In the DC-area, it doesn’t get much sweeter than the sugar cookies at Lola Cookies in Leesburg, VA.

In the four years that the shop has been open, owner Lorraine (“Lola”) Hooper has stocked her case with decorated sugar cookies in seasonal designs—snowflakes in January, hearts in February and Christmas trees in December, just to name a few. The designs change about once a month, Hooper says, and sometimes more often. She also is armed with hundreds of cookie cutters to tackle almost any custom cookie order.

As Hooper can attest, cakes aren’t the only treats getting all the decorating fun. There is a definite art to cookie design, and in some cases, it can be a bit trickier than other types of decorating. “Some cookie designs are harder to do than cakes because they are small and require a very steady hand,” says Hooper, who often uses sanding sugar on the cookies. “It also helps a lot to be a decent illustrator so you can get those little details that give it the right look or personality.”

Keep in mind that the beauty of a decorated cookie can’t only be icing-deep. A truly great decorated cookie must first begin with a good recipe. “I’m not interested in baking cookies that taste like decorated cardboard,” Hooper says. “I want them to taste great AND look great.” Most of Lola’s Cookies’ decorated sugar cookies start with the same recipe. Hooper does adjust for oversized cookies or those that require minute details, but she knows her limits and stays within them to stay true to both the taste and the design.

Watch for the June issue of Baking Buyer to read up on more bakeries who offer decorated cookies.