The anatomical heart is a Sugarbuilt classic and one of the first cookies Amelia Coulter ever developed. The cookie is about true to the size of a real human heart, though, the artist notes, “not perfectly oriented.”
The lingerie series was inspired by Coulter’s love of thrifting and vintage, plus, she said “I thought it would be fun to make a sexy cookie.” For an artist, vintage lingerie has an added bonus: “they have such great structure, and so many elements,” from corset to garter to brassiere.
When Amelia first moved to Brooklyn, she was obsessed with the ironwork found on gates of its 18th and 19th century Greenpoint townhouses. Through research she found that these had an important place in the settling of the neighborhood and developed this design as a nod. These feature a heart pattern, making them a great seasonal cookie for the history buff you love.
The ultrasound cookie came about as a challenge from a customer looking for a baby-shower cookie and warned against anything “cutesie.” Coulter set out to design “something that would communicate babies but without pastels,” she said, “or ducks.” These are tricky to execute as the she overlays one color with a darker, looser one and moves it with a toothpick within seconds before the icing starts to set.
The food artist behind high concept sweets has a sophisticated understanding of both art and cookies. Amelia Coulter is an art school alumna who decided on the medium of an unusually flavorful variation on the classic sugar cookie. Using top quality ingredients, the recipe is the official state cookie of Coulter’s native New Mexico. As for the decorations, many are stunning in the intricacy of their designs, while others are just as impactful in the simplicity of the concept or the surprising ways she renders it. The Dill, for example, combines a spare frosting outline of the spindly herb with a bush-shaped base.
Many of her designs refer to Coulter’s love of all things regionally specific, whether in the iron grates of Greenpoint, Brooklyn or the heart and skull iconography of Southwestern art. No stranger to the more finicky arts, Coulter was trained as a sculptor, drawn to processes like “welding steel” and “intricately paper cuttings.” But throughout her fine arts training her interested in food was a theme. Not just in preparing and eating it (though cooking was a hobbie), but also as a subject. “In many cases, food is more accessible than fine art,” she said. “It can be shared, and you get something out of it,” by consuming it, and also for the very reason that “it goes away.” Today she thinks of it as her cookie company as “very much the same practice as my art practice.” And though customers often resist eating her thoughtful works, Coulter explains, “I happen to like that you eat it, and you share it, and you like it” in a way that can literally be felt. “It’s more important [in art] to have the idea communicated.“ And while they could reasonably be described as art objects, she says, “the experience of art always matters more to me than the object. And I also realize there are a lot of objects in this world already. I personally couldn’t see myself making more of them.” Yet another great reason to eat Sugarbuilt up come Valentines Day.