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Bake It Pretty
Bake It Pretty

Bake It Pretty

’Tis the season to gather ingredients, preheat your ovens, and make some sweet goodies. Whether you fancy yourself a baker or not, take the lead of two of our favourites: Ali LaRaia (founder of Marianberry Cookies), who whipped up a special— and might we add, delicious—cookie recipe exclusively for Aritzia, and Amy O’Brien (of blog One Preppy Cookie), who created a stunning collection of Aritzia-inspired cookie designs that put Martha Stewart to shame. Photographed by Bobby Doherty and Sergiy Barchuk

Washington, D.C.
One Preppy Cookie

“I am always happy to have the opportunity to work with chocolate,” Amy O’Brien says, “but my favourite ingredient would be vanilla bean paste. Replace your vanilla extract with it and you’ll taste a difference.” It’s such tricks of the trade that make the difference in O’Brien’s custom-made confections. But it’s her designs that make them almost (almost) too beautiful to eat. “I’m constantly taking pictures of things I could turn into a cookie,” O’Brien says. “Whether it be greeting cards, store-window décor, or a picture I see in a magazine, I’m always on the prowl for new ideas.” For her latest edible designs, which she baked just for us, O’Brien looked to our TNA mittens and hats, as well as the snowflakes in our Good as Gold window displays. “I always want to make sure I can channel the object at hand accurately onto the cookie,” O’Brien relates. “If people immediately recognize what the cookie represents, then I know it was a successful project!” Trust us when we say that this batch was gorgeous—and it tasted as good as it looked.

• Baked cutout sugar cookies
• Prepared royal icing in both piping and flooding consistencies
• Pastry bags
• #2 or #3 icing tips
• Gel food colouring
• Squeeze bottles
• Paper towels
• Tooth picks
• Bowl
• Mini spatula

Divide icing into equal parts, equivalent to the number of colours you would like to use.

Starting with the first colour, tint the icing by adding a couple of drops of food colouring and incorporating it into the icing with a mini spatula. Once you have reached your desired colour, add a few small drops of water to the bowl. Stir the water in until your icing reaches a consistency similar to that of toothpaste. Insert an icing tip into the pastry bag and then fill the bag with icing. Repeat steps for remaining colours.

For the flooding consistency, thin the icing down further by adding a teaspoon of water at a time. Stir well until you reach a consistency similar to that of maple syrup. Pull icing up out of the bowl with a spatula and drop it back in. When it’s ready, it should take approximately three seconds to reincorporate itself back into the bowl’s contents. Fill squeeze bottles with this icing.

Hold your pastry bag over the cookies. Squeeze gently and allow the icing to fall out of the bag onto your cookie as you outline the shape. Allow the outline to dry for about an hour.

Take your flooding icing and run the icing bottle along the inside of your piped lines, allowing the icing to drop onto the cookie. Fill in remaining area generously.

Use your toothpick to guide the flooding icing to the piped edges to fill in any gaps. To ensure a smooth surface, pop any air bubbles with your toothpick.

Allow to dry for approximately six hours or overnight.

Once cookie is flooded, allow it to settle for about 15 minutes and then take a second flood colour and drop a dot of icing into the centre of the cookie.

Draw three circles around the dot, expanding the size of the circles as they near the edge of the cookie.

Take a toothpick and, starting in the centre dot, drag the icing in a diagonal line to the edge of the cookie.

Wipe the toothpick clean and then, starting at the outside edge, drag a diagonal line through the icing toward the centre dot.

Repeat the process until you have made it all around the cookie.

Marianberry Cookies

“I’ve been in the kitchen with my mom as far back as I can remember,” Ali LaRaia says, “probably as soon as I could stand.” It was during a trip to Portland that LaRaia discovered the marionberry, an indigenous Oregon caneberry hybrid that’s sweeter and juicier than other blackberries, and an obsession was born. From there, she became well acquainted with the berry’s complex flavours by visiting breweries, distilleries, and cafés that incorporated it into their products. It just so happens that the berry shares LaRaia’s grandmother and mother’s name (Marian), which sparked an epiphany and a business plan. In 2010, LaRaia dropped her gigs as managing editor at Drink Me magazine and consultant for a number of food startups and moved from San Francisco back to the East Coast, where she grew up. There, she started cookie company Marianberry with her mother, using her favourite berry in an original shortbread linzer cookie recipe. For the holidays, she whipped us up a wonderfully rich, bite-sized batch of cookies. The most difficult part? “Texture!” she says. “Getting the crunch that Marianberry is known for, but keeping the centre soft like a brownie.”

Yields eight cups of tiny cookies

• 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)
• 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
• 2 large eggs
• 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
• 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
• 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
• 2 cups mini chocolate chips
• 1 tablespoon high-quality sea salt (optional)

Preheat oven to 150° C.

In a stand mixer, cream butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract until light and fluffy. Combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in separate bowl. Slowly pour small batches from that bowl into wet mixture until fully incorporated. Stir in chocolate chips.

Scoop teaspoon-size balls of batter onto a parchment paper–lined baking sheet (the cookies won’t spread, so they can be placed close together).

Bake for eight to 12 minutes.

Cool on cookie rack and sprinkle with a tiny amount of sea salt (optional) as soon as they come out of the oven.

Illustrations: JING WEI