Thank You, and Stay Sweet!

As I take the initial plunge into starting my own custom pastry business, I am reminded over and over again why I got so excited about the business of pastry in the first place.  Every part of the pastry process makes me happy; the preliminary Prismacolor sketches that I make while hashing out a design, the meditative trance that takes over during the mixing, baking, and decorating, the careful photo shoots, and the crucial delivery of the finished product, a beautiful product that I was able to bring to life with a few kitchen ingredients.  I am charmed by the idea that I am bringing happiness to others and elevating their celebration to another level of perfection.  In pastry school I was taught to be precise and graceful, and I embody that in every treat that comes out of my oven.  It is so special to be present at someone’s special event, and I’m honored that you’ve chosen me.

As 2017 approaches, I am more motivated than ever to reach the pastry goals that I have set for myself.  I hope that you’ve been captivated by my posts…  I intend to give readers a glimpse of what life is like baking in both the professional and home kitchen.  In addition to documenting my cake orders, I’m excited to take my readers along on more pastry crawls through New York and Chicago, and to get them excited about the production and presentation of beautiful pastries.  Happy New Year!

Two of my cake orders are featured in this post.  One cake is comprised of three layers of matcha cake, two layers of white chocolate ganache, vivid matcha buttercream, matcha shortbread garnish, and raspberries.  The other is three layers of rich chocolate cake, two layers of semisweet chocolate ganache, orange buttercream, blood orange slices, and semisweet chocolate curls.

 

Marbled Christmas Star Cookies

These are perfect cookies to snack on while you’re camping out near the base of your family’s Christmas tree, like you used to as a kid.  Each bite will supply the energy you need to stay up and catch a glimpse of Santa!  The flecks of edible gold leaf on each cookie will reflect the twinkling strands of colored lights.

These sugar cookies are decorated with peppermint glaze and small pieces of edible gold leaf.  Believe me, trying to not eat a constellation of them in one sitting is no easy task.  They were a perfect match for some dainty dessert plates that I recently picked out from Anthropologie.  The painted nutcracker design on this plate (by Quill & Fox) reminded me of some of my family’s oldest and most intricate Christmas ornaments.

I’m not gonna lie, I listened to Starboy by The Weeknd on repeat while decorating these cookies!  If you’ve listened to enough Christmas music already, the song is a much-needed alternative.  What’s your favorite music-to-bake-to?  I need inspiration for my next batch!

Here’s the sugar cookie recipe I used, a good standard that tastes biscuity and not too sweet.  I tested the recipe from a Family Fun magazine that way lying around the house and was pleasantly surprised by the results. Unlike some other recipes I’ve recently tried, the cookies held their shape during baking, making for perfect cut-outs.

Ingredients

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

3 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1 pinch of salt

Directions

  1. Combine butter, cream cheese, and sugar in a large bowl, and cream for several minutes. When light and fluffy, beat in the egg and vanilla.
  2. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture until just combined.
  3. Heat oven to 350 degrees. After refrigerating the dough for 30 minutes, use cookie cutters to cut shapes, pulling away the scraps to avoid moving and distorting the cookies. If the dough gets too soft to work with, refrigerate it for 15-30 minutes.
  4. Bake for 7-10 minutes, or until the cookies start to color on their edges. Let them cool completely before decorating.

You can freeze sugar cookie dough! Cover it with a layer of plastic wrap and then another layer of foil, and keep it in your freezer for up to a month. Let the dough thaw overnight in the fridge before using.

Do you have a sugar cookie recipe that you revisit every year? I’d love to try it out, feel free to leave a comment and you might be featured in an upcoming post!