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Crunch Time Cookies

23 April, 2013
It may be hard to believe, but at one point in time I was part of a book club. As goes with many “book clubs”, we became more of an “eating club”, and then some members began working on the weekends while others took up jogging! Needless to say, we no longer read the same book as a club (and to say that we all ever did would be a stretch), however we remain great friends.
Crunch Time Cookies
At one particular gathering, my friend Jeannie was expressing her excitement over her latest detective book where a cat helps solve the crime (crazy-sounding, right?), when my friend Jennifer and I began laughing at her. We’re snarky like that–the whole club. She said to us, “Well, you two read those culinary mysteries where Goldy Bear, the caterer, always happens to witness a crime and then goes on to solve it!” We fell off our chairs, cracking up. She was right.
Crunch Time Cookie Recipe.
But let me just say, the only reason I was even reading such a strange thing as a culinary mystery and purchasing them at full price was at the suggestion of my dear friend, Jennifer. She majored in English Lit in college and has called more trends than I can even begin to name, and it was she who slipped me my first copy of a Diane Mott Davidson novel. I figured, if it was good enough for her, it was good enough for me. I didn’t even question it!
Crunch Time Cookie.
I will say, it has been a long while since I have enjoyed one of those books, and I just might have to pick one up again soon. Truth is, they were darn good and full of wonderful recipes, even if they were slightly predictable. On one occasion, Jen and I whipped up a “Diane Mott Davidson” meal and it was fabulous, even if the power did go out!
These particular cookies are from the book “Crunch Time” and are chock full of oatmeal, toasted pecans, toffee bits, and chocolate chips.
Crunch Time Cookies {My Sugar Coated Life}
I recommend making them on the larger side and I think they are perfect for serving at a picnic or barbecue. I want to warn you that they are so delicious that they will disappear rather quickly. You don’t need to call Goldy Bear or the crime-solving cat. Unless people start slipping them into their purses.
Crunch Time Cookie My Sugar Coated Life
You may also want to savor the cookies while quietly curled up with your favorite culinary mystery.
Or perhaps a cat detective book, if you’re so inclined.
Crunch Time Cookie Dough

Crunch Time Cookies

Ingredients

1/2 cup pecan halves

1 cup butter, softened

4 oz cream cheese

1 3/4 cup light brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

2 1/2 cups rolled oats

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

2/3 cup toffee bits

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400 F. Arrange pecan halves on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Toast for 7-8 minutes in preheated oven. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

In a stand mixer, combine the butter and cream cheese and whip until light and fluffy. Add the brown sugar and continue to beat until lighter in color.

Add the eggs one at a time and then the vanilla, scraping down the bowl as necessary.

To this mixture, add the salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Beat until well combined.

Gently stir in the flour.

Next, finely chop the pecans. Add them to the dough along with the oats, chocolate chips, and toffee bits.

Make sure that the ingredients are well combined and chill the dough for at least 2-3 hours.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 F.

Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Using an ice cream scoop, measure out 3 tablespoon-size balls and place on the parchment paper lined cookie sheet. You will be able to fit about 5 cookies per sheet. Bake for 12-14 minutes. Cookies will appear underdone in the middle.

Cool on cookie sheets before moving to cooling rack. Enjoy!

Adapted from Diane Mott Davidson

http://www.mysugarcoatedlife.com/2013/04/23/crunch-time-cookies/

Minecraft Party!

23 March, 2013

My 7-year-old son has a bad habit of asking for birthday parties that are almost impossible to find supplies for. To be specific, when he was five he had a major obsession with “Ghostbusters” and particularly Peter Venkman (He must have sensed his mom liked Bill Murray). I tried to inform him that the year was not 1984 and Party City didn’t sell Slimer balloons or a “Pin the Beret on the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man” game. My son is always so enthusiastic and “encouraging” and will say things such as “I have a good idea, you could buy some balloons and draw Slimer all over them. And for the cake, I think you could make an Ectomobile! That would be so AWESOME!”

 Minecraft Party Table

I was completely overwhelmed in the heat of the summer that year and purchased a cheesy sheet cake from the local bakery that somewhat represented “Ghostbusters”. So when he asked for a Minecraft party last year I had a sick feeling in my gut that it was going to be a major DIY event.

I searched the internet and of course Pinterest, and even came up with a few ideas of my own. Now that I look back on it, there are some things that I could have done on a much grander scale. Did I mention that his birthday is in middle of the summer in the Pacific Northwest? I’m sure it was 80 degrees that day and the heat had totally gotten to me! He was pleased with the party, although he was quick to inform me of any minor details that I screwed up on. I think it’s a Minecraft thing. All of those neat boxes and lines. I’m more of a willy-nilly curly-cue type.

Creeper Cookies template3

So let’s talk about the Creeper cookies. I had seen similar cookies on Pinterest via Etsy but they looked like they were cut-outs (!!!!), and on top of it they had royal icing (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!). This girl doesn’t have the time or patience for either of the above, especially when I then have to draw Creeper faces on said cookies!

