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In every formula we've created, there is an inspired, sometimes crazy little story of how it came to be. We've gone to some great measures to create the perfect dough formulas. You can taste the difference
in everything we make, because of how far we will go to make it right.
Our client wanted an exclusive formula for their cookie of the month program. They told us to “get crazy.” We took that freedom and looked at what was currently on the bakery tables, the everyday cookies, etc. And we didn’t just look at cookies. We looked for areas where a new cookie flavor would not detract from any bakery item that already existed.
When creating anything for this client, certain carved in stone rules exist. Zero trans fat. No HFCS. Clean labels, every time. That applies to every ingredient we think about using. And then our own rule. Is it the absolute best it can be? Once we’ve answered yes, only then, do we roll it out.
Frozen lime would have been easy, but not our style. Though cheap and plentiful, dried lime peel is also brown. It looks like little corrugated cardboard shavings, and needs to be reconstituted. And the label? All chemistry. If we were going to make this, it would be using the real thing.
We established zesting stations and got to work.
To produce enough zest to fill the order, we hand zested over 1,440 limes. We saved the limes, and the day before we mixed this all butter cookie, we juiced 160 pounds of limes. All that fresh lime juice was used in the cookie. What else? Butter, unbleached flour, sugar, coconut, fresh eggs. The result? A clean label where customers read "fresh lime juice, lime zest".
The ingredient label?
Dry roasted peanuts. That’s it.
This one goes back to 2003. Our client was talking clean labels back then when no one else was. They wanted the trans fat out of all cookies. Let me tell you, making a clean label cookie without sacrificing taste in 2003 was not easy. In fact, it still isn’t.
But in 2003, we began to reformulate our cookies. Going to all butter
was a no brainer, and easier to do in some cases than others. But in
every case, time consuming testing was done to maintain the mouth feel, the baked shelf life, the spread, the final baked color and more.
But there was one cookie giving us grief. The peanut butter cookie.
We were using a fresh, made to order peanut butter. But no matter what
we did, we still ended up with trace elements of trans fat in the lab report. Would it go on the label? No. But it was there and we knew it. And we
believe no trans fat, means exactly that.
It took some time, but working closely with our custom processor, we were finally able to identify that our clean peanut butter was carrying the trace amounts of trans fat in the emulsifier. The peanut butter was no longer clean enough for us.
Our supplier, a third generation, family owned and operated custom nut processor, has worked directly with the same growers since 1935. With that much history between them, working together means that our supplier buys only the top grade of nuts. For us, that means this year’s crop of Spanish or runner peanuts, while most commercial peanut butters are made from two year old crops.
Today, most peanuts are purchased in 2,000 pound totes. But not ours. The peanuts we use are still packaged in classic 110 pound burlap bags. Peanuts in small batches, processed by hand at each step, by experienced members of a company that oversees the entire process from start to finish.
They roast 330 pounds of peanuts with the skins on, which is the minimum they can roast and is also the maximum they roast for us at one time. Roasting the peanuts leads to a 10% to 15% loss in the overall batch weight.
Once the roasting is completed, the peanuts are run through two automated rubber mats to remove the skins. After that, the peanuts are hand sorted to remove any burnt ones or any remaining skins. Only once this is completed, do the nuts move onto the grinding phase.
Our supplier has an old 1930’s Bauer Mill that had been used to grind nuts.
It still worked and we were going to use it. The Bauer Mill is no longer manufactured, and over the years since we made changes to the Peanut Butter cookie formula, on occasion the mill has broken down. Several years ago, our custom processor was able to find the schematics on the internet. Now if something breaks, they take the broken part and the schematics to
a local machine shop where they make a new, replacement part.
This is the true cookie story of the zero trans fat, made from scratch,
in small batches, all butter Peanut Butter cookie.
There are easier ways to make cookies, but there is no better way.
And we’ve been doing it this way since 1977.
After a long, hot day
of booth set-up at IDDBA.
It had been a long day. And hot. With 3.9 million square feet of space, my feet felt like I had walked every one of them in Georgia World Congress Center. We were exhibitors in the IDDBA, and day two was over. We boarded the shuttle bus back to our hotel. My co-workers boarded first and they kept going, all the way to the back of the bus. I thought, what are we? In middle school? I was not going to walk one more foot if I didn’t have to. And there in the third row was a perfectly empty seat. So I asked the broker in the seat next to the apparently available one, “Is this seat taken?”
As the bus made its way to the first stop, we became acquainted. And he asked me, "What makes your cookie dough different from all the others?"
So I said, "Let me tell you about our peanut butter cookies."
After more than 20 years of cookie dough manufacturing, I sometimes forget that it is not always necessary for me to try and talk over the equipment. And this was one of those times.
