Our Favorite Christmas Sweets – Part One

It’s been a while! We’re still high-volume carb pushers, we assure you.

The past few months have been sprinkled with countless nights of sugar storms in our kitchens, baking treats every week (see the photographic evidence). While taking on so many projects, we’ve been off the blog. But fear not, the Sarmie Sisters are back, debuting our return with our favorite holiday recipes.

Over the next few days, we’ll feature our favorite recipes that we love to bake during the holiday season. Each recipe has been successfully kitchen- and taste-tested, rightfully earning a spot in our lineup.

Without further adieu, let’s kick off the list with recipe #1, the “Holly Jolly Cake Pop.” 

Why it made the list: Once you see how easy it is to bake, roll, and dip this elegant treat, you’ll understand why it takes the cake on any pretty party spread.

Holly Jolly Cake Pop
Recipe yields 40 – 50 cake pops

Ingredients:

  • Cake base
    • 1 box cake mix (we like Duncan Hines)
    • 3 large eggs
    • 1 c. water
  • 1/4 c. cake icing
  • Melting wafers (Ghirardelli is the best)
  • Clear sugar sprinkles
  • Holly sprinkles

Additional supplies:

Instructions:

  1. Bake cake as directed on the box, omitting the oil / butter portion.
  2. Break apart baked cake into a mixing bowl and mix with the cake icing until the cake becomes a dough and crumbs are no longer visible.
  3. Using the cookie scoop, scoop out equal tablespoons of dough. Roll each tablespoon into a ball, removing any breaks and seams. Lay each completed ball onto a cookie tray or plate.
  4. Once all of the cake pop dough has been used, move the formed cake balls into the fridge to chill for at least 30 minutes.
  5. Using a small bowl or mug, melt a small handful (about 10 melts) in the microwave.
  6. Dip the tip of a lollipop stick into the melted wafer, then poke a chilled cake ball with the coated end. This will allow the ball to adhere to the stick before dipping the ball completely. Repeat for all cake balls. (NOTE: you’ll want to poke through each ball only half-way to avoid breaking the ball or creating tears on the surface.)
  7. Once you have inserted sticks into all cake balls, pop them back into the refrigerator to chill once more to set (this should take about 15 minutes).
  8. White the cake pops are chilling, fill a coffee mug halfway with melting wafers and melt completely.IMAG0478
  9. Remove the cake pops from the refrigerator, and dip one at a time into the melts, tapping off the excess melt. You should have a thin layer of melt fully covering the cake (NOTE: be sure to remove any air bubbles– these lead to holes from which any oil from the cake icing can escape and drip).
  10. While the melt is still wet, sprinkle the surface with clear sugar sprinkles, then affix the holly berry sprinkles onto the top as pictured.
  11. Set each cake pop cake-down onto a flat surface. We recommend wax or parchment paper (NOTE: the above picture shows the upright setting).
  12. Leave cake pops in room temperature to dry– and you’re all set!

Have fun dipping, friends!

 

 

 

 

 

A Deft Hand, from Swaddling to Icing

Is there something in the water? It must be raining babies! We’ve been busy in the kitchen, which is why we’ve been a little slow on the blogging front. Last month, we took on seven baby shower projects, helping glowing mamas-to-be welcome their precious little ones into the world.

Baby showers are some of our favorite undertakings. Though we Sarmie sisters have been baking together for over 20 years, it was Cilla’s baby shower (for daughter Ellie) that got us thinking about sharing our work– that’s how our Instagram account was born, as was our first foray into fondant toppers:

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Every baby shower host who asks us for sweets is bursting with ideas and themes for the celebration, and it’s our job to help bring their creative visions to life. In the age of Pinterest, people have really stepped up their game with baby shower themes. We’ve worked on some unique requests, including:

whale / Vineyard Vines vibe

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zoo babies

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and woodland creatures, to name a few.

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Our most recent project was a Winnie the Pooh-themed shower for a baby girl named Melody Grace. We absolutely loved the planning process, from text threads with the caterer, Shari of Catering 59 , and grandma-to-be, to adding elements of nostalgia with modern whimsy. The outcome was a labor of love, handcrafted with joy in anticipation of baby Melody. Cilla’s signature calligraphy and Geels’ painted elements supplemented Shari’s 100-acre-wood atmosphere, complete with rustic signage, watering cans, and a plethora of “hunny bees”. And her soup / salad / baked potato bar was the perfect meal to warm our rumbly tummies on an otherwise chilly January evening.

Here’s a quick look at what we put together:

A guest sign-in poster, which will make a great keepsake to put in the nursery

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Buntings cascading over the new parents’ own baby blankets and the sweet table

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A sweet badge for the “Mommy to Bee” (thanks, Cricut!)

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And a little woodsy sign to accompany the sweets.

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Oh yeah, we made sweets:

Chocolate cupcakes topped with vanilla buttercream rosettes

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Vanilla pound cakes with buttercream beehives

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Marshmallow pops

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A red velvet cake shaped into a honeypot

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And, of course, our sugar cookies.

