There’s an overabundance of baking shows that you can binge-watch nowadays. They may inspire you to indulge your sweet tooth, or they may get you excited about turning on your mixer. For Fortville’s Chelsea Walsman, owner of Cookie Gifts by Chelsea, it inspired her to do to the latter.
“I had started watching ‘The Great British Baking Show’ and I was so inspired by everything I saw,” Walsman says. “I decided I was going to be the next great British baker – in Indiana.”
To aid in that inspiration, Walsman’s husband of three years, Drew, gifted her a top-of-the-line stand mixer. Walsman immediately went to work looking up recipes for homemade cakes.
“The first thing I made was a cake and it was horrible,” she says with a laugh. “It was ugly and it was dry. I didn’t know how to tell my husband that I was probably never going to use the mixer again after that failure.”
Even so, she persisted. While scrolling through Pinterest, Walsman spotted a video in which a woman was decorating cookies. A fresh spark of inspiration hit Walsman and she started looking up cookie recipes that she could try on her own. The process of finding the perfect recipe came through a lot of trial and error, but it ended in sweet success.
“I thought I had a pretty yummy cookie recipe, and it wasn’t anything like my dried cake,” she says.
She taught herself how to make royal icing with just the right consistency, and then started to learn the fine art of cookie decorating. Again, with no real background in art, she was back to teaching herself by trial and error, learning new skills as she went.
“What’s funny is that I’m terrible at drawing,” Walsman says. “I’ve done calligraphy and I love to craft, so I felt it was just a learning curve. For some reason with the cookies, it just makes more sense to me as I work with the royal icing, and I don’t have any reason as to why.”
After posting photo after photo of the results of her new baking skills on her personal social media pages, Walsman started to get requests for custom cookies gifts delivered. That’s when she decided to build her social media presence with separate Instagram and Facebook pages, and in August of 2019, Cookie Gifts by Chelsea was born. Each post features the latest designs Walsman has created with her vanilla sugar cookies.
“All the cookies I decorate are vanilla sugar cookies, but sometimes I’ll offer seasonal cookies that I just make by the batch,” Walsman says. “I make a pretty yummy chocolate-chip cookie, if I do say so myself.”
Walsman describes her typical cookie as soft and chewy with a buttery taste. She prefers softer cookies rather than the traditional hard sugar cookie. She believes she owns at least 125 cookie cutters of all different shapes and sizes. She’s done cookies for birthdays as well as weddings and gifts, and also as tokens of appreciation.
“I average about five orders a week, which usually ends up being anywhere between 50 to 100 cookies a week,” Walsman says. “It’s really great because it provides a little extra income, and I can stay at home with my girls since they’re so small. I’m just happy I have an outlet for baking, because my family can’t keep eating cookies.”
Each order usually takes Walsman 48 hours to complete, due to the required drying time for royal icing. She balances working for her parents’ company with the cookie business, as well as tending to her two young daughters, Wednesday and Maeve. Wednesday is starting to get interested in watching her mom bake in the kitchen, so there may be an assistant in the making.
“She’ll want to watch me for a while, then she’ll want me to watch her do something like spin in a circle,” Walsman says.
The baker sees herself as a child at heart, which is why designing cookies is the perfect outlet for her.
“My favorite cookie cutter is probably one that I like to use for messages that is cute and festive, but I also like my car cookie cutters,” she says.
Walsman offers free delivery to customers located within a 25-minute radius of her home in Fortville, which includes Noblesville, McCordsville, Fishers and Geist. Customers can also come to her home to pick up orders, or arrange a meet-up spot.
For more info and to order from Cookie Gifts by Chelsea, go to facebook.com/cookiegiftsbychelsea, or visit Instagram: @CookieGiftsbyChelsea. Walsman accepts orders via direct message on social media platforms, and via email at email@example.com.
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