Party cookies – that’s what these are! Fun and festive, with a surprise in the middle…perfect for any celebration.
It took a couple of batches and the inevitable screw-ups for the finished product to match what I had envisioned during my 3:00 am “voilà” moment. I can tell you that no matter how cute you think the cookies would look with cherry stems poking out of the top, don’t buy cherries with the stems on, because they:
Dry up when they bake, and get very crispy. Not attractive!
Don’t pull out. The whole cherry comes with the stem. So unless you plan on holding the cookie by the stem and popping the entire thing in your mouth, then pulling the stem out between your teeth, it isn’t going to work for you.
Make it impossible to dip in the chocolate, so you have to smear smear it on with your finger pipe it on. Not the look you want.
Cost a freaking fortune. Seriously – I paid $5.00 for a small jar that had a dozen cherries in it. This cookie recipe makes 6 dozen. Even I can do that math!
Oh, the variations you can try! I made some rolled in finely chopped peanuts, plain with peanuts on top, rolled in sprinkles, and plain with sprinkles on top. I topped them with red Sixlets, but M&Ms or Skittles would be fine, too.
Left to right: topped with sprinkles, rolled in sprinkles, topped with peanuts
For my first batch I made a simple pink frosting out of powdered sugar and maraschino cherry juice, which was good, but it took a while to harden, and I tend to get impatient, so I used Wilton Candy Melts for my second batch. Much better; they were easy to melt, easy to dip the cookies into, and dried almost immediately. Sweet!
Here’s the cookie dough recipe. It’s basically my shortbread recipe with an extra teaspoon of half & half to make it a little easier to wrap around the cherry.
L to R: scooped, rolled into ball, cavity, cherry added, rolled into ball, covered with nuts.
The next step is to dip the cooled cookies in pink Candy Melts. I melt mine in a glass bowl in the microwave, beginning with 30 seconds and then switching to 15 second intervals, stirring well each time. Dip about halfway down, let the excess drip off, and then set upright on a baking sheet or plate.
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate
3.5 ounces good quality dark chocolate
1/2 plus 2 tablespoons cup heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Melt both chocolates in a small bowl in the microwave, beginning with 30 seconds and then switching to 15 second intervals, stirring well each time. Heat just until melted.
Add 1/2 cup of the whipping cream and stir until completely blended.
Add the powdered sugar and vanilla. Stir.
Dip the top of one of the cookies in the chocolate. If the chocolate sticks to the pink candy melts, it’s just right. If it’s too thick to stick well, add the remaining cream 1 tablespoon at a time. The chocolate mixture should be thin but not runny.
If the chocolate starts to harden as you’re dipping the cookies, put it in the microwave for 10 seconds and stir well.
After dipping cookies in the chocolate, sprinkle with chopped nuts or sprinkles and add a red candy on the top. Allow to sit at room temperature until firm.
Dip the tops in chocolate, add sprinkles and a candy topper.
I’d like to stay and chat, but I have a little cleaning up to do. The dog already took care of the sprinkles and chunks of dough on the floor (when will I ever learn to put the guard on my mixer?) but for the sake of sanitation, I’d probably better take care of the counters myself. Know what? It was totally worth it! I love, love, love these cookies.
Wow, the last month went by quickly! It’s time for Fly on the Wall again – a chance for you to see what’s really going on in the homes of 13 bloggers when they think no one is looking. As a fly on the wall in our homes, you’ll be privy to the dirt (in my case, figurative and literal) that others never see. Quick…someone’s getting ready to open the door. Get ready to zip inside!
Babies – we have babies! Out of ten eggs under our broody hen, seven hatched. And you, my little fly friend, are missing a huge opportunity. The brooder box is very fragrant right now, because Mama gets really annoyed when I try to clean it out!
Six are little Buff Orpingtons, but one was a green egg, which makes it half Buff and half Araucana. The little misfit has sergeant stripes on its wings – so cute! Can’t play with them because Hoochie Mama freaks out and stomps all over them, trying to scoot them under her wings. Wish they could stay little and cute. And oh, I wish they could all be girls, since roos will get nuked go to “Freezer Boot Camp” this Fall.
