Cover girl Laura Courtemanche creates sweet sugar cookie treats at her Vermont cookie bakery.
Yes, Virginia, there are still cozy hometown bakeries. And cookie fans the world over know that Laura Courtemanche’s is one well worth visiting at holiday time.
Sugar and spice reign at A Dozen Eggs Bake Shoppe, the business Laura and husband Dave Morello run in rural Mount Holly, Vermont. “Though we make cookies year-round, between Thanksgiving and Christmas we produce more than 10,000 sugar cookies,” she says. “Most of our cookies ship in the U.S., but thanks to our website, we have shipped orders to as far away as England, Singapore and Australia.”
Seven years ago, the culinary school graduate launched her venture in the kitchen of the couple’s Boston home. “It was expensive and complicated to make our cookies in the city,” she recalls. “After visiting Vermont for a friend’s birthday, we fell for its beauty, quiet and space.” So they packed up their baking sheets, rolling pins and mixers and moved to the heart of the New England snow belt.
“Our house is a converted railroad station,” Laura says. “Next to it is a four-car garage, which Dave and my father remodeled into a fully equipped and licensed 800-square-foot bake shop.” Inside the cheery red building adorned with evergreen garlands, the creative couple produce some of the most distinctive hand-iced sugar cookies this side of the North Pole.
Christmas Cookie Central
“It took quite a bit of experimenting to perfect the sugar cookie recipe,” Laura says. “But a great-tasting cookie is only half the job. Dave and I are always dreaming up original designs and shapes to make our cookies special. He’s a graphic artist and makes most of our cookie cutters.”
Their collections include not just classic Santas, reindeer and fir trees, but whimsical skiing snowmen, skating polar bears, and penguins bundled up in hats, scarves and mittens.
This time of year, dough, expertly rolled out by Dave, blankets stainless steel counters while dozens of cutouts wait their turn in the oven. Nearby, Laura uses her icing bags as an artist would a paintbrush, piping intricate patterns onto each 3-inch-square cookie canvas.
“During the holiday cookie crunch, spending 18-hour days baking and decorating isn’t unusual,” she says. “Luckily, I have a couple of great assistants who help with icing at our peak.” Once complete, each cookie collection is packaged in a ribboned bakery box. Inside, the cookies are heat-sealed into cellophane bags and packaged with tissue paper and crinkle-cut filler.
Fresh Batch of Creativity
Visions of sugar cookies fill Laura and Dave’s heads well beyond Christmas. In fact, they roll out new collections for every major holiday, along with themed cookies for weddings, birthdays and more. Customized cookies can be ordered in novel shapes, too, complete with names and dates inscribed in icing.
Besides keeping cookie platters primed, Laura also whips up mouthwatering cupcakes, party cakes and other goodies for hungry customers. “We recently opened a storefront that’s become pretty popular with locals and tourists,” she says of skiers and leaf-peepers. “We also get a lot of requests for our custom cookie cakes. We’ve made everything from a city skyline with a giant Godzilla cookie to a ducky baby shower cake.”
Often, with the warmth of the bakery kitchen surrounding her like a hug, Laura flashes back to the days she baked with her grandmother. “I believe now—as I did back then—that of all the ways the holidays can be savored, biting into a crisp sugar cookie is one of the best,” she says.
More from the editors: For top tips on making your own sugar cookies check out this baking advice from our test kitchen.
Photography by Jim Wieland & Styling by Melissa Haberman