BROKEN (SUGAR COOKIE) HEARTS
by Sienna Wildfield
I took my daughter to a late afternoon cooking class at Whole Foods in Hadley for Valentine’s Day to make Valentine Cookies for her Daddy. When we arrived, the tables in the classroom were lined with butcher paper and individual decorating stations were set up for each student. Ramekins of colorful dime store candies were set out, and the temptation to stick little fingers into these bowls had all the kids on the edge of their stools while waiting for the class to begin.Once everyone arrived and settled in, heart shaped sugar cookies, the smooth blank slates for their little love creations, were passed out, and the decorating began.
With small chef hats and matching aprons the kids set to work with their piping bags and chocolate non-perils. As frosting leaked out of the top of her piping bag and onto her sleeve, my daughter made the analogy of the pink and purple frosting being like “glue” and the rainbow sprinkles “glitter.”
At one point I noticed that my daughter would suspiciously sit back on her stool and pull her little chef’s hat down over her face. I took a sneak peak out of the corner of my eye and saw that she too was sneaking, only little bits of chocolate jimmies that were sure to ruin her appetite for dinner, which followed. I suggested she put them on the cookies for later, which inspired her to load one of her cookies with an abundant mixture of everything, calling it a “fancy dessert cookie.”
As the room buzzed with laughter and chatting I watched the children beam over their designs. I thought to myself that creations a professional pastry chef can execute with a frosting filled piping bag couldn’t match what these kids made. Not because a pastry chief lacks any technical skills, but because of the abandon exhibited in their creations that would be very difficult for any adult to match.
My daughter beamed too at her squiggly trails of frosting that traveled up and over the rainbow sprinkles with thick squirts, centered off with a jellied heart or bean. In contrast the cookies I had decorated were symmetrical in design, or had been fashioned with letters that spelled “I (heart) U” and “I C U,” laced with little rainbow sprinkles.
As they finished up, each family put their little masterpieces to the side of the room on parchment squares to dry. Her “fancy dessert cookie” spilled candies all over the floor as we moved it to the side table. When viewing the collective of cookies, the ones decorated by adults droned order and fashion amidst the chaos of the children’s wild and asymmetrical creations.
At the end of class, each child received a bag to carry their cookies in. My daughter decorated her bag with stickers and gobs of red glitter glue (which does not dry quickly for those of you who aren’t in the know). To everyone’s chagrin, the containers were too big to be set upright into the bags. And because the bags were laced with glitter glue that would take a good week to dry, we had to place the cookies on their sides, smearing frosting and jimmies up against the plastic tops.
After class we set out into the cold and windy parking lot to hurry home to share our creations with her Daddy. Inside the bag (a collection of wild abandon and controlled deliverance) cookies continued to smear frosting on the lid and the backside of one another. I placed the glitter glue ridden bag atop the car as I buckled her into her booster seat, the wind pushing the door against my backside. And then I heard it – a great thud at my heels! The wind had knocked the bag off the car’s hood and smashed it down onto the pavement.
When we arrived home, she proudly handed the bag over to her Daddy. He pulled out a container filled with bits and pieces of cookies jumbled up with pink and purple frosting, textured with sprinkles. Without inquiry, he removed the container’s lid and selected the only bare broken piece of sugar cookie heart that stood pure among the mangled mess, scooping off the frosting and jimmies that clung to the lid. He smiled and she beamed back.
“Happy Valentime’s Day, Dadda,” she said.
(Originally published 02/07)
Sienna lives in West Chesterfield, MA, with her family. She is a community organizer & activist, and founder of Hilltown Families. She is a published poet and accomplished photographer, and hosts the Hilltown Family Variety Show with her daughter on WXOJ -103.3 FM (Northampton, MA).