If you are a cookie cutter lover, chances are you've toyed around with the idea of making your own cutters. It's not actually as hard as it might seem at first. And it's really fun because you can design cutters in shapes that you might not otherwise find and have your very own custom design cookies!
Below is a beginner's guide to cookie cutter making.
Start off with a trip to the hardware store. You're going to need a few things that can only be found there. Ask the clerk for aluminum or copper flashing. Copper is better, but they may not carry it. Tell the clerk what you're going to use it for and ask if it's safe for food use. Flashing is nothing more than a flat sheet of metal. You'll want to buy a roll, or at least enough to make your first one or two cookie cutters. You can always go back for more.
Next, you'll need a pair of tin snips. These are scissors designed to cut metal. Don't try to use household scissors as they won't do the job right and you'll end up ruining your scissors. You'll also need a good knife to score the cutter. If you have a paring knife at home, that will work fine.
Your last two purchases from the hardware store will be a glue and some clips. The glue should be food safe (meaning non-toxic) like an epoxy. If you are at all unsure if it's food safe, don't use it. You can always do some research and call a few companies or visit their web sites to find out which glues are food safe. It may take a little work, but it will be worth the effort.
The clips can be just those orange and black clamps you see at hardware stores. They cost just a few cents each, so pick up several. You'll need these to hold the glue until it sets.
The only thing you'll really need from home is a ruler and pencil.
Photo Credit: How to make a cookie cutter by Rocío Cuenca, on Flickr
Once you get all your supplies home, decide which shapes you'd like to make. You might start simple with a dog or a pumpkin. Next, draw or download a piece of artwork that has bold outlines of your desired shape. Don't worry about details as you won't use any of them. The outline is all you need.
Lay the flashing down on a table and start cutting strips the width of your ruler. You'll want to mark the length of the ruler along the flashing with a pencil mark, and then use the snips to cut the straight line. You'll only be able to make a cutter the length of the aluminum sheet. So if you're using a roll, you're in luck. Shorter sheets of aluminum will require smaller cookie cutters.
An easy way to measure how much flashing you will need is with a pipe cleaner. Use the pipe cleaner to copy the shape of your desired design, then straighten it out and and 1" (for overlap) for the amount of flashing to cut.
Next, take a cut strip, being very careful not to cut yourself on the edges, and bend it gently around the shape on the paper.
You may want to use your clamps to keep edges or corners in place. You can also score any corners in the design with your knife so they stay bent. You can bend the aluminum around glasses or any other objects at home to get rounded edges.
Glue the ends in place. Overlap the metal and then put on a drop of glue.
Clamp the edges so the glue can set.
When you're done, wash your cutter and use!
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 c. unsalted butter, softened
1 c. firmly packed light brown sugar
3/4 c. granulated sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla
12 oz. white chocolate, cut into 1/4" chunks
1 1/2 c. coarsely chopped macadamia nuts
Cover 2 cookie sheets with wax paper or foil and set aside. Sift flour, soda, salt and set aside. Beat butter until creamy at low speed with mixer. Gradually add sugars and beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating, well beaten each addition. Add vanilla.
Use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to form cookies. Pack dough into cup so it is even. Drop on baking sheets leaving 3 inches between cookies. Flatten dough slightly. Bake on center rack of preheated 300 degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until light brown or edges but slightly, soft in center. Cool 3-5 minutes in pan and then transfer to wire racks to cool.
Makes about 2 dozen gourmet cookies.
Due to the high amount of cocoa butter and butter fats contained in the milk fats, white chocolate is extremely heat sensitive. You must be extremely careful when melting-white-chocolate because the fats all melt at different temperatures. Using a double-boiler for melting is highly recommended.
Picture courtesy of nutmeg on Creative Commons.
9 oz white chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla
4 egg, separated
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
3/4 cup all purpose flour
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Generously grease muffin cups of a large muffin pan (the kind that makes 6 big muffins.
In large heatproof bowl set over hot (not boiling) water, melt chocolatewith butter, stirring.
Remove bowl and let cool for 30 minutes or until at room temperature.
Beat in 1/3 cup of the sugar and vanilla.
Beat in eggs yolks, 1 at a time and scraping down bowl after each addition, until slightly thickened.
In separate bowl and using clean beaters, beat egg whites with cream of tartar until soft peaks form.
Beat in remaining sugar in thin steady stream until stiff peaks form.