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These cookies always tend to be the stars of the show, and with good reason. Much like child-rearing, icing a single cookie takes plenty of patience and a gentle hand. Wanna learn how?

Check out our most recent video summarizing the process!

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Statement Pieces

Sending a message with food is nothing new. A heart-shaped cake can be a profession of love. A piping hot bowl of soup can say ‘welcome’ at the first waft of steaming broth. We were once asked to mass produce an edible invitation to a “cookie throw down” event–one guess as to what food item we used as our platform (because obviously).

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Whatever message you’re trying to convey–an apology spelled out in pepperoni atop a pizza, for instance– there’s something disarming about using a platform as comforting as food to do it.

When tensions surrounding the centuries-old debate concerning vaccinations peaked in the past week on social media, we felt compelled to chime in. Vaccines, after all, are a matter of life and death, and it’s Cilla’s job as a pediatrician to keep children healthy.  Not surprisingly, strangers hurling insults left a bad taste in our mouths. If social media exchanges have taught us anything, it’s to not feed the trolls. But with so much negativity, why not approach the conversation with some positive (and literal) food for thought? With that, we submit a simple PSA:

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Now that’s one smart cookie.

In case you’re interested, here are some links with scholarly studies that address common concerns about vaccinations and their administration:

For more information, please consult your physician (not some hokey website with too many capital letters. Please.).

Thanks for listening!

New Year, Old Favorites

Happy 2017, friends!

In the first week of the new year, we’ve already seen cool, crazy culinary feats taking the internets by storm. Magical unicorn desserts are having a moment, and the Sarmie Sisters want in. Of course we do.

While we aim for creativity and innovation with each new baking project, it’s the standby  classics that hold a special place in our hearts. Consider the chocolate chip cookie: a humble, no-frills treat that has never waned in popularity since its arrival on American plates in the 1930s (yes, we looked it up).

One of our first from-scratch endeavors as little girls in the Sarmie household was the Toll House recipe. Back then, as eight- and nine-year-olds, we didn’t have the fancy gadgets we rely on today–no KitchenAid stand mixers, cookie scoopers, piping bags, or the enviable collection of cookie cutters that drive our husbands crazy when scattered about in our cupboards. Hey, we need them to live! But we digress…

With just a couple of mixing bowls and spoons, sweet chocolate chip goodness can be achieved. Not unicorn magic, but magic nonetheless.

Peep our recipe!

Sarmie Sister Sweets Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Ingredients:

  •  1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 package dark chocolate chips (we use Ghirardelli)
  • Coarse sea salt
  1. Over the stove, heat butter in saucepan over low-medium heat, stirring frequently, until it turns light brown. Turn off heat, let it cool for 5-10 minutes.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda, and salt, set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, mix sugars and butter together.
  4. Add eggs one at a time, mixing throughly after each addition. Mix in vanilla. Slowly mix in dry ingredients. Place bowl in fridge for 30 min to chill.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  6. Drop spoonfuls of dough 2 inches apart on parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake for 7-8 minutes (until edges of cookies are golden brown).
  7. Sprinkle with sea salt immediately.
  8. Let cookies cool on cookie sheet for 2-3 minutes before transferring to wire racks.
  9. Enjoy!

Sugar Cookies are THE Christmas Cookies

Okay, okay– we admit it. We’re a small fish in a big pond of blogs authored by baking nuts like us who just want to spread a little sweetness in the world… and we’re really late to the party. But that didn’t stop us from finally pulling the trigger and joining the mix. So here we are. Welcome to Sarmie Sister Sweets’ inaugural blog post. Brace yourself.

Anyway…

Ahh, Christmas. ‘Tis the season of warm fuzzies, celebrating the nativity, and rapturously destroying the kitchen to prepare Instagram-worthy sweets for office cookie exchanges and family get-togethers. Pretty sure we can all agree that the quintessential piece of every Christmas cookie collection is the tried-and-true rolled sugar cookie. Pretty? Yes. Pain in the butt? Sometimes.

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Process-wise, this trusty standby won’t kill you. We’ve stood by a recipe we randomly found about 12 years ago in an old cookbook. Among pages of vintage recipes (think meats in ring molds or entrees masquerading as dessert items) sat the cookies we’ve made our own in the past decade.

With a few tweaks, like adding almond extract, shortening the bake time to retain a softer texture, and decorating with Betty Crocker cookie icing, you, too, can have the power.

Behold:

Sarmie Sisters’ Sugar Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract (optional)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 1/4 c. sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Betty Crocker cookie icing, for decorating
  1. Cream butter and add sugar and vanilla gradually, beating until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition.
  2. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together; add to creamed mixture in fourths, mixing until blended after each addition, Chill dough for at least an hour (or overnight).
  3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. On a floured surface, roll dough 1/4-inch thick; cut into a variety of shapes with cutters. Transfer to parchment-lined cookie sheets.
  4. Bake 5 – 7 minutes, or until the centers lose their sheen and a faint golden brown appears on the edges.
  5. Transfer baked cookies onto cooling racks; once at room temperature, get decorating!