Friday, December 30, 2011

New Year Resolution Cookies

Do you make New Years Resolutions?  I usually do not because they are really hard to keep.  And while everyone thinks that it would be great to do this, or do that, I realize that we all simply do what we can do.   I eat as healthy as I can (could be healthier).  I go to the gym as often as I can (could be more often).  And I’m sure you do as well.

I made these cookies because I thought they were a creative way to express the top resolutions each year.  I also got to use my new food colour printer. I’m going to tell you all about it next year – which is really soon;)

Last year I did say that I wanted to have a blog entry at least four times a month.  I’m very proud to say I ALMOST did it!  This is my 46 entry for 2011 which means I am two short, but feeling very good about it.  I hope you learned as much as I did from this little blog – got some ideas, recipes and maybe even a little inspiration.

I hope 2012 is a wonderful year full of hope and promise, health and peace.

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Cookies and Milk for Santa

Christmas is a holiday full of tradition.  And tonight I’m sure lots of people are taking off their Christmas sweaters, putting on PJs, reading “The Night Before Christmas” and putting out cookies and milk for Santa.  I love the tradition of putting milk and cookies.  Not sure if it because it involves cookies or because it involves believing in something.  Everyone needs to have faith in something and a jolly guy in a red suite who brings presents to all who believe is still a good thing.   

I made these cookies in September and kept thinking they would be great as a letter to Santa in case the letter sent to the North Pole got lost.  I supersized this letter to Santa and made it out of a gingerbread cookie.  I used the side of the house of the Wilton Gingerbread House Cutter Set – it is about 5”x 7”.  I flooded the cookie with white royal icing (as always I use Ateco meringue powder) and blue and red for the lines on the paper.  The cookie dried overnight.  I used black AmeriColor Food Colour Markers to actually write the note.  Pete wanted a white Christmas, which I’m not sure will be happening in Toronto this year, so I included a snowflake sugar cookie too.  This letter can be personalized as you wish or your kids can actually write or sign their own letter. 

What kind of cookies are you leaving for Santa? 

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2011

My Mom's “Secret Ingredient” Latkes

It is Hanukkah this week.  The first candle was on Tuesday and this festival of lights lasts for eight nights.  It is traditional to cook foods in oil on this holiday and not because just about anything fried is yummy.  The oil used in the cooking is symbolic of the drop of oil from the Hanukkah story that kept the Second Temple of ancient Israel lit with a long-lasting flame that is celebrated as a miracle.  We eat latkes, in Israel every bakery if full of jelly donuts.  In the days of low fat, low carb, low everything, it is a miracle that we can even discuss latkes in such an open fashion.

When my Mom is cooking the yummiest latkes in the world, you can smell them frying three blocks away.  Now that being said, I think when anyone is making latkes you can smell them miles away because they have got to be one of the smelliest things to cook.  Here are a few tricks to minimize the smell: boil cinnamon sticks, burn a pure beeswax candle and throw EVERYTHING you are wearing into the laundry right after cooking. 

Latkes are a labour of love.  If you are opening your heart and your kitchen to frying latkes, it means you must really love the people you are cooking for.  My Mom has made hundreds of pounds of potatoes over the many years of cooking latkes – she really loves us, not to mention sharing her recipe and method.  I really think my Mom’s latkes are extra special.  They are solid and fluffy at the same time.

Now I know this blog is really about baking but it is Hanukkah so I thought I would throw in this recipe to see if anyone would notice.

2 cups grated raw potatoes – she likes red potatoes best for latkes
2 – 4 tbsp grated onion
2 eggs
2 tbsp pancake mix – THE secret ingredient
salt & pepper to taste
This recipe can be doubled, tripled or quadrupled depending on the number of latkes you need.

Peel potatoes -- if you are not using right away put in ice water so they potatoes don't turn grey.

Grate potatoes – my Mom likes them quite mushy but if you prefer a bit more stringy, go for it a lot of people like the stringy edges which end up being quite crispy.

In a clean tea towel or cheese cloth, press excess moisture until potatoes are quite dry.

