Julie Bowersett


Blog Writing Course Alumni

From Guide to Art Schools


Entries in cookies (5)


Graduation Cap Treats

Tomorrow is my youngest's last day of preschool, so in honor of his "graduation" on Friday I made these graduation cap treats.  They were super simple to put together.  Here's how I did it.

I started with chocolate graham crackers (seriously, the hardest part of this entire project was getting the graham crackers to break into proper squares.  I ended up cutting them with a big knife.)  I "iced" each square with melted semi-sweet chocolate and topped them with an M&M.

Once the chocolate hardened (I put them in the fridge for 30 minutes) I piped yellow icing to resemble a tassel on top.

Previously, I had baked some brownie bites using a boxed mix (do yourself a favor and subsitute melted butter for the oil called for in the mix directions -- heavenly!) and my mini-muffin pan.  Place the brownies with the flat bottom side facing up.

I used this Cookie Icing and placed a dollop off-center on the bottom of the brownie bites

then placed the graham cracker pieces on top of the icing, pressing them down so they were slightly slanted.


Cake Pops, Burger Cookies and Birthdays

Hello, friends.  Wow, I have been missing in action for quite a while, haven't I?  I am not even going to offer any excuses except to say that life has gotten in the way of my creativity lately.  But recently my sewing mojo has been seeping back in and I have managed to spend several days this week in my sewing room.  I've been spending even more time in my kitchen in the last few weeks; fall is birthday season at our house and I have been making and baking like crazy.  Since I don't have any of my sewing projects ready to reveal I'll share the goodies I've been making.

I like cupcakes.  I have always liked cake, and since I've found a great icing recipe I even like that, too.  This year I decided to try out a chocolate version based on the same recipe.  Here's a link to the site where I found the recipe.  I added extra cocoa at the end as suggested in the recipe.  This definitely boosted the chocolate flavor but I found it added a bitterness that some kids might object to.  I think I might up the sugar a bit next time, or try adding more semi-sweet chocolate.

I baked a lot of cupcakes.  I also baked an extra layer cake to make some cake pops.  Cake pops have been around for a while but this was my first attempt at them.  Bakerella is credited with this craze, and I used her book on the subject to get started (her website is full of ideas and recipes).   I read a lot of helpful hints on the internet and found lots of differing opinions about the best way to make them.  Most people agreed that their first attempt was far from perfect.  My experience was the same.

Folks also disagree on the best method for making the cake balls that become cake pops but the general gist is that you bake a cake (boxed mix is fine for this) and once cooled crumble it up into fine crumbs (with your hands, a mixer or any other tool you wish to try).  Add (canned) frosting, anywhere from a few tablespoons to 3/4 of the can.  Mix this up (again, by whatever method you prefer; I used my stand mixer) until you have a soft dough.  You then shape the dough into round balls (I used a cookie scoop for portion control).  Again, people don't agree on whether you have to chill the balls at this point -- I found it was necessary.  I actually made up several batches and put them in the freezer until I was ready for the next step.

The first batch I made I tried candy melts as the coating without a good result.  First, I don't really like candy melts.  I don't like how they taste and I don't love the artifical coloring (you will notice that with most of my cupcakes and baked goods I stick with vanilla and chocolate).  Once it was apparent that I was going to have trouble with the melts I quickly switched to melted chocolate chips (mixed with a small amount of vegetable oil) and had good results with that.  For my first batch I dipped the balls in semi-sweet chocolate and sprinkled on some star and tiny ball sprinkles.

These were really fun (and a great size) to send to school for my youngest son's birthday.

The second batch I attempted worked much better.  These were a lot more complicated than the first but not hard, just a little time consuming.  I made the cake balls as before and dipped them in melted white chocolate chips, then set them into mini ice cream cones (you can find these Joy brand cones at Walmart).  It's OK if the coating drips down the cone a little.  While the chocolate is still soft, add some sprinkles. 

