Calculated Cookies’ Newest Employee

Since I’ve started this business over 4 years ago, I’ve been searching for an employee that is willing to work for free. Well, I finally found my new employee. He’s a real keeper, but I may have to wait a few years until he proves useful.

View More: http://on3weddingphotography.pass.us/barnes

Unfortunately, at this point he is a hindrance to the cookie making process.  In addition to the craziness of having a baby, we are preparing to move and I’ll be resuming my teaching career in a few weeks. Needless to say, my focus needs to be elsewhere and not on cookies. I know that I won’t be doing any cookie orders for 2016 and realistically it won’t be until next summer until I can think about doing some cookie orders.

This has been a bittersweet blog post to write (and probably why I’ve postponed it a few months). I have loved starting Calculated Cookies and seeing it grow, but right now my focus is on my son, my best project yet.

View More: http://lorrieannphotography.pass.us/newborn-35

When I return to cookies, I’ll update the blog and Calculated Cookies’ facebook page. Feel free to contact me at sara@calculatedcookies.com if you have any questions.

 

Photo credits to: ON3 Photography and Lorrie Ann Photography

August!?!?

How can it possibly be August already? Last I knew it was the end of June and I was prepping for the farmer’s market so that’s where I’ll start.

I decided to focus on 4th of July cookies and did some as cookie pops. These cookies had red, white, and blue sprinkles in the dough so they were extra festive.

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My husband was my assistant this time. He didn’t pass out samples quite as well as my mom did last time, but we ran out of samples this time so he must have done a decent job!

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He did get distracted by the jam session, but when you marry a musician, it is bound to happen.

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My friend, Ashley, helped package the cookies and made the pretty display signs for me. I decided that trying to get my husband to tie ribbon with me would be torture (for both of us). Ashley and I have similar spirits. We are both math teachers with creative and perfectionistic tendencies (except for with graduate level math proofs….) so we watched “The Imitation Game”, laughed at math jokes, and tried not to pull our hair out while fighting to get the ribbons perfect.

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The regular 4th of July cookies sold out within a few hours and the cookie pops sold out by the early afternoon.

I wanted to do something besides 4th of July cookies so I decided to bring back the hot dog and hamburger cookies that I did a few years ago and the pretzels that I did last summer. I found these old-fashioned diner style baskets that I thought were really cute and festive. Apparently my customers didn’t agree because I didn’t have any interested in the baskets, but plenty of people were interested in the cookies.

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I loved the people that stopped by and were amazed that these are cookies. In this case looks are deceiving. No hot dog flavored cookies!

And now for the most amazing cookies ever! Brownie Whoopie Pies!

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These are oreos on steroids. The cookie part is a recipe I’ve made plenty of times and they are actually my husband’s favorite cookies. I refer to them as “Brownie cookies”. At some point when I was deciding what cookies to make for the farmer’s market, I thought of these brownie cookies, but wanted to make them a little more exciting. Why not add a marshmallow buttercream and make them into a whoopie pie? Icing should be the answer to everything. I’m usually not a huge fan of buttercream, but this was half homemade marshmallow fluff and half homemade buttercream so it was really yummy.

My husband was hoping these wouldn’t sell, but unfortunately for him they sold out. Luckily I had enough leftover icing for another batch so don’t feel too bad for him.

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Farmer’s Market Round 2

Good News! Calculated Cookies will be back at the Goshen Farmer’s Market this Saturday (June 27th). Even better news, the farmer’s market will stay open later (8am-4pm) than usual on Saturday because of Arts on the Millrace. I plan to stay until 4 unless I run out of cookies or energy. I will have 4th of July themed cookies with some special packaging options. These are extra special cookies because they have red, white, and blue sprinkles baked into the cookie!

Naked cookies!

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I also made some hamburger, hot dog, and pretzel cookies that will be perfect for cookouts, picnics, or just for fun. I’ll also have some special packaging options for these too. I plan on having some “normal’ cookies too, but I haven’t decided exactly what kinds yet. I’ll post pictures and more details on facebook as I get the cookies done.

If anyone that isn’t in Goshen or can’t get to the farmer’s market wants to buy cookies, contact me about my shipping options. I can get them to you by the 4th of July.

You can find more info on the Goshen Farmer’s Market here and here.

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End of May

The month of May is always a crazy month of Calculated Cookies as well as for me personally. As I sit here typing watching the clock quickly approach midnight on May 31st, I think back on the good, the bad, and the ugly of the past month. Calculated Cookies at the Goshen Farmers Market was a new experience for me in May.

