I know what you’re thinking, “Another Penpal Program?” Yes, another. Why? Well first off because (A) I love getting mail. These days, I can go days without seeing anything in my mailbox. The bills that used to clutter my box now go directly to email, my magazine subscriptions have been canceled, to save money and paper (really, I read it all online, anyway), so nowadays getting a La Salle Alumni magazine is probably the highlight of my week. And (B), I love to bake. Duh.
Last month, my Foodie Penpal, Christine, mentioned she was part of Bakin’ Friends. I immediately needed all the details. The program is similar to Foodie Penpals except instead of sending a box of good, you send a box of BAKED goods. Each month is pulled together with a secret ingredient. You bake for your assigned penpal (keeping in mind dietary restrictions of course), you receive from a different penpal and recipes and treats are shared all around.
My sendee Bakin’ Friend, Desiree, ended up with Lemon Basil Sugar Cookies topped with royal icing and sprinkles. Other than the melting icing, they turned out beautiful. Recipe to follow in a few days. However, my sender, Aisha put my baking to shame. Our secret ingredient this month was SPRINKLES. I had the best intentions of making homemade sprinkles to go with my cookies, but an injury and heat got in my way. I had enough trouble getting the regular icing to set. But Aisha went for it. She baked up a beautiful batch of Italian Tea Cookies for me. They were rich, buttery and crumbled just enough. No lies, the whole box was gone in less than 24 hours. My husband and I couldn’t stop eating them!
Aisha’s Italian Tea Cookies
- 1 1/2 c flour plus more as needed
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
- 12 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
- 3/4 c sugar
- 1 large egg
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp orange extract
- 1/2 c sprinkles
Whisk flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl; set aside.
In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar together on medium-high until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg, vanilla extract and orange extract, and beat until smooth. Add dry ingredients to the sugar mixture and beat until combined. Add sprinkles to the dough and gently stir to combine.
Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Portion dough into 1-inch balls using 2 tablespoons of dough each. Place rounded balls about 2 inches apart on the parchment paper. Flour our lightly grease the bottom of a 1/4 measuring cup, then press each cookie into a flat disk. Refrigerate disks for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375°F. Bake one try of cookies at a time for 8-10 minutes, rotating halfway through. Cookies will appear slightly undercooked. Cool on wire rack and enjoy!
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Interested in joining Bakin’ Friends? Here’s everything you need to know:
Bakin’ Friends is all about connecting bakers, bloggers, foodies, and people who just like sweets! We’re in the business of baking and making friends!
Each month we will be baking goodies, with a secret ingredient, to send out to one another. I’ll let you know at the beginning of the month what secret ingredient we’re using. It might be chocolate, it might be maple syrup, it may be bacon, whatever it is though you’ll be required to use it (unless there’s an allergy to the ingredient) in your baked goody.
On the 6th of each month you will be paired up with a Bakin’ Friend. You’ll contact your newly appointed Bakin’ Friend to see if they have any allergies or dietary restrictions and you’ll also get their mailing address. Then you’ll bake your goody and have it in the mail and on its way to your new Bakin’ Friend by the 16th of each month. You’ll of course want to include the recipe for your baked goody so that your new friend can recreate the yummies at home! How cute would it be if we all did our recipes on vintage recipe cards, just sayin’!
Then, on the last day of the month we’ll post about who our new Bakin’ Friend is, what they baked, and how they used the secret ingredient. (This group right now is only open to US and Canadian residents. US residents will be paired with US residents, and Canadian residents with Canadian residents)
Are you ready to make some new friends? Then send an email to stephsbitebybite(at)gmail(dot)com with Bakin’ Friends in the subject. Emails MUST be received before the 4th of each month so that I have time to get all the match ups done. Please make sure to include your full name, your email address, your blog name and URL (if applicable), and whether you live in the US or Canada.