Makers + Shakers: Meet Semi Sweet Designs

Last year, over on Seattle Mama, I started a  series interviewing local powerhouses who started with an idea and turned it into a crazy reality. It was so popular, I thought to myself, 'hey self, you should do the same thing, except this time, you should stalk some more of  your favorite bloggers from all over'.

So, for the next 8 Wednesdays, I bring you the Makers + Shakers Series: 8 Creatives You Should Follow.  If you know who they are, woo hoo, you are so hot and trendy.  If not, then look at that, you learned something new today.

We are meeting the guy behind the cookies of Semi Sweet Designs,  fellow Seattleite Michael Tamplin.  You shouldn't even call them cookies...but more like edible works of art.  Sadly, he doesn't sell any of his creations; they are made for the love of baking and decorating.

But with his amazing designs featured everywhere from Huffington Post to Parade Magazine, he may have to quit his day job and make some serious cha-ching baking.  Read on as I pick his fantastically creative brains and share a few of my favorite projects of his...

Please tell our readers a little bit about who Mike is. 
MT - Hi! I'm Mike, the blogger behind the cookies at Semi Sweet Designs. I love coming up with unique cookie designs in my spare time and document the process, as well as share tips and tricks, on my blog. I've been a cookie hobbyist and enthusiast for about 2.5 years now.

During the day you are an aerospace engineer, but at night you transform into a kick ass cookie creator and decorator. We are going to need to hear the back story of how you got into the cookie game.
MT - Crazy combo, right? I've always been a creative type, crafting things on the weekend, or trying out a DIY idea that piqued my interest on Pinterest. I entered the cookie-making world after being on the hunt for a gift idea for a friend that had everything. He was a lover of cookies, so I Googled a few decorated cookie tutorials online and gave it a shot.

It turned out to be a lot of fun. So this would-be, one time, kitchen craft became a non-stop hobby that consumes my free time. There’s not a lot of opportunity for me to be creative at work, however decorating sugar cookies fills that void.

I seriously geek out on so many of your cookies (hello He-man and She-ra!), but like children, you always have a favorite...which of your designs is your favorite and why? 
MT - Geek-themed cookies tend to always top my list. If the design is also simple, even better! My favorite is still my Star Trek Valentine  set. I'm a huge fan of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and the uniform heart cookies were pretty easy (and quick!) to decorate.

I'm a horrible cookie maker, I think I've had one successful batch of sugar cookies. But I'm always trying. What is your go-to, always-works cookie trick you can share to help folks like me? 
MT - I found to achieved crisp, square cookie edges, cut out shapes when the rolled out dough is refrigerated for about an hour. It should feel hard to the touch, like cold slices of cheese. Also, freeze the cut-out dough shapes on the baking sheet about 15 mins before placing in oven.

Do you have a cookie bucket list? A design, theme or technique you haven't done yet but really want to?
MT - I've always wanted to learn to properly pipe a good-looking rose in icing, you know the ones you spin and pipe on a flat, metal nail. I saw a tutorial to making a royal-icing hibiscus flower that uses the same technique, as well. I'd love to gain the courage to give them a shot. I'm thrilled to say I took a cake decorating class and I can do that!!

I am inspired by things around me...a pretty pattern may spark an entire party theme. What kind of things inspire your baking creativity?
MT - I watch a lot of TV and movies, which give me most of my geeky and pop culture ideas. I do venture away from the geek category, too. A lot of inspiration comes from just roaming the seasonal aisles of home furnishing stores. Pottery Barn, World Market, Pier 1, and Target are my favorites to get holiday ideas.

Do you have favorite blogs and/or websites you like to visit when you have a moment? 
MT - I visit Sweet Sugarbelle's blog pretty religiously. I also love seeing what SweetAmbsThe Bearfoot BakerHaniela's, and Montreal Confections come up with next. 

I love to ask everyone I interview: if you are stranded on a desert island and can take one item and one meal, what would they be?
MT - I saw an episode of Mythbusters once where they showed how to survive on a deserted island with just duct tape, so I pick that as my item. (Did I mention I watch a lot of TV?) For my meal, it would have to be the red velvet cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory.

Did your pants go up a size looking at all these fabulous edibles? Mine did...thanks for playing along Mike!

Follow Semi Sweet Designs on Twitter,  Facebook, and Pinterest.

Stay tuned for another set of crafty sisters...

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