Earlier this month, Amesbury cookie artisan Renee Terry scored a win on the Food Network show “Christmas Cookie Challenge,” using her mouthwatering flavors and impeccable decorating skills to come out on top – and win the $10,000 prize.
“It was definitely an experience,” Terry says in a social media video in which she reflects on the show. “It was enlightening, it was stressful, it was fun, it was humbling.”
Now Terry, owner of custom cookie business Sweet Cheeks by Renee, is offering up for sale the recipes that propelled her victory. The $26 bundle includes recipes for spiced walnut cranberry cookies, orange blueberry cookies, and starfruit coconut cookies. The package also includes instructions for her signature royal icing, as well as suggested flavor modifications for each cookie.
Some lucky fans were already able to taste the features treats. Terry created and sold “tasting boxes” including the same cookie flavors she used on the show, so viewers could eat along with the action on-screen.
Terry launched her custom cookie business in 2015 and the endeavor quickly took off. Customers were drawn to her exquisitely adorned treats, each one a meticulous work of edible art. Some feature frosting flowers with petals curling up from the cookies’ surfaces, others feature details painted on in watercolor style. Many of her cookies use playful and even fantastical shapes and concepts: A stack of books topped with a a few stems of flowers or presents with icing textured to look like crinkled wrapping paper.
In 2020, however, Terry made a pandemic pivot, deciding to teach cookie decorating skills online. Her virtual classes were a huge hit, pulling students from across the country, and within months her overall business had tripled. This year she brought her cookie talents to an even bigger stage with her appearance on “Christmas Cookie Challenge.”
Though the contest didn’t always run smoothly for Terry – in one bake she temporarily forget to add eggs to her dough, for example – she managed to triumph, thanks in part to a large, elaborately decorated ugly Christmas sweater cookie. The episode was filmed in April, so Terry had to keep her victory under wraps for months until the appearance aired on December 10.
“It’s been difficult to hold on to this secret!” Terry says.
Since the show aired, Terry has seen a significant jump in sales for her online classes and her recipes, she says. In the new year, she hopes to do some travelling to teach classes around the country, while continuing her online classes as well.
Her competition – four bakers from Long Island, California, Provincetown on Cape Cod, and – was fiercely talented, but also kind and collaborative, Terry recalls on social media. They all helped each other troubleshoot their cookies and prepare to do their best.
“I met some amazing people,” Terry says in her online video. “It was a good time.”
To marvel at Terry’s cookie artistry, check out her Instagram page. To inquire about your own custom cookie order, visit her website at sweetcheeksbyrenee.com.