Monday, February 24, 2014

Cookies: Where Work Meets Play!

by Maddie Briggs from THE COOKIE CUTTER SHOP MYSTERIES, by Virginia Lowell.

Okay, I need some advice here. I got a request from the Chatterley Heights Elementary School to give a talk to their third-grade class on the joys of cookie baking. As most everyone knows, my joy quotient is sky high when I’m baking cookies, but I had to ask… why would third graders need convincing? Well, it turns out the school is concerned that so many of their kids don’t want to learn to cook or bake anything, ever. Most of them intend to spend their adult lives eating out or ordering take-out. They think cooking is too much work and takes too long to prepare, plus it leaves a mess to clean up.

So my task is to put the fun back into baking. It’s a tough job, but I’m up to it! I admit I’m not all that knowledgeable about third graders. On the other hand, I’ve been told I act like one at times. Anyway, I think it will be a kick, but I need input. I’m open to ideas from other enthusiastic bakers. Here’s what I’ve thought of so far:
  • When you bake decorated cutout cookies, you get to use fun stuff like gorgeous sugars in beautiful colors, like bright orange and purple and sapphire blue. There are all types of sugar decorations for cookies: sanding sugars, pearlized sprinkles, sparkling sugars, non-pareils, even edible glitter! I even have a jar of “gingerbread sugar.” Samples, anyone? Or would that make third graders dangerously high on sugar?
  • And speaking of gingerbread, what’s more fun than experimenting with yummy flavorings? Kids would love to smell them, right? There’s more to cookie flavoring than lemon, although lemon is scrumptious. Almond flavoring is wonderful, and chocolate, orange, ginger, rosewater, root beer, Irish cream, orange brandy… oops, I forgot. Third graders. Better skip the Irish cream and orange brandy.
  • Yes, decorated cutout cookie baking definitely makes a mess, which you’ll have to clean up, but think of it this way: You get to make a mess! Even when you’ve grown up! You get to play with the dough and make it into all sorts of fun and funny shapes. Plus you’ll have little globs of dough left over. You can pretend they are little snow balls, which you can throw at… No? Sorry, I get carried away.
  • I mustn’t forget to bring along lots of gel food coloring. Kids love to play with colors, right? I could show them how to mix the coloring with icing, and how to mix colors to create new ones. It’s like making your own edible coloring book!
  • Oh, and I’ll bring samples of decorated cookies, of course. And the cookie cutters used to shape them. Lots of cutters.

Okay, have I forgotten any of the fun aspects of making decorated cutout cookies? Have I gone over the top? (Livie tells me I can get over-enthusiastic at times, especially when I’m baking.)

This will be almost as much fun as solving a murder mystery! (I probably shouldn’t mention that to the kids, should I?)

The fifth book in the COOKIE CUTTER SHOP series, COOKIES AND SCREAM, will be released July 1, 2014. Meanwhile, visit Virginia Lowell at


  1. This made me want to start on the series Right away!

    1. Cool! I always find that my reading comprehension improves with a cookie. I'm just saying...

  2. Maybe bring already-baked cookies, frosting, some food color, and sprinkles and let each kid decorate one cookie to eat?

    1. Great idea! Once they decorate a cookie (and taste it), they will be hooked on baking!

  3. We agree with Vivian. We have a sudden urge to read the book...and to bake cookies. :-)

    1. Yay! Books and baking are two of my very favorite things.