm sharing. If it doesn't...well then we all have to laugh together :) I'm also making gingerbread baubles for my Christmas tree. Those I will share, too.

So get ready for some Christmas Baking!!!
Here are some of the cupcakes I whipped of up St. Andrew's day:

Monday, November 28, 2011

Not-so-Sweet Cupcakes

Remember the Cupcake Platter I made? Well.. the same person asked me to make some more for her, but she wanted a less-sweet frosting. Hmm... how are you to do that? Less powdered sugar will make the frosting droopy...right? AND she also wanted a mixed platter again, but only a few cupcakes. So I suggested that I make a Chocolate Cupcake with the Vanilla Frosting. Mixed :) She agreed (or else I'd have to make 3 batches of different flavors.. 3 frostings, and get stuck with most of them.. and then I would eat them all and be fat!!!).

I baked the Chocolate Cupcakes. I tried one....(yes, I tend to do that when I have extra). They tasted goooood! And then with the frosting... I did my regular frosting but I added a couple of drops more milk. (Yes, I put milk in my tastes good, promise). I also used a round tip when I frosted instead of the star one I usually use. I figured that the star-shaped swirl would drip more due to the detail it has.
And of course, I added little chocolate starts to show that the base is chocolatey...
And I made the frosting PINK.

Friday, November 25, 2011

To Bake Sale or Not to Bake Sale?

I decided I wasn't going to have a Bake Sale for Christmas this year since I will be working EVERY SINGLE DAY until Christmas, including Sundays, until 8 o' clock at night. There is no possible human way to accomplish a Bake Sale.

But everyone keeps asking me for one. So I had to come up with an idea. I thought about something, I shared it with the girls at work and my family at home, and they agreed. So now I am sharing with you, and if you think this is a good idea, let me know so I can proceed with the planning. If you don't think this is such a great idea, please tell me if you have a better one so I can take it under consideration.

I thought that I can bake batches of cookies every day and have different kind of cookies. I can make COOKIE PLATTERS for people. Starting at 10euro and going up, I can tell people the choice of cookies available at the moment, and they can tell me which ones they like and what price they want their platter to be. I can also offer the option of prety Christmas dishes, so they can keep after they are done with the cookies. I can also bake 2-3 Christmas Cakes (or bake them at request) for whoever wants one.

What do you think? I keep everyone happy, without having to commit to one whole day of a Bake Sale :)

Btw...I wanted to share with you what I just finished baking:

A Carrot Cake!! With Walnuts as a decorations...I ran out of Sugared Carrots :) 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Addicted to Pinterest

Apart from baking and baking and baking (ok and going to my full time job and keeping up with social life and eating and sleeping), I came accross Pinterest! I was googling for pictures, and one of them was on Pinterest. So when I opened it, I saw that there were many beautiful pictures on there. I needed to get one, too! You can't just sign up, you have to request an invite. I thought: What have I got to lose? And I did, and I got in!! So yesterday morning I woke up and set up my new account.

What you do is pick a subject for example, and then create "boards" of things that relate to your theme. You can be browsing on the web, and then all of a sudden a picture pops up that you like and you pin it on the borad! It always gives credit to the author, so that way someone else who repins YOUR picture on THEIR board, can still know where you got it from.

Of course, after I was done with creating my account, I checked my email, and my friend Karina (who now lives in Miami, FL) "I'm not sure this link will work out there, but I'm think you're going to like this thing called 'Pinterest'" !!!! Great minds think alike! I kid you not! Thank you my person! It was a great idea :!)
So I started a "Pretty in Pink" board with pink edible things, and a "Season of Joy" board for all the things Christmassy that you can eat :)

Check it out, it's addictive!: Joy's Pinterest

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Yogurt Frosting? YES!

I had a very easy going Sunday this past weekend and thought I should bake something for the house. I currently don't have many chocolate options on my menu, so I wanted to experiment with chocolate so I can widen the repertoire.