Speaking of chickens, I just have to tell you…cleaning out the coop is a BIG job. I shoveled it out last time, so The Man got the duty this time. You’re a fly, right? So you’d probably feel right at home buzzing around this guy:
Isn’t this your long-lost cousin?
I’m a ham. I have many humiliating examples I can produce to prove this, but believe me…it’s a fact. So when I was asked to be the “Zonk” for our “Let’s Make a Deal” tea for Homemaker’s Club, I was very pleased to put on my flowered dress and dorky hat, and – padded from boobs to bum, with front tooth blacked out – become “Daisy May.” I don’t know why anyone chose what was behind the curtain, because it was usually me, in a housedress sweeping dirt under a rug with (fake) cigarette hanging from my mouth, pruning a dead tree (and sharing some of my wine with it), in a lounge chair at the “beach” in my mumu, or playing “Clementine” on the guitar. Fun times!
Oh my darlin’…oh my darlin’…
I settled on “Clementine” because everyone knows that song, and I wanted them to sing along. But I also realized the my father had left me a real legacy when he sang songs to us around the campfire; I have a lot of “hillbilly” type songs filed away in my brain. Some of them start with catchy lyrics like “There’s a pappy at the gate with a loaded 38” and “Slap her down again, Pa – slap her down again.” It made me sad, made me smile, and made me wish I’d taught these old songs to my children. I guess that’s what grandchildren are for!
You were hanging out here during the 10th annual World Naked Gardening Day. Did you see anything interesting? Uh…no. Huh uh. I have been known to weed topless in the back garden just because it feels awesome and no one can see me, but naked is too scary. Yikes.
Gardening did get done, however. The beautiful weather led to hopes of an early Summer. We have a short season (usually can’t plant most things until Memorial Day) so this was very exciting. Many things went into the dirt with high hopes and crossed fingers. Just in case you’re curious, THIS is what my arm looks like when I take my gardening gloves off!
A common occurrence here in the summer!
So just when I was feeling hopeful, THIS happened.
Bet you’re glad you were safely stuck to my wall, huh? We had five minutes of heavy rain and hail at the same time, blowing sideways at what I would determine was hurricane force. Accompanied by thunder, lightning, and barking dogs. Seriously scary stuff. There will probably be no fruit in our little orchard this year – the stupid hail tore off blossoms and some of the new leaves. Other than that, most of the newly planted garden wasn’t affected. Except for some of the strawberries. And the celery. And the basil.
“He Who Shall Not Be Named On Facebook” was here for a brief visit. I love my son, but the butthead has a real fascination with letting our yellow lab on the couch and petting him vigorously – with fur flying everywhere. He made a modest attempt at scooping some of it up this time (for a change) but instead of putting it in the garbage he made poor Otis a toupee and laughed uproariously. Idiot. Don’t tell him, but I know what he’s getting for Christmas. I’m brushing Otis regularly and saving all his hair, and I’m going to make him a pillow! I think that’s only fair.
Poor Otis and his “toupee”
He is not amused.
Yesterday was another ladies’ luncheon. There was a cake baking contest and my S’mores cake took first place. Did I mention that only three of us entered? Still…it’s a yummy cake, and worth posting a recipe. For the 3 layer version, you can go to my original post at Yummy Northwest S’mores Cake
2 layer S’mores Cake (after the judges tried a piece.)
Grease and flour two 9-inch round pans. (I use parchment on the bottom of the pan and spray it and the sides of the pan with Baker's Joy.)
Divide the graham cracker mixture evenly into both pans, reserving 2 tablespoons for decorating the cake if desired. Press firmly.
In a large mixing bowl, sift together dry ingredients.
Add oil, coffee and milk and mix at medium speed for 2 minutes.
Add the eggs and vanilla, and beat for 2 more minutes. Expect the batter to be thin.
Pour into prepared pans. Bake for about 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle.
***While cake is baking, make your ganache! See below for the recipe.***
Cool in pans on racks for 15 minutes and then turn out and cool completely on racks.
To assemble, place one cake on a plate or cake board, graham cracker side up. Spread with ganache. Place the second layer over the first, graham cracker side down. Frost sides with ganache and pipe around the top and bottom.
Fill the top with marshmallow frosting (see recipe below) and sprinkle with reserved graham cracker mixture.
Decorate with marshmallows, Hershey bars, and pieces of graham cracker if you wish.
