Saturday, February 16, 2013

my lovely little valentines

Both of my kids have been sick, alternating turns, for about three weeks now.  My daughter was the originator of disease, passing it on to my son, and then in grand splendor, picking it up again as a re-manifestation from her chest to her ears, considerately keeping the fever at just below panic levels for way too long now.  Because she has had to miss so much school right before Valentine's Day, I wanted to do something really special.

And what's more special than a heart filled hallway?  The hallway of love.....

Very fun to make.  I painted large sheets of paper, and then cut out a lot of hearts!

First I painted....... 

......then I cut!!!

And then I took out some twine and taped it all together.  This was kind of a last minute project, and after I had it all taped up, I wished I had done something to the backside of the hearts, but no matter.  The kids didn't even notice.  They loved it!

And then there was the something special #2....  

My first thought was to make a heart shaped cake with a lovely fondant encasement, all pink and velvety smooth, with the rolling landscape of a baby's bottom, sprinkled with an array of fondant babies and hearts and anything else you can imagine, none of which I would ever have the time to make.

So instead I decided to make a giant cookie.  With the kids' help, of course.

I used my basic chocolate chip cookie recipe, but since it was a larger cookie, I baked it at a lower temp for a longer period of time.  It turned out perfectly.  Crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside....  And of course, anything slathered in frosting can't be too bad, right?

Chocolate Chip Cookies 
*I adapted this recipe to make a giant cookie

1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon (wonderful for an added warmth, but the cookies are just as good without it)
1 stick Earth Balance butter, softened
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. packed brown sugar, light or dark
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 c. dairy free chocolate chips or chocolate cut into chunks (I use Enjoy Life)

Preheat oven to 325˚F
Combine flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon (if using) in bowl.  Mix well.
On medium speed, beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and vanilla and continue to beat until well mixed.

On low speed, stir in the flour mixture until blended.  Add the chocolate chips and stir to integrate them into the batter.

Grease a cookie sheet and dump the whole load of dough in the middle.  Spread the mound into whatever shape you like, making sure that it is no more than 1/2" thick.  Bake for about 25-30 minutes. I started checking on mine at 20 minutes, and pulled it out after 30.  Let sit for a couple of minutes, and move to a cool surface or rack to cool completely before you add the frosting.

vanilla frosting

5 tbs softened earth balance butter or unsalted margarine
2 c. powdered sugar
2-3 tbs soy milk
few drops of vanilla

Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer on medium low speed.  I usually drape a dish towel over top to keep the sugar from blizzarding all over the counter and on my person..  Once a ball is formed (this should take a few minutes), turn the mixer to low, and add the soy milk/vanilla a little bit at a time.  Mix until thoroughly combined, turn the mixer to high, and whip it up for about 10 minutes, stopping to scrape the bowl if needed.  Then add coloring, a drop at a time, until the desired color is reached.  Wait until desired food item is fully cooled and slather, slather, slather... mmmm...

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