Saturday, October 31, 2015

Martha & Me - October



This month, I tried a cookie idea from the October issue of Martha Stewart Living, making these cute and playful Dia de los Muertos cookies with the small Bears (click the link to see a post about them on Martha's website). Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a holiday celebrated throughout Mexico, on November 1 and 2, to honor the deceased. I've always been drawn to its traditions, such as the creation of sugar skulls, which are delicate skull shapes made of sugar and decorated with candy flowers and other designs. Martha's cookies are meant to mimic this style, using icing, candies and baking decors to create interesting designs. Our cookies are somewhat less precise than Martha's, but we had a lot of fun making them.



Martha suggested a recipe from her website for the cookie dough, a chocolate-cinnamon one. This sounded really tasty to me, but I wasn't sure how the rest of the family would feel about it. (Probably just fine, I've realized in hindsight, but I would never want to stand in the way of cookie-devouring). I decided to use my old faithful sugar cookie recipe, from the Betty Crocker cookbook. I know it well; it tastes good and it always works. We mixed up our dough and left it in the fridge for a couple of hours as directed.


Martha wanted me to bend an oval-shaped metal cookie cutter at one end to create a narrow face shape. I don't have any cookie cutters like that, and I'd balk at altering one if I did, so I had some help from the Bear in the form of a 3-D printed skull-shaped cookie cutter. He jumped at the opportunity to use his 3-D printer to make a special item for me. He designed the shape himself and it printed up nicely. My lovely Bear.


The cutter did a good job on the dough. I liked the general shape but I had some concerns about the side pieces on the cheeks. I had a feeling they might not stay in shape during baking...


I was right. The side bits didn't come through well in the baking, but the cookies still looked skull-like. He plans to make a new cutter without the side pieces; I'm ambivalent but I'll take any custom cookie cutters he feels like producing. It's just too cool to pass up.


I put the cookies on a sheet pan with sides to help contain messiness, and we got to work. I made icing from powdered sugar and milk, put it in a bag with one corner cut off as a piping tip, and iced the cookies one at a time. I couldn't do more than that because the icing dried so quickly, but it was a quick and easy job. I piped around the outline of the cookie, then did some squiggly lines across inside the outline, then used a spoon to spread it all around. I'm not especially good at icing but I enjoy doing it, so I liked this part.




The small Bears and I raided my big bag of baking decors, coming up with sugar flowers in two sizes, blue gel icing, and chocolate and colored sprinkles. For noses we decided on Red Hots, which are small disc-shaped cinnamon candies. The eyes are chocolate chips. Martha's skulls were a little fancier, but I think we found a good assortment of things to use. I considered getting out some tools - hemostats, tweezers, etc. - for decor-placement, but in the end I let them use their fingers and I did too.


I really loved how they turned out. The cookies were delicious and they were so festive and fun to make. My kids were so proud of them! I had them on a pan in the dining room to finish drying and they dragged the Bear to see it as soon as he walked in from work. I liked that we all had a part in making them; it's the best kind of creative adventure.

35 comments:

  1. They look delishous, what a great idea. They look lots of fun to make. Have a good weekend. Leah xx

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  2. It looks like it turned out great in the end.

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  3. What fun! They do look just yummy and isn't it wonderful when your children have such a sense of accomplishment when they make something with their own hands? My favorite, and most hysterical memory of baking with my kids, is when my oldest son was using the hand held electric beater. As I walked past him, he turned around and asked, "How my doing, Ma?", with the mixer in midair..well, you know where all that batter ended up.

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  4. I think your cookies look amazing Jennifer and what a sweet Bear you have to make you a cookie cutter with a 3 D printer, that is awesome.
    I made sugar skulls years ago to celebrate the Day of the Dead, it took me forever, but they came out pretty cute.

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  5. That looks such fun and even better to eat them. 3D printer eh, how cool is that? :)

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  6. The cookies look amazing. Well done you and the small bears - and the big bear for making a skull cookie cutter! Very cool!

