Have you learned a new skill in this last year? I’m trying to make sure that my entire time in quarantine hasn’t been a complete waste by reading tons of books, making time to catch up with friends, and even running and doing yoga on (rare) occasion! One of my girlfriends is learning the trombone right now in her free time, another one turned her jewelry making hobby into an actual business and is partnering with retailers in her area to sell her products (I’m a big fan of The Tide Collection at Little Ocean Jewelry), while another launched an at home intimate event planning company that kicked off with live virtual sessions and giveaways (visit The Curated Home Co. for her amazing style).
I’m so proud of my friends - and even a bit jealous (maybe more awestruck than jealous, but still kind of jealous) of their productivity - which is why I think this year I keep coming back to the question, “Why haven’t I learned a new skill?”
Recently a friend from high school reached out about ordering cookies. I was all excited because I am the cookie queen! Chocolate chip cookies are my signature treat. I make a pretty amazing oatmeal raisin cookie (or oatmeal chocolate chip, if you prefer). My gingerbread cookie tower was so fantastic that the cookies didn’t even need frosting (but I made it anyway, because that’s just who I am as a person), and I'm even making my macarons available for shipping now. Plus I’m always on the lookout for any other amazing cookie recipes that will absolutely knock it out of the park, so I said yes because I was READY!
And then she said that she didn’t want just cookies. She wanted decorated cookies.
Decorated cookies are not my jam. In fact, I don’t even really like the royal icing that you’re supposed to use to decorate cookies. And royal icing is temperamental so I never practiced much with it anyway. (I remember the cake-decorating-with-royal-icing-day in pastry school like it was yesterday. One of the first times of many in my career where I went into the deep freezer and cried. Hysterically 👀 Needless to say, I found it very frustrating.)
So when she told me what she actually wanted, my first reaction was to say no. Because clearly I am not qualified. Yet, that desire to really start learning a new skill piped up from deep within and whispered, “now’s your chance!” So I leveled with her.
I told her that yes, I wanted to do this order for her, but I don’t quite have the skill level that she would probably want. So I said that I would start practicing (we have a few months before her order is needed) and if my skills were on point by the time she needed to place an order, I would 100% make those cookies for her. If by the time she needed the cookies my skill set was still lacking, there would be no hard feelings and we would figure something else out. She agreed, and now here I am starting this journey of cookie decorating.
Which leads me to my video. I recently saw this amazing crackle technique taking my cookie groups by storm and just HAD to try it. (For the record, cookie decorating has been on my radar for a few years now. I’d love to be good at it, but just never tried. I started by joining some online groups dedicated to cookie decorating.) These groups had been buzzing about how you have to use a particular brand of gel food color in white to get this super cool crackle-y look and I thought to myself - that’s where I’ll start!
I grabbed all of the leftover cookie dough from my freezer (chocolate linzer and gingerbread - my house smells amazing right now!) and cut a few hearts out to get myself started. I dove into my set of gel food colors, all in the correct brand of course, only to find that I don’t have white. I shrugged because I’m doing Valentine’s Day themed cookies anyway, so pink and purple it is. Right?
Apparently, when the cookie groups said it had to be that particular brand, they also meant that the crackle technique also ONLY happens with white food coloring. #GoodToKnow ::goes off to order white gel food coloring::
Still, I got to practice a bit with cookies, and I was able to film a few of the decorating techniques that I teach in my cake decorating class, so I’ll call that a win-win. And bonus: I got to use some of the leftover French buttercream from last week’s Heart Cake.
You’ll also notice in this video that I take time to brush the excess flour off my cookies once I’ve cut them. This is a pet peeve of mine and I’m passing this on to you as my tip of the week: brush the excess flour off your dough before you bake it! This goes for cookies, pizza dough, bread loaves, anything that you roll out in flour - brush it off! I’ve had so many experiences of biting into a delicious slice of woodfire pizza at a restaurant but couldn’t taste a damn thing because my tongue was suddenly coated in flour from the bottom of the pizza dough. If only they had taken a moment to brush off the excess, I would have been able to taste all of that deliciousness on its own. I’ve had this experience with breads and cookies, too, and since I strongly believe in “Do unto others…”, I will always brush off my excess flour before feeding you delicious treats. I only ask that you do the same.
SIDE NOTE: I brought two pieces of the aforementioned Heart Cake to one of my friends while she was working on Valentine’s Day (one for her and one for her man candy), and she confessed to me last night that she “forgot to share” the cake with him.
But she ate both pieces at work the next day. She said it was so rich and decadent that she couldn’t even describe it to her coworkers. She thought that maybe it was a soft serve ice cream cake or something but had no idea what kind of deliciousness she was consuming. I got all peacocky about it, tossed my hair, and told her that she had been tasting the magic of French buttercream.
It was a proud moment for me.
Also, I don’t want to give away too much information, but keep an eye out for some cool things coming from Rebellion Baking because I will soon be launching my online macaron making class, along with a monthly instructional video featuring me, my friends, baking, cocktails, and lots of fun! 🥳 Stay tuned!
Happy eating, y’all!
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