Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Dirty's Little Secret...Turkeys Are Delicious In All Their Forms!

It's a tradition started by my Aunt Anita years ago... call your loved ones on Thanksgiving and when they answer, screech "Gobble Gobble" into the phone. It was always a phone because my Aunt Anita has lived away from home for most of my life.

Since we cannot be together this Thanksgiving I'm sending her my "Gobble Gobble" via blog!

I can happily report that Anita is settled in Jackson Hole Wyoming (convenient for a skier like me) where she can easily browse Dirty's Little Secrets or visit my Facebook for the latest updates! Which brings me to Dirty's Little Secret: what I'm thankful for. 

Obviously I'm thankful to live in 2011 where technology is so available to me and my family keeping us connected across the globe. I'm also thankful for the health and happiness I share with my friends and family.

I'm thankful for the support and encouragement I've received from everyone! Without which Dirty's Little Secrets would not be possible, but now I can share this....

Just some of my work tools... some cookie cutters and my MacBookPro :)

Finally, I'm thankful for the leftover dough from my wedding dress cookies! Combine this with the fact I had to decorate a dozen and not 200 cookies, it was easy to whip up some festive Thanksgiving themed cookies!

I think these Turkeys would make an exceptional addition to any Thanksgiving Day table!

Dirty's Little Secret works of art!

These would pair nicely with some Pumpkin Pie....

The ONLY hand painted Turkey..wonder who will eat it?

Have I ruffled your feathers yet?

Really wanted some of My Turkeys to go with your Thanksgiving Day Turkey? 

Well... it's too late....however....

Keep checking back to Dirty's Little Secrets via blog and Facebook!

Soon to come Holiday Cookie packages to order! What better way to say thanks and show you care than with a custom, homemade cookie?!

Sending my thanks and love and a big "Gobble Gobble" on Turkey Day!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Dirty's Secrets of The Bridal Show-down: Wedding Cookies!

How sweet it is...Dirty's Little Secrets rocked the Desmond Bridal Show!

My unique wedding cookie display was THE ONLY ONE of its kind at the show compared to the three (at least) cupcake displays from other bakeries. So let me start with Dirty's Little SecretCUPCAKES ARE SOOO LAST YEAR! Nothing against cupcakes or cupcake lovers I think they offer a great alternative to the traditional cake etc. But...I'm offering an updated, fun option to the dessert genre.

Jumping ahead a little bit...

Here is the display I did for A Gracious Event. What a fun new addition as a wedding dessert, wedding favor, or shower treat , right? I hope you think so! 

So here's how I created these little sweeties! I used the same recipe I used on my Experimenting post. 

 Phase One 6 batches, let me break that down for you that's :

All of this amounted to 200 cookies.

There was a lot of rolling, cutting, baking, and reshaping going on. Then... there was a lot of sifting, icing, and decoratingDirty's Little Secret is using a Royal Icing recipe that doesn't involve meringue powder. I personally prefer the simplicity of sugar, egg whites, and water. I've found that using this method makes flooding the icing onto the cookies easier (faster), meringue powder seems to keep a stiffer consistency as well as dries more quickly than the egg whites. 

My recipe gives me more freedom to obtain the consistency that works for me, as well as more time in playing with the base layer of icing. Thus making it easier to go back and put on some pre-made bows like this...

After an hour of drying time I entered Phase Two of the decorating process. Mixing up a stiffer Royal Icing and adding royal blue with a hint of purple food coloring for the bows and embellishments. I took liberty to play around with design ideas and this was my canvas! 

Phase three: Fashion photo shoot of my final product. Dirty's Little Secret: Diamond wrap turns my cookies from awesome to amazing! Bling bling!

So now that they were dressed and ready to go we were off to the show. I work as an assistant wedding planner so not only was I going to promote my wedding cookies but also to let brides know about all the services offered by A Gracious Event. Here we all are:

From left to right, first that's me (Dirty), Sue (seamstress/dress designer), Laurie (owner of the Appel Inn & A Gracious Event), and Amber (assistant planner).

 So here is Dirty's Secret Wedding Cookie Display, diamond wrap, backlighting and all!

Guess it's not so secret anymore :)

Cuter than a cupcake? I think so.

Can you even backlight a cupcake?!


Dirty's Little Secret is out, I'm offering a new and improved alternative to your classic wedding cake or dessert. The cookies are versatile and can be displayed and managed more easily than a cupcake which can get messy. Or a cake that can get heavy not to mention expensive. Buttercream Icing is more difficult to maneuver than Royal Icing which holds its color and shape! At the end of the wedding, party, event, you can easily handout individually packaged treats that are as cute and elegant as the Bride herself!  

See that smile? That's a Dirty Smile, because I had such a good time at the bridal show, because I was the only person there with a unique display for something other than a cupcake, and finally because I'm thankful for all the positive and fabulous feedback I got at the event! So THANK YOU for the support and keep sharing the good word! 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Dirty's Next Secret, Experiment !

This Sunday I'll be doing a Bridal Show at the Desmond Hotel and have been asked by A Gracious Event to  make wedding themed cookies. So last week I played around in my kitchen to see which concepts worked best.

