Meet Maryann {My cookie IDOL}

Everyone has a hero, and today after meaning to for months, I want to introduce you to mine, Maryann Rollins, AKA, The Cookie Artisan

I met Maryann online, and we have become good friends over the past two years.

I first stumbled upon her while browsing Flickr.  I found her photostream, and I literally spent hours looking at every single amazing detail of her cookie platters. 

I consider her my teacher because I learned most everything I do from looking at her work, and even now, I find myself leaning toward her style.

I could make a list of the many ways she amazes me daily, lots of them NOT having to do with cookies, but to keep this from becoming a novel, I’ll pick a few, and let the photos tell the rest.

Maryann is about the most creative cookier I have ever met.  There is almost NOTHING that she will not try to make into a cookie.

She is also a joy to be around.  She is positive and never met a person she didn’t like.

And most of all, she has the amazing quality of being able to make others feel like they can be awesome too.

There are many times that I would get frustrated and ready to quit, then here’d come Maryann with just the right words to get me going again.

I interviewed Maryann, to give her a chance to tell you all of the wonderful stories I have had the privilege of hearing.  I hope y’all enjoy her as much as I do!

*MA was a little worried about the length of the interview…she called herself long-winded, LOL.  I didn’t notice, but I am a little {or maybe a lot} the same way.  When we get together, no one is getting in a word edgewise…

Anyway, now that you have been warned, Meet Maryann, The Cookie Artisan!

How did you first begin making cookies?

On a whim! Just like many of the rest of us………I was sitting at home with a new baby………watching Martha. I saw her decorate cookies one day and thought “I bet I could do that” and went to my local cake decorating supply store and bought some tips and bags and a few packages of royal icing mix. My first attempt was jack-o-lantern cookies for a little Halloween party we had for the babies and I was really proud of them and our guests flipped out over them. Then it turned into “you’re going to make cookies for the next party right…….could you make cookies for my son’s party…….could you bring cookies to our party……….” The rest is history I guess. I found something inexpensive I could do at home with a baby!!

What is your worst cookie disaster? Pick one…or two, or three, LOL, we all know disasters are an everyday occurrence with cookies =)

Holly leaf cookies!!! I had a request for holly leaf cookies for a party at a rather hoity toity party and my daughter had been ill and I didn’t have much time. I was new at cookie decorating and had struggled with red bleeding (before I discovered Amerigels) and I didn’t have time for the green leaves to dry completely before adding the red berries, so I tried speeding up the drying process by putting the oven on the lowest setting and with the door open, put the trays of cookies in the oven for a little bit. Pulled them out to find dark splotches all over the green leaves. I panicked and wanted to cry. I didn’t know what to do…… I started all over again (150 leaves) and stayed up all night and hoped they would finish drying and not bleed on the way to the party. They turned out great and they had a huge round glass platter, so I made a giant wreath out of the leaves and they were the talk of the party………if only they knew what I went through to make those simple looking cookies!!


Is it the wine bottle cookies?? I spent hours making royal icing transfers of 6 different styles of wine bottle labels and was so proud of myself for being so smart to do them ahead of time and it would allow me to pick the best ones without wasting an entire cookie with a mistake. Piped the bottles out (both red and green bottles) and plopped the labels on the wet icing!! Thinking I was so clever and how much time this saved me, I peeked at the first finished bottles and my heart sunk and panic set in……….the green from the bottle was bleeding into the labels…….making a blue cheese effect in the white of the labels. I wanted to cry!! I had made 65 bottle cookies and just knew all the rest were going to bleed. I had started with the green bottles, and red is always the worst about bleeding. Well, the red didn’t bleed, only two styles of the green bottles bled………my friend thought the bleeding gave the labels an antiqued appearance. So, I was devastated because I knew how beautiful the labels looked before I put them on, but no one else seemed bother by it.

I know that getting cookies where they need to be has had you flying by the seat of your pants more than once. Can you tell me your craziest cookie experience?

Racing a blizzard to deliver cookies in New York City!!!! I was supposed to deliver a set of cookies the next day and have a fun, relaxing day in NYC with my daughter, but a snow storm came racing towards our area and I had to bake and decorate the cookies in just a few hours, and figure out how to get wet cookies to NYC before it started snowing (while the news kept moving the storms arrival up earlier and earlier – I was in quite a panic!) I had to figure out how to get wet cookies to NYC because there was no time for them to dry. I had a brainstorm… local pizza store gave me pizza boxes and I had them laid out in a single layer – then carried three large pizza boxes on my lap on the 3:30pm train while my friend got my daughter off the school bus for me. Once I arrived in Grand Central Station I had to find the person I was delivering them too – it was rush hour!!! Do you realize how many people are in Grand Central at rush hour?? How many doorways enter Grand Central from every direction? The person was late and there was no place to set down the boxes and they were getting heavier and heavier. This wasn’t too long after 9-11 and there were police men everywhere and I guess I looked a bit suspicious standing in the middle of Grand Central with a stack of pizza boxes diligently trying to watch every entrance around me………….so I got questioned by two police officers and had to prove I was just carrying cookies……….looking back, I’m sure I did look rather suspicious!!!!!!! I was never so relieved to find my person and hand over those cookies!!!!!!!

What is your favorite thing about making cookies?

I love being artistic and challenging myself to do something I haven’t done before. But most of all, I LOVE everyone’s reaction!!!!! To see people surrounding a platter of my cookies getting so excited or see them start a conversation at a party or making the person I made the platter for smile so big knowing I went out of my way to do something special for them!! That makes it all worth it!!! Each cookie is a labor of love – a little gift from me to them.

Your LEAST favorite?

The MESS!!! And getting frustrated when the idea in my head isn’t working on the cookie!

