“I have kids all day and cookies all night,” shares Ginger Kaufman, as laughter erupts throughout her classroom of 24 ready-to-learn adult students.
Ginger Kaufman, owner of Ginger's Cookie Jar and teacher of Royal Icing Cookie Classes at Mid Michigan College. (Photo: Courtney Jerome/Epicenter)
By day, Kaufman is a kindergarten paraprofessional at Mt. Pleasant’s Ganiard Elementary School. By night, she is the owner of Ginger’s Cookie Jar and teaches Royal Icing Cookie Classes through Mid Michigan College’s Lifelong Learning program.
Whether her students make cookies only once a year, or are seasoned bakers, Kaufman welcomes all skill levels to her monthly classes. The students in her December Royal Icing Christmas Cookie Class have traveled from Clare, Farwell, Greenville, Mt. Pleasant, Ithaca, Rosebush, and 8 Point Lake to learn from Kaufman her tips and tricks for finessing frosting on holiday cookies.
“I learned how to first hold a piping bag as a kid,” she shares with the class. Continuing to formally introduce herself, she shares that growing up she enjoyed watching cooking shows on PBS and the Food Network. And that her mom encouraged her to follow her passion for cookies throughout her life – which she has.
At first, Kaufman questioned the amount of cookies she’d need to make and sell to buy all the supplies necessary to consider taking her talent outside of her friends-and-family circle; especially as beyond the cost of tools, cookie making is risky with needing to bake items that don’t have a long shelf life. However, throughout the pandemic, she kept researching Michigan’s cottage food laws, persevered with practicing her art, and her interest in starting her own cottage food business skyrocketed.
Ginger’s Cookie Jar launched in September 2021.
“Frosted cookies are a luxury item, but there’s a market for it,” says Kaufman, who has sold out of her festive cookies at back-to-back annual Winter Markets during the Mt. Pleasant Christmas Celebration. “People who take these classes are like me – they want to learn how to make and decorate cookies themselves.”
Festive holiday cookies created by Ginger Kaufman, owner of Ginger's Cookie Jar in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. (Photo courtesy of Ginger Kaufman)
Kaufman taught her first cookie frosting decorating class downtown Mt. Pleasant at For Arts Sake in 2021.
Come summer 2022, Kaufman started teaching monthly cookie classes with the Lifelong Learning program at Mid Michigan College.
“It really is a nice space,” she says of her classroom at Mid Michigan College’s Mt. Pleasant campus. “Everyone has their own desk to work on, and there's a great audio/video screen to see my presentation slides.”
“I’ve been surprised by the number of people who don’t know that Lifelong Learning exists. The variety of classes offered are unique – from dog training to learning how to use a Cricut. If you’re interested in my class or others with Lifelong Learning, at the end of the day, we’re all still learning,” she says with a smile.
At each of her monthly classes, Kaufman prepares themes that fit the season. In July, students decorated cookies shaped like fireworks, stars, and popsicles with red, white, and blue frosting. For August her theme was camping; Halloween was October; November included cozy sweaters and candles; while December celebrated the holidays with trees, snowflakes, and stockings.
Aspiring bakers learn about decorating holiday cookies during Kaufman's December Royal Icing Cookie Class at Mid Michigan College. (Photo: Courtney Jerome/Epicenter)
Classes with Kaufman continue for two hours where she teaches tips on finessing frosting throughout the time. From what tools and techniques to use, to how to deal with dough, and discovering the difference between icing consistencies – everyone comes to class with different backgrounds in cookie decorating, but leaves with new knowledge in common.
“Today there’s someone here whose class is her third in a row,” says Kaufman before her December class’s instruction begins. “It’s fun to see students’ growth and hear them say, ‘I can’t believe I made these!’”
“This is my true passion – helping people be successful,” she continues. “It’s rewarding for me to see people feel successful in something they’ve been afraid to try.”
Registration for Kaufman’s Royal Icing Cookie Classes in February and March 2023 via Mid Michigan College’s Lifelong Learning program is currently open. Learn more at midmich.edu