Birthdays, Cookies

First Squeeze + Soft Sugar Cookies

September 11, 2018

A couple weeks ago we celebrated Evie’s First Birthday!! I can’t believe we already have a one-year-old – where did the year go?!

It’s crazy how quickly it truly goes. Everyone tells you, but you don’t realize it until you have a one-year-old and wonder where your baby went. Evie took her first steps a week before her birthday, and now walks around everywhere, doing whatever she wants haha.

I started planning for this party months in advance – and of course, the theme had to be lemon. The lemon theme came from her baby shower, and continued with her after she was born. We didn’t know if we were having a boy or girl, so the citrus theme of the shower was neutral. Truth be told, the lemon decor was actually purchased for our wedding! but we didn’t end up using it (although now, I wish we had!) We ended up using the lemons again for her newborn photos, and she just became my little lemon baby (or, lemon loaf). 

Every time I saw something with lemon print on it, it reminded me of her (and I had to have it! haha) The lemonade stand theme idea came from pinterest, of course. And the first thing I did was ask Adam if he could build me a little lemonade stand. I was inspired by this post – and had to laugh because the little girl’s name was also Evelyn.

I really wanted to make the ‘quintessential’ number “1” cookies, and had honestly never made any sugar cookies before. They always intimidated me, and mine never turned out. This time, my friend had made dozens of sugar cookies at christmas and I remember her saying this recipe for soft sugar cookies was super simple. I thought I’d give it a try, and do a trial run before the party just in case. 

They turned out SO good. Like, I didn’t even have to throw any away good (ha). The recipe could not be easier, even for a novice cookie maker like myself. The dough requires NO chilling time, and is so simple to cut out. The royal icing recipe was from Butter Baked Goods cookbook. I don’t have a lot of experience with it, but I created different consistencies (thick and thin, or flood and outline) depending on what I wanted. After a few “I’ll eat them if they look bad” cookies, they started to look really good – at least, good enough for a one-year-olds birthday party. 

The party was a hit – and she definitely loved eating her cake! The best thing I did was ask a friend to take photos for us, so we could enjoy it and not worry about it! I’m so glad we did! Thanks to Jalen Laine Photography for capturing these goofy pics!

Find the Soft Sugar Cookie recipe here

Royal Icing – Recipe from Butter Baked Goods Cookbook

Ingredients:

4 cups icing sugar

1/4 cup meringue powder

6-8 tablespoons water

Directions:

  1. In a stand mixer with whisk attachment, combine the icing sugar and meringue powder. Mix on medium speed until the meringue powder is evenly distributed throughout the icing sugar. 
  2. Turn mixer to low and slowly add the water, little by little, until the icing reaches the desired thickness and consistency. 
  3. once the water is incorporated, beat the mixture on high to create some volume and lightness in the icing. 

You want two consistencies, the outline thickness to create the shape, and the flood icing to fill in the centre without being so thin it runs over. Royal icing can be any shade, just use gel food colouring, start with a little at first and more until you get the colour you desire. 

I found a lot of helpful blogs on Pinterest about cookie decorating, and royal icing. I suggest reading a few of them before beginning so you’re ready. One tip I liked was using a spray water bottle to add water to change the thickness (not just spewing water in) and using a toothpick to pop bubbles on the tops of cookies before they’re set so they are smoother. 

I made these a week or two in advance, baked and decorated / set, and froze in single layers using parchment in tupperware. Take out the night before event to defrost, in single layers on counter. 

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Brownies, Gluten Free, Ice Cream, Non-Dairy

Brownie Ice Cream Sandwiches

August 14, 2018

If it’s as hot as it is here where you are, you’re going to want to cool down – enter these Brownie Ice Cream Sandwiches. 

A major heat wave hit Vancouver this summer and it feels never-ending. It’s one of those ‘when was the last time it rained?’ summers, which is kind of becoming the norm for us now.

Last summer, I was (super) pregnant during the heat wave and was counting down the days until Evelyn was here so that my feet weren’t the size of a clowns. I’m thankful this summer that I’m not pregnant, however I do have an *gulp* almost one-year-old that I have to run after, and keep entertained, in the shade. HOW has it been a year? I have NO idea. Time goes way too fast. She’s not a baby anymore, she’s an ice-cream-sandwich-eating one year old. I’m planning her first birthday, and baking up some treats for her too. 

