Cookie Sensations: Creative Designs for Every Occasion

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Cookie Sensations is a step-by-step guide to creating edible art. It features templates, detailed instructions, illustrations and information on resources. Everything you need to succeed is in this book, including recipes for cookies and icings, directions for coloring icings, instructions on master your decorating technique and even tips on fixing mistakes.

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Overview

Cookie Sensations is a step-by-step guide to creating edible art. It features templates, detailed instructions, illustrations and information on resources. Everything you need to succeed is in this book, including recipes for cookies and icings, directions for coloring icings, instructions on master your decorating technique and even tips on fixing mistakes.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781401602888
  • Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/16/2007
  • Pages: 128
  • Product dimensions: 7.90 (w) x 9.90 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Meaghan Mountford is head decorator and manager of Bundles of Cookies in Bethesda, Maryland. She has been featured on theTodayshow and in the Washingtonian, where her cookies were named the "best of Washington." Among her longtime clients are top corporations, media networks, professional sports teams, and both Washington and Hollywood celebrities.

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Read an Excerpt

cookie sensations

creative designs for every occasion
By meaghan mountford

Rutledge Hill Press

Copyright © 2007 Meaghan Mountford
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-40160-288-8


Chapter One

The Story of the Decorated Cookie: Pagan Ritual, Hansel and Gretel, and Beyond

You are creating more than just a mixture of flour, butter, sugar, and dye. The decorated cookie has a rich history steeped in cultural significance and has been a way to convey messages for centuries. The art of shaping dough stretches back thousands of years. Ceramic molds have been found in Egypt and Mesopotamia (now Iraq) from as far back as 2000 BC. In ancient Rome, cakes in the shapes of animals and people were presented to senators as gifts.

Cakes and pastries were popular in seventh-century (AD) Persia (now Iran), one of the first countries to cultivate sugar. With the Muslim invasion of Spain, the Crusades, and the growing spice trade, baked confections soon spread into Europe. It is believed the cookie was invented when bakers used drops of cake batter to test the oven temperature.

By the sixteenth century, the sugar cookie as we know it today was already immortalized in print. A recipe for "fine cakes" can be found in The Good Huswifes Jewell, an Elizabethan cookbook by Thomas Dawson, printed in 1596. The recipe calls for "fine flour and Damaske water ... sweet butter, two or three yolks of eggs and a good quantity of sugar, and a few cloves, and mace, as your cook's mouth shall serve him, and a little saffron, and a little cods [yeast] good, about a spoonful." They are cut in squares and pricked well before baking. (Don't worry. I will give you more precise measurements in my recipes!)

Springerle

Springerle are excellent examples of early decorated cookies. These white, anise-flavored, circular or square sugar cookies are stamped with a picture using carved molds or rolling pins. Springerle first became popular in sixteenth-century southern Germany before spreading through Alsace and Switzerland. By the nineteenth century, it is rumored that every family in Alsace had its own springerle molds. The earliest molds were made of fruitwoods (apple, cherry, pear, or plum), but later molds were made from stone, ceramic, metal, plaster, and even leather.

The name springerle may derive from a word in an old German dialect meaning "little knight" or "little jumpers," as jumping horses were popular on early molds. Some claim the leaping horse was that of the pagan king of the Nordic gods, Wotan. Others believe the name refers to the springing action of the dough, as springerle were made with a leavening agent, a by-product of hartshorn (extracted from deer antlers). Springerle can be traced to the winter pagan celebration of Germanic tribes, Julfest, in which animals were sacrificed to the Gods for a mild winter and early spring. Poorer people brought animal-shaped breads and cookies in lieu of live animals. Today, springerle baking endures as a popular holiday ritual, and modern replicas of springerle molds have become increasingly popular.