Potatoes before being pressed
Pressed or "dry" potatoes

Combine potatoes, eggs, pancake mix, salt and pepper.

Drop by tablespoons onto a hot, well greased skillet – if you are making lots use two fry pans.  Please remember to never leave the hot oil unattended.

Cook over moderate heat for about 5 minutes on each side, until golden brown.

Drain on paper towel.

I think they are best served straight out of the fry pan but I also know that this is not always realistic.  If you are serving them the same day, put on a parchment lined cookie sheet and heat up when you need them.  If you are making them in advance, freeze them on a parchment lined cookie sheet, and once frozen put in a freezer bag or container.  To re-heat frozen latkes place on parchment lined cookie sheet and put in 400-425 hot oven for 30-40 minutes.

Serve with sour cream or apple sauce or whatever you can think of.

My Dad ate his latkes with vinegar.  I have an uncle who uses sugar and another who uses ketchup. 

Let me know if you have a favorite topping.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Reindeer Noses - Last Minute Idea

I have always had a soft spot for Rudolph.  Not sure if it was because all of the other reindeer used to laugh and call him names (those other reindeer were really like mean girls) or because he was just so darn adorable – red nose and all!  I think these cookies provide a nice tribute to Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer and are pretty cute too.  And the best part is that they are super simple.

I know everyone is scrambling for last minute holiday “stuff”, so this easy peasy idea is sure to bring a smile to many -- including you because, did I mention, simple, easy and relatively effortless?

Using whatever size circle cookie cutter, bake 9 round cookies.  Just so you don’t waste precious baking time trying to figure out all of the other reindeer names they are: 1. Dasher 2. Dancer 3. Prancer 4. Vixen 5. Comet 6. Cupid 7. Donner and 7. Blitzen.  I made the Rudolph noses out of sugar cookies with red icing and red decorative sugar and all of the other reindeer (you know the mean ones;) out of my chocolate sugar cookie recipe.  I actually also made these all out of sugar cookies of which 8 were decorated with brown icing and brown sugar and because it was so popular I also did them in plain gingerbread.  So your choice – the gingerbread and chocolate sugar cookies do not need to be decorated at all.

This is a fun, kid friendly baking idea even on a foggy Christmas day (which is what the weather outside in Toronto looks like right now).

Let me know if you make these -- send me a note or better a picture –- I love seeing how your creations work out.  Happy baking!  And, in this case if you sing along, that is perfectly acceptable.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Gingerbread Heaven

The "BOYS"

The "MEN"

Why is it that when we think of Christmas we think of gingerbread cookies?  I mean gingerbread has to be some of the yummiest cookies and why most people make them only at the festive holiday season really does not make any sense at all. 

For those of you who have been following my baking you may have noticed that I will never succumb to this December gingerbread fetish – I make ginger cookies throughout the year.  In March, I made gingerbread Purim masks  and in July I shared a Ginger Doodle recipe.  Maybe, subconsciously, I want that holiday feeling all year long.  The feeling of peace on earth and goodwill towards our neighbors – not to mention the sweet smell of gingerbread baking.

Here are some sweet gingerbread cookies I made recently.  These cute gingerbread boys, girls and men, were inspired by Bakerella, and a lot of sprinkles.  Sitting down to the great smell and a ton of sprinkles allowed my mind to go and my creativity to fly.  They were as fun to make as they were to eat.

Wishing you a holiday season full of joy, Santa and gingerbread.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

My Favorite Things Giveaway

I’ve been blogging and Facebooking (yes, it can be a verb) for just over a year and I thought we should celebrate.   Bakerella was a huge baking inspiration to me and she still is for even more reasons.  Last year I had the fun opportunity to meet her and give away a signed copy of her CAKE POPS book.  So I though in keeping with that spirit, this year I would include her fabulous CAKE POP KIT – but that is not all.

