Jennifer Ensign, West Seattle mom of two, has perfected the sugar cookie: They're firm enough to dunk in milk, but chewy enough to fall apart as you take a bite.
What began as a heartfelt batch of lumberjack-themed cookies for her son Jack’s first birthday party grew into Jenn’s Cookie Jar, a home-based, custom cookie catering business.
To master her technique, the homebaker watched YouTube tutorials and mixed up countless batches of cookie dough for practice. Jack, now 3, and his brother Colton, 4, were more than happy to taste-test and offer constructive feedback on her royal icing. Once she started sharing cookies with neighbors and friends, the word of her sweet treats spread and she was inundated with cookie requests for birthday parties, baby showers, and special events.
When it comes to custom, kid-friendly cookie designs, Jenn is ready to try anything. She’s baked robots, dinosaurs, unicorns, LEGO Star Wars characters, PAW Patrol doggies and more. Gender-reveal cookies are popular; parents break the cookie open, revealing the hidden icing inside.
PHOTO: JOSHUA HUSTON
For adults, she’s created countless cookies for corporate events, fundraisers and parties. Design requests have ranged from “I quit” cookies when someone resigned, to Seattle SuperSonics throwback cookies to fancy handbags and everything in between. The vanilla-bean sugar cookies are almost too beautiful to eat. Almost. See more examples on her Instagram.
Although the recipes do not include nut products, the cookies and icing are made in Jenn’s home, which is not nut-free. Cookies include common allergens such as eggs and dairy, but gluten-free cookies are available upon request. Custom designed cookies begin at $45/dozen and can increase in price depending on the intricacy of the requested design. Most orders are available for pick up at her house, but she’ll deliver for an additional charge.
For the winter holidays, Jenn likes to make eggnog-infused and butter-pecan-flavored cookies. This year, she’ll offer personalized individual cookies and orders by the half and full dozen in seasonal designs. “I have a fun Snoop Dogg design I’ll be featuring this year as well,” she says.
For aspiring home bakers who would like to learn Jenn’s tips and tricks for cookie decorating, she offers classes for parties and private events. You pick the theme, she brings all the cookies and decorating supplies. Classes are $60 per student for a minimum of five students.
“There’s a big learning curve, so be kind with yourself and have fun,” she says. “You don’t need all the tools and gadgets to have a good time.”