Meet the Woman Who Decorates the Charming Cookies Taking Over Instagram
Heck, she even designed a batch of cookies inspired by our tutu-wearing unicorn that are a sight for sore eyes! We may be a little bit biased, but they're definitely some of the cutest cookies we've ever seen.
We chatted with Patti to learn more about how she comes up with her designs, her favorite cookie she's made to date and the most rewarding part about what she does.
Scroll below to see what she had to say!
Sweety High: How did you get into cookie decorating? Was this always something you dreamed of doing?
Patti Paige: I began my business with just a normal cookie, a tiny buttery pastry cup with a walnut filling that my grandmother used to make and I sold them to stores all over NYC. I eventually added chocolate chip and peanut butter cookies to the mix. I soon felt the need to get more creative and began making gingerbread houses one holiday season. They included city brownstones and custom homes. I guess the gingerbread reminded people of cookies and I started fielding requests for special shapes. When I couldn't find the cookie cutters I needed, I figured out how to make my own and the cookie decorating possibilities were suddenly endless.
I had never thought about baking and decorating as a career. I studied painting and sculpture in school. I was teaching art as a way to support myself, and when I tired of that, I took my grandmother's recipes and thought that I might be able to make money selling baked goods. I really just backed into the cookie decorating by doing what had always come naturally to me—playing with color and materials. I'm not sure why it is that I was attracted to cookies, though growing up, cookies were my family's favorite snack!
SH: What was the first cookie you made that really took off?
PP: The chick popping out of an egg! I made the cutter for this cookie and had never seen one like it before. Shortly after the cookies were featured in a magazine, I saw the same cutter in stores and it became a very popular Easter cookie. I actually used it as my daughter's birth announcement!
SH: Do you have a favorite cookie you've made? Which one was the most difficult to make?
PP: I can't really say I have a favorite cookie. I have made at least 2,500 cookie cutters, so there are many to choose from! The most unexpected cookie I made recently was a dead mouse cookie for a celebration for what would've been the 100th birthday of the author Roald Dahl. It looks more like a rat somehow and I have to look twice at it every time I see it because it looks so real.
My most recent favorites are cookies of kids in colorful winter clothes making snow angels. I style them on a bed of sugar and make marks in the sugar to look like they have made snow angels. It's really fun! I love the Trolls I made a few months ago, as well.
The most difficult ones to make by far are any that involve architecture. There are so many lines and layers of icing required to get them to look great. Any time I have to make cookies of specific buildings or homes I know I am in for a long day.
SH: Where do you come up with your ideas for your cookies?
PP: My ideas for cookies come from so many places. Pop culture, signs, world events, client requests, fashion. I also like to make cookies of items I am attracted to. I love appliances and household objects like scissors, toasters, even outlets and plugs! Pretty much anything that you do not normally see as cookies appeals to me. I also get ideas while decorating just by having all my materials and tools around me. One thing or shape or color leads to another.
SH: How long do your creations generally take to make?
PP: This really varies. A very simple cookie can take a few minutes, while a complicated one can take at least 30 to 60 minutes. I never make just one cookie so I don't exactly know how long it takes. But just making the dough, rolling it out and, most of all, making all the colors takes a while. That's why it makes sense to make a bunch of cookies at one time.
SH: Do you have any cookie projects in the works you can tell us about?
PP: I am thinking about a second book right now. My first book, You Can't Judge a Cookie by Its Cutter, aside from being filled with tips and detailed decorating instructions and recipes, focuses on using 25 cookie cutters to make 100 different cookie designs. I explain how to think of the cutter simply as an outline to be filled in however you like. For example, I show you how to use a crescent moon cutter to make a bat, watermelon slice and banana split. It is a fun game and the book is filled with so many ideas and examples!
SH: Are there any memorable stories behind any of your creations you can share with us?
PP: Over the holiday season a few months ago I agreed to do a Facebook Live with Food.com. I knew there would be music playing while I decorated Christmas cookies but I had no idea until the last minute that there would be three carolers standing next to me dressed in Victorian singing holiday songs for an hour! It was very funny and not your average Facebook Live. The cookies I was decorating were for Tiffany and Co. and I had already made hundreds of them, so being distracted by the music was not a problem!
SH: What's the most rewarding part about doing what you do?
PP: Seeing the finished multiples of cookies when I finally finish a job. I enjoy seeing the process through from separate ingredients to the final iced cookie. The cookies are all the same shape of course, but two cookies never bake exactly the same and the hand decorating process always leaves room for variety among the cookies. It is this "all the same but all different" quality of the cookies that I find very satisfying.
Fellow cookie enthusiasts! Head over HERE to see how many of these facts about Girl Scout Cookies you know.