I started with these:

And some of this:

This being a full batch of my homegirl Martha Stewart's Sugar Cookie Recipe, holla! I've made this dough multiple times and if you follow the recipe and instructions exactly you will get a perfect Cut-Out Sugar Cookie Dough.

That being said... I did some experimenting and discovered some of these Dirty Little Secrets for this recipe:

  • Throw in a teaspoon or two of CINNAMON (or any sweet spice) elevates the flavor just a hint and adds your own personal touch.
  • Do or don't refrigerate the dough for a full hour before a pinch I did 35 minutes and it came out just dandy! 
  • Do or don't freeze your cut-out shapes. Working out of a home kitchen I lacked the space in the freezer as well as counter tops to be able to freeze each half sheet pan, and considering I just baked off and decorated 200 yes 200! cookies, I did not have the luxury of space and time for this step :) 
  • Use SCANT cups off flour. Scant is some fancy? or maybe not so fancy? term for slightly less than full. I found the dough with four full cups of flour was too dry and crumbly, by using less it was easier to roll out.
  • Zap the butter in the microwave. The recipe calls for 2 sticks of room temperature butter, but I like to slice the butter into sections and microwave for 10 seconds. I found that this helps the dough come together which, once again, makes it easier to roll out! 

    Here are some of the shapes baked... REMEMBER JUST LIKE A SNOWFLAKE AND DESPITE WHAT THE SALES PEOPLE WANT TO SAY... NOT EVERY OVEN COOKS THE SAME so be sure to watch your first batch carefully! This is where that experimenting comes in....if you want thinner cookies... you need to get the timing right so you don't burn them and vice versa.  I found with the size I wanted for MY COOKIES that 14 minutes was perfect. By discovering this I was able to dovetail rolling, cutting, and rotating cookies making me a cookie machine...or maybe cookie monster?

    I'm going to take some liberties here since I do not have any documentation of what came next because I was too involved in the process to stop and take a picture! But just pretend this is a movie and I'm doing a Hollywood fast forward - - - swoosh, swipe, fade out... fade in.....and.... 


    Some powdered sugar, egg whites, and pink food coloring combine et voila ! Cookies! 

    And more cookies!  Yum, yum, yum!

    The hearts were my personal favorite. 

    Alas, even with my love for the hearts we opted to go with the wedding dresses. Since I just made 200 of the wedding dresses ...and here's another of Dirty's Little Secret's... despite their simplistic shape, it is actually HARDER TO PIPE ROYAL ICING ONTO A ROUND SHAPE THAN ONTO AN ODD SHAPE! So thank the LBJ (Lord Baby Jesus) we did not opt for my personal favorite! 

    Now I know earlier I said if you follow the recipe exactly you will get the perfect cookie. But through my experimentation I've found that you can cut some corners, and save some time by using some of these Dirty Little Secrets

    Be sure to check back for my next post and see the entire cookie monster mash! This time I've taken plenty of pictures to document the madness that is and was 200 fully iced and decorated Cut-Out Sugar Cookies

    Friday, November 11, 2011

    Dirty's first secret.... why they call me Dirty

    Dirty's Little Secrets is geared towards yummy baked goods so do not be mislead by the title. My real name is Diana and Dirty is a nicknamed I acquired a few years ago from friends. Don't worry I'm not talking Christina Aguilera's "Dirrty". I have Michael Jackson to thank  for it, his song "Dirty Diana" is one of the only popular references to the name, apart from the obvious Princess Diana which, is usually only used by people like my mother. But alas, Dirty Di has such a nice ring to it combined with the irksome effects it originally had, that the nickname stuck and transformed its way into new life as a blog title!

    So now that we have been introduced let me share a few things about myself. This is me...

    and yes this is the best picture I had of myself that captured me being me. Like most people I have a wide variety of interest and passions that range from baking (obviously) to Formula One Racing to photography. I love to be inspired and creative. I've found through baking I can express my creative side and have the added bonus of showing my appreciation and love for those I care about. What better way to show your care than some fresh baked yummies?

    These little guys I called "Hobbit Cakes". I made these for my grandfather's last birthday before he passed away. They are miniature versions of a Danish Princess Cake, and since both my grandparents and mother are Danish it's kind of our family's signature cake. A Princess Cake has many layers: vanilla cake, pastry cream, whipped cream, raspberry or apricot jam, and it's finally topped with the marzipan not fondant!

    In my version of these "Hobbit Cakes" I made individual portions so everyone in my family was able to have a celebratory piece even when, due to illness, my grandfather was unable to celebrate with everyone at the same time. I kept the traditional light green marzipan and added the green leaves and yellow embellishments as a nod to a hobbits, and my own favorite colors. I also filled these with apricot jam (my favorite) over more commonly used raspberry jam. With my apparent love for Lord of the Rings and all things Hobbits, plus the fact that I made smaller versions of my families mascot cake for my grandfathers last birthday there was no better name than a "Hobbit Cake".

    This is a great picture of my grandfather, Harry (center), my brother Josh (right) and my grandfather's brother, John (left).