Early images on molds often depicted scenes from the Bible, such as the Madonna and Child, the Last Supper, and Adam and Eve, to educate the illiterate. Other shapes included animal figures (sheep, goats, and horses), royal family members, ladies and knights, musicians and their instruments, mystical figures (lions, unicorns, and mermaids), and symbols (squirrels for happiness, hearts for love, and pigs for luck). Hundreds of years later, I've decorated most of the same shapes and designs many times over for our customers-including instruments, unicorns, mermaids, squirrels, and pigs!

While associated primarily with winter and the holiday season, springerle were also exchanged between lovers, used to tell tales, and given for celebrations of holidays, weddings, or births. The decorated cookies of today serve the same purposes. Wedding favors, holiday cookies, gifts for newlyweds and new parents-all these cookies fly off our shelves.

Gingerbread

No discussion of the decorated cookie is complete without a look at gingerbread. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, gingerbread, derived from the Latin name for ginger, zingiber, came to be known from the fifteenth century onwards as a cake flavored with ginger and treacle (a type of British syrup) shaped into men, animals, and letters, and usually gilded (brushed with gold coloring). Gingerbread was primarily a fairground delicacy in medieval times throughout France, Germany, Holland, and England. In some English villages it was the custom for unmarried women to eat gingerbread "husbands" at fairs to increase the likelihood of meeting a man.

Shaping gingerbread into people is a centuries-old tradition. Queen Elizabeth I is said to have ordered gingerbread cut into the shapes of her courtiers. In Belgium, cookies were cut into folk characters such as St. Nicholas. In the 1600s, gingerbread men were sold in London streets, possibly inspired by the folk legend of the Gingerbread Boy who jumped out of his oven.

In the tale, a woman desperate for a boy of her own bakes a gingerbread boy and dresses him with currants, cinnamon, colored sugar, and chocolate. But the cookie jumps out of the oven and out the door singing, "Run, run, as fast as you can; can't catch me, I'm the Gingerbread Man." He escapes all whom he encounters until his fatal outwitting by a sly fox. The legend found its way to America from England, though in colonial days the tale was named "Johnny Cake."

The enchantment of gingerbread inspired great literary interest. Gingerbread was one of the sweets brought to Sir Thopas in Chaucer's 1386 Canterbury Tales:

They fette hym ... real spicerye Of Gyngebred that was ful fyn And lycorys and eek comyn With sugre that is trye.

Shakespeare, too, in Love's Labour's Lost, writes of sacrifice in the name of gingerbread: "An I had but one penny in the world, thou shouldst have it to buy gingerbread." Dorothy Wordsworth shared this desperate love. The English prose writer (and younger sister to the poet William Wordsworth) found gingerbread tasty enough to mention in her journal. In January 1803, despite the bitter cold, she and her brother left home in search of gingerbread to satisfy their cravings.

Gingerbread is not always held in such high esteem in the literary imagination. The British poet, William Cowper, in his 1783 poem Table Talk warns of the dangers of falling below one's potential and of settling for lesser substitution: "As if the Poet, purposing to wed, should carve himself a wife in ginger-bread." This notion seems quite a reversal in sentiment from the aforementioned women at fairs eating gingerbread "husbands."

Similar to gingerbread, lebkuchen was used in Germany to build Hexenhaeusle, or "witches' houses," romanticized and popularized by the story of Hansel and Gretel when published in 1812 as part of the Grimm brothers' collected German folktales. Hansel and Gretel, seen as a drain on scarce resources, are abandoned by their poor parents despite their father's reluctance. Alone in the woods, their furtive bread crumb trail home eaten by birds, Hansel and Gretel wander for days, starving, until they come across a house "made of bread" with a roof "made of cake and the windows of sparkling sugar." They tear off pieces and stuff themselves, not knowing that the cruel old woman within purposely constructed the house to entice, trap, bake, and eat children. But Hansel and Gretel outfox the old crone and push her into the oven, saving themselves.

