Friday, December 30, 2011

Best of 2011 According to YOU!

It may sound trite but it is very hard for me to believe that 2011 is coming to an end. It has been a year of ups and downs. We have celebrated happy news and endured hard news as well. There is a lot to be thankful for and much to look forward to!

I have had a wonderful time sharing this blog with you all throughout the year and am always amazed to see how many people actually read it. Comments are somewhat of a rarity for me but I know I've had plenty of visitors. (I would love to hear who you are - please leave me a note some time and let me know you visited!)

My intention was always for this blog to be more than just cookies and based on my top 10 most popular posts from 2011, it looks like you all agree. So let's take a trip down memory lane and see what you all enjoyed the most!

1.) Hands down my most popular post was the peppermint wreath. I've seen two of them so far that have been made from the post but would love to see some more. Please feel free to post them on my Facebook page!

2.)The Mason Jar Snow Globes were also very popular. I had a teacher send me a photo of her whole class making them. They can really be adapted to anything you like and are easy to do!

3.) Apparently I am not the only one who loves Ribbon Topiaries. I'm thinking I need to make one for Valentine's Day soon!

4.) Cake Pops continue to be the rage and it appears my readers agree.

5.) The Grosgrain Ribbon Notebook I made for a friend proved popular.

6.) As did the Easy Oreo Truffles and Truffle TREE!

7.) Who doesn't love a story of a miracle complete with a party hat and cookies?

8.) The storybook character cookies were quite popular (round two of those coming soon!)

9.) It seems as though we all enjoy a good summer BBQ...complete with "hamburger cupcakes" and "watermelon cookies." (My friend made the cupcakes all the way in Italy - loved that!)

10.) Finally, to my surprise, the photos from our "preppy wedding" were the tenth most popular post of 2011. That works for me, since almost five years later I still love to look at the photos too. :)

I am so appreciative of you all reading and enjoying One Preppy Cookie throughout the year. This has been a wonderful creative outlet for me and I've enjoyed connecting with so many of you. Thank you!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas Eve Chocolate Gingerbread Toffee Cake

For the past few years I have made a special cake on Christmas Eve. I pick a bit more complicated recipe than I typically would as I enjoy dedicating much of the day to this labor of love. Last year was Martha's Candy Bar Cake and this year I went with a Southern Living selection. Both cakes have been very well recived amongst my family and I am already on the hunt for next year's creation.

Chocolate Gingerbread Toffee Cake

YIELD: 10 to 12 servings
HANDS-ON:45 Minutes
TOTAL:9 Hours, 5 Minutes

Ginger Whipped Cream
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate morsels
1 (16-oz.) package light brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 (8-oz.) container sour cream
1 cup hot water
1/2 cup molasses
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Silky Ganache
1 cup toffee bits

Gingerbread Cookies (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare Ginger Whipped Cream as directed in Step 1 of recipe (through chilling).

2. Microwave chocolate morsels in a microwave-safe bowl at high 1 to 1 1/2 minutes or until melted and smooth, stirring at 30-second intervals.

3. Beat brown sugar and butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until well blended (about 5 minutes). Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Add melted chocolate, beating just until blended.

4. Sift together flour and next 5 ingredients. Gradually add to chocolate mixture alternately with sour cream, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition. Stir together hot water and next 2 ingredients. (Mixture will foam.) Gradually stir molasses mixture and vanilla into chocolate mixture just until blended. Spoon batter into 3 greased and floured 8-inch round cake pans.

5. Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks, and cool completely (about 1 hour).

6. Meanwhile, prepare Silky Ganache. Place 1 cake layer on a cake stand or serving plate. Spread with half of ganache; sprinkle with 1/2 cup toffee bits. Top with second cake layer; spread with remaining ganache, and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup toffee bits. Top with remaining cake layer. Cover and chill 2 to 8 hours.

7. Finish preparing Ginger Whipped Cream as directed in Step 2 of recipe. Spread top and sides of cake with whipped cream just before serving. Garnish, if desired.

Southern Living DECEMBER 2011


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

HAPPY Birthday Mr. Preppy Cookie!

Happiest of birthdays to "Mr. Preppy Cookie!" It isn't easy having your birthday three days after Christmas (as I am made aware of frequently) but we are going to do our very best to make today a special day. So in honor of his birthday, let me tell you a few things I love about Mr. PC...nothing too sappy - just the fun stuff!

