Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Happy Anniversary Sweet Shoppe!

This past week, I celebrated the 1st Anniversary of Sarah's Sweet Shoppe!

I am so thankful for the support and encouragement that I have received from my family and friends and the cookie community.  I am amazed how much I have learned and grown.  Thank you!  

I have come a LONG way, since these first official cookies.   Thank you, Kari!

I was so proud of these VERY bright cookies.  In a way, I still am because they show where I started and the heart of my business... doing something I enjoy, with people I love, for friends supporting a cause I care about.  (Visit Anna's Heart for Haiti to learn more an amazing young lady and her work to raise money for the Global Orphan Project in Haiti.)

Thank you to my best friend Dana, who knew I could do this before I even did... and ordered baby shower cookies from me four years ago! 
In the beginning,  all of my cookies were simple fluffy frosting cookies. 

My first Royal Icing cookie. 
The encouragement and challenges of my cookie customers has helped me to grow.  A request for lego cookies forced me to learn both how to get by without a cookie cutter and how to make my own (Thanks, Bridget at Bake at 350 and Callye at Sweet Sugarbelle!) Plus, no one wants a fluffy lego, so I also learned how to make and use Royal Icing (Thanks Callye!), both of which have expanded my horizons exponentially.  For the full Lego Man tutorial, visit Callye, her cookies were the inspiration for this project.

I love how Sarah's Sweet Shoppe continues to challenge me to learn and grow, so in celebration, I created these ombre birthday cookies.

They were inspired by all of the cool looking cakes and goodies out there and in particular by this cake made my friends Tammy and Clarissa!

The wonderfully creative ideas of fellow bakers, cookiers, and artists, and their ever-so-helpful tutorials have been such a blessing to me.  Thank you!

So, as a way to say "Thank You" to the cookie community and in celebration of the Sweet Shoppe's 1st Anniversary, I am going to post my first tutorial...

Ombre Icing Tutorial

To make an ombre cookie or even cake, you need several shades of the same color of icing.  To do this, I worked out this system of coloring and saving that is pretty straight-forward.

I started with Sweet Sugarbelle's Royal Icing. I scooped out PLENTY of super firm icing into a two cup measuring cup.

I knew that I wanted six  shades of Coral.  I purchased a Coral color food coloring and was disappointed to find that it was NOT true to the sticker on the top, so I pulled out my handy-dandy Color Mixing Chart courtesy of Sweet Sugarbelle to learn that Coral is three parts rose pink and two parts lemon yellow.

To achieve that, I used my lemon yellow and rose pink gel "tub" colors.  I often use squeeze colors (such as Americolor), but in this case, I wanted to add the color VERY gradually.  (A big PLOP of color would have been VERY BAD for this project.)

I would stick my toothpick into the color.  As you can see, I put the rose pink in about a third deeper than the lemon yellow to achieve the prescribed 3:2 ratio.  I would scrape the toothpicks on the side of my measuring cup (and toss the toothpicks).

After each addition of color, I scooped out some into a smaller bowl. (It didn't matter that there was a little bit of the just lighter shade still  in the bowl.  This cut down significantly on dishes too! ;^)

Then, I used my spray bottle to make it into the thick-flood "twenty-second" consistency that I needed for my cookies.  Getting this right is EXTREMELY important for a polka-dot ombre cookie.

One of my six icings (#3) was a tad too runny and gave me LOTS of headaches in trying to keep my dots a consistent size and not running into one another.  In hindsight, I would have been better off to A) test it before I bagged it, by putting just a tad in a tip (without a bag) and pushing it through with my thumb to make a few little polka-dots and see if they acted right (sorry, I can't remember who taught me this genius idea that I forgot at the time) or B) cutting my loses and unbagging and adding some powdered sugar to thicken it, instead of forging ahead. (If it had been for a customer, instead of just for ME... I would have taken the time to get it right, instead, it provided another teachable moment. ;^)

Once it was the right consistency, I rolled the first color into plastic wrap as described in this tutorial by Karen at Karen's Cookies!  (Thank you!)

I also numbered the rolls because getting them out of order would also be a BIG problem for this cookie. ;^)

Then, I repeated the process until I had all six strengths of the same color icing!  I bagged them with a #2 tip and went to town on my cookie, which already had been flooded (the day before, so that it would be super-dry) with white icing.

As for the polka dots, I learned that it is VERY hard to do graduated-size dots on a flat cookie.  I had wanted them to be bigger at the bottom and smaller on top, but when I did that a it was VERY tricky to keep them lined up and I ended up with a LOT more white space at the top than I wanted to have.  I found it was easiest to keep your dots approximately the same size.  I did three rows of dots of each color to create my three tiered cake and then added a Sarah's Sweet Shoppe logo cookie on the top! ;^)  The other cookie, was a polka-dot cookie gone bad.  I ended up smearing the dots and then using a wet-on-wet technique to add swirls of the next deeper color.

Another great learning from this project is... if you are trying something new, one should probably bake more than two cookies to get it "perfect."  I ended up scraping the icing off and starting over on the icing on these cookies several times.   I was even tempted to scrap the whole post, just because they were not as "perfect" as I wanted them to be... until I was packing my husband's lunch this morning and came across these...

Two out of three of his Oreos were inside-out.  If the "King of Perfect Cookies" could have this happen, I can certainly post "learning" cookies!  

There comes a point when you just have to say "These are close enough... for cookies!"  

Finally, in hindsight, which always has 20/20 vision, I probably should have googled "ombre cookies" BEFORE I got started, instead of waiting until I was writing the blog post... a couple of amazing cookie artists have already written on this topic...
  • Amber at Sweet Ambs has this amazing tutorial on a brush embroidery ombre cookie.  I love how she put down the crumb layer, and also how she drew lines to keep her rows straight.
  • Callye at Sweet Sugarbelle also has this fun ombre cookie tutorial, so that you can skip everything I just taught you and get the look for a LOT less effort! 
Oh well.  Today, I will have my cookie and eat it too!


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