I knew it would happen, I just wasn't ready for it. The day that my eldest son pulled away from my attempted motherly embrace in public, followed by the stiff arm and stink eye in my direction. Then, my heart sank even further when he called me "MOM", not "Mommy". I knew that we had turned that fateful pre-teen corner in our relationship. It was a sad day. Mind you, at home he returns my hugs and "Mommy" is still the preferred title for me, but I now understand the boundaries.
So with Valentine's Day coming up, I wanted to make some cookies just for my growing-up eldest. I needed to avoid this nightmarish scene: he pulls out the lovingly decorated pink heart sugar cookie from his lunchbox and the students at his lunch table chime in with "Awwww, your mommy loves you" said in the most childish voice that they could muster. That would not be good.
So let me get the mushy stuff out of the way. I made these cookies for my husband (although my children will probably eat most of them) because I am, well, nuts about him. The typical Valentines hearts and flowers just doesn't "fit" our relationship. We are two crazy kids (err. .thirty-somethings) that were college sweethearts. Our offspring think we're whack-o when we crank up Young MC's "Bust a Move" and rap every word. Loudly. Some think we're bonkers because Mike encouraged me to quit my job to create cookies every day.
Yup- I am crazy about him, and our nutty ways.
Which is why I made him some cookie nuts. And some cookie squirrels too. Because nothing says "Happy Valentine's Day" like some squirrels and their nuts. At least it does in my house.
I would love to show you how I made the peanuts and pecans! Follow along with me!
I know that peanuts technically aren't nuts. They're legumes. But I have never seen a sign in the grocery store that says "Legumes, Aisle 4". And besides, they have "nut" in their name. So they're honorary nuts.
The peanut will be made with the number 8 cutter with a little squish in the middle. See the difference? You'll need an 20ish-second gold icing, and an 12ish-second warm brown (don't get hung up on the seconds). Add a little of each color to each color to make them harmonize (put a little of the gold with the brown, and a little brown with the gold.
Outline the cookie with the gold. Wait a minute or so. Then flood with warm brown.
Here's the part where timing really counts, though. We need to add the wonky grid lines to create the texture of the peanut. Wait a minute or two before piping the lines so that they partially sink into the warm brown.
See how the texture is created? I love it!
A great old pecan tree stood on our college campus. I used to pick up the fallen pecans, crack them open, and eat them on the way to class. Mike used to make fun of me. But they were the best pecans.
I trimmed a carrot shape to create the oblong pecan.
After baking, use a food marker to draw the lines like in the picture. Then paint really thin chocolate brown icing over the lines. This will create the shadows of the indentations on the pecan.
For the remainder of the pecan, use the same color brown, but in a 20-second icing. Fill in the center section of the pecan- see how it comes to a point? Next, create a squiggly outline for the pecan.
Here's where it starts getting tricky. Bear with me. Pipe two ovals around the painted brown icing.
Use the brown icing to fill in anywhere you still see plain cookie showing, except at the top of the center point.
It's hard to describe, so check out the pictures.
The first one or two pecans are definitely the hardest. It gets easier!
Get out your airbrush or petal dusts to add some shading and you're done! Your own pile of nuts.
I didn't include the walnut tutorial- you're not nuts. Let me know if you want it. I'll add it!
Thanks for following me through this crazy adventure!
I hope you're NUTS about someone too :)
By the way, what's your favorite kind of nuts? Mine are honey roasted peanuts. Oooh- and walnuts. Mmmm pistachios. . . I can't decide!
The East Coast is under attack from a phenomenon called the Polar Vortex. This air mass, usually in place in the Arctic, has decided to migrate south for a day or two. Sort of like a little mini vacation. So here in Maryland, we're expected to dive into single digit temperatures, with wind gusts over 30mph, resulting in below-zero wind chills. Schools are closing, people are putting extra blankets on their beds, buying extra toilet paper and so on. I can just imagine the mocking conversations in Russia over the clinking of vodka glasses-"they don't know what cold really feels like!".
In addition to the cold temps, the Vortex has brought something else from the Arctic- PENGUINS! So what can you do on a extra cold winter's day? Bake sweets, of course! And these penguins are dressed for the weather!
Do you recognize the cutter that made these cuties? Hopefully you snagged it up this holiday season.
It's the Wilton snowman with hat. It's super versatile! A little trim here or there and you have a cutter for all occasions. Let me show you!
Turn the snowman upside down. Use a round cutter to create a curved mark where you will remove his hat. Go ahead and trim it off. Bake as usual.
After baking, we want to mark the boundary between the white and black colors of our penguin. Grab a heart cutter, an oval, and a food marker. Trace the top of the heart cutter to create the V-line for the penguin's face or the "hairline" (which is weird to say since penguins don't have hair. So "feather-line"?) Then trace the oval cutter to create the body of the penguin. Can you see the faint yellow line in the picture above?
Of course you could just eyeball it too and save yourself the time of getting out the extra cutters.
Time to get out your royal icing! I used a 20-second royal icing in white and black. Here's the steps:
1. Outline the head and body with white icing.
2. Immediately flood the head and body with the white. Let it crust. I waited about 30 minutes in front of an oscillating fan. The cookie, not me. :)
3. Use black royal icing to fill in the outer part of the penguin body. Pipe the eyes while you're at it. Let it crust.
4. Make the wings with the black icing. Let dry for a few hours.
Time to get dressed for the weather! I added scarves, ear muffs, hats, and some mittens too. And some snowballs. . .
Ouch. I hate getting hit with snowballs. But I sure like to throw them!
Keep warm out there everyone!
Time to break out the vodka, to clean my airbrush of course!
I'm Amy. Wife, Mom, former science teacher- and now full time cookie baker on Maryland's Eastern Shore. Pull up a chair and we create! I'll bring the coffee- maybe Mike (The Cookie Widower) will make it for us.