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Monday, April 29, 2013

Coastal Theme Tea Cakes

I really enjoy baking with Nordic Ware pans - I'm getting quite a little collection going!  You may have seen my rose cakelets, my mini bundts, my Christmas tea cakes, etc.

My newest acquisition is their Sea Shell Tea Cake pan.  It has been on my Amazon Wish List for over 18 months...and I finally just DID IT.

The outside of the pan shows what your
finished product should look like

The inside shows you what tiny little bits of batter
will fit in the tea cake pan...1 Tbsp each.
 I have had issues in the past with overfilling these tiny little sections and I was thinking hard about what would not rise too much and would be moist and dense enough for one bite to be "just about enough".  I decided I would test the pan with a box of Milk Chocolate Brownie Mix I had bought a few weeks ago.    As you can see below, they turned out pretty good!  A few of them have "edges" but all were easy to see, nicely outlined, sea life tea cakes!  I had enough batter to make another pan, using my mini tea cake pan I used in the Christmas endeavors of 2011.  What was nice about using the dark batter was the ability to see more clear outlines.  I didn't take pictures of those using the other pan  because I was in a big hurry.  However, I sent all of these and some of the tea cakes from the other pan over to Joni at Paragraphs on Padre Blvd for treats at the Rio Grande Valley International Poetry Festival readings.  I heard a little feedback that they were enjoyed so, even though I used a box mix, it was the "just right" density to work in these little sea shell shaped treatlets!

If anyone has a suggestion for a homemade recipe I can use for tea cakes, please send me a link... I'd love to find that "just right" recipe for using these adorable little pans!!!

The final unadorned tea cakes - very tasty and quite cute!
Bon Appetit, Y'all!!!StumbleUpon

Friday, April 26, 2013

Cookie Memories

My regular readers may have noticed I have been very "off" lately.  I have experienced some losses that nearly wiped me out and baking and blogging on a regular basis have been more than I could handle.  I just worked on putting one foot in front of the other to make it through the last 7 months or so.  As Dory the fish so eloquently said it, I just had to "just keep swimming, just keep swimming".

For the past 3 days I have been baking cookies and decorating them for a Memorial Service for my big sister.  She loved the beach.  Everyone is encouraged to wear coastal attire to the service.  I have my new tropical shirt, my best flip flops, my dolphin necklace, and my mermaid earrings.  I'm almost ready.

In her honor I made cookies for after the service fellowship.  The entire endeavor was a cathartic walk down Memory Lane.  I began with sand dollar cookies - which brought back memories of our regular childhood camping trips to Mustang Island and Port Aransas.  We'd search for shells for hours and, in those days, the sand dollars were the primo find.  Now-a-days we rarely find more than the occasional broken sand dollar.  It's a sad commentary on the state of our oceans!

Sand Dollar cookies with a pearl sheen

I also made "my version" of conch shells.  Big sister loved The Keys.  She had one last chance to try to make it to her beloved Keys in December when I called her back home because our Mom died. She never was well enough again to make the, conch shell cookies are my offering.  I'm sure she is smiling.

My version of conch shell cookies - a little dry brushed pink
lustre dust gives the edge a little shimmer

She loved bright colors - yellows and oranges and aqua - the colors of the tropics.  So, my version of scallop shells with orange and yellow feathering.

Scallop Shell cookies with orange and yellow feathering.
After drying, embellished with some dots and lines.  I liked this set.

Palm tree cookies - she loved laying on a hammock hanging between two palms.  Reading a book or napping or just swaying to the gentle breeze off the Atlantic Ocean.  My first piping icing wasn't thick enough, so I had to get creative.  I think they turned out okay...but they sure do have a lot of royal icing on those palms!

The rustling sound of palms is one of my favorite sounds
These cookies have coconuts - our palms do not.
I liked the look though, so coconuts they are!

