In honor of #tbt, I thought I'd share my first experience making decorative cookies, since that's where this hobby all began.
For my daughter's first birthday, we did a storybook theme and hired a professional baker to create individual cupcakes inspired by nursery rhymes. They were adorable...and incredibly expensive. For her second birthday, I found this girly Elmo theme on some modern mother website (I can't remember which one); I loved the idea of taking Sesame Street and putting a really feminine spin on it (if you knew my daughter, you'd understand).
So I ordered the custom street sign, cut out gross amounts of paper products (cupcake wrappers, invitations, party favor tags, etc.), and got some matching balloons. And then I lost my mind and decided to, for the first time ever, make the dessert.
The cupcakes were fairly easy -- I just bought a cake mix and used some store bought pink frosting. I used my handy dandy idiot-proof Nordic Ware frosting contraption (which is what I called it back in my ignorant days) to make them look somewhat presentable. If you throw enough decorations on there, people won't even notice the lack of consistent frosting coverage.
The cookies, however, were a different story. First of all, I had to have the whole Sesame Street theme going, which meant I needed to find letter "I" and number "2" cookie cutters that were the same size (because I'm overly concerned with these things). You know. To mimic the Sesame Street episode thing: Sesame Street is brought to you today by the letter I and the number 2. Clever, right?
So, great idea. Horrible execution. I had no idea what I'd gotten myself into. All I knew is I had a little almost two-year-old girl who couldn't wait to have her birthday cookies and I had no backup plan. Let me break down how it went:
- Find sugar cookie recipe
- Attempt to make sugar cookie recipe
- Realize sugar cookies are actually pretty hard to make
- Contemplate how the bakers at Target make it look so easy
- Blame the oven for the sugar cookies spreading into unrecognizable blobs (that's an "I"???)
- Eat a cookie. Not bad...
- Blame recipe for being stupid
- Find new sugar cookie recipe
- Repeat steps 2-9
- Find new recipe. Bake. Cookies actually look how they should. Mostly
- Attempt to make and use royal icing and piping bags for the very first time ever
- Lament at what a horrible mother, woman, human I am
- Why did I go to college? I can't even get a piping bag to work!
- Go back online and try to find anyone who can make these for me instead
- Go to bed. Try again next day
- Use new royal icing recipe. This one is better...meaning I can actually pipe some semblance of a straight line and the icing is only a little lumpy
- Delight daughter with my mad baking skills (that means she really like the colors I used)
- Come to terms with that whole "It's the thought that counts..." thing
- Share results
The cookies tasted better than they looked, and they made my little girl happy, so I achieved that goal.
That was almost three years ago. In a few more weeks, Ingrid will turn 5 and, for the first time since this party, I won't be making cookies because I'll still be standing in line at Disney World, waiting to meet Elsa.
I will say, however, that it was this experience that sparked my interest in baking. I wanted to learn more, get better, be more confident because, for some reason, I got this notion in my head that my making treats for people was a way to show my love and appreciation. And really, how can you resist the smiles you get when you surprise people with dessert?
So, on this #tbt, I reminisce about that party, three years ago, that turned me into a hobby baker and made my daughter smile.