Oprah, Martha, Julie Andrews (as in brown paper packages tied up with string)… they all have their favorite things and, so do I.  My favorite things in this giveaway include:
* 3 mini spatulas (which I seriously could not live without)
* “I Can Bake Vanilla Sugar Snowflakes” sugar cookie mix with snowflake cookie cutter (I love making snowflakes sugar cookies are so fun to bake because they are all different and festive)
* Wilton Mitten Comfort-Grip Cutter (what says winter like a mitten?)
* 2 squeeze bottles with tips that can be changed
* 1 container (5 oz.) Ateco Meringue Powder (which I have said over and over again tastes like marshmallows) – not in photo but definitely one of my favorites so I had to include.

I love this giveaway because it gets you all set up to bake for the holidays – cakepops and cookies.

Are you excited?  I am!

So what else do I need to tell you?  You need the details on how to get involved in this awesome favorite giveaway -- which are as follows…

1. Make a comment at the bottom of any blog post from now until December 4, 2011 telling me about your favorite cookie, what you will be baking for the holidays or a cute holiday baking story and include that you want to win.

2.  Click on the facebook “like” button to press Flour Child.  Comment on Facebook letting me know you want to win.  

3.  Get a friend to “like” Flour Child on Facebook and let me know.

So that is 3 ways to get your name in the random draw to win My Favorite Things giveaway (yes if you get ten friends to like Flour Child, you get 10 chances to win – so you can have multiple chances -- but lets say up to 12 entries per person to give everyone a fair shot).

The contest closes 7 pm on Sunday December 4, 2011.

Good Luck!

With Peace & Cookies


P.S. This giveaway is offered and sponsored by me.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Sweet & Salty Chocolate Pretzel Shortbread

I love the sweet/salty combination so when I saw this recipe for Pretzel-Shortbread Bars in a recent issue of Martha Stewart Living I had to try it.  It just sounded too good to be true the sweet the salty the perfection – I would no longer need to be torn between those two contrasting and favorite tastes because it was going to be all in one cookie.

I ran out to The Main Course (one of my favorite kitchen stores in Toronto) to buy a 4¼” x 13 ½” fluted tart pans with a removable bottom which the recipe calls for but totally does not need because you can make it in an 8” or 9” square or circle pan.  Martha never tells you these kinds of details so you end up with a lot of pans that you really don’t have room for – because few of us have multiple huge kitchens like Martha.  That being said, I do see that this fluted tart pan will be a useful pan for brunch tarts and making this recipe over and over again. 

And then, I made the recipe as directed.  It was good, really quite nice, but (did you hear that coming…) I just felt it was missing something.  I sampled it around to some friends and everyone liked it but (see that word again…) a few discerning friends agreed that it could be even better.  Carol and Shari suggested chocolate chips which I though was a really good idea and was going to go down that path until I had a very serious discussion with my friend Alan who mentioned that he does not really like pretzels unless they are chocolate covered – LIGHT BULB -- and I adapted the recipe. 
This really great shortbread will satisfy a multiple of flavour cravings in a single morsel so no need to bake anything else.

1½ cups mini pretzels in any shape (this is going to be ground into ½ cup of “pretzel flour”
1½ cups chocolate covered pretzels (this makes the crumble pretzels – I think even the pretzel M&M’s would be great but if I keep adapting this recipe I’ll never get it posted)
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp baking powder
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup sugar
1 large egg yolk

Preheat oven to 325O
Coat a 4¼” x 13 ½” fluted tart pan with removable bottom with cooking spray (TIP:  remember you can use 8” or 9” square or circle pan // ANOTHER TIP:  When baking I use a baking spray with flour -- specifically I use Pillsbury Baking Spray with Flour).

Pulse 1½ cups pretzels in a food processor until powdery (this is what I’m calling “pretzel flour” – you need ½ cup of this so you may need a bit more or you may end up with a little extra (save this for the next time you make this recipe.  Martha says to discard any extra but I think you will want to make this again so save it.  Transfer ½ cup of pretzel flour to a bowl.  Stir in flour and baking powder.  

Crush the 1½ cups of chocolate covered pretzels – make different sizes to give the cookies some dimension – some can be more coarsely chopped than others.  I used these Rold Gold because they are delish and come in a great size bag -- can probably make two batches with this but I ate the ones I did not use because they are sweet and salty (did I mention I really like that flavour combo?).

