By Emma Kent
One-hundred fifty. That’s how many cookies Sarah Hutto bakes and decorates every week. In her cookie studio in her Oxford home, she spends her days (and nights) mixing up batches upon batches of dough, which she then lovingly transforms into colorful, custom sugar cookies for her business The Cookie Canvas.
It all started with a birthday party when Hutto was living in Meridian. Her eldest son was turning one, and she was set on having custom cookies for his birthday party. The only problem was she couldn’t find anyone local to make them.
“I just wanted cookies so badly for my son’s first birthday party,” Hutto said.“So I watched some YouTube videos and thought, ‘it can’t be that hard,’ but guess what? It’s really, really hard.”
After some highs and lows, Hutto had made her first batch of decorated sugar cookies, and she’s been baking them ever since. Friends and family began asking her to make cookies for their parties and events, and when she and her husband moved to Oxford, she started making cookies to take to The Grove for tailgating. It took Hutto about a year to perfect her dough recipe.
“It was really just a lot of trial and error,” she said.
She experimented with types of butter, different extracts, baking soda vs. baking powder, oven temperature and more. The result: a cookie recipe uniquely hers.
“It’s all very personal, which is weird to say about a cookie, but it is,” she said.
Now, Hutto works an average of 90 hours per week baking and decorating — that’s more than her husband, an anesthesiologist, works.
The process is this: bake, “flood,” ice, detail. “Flooding” is the process of creating the icing base for the detailed designs Hutto creates on her cookies.
Hutto began her business baking in her KitchenAid stand mixer, making double batches of dough multiple times per week. Sometimes she would get her hand mixer out to help speed the dough-making along. Finally, she decided she needed to upgrade. Her industrial-sized stand mixer, weighing in at 400 pounds, now makes it possible for Hutto to make all the dough she needs with a lot less effort.
“Basically, what I was doing five times a week I can now do in 15 minutes once a week,” she said.
Hutto has a cookie studio in her home where the mixer lives along with her collection of close to 500 cookie cutters. As she began doing more and more custom cookies, Hutto decided to invest in a 3D printer to create the exact cookie cutters she needs.
“I do so many custom orders, so anytime I need a cutter I just go down and print one,” she said.
Hutto works with local event planners and does most of her cookies for parties and weddings. She loves trying out new shapes and designs. For Hutto, the quirkier the cookie, the better.
“The one thing I am really waiting for someone to come to me with is Narwhals,” she said.
Hutto gets a lot of requests for the Harry Potter cookies, which are her favorite to make. However, they require more time and detail than some of her other creations.
“I think the challenge of it is what makes it so fun for me,” she said.
Her cookie business has taken off locally, which has always been a dream for Hutto. With the help of social media, her cookies have also made their way out of state. A few years ago Hutto made Gilmore Girls cookies that ended up in the hands of some of the show’s cast and crew.
“My first love before my husband and children is Gilmore Girls,” Hutto joked.
A Gilmore Girls fan festival was held in Kent, Connecticut, and one of Hutto’s close friends was attending. The festival’s organizers reached out after seeing Hutto’s Gilmore-inspired cookies on Instagram, and she ended up making several more batches to send to the event to be used in the cast and crew’s welcome baskets.
Social media has played a big role in helping Hutto connect with the community and grow her business. She’s always posting photos of new designs and videos of her decorating process on her Instagram, @thecookiecanvasmississippi.
As the fall approaches, Hutto will be busy making cookies for tailgates, fall weddings and this year for the first time, Ole Miss sorority rush. She’ll be making cookies tailored to each sorority for Bid Day and to be gifted to girls throughout rush week.
“I’m super excited and overwhelmed,” Hutto said. “It’s intense, so I have a high standard I have to meet.”
Although she’s constantly surrounded by them, Hutto admits she doesn’t eat very many of her signature sugar cookies. She leaves that to her husband and children.
“I have a little cookie bandit,” Hutto said, referring to her four-year-old son.“I always make a few extra and taste them to make sure they taste good, but I rarely eat them. Honestly, I really prefer just a good ol’ chocolate chip cookie.”