The Iced Cookie Scourge

I’ve received some very amusing messages from pastry chefs and bake shop staff the last few days. All of them, in one way or another, echo the sentiments of pastry chef Camille:

Iced cookies…shudder. Iced cookies were the bane of my existence at every holiday from Halloween to Sorority Rush Week when I worked at a bakery in Dallas. We used royal icing for its glossy finish, and we applied the base coat with a pastry brush. I must admit, I’m pretty impressed with your icing-spreading-with-a-butter-knife skills. 🙂

I’ll take that compliment, Camille! Thank you. I promise you won’t say the same thing about my piping skills. It’s a funny thing. Decorated, iced cookies are as beloved by bake shop customers as they are loathed by the people who make them. Why is that? Simply because they’re so labor-intensive. At a bakery I once worked at, it took a small team of high school girls several hours to decorate just a few dozen of them in the afternoons.

Customers always complained about the cost, but the designs on those things were often extremely intricate, requiring many passes of several different colors, plus drying time between each. To the untrained eye they may have been “just a cookie”, but to the shop owner they represented a significant labor investment. In fact they were so expensive to produce, I’m pretty sure that bakery never made a dime off of them. But at least in a America, they’re something any corner bake shop is expected to offer.

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