- Hello, and welcome to "ARTEFFECTS."
I'm Beth McMillan.
In our featured segment, we head to Gardnerville to meet Roberta Cota-Montgomery.
This artisan takes cookie decorating to the next level, by using dozens of frosting colors, flavors, and lots of edible adornments, all pulled together with her own creative touch.
Let's explore the world of cookie creation with the founder of The Sugared Squirrel.
(light upbeat music) - As a child, I was very creative.
I loved to bake, I loved to paint, and I made my own doll furniture out of matchboxes.
I mean, you name it, I was always creating.
I grew up in Lake Tahoe, lived there for 30 years.
Being able to go out my back door and go hiking and just be in such a beautiful place, it was just really special to grow up there.
My mom is such a nurturer and my dad was an artist, and together they just gave me this environment of "Do whatever you want.
Do dance class."
They made it happen, and so I was able to try everything I wanted to, and, you know, they never said, "Oh, you can't do that."
They grew up with not a lot.
They grew up in families where they worked in the fields and picked fruit when they were little kids.
So knowing that they came from that and opened successful businesses and I watched that happen and then they helped me to do that, is just so awesome to me.
(bright upbeat music) My name is Roberta Cota-Montgomery, and I am the founder of The Sugared Squirrel.
I was making gifts just for friends and family for Christmas one year, and a couple weeks after Christmas, I had people calling and going, "Oh, my friends saw those cookies "that you gave me.
"They wanna know if you'll make some "for their child's birthday or their anniversary."
And by February, I got my cottage license and started doing this full-time because I was so busy.
The name The Sugar Squirrel came about because my friends and family are constantly telling me how I'm such a squirrel.
I just one thing to the other so.
So, it kind of fit, you know, "Sugared Squirrel" for cookies.
I'm just all over the place with making things all the time.
(laughs) I definitely feel like a squirrel most of the time.
(laughs) Usually, when I get an order, I'll ask for a theme and maybe an invitation or some of the stationary they're using, and then I go from there.
(lively upbeat music) Sometimes I'll go on Pinterest and just look up fashion or things like that.
Most of the time, I won't look at other cookies on purpose.
I wanna come up with my own designs.
When I come up with a set, I usually try to tie in maybe like a wedding dress.
Say, for a wedding or a bridal shower, I'll ask if I can see a picture of their wedding dress, and then I'll try to mimic the shape of the dress or put in the pattern somewhere on the cookies, and I'll try to do multiple designs.
It could be a ring or the flowers that they're using for their wedding, things like that.
Just knowing a little bit about them before I design their set allows me to add something of their story into that set.
They're just cookies, but they're also special for that event.
That's part of what I love about making the cookies.
I usually start by making my icing depending on how many orders I have.
(bright upbeat music) (mixer whirring) Usually, it's about five pounds of icing at a time, and then, I'll move on to my colors.
I fill all of my icing bags.
I usually don't use tips on my icing bags, but if I'm doing a floral or something like that, then I will use a special tip for that.
I always weigh my ingredients.
I don't use measuring cups because it's a little more exact that way.
(mixer whirring) Once I roll out my dough and cut out my shapes, I always freeze them for about 10 minutes before putting them into the oven, so that they don't spread as much.
I bake all of my cookies on perforated silicone mats and that helps them not spread, also.
After that, I let them cool for a few minutes and then I transfer them to parchment paper-lined sheets.
Once they're cool and ready to go, then I start decorating.
The way I give my cookies some depth is I try to add texture wherever possible.
(lively upbeat music) I also sometimes will use airbrushing or using a paintbrush with edible color.
Decorating is definitely my favorite part.
(chuckles) It does become a family thing sometimes.
Everyone just comes together.
My dad, my mom, my kids, everybody's helping me packaging.
They are the best cheerleaders.
I am Mexican American, and our culture, I feel like everything revolves around food a lot.
(laughs) As a family, everything was always cooking and baking and eating and celebrations, and just a lot of people together all the time.
I think that all translates into a lot of my work as well, and I love being able to represent my culture in that way.
I definitely think of my cookies as edible art.
I do have a rule though.
I always tell people, "If you're gonna buy the cookies "you have to eat them!"
(laughs) 'Cause a lot of people don't wanna eat them.
But that's what they're there for, so you have to eat them.
(chuckles) Part of the fun of it is getting to destroy the work of art.
Seeing it so pretty and then taking a bite out of it.
(laughs) - [Announcer] Funding for "ARTEFFECTS" is made possible by Sandy Raffealli with Bill Pearce Motors.
(lively upbeat music) Meg and Dillard Myers.
In memory of Sue McDowell.
And by the annual contributions of PBS Reno members.
(light upbeat jazz music)