On my actual birthday I wanted to go shooting. So an afternoon spent with my dad at the gun range, it was. To end my birthday week however, I wanted to do something a little more girly. A cookie decorating class with my long-time friend Nicole and sister Laura sounded perfect!
A few weeks before this last Christmas, I ran across a super cute cookbook sitting on my mom’s dining room table. What grabbed my attention first and foremost was the scalloped pages. Yes, it’s all about the little things. 🙂 Little did I know that come Christmas morning, I would be receiving my own copy of this elegantly sweet cookbook, Miette.
I had heard rumors of Miette, San Francisco’s most charming pastry shop, but until my visit to the Ferry Building in February, I hadn’t had the pleasure of stepping into their shop, taking in all of their confectionary delightfulness. The shop in the Ferry Building is small and my visit was brief, so I didn’t get to really take it all in until this past weekend.
On a stormy Saturday afternoon, Laura, Nicole and I braved the rain and at times fierce wind and headed over to Oakland’s Jack London Square to attend a 3-hour cookie decorating class at Miette. It was like a whole new day in Oakland. The rain cleared and the sky was blue, but unfortunately we didn’t escape the wind! The Webster Street shop itself was tiny, but held up to every expectation I had. It was quaint, sweet (figuratively and literally!) and over-the-top charming with its simple, yet perfectly wrapped salted caramel, toffee and cookies. Glass jars brimming with brightly colored candies. Their pastry case filled with the most adorable and radiant cakes and cupcakes. If I was ever to own a pastry shop, this shop is what I envision.
We walked thru the back of the store front to the baking area where we were surrounded by shelves of baking supplies and a walk-in refrigerator filled with buckets (yes, I said buckets!) of cream cheese and cartons of buttermilk. After stashing our personal belongings on bakery racks amongst the flour and boxed confections, we put on our white aprons and stood around a large wood table awaiting instruction from our creative and very talented instructor, Jeff. After giving us a brief history of how he got into cookie decorating, Jeff asked if anyone had any questions before we began. One person raised their hand, followed with a quiet yet stern, “I do!” The question, “do we get to take home our cookies?” asked by my dear friend, Nicole. I knew I was in good company! We all know everyone was thinking it! 😉 The question was answered with a “yes!!”, bringing smiles and laughter across the room.
After a demonstration of how to make royal icing, everyone broke into pairs and took over a workstation stocked with stand-mixer, spatulas, hand towels, 2 pounds of powder sugar, mixing bowls, parchment paper and 6 egg whites. The “Three Musketeers” (aka, Laura, Nicole & myself) quickly became the “high-maintenance trio”. Being I was not going to split from or split up my crew, the three of us stuck together, requiring another pound of powder sugar and 3 additional egg whites. Add to that a high-maintenance, semi-ancient Hobart stand-mixer that would shut off on its own and we were set! 😉
The class was fun and moved along at a nice pace, learning by demonstration followed by hands-on experience, in steps. All while enjoying refreshments consisting of sparkling water, blood orange spritzer and a few varieties of Miette’s cookies. After preparing our royal icing, we all covered our icing with damp towels and left our wreck of a workstation (or maybe that was just ours!?) to gather around the big table to learn about thinning our icing, constructing our parchment decorating bags and decorating techniques. We were then let loose to make an even bigger mess!
We had dye all over our hands. Icing spilled about our work-area and smeared all over my iPhone as I attempted to capture some of our moments on “film”. Our forearms were dusted with cookie crumbs. We were a sight to be seen!
We decorated Easter egg, baby chick, pear, lemon and circular shaped cookies. It was interesting to look around the room to see everyone’s individual interpretation of the cookie they were decorating along with the colors and techniques used. Creativity seemed to have skipped our workstation altogether. Although I consider myself to be pretty creative, I’ve come to the realization that I lack creativity in the cookie decorating arena. That suspicion was confirmed when I shared my decorated cookies with my family and while talking about how beautiful the instructors cookies were, my dad, while looking at the cookies before him, said “they’re OK, but they’re not exceptional!” – not realizing it was his daughter who had decorated the cookies he was referring to! HAHAHAHA!
Of course I had to pick up a few goodies on my way out!
Even with my pathetically decorated cookies, I had an absolute blast!! I thoroughly enjoyed myself and the company I was in. 🙂 Thank you Laura and Nicole for helping me end my Birthday week on such a special note! I had a great time laughing and learning with and from you both! Our cookies may not have been the most beautiful that day, but we sure had fun decorating them and that’s all that counts! Good times, great memories! 🙂