I have to know how in the HECK you come up with some of the things you do?

I have a very active imagination!! I see cookies in everything – nature, images on cards, wrapping and scrapbook paper, stickers, t-shirts, knick knacks – sometimes it is a color combination, a saying or an image. My daughter gives me great ideas and my husband likes to act as consultant at times too! Ideas pop in my head at the most inconvenient times when I have nothing to write the idea down on! My memory is getting so bad that for every great idea I have had, I have forgotten two! I LOVE themes and so I always am thinking of things to go with it and do some research on the computer to see what might go with a theme or to get a font right, etc. If the theme is about a person, I ask their friends or family members for ideas of hobbies, favorite stuff……I like to have something on the platter that really means a lot to them.

You have unwittingly become the “cookier to the rich and famous” – tell me about the famous people that have had your cookies in their hands.

I’m not really a “cookier to the rich and famous” – just had some incredible opportunities. I got an opportunity to make cookies for an intimate dinner party in New York City where Rupert Murdock and Vera Wang were guests – rumor has it that Vera took extra cookies home with her! I made cookies for a fundraiser for animals in NYC with a lot of prominent socialites.

I also was asked to make cookies for a table display for an entertainment segment on Good Morning America. My name was never mentioned, but I had my three minutes of fame since I knew it was my cookies that were front and center on the table. I had made cookie labels for jars on the table for each of the hosts and have a picture of Sam Champion holding his jar!!

GMA Table Display

But my most recent excitement was making cookies for Greyson Chance, an up and coming young singer from my town. My daughter and I won tickets to his concert and I had made arrangements for him to sign a keyboard for our school’s upcoming auction and thought I would make some cookies for a thank you!!!

Well – the cookies got us backstage………he was thrilled. He tweeted them, Facebooked them, and then the other night I was watching him on Nightline and almost fell off the couch when he showed my cookies during the interview!!!! I screamed so loud that I woke my family, my husband said he pulled something trying to rescue me from what he thought was a burglar, my daughter was crying and I was still having a heart attack!!!!!!! What a thrill!!!!!!! I’m still excited, can’t you tell?

{See Maryann’s BIG moment, HERE}

We have been scheming to get your husband (a microbiologist/immunologist) to test RI to determine exactly how long it really lasts. How are we doing on that? Do you think more cookies would convince him?

We aren’t doing well on that at all. Bacterial studies are expensive and his company is a start up and so they don’t have their own laboratory facilities yet and he would have to pay a lab to do that. So, hopefully in the future we can do that. Only chocolate chip cookies would sway him……….he doesn’t eat my decorated cookies (I know! Scandalous!!!!!!!)

What is your favorite set you have ever made?

The one that pops in my head first is the Wedgewood cookie platter. They were for my grandmother’s last birthday so they are extra special to me. My grandmother turned 103 and she collected Wedgewood china and wedgewood blue was her favorite color. I looked at a lot of pictures of Wedgewood on the computer and I tried brush embroidery for the first time and was so proud of them when I was finished.

How does it feel to be such an inspiration to others?

It seems kind of crazy at times, yet really, really flattering! I’m inspired by so many other decorators out there every day, so to think I have inspired anyone else is just amazing to me. I do get asked a lot of questions and I try to answer every one of them and I love encouraging new cookie decorators. I am getting a lot of requests to teach a class, and am seriously considering it. Thank you everyone for your kind words over the years – it really means a lot to me!!

There is so much more to you than cookies…….tell me something else about yourself!!

Hmmmm……..I’m a klutz, a big goofball…….love ice cream…….scared of snakes. I was the best mud pie maker in my neighborhood when I was little. That’s probably not what you’re asking is it? I used to be a Cytotechnologist in my pre-cookie life (study of cells – screening medical slides for cancerous and precancerous cells). I have always loved to cook – I must have been the biggest nerd ever when I was in middle school – I used to cut out recipes from magazine and then type them on my dad’s old manual typewriter and make my own cookbooks (don’t respect me less for confessing this!) I have always been creative – I used to oil paint when I was in high school – no time or space for it these days. I used to be a mad cross stitcher and can do most anything crafty, except I can’t sew to save my life (or sing!) I love to garden and decorate – really into the whole “Country Living” thing.

Show me your favorite cutter…

I think everyone can guess………the scalloped oval I use for my centerpiece message cookies. You found it actually and I had to have one because I put a cloud like that around everything – a name on a card, a word by itself, a title………I have done it since I was young and have tried to leave a name alone on the front of an envelope…..but I am compelled to make a cloud every time!! That is why it was such a perfect cutter for me!! For those who need one too…check {HERE} to get Copper Gifts awesome Scalloped Oval cutter.

What’s your favorite cookie tool/tip?

My favorite tool is a toothpick……’s cheap, disposable and multifunctional. You can pop a bubble, push down a bump, push a line over a bit, make texture, do the drag technique, correct a wavy edge, scrape off a cookie, unclog a tip…………..

My favorite tip… hmmmm……roll your dough on parchment paper with plastic wrap on top of the dough and then refrigerate. Speeds cooling time and saves the hard work of rolling out cold, hard dough that wants to crack around the edges.

What are your future cookie plans?

To finish the orders I have for this week!!!!
I don’t know…….maybe teach cookie decorating?? Try new techniques. Get better!!!

I could go on and on, but I’ll just say this.  It’s one thing to be special, but it’s an AMAZING thing to be so very special and make others believe that they can be too.  This is how I feel about Maryann.
I hope y’all enjoy her as much as I do.  I am so proud to call her my friend.
If you want to sit for hours and ooh and awe over her cookies like I do, visit her Flickr photostream {HERE}.  WARNING, be prepared to be there awhile =)