Cookies in America

Gingerbread was brought to America by European settlers and was popular at fairs and festivals. New England recipes for flat cookies cut into patriotic shapes were created for the celebrations known as Muster Day and Election Day. Before the Revolution, shapes often depicted a king, but later, the American eagle became a favorite. The cookies were handed out to wives and children when militias gathered for officer election or for military training.

Other cookies had already made their home in America in recipe, if not in name. Martha Washington had in her possession from 1749 to 1799 a handwritten manuscript called the Booke of Cookery and Booke of Sweetmeats. This family collection included recipes for "cakes" that are similar to what we today call cookies. For sugar cakes, the baker is instructed to "take 2 pounds of flower, & one pound of sugar, & youlks of 2 eggs, & a spoonfull of sack, & a spoonfull of rosewater, & make it up into paste with melted butter & roule it out pritty thin." A beer glass is suggested to cut the cookies before baking in an oven "meanly hot with stone downe."

In addition to cutting cakes with glasses to shape them, the baker following Washington's cookbook pressed dough into printed molds, as in the recipe for gingerbread. To make this gingerbread, the baker combined boiled honey and vinegar to remove the "scum," and then added strong ale, ginger, licorice, anise seeds, and a "peck of grated bread." Long before the advent of frosting dye in convenient bottles, Washington's cookbook suggested adding claret wine to make "culler'd" (colored) gingerbread.

Such collections of handwritten recipes were common at this time, as printed cookbooks were scarce. American colonists relied primarily on British presses. Books such as Gervase Markham's early seventeenth-century volume, the English Huswife, included advice on cooking, planting, brewing, making clothing, and curing the plague. Its success spurred other publications into the eighteenth century, but British authors paid little attention to the needs of the New World and to American cuisine.

Amelia Simmons's first edition of American Cookery in 1796, a practical, inexpensive, paper-covered book, changed this. Her book included recipes such as "Johny Cake" and "Indian Slapjacks" that required distinctly American ingredients. Simmons's is the first cookbook to use the American term "cookie," derived from the Dutch koekje.

Noteworthy is the addition of a new cooking method of using chemical leavening in dough, similar to our baking powder or soda. Previously bakers had beat air into eggs, but by 1796, an anonymous American woman had added a chemical to produce carbon dioxide. Simmons's cookbook is the first known to suggest adding pearlash, a substance primarily composed of potassium carbonate and used to make soap and glass, to gingerbread and cookie dough.

Simmons's gingerbread cookie recipe calls for molasses in lieu of treacle to customize the sweet to her American audience. The dough combines cinnamon, coriander or allspice, "four tea spoons pearl ash, dissolved in half pint water," flour, molasses, and butter (she specified "if in summer rub in the butter, if in winter, warm the butter"). The mixture is kneaded and washed with egg whites and sugar.

Simmons's sugar cookie recipe, made with sugar boiled in water, cooled, and combined with pearlash dissolved in milk, flour, butter, powdered sugar, and coriander, is shaped as we do today: rolled half an inch thick and "cut to the shape you please."

Cookie Cutters

In America, wooden molds gradually disappeared in favor of cutters that emphasized the outline of the desired shape. German settlers in Pennsylvania shaped gingerbread by hand into men, often displaying the cookies in windows. The English cut dough with a glass or teacup. Martha Washington's cookbook suggested cutting dough with a beer glass. The idea of placing a metal rim around the outline of a carved mold originated in the mid 1600s, and by 1750 the cookie cutter as a shape independent of a mold came into being.

The nineteenth-century tin industry developed the art of cookie cutters. Tinsmiths had traveling shops, transporting their materials and belongings on wagons. Most carried cutter patterns to ensure uniformity, but they would make cookie cutters to housewives' requests if need be. With increased machinery, by the end of the century cookie cutters were sold in catalogs and stores.

