If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know that supporting the troops is a cause that is close to my heart. I have been part of a family with close military ties my entire life. I grew up a military brat, my pops being in the Army, and us moving every year or so. And I loved listening to my Grandpa's stories from WWII, especially one about him hearing something in the bushes while everyone was sleeping, almost throwing a grenade, but then seeing that it was just a donkey. Or how, because he'd lost his leg in the war, he would shock people while visiting my mother's homeland of Korea, because while everyone else was taking off their shoes before entering a house, he was taking off his entire leg. Haha.
It's definitely not always fun stories to be had being in a military family. Everyone suffers huge disappoints at some point, inexplicable assignments, unexpected separations, etc. We have a family member who just left for another long deployment in an even less desirable place than last time. I'm already thinking of ideas for packages to send. My top favorite thing to send is treats from our travels, aka chocolates, but I've had some unfortunate incidents in the past (eg a large bag of chocolates from Hawaii arriving in a big melted mess. Not smart on my part, it was summer....). So I've learned a bit since then. There is one chocolate I know for sure I can send, the ol' "melts in your mouth, not in your hand" one. Did you know that M&M's® were actually originally made for the troops? During WWII they were sold exclusively to the military, and they still do a great job supporting the troops. Just another reason I adore being a Mars ambassador. This year they are doing a "1 for You, 1 for the Troops" promotion. For every bag of M&M's® you buy at Walmart, they will donate a bag to the troops. But keep in mind this is only at Walmart, so make sure you buy your bags there. You can also make donations and print gift cards on the Walmart site as other ways to support the troops, and there will be in-store demos talking about the promotion, so check out if they're coming to your local store.
I have been on a sugar cookie rampage lately, and I amped them up in this recipe. I threw some chopped M&M's® into my go-to cookie recipe for added flavor and a patriotic look, and the M&M's® served as perfect little flower centers. I love how they turned out. Check out my video and recipe below! Do you guys have any fun military stories or creative ways to support the troops? If you want more ideas, find some HERE.
Patriotic Flower Cookies
Makes about 2 dozen
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 Tbsp milk
- 1/2 cup M&M's® Red, White & Blue Milk Chocolate, chopped small
- 2.5 Tbsp meringue powder
- 1/3 cup warm water
- 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
- 1 lb. powdered sugar + more for rolling cookies
- red and blue gel food coloring
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add the egg and milk. On low speed, gradually add the dry ingredients until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl. Then add chopped M&M's®.
Shape the dough into two discs, cover them in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Heat oven to 375F. Prep two pans with silicon mats or parchment paper
Dust a clean surface with powdered sugar. Remove one disc from the fridge and roll it out to about 1/4 inch thick. Use flower cookie cutters to cut out shapes. Place at least an inch apart on your pans. Bake one sheet at a time, for about 9 minutes until the cookies start to turn golden around the edges. Let cool completely.
For the icing:
In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment combine the warm water and meringue powder. Add the cream of tartar. Change to the paddle attachment and add the powdered sugar at once. Mix on slow for 10 minutes, scraping the sides once or twice. Test your icing to see if the consistency is just right. This is my favorite icing tip. Add more water or powdered sugar as needed.
Separate the icing into three separate bowls. Add red food coloring to one, and blue coloring to one. Mix well, and avoid creating bubbles.
Fit a pastry bag with a plain #3 tip to flood cookies. Let them dry for about 30 minutes or overnight, the use a plain #1 tip for finer details, and add an M&M's® to the middle for your flower center. Place a wet towel over icing that you're not using to keep it from drying out. Once decorated, let cookies dry overnight.
Sugar cookie recipe adapted from Alton. Icing recipe adapted from Sweetopia.