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When I started Calculated Cookies almost 3 years ago, it was a goal of mine to sell cookies at the Goshen Farmer’s Market. Then I started grad school and didn’t have the time until this summer. It was definitely a learning experience with plenty of ups and downs. I never expected the ceiling to be leaking onto the table for the first few hours. I also didn’t expect to pass out so many business cards and have such positive feedback.

My parents came into town the day before to help package and prep everything for the famer’s market.

Don’t let this picture fool you. My mom didn’t decorate any of the cookies that were sold. I wanted her to try the embroidery flower technique because I thought she might enjoy it and be good at it. I was wrong….

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I started my own mini sweat shop in the living room with my dad for packaging cookies. Don’t worry he had access to a large screen tv and plenty of cable channels.

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The hardest part of preparing for the farmer’s market was trying to decide what cookie shapes to make. I can’t remember the last time I got to pick the designs. I decided to go with a general spring and nature theme.

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Plus, I did some graduation cookies.

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And I also wanted to do some gluten free cookies. I love this technique, especially with this color scheme.

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My mom helped out by making brownies, peanut butterscotchers, and almond raspberry bars.

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Thanks to everyone that stopped by and showed their support. I’m hoping to be back at the farmer’s market at the end of June. I’ll announce on here, facebook, and instagram the exact date whenever I figure out if it fits into my schedule.

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Big News!

Exciting news! Calculated Cookies is going to be at the Farmer’s Market in Goshen next Saturday, May 16th. I haven’t decided exactly what kind of cookies I’ll have there, but I know I’ll be selling both regular and gluten free sugar cookies. I’ll have some “normal” cookies as well. I’ll post a list of what I’ll be selling on Calculated Cookies’ facebook page whenever I decide. Please share the news and come see me next Saturday from 8am-1pm.

If you need more info on the Farmer’s Market, click here to visit their website.

 

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Martha Who?

When you get an email with the words Martha Stewart Weddings in it, you say yes. It doesn’t matter what else is going on. Everything else suddenly becomes infinitely less important. After all, Martha Stewart is a big reason I own a cookie business.

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The person I have to thank for this is amazing opportunity is Lisa Diederich. Check out her amazing photography on her website. She’s also the photographer behind all the pictures on this blog post. (You should know that my photography is not that good.) Lisa and I grew up around the corner from each other and our moms are good friends. I know I’ve said this before on the blog, but I love when Calculated Cookies let’s me reconnect with old friends.

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Christmas Cookies with Family (part 2)

I really wanted to make sugar cookies this Christmas, but with my grad school and work schedule plus cookie schedule, I knew I wasn’t going to get any “fancy” cookies done. Also, I wanted to bring something to Christmas that my nieces would enjoy. My husband and I are the boring aunt and uncle that give our nieces money for their college fund instead of toys. (One day they’ll thank us.)

I came up with decorating the cookies in white icing and bringing my food-safe markers for the kids to color with.

IMG_6025This was the result:

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As you can see, some of the adults had some fun decorating cookies as well.

Here are snowmen from each of my sister-in-laws:

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My youngest niece needed a little extra supervision to keep the markers out of her mouth, but at least they are food-safe so it isn’t a safety concern. She wanted to share one of her cookies with her dad.

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While we were visiting my parent’s house for Christmas, my parents and husband did some decorating too. My dad insisted on using a ruler. Can you tell that he is a civil engineer?

 

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He did a tennis playing, preppy snowman.

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My husband chose a reindeer and colored the nose red first.

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It went downhill from there and he ended up with a slightly scary reindeer.

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My mom decorated an ornament. Somehow she escaped getting a picture taken with her cookie.

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I did a tree.

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It ended up being a fun project for both young and not-so-young family members. However, it was also sentimental. My husband’s mom passed away this summer and she was the original cookie baker/decorator in his family. My husband’s favorite Christmas tradition was baking sugar cookies with his mom. Unfortunately my mother-in-law and I never got to bake and decorate cookies together (even though we lived together last year), but I was honored to inherit her cookie cutters. I had my husband pick out his favorite cutters and used those to make these cookies. It was my small way of honoring her memory.

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Hello, Sweetheart!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Several years ago my very first experiment in decorating cookies with royal icing was with heart cookies. You can see a picture here. I actually haven’t been able to do any Valentine’s Day cookies since so when I was contacted about doing cookies for a 1st birthday party on Valentine’s Day, I was super excited.

