Sunday, December 21, 2008

New videos

People are always writing to me asking when I am going to make a new video, and I do promise to make more videos as I really enjoy teaching and sharing. I can't promise that all the videos will be on making something sweet as I may do other cooking videos as well. Videos of this nature take a lot of planning, preparation, and editing, so I don't make them too often.

I also know that I have been promising a video on photo cookies. Now that I have become a Youtube partner on that channel, I now have the freedom to make videos longer than 10 minutes, which a video on photo cookies would be simply because there are many facets to the task other than just putting the image on the icing. For example, sometimes the photo needs to be cleaned up, color-corrected, trimmed, etc., before it can even go into the layout mode for printing. I've been using Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator for at least 15 years, so I can do the editing and layouts very quickly. I know what space I have to work with and how best to manage the printable area of the icing sheet. That has come from years of experience. Putting that experience into a video is more complicated although i do have some parts of it filmed already.

I wish you all the best Christmas and a happy start to 2009!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Not all butter is created equal!

Sometimes on my Youtube videos I get people saying that the cookies they've made using my sugar cookie recipe have spread too much and lost the design of the cookie. I've had this happen too but not for a very long time.

I didn't realize what difference there was between butter and butter, and at first I was using a brand name butter whose name escapes me at the moment. They all say 100% butterfat, but some butterfat is a lot richer than others. This is especially true of the "European" butter versions. Don't use them in this recipe. Don't use Plugra. Very, very rich butterfat.

Here in California and a few neighboring states we have a series of stores called Smart & Final which help with a lot of bulk restaurant supply - and NO membership fees like Costco. I use their "First Street" brand butter (their own brand) in all my cookies and in my English Toffee. It seems to have just the right richness of butterfat.

So what I'm suggesting is this - use the store brand of whatever your grocery store is. No brand names. Leave the brand names for sauces and gravies, but leave them out of cookies and candy making!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Fit to be tied

I just wanted to post a quick note about tying bows yourself vs. buying them. I had one reader say that she saves time by buying them because it takes too long to tie. However, when I did the 8000+ photo cookies for Showtime, all of the bows were hand-tied by me and my two assistants. The cost of buying them and keeping them in stock - or even having enough stock for emergency orders is just too expensive, I think. Once you learn the technique of tying, you should be able to create at least 100 bows per hour - busy work for your hands while you're watching a movie or the news or something. I like to grab a spool, put in a movie and start tying. I'll get a few hundred of one color before the end of the movie. One spool will get me over 1000 bows - and that's for $1.50 per spool from Papermart, so it just seems to me a cost effective way to keep production costs down. I'm such a fast bow-maker that I would be making them as one of the girls would be gluing them to the packaging - and gluing is a fast process... so, I could keep up.

Just my 2-cents worth for the day. Have fun!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

It's how you frame it...

Here is one of my latest photo cookies. The Christmas season lends itself to extra decorations on photo cookies, and although I normally just pipe a plain border around the edge of the cookie, some clients inspire me to be a little extra creative. Something very simple can really add extra pizazz to the look as well as giving the client added value.

What kind of icing frame do you want on your photo cookies? Your imagination is limitless!