In my search for an available seat, I did not notice the two men sitting behind the broker and the open seat. As I began to tell my seat companion all the ways what we do and how we do it brings added value to our clients, those gentlemen began to look at each other. The Chief Executive Officer of the candy company, with 11 retail locations and their candy in an American membership-only warehouse club their client, said to his associate, “Find out what booth they are in.”
They have bloopers. Candy that comes off their production line, for example, that does not meet size, or weight specifications. More of some flavors than others. Years ago a technician from a national food products company, formulated recipes for them using the food company's cake mix base.
With their custom recipes in hand, the candy company then found a manufacturer who would mix the bloopers into the cake mix creating a line of cookies for them. But the recipes were not custom and they were not cookies. They were not happy with their supplier who would not mix and match orders. Minimum orders were required. And the more popular flavors ran out before others, leaving them with product that remained in their freezers long after the expiration date. It was not all bad. They did like the unique shape, spread and mouth feel of the cookie.
Meetings, phone calls and a lot of emails later, we had an understanding of the candy company’s must have, nice to have, and never even thought it might be possible to have until they met us. The cake mix was gone. Pastry flour, butter, bourbon vanilla and their candy replaced them. We formulated to meet spread and height specifications, mouth feel, and exceptional taste.
Now our client, the candy company has what they need. Clean labels. Eight unique, great tasting, cookies. No minimum orders. Their price point came way down and the quality went way up to finally match their candy. And they have a partner who listens.
While I refused to walk all the way to the back of the bus, it put us on a great journey. Just think, how far would we go for you?
At Cookie Cupboard, our creativity never goes stale. We’re even creative when it comes to doing good and supporting the community. An example, Cookies for Coats!™
Every November through April, Cookie Cupboard accepts donations of clothing, supplies and other goods for The Metanoia Project. This 501(c) 3 organization gathers and welcomes the hard-to-shelter homeless three nights a week during the winter months. Their ultimate goal is to move people out of the cycle of homelessness and into permanent housing and jobs. They do an amazing job of this.
Our friends, neighbors, and customers drop off donations of gently used coats, shoes, blankets etc. to our office and they get free cookie dough!
It’s that simple. We sort, wash, organize, and deliver the donations to
The Metanoia Project.
Giving back is part of our core values and what we consider “the right way,” and we just wouldn’t do it any other way.
Let’s talk about what’s in your butter cookie.
We’ve learned over time what ingredients may go into other butter cookie dough. Dried Egg Yolk. Artificial Flavors. FD&C Yellow #5 and #6. Titanium Dioxide. Vegetable Gum. We believe ingredients with the letters “x, y and z” are generally bad for clean labels.
What’s in our butter cookie? Slow-Churned Butter. Fresh Eggs. Vanilla. Sugar. Flour. Salt. That’s it. When it tastes this good, it sells itself.
We pride ourselves in using minimal ingredients to create 100% delicious products. There’s a difference in everything we make, because of how far we will go to make it right.
Personally, coffee is just not my cup of tea. But the rest of the crew at Cookie Cupboard seems to think that coffee is the most important meal of the day.
When we develop new formulas, we’re always evaluating and incorporating top flavor trends and forecasts. One year, not long ago, coffee made the list. This had my staff all abuzz – and so it began.
A coffee flavored cookie. Hmmm. While not for me, I couldn’t ignore the allure this held for everyone else. And so we started with fresh-ground coffee beans. Our first test was too bitter for the non coffee drinkers. We needed to mellow it out. After trials and delicious errors, a butterscotch chip was stirred in. Selected for its clean label – its rich brown sugar, real butter and vanilla essence. Yes. We were on the right track. But it still needed… something.
Everyone has their vice. Coffee. Lottery tickets. Warm bread. Okay, maybe that’s just my family. But one morning over pancakes, we were listing all the delicious breads we liked. Fresh loaves, bagels, crackers, flatbread, cornbread, sour dough…
Sour dough! The something that was missing.
Sour dough pretzels – hand crushed to retain uneven sizes and get the best disbursement in the cookie. Hand crafted, old fashioned, perfect for this scratch-made cookie.
We finished it the right way – the way we always do. All butter. Made from scratch. Zero trans fat.
Our clients requested it. Their customers wanted it. Cookie Cupboard’s special blend, and it sells out every time.
A coffee flavored cookie? Yep, that’s what’s brewing!
Do you ever have one of those lazy kind of Saturday mornings with no appointments on the schedule, no to-do list in sight? Where you leisurely read the newspaper, sharing sections with your spouse, while you linger over cups of coffee?
