February Cougar of the Month

Not only does this Apex Cougar immerse herself in various sports, clubs, and other extracurricular activities but she can also be seen holding a piping bag every now and then. Claire Garner is a senior at Apex High School, and she is extremely talented when it comes to the art of cookie decorating. We got the chance to ask her a few questions about the process.

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Q: How did you become interested in sugar cookie decorating? When did you start?

A: I took culinary classes with Ms. Hoskins for my first five semesters of high school, so in the beginning of my junior year I had basically learned the entire curriculum. I was taking an advanced studies course, so Ms. Hoskins told me she wanted me to study whatever I was interested in, and I immediately thought of sugar cookies. She let me play with different recipes and frosting techniques, and soon enough I couldn’t sit through a culinary class without doing something related to sugar cookies.

Q: What inspired you to turn it into a business?

A: I started out making Christmas cookies, and I brought some extras to the faculty around the school. Some people had found out about my new undertaking and ordered some for upcoming occasions, but I didn’t see it as anything more than a hobby. Ms. Hoskins had taught me all about the food business the year before, and she took the opportunity to encourage me to take my talents further than a fun way to spend my free time. She deserves all of the credit for not only encouraging me to make a business but also giving me the opportunity to experiment with cookies in the first place.

Q: How long does the process normally take? What are the steps?

A: The process can take anywhere from four to eight hours or more, depending on how focused I am and how big the order is. Sometimes during the holidays I start early in the morning and work until early the next morning, but it’s the most satisfying feeling to see a table full of completed cookies. The first step is making the dough, but it has to chill for about two hours before you can roll it, so you have to work in stages. I cut out the shapes, bake multiple batches, make a few bowls of frosting, dye them to the right colors, and attempt to pipe what I see in my mind onto the cookies. Sometimes the designs are really intricate and require me to work in multiple stages, but my big orders have taught me how to organize everything most effectively.

Q: How do you balance a cookie business, school work, and other extracurricular activities?

A: I really just have to take it week by week. This semester has come with a more demanding course load, more extracurricular activities, and more cookie orders than I’ve ever had before, but it’s taught me a lot about time management. I’ve gotten into the habit of starting my homework as soon as I get home from school, so that way I’m not in a time crunch when I get home from work or practice. I also find setting goals helpful for when I want to be finished with a certain task. Even though consistently being up past midnight and heavily depending on coffee isn’t fun in the moment, I’m glad I’m learning valuable time management skills.

Q: What has been your favorite cookies to make so far?

A: I really enjoy making Easter cookies. I’m a huge fan of bright colors and spring, so having the freedom to cover cookies in sprinkles and cute, colorful designs adds a fun element to the decorating process.

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