A Thousand Hearts.

Date July 11, 2011

Okay. It wasn’t a 1000 hearts. I’m exaggerating. It was a mere 440. It only seemed like 1000.

This was the largest single order I’ve done since starting up Sweet Hope Cookies in February and while it ended up taking far more time than I had ever anticipated (I’m still on a learning curve here people!) I enjoyed every single minute from creaming the butter and sugar to tying on the last of the organza ribbons, with the exception of the three minutes when I dropped a pizza box containing 12 still wet cookies upside down onto the floor. Other than it it was all sunshine and moonbeams….and red hearts. Lots and lots of red hearts.

Christine, the bride, is the daughter of Nic and Cheryl, a wonderfully delightful couple our family came to know through our mutual participation in the ALS Support Group held monthly at Providence Hospital in Portland, Oregon. Our family became involved because of Randy and Nic’s ALS led their family in through the front door where they continue to be active members and so what an honor it was for me to be given the opportunity to make cookies for someone in the ALS family. For that reason alone I was thrilled to be asked but during our first conversation about the cookies Christine made it clear that along with a large heart monogrammed with a K for their last name, every wedding favor bag was to include a Randy cookie.  Cue tears on my end of the phone. And then just to up the tears-to-Kleenex ratio Christine asked that I write a message on the gift tag that again mentioned Randy by name. Even on her wedding day she wanted my brother to be remembered. Did I say I was thrilled to make her wedding favors? I meant to say I was elated.

While I didn’t take photos of all the steps involved in making this large of an order since I was a little preoccupied with the actual cookies, I thought I’d give you a little idea of what goes into a large cookie order.

Starting with Christine’s request that the cookies be red hearts with a black K in the center, I made 12-15 batches of this No Fail Sugar Cookie Recipe, flavoring it with pure vanilla and almond extract along with the addition of vanilla bean paste. I love vanilla bean paste. There’s just something about those little black specks of ‘nilla that make me happy.

At the same time I was sending friction flames out of my standing mixer I went ahead and whipped up 4 batches of LilaLoa’s End-All for Chocolate Cookies Recipe (I replaced the shortening called for in her recipe with additional butter) for the Randy cookies. I baked the big and small heart cookies in one day (a long one!) and followed up up by spending another day outlining and flooding the cookies with a sweet glaze that included more than 16 pounds of powdered sugar. I arranged the cookies in pizza boxes lined with wax paper and foil half sheet baking pans with plastic lids to dry overnight.

Day Three. Because black and red are two colors that have a tendency to bleed I waited until the icing was completely dry before adding the black detailing around the edge of the heart. This is called a wet on dry application (wet icing on dry icing) should you be randomly stopped on the street by the Keebler elves and quizzed on your knowledge of cookies.

While it might look like I finished up the large cookies by swirling on the letter K using what? That’s right, a wet on dry application, I did not! Instead I made the K’s using what I like to refer to as the cheaterpants method with allowed me to make and store away the K’s weeks in advance. You should be taking notes here by the way. Rather than applying the lettering with icing directly onto the cookie, thus raising my blood pressure off the charts with each particularly shaky-looking K, I selected a script font on my laptop and printed out a paper template covered in lines of K’s. I then taped a sheet of wax paper over the top of the template and using a piping bag filled with melted black candy melts I traced over each letter. As a final step I sprinkled black sanding sugar over the top before the candy melts hardened for an added bit of magic cookie bling.

In the past when using the cheaterpants method I’ve simply dropped the candy monogram onto the still wet icing but occasionally that results in leaving wrinkles in the icing around the candy melt and because the design was so simple on the hearts I wanted to keep the surface as smooth as possible so instead I opted to wait and use a small amount of black icing to adhere the K once the flooded area was dry which worked great.

With the cookies all dry it was time to individually heat seal each one in a bag.

220 big hearts. 220 little hearts. Air tight and secure.

Now the day before shipping arrives and the packaging begins.

Fill a gusseted bag with black and red paper shred. 220 times.

Put a big heart in each gusseted bag. 220 times.

Add a Randy cookie. 220 times.

Stop long enough to remember when my cookie assembly area
was fondly referred to as our dining room.

And now the part I had been dreading all along….tying the bag closed with a ribbon bow. 220 times.
Did I mention I didn’t even learn to tie my shoelaces until the third grade?

And finally…bubble wrap, layer, bubble wrap, layer, bubble wrap, layer, and box up for shipping!

So that’s all there is to it. As you have probably already surmised, it’s really not all that more labor-intensive than baking, decorating, bagging and wrapping 1 cookie.

You just do it 220 times. Piece of cake cookie.




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7 Responses to “A Thousand Hearts.”

  1. Donna B. said:

    Awesome detail…….and maintained your sense of humor….(or is that "lost-your-mind"?) There's such a fine line between the two! LOL They are lovely, Anita…what an accomplishment and "Randy" guarded over each and everyone!

  2. anita said:

    Donna, thank you! And yes, there's been some slippage over to the "lost–your-mind" realm with the passing of years but at least I know I'm not alone over here 🙂

  3. Margaret Cotrim said:

    Beautiful job! I can feel the love thru all you do!

  4. Kay Marziale said:

    Great job, Anita or should I say you helped them tie the knot? You amaze me a little more every time I look into the Sweet Hope Cookie jar! Keep up the good work. The cause is surely a great one and you are the right gal for the job! I couldn't frost a dozen cookies to get them looking as wonderful and creative as yours do. No competition from WI that's for sure. God bless you and all the work of your hands!

  5. anita said:

    Kay…..oooooohhhhhh… Sweet Hope Cookie Jar! Now you have my brain going!!!

  6. Christine K said:

    I thank you so much for doing it. They were amazing not only the taste of the cookies, but the look added to our wedding. Thank you so very much and I knew that when I did my father daughter dance with my Daddy, Randy was there helping him stand there with me. You are an angel. Love you Anita….. 🙂

  7. anita said:

    Christine, When I heard your daddy stood and danced with you, I couldn't help but get all crazy misty-eyed. Again, it was my honor. We're all in this together Girl. Much love to you too….and someday we just might need to meet 🙂

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