Friday, February 13, 2015

Cookies for the Kiddos

I used to think Valentine's Day was great. My mom always gave me and my siblings little Russel Stover boxes of candy which we'd squirrel away and nibble for weeks. She'd bake a heart shaped cake and let us stuff our faves. As boyfriend-less teenager I used to host "Lonely Hearts Club" parties at my house for all my single friends. I thought it was really great when I actually had a boyfriend to spend it with, but honestly, Valentine's Day is so much more fun with a toddler. Pretty much everything is so much more fun than a toddler.

Except maybe Whole Foods. I still really like Whole Foods alone. 

Jude thinks all holidays are fun, especially the food. We just had to host a party for his buddies from class. I am all for little treats for kiddos once in a while, but I'm not about to offer up a sugar coma as a party favor to all of the kids who come to our craft classes. Jude really wanted to decorate cookies with his friends, and he was googly eyed over t

he vast selection of candies and sprinkles in the grocery store (he has a thing for sprinkles, just like his mama). To assuage a bit of my guilt about the oncoming candy head rush, I made this healthier version of my favorite rolled sugar cookie recipe. It cuts the sugar, replaces white flour with whole wheat, and the cream cheese keeps it soft and buttery. The dough is really great for detailed cut cookies since it won't spread at all, but we stuck with simple hearts. I kept them small, and whipped up a bowl of cream cheese with a little homemade strawberry syrup for frosting. The bowls of sprinkles, pink candy corn, and conversation hearts were plenty of sugar without using real frosting! Of course, I used a little royal icing for the leftover cookies later, just because I can't resist that glossy look:)

  • Healthier Whole Wheat Sugar Cookies
  • Ingredients:
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup raw cane sugar (organic if you can!)
  • 1/2 cup maple sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • Dash salt
  • 1 tsp. almond extract
  • 1 egg
  • 2-1/2 cups white whole wheat flour flour

  • Preparation:
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter
    and cream cheese with an electric mixer on medium to high speed until fluffy. Beat in almond extract and egg. Add sugars, baking powder, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt. Beat mixture until combined, scraping side of bowl occasionally.  Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining flour. Divide dough in half, press into discs, and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for 1 to 2 hours or until dough is easy to handle.
  • On a lightly floured surface, roll half of the dough at a time to a 1/8-inch thickness. Using 3-inch cookie cutters, cut out dough.  Place cookies on prepped cookie sheets and bake for 8-10 minutes or until edges just start to brown. Keep an eye on them as they cook very quickly! Transfer cookies to a wire rack; cool before decorating.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Little Love Cakes

I'm getting into the Valentine's spirit a little early this year. Perhaps it's being cooped up in the house thanks to all of this snow, snuggling with my kiddos. Perhaps it's the hormones of a nursing mama with a cutie pie baby girl in her arms most of the day. Or perhaps it's the fact that a FULL MONTH of no sleep (damn you 4 month sleep regression. Damn you straight to hell!) has given me hallucinations that I have had to craft out of my system. Whatever it is, I am all good to go for the love fest. This little cupcake was my first attempt at baking a shape within a cake, and it was a bit of a miss. I need to cut the hearts smaller next time, but they are still cute! The recipe is a modified version of the French Yogurt Cake Jude and I bake together often. It's one of my faves, and the lemon addition makes it fresh and new. It also pairs perfectly with strawberry whipped cream frosting! This is the best little cake to make with your kiddos, since it is forgiving and they can do all the measuring themselves! Remember that a spoon in this recipe equals a teaspoon, and a scoop equals 6 ounces, or one little kid yogurt cup, which we conveniently have lying around often!

Little Lemon Love Cakes with Strawberry Whipped Cream

3 scoops White whole wheat flour
2 scoops sugar
1 scoop plain, whole milk yogurt
1 scoop vegetable oil
1 spoon salt
3 spoons baking powder
1 spoon lemon extract
2 eggs
zest of one lemon

1 cup heavy cream
4 Tbls. strawberry syrup or jam

Grease a 9x9 round cake pan and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 

Allow your kiddo to do as much of the scooping and dumping as possible into a large bowl. Mix well with a hand mixer. Pour 1/3 of the batter into a small bowl and tint with beet powder or food coloring. Pour the pink batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Allow to cool completely, then cut hearts using a small cookie cutter (or a knife and a template). Place each heart into a lined muffin tin, pour remaining batter over hearts. Bake until golden, about 12 minutes. 

Beat whipping cream until stiff peaks form, Fold in strawberry syrup. Pipe onto fully cooled cakes.