AUBURN — Kristi Touchette can spend hours hand-painting one cookie.

A movie star’s portrait. A delicate teapot. A postcard from Maine, complete with lighthouses. 

It’s edible art that sometimes requires an unexpected nudge.

She sent her Texas friend a Thor cookie this summer, a 5-inch vanilla bean with Chris Hemsworth’s piercing blue God of Thunder eyes looking back.

“She emailed me the other day — she couldn’t eat it,” said Touchette, 41. “I want people to eat them. I’m flattered when they don’t. I’m kind of like, ‘You’d enjoy it if you ate it . . .'”

Touchette started her company, Ahimsa Custom Cakes, in December 2008. She’d been working at a local middle school with special education students and was looking for a way to stay home with her now-10-year-old daughter for a few years.

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Ahimsa, a Sanskrit word meaning “to do no harm,” is also her daughter’s middle name.

Touchette, a Lewiston native, has a sculpting degree from the Maine College of Art. Unusual cakes, as the company name implies, have been her rock star. This summer, she made a table-saw cake with edible nails, hammer and level. She’s sculpted and frosted an Elvis Presley cake bust and a Harry Potter-inspired Monster Book with teeth.

For a Georgia couple married in Freeport, she spent up to 15 hours baking and decorating a football stadium cake, with windows, bushes and thousands of colorful sprinkle “fans.”

“I wanted to get away from doing what everyone else was doing,” Touchette said. 

Her custom cookies, organic like her cakes, are in that same vein and orders have been picking up steam. Just one cookie can cost up to $50.

She runs her company at night, after her husband and daughter have gone to bed, and typically works until 2 a.m. baking, decorating and painting. On a busy night, she’s up until 5 a.m.

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After the cookies cool, she applies a glaze on top that hardens for a good working surface. She paints freehand — no tracing with a projector ahead of time — on her dining room table and uses food coloring and regular brushes. For portraits and detailed work, she’ll use two to three photos as reference.

“I didn’t realize I could paint until I did cookies,” she said. “I like the creative aspect. I like using my hands and I like not knowing exactly what something’s going to be.”

Her cookies start at $40/dozen and nearly all are made to order. They come in flavors such as vanilla bean, dark chocolate, lemon and French toast.

Touchette doesn’t have a storefront and said she doesn’t want one. She doesn’t keep inventory on hand, but will sometimes experiment with different designs while waiting for other projects to cool at night.

After a recent trip to the Museum of Modern Art in New York, “I have a ton of ideas in my head right now, but I don’t have time to get to them,” she said. “(Business) picks up every year. I also limit the number I take on,” conscious of burn-out.

A piece like Thor takes several hours. Another friend ordered inventor Nikola Tesla-inspired cookies this summer for her husband, giving Touchette free rein on the designs. 

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“I had fun with that,” Touchette said. “I had his death mask and all these different symbols. His pigeon that he loved. Nothing creepy, but I guess he had fallen in love with his pigeon.”

She made the pigeon-shaped cookie, painted a portrait of Tesla and painted more of his patents. The friends took a picture of themselves eating them.

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“I want people to eat them. I’m flattered when they don’t. I’m kind of like, ‘You’d enjoy it if you ate it . . .'” — Kristi Touchette, owner of Ahimsa Custom Cakes in Auburn


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