Photo by Erika Henrich.

ERIKA HEINRICH | South Jersey Information Equity Project

CHERRY HILLArlene Felder, the owner of Glassy Brown Cookies, said representation was the goal when she hosted her Black History Cookie Decorating Class at Cherry Hill Mall on Feb. 3.

The Willingboro native, who established Glassy Brown Cookies in 2015, hosted the workshop to teach bakers of all levels of artistic skill the techniques of using royal icing to decorate Black History Month-themed cookies.

Felder demonstrated to participants how to create different hair textures, and how to correctly fill cookies with the icing. She further explained that a single strand of hair is about the width of the opening of the icing cone.

Photo by Erika Heinrich.

A larger opening allows for a thicker hair texture, while a smaller opening provides a fine curly texture, allowing for many options for someone to artistically illustrate different curls and hair types.

Felder and her assistant also explained how to create a smooth appearance with royal icing by using a toothpick to stir the icing and clear out any imperfections in its consistency, guaranteeing a smooth surface in the finished product.


The cookie shapes were inspired by silhouettes of different hairstyles and people of different ages. One portion of the cookies was shaped like a young boy with an afro box cut, while others were shaped like a girl with two curly ponytails. Some cookies even had the shape of a woman with a head wrap.

The class also taught participants techniques on how to maintain a smooth surface of icing. I chose the girl cookie with pigtails and the woman with a head wrap. I used a combination of tight-curl and wide-curl techniques for my ponytails and a tight curl for my woman cookie with the head wrap.

At the end of the class, I felt a sense of pride in what I created and used my creativity to figure out what textures to use, which I primarily learned in the workshop. I also experienced an overall sense of calmness that came from filling the cookies with icing.

Photo by Erika Heinrich.

Felder was recently featured on the Jennifer Hudson Show on Jan. 15 to talk about Glassy Brown Cookies and her passion for creating diversity in her cookies. She expressed that at the early age of five, she knew that she wanted a cookie company of her own.

She told Hudson she believes in the vision of seeing oneself reflected in something; a cookie that matches you. Felder also specializes in putting different popular pie and cake flavors into bite-sized cookies.

When asked about what it means to own a local business, Felder likened owning her business to building the community around her. “Community keeps you grounded,” she said.

She gave an example of a mother-and-son pair who recently moved to Delaware yet loved Glassy Brown Cookies enough to make the drive back for the class. Felder set them up with a cookie subscription package so they can never go without their favorite sweet treat.

The event wasn’t just about cookie decorating, but also about making a space to celebrate learning how to decorate cookies in a way the professionals do, as well as to expand our skills in representing Black people with different hairstyles and skin tones.

The key was in the variety supplied by Felder in icing shades and icing cones to make a variety of appearances within the cookie’s shape.

Glassy Brown Cookies’ workshop was a prime example of the celebration and sharing of diversity that can come from local businesses. The team took their time to plan which shapes the cookies should be, what shades to utilize, and what techniques work best to best honor the mission of Black History Month.

Felder attended John C. Smith University for social work. She was a social worker for 15 years. During that time, she received her master’s in business administration in human resources management and services.

Glassy Brown Cookies has locations in the Moorestown Mall and Burlington. It is a great example of a local business that has created a space for the community to learn something new. That also brings joy in celebrating Black stories and enthusiasm for what the future holds.

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