So I baked a classic 2 layer chocolate cake. Fine so far. Then, I needed the frosting that was going to make it a WOW chocolate cake! There's many options out there for a twist on the classic chocolate frosting. There's Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting..there's the Chocolate Butter Frosting..even Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting. You can add nuts in the frosting or coconut...or fruit. But let's go back for a minute: if there's Sour Cream Frosting, can't there be a YOGURT frosting??? Greek yogurt is strained nowadays and has a very creamy texture. Why not??

Let's give it a try:

First, I melted the chocolate with the butter. Let it cool a little.
Then I added the yogurt.
Put it in the mixer with some icing sugar.

It came out thick enough to frost a cake without adding to much confectioner's sugar. I don't like too much of that in my frosting.. it makes it too sweet.

Frosted the first layer.

And finally frosted the whole cake. It was very good tasting. Not too sweet like most frostings. I am very pleased with my creation. This will be a new addition to my menu: Chocolate Cake with Chocolate-Yogurt Frosting!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Cupcake Sample Platter

I have a friend and neighbor at work, who always tells me "bring me whatever you want to bake for me, and I'll pay you for it." But I never knew what to take one day she pops in at work and says: "OK. I want cupcakes, but I want more than one flavor. I want to try them all."
At the moment, I only have Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting on my menu, but I also have Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting and Nutella Cupcakes in my repertoire. So I thought I'd make a batch of each flavor and each frosting, and take her a Cupcake Sample Platter.

I spent a whole morning making was so much fun!!!
First, I baked the Chocolate Cupcakes.
Then I baked the Nutella Cupcakes.
Finally I baked the Vanilla Cupcakes.

Nutella Surprise Center
This is what I didn't do for the Witch Cupcakes.

And the most fun part of all, the frostings!
First, I whipped up some Chocolate Frosting.

I always use my mum's ancient Kenwood Mixer. She loves being in the kitchen, too, so she has all the attachments for food and dessert! Gotta love your kitchen-addicted mum! Thanks mum for letting me use your mixer and not making me buy a new one :!) xx

Then I did the Nutella Frosting.

And the last one was the Vanilla Frosting. I left this one last because I like to add color to it and play :) Ok it's not very grown up of me, but what can I do? I can't resist!
I decided I was going to make them Yellow this time around.

The very last thing (before boxing them up of course) was adding all the edible sprinkles and sparkles and such!
Colored non-pareills for the Vanilla, Orange pearls for the Chocolate, and Chocolate Stars for the Nutella.

Voia-la!!! A Cupcake Sample Platter!

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Making of: Spider Cookies

As I mentioned before, I saw the design for these on Bakerella. She used a cake box mix for hers, but since I am selling these after Halloween, too, I made my Chocolate Cookies from scratch.
I made one batch, made chocolate balls, put it in the oven, and waited for them to flatten out, like cookies usually do. But nooooooo, these ones decided to stay in the form of a ball! (Did someone forget to add baking powder???). How was I going to decorate them? I smooshed them with a spoon, but still, they weren't flat enough! So as you can imagine, I baked another DOUBLE batch this time, and layed them flat on the cookie sheets. These came out much better.

I didn't use a cookie cutter or a guide for the size since I was behind schedule with the non-successful batch, so some of them came out smaller than others. After they cooled completely, I made the Chocolate Frosting and spread it on top.
I wasn't sure what to do for the spider webs. I really wanted to use Royal Icing, but I didn't have enough left for all the cookies. So as a quick way out, I mixed icing sugar with some water to the consistency I wanted, and did the 3 circles.

Then I took a toothpick and formed the lines. If I had used Royal Icing though, I think it would've looked more spidery-webby like, but they still looked like webs. (Ok maybe not so much in this picture).

And then, the fun part! Adding the spiders! Well, I DID have some orange royal icing, so I used that for legs on all my spiders. I also used the green and orange that Bakerella used since it matches with the Halloween theme. I also added some brown ones, too. That's m & m's. With the peanut in them. They look more spidery rather than the plain ones :). I added eyes on the brown ones, too.

It was tons of fun! I received many good comments about these cookies. I think I'm going to put them on my menu and name them "Brownie Cookies." Everyone seemed to think they were just that. When I asked people what they liked, some said "Those Brownie Cookies." That must mean it reminds them of my brownies. Since I know those taste good, then that was a good complement.