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Monday, April 11, 2011

Amazing Animals - No, Not The Kids

A few weeks back, the wee ones and I tried out a cookie making kit with less than stellar results.  The company, Brand Castle, quickly sent us a new kit to try.  Not only does this speak to the pride this company takes in its product and its reputation, it also tells me that they take the time to listen to their consumers.  I like that in a cookie maker.

This is what we were sent.  This is one of the company's deluxe, Crafty Cooking Kits.  The box even came with a nifty carrying handle.  One thing the company does exceptionally well, without fail, is their packaging.

Every inch of the box is covered in colourful pictures and words.

It even has this cool word search.  Hey, if you're going to print up a box for kids, print up a box for kids.

At each step, there are separate instructions for kids and adults.  The energy miser within me still balks at turning on the oven to preheat before you even wash the cookie cutters, but I think we can all agree that's probably just my own personal quirk.

When you open the box, you find all this good stuff. Even the paint brushes are there!

And yes, that is my daughter, sitting on the counter.

Into the bowl you dump the cookie mix and an egg.

Then add four tablespoons of butter.  For convenience, I used 1/4 cup of butter.  Hardy har har.  Just a little baking humour there.

Sorry, I'll move on.

The mixture starts out crumbly, but quickly converges into a nice ball at the bottom of the bowl.

Plop it out onto a well-floured surface.

The kids readied the cookie cutters.

I think half the fun may have been the cookie cutters.

The dough needs to be rolled out to approximately 1/16" thickness.  Here, E3 demonstrates good rolling form.  And yes, E2 is wearing a pink shirt and red pants.  She dresses herself.  I ask no questions.

You get six different wild animal cutters with the kit.  The giraffe turns out a bit narrow, so you have to be careful with him, so he doesn't break.  I never did get the hang of leaving Leo with a tail.  Not to worry, he's plenty cute and fun without his tail.

The box never did say how many cookie to expect.  I ended up with nineteen.

And this tidbit left over.

After a swift 10 minutes or so in the oven, they are ready for the cooking rack.

The surface texture (and cookie taste) comes very close to a homemade sugar cookie.  Just with considerably fewer ingredients to add.  I like that.

Baking and cooling take just enough time to get everything cleaned up and move on to round two:  icing.

The packet of icing that comes with the kit needs to be kneaded (ha!  I have always loved that line).  Then you get to use all of your piano finger strength to squeeze it out of the packet and into a bowl.  I don't know exactly, but it is some type of royal icing that hardens quickly.  Be sure to wash out the bowl immediately after use.  Otherwise, a jackhammer may be required.

This is a shot of my ultra professional icing job. Looks just like the box, right?


After the cookies dry for a half hour or so, you get to break out these.  This is edible paint.  It reminds me of the old Q-tip boxes my mom used to get and my sister and I fought over.  The ones where the package had paint squares on them and the idea was to use dampened Q-tips to colour the picture that was inside the Q-tip carton.  Am I dating myself here? Someone please, tell me I am not alone...

This is where I haul in the troops.  After school at our place can be incredibly quiet or something akin to a mad house.  Today, the madhouse was highly occupied, painting cookies.  Don't worry - only three of these are mine.  The prospect of painting food was intriguing enough to get everybody off the bus, in the door, out of their coats, and to the table with washed hands in record time.

This one missed the memo about painting his cookie first.

They all had tons of fun painting their own creations and showing them off to their parents when they went home.  I really would recommend waiting the full half hour to make sure the icing has hardened.  Otherwise, little paintbrushes held by little hands tend to break through the icing 'crust' and cause a bit of a problem.

By the end of the night, I was left with this:  the plastic tray it all came in.  It is a really sturdy tray that I am thinking of re-purposing as a drawer organizer.

All in all, I gotta say, I really liked this cookie kit.  And not because Brand Castle sent me a freebie.  Not too much extra stuff to add, no complicated directions, and the cookies tasted good.  The Brand Castle website lists retailers that carry the kits in the US.  For Canada, I may have to do a little retail investigation to figure out where to find them.

I'll get back to you and let you know what I find.  In the meantime, always wear your oven mitts.  It is crucial for cuteness.

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