Book Review Series: The Cookie Companion, a Decorator’s Guide
I grew up learning that royal icing is something so impossible to deal with, that only the Martha Stewarts of the world should dare attempt it. I am decidedly not Martha Stewart. In fact, growing up as a Young Woman, I would always make my best friend, Kate, do my piece as well as her’s whenever there was a craft planned for the weeknight activity. It was just going to be cuter that way, and she could whip up two crafts in the time it took the rest of us mere mortals to make one.
So I approached The Cookie Companion with a bit of trepidation. The cookies featured in this book are “ADORABLE” as my five-year old exclaimed when she saw the book, and I’ll admit to dreams of grandeur where I make up my own cookie bouquet as a thank you gift (do you know how expensive cookie bouquets are?!).
Author, Georganne Bell, starts off with the sentence, “Cookies are kind of fantastic.” That easy-going and enthusiastic tone goes on throughout the book, which is good because when it came time for me to tackle the dreaded royal icing, I was able to stop and take a deep breath, channeling her wise words, “Getting the right consistency of icing before you start decorating will be the difference between things ending in tears and ice cream pity parties—and cookies that make you so proud you can’t help but throw open your door and show them to the world.”
As a novice cookie decorator (and by novice, I mean I had to watch a couple YouTube videos to figure out how to set up the frosting bags. Couplers! Who knew?!), I appreciated Georganne’s thorough explanations and taking the time to explain the different icing extensive how to’s and breaking down icing types into four categories really helpful.
I loved her guide on mixing colors and I especially love how she provides a range of color palettes—cookie bouquets here I come!
I was hoping I could just look up the sections I wanted tutorials on, and I think for someone who has some experience with decorating cookies with royal icing, the organization of the book, which is a relatively short introduction and then, information on various topics from freezing to using a scriber (and explaining what a scriber is!), are in alphabetical order.
I soon realized I would need to read the whole thing before trying my hand at this decorating thing, and it was a quick and enjoyable read.
But, let’s get serious…one of the reasons I’ve never really gone to the icing step is that I think the cookie is the most important part of the project. Georganne provides three recipes: chocolate sugar cookies, vanilla sugar cookies and gingerbread cookies. I confess I ran out of time to make the gingerbread, but the chocolate and vanilla are delicious, and the dough doesn’t need to chill, though she provides instructions on how much flour to add if you are going to chill the dough. Best of all the dough is dreamy to work with!
I’ll admit that I wasn’t brave enough to make my own royal icing (yet) and opted to buy royal icing mix at my local cake decorating store. I would recommend that for novices like myself. You’ll need your internal Georganne cheering you on while you mix colors and work on getting the right consistency.
My kids and I are planning on making more cookies this holiday weekend…I would highly recommend this book for novice decorators like me or more advanced people who want to learn techniques like brush embroidery, painting and stenciling.
And, did you say you wanted to see my first attempt? It’s not much, but without Georganne’s help (I look forward to seeing more of her work on her growing blog, Lila Loa), I wouldn’t have even attempted this.
This is a part of the Exponent Book Review Series and Cyber Monday Giveaway. By making a thoughtful comment on this post, subscribing to the Exponent, or making a donation to Exponent II by sending a PayPal donation to firstname.lastname@example.org, you will be entered into a drawing to win one of many books being reviewed! Check the intro post for information and terms. Entries accepted until the 5th of December 2015.