Imagine a platter of jersey-shaped cookies perfectly iced with each player’s number and name on it for your next sports banquet. It’s those kinds of details that Mary Bolger is famous for.
Bolger, a Woodbury resident and owner of Icing Art by Mary Bolger, offers customized cookies, cakes, cake pops and more. “I’ve been doing cookie decorating for about 12 years; I took up the hobby because my husband traveled all the time when my kids were young and I needed some sort of creative outlet,” she says. “At the time, there weren’t any classes on cookie decorating, so I took a class on cake decorating. And that’s how I learned to transfer those skills to cookies.”
Starting with friends who asked her to decorate treats for parties and celebrations, Bolger’s hobby organically grew into a business. Guests would ask who made the lovely cookies, and over the years, the business grew through word of mouth.
With a cottage food registration, Bolger bakes and crafts out of her Woodbury home. She has a baker’s speed rack featuring 20 racks of cookies, enabling her to pump out hundreds of custom creations weekly. Bolger uses lots of specialized equipment to decorate each custom cookie.
Icing Art by Mary offers one recipe of cookie, although Bolger can alter it if someone has a nut allergy or gluten-free request; orders are customizable. She offers fun accent cookies to the presentation of the platter which reflect the unique personality and interests of the person or event being celebrated. “I want the cookies to be custom and really stand out from someone else’s order,” Bolger says. “The feeling is because I have the time and because the business is so small, and I have the tools, I can work quickly to turn orders around, where maybe a larger bakery couldn’t do that.”
Tools of the Trade
Tools that help Bolger bring cookies to the next level include stencils, an airbrush machine and a 3D projector. “It’s no longer a piping bag and tip,” Bolger says. “It used to be that you iced the cookie and then piped on the saying. Now we are using a stencil on the cookie and airbrush through the stencil. You can have a beautiful lattice background or a really pretty chevron pattern on the background of the cookie and then you can write on top of it.”
Bolger also makes her own stencils, as well as purchases them from local craft stores, and uses an airbrush machine with liquid food color to achieve the desired look. She does lots of cookies for hockey and notes that the 3D projector—called a “copy cake” made specifically for dessert decorating—helps her achieve a streamlined and professional look in less time.
“We do hundreds of cookies for the Woodbury hockey club, East Ridge Raptors, Woodbury Royals, Stillwater Ponies, so many hockey teams,” Bolger says. “We can print out all of the player names using a specific font, put the names in the projector and project that shadow onto the cookie. We can increase and decrease the size of each name so that each cookie is consistent.”
Because she does so many, Bolger had a custom hockey jersey cookie cutter made specifically with a 3D printer, and uses a 3D printer to make food-grade cutters for other frequent custom work such as a University of Wisconsin Badger, the “W” for Wisconsin and the University of Minnesota Gopher versus having to hand-cut each one.
It’s about a three-day process for the cookies, which includes time for baking. The base coat is piped on and then an airbrushed pattern is added. Bolger says it takes 24 hours for the base coat to dry; any decorating is done on top of that. She also uses a dehydrator to cut down on drying time and prevent any air bubbles that may impact
Fall and spring are the busy seasons for Icing Art by Mary Bolger, as thousands of cookies get made for graduations, weddings, holidays, sports banquets, businesses and other social events and celebrations. Prices start at $30 per dozen and cookies can be ordered individually after that.
Bolger also is passionate about giving back to the community through her creations. “I have three kids who have been involved in lots of stuff and we know many people in the community, so lots of times we make donations,” she says. Bolger has been involved with Icing Smiles, an organization that gives cakes for families who have been affected by illness, as well as Make a Wish Foundation. “We are very involved in the communities around us. It’s a way that we can give back,” she says.