Sunday, January 31, 2016

rainbow jello for chinese new year

Almost every year, I make rainbow jello for Chinese New Year. It's so pretty, and festive, and both kids and adults love it! It's a super versatile jello to make and you can make it with any colors you like - I've made it for Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, and Christmas to name a few occasions. I've even made it in egg-shaped jello molds for Easter, or Hello Kitty shaped molds for my book!

For the colored layers, you just need to chose four different colors/flavors of Jello for the different colored layers. And the white layers are made of clear gelatin mixed with sweetened condensed milk for a creamy milky layer in between the fruity layers.

While the recipe itself is super easy, it does take a bit of time to make, because each layer takes at least 30 minutes in the fridge to set before adding the next layer. But it's a fun dessert to make, say on a rainy day, or on a weekend at home, or with your kids!

Plus its a light and not-too-sweet dessert for any meal. Enjoy! And Happy Chinese New Year!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

rudolph the reindeer cookies

For my daughter's class Christmas party last month, I decided to make these cute reindeer cookies, based on a design I had seen at Bubble and Sweet. I loved the color of the turquoise and white reindeer with the red nose accent, but I decided to do the reverse and have a snowy white reindeer with turquoise spots and red nose instead. Luckily, I had recently been given a beautiful reindeer cookie cutter from Cookie Cutter Kingdom, so I was all set! (Thanks Cookie Cutter Kingdom!)

I started with my favorite sugar cookie dough (recipe in my book, The Hello Kitty Baking Book), which I rolled out to 1/8 inch thick, cut out shapes, and then baked at 350F for 10-12 minutes until the edges of the cookies had turned golden.

Then I whipped up a batch of my favorite royal icing (recipe also in my book!), used white stiff icing to outline my reindeer cookies, and then used white runny icing to fill them in. (The stiff icing outline acts as a border, so that the runny icing doesn't drip off the edges of your cookie!) For the turquoise spots on the reindeer's back, I mixed a bit of royal blue gel-based food coloring into stiff icing, and piped little dots onto the reindeers while the white icing was still wet. Then I let the cookie dry for several hours (or overnight).

Once the icing was dry, I piped little Rudolph noses with stiff red icing and a small round tip.

I just love the color combination of white, turquoise, and red!

Also, since we were hosting Christmas this year, I had an idea to have a little reindeer cookie on each place setting. So I left several cookies completely white with a red nose, and then painted the antlers gold inspired by these gilded reindeer cookies from Sweetapolita! To make the gold "paint", I used edible gold dust mixed with clear vanilla extract, similar to how I painted the gold star cookie that topped my Christmas tree cookie tower in my previous post. 

And here's how they looked on each place setting.

The little gilded reindeers went perfectly with my bay leaf garland, white candles, and gold flatware!

Hope you and your family had a very Merry Christmas!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

cookie tree for christmas

I've always loved the look of macaron trees, they are just so pretty! But since my daughter is allergic to nuts, I tend to only make macarons for other people. And although I have made nut-free macarons before, I don't want her to get used to the idea of eating macarons in case she starts to think that regular macarons are okay for her to eat! So for Christmas this year, instead of making a macaron tree, I made one out of sugar cookies!

For the cookies, I used my favorite sugar cookie dough (recipe in my book, The Hello Kitty Baking Book!), and used a small round cookie cutter that was approximately the same size as macarons. Then I baked them at 350F for about 10 minutes, until the cookie edges were golden.

I also made sure to cut out several star-shaped cookies, that would go on the top of the tree.

For the royal icing (recipe also in my book!), I tinted it leaf green, and used stiff icing to outline each cookie.

Then I flooded each one with runny icing, and let it dry overnight.

I also iced the star cookies with white icing and same approach - stiff icing to outline the cookie, and runny icing to fill each cookie.

Once the icing was dry, I mixed edible gold dust with clear vanilla extract, and then used a food-safe brush to paint the stars gold.

When I was ready to assemble my cookie tree, I covered a styrofoam cone with waxed paper, and then used royal icing "glue" to carefully attach my cookies.

After several rows though, my cookies started to fall off (eeek!) from the weight of the other cookies, so I used a thick silk ribbon to keep the rows in place until the royal icing "glue" had time to dry.

The final touch was the gold star on the top of the tree. I used two of the gold star cookies, and sandwiched them around a bamboo skewer, using royal icing to "glue" them together.

A perfect centerpiece for the table!

Hope you had a Merry Christmas!!!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

team umizoomi cookies

Last year I made these monkey and elephant cookies for my friend Cindy K, who was throwing a birthday party for her daughter Reese. This year she asked me to make cookies again, and this time the theme was Team Umizoomi, a cartoon which Reese loves! We decided that I would make them rectangular cookies with the characters on top - mainly to spare having my hubby make three separate custom cutters, but also because I thought they would look really cute that way!

Normally I would have piped the characters directly on top of the cookies, but this time I knew that since each character had a lot of detail, I would need a guide to help me keep the proportions right. So I decided to first pipe the characters onto waxed paper, with a picture of each character below the waxed paper to serve as a guide. So I started by whipping up a batch of royal icing (recipe in my book, The Hello Kitty Baking Book), I divided and tinted the icing based on all the colors that I would need (it ended up being a LOT of colors!)

Then I piped the characters on to the waxed paper, waiting for each layer of icing to dry before proceeding with each character's details. Here's Milli...

And here's Geo and Bot. (For Milli and Geo's eyebrows and smile, I used a brown edible food marker.)

I let the characters dry overnight, and the next day I start on the cookies. I baked up my favorite sugar cookies (recipe also in my book) and used a custom copper square cutter (made by hubby) to cut out my rectangular shapes.

Once the cookies were cooled, I outlined them with stiff white royal icing.

Then I filled them in with runny white royal icing, peeled each character off of the waxed paper, and dropped them onto the wet icing.

Then I let them dry overnight once more before packaging them individually in cellophane favor bags.

I thought they turned out pretty cute! One thing I'd do different next time is let the base icing dry a little bit before adding the characters, because as I was packaging the cookies I noticed that a few of the cookies had colors bleed into the white icing.

Happy Birthday, little Reese! Hope you enjoyed your cookies!!!