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Cookie Rookie Workshop- I spent Saturday afternoon with The Cookie Countess

20 March 2013, 22:53

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I like pretty things.

Whether those pretty things be clothing, gorgeously crafted kids toys, stationary, magazines, room designs or the way Whole Foods color-coordinates their produce walls, I’m attracted to visual pleasantries. They make my world a happier place.

I’m also attracted to cookies. Especially pretty ones.

I remember my first cookie order from Hillary, head countess of The Cookie Countess. It was shortly after she began her business of “waking up one day to become the best cookie decorator ever.” (My official title for her.) I ordered a set of cookies for Lily’s 2nd birthday party–which was cowgirl themed– and I was BLOWN AWAY.

I mean, I can bake a mean chocolate chip cookie. But someone play the lottery if my cookies even come out ROUND. And cutout cookies? Mine look more like small puffy blobs of what was once a snowman before it visited Florida. “Decorating” in my house has consisted of squeezing loads of colored tube gel and throwing sprinkles on top, mostly to cover up what kind of travesty I just committed with the gel.

In other words, I’m no pro.

But, of course, I’d love to be. Well, maybe not a pro. Just a mom whose kids will think she’s the GREATEST PERSON EVER when I bust out a tray of gorgeously decorated cookies.

So I could compete with the trays I soon started showing up to every event with.

When I found out that The Cookie Countess was offering a Cookie Rookie Decorating Workshop, I committed myself faster than a woman commits herself to a bottle of wine after she delivers a baby.

I arrived to the workshop, settled in with the other ladies, chatted a bit, and checked out the areas that we were about to work in. Everything looked so happy and inviting– I was excited to get started.

The workshop began with Hillary talking to us about cookie dough. Although she already had the cookie cutouts baked and ready to decorate, she went through the process of how to create the perfect dough, tricks on rolling it out and shaping it, temps to work the dough in for its various stages of handling and what to look for on the cookies while baking them. I learned exactly why my cutouts looked more like bust-outs. That information alone is worth three shots of tequila.

Next, she moved onto royal frosting. She taught us how to make the frosting, how to adjust its consistency to best suit whatever we needed it for (flooding, which is filling the cookie surface, vs piping, which is finer detail work and outlining). She went over brands of products, where to find them, tips and tricks on making it taste good and all the pertinent information to make your frosting ROCK.

We each took a piece of frosting and practiced adjusting the consistency to be where we needed it to be. AND. THEN. She showed us the mother of all tricks.

How to bag the frosting.

I cannot give the tip entirely away (you’ll just to have to take her workshop to find out, if you don’t already know), but if you are like I was, in that you have always attempted to scoop frosting into a pastry piping bag and end up with a mess larger than anything your toddler could make in 48 hours, THIS WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE.

Here’s a hint.

The frosting sausage.

(That’s not a technical term, but I like to incorporate the word sausage into a sentence whenever I can.)

(That also closely resembles buffalo mozzarella. And now I’m hungry.)

After our frosting session with perfectly packed piping bags in hand, we were ready for the big leagues! We moved to the tables.

(Of course we all grabbed a cookie and ate it before we even got started. Even pros need ammo.)

Hillary was about to show us how to make cookies look like this:

She began demonstrating the various techniques, how to hold the piping bag, what kind of pressure to apply, when to let up on that pressure, how to create straight lines, squiggly lines, polka dots, amazing patterns, blocking of colors, and more. She showed us (and let us play with) the projector machine (unofficial term) that casts an image or pattern onto a cookie for you to follow along with, if you needed it for something like a specific logo or something super detailed. She answered questions, gave us one-on-one attention and talked us through all the tips, tools, glitters, brushes, edible markers, and creative ideas we could run with on our own.

(I’m in deep concentration. Much like I am when I eat a piece of pizza once every 4 weeks.)

PEEPS. Let me just tell you that while it most definitely takes practice, patience and creativity, EVERYONE CAN MAKE PRETTY COOKIES.