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  7. I am so jealous of the 3D printer!! What a terrific idea to create your own cookie cutters ... the possibilities are now endless! I just love what you and your family have created together. Your kids have every right to be proud of these as they're amazing!!
    A tip for the details ... when I make gingerbread houses, as soon as the baked pieces come out of the oven, I trim them up immediately while the 'cookie' is still soft. It makes the window & door details very crisp. I imagine you could recut the skull cookies with the cookie cutter as soon as they are out of the oven? Just an idea, but they may have enlarged beyond the cutter's shape.
    Either way, the skull image is quite obvious, and I love all the little decorator details you and the kids have added :)
    Wendy

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  8. They look great, bet they have all been eaten now? I can't get my head round 3D printers.............how wonderful to creat your own cutter.

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  9. They look great and it sounds like everyone enjoyed making them.
    X

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  10. Love the cookie cutter, you should patent that and sell it to Martha :) Cookies look great and what a lovely family fun day.

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  11. They're fab, and I love that the Bear made the cutter for you. What a great idea to make custom cookie cutters with a 3D printer. As you say, a real family effort. CJ xx

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  12. Your bears did a nice job on the sugar skulls! They look good!

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  13. They're wonderful Jennifer. You've inspired me to have a go at cookie decorating with the wee ones. Thanks for sharing, Bee xx

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  14. What a great tradition and your cookies are fantastic. I'm really envious of your 3D printer! xx

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  15. They are cute and what a fun thing to do together! I'm jealous that you have your own cookie cutter designer and maker.

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  16. How fantastic, they look fab and what a great use for the 3D printer xx

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  17. Such a fun and creative make and bake to do together ...

    Happy Weekend Wishes

    All the best Jan

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  18. Awesome cookies and so much fun......had a bit of halloween fun myself this year xoxo

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  19. wow, those are such fun, and I love that you all had a part in them. Go Team Bear ! x

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  20. These are so cutting edge! What a fun time you all had cookie making.

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  21. Baking with children is so fun and a lovely way to spend time together x

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  22. They turned out great! and so different from the usual orange for cookies at this time of year. A great family past time xx

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  23. These cookies look really cool Jennifer. You are lucky to have a 3D printer! My son recently designed an espresso mug for printing during work experience in a bioengineering lab.... it is so weird to be able to print objects. I think if I had one, I would use it for cookie cutter printing only. Happy November. xx

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  24. They're fabulous, such a fun thing to make with kids.

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  25. These are so cool, and a lot more stylish than the usually black and orange biscuits and cakes you see at this time of year. Do I remember you doing a Dia De Los Muertos Etsy Treasury once? I remember how you love these skulls. I really enjoyed seeing how you made these, and even I could be persuaded into some Halloween baking if it was this original! xx

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    1. You're right, Gillian, I did share a Dia Etsy treasury, a couple of years ago. I guess these skulls are really my "thing," I just keep talking about them. :)

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  26. That took me back- ours are too old to bake with me now, but we used to love making ginger breads and decorating them for the Christmas tree. Your biscuits look great :o)

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  27. What a great mom! Sugar skull cookies are a perfect update to the sugar cookie.

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  28. Wow!!! a 3D made cookie cutter! I admire your family's creativity :) xx

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  29. They look yummy and what a great Bear you have, perhaps he will make you some unique Christmas cookie cutters too ;-) x

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  30. that looks like a lovely way to spend an afternoon...and quite delicious too.

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  31. they look great.. good to hear you and the kids had fun.

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  32. I have seen your avatar on my followers, I love thistles and I decided to look up your blog.
    Your fabulous blog !
    I checked back and enjoyed reading your posts.
    Adore your cookies. I would just have the cheek bones be sharper on the cutter so when the cookies expand they would still look like Martha's .
    But most of all I love the cookies the little bears made. Perfectly fun and charming !
    I enjoyed your post on the blue doors. Like you we have so much sun that sky blue, paloverde lime green and white are colors of Tucson.
    I know my handyman will die but I am thinking of painting my door a lavender color.
    Something I have been thinking about for a long time ummmmmmmmm.

    cheers, parsnip

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  33. Hey! Those turned out really well. And what a great activity for the whole family. Martha's perfection can feel quite unattainable but I think even she would give these colourful cookies a thumbs up!

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  34. What a fun project! And how awesome that your husband made the cookie cutter using a 3-D printer!

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