Recipe for Decorated Sugar Cookie Success


decorated sugar cookies Clear River

With more than 300 decorated sugar cookies sold each day, they’re one of the many top sellers at Clear River Ice Cream, Bakery and Deli in Fredericksburg, Texas. From sunrise to sunset, this retro hotspot on Main Street bustles with activity with waitresses calling out orders from the counter while Grease plays on a large screen TV. Owner John Dubea says Clear River is known for their award-winning ice cream, Praline Dipped Pecans and hand-decorated sugar cookies.

The old-fashioned ice cream parlor, with tin ceilings, 1950s décor and jukebox music, features more than 50 flavors of ice cream made right in house, including their award-winning Mexican Vanilla and Amaretto and Peach & Pecan. On any given day, there are 24 flavors from which to choose.  Be prepared, however, for lines running out the door with eager customers in cowboy boots and hats every time the mercury pushes north of eighty degrees -- which is most of the year here in Texas Hill Country. On a good week, they sell about 500 gallons of the creamy frozen treat.

Located a little over an hour’s drive away from Austin or San Antonio, Fredericksburg sits about half way between the two cities, and is a big draw every spring for wildflowers that bloom here and historic roots of pioneering self-reliance, not to mention the wineries, art galleries and bustling restaurant scene year-round. And Clear River has become a popular stop since opening in 1989, with a huge and varied selection of baked items that include the traditional Czech kolaches, shortbread, peach cobbler and pecan bars. But their decorated cookies remain the most popular baked item.

As many cottage food operators across the nation can attest to, decorated sugar cookies are one of the sweet spots for home-based bakeries operating under their state’s cottage food laws. With some practice, many home bakers have transformed their talent for decorating cookies into profitable enterprises. Even in Wisconsin, thanks to the successful lawsuit against the state, we can transform icing into artwork on hand-cut cookies, a topic we’re now covering both in the pages of Mother Earth News and regularly scheduled workshops on our farm.

We caught up with John Dubea on a recent trip to Fredericksburg, Texas, so he could share a few tips on making your decorated sugar cookie enterprise more successful, recipe included.

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