Thursday, October 17, 2013

Let's Weigh In!

You know, 'cause the holidays are coming up and we want to be sure we eat lots of veggies and aren't overdoing it with all those yummy treats!  Just kidding... I don't think you'll ever see me mentioning my weight on my blog for all the world to see! (not to mention any before-and-after pictures!)

I'm talking about ingredients - powdered sugar to be exact.  As many of you know, my Royal Glaze recipe calls for 2# of powered sugar, which has been a no-weigh no-brainer for me since Domino pure cane 10X powdered sugar comes in 2# bags.  Easy.  And has been a no-brainer, until about a month ago.  When I had a really, really runny batch of it. I NEVER have issues with this icing (ok, once a few years ago but I was still a newbie decorator & still developing the recipe, so I'll never really know what went wrong that day...). I have made TONS of this icing, and it has always been a dream to use.  Some who have tried it have said they don't think it came out right - I always assumed it was the meniscus issue - above the line, below the line (when measuring the water the meniscus is that curve of liquid at the top - I always let the bottom of the meniscus lay on the bottom of the measurement line).  Until about a month ago.  When I had about 20 dozen cookies needing to be iced.  I nearly freaked out, I tell ya!  I thought it was my new mixer - which made me sad, 'cause I really really love my new 7qt Pro Line KA... and making a double batch of icing seemed surreal and totally exciting...

Anyhoo... after working through my runny icing it came time to make another batch.  I have been starting to weigh ingredients for my cookie dough since I can make triple batches with my new mixer, and who wants to sit and measure 12 cups of anything when weighing is so quick and consistent!  Which made me last batch of icing was definitely NOT consistent with all previous batches, so just for giggles, why not weigh my powdered sugar?  (Even though it comes in 2# bags... )  To my surprise, that 2# bag of powdered sugar did NOT weigh 2# at all - it only weighed 31 1/2 oz!  And the bag itself weighs 3/8 ounce, so there was only about 31 1/8 ounces of sugar - that 7/8 ounce deficit is the equivalent of about 1/4 cup!  Which would result in (drumroll please...) runny icing!   (And on that double batch of icing I made, would have been a whopping 1/2 cup's worth!)

I was flabbergasted (to put it nicely)!  Since we were moving and I was aware that our only close store does not carry Domino powdered sugar, I stocked up before the move.  I had 6 bags on hand, and I weighed them all. Not one of them weighed 2#.  They ranged anywhere from 31.125 oz to 2# 2oz /34 oz (which would result in thick icing) - not acceptable, so I placed a call to Domino.  I told them my findings - gave them the weight of each bag, as well as the production codes from each bag so they could research.  I was told that I would be sent coupons to replace the 6 bags, as well as receive a follow-up call from quality control.  I wanted to know, what should I really expect from a 2# bag of sugar?  I would think, well, 2# of sugar!  But, I wanted to hear it from them.

A week went by and I received coupons to replace 4 of the bags - not sure why they shorted me, but I wasn't calling them for free product, I just wanted to know the scoop.  I use a LOT of this stuff, and NEED it to be consistent.  Another week went by, and I still hadn't received any phone call.  So I called back, and got a canned "I'm so sorry for your inconvenience - I will note the file and have someone call you back..." blah, blah, blah...   Here we are, a month later, and I have not heard a peep from them.  I assume that means either a) they think I'm a nutcase or b) they are as baffled as me.  I'm hoping they are re-calibrating all of their scales so that the next bag I buy actually has 2# of sugar in it!

In the meantime there are several solutions.  One of them NOT being switching my brand of sugar, because I really do prefer it for my icing.  But, if I want a slightly runny batch of icing (like if I'm going to do a lot of wet-on-wet designs, or large cookies needing a lot of flooding) I can use the bags that weigh less.  When I want a slightly thicker icing (say, for a lot of detail work) I can use the bags that weigh more.  OR I can just weigh the sugar again and add or subtract enough from my baking-bucket to make 2#.  It's a lot easier than trying to guess how much more/less water to use.

(Or you can use plunger cutters & go un-iced if you get frustrated or want to save some calories - see veggies above : )

I also no longer wonder why so many people can get so many different results with the same recipe.  And am glad to know that it isn't necessarily "user-error" (being that I thought I must have qualified for that club on more than a few occasions... : )

In the spirit of all of this madness, I was wondering - do you all weigh your powdered sugar?  Or use the 1# box or 2# bag?  If not, give it a try - does it weigh what it should?  Leave a comment and I will  SHARE MY SUGAR with you!  I will be giving away 3 of my coupons via random draw from your comments on Tuesday morning, so leave your comments by Monday 10/21.

Happy Baking!  (Or weighing!)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

What's Been Movin' and Shakin' Lately?

