Meaghan Mountford decorates cookies. Probably some of the most amazing cookies you’ve ever seen. Meticulous, clean, and direct, Meaghan’s decorating technique is nearly flawless. From a googly-eyed marshmallow monster to a 20-piece snowman, you might say Meaghan builds cookies like a carpenter builds a barn: smooth lines, exact measurements, everything in its place. But the greater allure of Meaghan’s work comes from her personal style. Take her choice of subject matter — Marvel superheroes, MTV, Twinkies and Snowballs (to commemorate the snack food giant’s recent bankruptcy claim) — Meaghan makes cookies that appeal to all ages, but hang on to a distinct thirtysomething sense of ironic whimsy. Her designs are playful, nostalgic, topical, and reveal a person who, despite her talent and accomplishments, just doesn’t take herself too seriously. I was first introduced to Meaghan when I found her Melting Snowman Sugar Cookie, which has gone viral on Facebook and Pinterest. Credit for this popular cookie doesn’t often come back to Meaghan. Her response? “I’ll just wait for my windfall of riches. Someday… someday.”
Meaghan is on the cusp of a book release. Sugarlicious promises to be a cornucopia of ideas for decorating not just cookies, but also cakes, cupcakes, cake pops, marshmallows, and just about anything made with butter and sugar. Here at Key Ingredient, we are delighted to feature her as our first Featured Foodie. Enjoy! more »
Holiday baking. Every year we pull out the cookie sheets, the pie tins, the cake pans, and we make something sweet and buttery for the people we love. What is it about holiday baking that puts us in such a good mood? Is it just the sugar rush? I don’t think so. It might be that during the holidays, we give ourselves permission to set aside our worries, indulge a little more, and celebrate our lives with warm people and delicious food.
Because of the collective excitement around sweet holiday treats, there’s an inevitable explosion of creativity in holiday baking. With unlimited access to these works of art on Pinterest, Stumbleupon, and Facebook, you could go into sugar shock just looking at them all. So at Key Ingredient, we compiled our favorite adorably festive holiday treats. We’ve only chosen six because that was all the sweetness we could stand in one afternoon. But there are literally hundreds, even thousands, more amazing treats out there. Got some to share? We’d love to see photos on our facebook page! So let’s begin, shall we?
#6. Snowman Hot Chocolate by Meet the Dubiens
Probably the easiest treat of the bunch to make, Jill’s Snowman Hot Chocolate revitalizes a holiday food staple. A few food-marker-decorated marshmallows and whipped cream, and you’ve got a warming and memorable treat. Jill originally made this drink for her children, but I’ll guarantee that it can make anyone, whatever their age, smile.
#5. Grinch Peppermint Chocolate Cupcakes by Sugar Swings.
Who doesn’t secretly (or maybe not so secretly) look forward to watching How the Grinch Stole Christmas every year? Michelle at Sugar Swings directed her enthusiasm for the shriveled-hearted Who into Grinch-Inspired Cupcakes.
A surprising peppermint chocolate cake with peppermint buttercream makes these little cuties extra festive, and the eyes and hat are made from candy melts. You’ll love them more than a three-decker-sauerkraut-and-toadstool sandwich with arsenic sauce.
#4. Peanut Butter Reindeer Cookies by Bakergirl
Kerry’s Peanut Butter Reindeer Cookies get a special mention for two reasons. First, because the cuteness to time investment ratio is so high. After making a standard peanut butter cookie, you’re only a few M&M’s and chocolate pretzels away from these adorable Christmas goodies. And second, because Kerry made these cookies last year and they’re still making the rounds on the social media sites. Staying power certainly says something about these treats, and no doubt we’re drawn to them for both their taste and simplicity.
Plus, this recipe is extremely versatile. If you’re not feeling peanut butter cookies for the holidays, you could easily make a sugar or gingerbread version.
#3. Christmas Light Cookies by Fork and Beans
Featuring vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free recipes, Cara at Fork and Beans is new to the blogging game. But it’s hard to tell. Her photographs are bright and pretty, her writing compelling and heartwarming, and her recipes clean and simple. The inspiration for these little Christmas light cookies came to Cara after she realized that, despite her day-to-day “pessimistic optimism” toward life, she can’t help but shuck it all off around Christmas time.
Christmas reawakens the kid in all of us, Cara says, and makes her think that maybe her glass is actually half full … of eggnog. The non-dairy kind, of course.
#2. Penguin Santa Cake Pops from 365 Days of Cake Pops
Johanna, author of 365 Days of Cake Pops and owner of Pop.O.Licious Cake Pop Shop in Puyallup, Washington, says it best:
Penguin cake pops are cute by themselves, but put a Santa hat on them and they’re downright adorable!
