Month: May 2009

Homemade Oreos

Oreos are one of my favorite store-bought cookies. But I know that they are really unhealthy, filled with preservatives and additives, and heavily processed. I still eat them from time to time, but I wanted to try to make a homemade alternative. I found this recipe on Smitten Kitchen, though it originated from Wayne Brachman’s “Retro Desserts” book. And OH MY WORD are they good. They taste just like Oreos, but ten times better. I’m gonna file this one away in my list of all-time favorite recipes.

Homemade Oreos
Print Recipe

1-1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar (add another 1/2 cup if you want a sweeter wafer cookie)
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large egg


1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons vanilla

  1. Set two racks in the middle of the oven. Preheat to 375°F.
  2. In a food processor, or bowl of an electric mixer, thoroughly mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda and powder, salt, and sugar. While pulsing, or on low speed, add the butter, and then the egg. Continue processing or mixing until dough comes together in a mass.
  3. Take rounded teaspoons of batter and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet approximately two inches apart. With moistened hands, slightly flatten the dough. Bake for 9 minutes, rotating once for even baking. Set baking sheets on a rack to cool.
  4. To make the cream, place butter and shortening in a mixing bowl, and at low speed, gradually beat in the sugar and vanilla. Turn the mixer on high and beat for 2 to 3 minutes until filling is light and fluffy.
  5. To assemble the cookies, in a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch, round tip, pipe teaspoon-size blobs of cream into the center of one cookie. Place another cookie, equal in size to the first, on top of the cream. Lightly press, to work the filling evenly to the outsides of the cookie. Continue this process until all the cookies have been sandwiched with cream.


I love everything having to do with cinnamon. Cinnamon candies, cinnamon rolls, and of course, snickerdoodles. I decided to make these as I dip my feet back into my baking hobby, figuratively speaking of course. ;) The recipe was taken from my grandma’s stash.

Print Recipe

1-1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup softened butter
2 large eggs
2-3/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons of sugar & 2 tablespoons of cinnamon for dusting

Preheat the oven to 400F. Mix the sugar, butter, shortening, and eggs. Add the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt and mix on medium speed. Shape dough into teaspoon-sized balls and coat in the sugar & cinnamon mixture. Bake 8-10 minutes.

Our Unplanned Hiatus

The blog has been DEAD for a while, hasn’t it? Well, not to make excuses… eh… whatever, I’m going to make excuses. I’ve been consumed with moving from Illinois to Wisconsin (but hurrrrrrah for being back in my home state!) & Val has been consumed with problems/issues/annoyances at work. These issues have caused our baking projects to flat line , unfortunately. We’ll be back, bakin’ up a storm, before you know it though. Until then, I’m going to share some of my favorite links, baking supplies, and other favorite things.

Favorite Baking Blogs
Bakerella –
She is famous for her cake pops, which are basically little balls of cake on a stick covered in candy coating. Her projects are always creative and I think I may have come across the person who is MORE meticulous than I am.

Cake Wrecks –
When professional cakes go horribly wrong. Trust me on this one, these cakes will bring a smile (and a cringe) to your face.

Coco Cake Cupcakes –
Masters of fondant and cupcakes that just look so damn perfect.

Fancy Flours –
The blog that belongs to one of my favorite baking stores.

Joy the Baker –
She is a Los Angeles-based baker that really, really knows her stuff.

Love and Olive Oil –
A baking and cooking blog. Every single post looks so delicious.

Pioneer Woman Cooks –
Pioneer Woman (aka Ree) lives on a ranch in the middle of nowhere in Oklahoma. Her blog chronicles her cooking adventures, her photography, and how this former city girl is adjusting to 10+ years living on a ranch. She’s funny, honest, and her recipes are really yummy.

Smitten Kitchen –
This is probably my favorite cooking/baking blog. Deb is a NYC-based woman who loves to cook and bake, has a great sense of humor, and inspires me to want to try every single freaking recipe she’s published.

Visions of Sugar Plum –
Equals YUM. Trust me.

My Favorite Baking Supplies

  • First things first, you must buy a KitchenAid stand mixer. I know they are expensive (so ask for it for Christmas!), but they are SO worth it. They make your baking life easy and breezy and a little bit more fun (especially if you choose a cool color). Mine is yellow, my favorite happy color. If I couldn’t have yellow, I’d have turquoise. But I digress. Enough color talk.
  • Disposable pastry bags. Who the hell wants to clean goopy, sticky frosting out of a re-usable bag every time? I don’t.
  • Two good-quality 9″ round cake pans. And a few other crazy-shaped pans for fun (OK, I have more than a “few”, I just can’t help myself.)
  • An angled spatula for frosting cakes or cupcakes. Trust me, the angle is key and somehow makes thing so much easier.
  • Sprinkles sprinkles sprinkles and more sprinkles. It’s an addiction, really.
  • Comfort-grip cookie cutters. They’re so much easier on your hands, especially when you have to make A LOT of cut-out cookies.
  • A cookie scoop. Kind of like an ice cream scoop, but smaller. It’s nice because it allows all of your cookies to be the same size – and they’ll bake more evenly and consistently because of it.
  • A microplane grater/zester. If a recipe calls for lemon zest, do it. Don’t try to use lemon juice instead…cause that’s cheating and it just won’t taste as good!
  • A pastry scraper. Like this one.
  • Stainless steel measuring cups. For some reason, I just think that they are better and more accurate.

