I only make cookies for hobby, but recently, several people asked me to go into business. I decided to start to calculate the cost of ingredients, packing, and time.
Using as a base one recipe of cookies (Gingerbread and Royal Icing), the cost of ingredients for one single iced cookie (2.5 inch diameter) is US$0.23, and packing (cellophane bag and clear individual box) is $0.58. (I live in Dubai, so cost may vary in other locations; this is an expensive city).
Now, my concern is with time.
I chronometer every activity, and this was my result:
-Preparing Dough 1 h
(From gathering the ingredients to rolling and chilling the dough)
-Baking (cutting and baking time) 1 h
-Making Royal Icing 0 h 20min
-Flooding with Marbling Technique 2 h
-Stencil with Royal Icing 1 h
-Piping Borders 1 h 40 min
-Gilding 1 h 20 min
-Making Flowers 1 h
-Piping Leaves and Extra Décor 1 h 20
-Packing (sealing bags, folding box, etc) 0 h 30 min
That makes a total of 11h and 10 min. I tried to be very accurate; even so, I will round the time to 10 h. That lead me to an average of 3 cookies per hour from beginning to end. I think, I am not far off in my approximation, because when I see videos of cookie decoration, it can take like 10 minutes to decorate a simple cookie, so if I include from baking to packing, 20 minutes per piece sounds right.
I did 200 cookies for a nephew’s wedding. The model in the attached picture (I made 30 cookies of these kind) was the one I used as example to evaluate the time. This was the simplest design for the wedding. The “main cookies” were much more elaborate (wafer paper, royal icing transfer, stamping, all the tricks in the box!).
How much a cookies like this can be sold?
I watched a video in Cake-Fu, and a gentleman said that, in USA, the hourly wages for a cake decorator should be not less of $25.00 per hour. We all know that cookie decoration is much more complex.
So, is there a market to pay $10.00 per cookie? I think any charge less of that is underestimating all the factors, unless you make cookies in great quantities in industrial kitchen, which doesn’t look like the average cookie decorator.
Where can the time be reduced in order to reduce cost?
( I am not considering the time of designing the cookies and making samples, but that can easily take an hour or more, specially for a wedding. )