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Holly Ebel: Top baker shares her kitchen secrets

September 20, 2018

Cookies decorated by Julie Domaille.

Cookie decorating probably isn’t high on your list of things to do right now — that’s likely some weeks away — but Julie Domaille is ready for it any time.

Having witnessed what she can do with an ordinary sugar cookie, I found that she is definitely a decorating artist — her cookies depict everything from ugly Christmas sweaters to woodland animals that look like they could hop off the plate. It’s both a passion and a hobby for her — not that she doesn’t have other things that take up her time. Domaille is also a realtor, maintains a showplace of a garden full of flowers and vegetables, and plans and hosts charity events, among them a croquet evening and dinner that benefits the children’s museum. Oh, and she helps with grandchildren.

So with all of these other activities, how did decorating cookies come about?

“It started with my wanting some special cookies for my granddaughter’s first birthday,” Domaille said. “I wanted really professional, high-end looking cookies but I couldn’t find any that satisfied me. I decided I would take it on myself. I went on YouTube and read everything I could find on cookie decorating, and then practiced and practiced. That was eight years ago and I haven’t stopped since.”

Originally family and friends were the lucky recipients, but that has recently changed.

“Earlier this year I was asked to teach a class at Cook’s Pantry and it was so well-received I was encouraged to do classes,” Domaille said. She has started doing just that, using her kitchen as the classroom. So much equipment and preparation is involved, it is a perfect setting. I was lucky enough to be invited to be a part of one recently, and let me tell you, folks, this is not just spreading frosting on a cookie and adding some sprinkles. There were four of us and she took us step-by-step through how to bake a perfect cookie (she’d made them ahead of time) and the intricacies of frosting.

Her frosting of choice is Royal Icing, which ends up being a sturdier topping. Using syringe-type tubes filled with it, we carefully outlined hearts, then filled them in — a technique that’s called “flooding.” Toothpicks and different colored icing helped us to “marble” in patterns with names like herringbone, spiderweb and hearts. This all calls for a very steady hand.

It was a challenge and we concentrated so hard none of us spoke very much. We each went home with six heart-shaped cookies with intricate designs in pink, red and white, proud of what we had accomplished in 2-1/2 hours!

The “canvas” Domaille uses is a traditional old-fashioned sugar cookie, a recipe she devised by combining several other recipes. Butter, of course, is a key ingredient. Domaille is also particular in how she rolls them out. The dough is placed between two sheets of plastic wrap with two five-gallon paint sticks on either side. This technique makes the cookies exactly the same size, regardless of shape, and requires no additional flour. Then they are refrigerated until she bakes them.

About the cookie cutters: Domaille has a collection of hundreds in every size and shape you could imagine. There is even one that looks like a sewing machine!

So show-stopping are her cookies, friends have urged her to enter the Food Network Christmas Cookie Challenge. To do that, she needed to set up an Instagram account with photos of her creations. That done, the deadline was too close for her to be included this year. You’d be wise to put your money on her for 2019.

To find out about her classes, call her at 507-254-0783 or visit her new Facebook page, www.fb.com/juliecookiecreations. That website is also home to Domaille’s new business, Julie’s Cookie Creations, where she will make cookies for whatever occasion you like. She does need a minimum of two weeks’ notice. Cookies start at $3 for a 3-inch cookie and go up from there, up to $5. Follow Domaille on Instagram at juliescookiecreations.

Here are her cookie and icing recipes. Good luck!

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