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.


  1. WOW what a journey!! If you ever need free help, I am here! I don't tie beautiful bows but I can put cookies in a package like nobody else ;)

  2. Wow, Laura...astonishing amount of work and skill as usual but the timing must've been outrageous! Your work continues to amaze me : )

  3. First I just need to say WOW! How do you do it? They look fantastic and congrats on such a successful month!

  4. wow. that's a lot of cookies!! I received your cookies from a PH Fundraiser. How long would you say the cookies last for?

  5. Hello Loretta - the cookies will stay delicious for three weeks if they are packaged. They will start to dry out after that. But I understand they do well in the freezer; just pop them in and take them out as you want to eat them.