Ok, maybe they won’t be as pretty as a pro’s, but they will most definitely earn you the spot of coolest mom (or dad) ever. When I brought my tray home, my kids actually didn’t believe me that I decorated them. (Thanks, you little shits. Don’t you remember my Monster High cake for your last birthday, Averi? It might have been some of my best work for a store-bought cake.)

(In my defense, the front picture was her drawn version of Abby. Because, you know, that’s the biggest issue with this cake.)

The Cookie Rookie Workshop was a BLAST. I had so much fun, met some new ladies, and learned how to decorate pretty cookies. Here was what I came home with.

Not too shabby, right? I can’t wait to try it again at home. I have some fun ideas that will even get my girls involved.

Here’s the best part. (As if there could be any more.) Once you take a workshop, Hillary will give you a super secret CIA-decoded password to access a page of her blog that gives you TONS of information on cookie baking, cutting and decorating. Recipes, tips, links, tutorials, her son’s social security number, you name it. All in one secret, special place. AND, she does private group workshops, too (that you get to pick your own cookie theme for). Perfect for a girl’s day out with your friends!

So, who wants to decorate cookies?

For more information on upcoming workshops, visit The Cookie Countess’ blog. With material fees, the class is only $65! You know you spent more on useless items from Target yesterday. Is $65 worth the title of BEST MOM EVER? In my book, it is. There’s still room in this Saturday’s class (where they’ll be decorating Easter cookies) and another upcoming workshop on April 6th. You can email her at thecookiecountess@gmail.com, too.

While you’re on her site, take a look around. Prepare to be blown away.

Speaking of Easter, I couldn’t help but to grab one quick shot of some her cookies that she had on a rack.

I mean. Really.

Thanks, Hillary, for the super informative and wonderful workshop. I can’t wait to do it again.

 

16 Comments

  1. Joanna {Baby Gators Den} March 20, 2013

    WOW!! I am so in for the next workshop. Wish I wasn't away for the last one, those are amazing!

  2. Tami March 21, 2013

    These look incredible and the whole thing looks like so much fun!

  3. So beautiful and FUN (for an over-achieving Mom, that is). Ha! As I told you before, my Dad (who grew up on a farm in Michigan and joined the Navy at age 17) LOVED decorating cakes and cookies. Go figure. I still have his decorating set. I cherish it. I've tried, but I have no tips or top-secrets to help me. When my wrist heals, I'm in. This is wonderful! Thanks for sharing... xo!

  4. Mary Larsen March 21, 2013

    What a great workshop! Your cookies came out beautifully. I'd love to learn these tips

  5. mel March 21, 2013

    That is so awesome! I really want to try this! Looks like so much fun!!!

  6. Gorgeous Jen! Almost too pretty to eat!! Looks more like artwork than baking! Love these ALL! Can't wait to see your Easter batch! Pinning!

  7. Jennifer (Savor) March 21, 2013

    Those cookies are AMAZE-Balls! now i have a craving

  8. Heather @ Kraus House Mom March 21, 2013

    They came out awesome. My husband does the baking around here, I ruined the cookies you slice. That's something I need to try.

  9. Hillary March 21, 2013

    Great blog Jen!! Thank you so much for sharing your experience from my cookie class!!!!! Your cookies came out FAB! It was fun for me too to see everyone else's masterpieces and share my love of cookies! <3

  10. Michele C. March 21, 2013

    Ok the cookies look amaze. But the comments about sausage and mozzarella left me cracking up. Dying.

  11. Kirsten March 21, 2013

    I am in awe of your artsy craftsy self. Nice job - do you take orders? I'd have a panic attack if I was the one holding the sausage, but I'd gladly buy a tray off ya! :)

  12. This overachiever must take this class fo sho.

  13. Stephanie Kay March 21, 2013

    Those are amazing!! In my dreams I'm that crafty. In reality that kind of detail work would make me lose my mind! I'll stick to admiring other women's creativity as I stuff it in my face!! :D

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    Jen Senecal

    My name is Jen. I have a contagiously funny husband, three awesomely gorgeous daughters, a knack for design, a love for writing, an obsession with kids fashion, a secret desire to be a photographer and a curfew of 10 pm. WHO'S WITH ME?
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