Although he rarely has time to, he enjoys cooking. More so though, he enjoys eating and happily samples everything I make.

He loves to travel and encourages me through my fear of flying which has enabled me to see many places I otherwise may not have.

He adores our dog and isn't embarrassed to let anyone know it.

He's great with our friends' children and wins them over with sometimes frustratingly minimal effort.

Over the years he has grown to learn the importance of decorations looking just right. He is more excited than me at times to carve our pumpkins or decorate our tree when holidays arrive.

He's handy and can channel his skills into making important things like homemade cake pop stands...Pinterest doesn't have much on him. ;)

He's tolerant of our kitchen table looking like this at almost all times and gets a kick out of my girls' baking/crafting weekends, earning the title "Cookie Feedback King" as he always has an opinion.

Even though he is more passionate about his school's football team than anyone I know, he will still happily cheer for mine.

He knows every stat of every player on his favorite baseball team...but still knows who Nene and Phaedra are...

And much to his friends' delight, he is a frequent wearer of the color pink.

He has been more than supportive of my hobbies and interests for which I am very appreciative. He is one of the best people I know and I hope he has the wonderful day he deserves.


Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Cookie Decorating

I came across this photo of me the other day from what must have been first or second grade:

Funny thing is that you can find me using this very technique and very similar supplies almost every single night. Little did whomever took this photo know that it was a vision of foreshadowing at its best!

Last night I hosted a few friends of similar age to me in the photo for cookie decorating! I did not make them do the rolling seen above, but every other step of the process was up to them.

We had a good time and saw some creative masterpieces in the works. Santa ended up with some beautiful cookies...I hope he likes a LOT of icing and sprinkles. :)

Need a quick activity so you can wrap, cook, or just take a little breather this weekend? Set out a few toothpicks, marshmallows, candy, fruit roll-ups, etc. and let your kids build their own snowmen...

What a fun evening celebrating the season!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Happy Retirement Betty!

This morning I am writing a blog post about a very special lady. A lady who would beg me not to do this if she knew about it in advance as she is one of the most humble, unassuming people I know. She deserves this post though and I don't think I have ever done anything to upset her in the ten years I've know her until now, so I am going with it! Betty was the first person I met when I walked into the first day of my first "real job" after college. She greeted me warmly that morning and has every time I've seen her since. Working with our company for nearly thirty years, she knows the answer to everything...including who is dating who and when your license plates will expire (thanks again for that tip Betty!) She is a go-to lady for many people, including her family who she is going to be spending much more time with after tomorrow when she retires.

Although I have not worked in Betty's office for many years, I still look forward to her answering the phone when I call or her greeting when I drop by. We will all miss her more than she knows.

Thank you for everything Betty! Wishing you a very happy retirement...and a future of reunion lunches. :)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Cookie CAKE!

Oh, cookie cake. How I loved thee in the pizza box from the mall. (And still do really!) Nothing can beat homemade though so I have been experimenting with both chocolate chip cookie and buttercream icing recipes. This has been the perfect week to continue those projects as I needed a dessert to feed several people at a work event and also wanted to bring something fun to a cookie-loving friend who isn't feeling her best. Since Christmas is upon us, I incorporated the colors of the season into the icing. If it was an acceptable thing to do, I would have delivered both cookie cakes with just one slice missing. :)

Now please pass the milk!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Recently my mom and I had a very fun outing to see her college roommate at a book signing for the new book she co-authored entitled "PREPPY." Doria and my mom were partners-in-crime throughout their college years and have the photos to prove that they certainly were (and still are) prespsters themselves.

The event was at Brooks Brothers in Georgetown, D.C. and of course I was not going to go empty-handed.

Doria had sent me a copy of her and Jeffrey Banks' book just before Thanksgiving. As a thank you I brought them both a few appropriately named preppy cookies.

It was such a nice night. The book is fabulous and the company was wonderful.

Cheers to longtime friendships and people doing what they love!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Holiday Book Club Party

With the holidays rapidly approaching, I have read many blog posts on entertaining and various party ideas. It got me thinking that I would love to share the format of a ladies' book club I have been a member of for three years. Depending on the month, this book club can be very book-focused or wine-focused but we always manage to have a great time!

The hostess sends an evite with the new book title about six weeks in advance, allowing enough time for us to purchase and read the book.

Whenever possible, we theme the evening's food around the book time period/location. Otherwise we always have a nice spread and dedicate plenty of time to sampling it! (This was at my friend M's home recently; she always does a wonderful job entertaining.)

