Friday, March 29, 2013

What's Baking? March: Sprinkles!

Oh this was fun! Our March What's Baking? theme was sprinkles. Anything you want, as long as it has sprinkles! So I went right out and bought a giant thing of sprinkles. Actually I toyed with the idea of making my own, but that was a little overly ambitious. I forget how few empty hours I have now that I'm teaching!

Jen the Beantown Baker hosted this month, so go see what everyone else made!

I wasn't entirely sure what I wanted to make, but then friend N posted an adorable cookie idea on facebook- Easter basket cookies! We have no lack of sweets at Easter, but these were too cute to pass up.
See? Ridiculous in its cuteness.

Now, the original recipe, like many Easter cupcake and cookie recipes, used coconut, to simulate Easter grass. Several members of my family do not like coconut (ranging from don't care for to despise utterly), and I thought sprinkles would be the perfect substitute. I also found, way in the back of my pastry tools drawer, a jar of Easter sprinkles I bought a few months ago. Yes!!

For the cookies, I used my favorite sugar cookie recipe (from Alton Brown), and instead of rolling them out, I took a little less than a tablespoon of dough, rolled it into a ball, and placed each ball into the well of a mini muffin tin (spray well with nonstick cooking spray!!). I pressed my thumb into each, like when you make a thumbprint cookie, and baked at the normal 357F but for a few minutes longer, 15-17min.

 Alton Brown's sugar cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1T milk
1t vanilla or other flavoring (if you want, not in the original recipe)
3-3.5 cups of flour
3/4t baking soda
1/4t salt

Beat the butter and sugar together for a until minutes until nice and fluffy. Beat in the egg and milk and flavoring. Sift together 3 cups of flour with the soda and salt, and add in 2 batches to the butter/sugar mixture. Usually you'd refrigerate this dough, but I just floured my hands well and started rolling it into balls.

I let the cookie cups cool in the pans, then pulled them out and let them cool overnight before frosting.

I used my favorite frosting recipe, from the Magnola Bakery Cookbook. I just made half a recipe and it was plenty.

1stick butter, room temperature
4-5 cups of powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
1t vanilla

Combine butter, 2 cups of sugar, milk and vanilla in a bowl and beat til well-combined. Gradually add in more flour, about 1/2 cup at a time, until you reach the desired consistently. Beat for at least a couple minutes between each sugar addition. Color if desired (I planned to, but then thought it might camouflage the sprinkles too much).

Assembly: pipe a little bit of frosting into the well of the cookie cup (I used a star tip but it doesn't matter. I find piping easier than spreading. More things to wash, but also more control). Sprinkle with the sprinkles a the "easter grass", press in if necessary. Add in a few jelly beans to be your Easter eggs, and then cut a licorice lace to a good length and stick into the frosting to be your basket handle.

Note: the handles are decorate, not functional. You can't pick up the cookie by the licorice lace handle!
Note #2: if you plan to bring these somewhere else to serve, unless you have a really tall tupperware, I recommend assembling everything but the licorice lace handle, pack them all in your tupperware, and then add the handle when you're arranging them on the serving plate. Seems obvious, but possibly not until you've already done a bunch and now have several licorice laces with frosting-y ends.

 here you can see my supplies: I wanted Starburst jellybeans, but the Easter candy section at the grocery store was pretty picked over. these are Sweettart jelly beans, which are pretty good. I also got Swedish Fish jellybeans, which are dangerously good. :-/

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