The deed is done.

I have officially closed “The Sugar Tree” page.

Thank you all so much for your support and encouragement of my name change.  I really appreciate it.

And I’ve been shopping for the giveaway!  I have found some very SWEET things!  Look forward to sending these goodies to someone very soon!  Only 175 more to go!

Hope you have a sweet week!

Hooray! It’s a Girl!

NO! It’s not me!

Bite your tongue, man.

Don’t get me wrong.  I LOVE my children.  More than I love chocolate or bacon.  (Well, most days anyways).  But the thought of having ANOTHER one…..whew.

But I have wanted to make sugary goodness in pink for quite some time, and it’s just never happened.  Always boys.  And while boys are fun, they are very non-pink, non-flowery and non-sparkly.  And well, I wanted to create those things.  But it has always eluded me.  Until last week.  Hooray for first-time moms and big baby showers!

**DISCLAIMER: Once again, I was decorating right up until the last minute, so I didn’t have time to take pretty pictures.  Well, not that my photographic skills are good, but….you know what I mean.  Thanks for understanding.

They wanted cupcakes for 65 people.  No problem.  And they wanted pink.  VERY pink.  Delicate. And VERY girlie.  Oh, how I’ve longed to hear those words.

(Forgive the background.  One of these days I will get to do a party where *I* am in charge of the decorations.  Presentation, people!)

Since there were quite a few cupcakes, I decided to mix them up a little so they weren’t all the same.  I used the cupcake tower for the flowers. (I use this tower and love it)  And of course, I had to have the pink feet.  Love those.  Great tower topper.  The sparkles didn’t show up very well in the pictures, but if you look closely, you can see the fine sanding sugar.  Just added a nice subtle sparkle.  (Too subtle for pictures, apparently).

Since it is so close to Valentine’s Day, I found these pink heart suckers.  I just piped “It’s a Girl” on them for a different look.  I also did four toppers that spell out GIRL.  I didn’t get a great picture of those, but you can see them peeking in this one.

I also made the cupcakes like rattles.  I used a #1 icing tip to poke the hole in the liner for the stick.  The cone shape of the tip worked really well to help make a large enough hole without messing up the liner.  The worst part was tying (who decided how to spell that word?) those little bows.  I am a baker.  I can ice bows all day long.  But tie a tiny one from ribbon?  Faggetaboutit.

I also made some that had minimal icing and a single flower in the middle, for those who weren’t big icing fans.  But, I forgot to take a picture of those.  I’m drawn to swirls and sparkles.  What can I say.

I had great fun making these.  Granted, they wanted white cake with vanilla buttercream, but I guess you can’t have it all.  Now I can mark these off my Baking Bucket List.

Now I can move on to Dr. Seuss.  Oh yes.  I’m going there.

Happy Sparkling Pink Flowery Baking!

Change is good.

Many of you have asked why I changed my name and logo.

I am the baker formerly known as “The Sugar Tree“.

Not to be confused with the other bakers currently known as The Sugar Tree.

Confused?  Exactly.

There are a few great bakers that had the same inspiration as I did for a name.  And man, is it getting confusing!  So I’ve decided to change my name and start fresh.  I did a lot of research, and there is no other Shaky Baker out there.  Just me.  So if you see another one, I had it first!! (Just kidding.  Sort of.)

But seriously.  This is the nickname that my kids have given me because my hands shake when I decorate, so it seemed perfect.

Thank you all for your support!

Things, they are a changin’

I’m in the process of trying to change my blog over to my new name.  I am switching to:

 

Hopefully, this will all be seamless and you won’t notice the difference.

But things don’t typically happen that way in my world, so I’ll keep you posted.

Have a great day!

You can teach an old dog new tricks.

Yesterday, my kids celebrated the “100th Day of School.”  So for me, that means cookies!  What better way to celebrate, right?

I made “100” cookies for my daughter’s 1st grade class.  I also took this as an opportunity to try out some new tricks.

When I posted my “Top 14 things I learned in 2011” post, several of you commented about using the “plastic wrap around the icing inside the piping bag” trick.  I will admit that was one I hadn’t tried yet, even though I had seen several serious “cookiers” post they did this.  So, I thought this would be the perfect time to try it out.

For those not familiar with this trick, it’s pretty straight forward.  Just lay out some plastic wrap.  Scoop your icing into the middle of it.  Scoop more than you think.  My first round ended up being a very small piping bag because it holds more than I thought.

Then fold over one side until it grabs onto the other side.

Fold the other side over, then twist the ends in opposite directions to seal it.  Like a piece of candy!

Then just feed one end into the bag and through the coupler.  (I found this to be the most difficult part.  I ended up rolling down the bag to make it easier to get to the coupler).

I even decided to try it with my thick flood icing (20-second). (The above pictures are with this icing).  I find it quite a pain to get it in the squeeze bottles because it’s so thick.  A funnel is always involved.  So I was curious if this would work for that as well.

It worked out great!  I was able to fill the bag with as much icing as would normally fill one large squeeze bottle.

I also found that my icing didn’t separate as quickly as it normally does in a squeeze bottle.  Not sure why.  I’ll have to play around with this more to see if that continues to happen.  (Which would be a good thing, mind you).

