Sombrero Cookies

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

I have two disclaimers about this post:

  1. The actual cookies here are not made from scratch.
  2. Cinco de Mayo is one of my least favorite holidays because people use it as an excuse to get drunk without actually knowing what they’re celebrating which is not, by the way, Mexico’s independence. It celebrates Mexico’s victory over France during the Franco-Mexican War.

Anyway, I am half Mexican and so to honor that heritage and Mexico’s culture, I decided to make sombrero cookies.

I baked the cookies as directed on the package – about 12 minutes at 350 F. When they came out, I let them cool for about one minute and then pressed into them with a shot glass to form the rim of the sombrero. I lost a few cookies in this process because the middle became too thin and tore the cookie apart. I got the hang of it finally and prepped for decorations.

I started decorations by putting dollops of white frosting in the center of each “hat” and topping it with a gum drop. I sprinkled nonpareils sprinkles on the frosting that was sticking out from under the gum drops and shook off the excess.

To finish the sombreros, I frosted the borders with different patterns and voila!

How great are these?!

Have a safe, happy, and educated Cinco de Mayo!

Sweetly,

Simona

Happy Earth Day!

In celebration of Earth Day and in support of the March for Science, I bring you these awesome earth cookies!

So they’re not made from scratch, but I had limited time and this was so easy!

I mixed the cookie mixture, butter and egg together to form the cookie dough.

I separated the dough in two and dyed one green and the other blue.

I then rolled a little bit of each color into a ball and placed them on the baking sheets. At this point, they already looked like little earths and I was tempted to leave them as is and eat them raw… yum!!

I put them in the oven to bake for about 9 minutes and when they came out they were so perfect!

I let them cool then scooped them up to take a taste and, of course thanks to the sugar cookie mix, they were delicious. Not to mention, such an awesome way to celebrate our Mother Nature!

Sweetly,

Simona

Mixed Berry Pavlova

Before the year is over, I wanted to make sure I finished up with my Christmas desserts.

On Christmas Eve, my mom also requested that I make a mixed berry pavlova, or as we called it: the meringue thing with berries. We had first had it at Abbe’s house a week before Christmas and my mom said it would be a hit at our Christmas Eve. I was nervous, because my track records with meringues has not been stellar but I did it anyway.

I started by drawing a 9″ circle on parchment paper and then flipping it over.

I then mixed the egg whites with the salt and beat until firm peaks formed.

This happened pretty quickly. I was nervous so I watched it carefully but it only took a little over 2 minutes to form these stiff peaks. Once the egg whites got to this stage, I sifted the cornstarch over them and added the vinegar & vanilla.

Once the ingredients were all combined, I poured the mixture onto the parchment paper and then spread it out to create a cake-like round.

I put the meringue in the oven at 180 degrees for an hour and a half. In the meantime, I cut up the fruits and simultaneously worried about the meringue.

When the meringue came out, it was as close to perfect as I could imagine. It had baked & hardened around the outside.

Of course, I immediately had the problem of transferring the meringue from the parchment to a plate. I was running a little behind so I decided to deal with that when I got to my mom’s. The car ride proved to be a bit difficult though and some cracks developed in the meringue. After my mom and I had pushed and pulled to get it seamlessly off the parchment paper, the meringue had multiple deep cracks and I had sweet meringue insides all over my hands. At this point, we decided to screw it and let it break apart since it would be completely covered with whipped cream and fruit – no one would be able to tell it had cracked.

I was a little disappointed but it ended up looking alright.

It was definitely a big hit and complimented the rich Chocolate Ganache Tart very well.

The pavlova was light and crunchy on the outside with a sweet and moist inside. I will definitely be making this again!

I hope everyone has a safe and happy New Year!

Sweetly,

Simona 

Chocolate Ganache Tart

Well, Christmas has already come & gone and we are quickly approaching 2017!

I am pretty sure that I say this every year, but I can’t believe the holidays are already over. I did a lot of baking over the holidays. I made dessert for Christmas Eve dinner at my mom & Gino’s and for Christmas Day with Lisa, Sam, Keaton, Simon and the gang.

For Christmas Eve, my mom requested I make this Chocolate Tart with Pomegranates & Hazelnuts and one other dessert which I will write about later. I also made this Chocolate Tart on Christmas Day.

The Chocolate Tart required that I make a pie dough.

I thought it would mean making the dough, refrigerating it for at least an hour and rolling the dough out but it didn’t. Once the dough was combined in the food processor, I just had to pour it into the pie pan and press it into the sides to create what would be the crust.

I put this in the fridge for 25 minutes. In the meantime, I started to make the chocolate ganache filling by simmering heavy cream, sugar and salt.

Once heated, I poured the cream mixture over the chocolate and butter.

I put the melted chocolate aside and prepared the pie crust for baking by piercing it with a fork. I then baked it for 25 minutes until golden. Once it had cooled, I poured the ganache filling into the pie crust.

I placed the tart into the fridge for about 25 minutes for the chocolate to set a little bit. Once it had, I sprinkled the toasted hazelnuts and pomegranate seeds on top.

It was then placed into the fridge again, this time for 2 hours, for it to set completely.

This tart was delicious. It was so rich in flavor that you really just needed a sliver. The crunch of the hazelnuts added texture while the pomegranate seeds added some refreshment to the deep chocolate flavor.

Sweetly,

Simona

Christmas Cookies Pt. 1

Every year around Christmas, my family has made & decorated sugar cookies.

This year, I decided to do two round of cookies. One with Ahline, and the other with my family (that will be this weekend).  Ahline and I made Valentine’s Day cookies last year and we made a BIG mess.

So, in anticipation of both cookie days, I did some research. My mom and I have always followed Martha Stewart’s Basic Sugar Cookie Recipe. It is basic and so simple. We’ve also always used her Royal Icing Recipe but this year, I altered it a bit.

The night before Ahline came over to decorate, I made the cookie dough. I mixed flour, salt and baking powder in one bowl and the butter and sugar into another.

Once the butter & sugar were fluffy, I added the egg and vanilla until combined followed by gradually adding the flower mixture.

I then split the dough in half and made them into two disks. I wrapped both tightly in saran wrap and put them into the fridge over night.

The next day, I took the disks of dough out about ten minutes before I planned to roll them out. Once they were a bit softer, I dusted my surface with flour and began to roll it out. Once the dough was thin enough, I cut multiple differently shaped cookies out with my mom’s cookie cutters 🙂

I baked them at 325 for about 12 minutes until the edges were slightly golden.

While the cookies cooled, I made the frosting. I followed The Kitchn’s tips on border and flood icing to avoid the mass mess that has always occurred during Christmas cookie time at my house.

For each color of icing I wanted, I used 1 cup of powdered sugar, 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract and 2.5 tablespoons of milk. For the border icing, however, I only used 1 tablespoon of milk. In retrospect, it needed at least 2, because it was way too thick once it was bottled. I used a funnel to get the icing into each bottle and there was surprisingly little to no mess.

Once this was all done, the decorating could begin!

Even Jade joined… or rather, she begged!

We may not be the most artistic, or the most patient (in terms of waiting for layers of icing to dry) but we were so impressed with ourselves. The squeeze bottles used for icing were amazing. Look at how there was barely any mess!

As always, these were so delicious and fun to make! Can’t wait for round two this weekend!

Sweetly,

Simona