Friday, November 27, 2009

I Am Not a Baker

Table spread from the Cookie Craft Christmas cocktail party,
hosted by Michelle Blackley

I am not a baker. Repeat, I am not a baker. But when I held Cookie Craft Christmas by Valerie Peterson and Janice Fryer in my hot little hands, I knew I had to at least try the intricate designs and attempt to have delightful pieces of edible art for guests at holiday time.

Getting a head start on the season, I planned a Cookie Craft Christmas and cocktail party for Storey employees and friends. Starting in the afternoon, with help from Associate Publicist Alee Marsh and a friend, we got out bowls, ingredients, rolling pins, wax paper, hand mixer and cookie cutters. We decided on the sugar cookie and gingerbread recipes. Pleasantly, to our surprise the only mistake we made caused us to add an extra egg white to the gingerbread dough. The most difficult — having to roll the dough in between the wax paper. I recommend lifting hand weights prior to this, or having a friend with more manpower nearby. Cookie Craft Christmas recommends refrigerating the dough, but we didn’t have time. Both batches turned out okay and tasted good as well! We even molded the leftover dough together to create a tasty ginger-sugar cookie.

Michelle Blackley, hostess, preparing for guests. Cookies are baked and ready to be decorated.

Once the cookies were baked, after approximately 15 minutes, we started the decorating process. We tried to replicate the gorgeous designs, but they are works of art, and we thought our own patterns and shapes would be unique. Inspired by glittery stars and trees and circular snowflakes, we had similar designs and some of our own making.

It wasn’t until Storey creative director Alethea Morrison arrived that the homemade royal icing was made. Using egg whites or meringue powder and lemon juice or vanilla extract (I recommend pure Mexican vanilla), the icing can be used for piping outlines and details or “flooding” a couple of batches of elaborately iced cookies. Using toothpicks to drag colored frosting throughout the cookie made for very pretty designs.

Alethea making the royal icing

Looking back, I wish we had tried the windowpane technique, adding crushed candies into holes cut out in the prebaked cookies and pieces of candy melt to create windowpanes.

Overall, some beautiful cookies were created, and a few turned out to be more appropriate for Halloween, but the night was really all about reminiscing over Christmases past and present, being creative and having fun, and finding new traditions for those antique cookie cutters.

The finished product!

Alee Marsh and Dan Williams, guests/decorators

Michelle Blackley, Senior Publicist

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I just came across your blog this morning after seeing a post on the Fiber Art Calls for Entry Blog.

What a great theme idea for a party! I'll bet everyone had a great time.