We were able to schedule a meeting with a local political figure to discuss one of the most important issues of the season, cookies! Nancy Wyse, City Council member representing Corvallis’ Ward 6, runs an outside operation in her “spare” time – her fabulous custom cookie business.
WL: How did your cookie service get started?
NW: I started making cupcakes for my children’s birthday parties and really enjoyed the creative outlet. I was then inspired by my aunt who entered a variety of items (jams, gift baskets, table settings, chickens) into her local county fair. She encouraged me to enter my cupcakes here. I just missed the Benton County Fair, so I entered the Oregon State Fair. I saw the list of all the decorated confections I could enter–cupcakes, cake pops, petit fours, cookies, sugar work, molded chocolate, etc. I got excited and in addition to the cupcakes I entered cake pops and my very first sugar cookies. My sugar cookies were HORRIBLE. No awards for those! After that experience, I watched lots of YouTube videos and was inspired to continue practicing and trying different methods and techniques. Fast forward three years, and I’ve gotten a lot better. I’ve won numerous ribbons at the Oregon State Fair, including Best of Division last year, and this year, as well as Best of Level this year (Since I’m bragging, my cake pops also won Best of Division, two years ago). This year was my first to enter the Benton County Fair and I won some blue ribbons there too. My Unicorn cookies were awarded blue ribbon (first place) decorated sugar cookies at the professional level at the Benton County Fair this year. I entered the black and white cookies with the multi-colored floral motif in the Oregon State Fair royal icing category this year, and they were awarded a Blue Ribbon, Best of Division, and Best of Level. The dark blue and grey fondant cookies with frames, roses, keys, etc. were also awarded a blue ribbon at the Oregon State Fair this year. These were some of my favorite cookies I’ve ever designed/made.
WL: Is this a baking project, or an art project?
NW: Both! My cookies need to be both aesthetically pleasing AND tasty, because, who wants to eat a good looking but tasteless cookie? However, the reason I make and decorate cookies is to fulfill an artistic outlet and to create something unique.
WL: Do kids help?
NW: Absolutely! Both of my daughters enter an assortment of decorated confections into the Oregon State Fair in the junior division. And they have both won ribbons! Of course, they both enter cookies, but they’ve also entered cake pops, molded chocolate and cupcakes.
WL: They’re not Just for Christmas, are they?
NW: Oh heck no. I’ve made all kinds of cookies- wedding, baby shower, birthday, holiday & seasonal, real estate themed, sports, retirement, graduation- you name it! I can take any theme and incorporate personal touches- the possibilities are endless!
WL: One flavor, or more?
NW: I love experimenting with flavors! I currently have recipes for vanilla, chocolate, lemonade, orange cranberry, pumpkin spice, red velvet, gingerbread, and apple spice. My favorite by far is orange cranberry, with apple spice coming in second. Spoiler alert – I’m also working on a new flavor: pistachio cardamom. Stay tuned!
WL: Any favorite projects that come to mind?
NW: Honestly, I’m always excited to execute my next big idea and almost every new project is my next favorite. Although, if I had to choose one set of cookies as my favorite, I’d chose the fondant cookies I entered into the Oregon State Fair this year. I spent a lot of time comparing color palettes and playing with different shapes–the shapes of the cookies themselves, and all the fondant details–the frames, keys, flowers, and the cameo. My favorite cookie from that set is the cameo cookie. I suppose you could call it my favorite of favorites. They were awarded a blue ribbon at the Oregon State Fair this year.
WL: Do you draw, or engage in other artistic endeavors?
NW: I’ve never been good at drawing; I even got a D in a graphic design class in college. But I’ve always enjoyed crafting. I like to think I have an eye for color and composition, regardless of what that college professor thought.
WL: Do you have advice for amateur holiday cookie bakers?
NW: Yes, consistency is key! If your royal icing or glaze is too runny it will run right off the cookie. If it’s too thick it won’t settle into a nice smooth finish. Adjusting your consistency is easy– more powdered sugar to thicken, more water to thin.