GRAHAM CRACKER LAYER
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped (optional)
Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl
Pouring cake batter over graham cracker layer.
16 ounces good quality dark chocolate (don’t use chocolate chips!)
2 cups whipping cream, preferably ultra-pasteurized
Chop chocolate into very small pieces and place in a medium bowl.
Heat cream in a small pan until it just begins to boil, and pour it over the chocolate. Let it sit for a couple of minutes and then stir gently until blended.
Let the ganache sit at room temperature, stirring occasionally, until it thickens to spreading consistency. This will probably take at least 2 hours. The longer it sits the thicker it gets! If it gets too thick, you can place the bowl in a larger bowl of warm water and stir gently. Don’t ever add liquids to ganache!
2 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup light corn syrup
In medium bowl, beat egg whites, salt, and vanilla at medium speed until foamy.
Gradually add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating at high speed until soft peaks form and sugar is dissolved.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring corn syrup just to a boil. Holding the pan high above the egg mixture, pour in a very thin stream, beating at highest speed until frosting is thick. If you make this ahead, keep it lightly covered until needed.
Pouring a thin stream of boiling corn syrup into egg mixture.
I actually left for the luncheon with an almost clean kitchen. Unheard of. Usually I cover every surface with dishes and pans, but I made a valiant effort to clean up after myself this time. Of course, there were those pesky chocolate cake batter spatters from cupboard to floor, and a few assorted bowls and measuring cups, but all in all it was amazing, since I was finishing the cake and baking croissants at 5:30 AM. BEFORE COFFEE! A tidy kitchen made for a more pleasant homecoming after the luncheon, but spoiled my whole “look at what a freakin’ mess I make” photo shoot idea. Next time!
I’ll leave you with these “before” and “after” action shots of The Man:
Yep, he’s a keeper!
Well…if you hurry into the kitchen there are probably still some sticky bits on the countertop for your pleasure. Oh, who am I kidding? There’s no rush; it’s not going to get cleaned until tomorrow anyhow. When you’re through, please buzz over to these other blogs and check out what THEY have on THEIR counters.
How on earth do I describe these cookies? They’re basic, light, and a little ordinary looking. They’re soft on the inside (but not exactly cake-like) and crusty on the outside. When you bite into them it takes a moment to discover the tiny bits of candied ginger and lemon peel, but then the flavors pop.
Personally, I don’t like crumbs in my tea, so I don’t indulge in dunking, but if you are a “dunker”, these cookies are for you!
Blogs right now will be few and far between, I’m afraid. Gardening season is upon me and I have an enormous vegetable garden, so even though I won’t quit baking, the posts will probably be brief and pithy. (Don’t you just love that word? Pithy, pithy, pithy.) I’m sure you will survive a few months without my rambling!
This recipe calls for sour cream. Since we live in the hills and I can’t just run to the store when I’m missing a key ingredient, I’ve learned to adapt. If you find yourself in the same position, a cup of evaporated milk (straight from the can) with a tablespoon of vinegar and a tablespoon of lemon juice stirred in and left to sit for 15 minutes worked perfectly. Your call!
2 tablespoons grated lemon peel (about 3 large lemons)
2 tablespoons crystallized ginger (chopped into small bits)
4¾ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup sour cream
½ cup sugar in a small bowl for coating balls of dough.
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
milk (or water) - enough to thin to drizzling consistency
Heat oven to 375 F.
Lightly grease (or use parchment) baking sheets.
Cream together the butter and sugar.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating well between each.
Add lemon juice, vanilla, lemon peel, and ginger. Beat well.
In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and ginger.
Beginning with the flour and ending with the sour cream, add alternately, approximately one third of each mixture at a time.
If you prefer to roll the cookie dough out and cut it with a round cookie cutter, refrigerate for an hour, then roll ¼" thick and sprinkle with sugar. Otherwise:
Drop dough by rounded teaspoons (or a small scoop) into sugar. Turn to coat, then - using your hands - roll into a ball. Put on the cookie sheet and press with the bottom of a glass to flatten a bit. Repeat, leaving 2 inches between cookies.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until just showing a little golden brown around the bottom edge.
Cool cookies on a rack until cool, and drizzle with icing if desired.