So there you have it, some of my favorite baking tools and supplies. I could have written for days on this topic… :) And now, for my last section:

Yays and Nays

  • Yay! Wilton is having a tent sale this summer! May 29th through June 16th in Woodridge, IL! Val and I will be there for sure.
  • Yay! Martha Stewart. I don’t really care what you think of Martha on a personal level. I’m sure she can be a bit of a bitch and she’s does some shady things (like that whole going-to-prison thing). But trust me, she knows her stuff. Her brand is consistently impressive – the recipes are ALWAYS good, her line of cookware is great, and she even has a fantastic scrapbooking line out now (whee!). I own all of her books and they are my bibles, as I am relatively new to cooking and baking and still learning a lot. I will definitely be at the bookstore bright and early on June 2nd when her cupcake book is released!
  • Nay! Silicon bakeware. Ugh. In theory, it seems so nice, but really, it’s so annoying. It’s hard to clean, wobbly, and just not very impressive. Stick with metal cookware and baking pans.
  • Yay! Summertime. Aside from the humidity, there isn’t one thing that I don’t like about summer. And it will give me the perfect excuse to make summer-y recipes like margarita cookies….and lemon cookies… and anything with delicious, in-season fresh fruit.

That’s it. We’ll be back soon with some new recipes!

Lemon Rosemary Shortbread

Lemon Rosemary Shortbread

I LOVE anything with butter and shortbread is one of my secret shames. I would probably cut off my left hand to get the recipe for that Scottish Walker’s shortbread, which in my mind, is the quintessentially perfect cookie. In spite of this, I am not a shortbread purist, per se, so I am open for experimentation. I have been on an herb kick lately, so I thought this recipe was worth a shot. The recipe on which this post is based calls for rolling out the dough and cutting it with cookie cutters. Once I blended in the butter, though, it immediately ‘felt’ like a pie crust (i.e. turned into sticky little crumbs), so I thought, why fight it? I pressed it into an 8″ tart pan voila! Now let’s just hope all the people at work feel the same way about rosemary…!

Lemon Rosemary Shortbread
Print Recipe

1 1/2 c. flour
1/4 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/2 c. butter, softened
1/2 tsp. lemon extract (or,preferably, ~ 2 tsp. fresh lemon zest if you have it)
2 Tbsp. minced rosemary, fresh
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar


  • Preheat oven to 325 oF.
  • Whisk together flour, sugar and salt. Beat in butter and lemon flavoring. Mix in rosemary. Add water, 1 Tbsp. at a time, to the dough and beat as necessary to achieve a consistency resembling large breadcrumbs. Dough should stick together well when squeezed between fingers.
  • Press dough into bottom of 8″ tart pan with removable bottom. Score dough into wedges (I did 16) and adorn pattern into top with end of wood skewer, if desired. Sprinkle dough with granulated sugar.
  • Bake ~35 – 40 minutes until edges begin to brown slightly. Remove from oven, cutting at scored marks once more. Let cool in pan before transferring to another container.

Happy Mother’s Day

In honor of Mother’s Day, I decided to make some flower cupcakes. As you may or may not know, I’m in the middle of moving from Chicago to Madison. So most of my baking stuff is packed in a box. Sniff. However, I made the best of it and decided to make these pretty cupcakes – that don’t involve any fancy tools or complicated techniques.

The cupcakes were made from a store-bought marble cake mix. The frosting is all store-bought as well. M&Ms, chocolate chips, mini-chocolate chips, and a few ziploc bags were all the supplies I needed. I tinted half a tub of cream cheese frosting yellow, and the other half orange. I put the frosting in two separate ziploc bags and snipped the corners in a V shape. This will give the effect of the sunflower petals. Wilton makes a pastry bag tip that will do the same thing, but the ziploc bag technique is cheaper and easier. I placed a circle of chocolate frosting in the middle of each sunflower cupcake and dipped them in mini-chips. Then I piped on the orange and yellow petals. The final step was to place a red M&M on the flower and pipe small little dots (to resemble lady bugs) using chocolate frosting and a ziploc bag (snip off the smallest part possible on the corner of the bag).

And a note about the petals — to get the frosting to look as much like petals as possible, be sure that you pipe each petal quickly. Start piping close to the chocolate chips, and then quickly pull away. This will help you achieve the tapered ends on the petals.

The other cupcakes are just decorated using some M&Ms & chocolate chips. Yum!