A Day of Nicholas Lodge Decorating Tips and Ideas

by Chris on February 8, 2010

dimostrazione/demonstration

First, I must exclaim….How ‘bout those Saints!

Now, anyone who knows me is looking at me all cock-eyed. Just like when I wear my ESPN shirt to the gym. Right?

I know. I am so not a fan of sports, except maybe for tennis and soccer….and field hockey (which they don’t have here in the Atlanta area). I am more likely to cook for the big sport event parties than participate. Terrible, I know. Even when I go to G’s bball games, I make sure my Blackberry is fully charged and my (food) idea notebook is close at hand to jot down thoughts that consistently pop in my head.

Nonetheless, I have been busy making chocolate party favors for the Mardi Gras/Saints Ball Annette was attending Saturday. Since she is one of my best friends and she and her hubby are from NOLA, I had to cheer for the Saints. (Especially when I first turned on the game in the 4th quarter to see the last two kick-ass touchdowns. Timing people! It is all about the timing.)

Okay….enough sports chat…

I have known about the “school” here in the Atlanta area where Nicholas Lodge conducts classes. There has always been a buzz about all that one can learn in other classes I have taken in other places (nice huh?). While I have desired to attend the available workshops for years, money has always thwarted any possibility. It wasn’t until this past week, when I was all over Atlanta looking for chocolate transfer sheets, that I first tried to find The International Sugar Art Collection’s (ISAC) location. (I haven’t looked sooner because I know my self control vanishes when I see certain cake decorating tool, books, and goodies.)

To my fantastic surprise, the Atlanta location was holding a (free) Valentine Open House this (past) weekend to help raise money for breast cancer. Woohoo! As I said earlier…It is all about the timing. It also fell on the 18th anniversary of ISAC. I really didn’t know what to expect, just knew I had to go.


one of the Nicholas Lodge display cases

Demonstrations that were offered alternated between Chef Lodge and his business partner Scott Ewing. Chef Lodge went over cookie and cupcake decorating how-tos and tips for the first demonstration.


Next, Scott Ewing spoke about/demo’d chocolate. While I have been working with chocolate for a while, I learned some great tips!!! Where was Ewing last week when I was making the party favors? I would have whooped the Chocolate Kitchen Gremlin’s asses before the little buggers had a chance to interfere, laughing at me as I lost precious time. The good news is, I learned awesome stuff and, since I received an order for additional party favor boxes for a guy who is heading down to NOLA Thursday, you can be sure I am using my new Ewing-know-how.

While Ewing was conducting his demo, I valued him, not only addressing the breast cancer issue, but asking cancer survivors to raise a hand and be recognized. As a survivor of a cancer other than breast, I appreciated it.


Lodge’s next demo reviewed the use of tap-its/cutters, and other design techniques.

It was after this demo that I had to leave. So bummed! I missed out on chocolate transfer work and Isomalt.

Even though I missed the late afternoon sessions, I am so happy I went. I liked that the demos didn’t review a lot of beginner stuff and that I was able to pick up tips without having to sit through a lot of previous knowledge. I liked that there wasn’t pressure to buy everything being used right then. Sure, both men pointed out where the tools were located if interested, but subliminal purchase obligation wasn’t obvious. And, when the “if you decide to purchase” suggestions occurred, the items were affordable. There is nothing worse than sales suggestions/items are off the chain (Oprah’s “girl with booties” CJ Jeans…I’m just sayin’). I liked that both men were so friendly and approachable…and funny! So refreshing!

I liked that I learned of Chef Lodge’s new 16-week decorating course in Chicago, a first of its kind and a unique program I would love to try to find a way to attend. (Taking applications for fairy godmothers, “have pity on me” benefactors, or sugar daddy’s…and that goes for right now too, since I still haven’t found a job.) I liked that ISAC is small and, while it has grown and is ridiculously successful, it still runs as though it will never forget its beginnings in 1992. I liked that I met some great women who happened to live near me, and with whom I may go to the Georgia ICES meeting at the end of the month. And, I liked that the topics just happened to be in perfect time to my baking this month. Inside the notebook I used during the classes, the front pages are filled with my (feeble) sketches of the cookies & cupcakes that are on deck for February and March.