Once we've had our share of food, drink and chatter the hostess passes out a quiz on the book and will provide a prize to the winner. The quizzes get detailed and the winner tends to be whomever finished to book last.

Then it's finally time to discuss that month's pick. The hostess will lead a discussion and at the end of the evening, we look for a volunteer to host again in about 6-8 weeks.

I would say considering the fact that this club has now lasted for three years that the format is a success!

At our meeting last week I tried something new with baked brie and was happy with the results. Happy enough to share the recipe with you all. Enjoy!

Kahlua Brie

-1 large wheel brie
-1/4 cup brown sugar
-2.5 TBS Kahlua
-2/3 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Cut a small slit into the brie about 1/4 inch away from the side. Continue cutting in a circle and then cut the top layer (just a smidge) off of the brie. Meanwhile mix the other 3 ingredients in a bowl and then pour onto the cut-out circle. Bake in the oven at 350 for 8-10 minutes.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Cookies Continued...

I added a few more Christmas cookies into my collection this week that I'd love to share with you all. It's funny...although I have been baking Christmas cookies galore, I seem to be in denial that the holiday is only one week away. I need to dedicate time to shopping and wrapping ASAP (please tell me I'm not alone!) In the meantime, let's get in the spirit with these cookies...

Hope you all have a great weekend!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Cake Pops

One night after an evening of attempting to make decorated cookies for her son's school birthday party, my friend H sent me a text saying, "I bow to you. That was HARD." I understood what she meant. There are many things in life that take a lot of practice. Whenever I am struggling to master something new I have to remind myself that Tiger Woods himself practices golf every.single.morning. Things just don't come easy in life without a LOT of consistent practice.

You know how I "bow to" though? (I am talking baking-wise here.) People who are cake pop wizards. Recently I saw a tweet saying that there should be a Cake Pop Awareness Day to acknowledge the emotional stress they induce. I laughed out loud and could not have agreed more. So when I came across this website yesterday I wanted to send the blogger a note saying, "I bow to you. That looks HARD." And you know what she would probably write back? That I would get the hang of it after a while. It just takes practice.

These red velvet cake pops were at a friend's ornament party last weekend. I had warned her that although they would not be in an elaborate shape, I would instead spend my time making sure they were delicious. I figure that if Starbucks can stick with round cake pops with a focus on taste, then I will go ahead and follow suit. :)

So here's to practice making perfect...and taste trumping presentation once in a while.

Thank you Decia!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Peppermint Mocha Cookies

This past weekend I attended a third annual cookie exchange party with friends. The party was filled with delicious, creative recipes and I am still working my way through tasting them all.

I am one of those people who loves to see the red cups arrive at Starbucks signaling the holiday season growing near. Gingerbread lattes and peppermint mochas are my seasonal drinks of choice, so I decided to channel one into a cookie. In the end, I chose peppermint mocha cookies and was happy with the results. If you love chocolate combined with mint and a hint of espresso then this is the cookie for you. I highly recommend eating them right out of the oven. :) Enjoy!

Peppermint Mocha Cookies

-8 oz semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
-4 Tbsp unsalted butter
-2/3 cup flour
-1/2 tsp baking powder
-2 teaspoons espresso powder
-1/2 tsp salt
-2 large eggs
-3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
-1 tsp pure vanilla bean paste (substitute vanilla extract as needed)
-1 tsp peppermint extract
-12 oz package semisweet chocolate chips
-Sprinkles and/or chopped peppermints for garnish

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
-Heat chopped chocolate in microwave in 30 second intervals until melted. Set aside to cool for a few minutes. Do the same with the butter.
-In the bowl of your mixer beat eggs, brown sugar, vanilla, vanilla bean paste and peppermint extract on high speed until the sugar has completely dissolved (4-5 minutes). Reduce speed to low and add the melted chocolate. Mix until uniform. Add the melted butter. Add espresso powder, baking powder and salt. Add in flour and mix until combined. Mix in the chocolate chips.
-Refrigerate dough for 15 minutes. (Dough should easily form round circles when scooped.)
-Using a cookie scoop, drop heaping tablespoons of dough 2 to 3 inches apart onto baking sheets. Bake approximately 10 minutes. Place your garnish onto the top of the cookies while hot so that they will set on top. Allow to cool 15 minutes before transferring.

Yields 2 dozen cookies

Adapted from: Confections of a Foodie Bride via Martha Stewart