I know come fall we’ll all be complaining about the rain, but for now if you want to stay cool I highly suggest making a batch of these Brownie Ice Cream Sandwiches. I had the idea last week, and knew I had to make them for a BBQ on the weekend. What’s a summer BBQ without an ice-cream treat?

I took my basic Black Bean Brownie recipe, made it in a larger pan (although, I was surprised at how thick they were still!) and then sandwiched some fro-yo in the middle with some raspberries. A summer must. 

Brownie Ice Cream Sandwiches

A summer treat to keep you cool.

Ingredients:

1 batch Black Bean Brownies
3-4 cups semi-thawed ice cream (frozen yogurt, or non-dairy of your choice)
1/2 or 1 cup of Frozen Raspberries, semi-thawed

Directions:

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line 9 x 13 inch baking dish with parchment.
2. Prepare the Black Bean Brownie batter, in high-speed blender or food processor. Blend until silky-smooth. 
3. Spread evenly into 9 x 13 inch baking dish with spatula. 
4. Bake for 15-16 minutes, until set but not over-baked. 
5. Remove from oven.
6. Allow to cool to room temperature.
7. Freeze brownies, uncovered for an hour. 
8. Once chilled, remove from freezer, along with ice-cream and raspberries. 
9. Remove brownies from baking dish with parchment paper. On a cutting board, cut brownies in half down the middle (so you have two equal rectangles) Place one aside, and leave one half on parchment. Return to baking dish.
10. Lighlty swirl together the thawed ice-cream and frozen raspberries and spread evenly onto half of the brownies. Replace other half of brownies on top of ice-cream, and press down softly.
11. Place back in freezer to set, overnight is best but a couple hours at minimum. Once ready to slice, allow to thaw a couple minutes and slice evenly into squares or rectangle sandwiches. Store in freezer bag or tupperware until ready to eat. 

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Bars & Squares, Brownies

S’mores Black Bean Brownies

July 4, 2018

It must be summer if I’m making something with s’mores!

It’s no secret that I’m a bit of a s’more lover – every summer I make sure to stock up on the essentials; marshmallows, chocolate and graham crackers. I’ve even made my own marshmallows and graham crackers (here & here!) for it! and a hybrid S’mores Marshmallows! I don’t shy away from S’mores in the winter either – even in the cold I’ll roast a mallow. I even have the cutest s’more Christmas Ornament. I feel like they could be a year-round treat. 

You’ll notice I’m a big fan of Black Bean Brownies. I’ve made them a few different ways, the original, and peanut butter swirl,. They are basically my go-to when making brownies now for two reasons, 1. they’re super simple (made in a blender!!) and 2.they’re naturally gluten/flour-free. Win. 

So obviously I had to try this creation out – and much to my delight it worked. They’re even more decadent and delicious that the original. Adam, who isn’t usually a fan of my black bean brownies, ate one and then said “These are black bean brownies??” – Yup. That good. 

What’s not to love – graham cracker crust, fudgey brownie center, and topped off with gooey toasted marshmallows. I remember making these (with normal brownies) a few summers back, but these are way better. 

These are a must for summer – especially if you aren’t anywhere near a campfire.

Follow these simple directions to turn the original recipe into a s’mores brownie.

S’mores Brownies:

1 batch Black Bean Brownies
Bag of mini-marshmallows
Package of Graham Crackers

Directions:

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 9×9 inch baking dish with parchment (can also use 8×8, increase baking time slightly)
2. Prepare the Black Bean Brownie batter, in high-speed blender or food processor. Blend until silky-smooth. 
3. Line bottom of parchment paper with graham crackers. You’ll want to keep them in squares or rectangles to fully cover the bottom of pan – not crumbs. 
4. Spread brownie batter evenly over graham crackers. Sprinkle with Chocolate chips.
5. Bake for 20 minutes. 
6. Remove from oven. Allow to cool to room temperature.
7. Before serving, sprinkle mini-marshmallows evenly over top of baked brownies. They will expand when baking, so you can leave some space. 
8. Turn ‘Broil’ function on high. Return brownie pan to oven. Closely watch brownies, roasting marshmallows until puffed and golden. About 2-3 minutes. 

Remove from oven and let cool slightly before cutting and serving. These are best made and eaten same day, but if you want to bake them a day ahead, save the marshmallow portion for the day of serving for best results.