But somehow I found myself glancing through the New York Times one morning. A sample issue had been left in our driveway with an offer for six weeks of free home weekend delivery. That’s when I noticed an article about a cookie in New York City that “owned Manhattan”. Now that was an article I would find time to read.
The raving fans, including a large celebrity following, were quoted extensively. We were skeptical. Were the celebrities quoted really eating this cookie? As a group, they are collectively not heavy enough to cast a shadow. But I make no judgments (except, of course, for that one).
Intrigued, we bought it online to taste for ourselves. It was huge. Eight ounces baked weight, and perhaps more scone than cookie in texture. Not soft or chewy. Not a dunker either. We could tell that it would be difficult to bake in an oven where many types of items (breads, pastries, cookies and more) all go on the same rack at the same temperature.
But most surprising to us – the taste. Never humble, we thought “we can do better.” So we got to work.
We bought whole California Walnuts and hand chopped them to allow large pieces in the cookie. Hand chopping walnuts may be up there on the list of “Are you nuts?” Yes, we are. Just ask us about zesting limes. But it was the right thing to do to achieve the decadent taste and hearty texture of this cookie. To make it stand out. All butter, slow-churned. Super-clean chocolate made with vanilla bean seeds. And as always, zero trans fat, preservative-free, no chemicals.
We eat a lot of cookies at Cookie Cupboard – from our own scratch-made formulas to samples from around the world. There are not many cookies we would stand in line for. Our soft and chewy, clean-label Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookie is one of those. They’ll be flying in from NYC for this one.
Very few classic food memories are as cherished as Hough Bakeries. Founded in 1902, Hough Bakery grew to be the 10th largest bakery in the United States. By the 1980's, Hough Bakery had 28 retail locations throughout Northeast Ohio.
Their blue and white bakery boxes were immediately recognized by customers, and they were a beloved item on local grocers' tables. Hough Bakery was famous for their streusel coffee cake, hot cross buns, sticky pecan rolls, coconut chocolate bars and Easter "daffodil" cakes.
But perhaps nothing evokes more pure food nostalgia than the Hough Modernistic™ Cookies. The chocolate and vanilla dough swirled to perfection, in buttery, crumbly goodness.
While the end of Hough Bakery was a collective day of mourning for many devoted fans in Northeast Ohio and beyond, the Hough Bakery Modernistic™ Cookie lives on at Cookie Cupboard today.
Consumer demand for zero trans fat led to the creation of today's Modernistic™ Cookie. Made from scratch, by hand without sacrificing the taste of the original cookie.
Modernistic™ Cookies. The way you remember them. Available at Cookie Cupboard yesterday, today and tomorrow.
Dick, Baker Extraordinaire
Hough Bakery, Cookie Cupboard
Let’s blame it on the cover article in The Plain Dealer’s Friday Magazine. On June 1, 2012, author Laura DeMarco published “100 Things To Do This Summer” in Cleveland. And coming in at number two that year was a visit to East Coast Original Frozen Custard on Pearl Road in Parma Heights.
That article led my family there on a warm Friday night. I asked the staff what the most popular flavor was, and was surprised to hear Birthday Cake. My sons thought that sounded great and ordered it. I thought it sounded awful. My feeling is that if it’s not chocolate, why bother?
Sitting at the outside tables, I looked around. There were certainly a lot of Birthday Cake ice cream cones being enjoyed that summer night. What’s the saying? If you think everyone is wrong, it’s not them, it’s you? So it got me thinking.
While grocery shopping that week, I stood for a long period of time looking through the closed freezers door of the ice cream section. Heinen's had Birthday Cake, Breyer’s had Birthday Cake ice cream, and another brand had it as well.
There’s another saying. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em! We started singing the birthday song and got to work.
We make this cookie by hand, from scratch, in small batches. In every batch we blend in our made-from-scratch butter cream frosting, which we also make in small batches. Two mixers working in concert, side by side.
Back when we first started making the Birthday Cake Cookie, zero trans fat sprinkles / non-hydrogenated sprinkles were hard to come by. We searched the country and located a company in New Jersey who would make them for us, but it was a custom order that had to be placed a month in advance with a high minimum order.
Today, manufacturers are starting to catch up with consumer demand for clean labels, and we have more options. We’ve been able to evaluate sprinkles to find the cleanest label along with a color that will not run in the cookie. So we’ve been test tasting Birthday Cake Cookies around here for a few months now. It’s all in a hard day’s work at Cookie Cupboard! When’s your birthday? We hope you’ll celebrate with some of these delicious treats!
Cookie Cupboard Gourmet Dough™
Ellen's Cupboard™ Handcrafted Cookies
7600 Wall Street, Cleveland, Ohio 44125
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