Thanks Chef Lodge and Chef Ewing!!!

* * * *

Speaking of my cookie sketches…Sunday, I made cookies some of the cookies I have been noodling on in my brain. I knew I was going to use fondant, which is why Chef Lodge’s demo was right on time. I have been covering cookies & cupcakes with fondant/fondant accents for a while, and am always up for new ideas and techniques.

Always walk through life as if you have something new to learn and you will.
~Vernon Howard


Baby Cupcakes!, Bouquet for my Swiss Sister, Chase Bank cupcakes, Cookie Bouquet of Hugs,
Cupcakes for Change , Minty Devil’s Food Surprise Cupcakes, Teacher Retirement Apple Cookies

For the cookies this weekend, I used the same Drop In & Decorate® cookie recipe I always do for the vanilla cookies because I just love it. I (think) I have said it before; It is the only sugar cookie recipe I use now. This time, though, I also wanted to make chocolate sugar cookies. I decided to make half the Drop In & Decorate® and try it with a chocolate addition. It worked out well and is available at the conclusion of this post.

After coloring my fondant and prepping all that I needed to complete my cookies, I set up my lil’ 2-seater kitchen table. I usually bake and decorate while standing in my kitchen, but I can’t stand for long periods of time at the moment. (Don’t ask…my feet fall asleep at the drop of a hat.). And, I wanted to be able to see my television from my table … chocolate day on the Food Network!
The end results

have been boxed and will be sent out tomorrow for their recipients to receive before Sunday.



* larger imprints done with tap-its, smaller imprints made by using the letters from
Message-in-a-Cookie Cutters – Thanks for the MICC tip Cristie!

Chocolate Sugar Cookies

Adapted from Lydia
(vanilla only pictured in this post)
1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
¼ cup cocoa powder
¾ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
½ cup plus
2 Tbsp. best quality unsalted butter, softened
½ cup sugar
~1 oz. large egg, lightly beaten
1 Tbsp milk
2 tsp best quality pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a couple of baking sheets with a Silpat or parchment paper. In a large bowl, stir together flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. In another large bowl or the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer, beat together the butter and sugar, until fluffy. Add egg, milk and vanilla, and continue to beat until well blended and smooth. Beat flour mixture into the butter mixture until smooth. Working in sections, roll out dough to about ¼ inch, cut out the cookies with preferred cutters, and transfer to a baking sheet. Refrigerate dough for at about 30 minutes. Remove from the refrigerator and bake for 6-9 minutes, or until just lightly colored on top and slightly darker at the edges. Remove pans from oven, let cookies cool 2-3 minutes, then move cookies to a wire rack to let cool completely. (At this point, the cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to two weeks, in layers separated by parchment or wax paper.) After the cookies are completely cooled, decorate.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) February 8, 2010 at 11:37 AM

I love the chocolate addition to the cookies! Definitely going to try that for my next batch. For all-purpose decorating, "white" cookies are easier, because not all icing colors look great on chocolate. But some do, and I'll bet some of our recipient agencies would love to have a variety. Thanks!

Reply

Cristie February 10, 2010 at 12:58 AM

Chris- What a great demo! I so would have loved to be by your side. Your cookies for the big game were too beautiful to eat . . . I'm sure they were polished off. Love how you used the Message In the Cookie letters on the icing! You are so creative!

Reply

Chris February 10, 2010 at 2:23 AM

Thanks Lydia! The chocolate cookies were definately not sweet, which was fine by me. And, I agree about the colors. I ran into the "ewww" factor while decorating.

THanks Cristie. I used fondant, so pressing the letters was a similar action to doing it in the dough. I didn't use those pressing things that came in the kit though…I do better freestyling. :)

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