IMG_6071Plus, doing conversation heart cookies has been on my cookie bucket list for a long time.

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I think it worked out really well for a birthday/valentine theme.

IMG_6078The customer wanted to use them as party favors so these cookies got dressed up with a ribbon before they were shipped off.

IMG_6085I think this is the first time I’ve only used one cookie cutter for a cookie order.

Of course my OCD tendencies led to this.

IMG_6060Since it is Valentine’s Day, I had to make one cookie for my husband.

IMG_6095One of the downsides to being married to me is that he rarely gets cookies made especially for him. The only exception were these. He also gets bothered with questions about colors or other decorating decisions. For this order he got pestered about the phrases as well.

However, he can’t complain too much because he gets to eat the rejects. This was his favorite reject cookie for this order.

IMG_6068After I finished the piping, I realized that the U and R got too close together so it looked like UR Special instead of U R Special. I don’t know that traditional grammar rules apply to texting lingo, but it bothered me.

I hope everyone has a great Valentine’s Day!

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Christmas Cookies with Family (part 1)

I hope that everyone had a wonderful Christmas. Despite a busy schedule before and after Christmas, my husband and I got to spend a few days with both sides of the family. Of course, for me it isn’t Christmas unless there are cookies involved. My husband and I made most of our usual cookies and candy, but I tried some new things this year. Disclaimer: Most of these pictures were taken on my phone so I apologize for the poor quality.

I already quizzed people on facebook, but for those not on facebook. Can anyone name these cookies?

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These are called Springerle cookies. They are traditional German cookies (usually anise flavored) that my maternal grandmother’s family has made for generations. I’ve already talked a little about my family’s cookie baking history here. Springerles were always part of my grandma’s Christmas cookie platter. She isn’t able to bake and her brother, who also made Springerles, passed away this summer. My mom decided to take up the challenge to make them. Normally cookies are not a challenge, but these are the most high-maintenance cookies I’ve ever dealt with. (This coming from the person that spends multiple days decorating a cookie order.) So my mom did plenty of research, collected recipes, ordered special ingredients, and found my grandma’s cookie molds.

Over Christmas my mom wanted to try a new recipe so I helped her out by making it along with a mess of her kitchen.

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It was the strangest cookie dough I’ve ever made. We used a weird powder called Hartshorn instead of baking powder. Note: Do not smell hartshorn! Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it also almost killed me.

One distinct characteristic of Springerles is that they have patterns on top. The molds that we used were my grandma’s, but they aren’t very fancy compared to some you can find online. This is the process of molding the cookies.

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I have no idea what these shapes are supposed to be. The one on the right looks like a cat?

Once the cookies are cut, they have to set out to dry for at least 24 hours. This helps the top keep the pattern, but the inside and bottom of the cookie stays soft.

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When baked, these cookies are supposed to spring up (hence the name) and rise from the bottom of the cookie. They turn out to be a cake-like cookie that is hard on the top and soft on the inside. In theory you should put them in a container and let them sit for weeks or months to enhance the flavor and harden the cookies. My mom and I like soft cookies so they don’t last very long.

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You can find more information about Springerles and much more impressive cookies here.

 

Boys will be boys

As we start a new year (and I get caught up on blog posts), I looked back through my cookie orders from this year. I was surprised by how many were for boys. It was nice to have a break from pink and purple.

I had to do a lot of research on monster trucks for this order. I modeled the color schemes after the birthday boy’s favorite trucks.

IMG_5684I used stencils for the first time with this order. I saw this idea online while doing my research and knew it would be perfect for this theme.

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This next order also required an education. Luckily the customers wanted me to keep it simple. It’s very rare to have a cookie order with only three colors. So much easier!

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Here is the cute birthday boy showing off his cookie:

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Now switching gears to some baby boys! Baby shower cookies are always my favorite. It doesn’t matter if it is for a boy or girl.

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The design of these cookies were based off of a quilt that the baby’s grandmother made for the nursery. I had a lot of fun planning these, but had to get creative with the cookie cutters. The crabs are made from a Hello Kitty cutter. The whale is a slightly adapted balloon cutter. The sailboat is a fat candy corn cutter.

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Most recently I did these “Little Prince” themed baby shower cookies based on the plates and napkins for the party.

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I used stencils for these cookies as well, but a little different technique than the tire tracks. The “fancy” crowns were made with stencils.

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It will be interesting to see if the boy cookie orders continue into 2015. Our first nephew will be arriving in a few months so there will be at least one boy coming into our lives in 2015!

 

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