Monday, June 18, 2012

shortbread cookies and a sweet table

Is there anything cuter than a two-year old trying to blow out her own birthday candles? Try, a two-year old who is reaching above a dessert table to sample some frosting. On her tippy toes! There is nothing cuter in this world. Actually, no, there is. A two-year old on her birthday, reaching for some frosting....IN A GIANT PINK TUTU.

My niece just celebrated her second birthday and we wanted to throw her a great party since she was too sick on her first birthday. I made a sweet little vanilla cake with cream cheese frosting, cupcakes, shortbread "cherry" cookies and chocolate cake pops, with the theme being cherries. And pink, of course. You can never have too much pink. Ever.
 

I'm so happy to be able to experience these moments with her. She may be too young to remember any of it, but I know I won't. It's amazing how much of an individual she is at such a young age. She already knows what she likes and doesn't like. And can definitely be a little demanding at times. But...who can say no to such an adorable face?


The day was filled with sunshine, laughter, splashing around and most importantly, cake. I think she may have gotten a little over excited with all that sugar and attention. But it was all worth it in the end because it was a wonderful day. Honestly, is there anything better than a relaxing day in the sun? Didn't think so.

   

It's been a pretty busy last couple of months but I'm hoping to be able to enjoy everything the summer has to offer. Including festivals, beach time, eating out, having barbecues, eating as much dark chocolate gelato as possible, reading under a tall tree, baking to my heart's content and maybe even a little time to sleep in. 

Either way, I think it's going to be a great summer. Montreal always has something fun to offer. I feel so lucky to live in this amazing city (even though I may utter some complaints once in a while). I'm just going to say it, it's the best city in the world. But I might be just a little biased :p

I'd love to know what your summer list is. Any exciting plans?


shortbread cookies

Believe it or not, I had never made shortbread cookies before. For some reason I was always afraid that they wouldn't turn out perfectly, but this recipe is very easy to follow and yields great results. After taking a bite of these buttery delights, I know I will definitely be making some more soon. Joy of Baking also has a very informative video on how to make these.

Recipe source: Joy of Baking
Yields approximately 20 cookies, depending on size of cookie cutter
 
Ingredients

2 cups (260g) all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp (2 g) salt
1 cup (2 sticks - 227 g) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup (60 g ) icing sugar
1 tsp (4 g) pure vanilla extract

Procedure

In a small bowl whisk the flour and salt.  Set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute (You don't have to beat for very long, the butter is not supposed to be light and airy). Add the sugar and beat until smooth (about 2 minutes).  Beat in the vanilla extract. Gently stir in the flour mixture just until incorporated.  Flatten the dough into a disk shape, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill the dough for at least an hour or until firm.  

Preheat oven to 350 F  with the rack in the middle of the oven.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. On a lightly floured work surface roll out the dough into a 1/4 inch thick circle.  Cut into rounds or other shapes using a lightly floured cookie cutter.  Place on the prepared baking sheets and place in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes. (This will firm up the dough so the cookies will maintain their shape when baked.) Bake for 8 - 10 minutes, or until cookies are very lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.

Cookies will keep in an airtight container for about 1 week. Dough can also be frozen before baking.

Decorating tips: follow these steps on royal icing decorations.

For the vanilla cake, I used Sweetapolita's recipe but baked it in three 6" pans instead for a nice and tall cake. I filled it with cream cheese icing and masked it with a layer of italian meringue buttercream before decorating. 




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