I have a sugar cookie bar recipe that I really like and is easy to make. I use parchment paper on the bottom of the cookie sheet so I can just lift these suckers right off the pan. And although it isn’t as smooth and pretty as royal icing, I prefer the flavor of buttercream frosting, specifically my recipe.

Creeper Cookies cut

After frosting them, I cut them with a pizza wheel into 3 inch squares. I used a ruler for this task to help get them somewhat even. (I’m sure not even enough if you ask someone in my household.) Next, I made a simple ganache for the Creeper faces and used the template provided here. Thanks, Matt!

Creeper Cookies complete

 

Which brings me to my next “project” for a Minecraft party, Creeper cups.

 creeper cup3

 

Simply take the template provided, some green cups, and a nice black Sharpie and trace!

creepercup 

I know it sounds like a lot of work, but trust me, if I can sweat these out during a Washington State summer, you can do it wherever you are.

Who wants to guess what next year’s theme is going to be for my boy? I haven’t a clue, but whatever it is, I will have the best time agonizing over what to do!

Creeper Sugar Cookies

Ingredients

Sugar Cookie Bars slightly adapted (from A Little Bit Crunchy A Little Bit Rock and Roll)

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

2 cups sugar

4 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

5 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Instructions

Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Meanwhile, mix the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl. Add the vanilla to the creamed mixture and then slowly add the dry ingredients.

Press down into a 13 x 18 inch pan lined with parchment paper and bake at 375F for 10-15 minutes.

Cool and frost.

http://www.mysugarcoatedlife.com/2013/03/23/minecraft-party/

Sugar Coated Buttercream Frosting (Half Recipe)

Ingredients

1/2 lb butter (1 cup), softened

1 lb powdered sugar (C&H recommended)

2 tablespoons heavy cream

1/2 tablespoon vanilla

Instructions

Place butter in the bowl of a mixer with a whisk attachment. Beat gently until creamy.

Add one third of the powdered sugar and one third of the heavy cream. Mix on low until combined and increase speed to high. Whip for 3 minutes.

Adding in thirds, repeat with the remaining powdered sugar and heavy cream.

Add 1/2 tablespoon vanilla to suit your taste.

http://www.mysugarcoatedlife.com/2013/03/23/minecraft-party/
Ganache for Creeper Faces

Ingredients

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup heavy cream

black food coloring

Instructions

Melt chocolate chips and heavy cream in the microwave for 30 seconds. Stir. Most of the chocolate should be melted, but if not, put back in the microwave in 10 second increments until fully melted. Add black food coloring. Wait for ganache to cool either at room temperature or you can speed it up by placing in the refrigerator. I used a Wilton #2 tip to pipe the faces, but you could just as easily snip the end of a bag!

http://www.mysugarcoatedlife.com/2013/03/23/minecraft-party/

Buttercream Frosting

Frequently, I am asked about my buttercream frosting, as if there is some big secret! Well, let me assure you, I use everyday ingredients and the instructions are quite simple.

Years ago, I was experimenting with several different frosting recipes that just weren’t yielding the results I was hoping for. Overwhelming powdered sugar taste, flavorless from shortening (it’s BUTTERcream!), or much too runny. I was frustrated!

What I really wanted was a smooth, buttery frosting with a lovely hint of vanilla. I got out my Kitchen Aid and started with a pound of butter, two pounds of powdered sugar, enough cream to ensure the powdered sugar didn’t fly everywhere, and a splash of vanilla. I also wanted to give it a good whip. My mom always used milk in her frosting, but a former boss had mentioned that she used cream, so my reasoning was if I was using cream, and whipping it A LOT, it may come out a little whipped-creamish?  I figured I would mess with it, add more of this, less of that. But I didn’t have to. It was perfect!

This is now my go-to recipe for frosting cakes, decorating cookies, and more often than not, piping directly into my sweet children’s mouths!

Buttercream Frosting

My biggest recommendations for successfully making this frosting are to have a Kitchen Aid or other really heavy duty mixer and also to use powdered sugar made from pure cane (such as C&H), as brands containing beet sugar can create an off-odor in your final product.

*At times I need or prefer a frosting that is slightly less sweet. I’ve found that reducing the powdered sugar by half a pound is just right. If you do this, also reduce the heavy cream by one tablespoon.

Pipe, Spread, Fill, Enjoy!

Sugar Coated Buttercream Frosting

Ingredients

1 lb butter (2 cups), softened

2 lbs powdered sugar (C&H recommended)

4 tablespoons heavy cream

1/2-1 tablespoon vanilla

Instructions

Place butter in the bowl of a mixer with a whisk attachment. Beat gently until creamy.

Add one third of the powdered sugar and 1 1/3 tablespoons of the heavy cream. Mix on low until combined and increase speed to high. Whip for 3 minutes.

Adding in thirds, repeat with the remaining powdered sugar and heavy cream.

Add 1/2 to 1 tablespoon vanilla to suit your taste.

*If adjusting the recipe to the less sweet version, reduce powdered sugar to 1 1/2 lbs and heavy cream to 3 tablespoons.

http://www.mysugarcoatedlife.com/2013/03/19/sugarcoatedbuttercreamfrosting/