These sugar cookie trees are made of tiers of sweet sugar cookies & topped with a dreamy strawberry & rose buttercream frosting. Perfect for Valentines Day, or any other special occasion.
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If you have been following along with this blog, you likely have read several posts about our little tuxie kitty and her ongoing battle with cancer.
As part of her treatment plan, this little Mother Hen has been paying the oncologist weekly visits. She patiently endures x-rays, bloodtests, chemotherapy and a plethora of other treatments and diagnostics. She is such a little trooper during all of this and never fails to curiously explore the happenings at the animal hospital, passing out kisses to anyone who just so happens to venture into the room. With such a vivacious personality and upbeat attitude she has developed quite the fan club.
In the beginning of this journey, she had several surgeries to remove the cancer.
She only had a partial mastectomy, they missed a small chunk of mammary chain during the last surgery. . .
. . .there was always an excuse as to why the cancer had returned. . .always a reason to justify the next surgery. . .always a reason to believe that this would be the last of the cancer.
But then one fateful day, the excuses dried up and the x-rays showed that the cancer had progressed to her lungs. The Mr and I knew that we had no choice but to start her on chemotherapy. . .something we had been fearing from the very beginning. But our Mother Hen’s spunkiness and zest for life (you wouldn’t even know she was battling with cancer if you met her) told us that she was not quite ready to leave us and still wanted to head into battle and valiantly fight off this evil disease.
So chemotherapy started and everything seemed to be going okay. Aside from a drop in her white blood cell count one week post treatment, her quality of life seemed to be unaffected by the chemotherapy. This renewed our hope that her cancer would be abolished for good by the very treatment we had feared the most.
But then (what felt like) the world’s biggest sledge hammer came crashing down full throttle, shattering every bit of hope that had been building up inside my heart.
I had taken the Mother Hen in for her regular x-rays where the devastating blow was delivered. . . the cancer had continued to spread in her lungs and was no longer responding to this chemotherapy. The oncologist suggested that we try another type of chemotherapy that had showed promise in dogs. Since the cancer clearly was not bringing the Mother Hen’s mood down, the Mr. and I felt that anything realistic was worth a try; however, I had little hope that it would work because this chemotherapy was considered to be less effective than what she had previously been on.
Unlike the other chemotherapy, this was in pill form and the Mr. and I developed a system that made dosing a quick and painless breeze. The Little Mother Hen didn’t mind her treatments as she was always handsomely rewarded with a small handful of treats that she readily gobbled up. While her energy levels picked up to the point that she would give any kitten a run for its money, she also became increasingly picky with food and the Mr. and I would sometimes find ourselves setting down four or more different plates in the hopes that she would find at least one of them palatable.
While we did manage to get her to eat something every day, we found her weight steadily declining. If you knew the Mother Hen, you would know that eating was her favorite sport so the Mr and I found this a bit alarming.
Fast forward to two weeks ago. . .the Mother Hen was due for another oncology visit. I sat impatiently as the vet techs shuttled her back for her x-rays and weekly blood tests. When the oncologist came in he had an ear-to-ear grin on his face. ” Her nodules decreased 2 mm.” he said. “And the nodules in her lungs are smaller.”
Woot! Woot! I could hardly wait for the Mr to come home so that we could celebrate the news we so desperately had been waiting to hear. But that celebration was short lived as the very next morning the oncologist called with devastating news. . .her kidney values were now low. The chemotherapy might have impacted her kidneys. . .so off I went to learn how to give the Mother Hen daily subcutaneous fluid treatments.
With these treatments, her energy levels continue to be high and her appetite has picked up. As a matter of fact, as I write this post she is skidding across the floor, calling out loudly as she gleefully plays with my hair rubber band.
We go back in for a blood test next week and I can only hope that the previous bloodtest was a cruel mistake. Regardless, I have read that with proper care, kitties can live several very happy years. . . even with damaged kidneys.
So, to celebrate our love for this special little girl, I baked this Sugar Cookie Love Cake with Strawberry Rose Frosting.
I decided to flavor the sugar cookie with almond extract and a hint of nutmeg as I find it gives this mild cookie a nice homey and comforting flavor. To compliment the homeyness, you will want the cookies to maintain a soft consistency so be sure to remove them from the oven before they begin to brown.
The cookies are then layered with the most divine Strawberry Rose Buttercream. Let me tell you guys. . . this frosting is what dreams are made of. As a matter of fact I’m pretty sure that I could just sit here all day and pipe that creamy delight directly into my mouth if my waistline would allow for that. But such is life and I will need to restrain myself and reserve any and all gluttonous behaviors for special occasions. But in all seriousness, the frosting really does add an elegant and romantic touch to these cookies and I personally found that the hint of rose really pops at the finish and makes the frosting appear all the more creamy.
