Monthly Archives: August 2017

Meet the R&M Head Baker & Designer

If you follow us on social media, you’re familiar with the work of our Head Baker & Designer, Linda Schwartz. Linda is the first to use any new R&M products! She bakes and decorates all kinds of desserts in the R&M kitchen on a regular basis, testing our tools and creating many of the images you see across our social media accounts!

 

We sat down with Linda for a chat to learn more about her role at R&M and her love for baking. Read on for some insight into her decorating process, including some of her favorite creations!

 

  1. How did you get into cookie/cake decorating?

 

I started decorating cookies around 14 years ago. It’s actually a funny story, my mom sent me a newspaper article about a local girl who opened a sugar cookie shop. There was a note scribbled across the top of the article, “Linda you can do this.” I decided to give it a try and haven’t looked back.

 

  1. How do you decide how to decorate a shape?

 

When I’m coming up with a cookie design, I usually sketch out my ideas on paper first, but sometimes I’ll start decorating and switch my design halfway through.

 

  1. What’s the best tip you have for beginner decorators?

 

The best tip I could give a beginner decorator is don’t give up! Practice really does make perfect, and while on that subject, never stop learning. No matter what level of a decorator you are, there’s always something you can learn from someone else. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. The cookie community is a tight-knit family, and there’s always someone whose mistakes and successes you can learn from.

 

  1. Which icing style is your favorite and why?

 

I prefer decorating my cookies with fondant. I’m not sure exactly why I like it better than using royal icing, probably something to do with the instant gratification that comes with being able to mold it into shapes. There’s a waiting period with royal icing because it’s wet. With fondant, I can bake, decorate, and ship a cookie to my cousin in Arizona within 24 hours.

 

  1. Do you have a favorite decorating technique?

 

I’d have to say my most favorite technique is stamping my cookies with names, monograms, dates, etc. – it creates such a personal touch!

 

  1. Are there any decorating tools or products that you can’t live without?

 

Here’s what I would recommend for any baker – beginner or advanced:
– Parchment paper: I had been decorating for at least five years before my sister, Marie, recommended that I line my baking sheets with parchment. It was a game changer – no more scrubbing pans, and the cookie edges don’t darken as quickly. I use parchment for rolling out my fondant as well. It makes clean up a breeze!
– A good cookie spatula: I use my cookie spatula to flatten my cookies as soon as they come out of the oven. There’s nothing worse than trying to decorate bumpy cookies.

 

  1. What baking creation are you most proud of?

 

I really can’t choose my favorite baking creation. I often feel a slight emotional tie with my creations, especially the ones I put a lot of time into, like cakes. Here are a few favorites:

Photo by Expressions by Nicole Marie

For more guidance from Linda, read her recent blog post, 8 Beginner Tips for Decorating with Fondant. To see more of Linda’s creations, you can follow her on Instagram.

Beat the Heat with Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches

A hot summer day calls for one thing – ice cream! With the addition of some homemade cookies, you’ve got a real celebration with these make-your-own ice cream sandwiches.

Grab an ice cream scoop, a carton of your favorite store-bought ice cream, your favorite cookie cutters (those with less detailed edges work best), and a baking sheet. This recipe takes a little bit of time (there’s a lot of chilling involved), but it’s worth it!

 

 Cookie Cutter Ice Cream Sandwiches

Ingredients:

– 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
– 1/4 cup vegetable oil
– 1 cup light brown sugar
– 2 eggs
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
– 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
– 1 teaspoon baking powder
– 1/4 teaspoon salt
– A carton of your favorite ice cream

Directions:

1. In a large bowl, use a mixer to beat together the butter, vegetable oil, and brown sugar until combined. Add the eggs and vanilla extract; mix again until thoroughly combined. Do not overbeat.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients – flour, baking powder, and salt. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture while beating it at a low speed.

3. Once combined, the dough should be sticky. Chill the dough uncovered for at least one hour or until firm.

4. While the dough is chilling, line a 9×13 baking pan with wax paper. Spread your ice cream into the pan, making it as flat and even as possible. This is easier if it’s slightly warm, but if it’s too warm, it will start to melt and become too difficult to spread. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and then freeze for at least 8 hours – overnight is preferable.

5. When your dough is done chilling, cover your baking sheet with a silicone baking mat. Preheat your oven to 350 F.

6. Flour a surface and place your chilled dough on it. Use a rolling pin to flatten the dough until it’s around 1/4-inch thick. Use the cookie cutter of your choice – something that will easily hold its shape and contain your ice cream! – to cut your dough into shapes. Place each one on the cookie sheet and bake for approximately 8 minutes. Continue to roll out your dough and bake your cookies until all the dough is gone. Do not place the dough on a hot baking sheet (it’s a good idea to use more than one baking sheet to help with this). Cool your cookies completely before attempting the next step.

 

 

7. Here’s where it can get a little tricky! Remove your ice cream from the freezer. Using the same cookie cutter that you used on your cookies, cut out as many shapes as you can into your ice cream. Place each ice cream shape onto a cookie and top with another cookie. If your ice cream isn’t cooperating, freeze it for a longer period of time.

 

8. Serve your ice cream sandwiches immediately or wrap them in plastic wrap and freeze for up to two weeks.

This recipe should make around 8 ice cream sandwiches, depending on the size of your cutters.

You can really have fun making these ice cream sandwiches as customized as you want. Pick your favorite ice cream, roll your sandwich in your favorite decorative topping (mini chocolate chips, sprinkles, or cookies crumbles), and use a cookie cutter that you love. Share your creation using #randminternational on all your photos! Stay cool!