For the chocolate sauce I melted semi-sweet chocolate chips and thinned them down with vegetalbe oil.  I poured it into a squeeze bottle and used that to drizzle it over the top of the cookie ball.  The "cherry on top" is a pretzel M&M though you could use plain or peanut M&Ms or even cinnamon candies.

It's a little hard to get a sense for the scale of these from the pictures.  Here's one of me holding one of the finished cones

and another with the mini cones next to a full-sized cone.

These were really delicious and I will make them again.

I also made some really cute hamburger cookies for my kids' birthday parties.  I first heard about these cookied from my sister-in-law Sue who made them with her grandkids this summer.  These are really easy -- they require no baking, just assembly.

This picture shows the steps by row.  First lay down a vanilla wafter with the flat side facing up (not shown).  Top each wafer with a Thin Mint-style cookie (I used Keebler brand Grasshopper cookies).  You can either place them in the oven for a minute to melt the chocolate a bit to adhere to the wafer or use a squirt of icing as "glue" (the latter is a more sure method).  Next, using red and yellow icing add some ketchup and mustard.  Tint some coconut with green food coloring and sprinkle it on the icing.  I added another little dollop of icing in the middle after this step to act as glue and topped the whole thing with another vanilla wafer.  The original recipe called for real sesame seeds on top but I knew my kids would balk at that so I used tiny white sprinkles.  I used my finger to rub a little light corn syrup on the top cookie to help the sprinkles stick.

This is the icing I used -- it worked great as it sets up and glues everything together nicely.  I had to mix my own yellow as I couldn't find the color I wanted in the store.

I also treated myself to a cupcake decorating class at the lovely Occasionally Cake.  In this class we learned to make rolled fondant animals to use as cupcake toppers.  It was fun but I now know why bakeries charge $6-7 for one of these.  I think I'll stick to frosting that tastes yummy and work on perfecting my swirl technique for icing cupcakes.

Now that birthdays are out of the way I have turned my attention to Halloween costumes and three challenges that are coming due very soon.  The first is one sponsored by my sewing guild chapter.  Each participant was given one yard of the same fabric and charged to create something from it.  I can't share my project until after our annual meeting which takes place on October 26th.  My ASG Neighborhood Group is also holding a challenge.  Members exchanged fabric pieces at the beginning of the year with instructions to decorate, embellish or change our given piece anyway we want.  We'll be returning the fabric to its original owner in November.  The third challenge is one that I am very excited about.  It is being sponsored by Sarah Veblen.  Sarah is offering several challenges each year to help sewers approach problem-solving in a creative way.  For this first challenge participants are asked to use one of Sarah's Dressy Dresses as inspiration to create a casual garment.  You can find more information here.  I hope you will consider joining me in this fun challenge.



When I think back on how busy the last few weeks have been, I feel like I should have more to show for all of my hard work!  Unfortunately, I have not had one minute to work in my sewing room on any of MY projects.  Right now my to-do list is longer than there are hours in the day, and, with some deadlines looming, I've got to put my projects on the back burner.  I have a beautiful wool skirt that is *almost* finished, but I won't get to wear it this season.  I love how it's turning out, with some hand embellishment, and can't wait to show it to you.  I just hope we haven't reached bathing suit season before I can.

Most of the things that have been keeping me occupied aren't blog- or picture-worthy (tagging items for my church's consignment sale, taxes, yard work, subscription renewals, doctor's appointments) but here are a few little projects that I've been working on.

I needed to come up with five little thank you gifts in a hurry.  Luckily, I had some materials all ready to go that allowed me to whip up these five kanzashi flowers in an evening.  A couple of years ago I led a program at my local ASG group on making kanzashi, and I still have lots of prepared supplies left over which makes it easy to get started on a project.  You can read more about the flowers in some of my previous posts here. 

Today is the last day of school before Spring Break and I sent some special treats to school with my kids today.  I told them that these are the Easter Bunny's favorite cookie.

