ghost cookies

Dear Becca and Cale,

Thank you for bringing cute adorable ghosts to the world. I am such a scaredy-cat when it comes to spooky and paranormal things, but both of your picture books have made me look at ghosts in a different way.

To celebrate the Halloween season, I made some ghost cookies based on your illustrations from How to Make Friends with a Ghost and Sir Simon: Super Scarer. My first task was finding the perfect cookie cutter, which turned out to be a tulip shape that I could use upside-down!

Ghost Cookies

Rolled Sugar Cookies
Recipe adapted from Serious Eats

115 grams unsalted butter
100 grams coconut oil
225 grams sugar
5 grams table salt
7 grams vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon baking powder
1 large egg
355 grams all-purpose flour

  1. There are a few things I omitted from the original recipes, so make sure you check out the original link in case you want to follow it through and through. I also used a scale to weight everything out in grams for this recipe.
  2. In a stand mixer, combine the butter, coconut oil, sugar, salt, vanilla extra, and baking powder together. It should come together on medium speed until it’s fluffy and light. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed.
  3. Add in the egg and continue to mix until combined.
  4. Add the flour and mix on low until well combined. Take the dough out divide it in half. Flatten in into discs and wrap in plastic and refrigerate overnight or for at least two hours.
  5. When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F and move the oven racks to the lower middle positions. Place parchment paper on your baking trays.
  6. Take the dough out so that it warms up to room temperature. Gently knead it so that it’s easier to roll.
  7. On a floured surface, roll out the dough to a thickness of ¼ inch. Cut with your tulip cookie cutter and slide a spatula underneath to help loosen it and transfer to the baking tray. Repeat until all of the dough has been used. You can knead together the scraps to be rolled out again.
  8. Place the baking trays in the oven and bake for about 12 minutes. The cookies should be slightly puffed, but firm and pale.
  9. Let the cookies cool for another half hour on the baking tray.

Ghost Cookies

I whipped up a batch of royal icing to pipe out the faces. I don’t have a precise recipe for it as I usually do this in a small bowl and adjust until the icing consistency is how I like it. So since it’s based on how it feels, I have never measured out the icing sugar and water ratio.

I filled out a piping bag with the smallest round tip to create their sweet faces. Then I dabbed my finger into the pink food dye to create the ghosts’ blush.

Ghost Cookies

It was my first time making this recipe. I loved that the cookies stayed pale after baking, we don’t want any golden-edged ghosts here. But I found the dough so hard to work with, it would crumble every time I tried to roll it out. Yet, the small batch I did came together. I did like the coconut aroma and it did help keep the cookies soft and chewy.

Regardless of my baking notes, I’m glad they were a hit and everyone seemed to enjoy gobbling these ghosts down.

Your boo,
Syl

*Disclaimer: I work in marketing and publicity for Tundra Books, which publishes both How to Make Friends with a Ghost by Rebecca Green and Sir Simon: Super Scarer by Cale Atkinson.

gingerbread cookies

Dear Readers,

Merry Christmas!

I hope you all get to spend time with loved ones, family, and friends. Howard and I have been really fortunate this holiday weekend to share a meal with those we care about. We went over to a family friend’s house on Friday for a delicious pot luck. There were so many good laughs and sneaky behaviours during our board game session. Christmas Eve was spent with Howard’s family where we cooed and ahhed over our little nephew in between hot pot. At 21 weeks old, he’s already mastered rolling! Christmas Day, we’ll be going over to my parent’s house tonight. We’re also looking forward to New Year’s Eve where it’s been tradition for us to get together with our best friends.

Totoro Gingerbread Cookies

I won’t be seeing my colleagues for a week, but that doesn’t mean I won’t miss them! This year, I made some Totoro gingerbread cookies to hand out as a token of my appreciation. The reactions were pretty priceless. I love how Totoro brings a smile to everyone’s face.

Totoro Gingerbread Cookies

Did I mention that I have never made gingerbread before? I remember decorating it in grade one or two, our classroom smelled so good. But we never got to eat them because they were used as decoration in our class and were rock hard by the time I could take it home. I don’t think I’ve even eaten gingerbread in the last decade, but we had a fun work event this year where I was in charge of the gingerbread station – I got to teach people how to pipe and watch them ice their own gingerbread man. This really inspired me to make some at home.

Totoro Gingerbread Cookies

The ones at work were from Bobbette & Belle which everyone was raving how delicious they were, so I cracked open their cookbook and got baking!

Gingerbread Cookies
Makes about a dozen cookies
Recipe adapted from Bobbette & Belle: Classic Recipes from the Celebrated Pastry Shop

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ salt
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
¾ cup brown sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
½ cup fancy molasses
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

  1. In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, (they also add ¾ teaspoon of baking soda, which I omitted), salt, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves – whisk!
  2. Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, brown sugar, and egg on medium speed until it’s light and fluffy.
  3. Pour in the molasses and vanilla, beat until well blended. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed.
  4. Add in the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until the dough forms. Take the dough out, flatten it into a disc shape, and wrap in plastic. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours (I left it overnight).
  5. Preheat your oven to 350°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  6. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to about ¼-inch thickness. Cut out your shapes (freehand or by tracing templates) or use a cookie cutter. Place on the parchment paper, leaving about an inch between each cookie.
  7. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the cookies are firm to the touch. Allow the cookies to cool before transferring them to a wire rack. The cookies can be stores in an airtight container for up to 1 month.

Totoro Gingerbread Cookies

I actually made the recipe twice so that I would have lots of dough to work with. I made Totoros, trees, penguins, and polar bears. Howard took the bulk of it to work to hand out to his colleagues.

Totoro Gingerbread Cookies

You guys, I haven’t made royal icing in so long (probably 7 years)! I went out to get some meringue powder since I just don’t feel right about using uncooked egg whites. You basically mix meringue powder, confectioner’s sugar, and water until you get the consistency you want. Less water if you want the icing stiffer for creating borders, more water if you want it runnier to flood the area. It’s a lot of guesswork and experience, because it’s based on the feel when you’re working with royal icing. I started with the drier icing to pipe designs and outlines. It also acts as a good glue at this point, so I used it to attach sprinkles. Flooding was a bit trickier, but I think I got the hang of it! If only my outlines were cleaner!

Totoro Gingerbread Cookies

Totoro is moderately easy to make. You pipe two eyes and insert a black/brown sprinkle in. Then pipe a nose and a small dot on the top of his head. Most people add a leaf on his head, but since it’s Christmas, Totoro got a holly. If you have red sprinkles and green Christmas-tree-shaped sprinkles, you’ll be able to make a holly. I outlined an oval for his belly and then flooded it with icing. When everything was dried, I drew on his belly marks with an edible colour marker. You could pipe them on with black icing, but I trusted myself with the marker more!

Totoro Gingerbread Cookies

I experimented with a lot of designs on the Christmas trees. Some just got zig-zag’s, others were outlines, played around with the sprinkle ornaments, and even tried some snowy ones.

Totoro Gingerbread Cookies

What do you think? I eventually got bored of doing the same thing over and over again, hence the variety. I don’t know which one I like best.

Totoro Gingerbread Cookies

Thank you again for following along this year! I’m hoping to do a bit more crafting and baking in 2017. Do you have any New Year’s resolutions?

Totoro Gingerbread Cookies

Sincerely,
Syl