February’s Cookie of the Month is another one of our Original Six flavors. It’s hard for me to pick the RIGHT chocolate cookie for February, but I decided to go with this one. It’s our signature dark chocolate with espresso and cappuccino flavored chips.
A few years back, before Top Shelf Cookies was more than a cookie company in my brain, I took a trip to King Arthur Flour Company for a class with my cousin Annette. Annette is probably one of the nicest people on planet earth. When I moved to down here from New Hampshire, Annette looked out for me. Quickly we realized we had a common love of baking and mostly baking chocolate things. She had a cake recipe that she would make for me when she wanted me to do stuff I didn’t want to do. I love her for that and a lot of other things as well. We both like to bake, but I’ll let you in on a secret, both of us suffer from a fear of yeast based dough. We’ve always had a lot in common, but this one cracks us both up. Neither of us make bread. We finally decided to take on our fear and head up to King Arthur Flour and take two bread classes. We were going to spend the night up there and get to hang out together and then we would become master bread makers. We made some loaves and shopped a lot in the KAF shop, like a LOT. Things we had seen online or in the catalog, but never were sure what we would do with it. We bought it. I came home with three types of cocoa, chocolate chunks, yeast, crushed peppermint and probably four types of chocolate chips.
That is probably the only time I tried to sneak stuff into the house from a shopping trip. I’m not the type of gal that buys tons of shoes or clothes. So, I never felt like I overspent when I would go shopping because I would buy stuff I needed. I just kept putting stuff in my basket. When I got home with it, I put it away in my baking closet and started to dream up what I might do with all this stuff.
Almost instantly, I decided that one of the varieties of chips would be insanely good in the dark chocolate cookie base that I was using for the Black & Gold cookies. I tried it and amped it up with a little of the coffee oil I had bought at King Arthur Flour. I loved this cookie on it’s first bite. At that point, I was obsessing over every recipe and finding flaws in everything.
I gave some to my friend AnnMarie. I can’t remember all the details, but I don’t think I was with her when she ate them. I remember getting an email from her asking if she could name the cookie that was now her favorite cookie. She’s changed favorite cookies a lot since 2011, but I think this one is still one of her all time favorites.
Ann is one of the handful of people that I admitted out loud that I wanted to bake cookies for a living, maybe just have my own business. She never let me forget it either. She never referred to Top Shelf Cookies as “maybe” or an “if” always as a “When you start Top Shelf Cookies…it would be cool to …” So, she said “When you start Top Shelf Cookies, that cookie should be called the ChocoLatte”
Ann doesn’t cook, like ever. She was the first person to offer to help me in the kitchen, she grabbed up a scoop and started scooping dough. She worked my first event with me (it was a bit of a bust) she did farmers markets regularly and would bring her son John. John knew everything there was to know about the cookies, he sent me a text congratulating me on our first pop up at Boston Public Market. Ann got the first Top Shelf Cookies T shirts made. Ann took a vacation day from work to help me get ready for one of our biggest events. Ann is always buying and sending cookies to friends and family. Now, I’m glad she’s going to be helping take over our books, to help me focus on a few new things we have in store and also to help me learn to take a day off again.
I’d love to tell you that from the second I thought “I’d like to bake cookies for a living” that I was full of confidence and never looked back. I always second guessed everything. I wasn’t 22, I didn’t have a lot of money, I didn’t have a lot of savings. I was scared people wouldn’t like the cookies. I was nervous my friends were just big fans of my cookies. Every time I doubted myself, Ann would pull me along. Ann bought cookies for gifts and for gatherings. She told more and more people about me and my cookies and my big plans. In the kitchen, she kept moving because she knew we were on the clock. I loved having her in there, because I was happy to have the help and as we got busier it was sometimes the only time I would see her.
When I tell people I started my own business, I get a lot of responses…one of which is that it takes a lot of guts. I’ve always kind of felt like, I’ve just been insanely lucky to have good people in my life that support me and Ann’s right at the top of that list. So, it makes me happy that she named that cookie and that I get to see it all the time. It’s a great reminder of a great friend that wouldn’t let me give up on myself.