Blog - Superhero of Sweets - Hungry Hippopotamus
With her comic book stylings, who is better suited to our "Superhero of Sweets" than Stephanie Kappel better known as the The Hungry Hippopotamus?
In this "Superhero of Sweets" blog, you will learn what inspires and informs her cookie talent.
How did you get started in cookie decorating?
Every year for Christmas, I make different handmade gifts. In 2009, soon after I got married, Parents magazine showed up at my house. Clearly a gentle hint from a close family member (although no has owned up yet). Some recipes on the front cover caught my eye so I paged through the magazine and found a cookie decorating tutorial. That Christmas I made my first hand-decorated cookies. Once my family had had a taste they were hooked, asking me to make cookies for all different occasions. Soon friends of family members were asking about my cookies. And then friends of friends. As interest in my cookies started to gain momentum, I was finishing my MBA and had just helped to launch a new start-up business. With my degree in hand and a few years work experience under my belt, I took the leap and left my 9-5 job to start my own business, The Hungry Hippopotamus.
What is your training in baking and cookie decorating?
Once I got into cookie decorating, I poured over every resource I could find! KarensCookies.net, Sweet Sugarbelle, and Sweetopia were sites that got me well on my way. I read or watched every tutorial and blog post. Aside from reading and watching, I immersed myself in one of the most amazingly helpful, supportive, and uplifting communities out there. My (now real) cookie friends and LOTS of practice have made me the decorator I am today.
Do you have a signature style for cookie decorating?
I think of my general style like a coloring book – bold, black outlines with lots of colors and details. I tend to gravitate toward cookie designs that are clean, modern, and precise (that's a nice way of saying obsessively technical).
Do you have a favorite decorating tip you can share?
In order to take your cookies to the next level, you have to get back to the basics! A true master decorator is able to execute perfect icing consistency coupled with flawless piping and flooding. There is true skill in the mastery of these techniques.
If you've used Ann Clark Cookie Cutters in projects, can you describe the shape you've used and how you've used it?
I LOVE my basic Ann Clark Cookie Cutter shapes. I could decorate almost all my cookies with just a simple circle, square and plaque cutter! These are my favorites because they can be anything! I love that you can think of these shapes as mini-canvases and use the cookie to create a composition.
Can you share any trends in cookies you envision in the near future?
Watercolor painting on cookies has definitely increased in popularity recently and I anticipate the enthusiasm to continue. In the near future I think that more and more decorators will begin to experiment with "other media" on cookies ie modeling chocolate and fondant decorations to really enhance their designs.
How has social media influenced your cookie decorating?
Social media is everything. It's been my educational resource as well as the platform on which I have been able to learn and grow as a cookie artist. Social media has allowed me not only to create a business but also to form friendships with decorators around the world. If weren't for social media, I wouldn't be where I am to today – personally or professionally.
How do you get inspired for creating new designs?
Photo courtesy of The Hungry Hippopotamuss.
Inspiration is everywhere and I'm never quite sure where it will strike. That being said, I love watching videos of artists creating things in all different mediums. Anything from food to yarn, metal to stained glass.
Favorite decorating tool:
My scribe tool! My heater fan, Harriet, deserves an honorable mention though.
Favorite cookie cutter shape:
My go to cookie cutter shape has to be the circle. It might seem boring, but the circle can be so many things! I love the endless possibilities!
Favorite decorator who inspires you:
There are sooo many amazing decorators out there. Each of them inspires me in their own way. If any one person deserves to be singled out it is Sweet Sugarbelle. She inspired me to become a cookie artist and I am eternally grateful for all that she's done and continues to do to excite and empower cookiers everywhere!
The Hungry Hippopotamus