Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Confessions of a Cookie Baker: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Making of the Rainbow Treats!

Hi Friends,

Yesterday, I shared baby K's special rainbow 1st Birthday Party!    As promised, today, I am going to share a few photos of what it takes to make 3 dozen rainbow cookies and more than 18 dozen rainbow mints

My copy of the "inspiration" cookie!

First, a huge shout out goes to Callye at The Adventures of Sweet Sugarbelle for teaching me how to make these rainbow cookies!  Her blog gives detailed, step-by-step instructions on how to make this cookie (and many others).  (I also love how she is willing to share her "mistakes" so that we do not have to make them!!)  Callye, you and the other cookie mentors, are a HUGE blessing to those of us who are just getting started, stretching our imaginations and helping us to believe that we really can create cookies as cute as the ones we, and our customers, see online.  Thank you!!! 


My dear friend, and dream-customer, Kara contacted me in OCTOBER, to just chat about what we could do for her baby's 1st Birthday party in JANUARY!  (LOVE THAT!)  She sent me some photos of cookie ideas she had seen online, including Callye's rainbow... and we went from there.

So, when I get a cookie order, after we have finalized the details, I book it on my cookie calendar, and send a confirmation e-mail, with a copy of a detailed invoice, just to make sure that everyone is on the same page.  (Don't want your cookies to be delivered on the wrong day or have your child's name spelled incorrectly!)

Then, I work out my baking schedule.  Because I am a wife first, mom second..., and cookie-baker about fourteenth, I slot out small bits of time, over several days, to make your cookies.   I save four or five sessions, between an hour and two hours each, for:

  1. Mixing cookie dough, 
  2. Rolling, cutting & baking, 
  3. Making frosting/icing/flood, 
  4. Decorating & drying time,
  5. Photos & packaging.
Unfortunately, I didn't think of this "behind-the-scenes" idea, while I was working on the project, or I would have a lot more photos to show you... like the 14 lbs. of powdered sugar I used, or the huge pile of dishes I washed, several times... ;^) but here are the fun picture I do have that I thought I would share...

When I purchased 18 squeeze-bottles for Royal Icing flood icing, I thought I was CRAZY, that I would never use that many... but this is what it took to make my rainbows (and two dozen+ Legos).

Rainbows and Legos Drying

I decorate my cookies on these trays, so that I can move them back and forth from the kitchen to my dining room where they dry.  (I put the chairs up around the room, so that my kids can't get too close!)

(I am also really glad that I don't have a photo of me standing on my dining room chair trying to take this photo...not pretty.)

Time for the "How many cookies can I squeeze in the box?" Game.
Photographing and packaging the cookies are fun too!  I usually take a LOT of photos of my cookie creations. 

(It doesn't help that I usually finish them in the middle of the night, so the lighting isn't the best.  I need to make a light box!  Also, I have promised myself to learn how to take better photos of my cookies and learn how to edit them better too, but I have been too busy baking to take the time, which is really a good problem to have. ;^))

All boxed up and ready to go!  

This is what the packaged box looks like.  I tie it with silver curling ribbon and add my business card.  I usually try to include a special "Thank You" cookie package too!

(I finally got smart (and a little bit of capital ;^) and purchased a bunch of boxes, so now I don't have to go to the store and buy a box for each order.)

For this special 1st birthday order, I wanted to do a rainbow onesie for my special "Thank You" cookie.  "Thank You" cookies are extra fun for me, because there are no expectations (which makes them easy to exceed...).  It gives me a chance to try new ideas and cookie designs in a "no fail" environment.  For example, I wanted to try a tie-dyed onesie, for this uber-cool family, but it didn't turn out the way that I expected, so I also tried a simple heart and then a cute rainbow.  

(I made this one because rainbows always remind me of God's covenant love for His people. In this case, it reminded me of how Baby K is surrounded by the love of her family.)

The rainbow turned out adorable... so I added these little rainbow hearts too.  Then I put the baby's name on the onesie and her family's names on each of the hearts.  It turned out so cute!  And a really fun surprise for everyone!  

Now, the cookies were done and it was time to start the mints...

The mints were an extra special touch for this order.  Kara's girls had my mints at an American Heritage Girls awards ceremony.  (If you haven't heard of AHG, check it out!  It is an amazing organization for training young ladies!)  Anyway, Kara's girls loved my mints, and so she ordered sets of rainbow-colored mints for party favors.  6 mints X 36 party favors = a LOT of mints!

I dried them on my trays in stripes to make it easier to package them.  Only a bit slap-happy, this is what they looked like on my "drying room table."

Whether I am baking cookies or mints, I always make extras.  I have a fear that I am going to drop a whole tray and have to start over from step one.  Someday I will.  Until then, my friends and family will have to eat the extras. ;^)  

When I party-favor wrap my treats, I always put my label on the back of the package.  That way, whomever ends up with the treat knows where they came from and can contact me for the ingredients and allergy information, just in case. 

Thanks for following the steps I go through to complete a cookie order.  Now, you can see how much love I bake into every batch!

Have a great day!

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