Saturday, August 29, 2009

Sugar Cookie Saturday

My son has a milk allergy, he's highly allergic to anything that comes from a cow's udder - this includes milk, butter, sour cream, cheese, and cream cheese. As you can imagine, this leaves him out of a lot of yummy foods, including desserts. For a family potluck this weekend, I made sugar cookies, using butter-flavored Crisco instead of butter, frosted with royal icing so the little guy could have something for dessert (ever try to find a butter-free dessert?). I think the butter-flavored Crisco tastes weird, but he loves the cookies and doesn't know any different.

I won't lie to you, I love making decorated cookies, but my strategy is to distract the viewer with color so they won't notice that they're terribly, terribly sloppy. I still think they make an impressive presentation - IF you use enough color! It's all about the color! And don't forget the bling - that's edible disco glitter dust sprinkled on them.

My recipe made 24 4-inch cookies which, if I were selling, could potentially sell for $4/each (assuming standard $1/inch pricing). Check out my costs in CakeBoss:

30 cents each! That's some profit margin!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

CakeBoss's One-Bowl Lemon Bars

We are lemon lovers at CakeBoss, so on a lazy Saturday I peeked in the fridge, saw lemons, and decided to whip up some lemon bars. This is a variation of a recipe we got out of a Peanuts cookbook for kids that my mom picked up at a garage sale for 5 cents in the 70's. Sometimes I still call them Lucy's Lemon Squares.

I hate to wash dishes, so I make these in my food processor and I use one bowl for the whole thing.

First, start with COLD butter, and fresh lemons. Margarine and bottled lemon juice are not the same thing. Please, for the love of baking, use real butter and fresh squeezed lemons.

I cut up the butter roughly into tablespoon-sized pieces before I chuck them in the food processor.

I throw all the ingredients for the crust into the food processor bowl at the same time. My secret for special crust: zest of 2 lemons. Pulse until the dough comes together. The dough will go through a "sandy" stage.

Then start coming together.

We've arrived. Dump that dough out into an ungreased glass 9x13 dish.
Use your "impeccably clean hands" (as Julia Child might say) to press the dough evenly into the pan. Work fast - you don't want the butter to warm up for two reasons: First, cold butter is essential for flaky pastries. Second, if it gets too warm, the dough will get sticky and stick to your hands when you're working with it. Bake for 20 minutes at 350.

While that's cooking, let's make the filling. Like I said, I hate to wash dishes, so I make the filling in the same bowl that I made the crust in. Nope, I don't even wipe it out first.

This recipe isn't fussy, you just throw all the ingredients into the bowl and blend away. Being lemon lovers, we don't think it's lemony enough until the corner of your eye is twitching, so I put 1/2 cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice in, but you can adjust the amount of lemon juice to your family's taste.

Your crust should be about done by now, so at the 20 minute mark pull it out of the oven. It should be lightly browned on the edges.
Give the filling one last whirr to make sure it's combined and nothing has settled. Then pour it over the hot crust.
Return it to the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes at 350. In my oven 22:30 does the trick nicely, but oven temperatures and cooking times do vary. When you remove it, it should not jiggle at all, and should be lightly browned on top.
Now, let it cool completely. No, really. It will just fall apart if you try to cut it now. But no one's looking, and I won't judge if you have to have a taste.

Several hours later.......

Sprinkle with powdered sugar (I use my sieve) and cut into as many pieces as desired. I always run my knife around the edge first, because that's where it wants to stick. To keep your cuts nice and sharp, rinse off your knife after every cut, that will keep it from getting goopy and dragging a lot of gunk around as you cut. I use a fork to remove them from the pan.

Then.... plate artistically and enjoy with a nice hot cup of tea.

Or, eat them straight from the pan with a Diet Coke to cancel the calories. We won't judge you. :)

Now, I'll use CakeBoss to break down my costs:

One 9x13 pan costs a grand total of $3.12 in ingredients, which works out to a whopping $0.26 for one generously sized bar. Last time I checked, one of these at Starbucks runs about $1.95 (and I promise you it's not as good). With my Master Ingredient List already entered, it took less than 2 minutes for me to cost out this recipe. See how I did it by watching the video called How to create a master ingredient list and add a recipe.

This recipe can be found in its entirety on the CakeBoss web site.

Happy (and frugal) Baking!