Beat butter and sugar with a mixer on medium speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes.  Reduce speed to low and beat in egg yolk, followed by pretzel-flour mixture, until combined.  Hand mix in chocolate covered pretzels.

Press dough evenly into pan. 

Bake shortbread 20 to 25 minutes.

Let cool on a wire rack.

Remove cooled shortbread from pan and cut into nice size pieces that work for you.  I cut mine into rectangles because 1. I bought the pan and 2. Martha told me to.

So I learned a thing or two in making these cookies.  I learned that it is OK to play around a great recipe base and make it your own.  And I learned (well this one I already knew) that sharing with friends makes everything better – I had lots of taste testers on this cookie because getting it just right to share took a few flopped batches. 

If you try this recipe or add your own special ingredient please let me know how it turned out.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Polar Bear, Polar Bear, Do You Hear Christmas Coming?

Do you know the Eric Carle / Bill Martin Jr. book Polar Bear, Polar Bear What Do You Hear?   It’s a great question and response book that draws kids into a fun interaction as they imitate animal sounds.  While I was making these fuzzy (that is to say sugary) polar bear cookies I kept thinking of the book and saying Polar Bear, Polar Bear do you hear the holidays coming?  These cookies are cuddly as a bear and will look super cute individually wrapped with any colour ribbon.  I must say I love white cookies for the holidays – they just work.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

"Pecan Puffs" or "Snow Balls"

I’m not the only baker in my family.  My husband has some favorites from his childhood including his Mom’s recipe for “Pecan Puffs” or as he calls them, “White Balls”-- which may have been fine 40 years ago but today has a whole different connotation.  I think they are a fabulous holiday cookie so I’m calling them “Snow Balls”.  One of the reasons they are such a great Holiday cookie is because they can be made and frozen in advance.  You can pull out as many as you need when guests arrive, recoat with icing sugar, and still have more for New Years.  They are a very festive cookie, look really pretty in mini-baking cups and totally melt in your mouth yummy. 

Here is a jump start on your holiday baking -- you can thank me later by posting how they turned out or how great it was to have them in your freezer for any pleasantly unexpected guests who show up around the holidays.

1 cup butter (room temperature is always easier)
½ cup icing sugar (plus more for coating)
2 cups flour
1 tsp. vanilla
¾ cup ground pecans

Preheat oven to 3000.
Cream butter and icing sugar until really smooth.  Stir in vanilla.
Add flour and stir until combined.  Mix in ground pecan.
Roll into 1½ inch balls.
Bake for 15 – 20 minutes, until the bottoms are golden brown – don’t forget to ALWAYS turn the cookie sheet half way
Put some icing sugar in a small bowl.  While still warm, roll each cookie in the sugar, and set on a rack to cool.
Once cool, you can put in a bag or container for the freezer. 
Pull out as many cookies as required.
Re-coat with icing sugar before serving.
Makes about 40 cookies – could be more or less depending on cookie size.

So whether you call these cookies Pecan Puffs, Snow Balls or White Balls we hope you enjoy these childhood favorites of the “other” baker in our family.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Moustaches for Movember

Did you know its Movember? -- the 11th month of the year that some call November.  In Movember you will notice moustaches sprouting up on thousands of men’s faces, in Canada and around the world. With their “Mo’s”, the men raise funds and awareness for men's health, specifically the fight against prostate cancer.  I made these Mo cookies and sponsored my 16-year-old cousin Noah in his quest to grow an awesome Mo.  What are you doing for Movember?  

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Itsy Bitsy HAIRY Spiders

It is not quite clear to me that I simply can't do the scary Halloween stuff -- even these hairy spiders are kinda cute and really easy to make.  Royal icing body and legs covered in black sprinkles which give a hairy (but not so scary) effect.  Bagged up and ready for Halloween!  Question -- when did green and purple become Halloween colours?  Who cares -- they are super together.  Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Gingerbread Skeletons -- Scary or Cute?