Lastly, my oldest son is finishing a program he's been in all year (hence, the need for thank you gifts).  They are sending him off with a little party this afternoon so I made these cupcakes for the occasion.  The butterflies are made from gumdrop-style orange slice candy, the antennae are piped icing and the tips of the antennae are sprinkles.

All of these pictures make me feel so happy, like spring has really arrived.  Wish me luck finding time over the next week to finish up some projects in my sewing room -- with Spring Break happening at my house I'll be lucky to find even a few minutes for myself!


Green and Speckled Frog Cookies

My oldest son’s teacher asked me if I would provide some cookies for the Frog Class on their last day of school (she knows I like to do crafty things).  A quick internet search turned up these instructions from Kraft for creating a frog from an Oreo.  I modified the idea a little bit using Golden Oreos (the vanilla variety) and dipping them in green icing.  I also used a flat pretzel chip for the legs and added a tongue made from a cut-up fruit roll up.  These were a visual hit with the various adults at the school but the kids’ reactions were mixed.  Some found them too messy and (believe it or not) too sweet.  One of the teachers suggested substituting a vanilla wafer for the Oreo and I do think that would be an improvement.  The fruit roll up wanted to stick everywhere but on the cookie so I would use a less sticky type next time.  These could be a cute addition to a frog- or princess-themed party (you know, kiss the frog).

Sharing today with the folks over at Today's Creative Blog, Get Your Craft On!


Christmas Cookies

This was my last big project before Christmas (if I don’t count all of the wrapping I still have left to do).  I wanted to make my boys’ friends at school a little gift.  Last year I made embroidered bag toppers filled with M&Ms.  This year I decided to make cookies and give each child one packaged in an attractive way.  I am not going to go into any detail about baking or decorating the cookies.  There are lots of great sites that can do that much better than I (two that come to mind are Sweet and Bake at 350).  I do want to tell you about two products I used during this project and about how I packaged the cookies. 

I was really in a time crunch by the time these cookies rose to the top of my to-do list so I decided to take a short cut and I am really glad I did.  I used Trader Joe’s fabulous DIY (Decorate It Yourself) Cookie Mix.  This was a truly inspired idea.  TJ packaged together everything you need to make a batch of Christmas cookies:  cookie dough mix, icing, decorating sugar and even the cookie cutters.  All for $3.99.  I wish I had bought a bunch of these as little holiday gifts.  (Note:  I went back today to buy more and they had been marked down to $0.99!  Unfortunately, one of the store employees told me that this was not a popular item and probably won’t be coming back next year.)  You add softened butter and 1 egg to the dough mix and that’s it.  They taste fabulous.  I made my own batch of royal icing and stirred in the icing from TJs.  This icing looks pretty and is easy to use but doesn't taste like anything but sugar.  I piped the icing around the edges and then filled in with a thinned down version of the same icing.  Sprinkles finished them off.

The other product which contributed to the success of my cookies was a nifty little kitchen gadget I purchased from King Arthur Flour called Rolling Pin Rings.  You slip a pair of these rubber rings onto the end of your rolling pin and roll out dough of a uniform thickness.  No more thin edges on your cookies which burn when you bake them.  These things work great and fit a variety of rolling pin sizes.  I love them.

Once I had finished the cookies I had to package them.  I used paper CD sleeves (the kind with the clear plastic window on the front) and gussied them up a bit with some paper tape and a holiday-themed brad.  I slipped one cookie in and sealed the back with a sticker.  I added another sticker with a Merry Christmas message and my child’s name.  I think these look cute and were really easy to make but here is what I would do differently next time.  I would put a piece of greaseproof paper under the cookie because the grease stained the back of the CD envelope.  This made it difficult to keep the sticker on that sealed the top.  Also, the hardest part was putting the brads on and next time I would just use a sticker.

I hope this gives you some ideas about gift giving for next year.  Change the cookie theme and you could use these for a birthday party favor or even for a wedding.