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Tough cookie: Architect turned baker gets put to the test

June 8th, 2010 · No Comments

Perry King/Gleaner News

By Perry King

Beverly Horii, owner of Jinja Ninja cookies, has been making her designer treats since September. Before that, she was moving up in the world of architecture, a place that she grew tired of.

“After 22 years, I was at the top of where I could go in my career. What ends up happening is that when you become more senior in this field, you end up becoming business development, which means you have to go out and look for work—which isn’t what I really love to do,” said Horii, an Annex resident of 15 years.

Horii did not buy into the idea of selling architecture. But, becoming the creator of “mookies”—designer cookies for special occasions—was not something she immediately jumped to. She had always loved to bake—particularly cookies—and her discovery of mookies came by coincidence. “I spelled out my friend’s name, ‘Farewell Pam’—it was a going away party—and I put stars, but I placed them individually and stuck them to a sheet,” she remembers.

“You know how you bake cookies, if you put them too close together, they stick together. I thought, ‘that’s interesting.’” Her cosy idea led her to create cookies with collage-like elements, and eventually she left her previous position to start her own company.

“I’m very hands-on. I do a lot of the work here. I hire people when I need the help and I design everything. I love the design part, and I love baking and cooking so that’s what got me going initially,” she said.

The Gleaner asked Horii to combine her design and baking skills by making a cookie replica of local landmark Bloor Street United Church. She agreed, as long as we kept her cookie-designing techniques and gingerbread recipe a secret.


Perry King/Gleaner News

Horii has a passion and desire to keep creating. She noted that she has dabbled in other pastries, like cupcakes and three-dimensional cookies. “When people see it, they’re just blown away. The kind of satisfaction you get from that is what keeps me going,” she said.

Her passion has not gone unnoticed. “I think it’s her passion that drives her courage,” said Edwina Low, who has worked with Horii in the kitchen, but has recently left to pursue interior design at Ryerson University. “She has been courageous enough to leave the safety of being employed to foray into a completely different field, and not only that, she’s set out to merge her passion for design and food. Her energy and excitement is contagious when she talks about her new ideas, and you see her courage when she’s persevering to make her ideas a reality.

“With all things great and worthwhile, making designer gourmet cookies isn’t cut and dry. She’s put in a lot of muscle and a lot of hours to get her business to where it is today,” said Low.

Horii’s favourite part of the challenge was the icing of the cookie. “This is where the mookie comes to life,” she said. “That’s because you give them life through colour and detail.”

She used two shades of a butter cream-based frosting, coloured brown, as the main colours for the church, and regular frosting to decorate the surrounding design. She used a royal white icing to add the finer window and building details to the church.

In the end, the Annex mookie took 90 minutes on the dot.

The challenge was a diificult one, but she persevered and produced a beautiful and yummy cookie.

To learn more about Jinja Ninja cookies, visit the Jinja Ninja Facebook page.

Correction: It is mentioned in the article that Edwina Low, Horii’s former assistant, is pursuing interior design at Ryerson University. In fact, Low graduated from Ryerson’s Interior Design program in 2006. She now works as a set dresser and designer in television production. The Gleaner regrets the error.

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