Fold one-third each of egg white mixture and flour into chocolate mixture just until blended; repeat twice.
Divide among prepared muffin cups.
Bake on baking sheet in center of oven for 22 minutes or until top is puffed and edge is set but centre is still soft.
Let cool on rack for 2 minutes.
With fingertips or knife, gently loosen and remove from pan wells.
Cut off the top of the muffin to make a flat surface and flip the muffin upside down on a plate.
Now cut a well out of the center of each cake, about 2/3 of the way down, and scoop out center. Then you can proceed to make the white chocolate ganach. (recipe below)
White Chocolate Ganache
3 oz white chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup whipping cream
To make the ganache, place chopped white chocolate in bowl.
In small saucepan, heat cream over medium heat just until steaming and bubbles form around side of pan.
Pour slowly over chocolate, whisking just until melted.
Scoop the ganache into the well in each cake.
You can stop here if you want and freeze the cakes until ready to use. Just wrap them in plastic wrap to store. When ready to eat, pull off wrap and microwave for 35-45 seconds. The proceed to the next step.
Put a big scoop of vanilla bean ice cream on top and garnishs with a white chocolate shavings to create a white chocolate fantasy. You can also add either strawberry or dark chocolate sauce to enhance the flavor.
6-1ounce squares white chocolate
2 cups pecans
1 cup finely ground vanilla wafer crumbs
1/3 cup Grand Marnier or orange liqueur
Finely grated peel of 1 orange
Melt chocolate in microwave or in top of a double boiler. Grind pecans in a food processor. Stir into melted chocolate. Add 1 cup crumbs, liqueur and peel. Mix well.
Shape into 1-inch balls. Roll in powdered sugar. Store, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for at least 1 week before serving, so flavors blend.
Truffles will keep well in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.
NOTE - I love giving these truffles to friends, family, co-workers and even my mailman as Christmas gifts. I just put them in a large holiday themed tin or box, add a bow, and a hang tag. This is one chocolate gift they LOVE!!
This recipe is courtesy of JamieOliver.com.
1 cup chocolate cookie crumbs
3 tablespoons white sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 (10 ounce) package frozen raspberries
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 cup water
2 cups white chocolate chips
1/2 cup half-and-half cream
3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
In a medium bowl, mix together cookie crumbs, 3 tablespoons sugar, and melted butter. Press mixture into the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan.
In a saucepan, combine raspberries, 2 tablespoons sugar, cornstarch, and water. Bring to boil, and continue boiling 5 minutes, or until sauce is thick. Strain sauce through a mesh strainer to remove seeds.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). In a metal bowl over a pan of simmering water, melt white chocolate chips with half-and-half, stirring occasionally until smooth.
In a large bowl, mix together cream cheese and 1/2 cup sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time. Blend in vanilla and melted white chocolate. Pour half of batter over crust. Spoon 3 tablespoons raspberry sauce over batter. Pour remaining cheesecake batter into pan, and again spoon 3 tablespoons raspberry sauce over the top. Swirl batter with the tip of a knife to create a marbled effect.
Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until filling is set. Cool, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 8 hours before removing from pan. Serve with remaining raspberry sauce.
Picture courtesy of sanctumsolitude.
One of my favorite flavors is peppermint. I love how my mouth feels every time I take a bite and breathe in. There are so many ways to work peppermint into your recipe book.
From chocolate peppermint bark to peppermint martinis, there is a recipe for every taste. This post highlights some of my favorites.
Candy cane picture courtesy of laurenatclemson on Creative Commons.
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2-1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
2-3 drops green food coloring (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
3. In a separate mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar until sugar is fully dissolved. Add eggs, one at a time, and stir until completely mixed.
4. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until all clumps of flour have been dissolved.
5. Add milk and vanilla, and stir until batter is smooth and velvety. Pour into greased or lined muffin tins and bake for 15-17 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from heat.
6. Let cool for 15 minutes in tins, then remove and let cool outside of tins for at least 1 hour.
7. For Peppermint Buttercream, cream butter for 45-60 seconds. Add powdered sugar, and beat by hand, or with an electric mixer until mixture comes together and makes peaks. Add cream, peppermint extract, and food coloring if desired, and beat for 45-60 more seconds. Refrigerate until ready to use.