I can’t decide if these Halloween skeletons are scary or cute?  These chocolate brownie cookies are made with a gingerbread man cookie cutter and I draw on the skeleton with white royal icing.  I love making these cookies and I particularly like that the faces are all different.  Maybe some are cuter than others – what do you think?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Hamsa Peace Cookies

These HAMSA cookies  were baked in honour of the release of Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier held captive for over five years.  The Hamsa is a palm-shaped amulet popular for providing protection against the evil eye.  I have written the word Shalom on the cookies, and while all FLOUR CHILD cookies are totally baked with peace and love, these really are PEACE cookies.  

Friday, October 14, 2011

Good Grief -- Is It a Ghost or a Kid in a Costume?

I like Halloween a lot – like seriously who doesn’t? – treats and costumes just means pure cuteness (even the scary stuff is still cute).  And nothing is as cute at Halloween as the Peanuts in The Great Pumpkin.  Remember how, every year Linus would sit in the pumpkin patch on Halloween night waiting for the Great Pumpkin which invariably did not show and Lucy would ask for extra treats for her “blockhead” brother and Charlie Brown would get rocks.  I loved ghost costumes each of the characters dressed up in and how they sort of shuffled together to trick-or-treat.  I made this cookie to look like a kid in a ghost costume and was inspired by the Peanut kids.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Now We Are Talking Turkey

Monday is Canadian Thanksgiving and that means I am “Talkin’ Turkey”.  Nice thing about these turkeys is that all the fixins are included and there is no fear that they will be dried out because I used my chocolate brownie cookie recipe

Materials Needed for Decorating:
- candy caramel corn – I used the Thanksgiving colours that you can sometimes find but if not the Halloween one will look just as cute
- small heart sprinkles
- candy eyes
- tweezers
- melted chocolate in a squeeze bottle if you want royal icing will also work
- royal icing – orange and white –- as always I stress how much I like Ateco meringue - --- powder because it takes like marshmallows
- round cookie cutter – any size will work the one I used was about 3” around

Instructions and Tips:

Roll out the dough and bake according to the recipe.

I actually sorta placed everything around the cookie to see how it would look before I stuck everything on – just as practice.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler and pour into squeeze bottle OR melt right in the bottle.
Squeeze a line of melted chocolate (or royal icing) and place caramel corns across the top to form the tail feathers.  Let dry (I actually put in the fridge for a few minutes).

Add the eyes with white royal icing.

Draw an orange triangle for the beak and place the heart sprinkle for the wattle – that thing that hangs down under the beak – who knew it was called a wattle?  My sister-in-law that is who knew because I did not know and called her for vocabulary help (THANKS Jill).

Draw the legs.

If you take time to make these, take a little more time and let me know how they turned out.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Fall Fashion Cookies

I’m back from Italy and, all of a sudden, the leaves are starting to change, the weather is getting a bit cooler and the days are getting shorter.  It is quite properly the fall season which means I can start to pull out my turtlenecks and tights, go for long walks with the dogs and make fall cookies.  I LOVE the fall – the colours are so awesome and the air is fresh.  I tried to replicate the reds, oranges, yellows and browns of the fall colours in these cookies.  But to really appreciate the beauty of autumn, please take some time for a walk to see and smell the best of the season (although the cookies smell pretty good too).

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Busy as a Bee for Rosh Hashanah

I’m already starting to think about the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, and dreaming of apples and honey because I know September 28 will be here sooner than I want.  And, as always, I’m making apple cookies with sugar sprinkles and royal icing bumble bees.  Bags of cookies and bigger baskets with individually wrapped cookies will be available.  Send me a note if you are interested.  Wishing you a happy and healthy year full of sweet things.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Happy Back to School!

At least I waited until the end of August to remind everyone it is back to school time.  It is simply not fair when companies start advertising back to school in JULY!  What’s up with that?  But here at Flour Child the reminder is as fun as it can possibly be given the circumstance – COOKIES!!!  I really like the cute pencil but I love the note paper (thinking these would be great for notes to Santa at Christmas and love notes at Valentines Day too).  I hope everyone going back to school – whether starting kindergarten or graduate school in university – has lots of success.  Wishing everyone an A+ year full of learning lots of new things.

