Courtesy of Ann Clark Cookie Cutters
For many people, holidays would not be holidays without baking and decorating biscuits. But a growing number of creative bakers known as "cookers" take their art to a whole new level.
Mary Thode of Chittenden, Vt., Is one of them. At this time of year she bakes all sorts of cookies – some of the recipes were her mother's, she says, that bring back nice memories.
"But I like a painted biscuit," she says, pointing to the nine coffee cups on her dining table, each filled with different colored frosting.
"This is meringue icing," says Thode, grabbing a spoon. "Made from meringue powder and it's hardening very well."
" I only touch them because the color tends to go down a bit," she adds.
The Mug Red Frosting becomes much lighter and creamier when stirred. If it is too thick, dilute it with water until the consistency is right.
Once the frosting is done, Thode grabs a nearby Tupperware container and selects a simple, heart-shaped biscuit. Using a brush with a fine brush, she picks up a drop of glaze and covers the shape with a few careful movements with a shiny red glaze.
"I do not go to the end of the cookie – I like a small edge, so it is framed somehow, I think that makes it more beautiful," she explains.
Then she takes a toothpick, adds a tiny swab of blue frosting and creates a complicated design.
Nina Keck / Vermont Public Radio
Thode makes cookies all year round – in the form of baby bottles for shower gifts and pumpkins for Halloween. But during the holidays she bakes about 700 biscuits, half of which she will paint, often with many layers of different colored frosting.
"I know my husband says I'm obsessed with it," she laughs. "But those little details do it, I do not know, nicer. It makes it my cookie."
Cookies as an art form
Thode is one of a growing number of people who have turned bite-sized treats into an art form.
Many, like Thode, are hobbyists who give away their biscuits.
But it's big business, too. Some of the most elaborate designs by top artists are sold for $ 150 per dozen or even more.
Ben Clark makes cookie cutters for a living, and he says some of the biscuits he saw are incredible.
"Literally they are like art gallery quality and it's a biscuit," he says, shaking his head
Clark works with a number of elite decorators – with people like Elizabeth Adams in the cookie world Arty McGoo is known. McGoo has made cookies into a career. The Californian resident has more than 80,000 followers on Facebook and is now primarily dedicated to teaching her crafting skills.
"I was a hobby funnel up to the biscuits, because I think it fulfills so many different areas of art for me," she says. "From the design process and the colors you choose, and later even taking pictures of the cookies."
Courtesy of Arty McGoo
"And I do not care that it gets eaten or basically destroyed," McGoo adds with a laugh. "It's kind of nice to think, you know, someone is eating a piece of art."
McGoo will be the keynote speaker at the upcoming CookieCon in Reno, Nevada. The three-day conference in March will bring together 800 enthusiastic cookers and accessory manufacturers from around the world.
Event organizer Karen Summers shows interest The decoration of biscuits has exploded in recent years. "It's really big in Australia and Spain and South America," she says, adding, "We've been contacted by a few people in Japan who want to launch a CookieCon-type thing there."
Summers Says the 500 Tickets They sold out for last year's CookieCon in Indianapolis within 20 minutes, which in their opinion the site of the event had completely crashed.
"After that, the software guy said," Well, you did not tell me it would be that way, "Summers says," He said they scored 1,800 hits per second when the tickets were up for sale. "
Cookies as Big Business
The popularity of biscuits is very popular with companies like CK Products, the manufacturer, and sells items such as edible glitter, crumble, meringue powder and powder gel.
Kelly Pineda CK's Vice President of Sales says they can not make enough ready frosting.
Put the business on our website, we literally follow it, "says Pineda. "We can not follow the demand."
Ann Clark Cookie Cutters, a family business in Rutland, Vt., Founded in 1989, has also ramped up production. CEO Ben Clark says 52 employees work in two shifts and their assembly line produces 22,000 cookie cutters daily.
Nina Keck / Vermont Public Radio
"We've worked really hard and got our manufacturing costs to match the cost of importing cookers from China," explains Clark. "It has become a marketing game and we have quadrupled our business since then."
Part of their marketing strategy is making better use of direct selling via Amazon. But Clark says they have also worked hard to satisfy the growing number of cookers who desire new and different forms.
He says that their factory currently produces about 2,300 different species and adds new molds every week.
For example, Clark says lamas are big this year: "We immediately said, 'Let's make a llama. "And our creative director said we'll do two, we'll make one who looks like a llama, and we'll have one who's more of a cartoony lama."
"Ten Days Later" Clark drives "Both products dominated Amazon as lama cookie cutter, and when our product of Chinese competitors came to the United States, we already had the market for lamas."
Clark says his company is vital with Kocher. At the Cookie Convention in March, for example, they will be ready to find out what new forms they need to do next.