9. Once cupcakes are fully cooled, add Peppermint Buttercream. Serve with coffee or milk.
*These are good to serve on St. Patrick's Day, or on Christmas. To make the cupcakes, double the recipe, and for second batch of buttercream, use red food coloring instead of green. Pack the cupcakes up in a gift box that you wrap with a bow. Be sure to include the recipe too!
This recipe was submitted by Daniel Lee Mishkin to Cooks.com
5 oz Vodka
2 oz White Creme De Menthe
1/2 oz Peppermint Schnapps
Mix all ingredients for a Peppermint Martini Recipe in a chilled cocktail shaker and pour into cocktail drinking glasses. Garnish with a peppermint stick.
This is a super easy recipe by Paula Deen courtesy of Food Network.
Crushed candy canes, to yield 1 cup
2 pounds white chocolate
Peppermint flavorings, optional
Place candy canes in a plastic bag and hammer into 1/4-inch chunks or smaller. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler. Combine candy cane chunks with chocolate (add peppermint flavoring at this point if desired.) Pour mixture onto a cookie sheet layered with parchment or waxed paper and place in the refrigerator for 45 minutes or until firm. Remove from cookie sheet and break into pieces (like peanut brittle.)
Picture courtesy of I Should Be Folding Laundry in Creative Commons.
This recipe is courtesy of The Joy of Baking.
2 cups (260 grams) confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons
(20 grams) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon peppermint oil (do not use peppermint extract)
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons (30 ml) evaporated milk
9 ounces (225 grams) semi sweet or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon (12 grams) shortening
Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil, smoothing out any wrinkles. Lightly dust the foil with confectioners sugar (powdered or icing).
In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat (on low speed) the sugar, butter, peppermint oil, vanilla extract, and evaporated milk until combined. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until very creamy (about 2-3 minutes). Transfer the batter to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator to chill until firm enough to roll into balls (about 30 - 60 minutes).
Roll the batter into 1 inch (2.54 cm) balls and place on the prepared pan. Flatten each ball with the palm of your hand until the patties are about 1 1/2 inches (4 cm) in diameter and 1/3 inch (1 cm) thick. Cover and place in the refrigerator until the patties are firm (about one hour).
Chocolate Coating: Melt the chocolate and shortening in a heatproof bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water. Remove the patties from the refrigerator and dip, one patty at a time, into the melted chocolate, making sure both sides of each patty are completely coated with chocolate. (You can use 2 forks or a chocolate dipping fork*.) Let any excess chocolate drip back into the bowl and then place the patties back on the foil. Once all the patties have been dipped in the chocolate, return to the refrigerator to chill until firm (30 - 60 minutes). Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container (separate layers with parchment paper or wax paper) for up to one month.
Makes 25 - 30 patties.
*Chocolate dipping forks are the perfect tool if you do a lot of candy making like I do. They work great for chocolate covered oreos, chocolate covered pretzels, chocolate truffles, chocolate dipped fortune cookies and more. I highly recommend getting them if you plan to dip more things in chocolate in the future.
Picture courtesy of not a hipster on Creative Commons.
Making your own peppermint tea is pretty simple. According to Grandma'sWisdom.com, all you have to do is "pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1 tablespoon of dried peppermint leaves, picked from your garden, or use the commercially available peppermint leaves or tea bag. Steep for 10 minutes. If desired, sweeten with honey, brown sugar or maple syrup. For prompt relief of mild stomach disorders, nausea, vomiting or flatulence, drink a cup of the tea in small sips after meals, up to 3 cups a day."
You can also find other variations of the tea to relieve cramps, upset stomach, and calm nerves at this site.
Picture courtesy of Summer Tomato in Creative Commons.
There's no denying that cookies make an excellent gift for everyone on your list. A homemade batch of chewy or crunchy cookies can be a delight. But if you just slap together a paper plate with some cellophane on top, your gift is not going to look as elegant as you had hoped.
What you package your cookies in can make the difference between a so-so gift and a gift that really wows your recipient. And don't we all want to have that extra-special presentation with our gifts?
Below are five ways you can package cookies to elevate them to gourmet gift status.
No, you're not going to reuse last night's Chinese containers. But you can buy brand new takeout containers shaped to look like the famous Chinese food cartons at the store.
Craft stores carry a number of them. They come in white, of course, but also acetate (that's see-through) and decorated with polka dots or other designs.
