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Heart-Shaped Sugar Cookies

11 Feb

Well folks, it’s that time of year. Stores cover their windows with hot-pink hearts. Candy of all fillings show up on every shelf. And everyone seems a little happier (or angrier if you’re the anti-love type). It’s Valentine’s Day.

This year I’ll be spending Valentine’s day without a male special someone. Not unlike most of my Valentine’s day. But just because I don’t have a boy doesn’t mean I can’t celebrate the day and shower my loved ones with something sweet.

Since I love to bake (and my friends love to eat my baked goods), I decided to whip up a few sweet treats for those special people in my life.  Tonight I tackled the heart-shaped sugar cookie, a classic holiday treat.

I’ve made this recipe many times, so this time I wanted to try something new. I made two versions of the dough. The first is the original and the second is a healthier version. I recently had to write an article about healthy ingredient substitutions (shameless plug), and decided to give them a try.

So let’s see how it went.

Valentine’s Day Sugar Cookies

Dough Recipe One

The magic behind the first cookie dough.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup softened butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2-1/2 cups All Purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Directions

  1. Mix flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and sugar.
  3. Blend in eggs and vanilla extract.
  4. Slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, and mix together.
  5. Wrap dough in plastic wrap, place in container, and refrigerate over night.

Dough Recipe Two 

The pieces of cookie dough two.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup softened butter
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2/3 cup mashed bananas (roughly 2 medium bananas)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2-1/2 cups All Purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Directions

  1. Mix flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and sugar.
  3. Blend in bananas and vanilla extract.
  4. Slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, and mix together.
  5. Wrap dough in plastic wrap, place in container, and refrigerate over night.

After the dough is made, the preparation is the same.

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cover surface with flour (to avoid dough sticking to the table)
  3. Separate the dough into four sections.
  4. Roll section from 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick.
  5. Cut out cookies using any type of cookie cutter.
  6. Place cookies, 1-inch apart, on baking sheet (sprayed with Pam)
  7. Bake 6 to 8 minutes.
  8. Let cookies cook completely before icing and adding other decoration.

But before loading these treats up with frosting and sprinkles, take a look at the nutritional info per cookie.

Dough 1: 110 calories, 5g fat

Dough 2: 86 calories, 4g fat

Ok, so not a huge calorie difference in the long run. But if you plan on piling on the extras and eating more than one, you’d be better off with a low-calorie base.

Aside from nutritional info, there are a few other tiny differences. The second dough doesn’t hold its shape as well when baked. It also rises a bit more than the typical sugar dough, so you may want to roll the dough a little thinner. As far as taste, the second dough isn’t as sweet, which is great if you want to avoid going into a sugar coma.

Dough One(L) vs. Dough Two (R)

But when it comes down to it, both are amazing cookies that your special someone will love!

What’s your go-to cookie recipe?

Oscar Worthy Dessert

26 Feb

After sweets, films hold the second biggest place in my heart. From side-stitch comedies to tear-worthy dramas, I’m more than content curling up in bed and raiding through my Netflix. So it only makes sense that my movie loving friends and I would throw a viewing party for tonight’s Academy Awards.

And what’s a party without food?! Obviously I opted to make desserts, and thought finger food was appropriate for our “classy” affair. I whipped up some chocolate covered strawberries, but wanted another option. With a little help from Sarah Billingsley and Amy Treadwell, I created my Red Carpet (Velvet) Whoppie Pies.

Photo Credit: IowaGirlEats.com

Ingredients
Cake

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsps. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 small bottle red food coloring

Filling

  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 4 Tbsps. unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions

Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In separate bowl, beat together butter, shortening, sugars on low speed. When combined, increase to medium speed and whip till fluffy.
  4. Add one egg at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  5. Add vanilla and food coloring.
  6. Add half of the flour mixture and 1/2 cup buttermilk to bowl, and mix on low until well combined. Add the rest of the flour mixture and buttermilk, and mix on low.
  7. Using a tablespoon, scoop and drop mixture onto baking sheet, leaving two inches between each drop.
  8. Place in oven and let bake for ten minutes, or until cake springs back after gentle press.

Filling

  1. Beat together cream cheese and butter until well combined.
  2. Add sugar and mix on low speed until well combined.
  3. Add vanilla and mix on medium speed until creamy and smooth.

Once the cakes have cooled, spread filling on half of the cakes. Top the filled cakes with an unfilled cake to make a sandwich. Makes 48 cakes, or 24 whoopie pies. These simple, sweet treats are perfect for a party.

NOTE: The batter is very sticky, like biscuit batter. It will be impossible to roll them into perfect shapes. If you are super anal and need perfect pies, I recommend baking in a 9-inch pan and cutting circles using cookie cutters.

Hugs and Hershey Kisses,

Leah

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

13 Feb

For the 50 percent of you that forgot, Valentine’s Day is tomorrow. Tonight, people across the country will run from store to store trying to buy a box of chocolates to go with their last minute reservations. But why waste money on a box of delicious when you can make your own.

To me, nothing says super sweet (and super sexy) like chocolate covered strawberries. The mix of tart and sweet, and soft and crunchy make for the perfect Valentine’s Day treat. Plus, their fun to feed to your girl or guy. Whip these up tonight for a dream dessert tomorrow.

Image

Ingredients

  • 1 pint of strawberries, washed and dried
  • 1 cup of chocolate chips (You can use any variety. I prefer dark chocolate for the taste and health benefits)
  • 1 Tbsp shortening (You may want to skip this for calories, but you can’t. The shortening creates the perfect consistency and shine for dipping.)

Recipe

  1. Mix chocolate chips and shortening in a microwavable bowl.
  2. Microwave for one minute, stopping every 20 seconds to mix the chocolate.
  3. Dip strawberries into the chocolate, swirling and rotating for perfect coverage.
  4. Place strawberries on a wax-covered plate. Place plate in the refrigerator till chocolate hardens (minimum 1 hour; maximum over night).
  5. Serve to your special someone (with a glass of dessert wine if over 21).

The simple chocolate covered strawberry is amazing, but try these tips to take it to the next level.

  • Add extra crunch! After dipping, roll the strawberries in chocolate sprinkles, colored sugar, finely chopped nuts, or super crushed cookies for an extra crunch.
  • Double the chocolate! After the chocolate hardens, dip some of the strawberry in a second chocolate, or drizzle a second type of chocolate over it.

Hugs and Hershey Kiss,

Leah