Sweet Designs by Julia Usher
by Tif Sweeney
On Saturday, December 10, I ventured to Pudd’nhead Books in downtown Webster Groves for an author event with Julia Usher. This was not your typical event, but rather a sweet demonstration and intimate interaction to promote her newest book, Ultimate Cookies.
In a cozy corner of the store, a table was covered with cookies that looked too fancy to eat. Christmas trees looked more like dimensional art and simple round cookies appeared to have been drawn on by a talented artist. As Usher began to speak, I soon discovered that this author I was sitting next to was an artist with an edible canvas. Using sugar and gingerbread cookies and a special icing recipe, she began explaining the basics of how even my cookies could become the talk of the next holiday party with a few decorating tips. From making marbled designs using a “wet technique” to actually using stamps or edible papers to add an extra touch, I realized that even I could explore my artsy side of baking.
In Usher’s newest book, Ultimate Cookies, she shares the recipe for the ultimate frosting, the key to all the techniques demonstrated as well as a multitude of other techniques and designs with full-color illustrations. She also has a previous publication, Cookie Swap: Creative Treats to Share throughout the Year which is yet another colorful book filled with a variety of cookie projects to spice up any party or get-together no matter the season. I came home with the latter and look forward to trying these designs on my own and with my children for the annual sweet treats we give during this season!
Usher previously owned her own bakery in the St. Louis area, but is now focusing her time on writing and styling. According to her website, “She is Contributing Editor at Dessert Professional, a 2008 James Beard Foundation Journalism Awards finalist, and an entertaining consultant, party producer, and prop stylist for St. Louis AT HOME magazine. Her work, written and edible, has appeared in Vera Wang on Weddings, Bon Appetit, Fine Cooking, Better Homes and Gardens, Mary Englebreit’s Home Companion, Gastronomica, and nearly every national bridal magazine.” For more information, you can view Julia Usher’s website and even subscribe to her newsletter for tips delivered directly to your inbox.