Dolphins - ahhhh, the dolphins.  We used to ride the ferry to Mustang Island and the dolphins danced around the ferry, smiling their happy smiles, delighting the souls of children and adults alike.  When I moved to the South Padre Island area I told her about our tribe.  She told me in January "I want to go see the dolphins with's on my bucket list".  I knew that wouldn't happen because she would never have been able to make the 7 hour journey.  She entered at-home hospice care in January.  We met in Port Aransas instead, as one of her final wishes, and the dolphins were at the ferry waiting for her.  So, dolphin cookies were a must.  Dolphin Love - it's the best.

A happy pod of dolphin cookies

Flip Flops - we were two true flip flop devotees!  I know I have a LOT of flip flops - but she may have had more.  Flip flop cookies were mandatory!

Flip Flops - piled up like mine are.  I had fun making these.

The last batch of cookies are more about her beautiful grandchildren.  She had a lot of grand kids for a 62 year young woman!  She loved to tickle their tummies when they were little and say the belly button bug was getting them (a ladybug of course).  So, the final batch was my first attempt at lady bug cookies.  I hope they love them.  Unfortunately, I know they will turn their mouths black and red.  I did try the trick of adding cocoa powder to the icing to darken it before adding the black food coloring.  I definitely used less black gel color, but still...I'm anticipating some colorful mouths!  I used a tutorial from O So Sweet Cookies - and it was perfect.  I have had the lady bug cookie cutter for a while and never got to making them.  This was the perfect opportunity.

Lady Bugs - my first attempt...cute!

My cookie dough was in the freezer waiting for me (thank goodness) and I used both my long-time favorite Mather World's Best Sugar Cookie Dough and Lila Loa's Vanilla Variation.  I used Ali's Sweet Tooth's method of making royal icing and not a single bag separated!  Yay!!!

Now, after this I hope life will return to the more gentle pace I grew accustomed to when we moved to the coast.  I need the peace and tranquility of the waves lapping, the gulls calling, the pelicans soaring, and the sand between my toes.  I know, then, I will be able to feel the previous joy I felt for baking and blogging and sharing my meandering thoughts with my blog readers.  Thanks for hanging with me during this really icky time of my life.  I'm hoping this will be the final melancholy post you will have to endure from me!

Bon Appetit, Y'all!!! 

UPDATE: 4/29/2013:  At the reception in Fellowship Hall,
the tables were decorated with leis, coastal ornaments, and
my cookies!  Everyone seemed very appreciative.
It was a lovely ceremony, filled with spirituality and
love and caring.  Happy Trails my dear sister!


Friday, April 12, 2013

Cookies for Book Signing

I love to take baked goods to share when our wonderful indie bookstore, Paragraphs on Padre Blvd, hosts a book signing.  I haven't been in my baking groove (as you can tell from the lack of posts) for some time.  Last night and this morning, however, I was "on" and ready to bake!  Both of these cookies have been blogged about before - but I decided to go ahead and re-post anyway!  The Lemon Ricotta Cookie below was changed only by the utilization of Meyer Lemons this time around.  Have to say I LOVE them.  I made one tiny change to the glaze by zesting two lemons instead of one in the glaze.  Meyer Lemon zest is much less tart (to my taste) than the usual lemons used in the past.  They are a cake-like cookie which I find very appealing.  I think they turned out great.

The other treat is a Vanilla Bean Madeleine.  Also, the perfect joining of cookie and cake!  Sometimes I make excellent Madeleines with no effort...and other times, like today, each batch was a struggle.  Nonetheless, they turned out okay and taste quite yummy.

If you are a local, and want to try any of these treats, come by the Pat McGrath Avery signing and discussion of her book "Emergence - The John Bax Story".  It's bound to be a good activity; an informative discussion of John Bax's life as a self-taught filmmaker who loved birds and captured incredible and beautiful scenes of birds in the wild.  He spent many years of his life in South Texas so I can't wait to learn more!  It is today, April 12, 2013, from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.  Paragraphs is located at 5505 Padre Blvd. South Padre Island, TX.  Hope to see you there!

Bon Appetit, Y'all!!!StumbleUpon