"How DID You Do That?” usually highlights the talents of one cookier who has achieved cookie nirvana with her (or his) unique style and technique. To change things up a bit, and in honor of the New Year, this post will highlight 11 cookie decorators and instead ask, “How will you do that?”
Personally, I am convinced 2014 is going to be the year of the decorated cookie. All of the women included in this article are wonderful cookie artists who have been on the forefront of expanding the art and business of cookies. Some are pioneers in technique, others are great teachers, and several are successful bloggers. A few of them have been featured in magazines and newspapers and have produced amazing books and videos. All involved are passionate about cookies whether as a business or a hobby.
Each of the cookiers has written about the ideas and plans she has for 2014. Some are concrete ideas in the works such as writing a book, teaching, or opening an online shop. Many are attending CookieCon in Salt Lake City this March - which promises to ignite a lot of new ideas and create stronger bonds in the cookiesphere. Others have expressed plans to try out new ideas and techniques or just continue doing what they have been doing all along! Whatever these ladies have planned, it is sure to benefit the cookie world and inspire fellow cookiers to dream bigger and reach new goals.
Callye Alvarado of Sweet Sugarbelle
2014 is going to bring a lot of big changes for me, but not necessarily in the cookie sense. I’m expecting my fourth and last baby in early April! It’s been a very long time since I’ve had a baby, so things might get wild. My primary goal is to stay organized while juggling cookies and four kids.
Planned or not, I’m pretty sure that I’ll really be focusing on my favorite decorating style this year . . . practical perfection and the fine art of editing. Something tells me I won’t have time for a lot of fluff with a newborn around; then again, I could be training the youngest generation of cookie decorators yet. I’ll let you know how that turns out.
Unfortunately, I cannot attend CookieCon (insert huge disappointed sigh) because it’s too close to my due date. I feel like a heel missing the awesome lineup of instructors . . . because seriously, these ladies are my idols. But, unless y’all want to risk spending valuable CookieCon time attending my labor and delivery, it’s probably best I stay put. In any case, I will be around, on both my blog and Facebook. Not even childbirth can keep me from that.
Heather Srock of Sugar Nosh Treats
Until now, I’ve been very limited in the amount of cookies I could make. My husband’s work schedule is unpredictable, and too many cookie orders are a recipe for disaster when you have two young children. With my youngest child starting kindergarten in the fall, I feel like I can turn my little hobby into a real business. This could entail anything from teaching classes locally to securing commercial kitchen space so I can sell my cookies at a retail level.
I am working on my own custom stencils. I’m not looking to make them for sale at this point, but since what I want isn’t available anywhere, I’ve decided to make them myself.
And then there is CookieCon in March. CookieCon is less about business networking for me and more about absorbing all the energy the cookie community has to offer for three glorious days. I’m most excited to spend time with the many wonderful cookie friends I’ve made in this journey. I love connecting with other people who share a passion for cookies and I’ve never known a more supportive group of people than those found in the cookie community.
Cristin Sohm of Cristin's Cookies
2014! My plans are to continue to design unique cookies for local customers, offer cookie tutorials on my blog for the wonderful cookier community, and make and sell cookie cutters in my Etsy shop. I started this business venture in 2013 and it has been a blast! I love creating a cookie cutter and seeing it come to life in a cookie. This year I hope to do more of the designing side and want to get back to the fun cookie challenges, too. I wish I had a team to help with all of the ideas floating in my head, but Cristin's Cookies is just a one-person operation. Family is top priority, but it's also nice that this venture is paying my son's college tuition! Cookie Connection and Facebook have been wonderful for sharing ideas and learning from other cookie decorators that I admire. I'm excited (and nervous) to finally meet all my cookie friends at CookieCon! I'll be the one with pink hair . . .
Glory Albin of Glorious Treats
2014 will be a very busy year for me due to the release of my first book, Glorious Layered Desserts, in March. But in addition to the book travel and all of the sweet treats I love, I do have lots of plans for cookies as well! In some ways I've started letting go of the idea of perfection when it comes to cookies. I do truly appreciate cookies as an art form, and there are times to "go all out" on a design, but sometimes if I focus too much on always trying to do something impressive or innovative, it squeezes some of the joy from this craft. Sometimes I have to remember that a nicely flooded heart with polka dots on it is beautiful too!
I'm also very excited to attend CookieCon, and will be attending as a vendor, selling (and signing) my new book. I know it will be a weekend full of inspiration and I'm really looking forward to spending time with some of the most creative people in the world! I love that there is such a sense of community and friendship available through sites such as Cookie Connection. The personal friendships I've gained over the years with fellow cookie artists are invaluable to me!
Kris Colucci of So Cute Cookies
I am excited about 2014 and can't wait to get baking. I took December off so I could enjoy family time and baking for family and friends. I played around with my icing recipe. I don't use royal icing (RI) on my cookies, but instead use a meringue powder buttercream. I've tried a lot of RI recipes and can't get past the crunch! I am happy with the results of my experimenting and still achieve softness along with smoothness and sheen.
I plan a slight increase in my cookie prices this year. I am one of the lowest priced in my area, but have invested a lot of money taking classes and online video instruction in different techniques - plus I’m attending my third out-of-town cookie conference in March (CookieCon). I purchased an airbrush, lots of stencils, and many new cookie cutters, and have upgraded my decorating tools. I have a wonderful, local clientele with lots of repeat business and referrals. My specialty is my packaging; I love wrapping up cookies with beautiful handmade tags and gorgeous ribbons!
