It’s 35 degrees outside, and while my friends sit comfortably in the heated car behind me, I am wrapped in a massive fuzzy blanket, holding a white box in my hands, the cold making my fingers numb. It’s almost midnight, but I am determined to stand as long as I need to—even if my fingers do freeze off. The adrenaline from hearing my favorite songs performed live a mere hour ago still courses through me. I rest the box against the barricade separating me from the large tour bus. A dozen or so fans stand around me with cellphones drawn in hopes of snapping a picture with a band member, but that’s not why I am here. While they want to get something from the musicians, I want to give something back: twelve custom-decorated sugar cookies I spent hours laboring over, individually crafted with lyrics, band logos, t-shirt designs, and album covers, all hand-piped in royal icing.

          This is what I do. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a creator and consumer of all things sweet. Almost seven years ago I entered the baking world with a stack of homemade business cards and a tray full of cookies, passing out samples to my neighbors. A shy fifth grader at the time, I made my mother ring the doorbells before introducing myself. Soon after, I created my own baking blog and website, Cookie in the Kitchen, where I shared my latest creations with my mother, my grandmother, and a few friends from church. With little homework to do (at the time) and a deeply introverted disposition, the meticulous melancholy of mixing, planning, and decorating became a staple in my life.

          Week after week I got to do what I love: not just making cookies, but making people happy. That moment—when I hand a person cookies and their eyes widen with disbelief and wonder—far surpasses all the tedious hours spent in the kitchen. Whether it’s the cover of the first book they published, the font on their wedding invitation or the mascot of their alma mater, my cookies illustrate their life in an edible form. That effect has always been my desire, from outside my neighbor’s homes to outside concert venues. Cookies are more than just butter and sugar. Cookies are my love language. Cookies are how I express my creativity, making art on a less-than-typical canvas. Cookies are what have taught me numerous skills not just in the kitchen, but in my entrepreneurial instincts, in communicating with customers, in graphic design, and in my time and money management. Cookies have strengthened my confidence in who I am and what I do, maturing me from a small, timid eleven-year-old to a strong, self-assured young woman.

          I hear a loud clang, taking me back to that chilly midnight at the barricade. The back door to the venue has opened and a man is walking towards us. Immediately I recognize him as the lead singer. I stiffen, my heart starting to race, even though I’ve done this many times before. Under the box, my hands tremble, accompanying the jitteriness in my stomach. My head is restless but my heart is content. The culmination of all my favorite things—cookies, music, art, and people—is right here before me.

          I never want to stop doing this: giving custom cookies to my favorite bands, bringing pencil-shaped sugar cookies to teachers on the first day of school, whipping up a batch of chocolate chip cookies for unsuspecting parents while babysitting, dreaming up plans for my future bakery—any of it. I wouldn’t be who I am if I didn’t. Cookie in the Kitchen isn’t just something I do; it’s something I’ve become. I am “Cookie” in the kitchen, and I always will be.

Call Me Cookie

emily henegar  |   atlanta, ga  +  nashville, tn   |   email:   |   text: (404)-632-4180