You can also find them in natural paper that looks recycled for a "green" feel. You don't even have to add anything else to make this a fabulous gift. You can find these quirky and fun chocolate dipped fortune cookies on our site.
Don't even think about going into the garage and washing out a paint pail. Go to the craft store instead. In the storage or jewelry-making aisle, you should find some plastic, clear paint cans. They are made to hold foods or crafting items so that you can see what's in them.
They also come in solid galvanized tin so that you can leave the contents to the imagination. Send your friends and family a fun Smiley Face Cookie Pail to brighten their day!
Many times you'll find a cookie tin when you're out at a flea market or garage sale that's so pretty you can't leave it behind. The tins that cookies and other tasty things used to come in are highly decorative and collectible.
Next time you find one for a dime or a quarter, buy it and save it for your next cookie gift. Wash it with soap and warm water and then allow it to dry fully before adding cookies to it. Be sure to line the bottom with a piece of wax paper and then put another piece on top of the cookies as well.
You can find cheap baskets in your travels that are so pretty, you just can't wait to think up a use for them. Cookies are the perfect filler!
Make sure the basket is perfectly clean and free from any dust or debris. Then add a linen napkin or a pretty piece of cloth. Layer in your cookies and add on a pretty bow and you're all set!
If you really want to make your recipient smile, find a tiered cake stand at a thrift store. These used to be used by every homemaker as she entertained. They hold tea cakes, cupcakes, or finger sandwiches. But they can also hold your cookie gift. Wash your tray and then dry it completely. Start adding cookies to every level in layers.
Depending on the cookie type, they may slide around a bit, so you may want to wrap the whole thing in pretty clear basket wrapping and tie on top with a bow. You don't want your cookies falling off on the way to your friend's front door. Let her keep the stand, of course, as part of the gift. Look for unique tiered cake stands in glass and silver plate.
Christmas cookie trees are so much fun to make. If youve ever seen one as a decoration on a holiday table or displayed as a centerpiece, you know how adorable and festive they can be. Or if you want to bring your neighbor a unique gift instead of those Christmas cookie tins again this year, why not attempt this craft?
You can easily make your own without doing much more than baking and decorating a batch of sugar cookies.
Adjust your baking traditions this year to include this fun craft and you'll have numerous fans of your creativity!
Photo Credit: Cookie Christmas Tree by Trish, on Flickr
I want to share a recipe for sugar cookies you can use for your trees. Once you have baked them, then you can follow my instructions for making the tree.
It's easy and fun. And it's a great project for kids to help with. The results may not make the cover of Bon Appetit if they help, but they'll remember how fun it was. Just add your own frosting with some green food coloring for the icing.
Here's how you will start this adult or kids cookie craft. You roll out the sugar cookie dough (use your own home made as sugar cookie dough bought from a store will often spread too much when baking).
Then you cut various sized star shapes with cookie cutters. You'll need at least four sizes of cookie cutters to make it work.
If you have even more, such as a set that graduates from large to small in say six or eight different sizes, that's even better.
Once you have the dough rolled out, flour the cookie cutters and cut out stars in various sizes with the cookie cutters. You'll be making more than one tree for your efforts, so try to make an even number of each size.
For instance, if you're going for four finished trees, cut out four of the largest star, then four of the next largest and so on. You can always use the scrap dough by rolling it out again and cutting out more stars in any sizes you want.
You'll need a large stick like the giant sized lollipop sticks that can be purchased in the candy making aisle. That stick will become the center of your tree. You will stack the tree levels on it. Each cookie will be one level to make a tree that looks like an evergreen.
When you bake the cookies, take them out of the oven before they are crisp. While they are still hot, spear them onto the stick going from largest cookie to smallest.
You can make them with or without the stick, but it helps to provide support and structure for your tree.
Between each layer, you will need to put a dab of icing so the tree will stick together. Don't worry if the icing spreads a little as it's meant to be used as glue and not for decoration.
Alternatively, you can fully decorate the top of each cookie and even add sprinkles and decorations like shown in the photo. It just depends on how easy or complicated you want to make your centerpiece.
The rest of the tree you will decorate after it is assembled. Let the whole tree cool and then drizzle green frosting down the sides.
You can then go ahead and add candy dots for ornaments and powdered sugar for snow. That's it!
You can leave these treats out for decorations. But if you intend for people to actually eat the cookies, you'll want to ensure that you wrap the decorated trees so they stay airtight and don't become rock hard.