They're the kinds of cookies that inspire many of us to decorate cookies at home with friends and family, no matter the time of year. The menageries of animal sugar cookies "marching" around an ark-inspired cake for a child's birthday, the personalized angel and snowman cookies used as place cards at Christmas, and even something simple like bright red glittered lips for a celebration. Whimsical creations of all shapes, sizes, and flavors can look too beautiful to eat and too complicated to even attempt to recreate at home — but you can.
Decorating sugar cookies at home can be challenging. Cookie baking is the easy part, but decorating is a different story. You must first translate your vision onto the surface of the cookie and then you have to prevent the frosting from marrying together. So we consulted "cookie couturier" Eleni Gianopulos, the founder of Eleni's, to get her tips and advice for decorating the perfect cookie and to find out which tools and products she relies on to create her almost-too-good-to-eat creations.
The success of her business began in the mid-1990s with an adapted version of her mother's oatmeal raisin cookie that she (and neighborhood kids) enjoyed while growing up in Northern California. Yet, it's her array of undeniably charming designs, from cakes and shoes to a likeness of President Obama during the 2008 campaign, which captivate her customers most. Each cookie is carefully punched, baked, and decorated by hand. (With two retail stores and distribution through stores like Barney's and Dean and Deluca, Eleni's makes hundreds and hundreds of cookies.) For Gianopulos, it's her way of preserving the tradition of home-baked goodness.