P.S. leave a comment on your favorite thing to buy for back to school (I always had the best pencil case -- just ask my friend Suzanne;)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Chunky Monkey or Coco Loco Banana Bread

I think everyone has a favorite banana bread recipe.  I know I do – its from The Complete Magnolia Bakery Cookbook. I particularly love it because it has coconut in it and anything with coconut I just adore.  I adapted the recipe, ever so slightly, as it calls for pecans and I put in peanut butter chocolate chips instead.  You can adapt your fav banana bread to include coconut and chocolate chips instead of using the one below. I love these President Choice mini chips – they come in three flavors – fudge, caramel and peanut butter – each is yummy and could work in this recipe.


3 cups flour
1½ tsp baking soda
¾ tsp cinnamon
¾ tsp salt
¾ cup canola oil
1½ cups sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature, well beaten
1½ tsp vanilla
1½ cups mashed ripe bananas (approx. 4 depending on the size)
¾ cup sour cream
¾ cup sweetened shredded coconut
1 to 1½ cups of chocolate peanut butter or other chips for a nut free alternative


Preheat Oven to 350 degrees.

Grease and lightly flour a 1-=inch tube pan – this makes a big cake which is super if you are having people for brunch.  I have also make it as 3 medium sized loafs – I use one and freeze the others.

Sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt – set aside.

In a large electric mixer bowl, beat together the oil and sugar.  Add the eggs and vanilla, beat until well combined.  Add the bananas and sour cream and mix really well.  Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. 

Stir in (by hand) the coconut and peanut butter chips. 

Pour the batter into the prepared pan (or pans).

Bake for 60-70 minutes (45-55 if using smaller pans), or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the bread comes out with moist crumbs attached.

Let cool for at least 1 hour before removing from the pan and serving.

I was not sure if the name should be coco loco (because of the coconut) OR chunky monkey (because of the whole banana and chocolate thing).  Let me know what you think!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Funky Town Disco Cookies

Not sure if you have seen Glee 3-D or not but these funky disco cookies are a great way to get down and celebrate any Saturday Night fever.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Want Some More S'mores?

They are called S’mores because once you eat one, you always want SOME MORE! 

Real s’mores are a campfire treat are made with a roasted marshmallow and piece of chocolate sandwiched between two graham crackers.

For me, s’mores bring back some of the best memories of summer nights at camp, the cottage and canoe trips in Algonquin park.

But, because we can’t always be campfire side, these cookies are a great substitute AND if you make them right, you may still have the gooey mess that is part of the s’more fun.

I got the recipe from Martha Stewart and made a (very) few modifications.


1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats -- I use Quaker Oats
1 cup all-purpose flour -- I ALWAYS use Five Roses Flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour -- again with the Five Roses
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
15 large marshmallows, cut in half  horizontally
chocolate cut into 30 squares I used 2 boxes of these Hershey's 
Bliss chocolates (milk chocolate and caramel) -- each box 
contains 15 pieces and the recipe makes 30 cookies so I would say 
that is better than perfect.  But you can really use any of your 
favorite chocolate bars cut into 30 squares

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a food processor, pulse oats until finely ground. Add flours, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt; pulse to combine. 

Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until pretty fluffy. Beat in egg, scraping down side of bowl. With mixer on low, beat in flour mixture until just combined.

I use a small ice cream scooper to form the dough into 30 balls placed 1 inch apart, onto two baking sheets. Top each with a chocolate square. 

Bake just until lightly golden, 12 to 15 minutes.  I always put just one cookie sheet in at a time and rotate the sheet halfway through. 

Remove sheets from oven; heat broiler. 

Top each cookie with half a marshmallow. One sheet at a time, broil until marshmallows are lightly browned, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Put the light on in the oven and watch the marshmallows really carefully as they brown VERY quickly and can burn really easily.

Cool on wire racks.
Bet you will be wanting s'more than just one!  Happy Summer!