Julia Usher of Recipes for a Sweet Life
At the very top of my 16-page to-do list (I kid you not) are the words “FOCUS” and “BALANCE” in big, bold print. If I could achieve one thing this year, it would be to shrink this list to the few things that give me greatest satisfaction (and financial payback) so I can focus more time on family, friends, and other areas of interest that go beyond cookies! But right now, the biggest challenge is figuring out those most rewarding paths. While I’ll certainly continue to invest heavily in expanding Cookie Connection’s reach and content this year, I also have a third book deal in the works (fingers crossed), a sizzle reel I’m shooting for a new sweets-based reality TV show, five European cookie events, and a fledgling YouTube channel calling for new content every week! All are relatively new ventures for me, so I’m not sure how things will shake out – except that something other than me must give! Anyone know of a great assistant? P.S. Best wishes to everyone for a busy, yet balanced 2014!
Tracy Hicks of The Cookie Connoisseur and Whisked Away Cookies
My main efforts will still be designing and selling cookies with my business, The Cookie Connoisseur, but I’ve just finalized plans to branch out in another direction. I have been making my own metal cutters since 2008, but in 2012 saw a friend’s 3-D printer. After months of refining to get the cutters the way I wanted, I brought a bag of plaque cutters to CookieCon to give to my friends. They have been used quite a bit, and Julia (Usher) has said it is one of her favorite cutters. I have had several requests for that plaque cutter along with others that I have designed, so I just took the step and ordered a 3-D printer. Under my Whisked Away Cookies name, I will be offering a line of cutters and cutter sets with a coordinating stencil and a design to use, plus other items that will help someone achieve the results that they want. The cookie shown above is just a representation for next Christmas, as I will be offering a different center design and a stencil of my own design. Best cookie wishes to everyone in 2014!
Shannon Heupel of Artfully Delicious Cookies
A new year means New Year’s resolutions, new goals, and more cookies!! For me this year, my focus is twofold: to continue to expand my Etsy shop and to be able to sell cookies in my state. Hopefully a cottage food law will finally be passed in Wisconsin, which will allow me to sell to local customers. As for the Etsy shop, it has been so successful in two short months that I've been able to take a leave of absence from my job! By the end of 2014, my goal is to be not working outside of our home because I will be so busy with the shop and cookies.
This year I want to be able to use my air brush with more confidence. Not just using it for stencils, but also using it freehand. I am going to be at CookieCon . . . I wouldn’t miss it! Not only is it a time to build relationships with other cookie decorators (and make great memories), but it also provides so much to learn!
Rebecca Weld of The Cookie Architect
My journey as The Cookie Architect has been a whirlwind love affair with cookies and the entire cookie community. For 2014, I kicked off the year by asking my fans what they thought I should try next. Those guys seem to have a lot of faith in my abilities! Besides exploring some of their cookie ideas, I would like to play with European-style fine piping, parchment cones, my growing stencil collection, and the screen printing machine that my artist brother lent me. I truly loved my gingerbread house of cards collaboration, and teaming up with other cookie artists will probably be a big theme this year. I’ve been getting lots of good ideas for another gingerbread collaboration and lots of volunteers! If I plan on changing anything, it will probably be that my architectural business deserves an online presence that gets tended to as carefully as my Cookie Architect networking. Cookies are my artistic expression, so I plan to keep it loose and fun and just follow the inspiration where it takes me.
Melissa Barbakoff of The Baked Equation
I am looking to become more efficient in our business practices in 2014. Over the past two years, we have seen what our most popular products have become and we want to offer them for sale directly on our website. In January, our first goal is to update the website to an e-commerce format and to technology that is easier to manage on an iPad and smart phones. How data is being processed today is changing rapidly, and we are looking forward to keeping up with those trends. The second thing we are launching this year is decorating classes. I used to do one-on-one decorating classes, but now we are offering a group setting for all different levels. It is fun to teach teens and women the tips and tricks of cookie decorating. Best wishes for 2014!
Laurie Anglen of Cookie Bliss
At this point, I am content with cookies remaining my hobby. I do want to continue to improve my decorating skills for a higher quality result. Time management is probably the root of all my goals in 2014. I recently increased my work hours and need to better manage my time so I can do more cookies!
It seems like every day I see something new in the cookie world and I can't imagine how people keep coming up with ideas! Haven't we already tried everything? My goal is to think outside the box more, play around with some 3-D techniques, icing techniques, and adding dimension with different tip shapes. Designing my own cutters and stencils is something I've considered, but I'm leaving that for when I have more time - for now, I enjoy the talents of others who are doing it!
I am constantly shaking my head over the generosity of this cookie community, both online and in person. My experiences with other cookiers have been positive, loving, and encouraging - all the things you hope to find in your circle of friends and family. I am privileged and grateful to be a part of this cookie world.
Now that you’ve read about some of the plans and ideas shared by these talented, yet very different cookie artists, what plans do YOU have for 2014?
Cookie Photo Credits:
All cookie photos taken by the individual artist.
Headshot Photo Credits:
Al Bacosa Photography for Cristin Sohm
StarChefs.com for Julia M. Usher
Ken Parker for Tracy Hicks
Tara Freeman for Rebecca Weld
Melissa Ivy for Melissa Barbakoff
All other headshot photos courtesy of the individual artist.
Karen Anderson is a cookie and cake decorator located just outside of New Orleans, LA. Since the passing of the Louisiana Cottage Food Law, Karen is now enjoying the freedom of being able to bake from home. After spending four years as a columnist and writer for the New Orleans Times-Picayune, she decided to combine two of her passions: creating edible cookie art and writing. Visit Karen at www.facebook.com/sugardeaux and follow her here on Cookie Connection.
Photo credit: Karen Anderson
Note: How DID You Do That? is a regular Cookie Connection blog feature, written by Karen Anderson, which reveals the inside scoop behind inspiring cookie designs. Its content expresses the views of the author and interviewee, and not necessarily those of this site, its owners, its administrators, or its employees. To catch up on all of Karen's past posts, click here.