I had tons of fun this past weekend at the San Francisco Lost Horizon Night Market (LHNM)! The Junior Rangers and the Travel Agency Truck showed up to promote Everyhere Logistics and test out a few new creative schemes.
The Junior Rangers promoted Everyhere Logistics at Lost Horizon Night Market by using the power of cookies! Sure the Junior Rangers aren’t Girl Scouts, but people always ask us for cookies so as they say “when in Rome, sell cookies”
Junior Ranger Feral really wanted to make box truck shaped cookies. We gathered the scouts and decided to “sell” cookies at the Lost Horizon Night Market and have the participants decorate the cookies with frosting. We figured it would be easy, which is great as we also had to focus our time on the SFMOMA commissioned Junior Ranger box truck which is premiering on May 10th at Sunday Streets.
I mean how hard could it possibly be for a bunch of people with very little baking experience to make 150+ box truck shaped cookies?
Step One: Making the Box Truck Cookie Cutter
Designing the cookie cutter was the easy part! This website is amazing, just draw your picture and it makes a cookie cutter 3D model that you can use for a 3d printer. We have some great friends and supporters, so Jacob Fenwick 3D printed the first test cookie cutter in an hour, and then I began the testing process. Look how cute it is!
Step Two: Baking the Test Batch
I keep gluten free, but gluten free baking is always a bit of a production so I decided to first make a proof of concept with pre-made sugar cookie dough (to any gluten free friends reading this: I bought a disposable cookie sheet, so no fear of contamination!). This is where things started going wrong — that’s not truck, it’s a blob!!
Step Three: Ask Lazyweb for Help
We solicited our friends, collaborators, other Lost Horizon Night Market proprietors and our Facebook and Twitter followers for cookie baking tips. The consensus was our dough was too buttery and needed to be colder when it went into the oven.
I didn’t want to dive headfirst into a complicated gluten-free recipe quite yet so for our second test batch, I added some garbanzo bean flour to the pre-made dough. This time it worked well enough, proof of concept achieved! Who knows if it tasted good, that’s not the point.
Oh no! I left my truck alone for a minute and it got tagged 😦
Step Four: Decide on a Recipe
Now it was time to get cracking. Jacob printed 3 more cookie cutters which I delivered to Rena and Kasey, and we each decided on a different recipe to use. I chose this recipe from the always amazing Gluten Free Goddess. It involved a lot of different specialty flours, but it was well worth it. Follow her tips on removing the cookies while maintaining their shape, good stuff. Rena used this lavender shortbread recipe and this sugar cookie recipe, and Kasey used this vegan sugar cookie recipe.
Step Five: Baking Time!
I was so excited that I baked 9 cookies right away. I didn’t have a silicone mat so I opted to use wax paper — big mistake, the cookies stuck to them. Parchment paper is the way to go. I admit I ate some cookies with wax paper on them, it was too much of a temptation.
Step Six: Baking It Correctly!
Next attempt was to make ONE cookie on parchment paper. This cookie came out blobby and barely truck shaped. Remembering the lazyweb advice of the more experienced bakers, I put the next batch in the freezer for 10 minutes and made sure the cookie sheet was cold when I put the cookies on. I also touched up the shape just a bit with a butter knife before sticking them in the oven. Seven minutes later we had totally reasonable cookies! They came out soft, spicy and delicious, and they held their shape well. Now to make 59 more!
This was time consuming, but we finally got a good rhythm. Because the cutting out process is a bit time consuming I rolled out dough + froze it while the previous batch cooked. 3 hours later we had a big pile of cookies!
I am so grateful that I had an awesome assistant, Foreign Exchange Junior Ranger Yuki was in town! Fun fact: she was with me when I went through my first Junior Ranger program at the Grand Canyon. Sharing that experience with her led me to this project!
Look at how cute these cookies are. So cute!
Cookie baking tips for total beginners:
- Triple recipes need a really big bowl. I got excited and it took Yuki and me working together to mix everything! This should be obvious, but I thought I’d mention it for those of you who are impatient to start baking like me.
- Keep your dough as cool as possible. Refrigerate for an hour after making it and keep unused portions in the fridge while you aren’t working with them.
- If the cookies are spreading too much use less butter or add more flour and freeze before popping them into the oven.
- Some cookie recipes, especially the gluten free recipe, can be shaped a bit while they are still warm! Poke em with a butter knife to make them perfect!
- Be careful of massive sugar highs when eating 7 cookies in a row.
All in all, this was significantly more work than anticipated but totally worth it. Everyone loves talking about cookies, making cookies and eating them (especially if you bring cookies for people with eating restrictions). Rena discovered that kids get really excited to help make cookies if they are truck shaped, that’s good to know for future projects.
That’s all for now! Next blog post is going to be about our interaction design, how things went, descriptions of the cookies people could make and my super amazing vegan rose flavored frosting that was declared the best frosting of all.