Behind the Scenes at Our Holiday Cookie Shoot

October 19, 2010 | By | Comments (1)

Most of you probably know that magazines work several months ahead in order to publish issues on time—so for example, our food department was testing stuffings during the summer so that you could have a fabulous selection of Thanksgiving stuffing recipes in your November issue of Real Simple. On the website, we don’t work quite as far in advance, but we still need to stay ahead of the game (is it really still two weeks until Halloween? I've been thinking about it for so many weeks already, I feel like it happened a month ago).


Last week we had a photo shoot for our brand-new holiday cookie recipes, which you’ll be able to find online starting November 1. Over two days, our crew baked, decorated, styled, and photographed 18 delicious cookies, from bars to cut-out cookies to drop cookies. And let me tell you—there’s a lot of work that goes into making the photos look beautiful, much more than you can imagine. While I can’t share the recipes with you in advance, I can give you a sneak peek of what went on behind the scenes.



First, the photographer and designer met with our food stylist in the test kitchen to examine each cookie. Here, they're checking out the chewy gingersnaps, made with molasses, cloves, cinnamon, and a bunch of other stuff that tastes and smells good.



Here are the almond biscotti, which are perfect with a cup of tea or coffee.



Aren't these beautiful? These are stained-glass cookies, and their gorgeous colored centers are much easier to create than they look (hint—you'll use a common candy to make them).



We used these colorful sheets to create different background effects for some of the cookies. The results were stunning.



The photographer took great pains to arrange the cookies to perfection, often using pins to prop them up and carefully wiping off every last smudge and crumb. Or sometimes he would artfully scatter crumbs, sugar, and sprinkles to get just the right look.



Here's how the raspberry crumble looked when it was finally camera-ready. And after some more minor adjustments, here's the final shot:



 Gorgeous, right? If only my baked goods could always look this good…


Are you ready for holiday baking season to begin, or is it still way too early to even start thinking about it?


(final image: Victor Schrager)