And if a homey cookie slathered with elegantly creamy frosting weren’t divine enough, when cut into 5 circles of varying sizes, you can stack the cookies on top of those billowy clouds of frosting to form a fun little cake that pays homage to the grand dame of cakes. . .the wedding cake. It really doesn’t get any more romantic than that. . .now does it?
Here’s to romantic times with that special someone.. . .even if it does involve 4 plates of food.
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- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 tbsp milk
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- 2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- powdered sugar for rolling dough
- vinegar or lemon juice, to wipe down the mixing bowl
- 5 large egg whites
- 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 cup unsalted butter (3 sticks), cubed & brought to room temperature
- 1/3 cup strawberry preserves
- 1 1/2 tsp rose water
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp salt
- pink food coloring
- sprinkles, food grade dried flowers, nonpareils, nuts, or mini chocolate chips
In a big bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, nutmeg & salt. Set aside.
In another bit bowl, cream together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium until it is light and fluffy.
Add remaining ingredients (egg though vanilla) & beat until just combined.
Gradually add in the flour mixture while beating on low.
Divide the dough into two round flattened disks, wrap each in plastic wrap & refrigerate overnight.
Preheat the oven to 375° F.
Place a piece of parchment paper out on the counter & sprinkle powdered sugar on top of it.
Place the dough on top of the parchment paper & roll it out until it is 1/4 inch thick. If the dough is too firm to roll, allow it to warm up slightly on the countertop for 5-10 minutes. Note: If the dough becomes too soft to work with, place it in the freezer for 10 minutes.
Cut out five different sized circles. For my trees, I usined THESE cutters.
Bake for 7-9 minutes on a parchment lined baking sheet. Rotate the baking sheet 180 degrees half way into the baking process.
Remove the cookies from the oven & allow them to sit on the baking sheet for 2 minutes.
Transfer the cookies to a wire rack until they cool completely.
Takes scraps dough and reform them into a flattened disk. Wrap these disks in plastic wrap and refrigerate 10-20 minutes or until the dough is firm enough to re-roll and cut out circles. Repeat until little dough remains. As you re-roll make sure to scrape off any dough that is stuck to the parchment paper. Add more powdered sugar to the parchment paper as needed to prevent sticking.
Remove your butter from the refrigerator & cut it into cubes. Allow it of come to room temperature before you start adding it to the frosting.
Wipe the bowl of your stand mixer down with vinegar or lemon juice to remove any traces of fat.
Pass the strawberry preserves through a fine mesh sieve to remove fruit particles. For the recipe you will want to end up with 1/3 cup.
Set up your bain marie by bringing water (about an inch worth) in a a small saucepan to a simmer. Note: The saucepan should be small enough that the mixer bowl does not touch the bottom when you set it on top of the saucepan. Also, the bottom of the mixer bowl should not touch the water in the saucepan.
Clip a candy thermometer onto the edge of your mixer bowl. Add the egg whites & sugar to the mixer bowl & place it on top of the bain marie.
Whisk gently until the egg whites reach 140º F, then remove them from the bain marie.
Using a whisk attachment on a stand mixer, whip the eggs on medium low for 1 minute, then increase the speed to medium-high.
Continue to whip until the egg whites become a fluffy, glossy meringue & the bottom of the mixer bowl has reached room temperature (about 10 minutes). Note: It is important that the meringue is a room temperature before you start to add the butter otherwise you will end up with a melty mess.
Remove the whisk attachment and replace it with the beater.
With the speed on low, slowly add the butter one cube at a time. Continue to whip until the butter is fully incorporated & the frosting is smooth & shiny.
Add the strained preserves, rose water, vanilla & salt & beat on low until combined. Note: If you find that your frosting starts to look like scrambled eggs, continue to beat it on low. It will eventually become smooth again. This happened after I added the preserves.
Add gel food coloring, as needed, for a more intense color.
Starting with the largest cookie, pipe or spread enough frosting to cover the entire cookie.
Press the second largest cookie down on top of the frosting.
Continue until all 5 layers are assembled.
Add frosting on top of the smallest cookie and decorate with sprinkles, food grade dried flowers, nonpareils, nots miniature chocolate chips etc.
Sugar Cookie adapted from Alton Brown’s Sugar Cookie Recipe.
For a nice tutorial on making Swiss Buttercream, including troubleshooting challenges, see this post from Sweetapolita.