Friday, November 29, 2013

Christmas Cookies 2013

I admit, I tend to be behind most people when it comes to the Christmas season.  I have a November birthday and I will not even think about the holidays until December!  So here are the first of my Christmas offerings - I created these cookies for our Christmas in September event at the Farmers' Market this summer, but have recreated them twice since then for people celebrating the holidays early this year.

A consumable gift is actually my favourite to give or receive!  My delicious cookies will please anyone on your list, from your grandmother in a nursing home to your child's teacher.

There are a number of ways to order - a dozen (mixture of all three designs) for $38.  Individually, you can order the candles for $3 each, gingerbread men for $3.50 each and the Christmas trees for $4 each - for this, the minimum order is 8.  Pickup can be arranged at your convenience during the month.

I am excitedly working on one more Christmas offering, so look for that to be posted on Monday!  I will be closed from December 22 until January 3rd, so place any orders you need for the holidays as quickly as possible.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

6th Birthday Ballet Cookies

Evelyn's mom is a Farmers' Market vendor and I first met Evelyn when she was just three!  Every Saturday, Evelyn would make her way over to my booth for a sample, which she loved so much we had to establish the "one per week" rule!  Every summer she has been part of my Saturdays and this year requested my cookies for her birthday.  Turning 6 and celebrating with a dance theme, I created these tutu and daisy cookies for her.  I got word back from her mom that Evelyn loved her cookies and she said it was the best birthday ever because of the cookies I made for her!  "She also told everyone that you are the best cookie and sample maker ever!!!"  I can't wait to share some more samples with you next summer Evelyn - Happy Birthday!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

60th Birthday Cookies

Ann invited friends over for dinner to celebrate her friend Judy's 60th birthday.  In addition to a cookie at each place setting, Ann asked me to create a few cookies for Judy to take home.  Happy 60th birthday Judy!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Lung Thank You Cookies

Having just secured a scholarship, Mali's daughter wanted to thank her supporters.  The lungs?  Well, it seemed appropriate for someone studying to become a Respiratory Therapist!  I think they turned out really cute - anybody have any other organs they need cookie-fied?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Pulmonary Hypertension Ribbon and Flower Cookies

This set of cookies was create to support a Pulmonary Hypertension fundraiser held recently in Toronto.  Learn more about the Toronto Chapter of the Pulmonary Hypertension Association of Canada and help support their cause of helping people with PH live better lives!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Horse Cookies to Celebrate 22nd Birthday

Ann asked for cookies to celebrate her horseback riding daughter's 22nd birthday.  I didn't get a lot of information from Ann and when I suggested to my resident horseback rider (my youngest daughter) that I make riding boots she stopped me in my tracks.  "You don't know if this girl rides Western or English so you don't know what kind of boots to make - confusing Western and English is like when a customer hears you are a baker and thinks you make bread!"  Well, I hadn't thought about it that way!!  Thanks for clearing that up for me, daughter!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Baptism Cookies

To celebrate her son's baptism, Sonia commissioned me to create these beautiful cookies.  The inspiration came from the cake, which would be baby blue with cream and gold.  Congratulations Sonia and your entire family on this important day in Alfredo Sesto's life!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Pond Hockey Cookies

Now that the winter weather seems to be around the corner (it is -6ยบ Celsius this morning!) my mind drifts to a nearby pond that is home to many winter hockey games.  I love to watch them brave the elements and hope they always remember the gear to keep them warm - mittens, toques and jerseys!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Flashback Friday - Movember

A flashback to last year that is just as relevant this month!  Is someone you know taking part in Movember to raise awareness for prostate cancer?  Reward them with some delicious Movember-themed cookies!

Monday, November 4, 2013

The 900 Cookie Challenge

In December of last year, I met Cristina, who was planning her October 2013 wedding.  She loved my cookies and wanted to incorporate them into her wedding reception.  After we exchanged a few emails, and I did up some samples, we met and signed a contract, and I placed the order on my schedule.  It was for 900 cookies, two cookies per guest, to be flooded in white with an edible image and a piped border, packaged together in one bag and closed with a ribbon.  One would go on each guest's place setting at the reception.

The finished cookies.

I was thrilled with the order, but admit that I thought about the order weekly and had dreams about it monthly from January until late September, which is when the frequency of my dreams (not always pleasant) increased substantially, as did the stress.

By the time October rolled around, which is a busy cookie month anyway, what with (Canadian) Thanksgiving and Halloween in it, I had 2000 cookies on my schedule, including another wedding order, a couple of baptisms, birthdays and my weekly farmers' market cookies.  I prefer 300 cookies per week maximum, so I knew this would be a challenging month for me.

Placing edible images onto the flooded cookies.

Because of the other cookie commitments, I had a week to make the 900 cookies.  My baking racks limited me to 200 cookies at a time and the steps involved making the dough, baking and flooding on one day, putting on the edible image and piping a border the second day and packaging on the third.  Putting edible images and piping a border onto 200 cookies was a 4 hour job.  Baking and flooding 200 cookies was another 6 hours.  Packing took a couple of hours as well.  It was a week of incredibly long days.  The statistics include over 29,000 dots piped, 20 pounds of butter, 100 cups of flour, more than 10 kilos of confectioners' sugar and 180 meters of ribbon!

Piped border - 29,000 dots piped for the entire order!

When all was said and done, here are some lessons learned:

One of my many scribbles with totals.

Lesson #1.  Count, count and recount.  The first day I rolled and cut over 500 cookies, keeping track of each batch's number of cookies.  I rolled and cut the rest over the next few days.  When I got close to the 900 mark, I counted again (as if I hadn't already counted 2 dozen times).  A portion of the cookies had already been baked, decorated and packaged, another portion had been baked but not yet decorated.  Suddenly there were cookies missing - 72 in fact.  I counted and counted again.  My husband was called in to count.  Nope - no matter what, those 72 cookies were gone.  I rolled out more dough and cut the missing 72.  When all was said and done, guess how many extra cookies I had?  Yes - 72.  It still stumps me, but I am happy I had extras as opposed to being short!

Baked, flooded and finished cookies on various racks.

Lesson #2.  I think 900 cookies might just be too many for a one-woman show like mine.  Well, perhaps if I didn't have another 1100 to make in the weeks leading up to it, it would have been less stressful.  It was do-able, it was just that it was all-consuming for so many days in a row that it stopped being fun (and that rarely happens to me, I always love making cookies!).

Cookies ready to package.
Lesson #3.  Edible images are not my friend.  I invested in an edible image printer last year and it was why I was able to take on this order, but let me tell you this:  royal icing does not change colour over time the way edible images do.

Lesson #4.  Brides as organized and relaxed as Cristina are able to think on their feet.  When I contacted Cristina to tell her the edible images were changing colour, she came up with the wonderful solution of changing the ribbon colour.

Finished cookies with ribbon #1.

Lesson #5.  Ask for help.  I have a lovely friend who has been a great supporter of my business and offered her time to package the cookies with me.  I resisted at first (I have never had any help before), but in the end I asked her to come and they were two mornings of joy and laughter, as well as good work done (she ties a beautiful bow and every bow I have tied since has been inspired by her).

Finished cookies with final ribbon choice.

Cristina's wedding day turned out cold and wet, but I am sure weather did not put a damper on their joy.  Wishing Cristina and Frank a lifetime of happiness!

Ready for delivery.