Me!  That's what!  I don't know where the last 5 months have gone... ok, actually I do... We just moved from a Chicago suburb with a population of 75,000 to a small, quiet little Madison WI suburb of 12,000 (small as in, my directions often involve making turns at cornfields, and warnings to watch out for the tractors crossing the road!). Definitely a change of pace - Piggly Wiggly doesn't really carry my favorite ingredients, and craft stores are no longer conveniently a mile or two down the street (country road, whatever!).  Makes things a little difficult, but the trade-off is well worth it.  I LOVE living here!  (I especially love my new Wolf oven...!)

Anyway... I just wanted to apologize for my extended absence - we found out in March my hubby was being transferred here, and between fixing up & selling our house, finding & buying a new one, and all the fun involved in moving, things have been a bit crazy.  But I'm finally finding a little more time each day to get my baking groove back on.  YAY!


So, in our crazy days of no-time-to-bake, my kids picked up some of those frosted animal cookies - I was SO grossed out by what came out of the package, I just had to make it right.  See below:

I mean, what are those store-bought blobs supposed to resemble, anyway?  Homemade ones hands down look better (even though I went a little too sprinkle happy!), taste better and, aside from the mixing (dough), rolling, cutting, baking, mixing (icing), bag filling and cleaning up, they are super easy-peasy to make:  

(that's an elephant...but you already knew that...)
So, if you are already doing all that other stuff anyway (you know, the mixing (dough), rolling, cutting, baking, mixing (icing), bag filling and cleaning up)  there is no excuse to EVER buy those crappy iced animal cookies EVER AGAIN!  And they are sooo perfectly cute for a baby shower or gift!  Even change up the colors of your icing or sprinkles - I personally love Wilton's Spring mix : )

I hope to be all back to "normal" soon - baking, posting, giving things away... in the meantime enjoy the rest of your Summer!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Isn't it Romantic?

What is more romantic than champagne and chocolate covered strawberries? 
Probably lots of things, but this Valentine's Day, these cookies fit the cookie-jar : ) 
Or gift box... whatever... you know what I mean!

With the addition of some cocoa powder to my icing, these strawberries can truly be called chocolate covered.  (Sorry, nothing fancy in the champagne : )


On another note, with talk of LilaLoa's February Sketch It! Challenge, I agree it's a good idea to sketch your cookies designs before you decorate. 

(Ok, my sketch doesn't count - this is an app-generated sketch.  My real sketches were really too embarrassing to share online - I obviously ice better than I draw : )


Oh, and gotta give a little shout-out to DH - I love you C-Dog!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Spring Cleaning Winners...

Thanks to all who encouraged me to keep up with my
By random draw, the winners are...
Kris from So Cute Cookies
Michele from Cookies by Michele
Debbie from Sweet Creations by Debbie
Please send me your addresses ASAP & I will
get these out to you in the next few days!
Congrats & thanks for helping me clean!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Spring Cleaning!

Typically, "normal" people do this in, well, Spring.  But cookiers seem to work a season ahead at all times - Christmas cookies by Thanksgiving, Valentine's right after Christmas, 4th of July right around Memorial Day... if you are a die-hard cookier, you know it's true!  And since I was a little late on starting Christmas cookies, I'm all off kilter.  The holiday season, and all that comes with it, including everyone being home for almost 3 weeks (with sick kids to boot), Christmas decorations needing to be placed and then packed away, and school not starting until the second week of January, I have fallen way behind.  On everything.  And I can't work in a cluttered environment - I get my groove on when there are no distractions.  So I figured I would jump ahead a little bit and start my Spring cleaning now, so that I'm ready when Spring actually does arrive.  We're talking full-on assault: tear-the-house-apart, room-by-room (including kiddo room makeovers), closet-by-closet, cabinet-by-cabinet, fridge, freezer, baking supplies...  yep, even my baking supplies are getting the once-over.  With that said, I came across some brand new cute stuff that I want to give to some of you.  They are Valentine's themed, so just in time!  I didn't mention "giveaway" in the title 'cause it's a test to see who actually reads my blog they're nothing major, but they are majorly cute!

Just post a comment - say hi, wish me luck on my cleaning, tell me to get my butt in gear & post some cookies...whatever you like!  (don't get me wrong - I've done a bunch of cookies this month, just nothing particularly blog-worthy : )  But that's going to change as soon as I'm done, so help me out & take these cuties out of my house!)

There are 2 oven mitt & towel sets, a double pack of kitchen towels, and a set of 4 placemats.  Aren't they cute?  I just love cupcake-themed stuff : ). So 4 items to give away - just post a comment - winners will be chosen at random & posted on February 4th so I have enough time to get these to the winners in time for Valentine's Day : )

Good luck, & happy baking! 
(or cleaning... whatever makes you happy!)