Cookie cutters in shapes such as stars, moons, suns, toys, animals, and humans were hung as tree ornaments. With the rise of Christmas as a commercial holiday, shapes such as wreaths, Santa, and stockings, soon prevailed. American cookie cutters of the 1800s were thick and heavy, usually with flat backs and sometimes with strap handles. Air holes cut in the back allowed air to escape to free the dough from the cutter more easily and were often large enough for a lady's finger to fit through if an extra push was necessary. Shapes at this time included hearts, horses, rabbits, birds, ladies in long dresses, men in high hats, horsemen, leaves, and flowers.

Bridge card party sets, with diamonds, clubs, spades, and hearts, were popular in the early 1900s, available in catalogs such as Sears Roebuck or the Bruce & West Manufacturing Company. With the rise of advertising, baking powder companies and flour mills began to sell cookie cutters with their printed slogans. By the 1920s, cookie cutters were mass-produced in aluminum. Although more choices were introduced, a surprising consistency and uniformity among shapes survived the century, and the basic shapes remain the same today.

But throughout the decades, companies produced cookie cutters unique to their era. Like any relics from popular culture, cookie cutters offer insights into the interests and lives of a generation. Pillsbury released the Comicooky Cutters series in 1937, including paper stickers to apply to the cookies in the likeness of characters from the comic strips Moon Mullins, Gasoline Alley, or Dick Tracy. In the late 1940s, the Educational Products Company sold Blondie and Dagwood cookie cutter sets, complete with their children, Alexander and Cookie, and Daisy the dog.

Wrigley Spearmint Gum advertised Troll kits for kids through the cookie cutter company Mirro in the mid-1960s. For fifty cents, the kit included an aluminum troll cookie cutter with decorating tips. The instructions recommended sticking on "tiny candies for cooky eyes" or sprinkling the top with "wigs of shaggy, tinted coconut."

Plastic cookie cutters became popular in the 1950s. Hallmark introduced its first set of cookie cutters in 1971, offering an incredible variety of brightly colored plastic cutters. Cutter shapes included not only a wide assortment of holiday designs, but also babies, Disney characters, Snoopy and Charlie Brown, the Muppets, and Raggedy Ann and Andy.

Today, you can find copper, aluminum, plastic, or tin cookie cutters in just about any shape you can imagine for the twenty-first century: martinis, the little black dress, an electric guitar, a bikini, a hula girl, a fighter jet, pi, a laptop computer, the space shuttle, and more.

A long history of shaping and decorating cookies precedes us. I'm not sure why these representations seem so specific to sugary treats. I've not heard of a carrot decorated as a British king or a meatloaf made to mimic Raggedy Ann. Perhaps it's the natural indulgence of sweets. There is something powerful and gluttonous about ingesting cookie symbols of religion, popular culture, nature, animals, and characters. We can consume tasty versions of the world by creating edible art-all we need to do is thoughtfully shape the dough and add color.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from cookie sensations by meaghan mountford Copyright © 2007 by Meaghan Mountford. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents


Acknowledgments     vii
Introduction: An Edible World of Possibility     ix
The Story of the Decorated Cookie: Pagan Ritual, Hansel and Gretel, and Beyond     1
The Shopping Cart: Everything You'll Need, Plus Some Baking Terms     9
Your Dough and Your Frosting: The Bare Essentials     19
Your Paints: Mixing Colors and Making Them Match     29
Your Tools: Bags of Frosting and Tips on Tips     37
Now for the Fun Part: Decorating!     41
Templates and Designs: Unique Ideas from Aliens to Worms     47
Wrapping It Up: Cookie Gifts     109
Bibliography     115
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2007

    Great Book, Easy to Follow Steps!!

    I love this book, the step by step instructions are excellent! Highly recommend to all!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2007

    Wonderful 'how to' book

    What a great 'how to' book for the creative at heart. Author and cookie artist Meaghan Mountford assembles a wonderful demonstration easy enough for all to follow. A book to share with adults and children alike.

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    Posted April 7, 2009

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