The next thing I tried was using dowels to roll out my cookie dough.

I have a confession.  I don’t normally measure the thickness of my dough.  Ever.  I roll it until it “feels” right.  But I have found that my cookies can sometimes be uneven (one cookie thicker than another) and even different thicknesses within one cookie.  Both of those = bad for me.  I’m not a huge fan of the rings on the roller, and I couldn’t track down the dough board that everyone seems to love (ans it’s quite pricey), so I thought I’d start with the $.75 option.  What did I have to lose?  (Other than $.75).

I went with 1/4 inch.  Then I just rolled like I normally do.  Parchment paper, dough (with dowels on either side), more parchment.

After rolling it out for the first time, I realized one very startling thing.  I thought I knew how thick a 1/4 of an inch was, but after seeing my dough REALLY that thickness, I realized I was quite wrong.  It is WAY thicker than I thought.

So I think I’ve been rolling my dough more like an 1/8 of an inch, which after making these at 1/4 of an inch, I now think is too thin.  But, you do get fewer cookies out of a batch (obviously).

(Can you tell my 4th grader is learning fractions?  They are all over the place!)

So if you are currently eyeballing your dough thickness, I recommend spending the $1 and buying to dowels.  Curious if you will be as surprised as I was.

Our school colors are red and blue, but since there are lots of girls in the class, and it’s close to Valentine’s day, I threw in some pink.  Because I made the cookies and I can.

Both of these techniques are ones I will continue to use.  The plastic wrap made things MUCH easier, and the dowels made for nice, thick, even cookies.  Try these if you haven’t before and maybe you’ll add them to your list of tricks, too.

Happy baking!

Facebook “500” Giveaway

THE GIVEAWAY IS OFFICIALLY CLOSED.

I will post the winner soon.  THANK YOU!!

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I want to start by thanking everyone so much for your support!  It’s been such fun getting to “know” so many of you.  Thank you all for being willing to share your talents and gifts.  I learn so much every day!

Now on to the good stuff!

I had to stop myself.  I just kept finding cute stuff.  Valentine’s is such a fun cookie holiday.  So I thought it would be the perfect theme for my first-ever giveaway!

The winner will receive all of this:

  • Set of 2 Wilton cookie cutters – winged heart and the scalloped square (one of my all-time FAVORITES!)
  • Set of 4 cookie cutters – heart with arrow, double heart, lips and Hershey’s Kiss
  • Set of 2 cookie cutters – “I *heart* U” and “Love”
  • Heart-shaped silicon mold (I love these things)
  • Heart-shaped whisk
  • Bottle of mini pink, red and white heart sprinkles
  • “Who Loves You” owl hand towel
  • Set of 3 mini “LOVE” ceramic vases (These are great for cake pops, cookies on a stick, props for photos…I have a set & I LOVE mine!)


I will leave the giveaway open until Sunday, January 22nd at 5pm CST. (US only for this one).  I’ll post the randomly-chosen winner Sunday night so I can get this mailed out Monday morning to be there in plenty of time for Valentine’s Day!

Since it’s my first-ever giveaway, I’ll keep things simple.  To enter, just do these 3 things ON MY FACEBOOK POST:

1) “Like” my Facebook page (if you don’t already)

2) Share the giveaway on your Facebook page

3) Come back to my Facebook page and post ON THE POST that you did 1 & 2.

That’s it!

Thank you all again for your support.  Good luck!

Two things…

So, there are two things you need to do.

First, you must stalk follow Bridget at Bake at 350.  Go ahead.  I’ll wait.

{whistling}

Did you come back?  It’s easy to get sucked in over there.  She’s a cookie maven.

And #2?

You need to make these.

Nutella & Sea Salt Stuffed Sugar Cookies.

I’ve been in the mood for something Nutella-y, so when I saw Bridget’s post, I knew they would fit the bill perfectly.

I followed the recipe almost exactly, just doing a few things differently.  Some worked, some didn’t.  I’ll share both.

1) Instead of scooping out 2 TBSP of batter and dividing it in half, I scooped out 1 TBSP, put the Nutella on top of it, then scooped out another 1 TBSP and put it on top.  My OCD required that each side be 1 TBSP.  I just didn’t trust my splitting skills.

2) I did all of the 1 TBSP bottoms first, then added the Nutella all at once.  That way, the Nutella wasn’t sitting out for too long.  Because….(see #3)

3)  The Nutella warms up very quickly.  If you let it un-freeze after you put it on top of the dough (like to answer the door and talk to a neighbor for 15 minutes), it makes a BIG mess.  Trust me.  (Can you guess which one I’m talking about?)

4) I used silpats rather than parchment.  Because I did this, I didn’t need to scoop the Nutella off with a spatula.  I just lifted them off with my fingers.

5) Mine took closer to 14 minutes to cook.  I took them out at 10, and the centers were too doughy.  But it’s always very humid here, so I typically do have to cook things longer.

These cookies are pure magic.  Nice crunch on the outside.  Soft, fudgy, nutty center.  With that slight twist of the salt.  I had to stop myself.  They are just that good.

So trust me and do these 2 things.  It will start your week right.

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Here is a link to the recipe.

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