Gourmet sugar cookies and fresh macarons filled Rose Gebran’s countertops in her modern, chic kitchen.
Today’s theme: unicorn sugar cookies for a birthday party and lemon-filled macarons.
As she uses only fresh ingredients, the kitchen smelled of lemon zest. With a taste of her homemade frosting, it’s obvious that her cookies aren’t your average sugar cookie.
The frosting was as fluffy as whip cream, and the cookies were too cute to eat.
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Gebran is a part-time cookie artist specializing in gourmet sugar cookies who has been featured in Redbook Magazine and other media outlets.. Each batch of cookies takes about eight hours to prepare, and Gebran makes and decorates every aspect of the cookie. Then she lets them sit to dry before packaging them up and delivering them to her client.
Oh, and after all of that is said and done, she doesn’t accept money for herself.
Instead, Gerbran donates all proceeds to a local Idaho charity — an example set by her Lebanese mother. It’s something she’s passing on to her own son and daughter.
“Their hearts have been moved,” she said. “When they consider things they want to give, my hope is that they can find their thing to give back, and that they believe they can do it.”
An idea strikes
About a year and a half ago, Gebran sat in her Eagle home while thinking about all the ways she can give back to Idaho.
She was busy with life, raising a family and working as an accountant by day. She found volunteering was hard to find time for and opportunities to do so weren’t always continuous.
She thought of what she loved doing— cookie making, and what she wanted to do more of — giving. It then came to her that she could bake cookies and donate the proceeds.
The idea of giving is steeped in family history.
Gebran was born in Beirut, Lebanon, in the middle of the Lebanese Civil War. Her family was lucky enough to get visas to safely come to the United States. During this time, her parents struggled with not knowing English and making ends meet.
“We lived very humbly,” Gebran said.
Even though times were tough, Gebran’s mom remained hospitable — giving her time or her goodies — no matter the situation.
“I didn’t notice we were lacking at all, because I saw such a giving person,” she said.
How charities benefit
With that sense of service mind, Gebran created her business overnight. After the idea came to her, she made an Instagram page to let the world know of RoRo’s Cookies.
After creating her page, she started baking shaped sugar cookies and decorating them with royal icing. Without much of a decorating background, she started watching tutorials on YouTube of other cookie makers making frosting and trying different techniques.
Her first customer ordered Easter cookies. With her design set, she posted online that she was selling the cookies and proceeds went to charity. The rest is history.
Some of the organizations she’s donated to are Make-A-Wish Idaho, Women’s and Children’s Alliance, Create Common Good and Fuzzy Pawz. All organizations are based in Idaho and give back to the local community.
Her first donation was to the Women’s and Children’s Alliance, where she donated $1,000.
“I love charities that help people get back on their feet,” Gebran said. “I love those charities that help people that can’t get help. For example, I just contacted this organization called Wish Granters, who grant wishes to terminally-ill adults.”
Once she’s raised enough money to reach her thousand dollar goal, she contacts the charity to let them know of her future donation. While donating, Gebran and her family visit the organization, introduce themselves, partake in activities and make connections.
“We were really struck by Rose’s kindness, generosity, and dedication to our community,” Make-A-Wish Idaho President and CEO Sarah Shinn wrote in an email. “She not only wanted to use her delicious cookies to raise funds for the mission, she wanted to invest her time and energy into supporting the mission at every level. That type of personal investment is critical to our ability to grant magical and transformational wishes.”
Her Instagram, @roroscookies, had a unique approach, which also caught Boise Bucketlist’s creator Diana DeJesus’s attention.
“What attracted me to her page was her philosophy and how she bakes these cookies to give back. I found that fascinating,” DeJesus said about their first encounter. “She’s so positive through her messaging.”
Gebran believes the encouragement she’s had from DeJesus was big for her new business. After meeting up to give DeJesus a taste of her gourmet cookies, Gebran started attending DeJesus’ social media workshops and her collaboration mixers where she connected with other local business women.
Gebran not only supports DeJesus’s events but also sponsors them.
“When she can, she’s been so supportive,” DeJesus said. “She believes wholeheartedly collaboration or just connecting on a more organic level.”
Others take note
With her constant goal of inspiring those around her, many media outlets have taken note — including Redbook Magazine, which contacted Gebran in May for its “Find Your Passion Project.” The story, featured in the magazine’s September issue, was about moms who inspire their children through their passion project.
And although being a cookie artist sounds like a dream job, it does have its downsides.
“The hardest parts are feeling tired, because it is so much work,” Gebran said. “Staying up late and working on all these orders, it can get to you where I’m just exhausted. It’s easy to start grumbling, but then it just hits me where I’m like wait a second, I’m doing this because I want to give. It takes giving up that part from me so that’s where it brings me back to why I’m doing this.”
Due to the amount of work she puts in to making the cookies, she had to set some boundaries. She now is fulfilling two-to-three orders per week, and asks for orders months in advance. She is booked through December and does not take orders during the summer when her children are on break.
“We’re in a wonderful place now, and it’s from being here,” she said. “I think that’s part of me ... wanting to give back, and why I want it to be charities in Idaho. I wanted the money to be here, to stay here and to help others here.”
Visit her website at roroscookies.org to connect with Gebran, watch tutorials, place an order and learn more.
Rose Gebrand’s Royal Icing
¾ cup of warm water
5 tablespoons meringue powder
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 1/4 pounds powdered sugar (usually 1 bag)
1 teaspoon clear vanilla (optional)
In a mixing bowl, combine warm water and meringue powder. Mix it with a whisk by hand until it is frothy, about 30 seconds.
Add the cream of tartar and clear vanilla extract and whisk for 30 seconds more. Pour in all of the powdered sugar and place the bowl on the mixer.
Using the paddle attachment on the lowest speed, mix for 10 minutes. Icing will get thick and creamy.
Cover the bowl with a dampened tea-towel to prevent crusting and drying out.
It will store in an air-tight container or mason jar for several weeks at room temperature or in the freezer.
Note: Tint with food coloring. This icing should be stiff for outlining cookies and can be thinned with warm water to fill in the cookie shape. I like to let my cookies dry for at least 24 hours, and up to 48 hours before packaging them.