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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Review of the Buddy Show, Shortbread Cookies, and Christmas Cheer!

Yay! My tweet is up there!

Hello, all! Just wanted to give a quick review of the Buddy show last week in Richmond, VA and share a cookie recipe before I go on a bit of a holiday hiatus.

The show started with Buddy coming through the crowd onto the stage. The only way I could tell where he was was by finding his bright red chef coat. I must say, Buddy Valastro is a little guy. But it's all good--I'm a fellow shortie in the cake world. :) He had a T-shirt gun that he was launching towards the crowd but all the taller people snagged the ones launched in my section.

He began with a little story about Christmas morning at the Valastro house with a cute home video clip and some photos of his family's HUGE Christmas dinner spread. Then he got to decorating a few holiday-themed cakes. Among them were a Santa face made from a heart cake, a fondant-covered gift box (complete with fondant bow), a blue fondant cake with snowflake fondant cut-outs, and a Christmas tree cake the he decorated in under 45 seconds!

In order for an audience member to win each of these cakes, Buddy orchestrated different little contests. I wanted to get selected to win one, but the taller enthusiasts were jumping up and down in front of me :( But it's OK. I still enjoyed myself. Buddy is a really funny guy! I definitely need to snag one of those steamer thingies to shine up my fondant cakes. I'm currently brushing all of my fondant with clear flavor or vodka and that takes a very long time!

Excuse my photos. They were taken from my phone and it was dying, so I was rushing to get some pictures in! I had a great time at the show, and I hope Buddy comes around to Virginia next year, too! Maybe next time I'll get VIP tickets to that I can meet him and take a picture!

This past weekend, my friend threw a tacky sweater thrift gift party, and I decided to make some shortbread cookies to contribute. I honestly think it's an easy and inexpensive way to make scratch-made cookies. The recipe is from Ina Garten and it can be found here. My only modification is this: instead of 1 tsp vanilla extract, I do 1 1/2 tsp vanilla  and 1/2 tsp almond extract (or emulsion). It adds a delicious subtle flavor that I am definitely a fan of.

Mix together the softened butter and granulated sugar until just combined.

Then add the flavors. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour and salt.
Mix the dry ingredients into the butter mixture and mix on low until the dough starts to get crumbly-looking.

The recipe says to form all of the dough into one disc on a floured surface. But I like to split it up into two discs to make it a bit easier to work with. I was reading some of the comments on this recipe's page, and a lot of people were saying that the dough just kept falling apart and wouldn't cooperate. All I say to that is have patience. If you smush it together into discs, it will come together! See?
I put those into the fridge for 30 minutes then brought them both out and rolled one disc at a time.
Have patience here, too! It may be crumbly at first, but it will come together and be rollable. Just make sure the rolling pin as well as the surface is generously dusted with flour!
I rolled the dough about 1/4" thick and used star cutters and circle cutters. I made one disc stars and the other circles. I managed to get about 4 dozen this way.

The recipe says to bake 20-25 minutes, but I find that my cookies are golden-brown-edged perfection at about 17 minutes, so check your cookies periodically!

They taste quite amazing plain, but I drizzled mine with some good old-fashioned confectioner's sugar icing. Yum! Roger snagged one before we left for the party.

And while we're on the tacky sweaters, I must share mine. We both had fun making our own sweaters!

And with that, I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year! I will be back in January with a couple of birthday cakes I have lined. I hope for much prosperity for everyone in the coming year. Yay for 2013!!

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