We agree, which is why these little guys are our #2 cutest Christmas treat this year. True, they take a little bit of work, but Johanna provides an easy step-by-step for how to make them. (Hint: A Hershey’s Kiss is used for the hat).
Since Thanksgiving, Johanna has been posting a new Christmas themed cake pop every day, and she’ll continue through December 25. Check out all her amazing (and I do mean amazing) work on her blog and her facebook page.
#1. Melting Snowman Cookie by The Decorated Cookie
Chances are you’ve seen the melty snowman cookie by now. He’s spilling onto blogs and recipe sites everywhere, in all sorts of incarnations. Who did it first? We’ve got it here. Meet Meaghan from the Decorated Cookie Blog. She created Mr. Melty in 2008, and since then her unfortunate snowman has gone viral. Here’s an excerpt from her original post:
Oh, poor snowman. If you don’t like the sentiment this expresses, [you can] make your snowman smiley. That way, it will appear the snowman understands his inevitable demise and doesn’t mind so much the nature of things.
If you check out her blog, it’s not hard to believe Meaghan created this sweet and funny cookie that has blown up around the internet. Marvel at her gorgeous decorated cookies, with recipes ranging from simple to incredibly intricate, but always easy to follow. Meaghan’s amazing recipes are compiled for you in her upcoming book, Sugarlicious, which will be available in February. You can pre-order on Amazon now.
Think you’ll try your hand at one of these cute creations? We’ll be featuring even more cute holiday creations on our facebook page, so check us out and post your own holiday creations. We’ll keep going until we go into cuteness overload. Or sugar coma.
Whatever you make for your family today, we’re wishing you a sweet holiday season!
Any good cook knows that food is an expression of love. Why? Because at it’s core cooking is a selfless act. Whatever we’re making, as we’re cracking eggshells or melting butter, we’re doing it with others in mind. We put a little of ourselves into all the food we make, which makes our kitchen creations a personal and endearing holiday gift. Over the last week, Key Ingredient has scoured our favorite blogs and web sites for some of the best foodie gift ideas. These are five great gifts for that special person in your life who loves to eat (and who is likely to share a little with you, too!).
1. Peanut Butter Cups for Grown-Ups. Admit it. You love getting chocolate as a gift. And when it’s refined specifically for adult tastes and wrapped up in a charming package, that’s even better.
Enter Shelley from Franish Nonspeaker, with her delightful batch of grown-up peanut butter cups. Filled with caramelized honey peanut brittle and topped with the subtle flavor of smoked sea salt, these definitely don’t come in an orange package. Shelley also puts her chocolate cups into mini silicon cupcake liners for extra detail. Wrap these up in cellophane and your giftee will love you on Christmas morning.
2. Flavored Popcorn Kit. Elsie Larson provides this adorable and easy gift idea on her blog, A Beautiful Mess. If you know Elsie, you know she’s full of creative little gems like this. Giving your movie lover their very own popcorn kit is thoughtful, thrifty, and is sure to be a gift they remember. Elsie provides three flavored salt recipes to personalize your kit, or you can experiment with your own (If you look in the comments, one reader mentioned using hot cocoa powder!).
3. Homemade Syrup. As a breakfast lover, I know all the best breakfast foods are infinitely enhanced by syrup. But if buying a bottle of maple syrup for all the breakfast junkies in your life will break your budget, Aimee at Simple Bites has the perfect idea for you – a bottle of homemade fruit syrup for a Christmas morning meal. In her recipe, Aimee uses blueberries as her fruit of choice, but you could use whatever fruit strikes your fancy.
4. Homemade Peanut Butters. Lauren is one of our cherished contributors on The Back Burner because she is always coming up with easy and accessible recipes. She’s done it again this week with her homemade peanut butters. Making your own peanut butter means you can personalize, adding your special touches to the flavors and packaging. Lauren gives us recipes for dark chocolate, vanilla bean coconut, and white chocolate peanut butter. These are a must try.
5. The Demy. Okay, we might be a little biased here at Key Ingredient, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t tell you about our Demy digital recipe reader. A compact, kitchen-safe device, the Demy syncs with your Key Ingredient account to hold all of your favorite recipes! Since the Demy is specifically built for the kitchen, it comes with cook-centric features like three kitchen timers, an ingredient substitution list, and a measurement conversions page. But the best part is that the Demy is totally kitchen safe, so don’t worry about those sticky hands. Just wipe the Demy off with a cloth and you are good to go. Whether you are buying this for your favorite foodie or adding it to your own holiday wish list, you can find out more about our kitchen companion at www.mydemy.com.
Posted by Neysa King, Key Ingredient’s Blogger in Chief. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org