Monday, September 15, 2014

Shortbread Love

The cookies were pictured on an apron I made for my friend Marie over at Baking Chic

I remember very well when I fell in love with shortbread.
 At first our encounters were few and far between, a treat for a special occasion.
 Then I realized this could become a normal part of my life. Not only could I buy shortbread but I could bake my own! It did not need to come out of box, which held shortbread that was rarely intact, I usually found more pieces than whole cookies. Because these few encounters turned into a full fledged love  connection, I am on a quest to find and create awesome shortbread. Check out my Pinterest board here. 

These beautiful cookies were inspired during Valentine's Day this year. I know, fall is here and I am just now sharing with you but this year is going too fast and I am barely keeping up! These cookies scream tea time with your favorite girl friends! I used one of my favorite shortbread recipes and just tweaked it a bit to create a soft, buttery, and sweet explosion in your mouth! Believe it or not these shortbread cookies are also great for the fall, with the chai tea spices and the sweetness of the dulce de leche they are perfect for a brisk fall afternoon tea time.

Chai Tea Alfajores 

(Chai Tea Dulce de Leche Sandwich Shortbread Cookies)

Ingredients for the cookies:

2 cups of all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) of butter at room temp.
1/2 cup of powdered sugar
1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
2 tea bags of Spiced Chai Tea

Ingredients and Supplies for the Dulce de Leche:

(note: you can also buy a can of Dulce de Leche)
1 can of sweetened condensed milk
1 16 oz canning jar with lid. ( you can use smaller ones but I wanted to leave a little space in the jar.)
1 Crock Pot (make sure to choose your jar size based on the size of your crock pot so your lid can close securely.

Directions for the Dulce de Leche:

Make sure to start the dulce de leche either the night before to cook over night or early in the morning. This is to ensure that your dulce de leche will be ready when you are ready to spread it between the cookies. 
open your condensed milk and pour it into the jar or jars. place the jar in the crock pot and fill the crock pot with water just below the rim. Cook the jar or jars for 8-10 hours on low. The longer you cook the it the thicker the milk will become. The glass jars make it easy for you to see how dark the milk is getting. 

Directions for the cookies:

In a bowl whisk the flour and salt. Cut open the tea bags and whisk into the mixture of flour and salt. In the bowl of your mixer beat the butter until creamy (about 1 min.). At this time add the sugar and beat until smooth (about 2 min.). Then beat in the vanilla. Slowly mix in the flour mixture until the dough is mixed well and it turns crumbly. At this time I preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Taking two sheets of wax paper I put the ball of dough in between the two sheets and roll  out the dough flat but a little thick. You can put the flattened dough on a cookie sheet and put in the freezer for about 20 minutes. When I take the cookie dough out of the freezer I cut out the cookies and place on parchment paper lined cookie sheets. Because the dough is slightly frozen it helps the cookies hold their shape better. Bake the cookies for about 8-10 minutes. After I take my cookies out of the oven I let them cool on the cookie sheets which allows them to brown just right without getting over cooked.

After your cookies are cooled and your dulce de leche is ready spread the dulce the leche on a cookie and place another cookie on top creating a dulce de leche sandwich or Alfajores as know in Spain and Latin America. Check out this recipe too.

Now invite your favorite girl friends over for tea or coffee! Or do like I did and take this treat on a girls weekend getaway and make your friends super happy! I hope you enjoy this recipe and let me know if you try it!

Gracefully Daisy

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A Flamingo Birthday Party

This picture sums up the feeling of Giselle's first birthday party. 
We are in awe of this baby girl and the fact that she was entrusted to us.
 Just last night my sweet husband said, " thank you for giving her to me." 
We both looked into each others eyes and thanked the Lord for entrusting her to us. 

Oh my heart be still...
Life speeds by too fast. 
I pray that I can slow down and enjoy the little moments 
that make up our wonderful life. 
Oh that I don't let busyness steal the joy of spending time with these little souls.
That motherhood continues to transform me into the woman I am to be. 
Because these littles are an extension of me but also shape and mold my character. 

I love to celebrate them-these two gifted to us. So their birthday parties are a gift that I 
thoroughly embrace. I love thinking about them, planning all the little details, and mostly watching them enjoying the time with friends and family. 

It was a beautiful time and we so enjoyed celebrating and loving this beautiful little girl as she takes our hearts by storm.

Sweet Sam and I went to the store and bought a gift for Giselle. I loved this moment with Sam having him completely focused on Giselle and struggling as we all do to not focus on what he wanted to buy for himself. Once again I stop baffled that I am gracefully becoming the mom I am supposed to be for the children that the Lord saw fit to give me.

Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court.

Gracefully Daisy