Saturday, April 25, 2009

Cookie Biz - The process

First steps...figure out what you need to start a cookie business in California.
Well, it is NOT a short list of things to do.
You need to choose a business name.
Hmmmm, that should be easy. So, I started to think about names.
Annie Baker's Cookies
Annie's Cookies
AB Cookies
The Baker's Cookies
the list goes on and on.
Then one day I was chatting with my friends who own a beautiful bed and breakfast in downtown Napa and they mentioned Annie B's cookies would be perfect for me.
I liked it. So, I was going to name my new buisness Annie B's Cookies.
Yippee!!! Now you need to do a search on the Internet to make sure it is not taken by another business. I searched and searched, found some Annie B's confections that existed in Buck County, PA. And thought, well, it is not Annie B's Cookies, so let's go.
I was all set and then a really good friend of mine brought me a caramel she found at Vallergas Market and it said, Annie B's Caramels. AHHHH!!!!!
I was bummed. I typed that into the search engine and ther it was...a Minnesota based candy company. Problem was they did not have a website, so I never saw any information pop up on them. I decided there has to be a better way to research this name thing.
I went to the trademark and copyright website and started searching for my new name...Annie the Baker. It did not exist. Wahoo!!!
I deemed my new company name, Annie the Baker.
So, once you figure out the name you quickly go to and purchased the domain name for a small annual fee.
Then it was off to the county clerk to file a fictitious name report (also referred to as Doing Business As)for $20 and to the local newspaper to have them publish the fictitious name report for 4 weeks in the paper. That was $73 for the 4 week ad. EEKS!!!
Now onward to find someone to help me design a logo for Annie the Baker.
This is fun!!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Starting a cookie biz--first step-the product

So, long time no chat here. Sorry about that. I got this crazy idea to start a cookie business and have been keeping myself very busy with it. Today a good friend of mine commented that I had not written on my blog in a long time...I told her I had been crazy busy with this cookie biz thing...and she said, you should write about starting this business. So, here we go...

It all started when I was trying to figure out how a favorite cookie of mine from the Chicago area -- Carol's Cookies -- was made. I had to figure out how she gets her cookies to stay so puffy, but not cakey, more like dry and sugary cookie dough. I started by buying the cookies when I was in Chicago this January. Brought them back to Napa, ate some and started thinking about them, ate some more. I then researched what role each cookie ingredient played in the spread factor. I needed LESS SPREAD, more PUFF in my cookies. I hate flat cookies, so I was very excited to try to figure this out. I even posted a question on Chowhound about it and had many replies. I realized I was not the only one out there trying to figure out Carol's Cookies. I started playing with the cookies and taking the test recipe items out to my friends and asking them what they thought. And then one day a friend asked me why I was trying to figure out that other cookie when mine was MUCH BETTER!!!! haha
My other really good friend said to me, you MUST sell these at the local Farmers' Markets this Summer. I thought, hmmmm...that is a good idea in this economy to start out making something for a Farmers' Market instead of opening up a brick and mortar bakery. I like it!!!
This was the first step for me to starting a cookie business.
I will tell you all about my process here . I have been spending a ton of time researching and collecting information. I will keep a log for your entertainment. Hope you enjoy it.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Peanut Butter Sundae at Fume

I had the Ooey-Gooey Chocolate & Peanut Butter Sundae at Fume Bistro & Bar in Napa just the other day. Just the name alone made me want to order it...ooey-gooey. YUM!!
At first I was a bit thrown with the chocolate-walnut gelato as the base of this sundae served on a slightly curved plate. But in the end, it actually worked well with the whole sundae.
"Oreo" cookies, chocolate dipped marshmallows (little rectangle chocolate pieces) and peanut butter bon-bons (round frosty chocolate covered peanut butter ice cream balls) are all house-made. A little squiggle of caramel and chocolate sauce along with a nice dollop of whipped cream top this whole treat off. The menu had peanut brittle listed as a topping on the sundae. I never found it...would have given this dessert a great crunch factor.
The peanut butter bon-bons have great peanut butter flavor and a nice creamy texture. Loved the chocolate covered marshmallows, gave the sundae a fun texture and great goo factor.
Fume Bistro & Bar is located just a little upvalley in Napa. 4050 Byway East at Wine Country Avenue.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

a couple more yummy flavors at Kara's Cupcakes

So, I have tried a couple more flavors at Kara's Cupcakes.
Chocolate Velvet
Chocolate cupcake with velvety bittersweet chocolate buttercream
This icing just melts in your mouth. So darn good...I think it is one of their best sellers too. I can see why. The chocolate cake is nice and moist with an Italian Buttercream icing. The icing is sprinkled with little chocolate flakes that melt in your mouth along with the icing. YUM!

Fleur De Sel
Chocolate cupcake with caramel filling, ganache frosting and fleur de sel
A rich, thick dark chocolate ganache frosting. Almost fudge like in consistency.
I was pleasantly surprised when I bit into this chocolate cupcake and found the gooey caramel filling. I kept thinking, hmmm...fleur de sel is usually accompanied with caramel these days, seems to be the big thing and from the looks of the cupcake, you think there is no caramel. Sure it could have said it on the cute little tag by the cupcakes, but who is looking at the tags...I am focused on the cupcakes.

NEWEST addition
Sweet Smores
Chocolate cupcake with a graham cracker crust and toasted marshmallow frosting
Yep, I was in a chocolate mood this day. The bottom of the cupcake liner is where the graham cracker crust lives. It didn't necessarily cling to my was a bit too crumbly. No problem, I just squished my cake against it and it hung on nicely. haha The marshmallow frosting had a nice toasting to the top of it. Gave it a great appearance. A new, fun flavor. Keep it up Kara!!!! I love your flavors.

Sorry, I do not have any pics of these...ate them too fast. haha
Next time for sure...I promise.
Kara's Cupcakes is located at 3249 Scott Street (at Chestnut) in San Francisco, CA
She has 3 other locations throughout the Bay area. I have only checked out the Scott is so cute!!!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Desserts at JoLe in Calistoga

I went to JoLe in Calistoga and concentrated on desserts.

My favorite was the Anjou Pear & Almond Turnovers.
Two little diced pear filled turnovers are served warm with vanilla ice cream and honey sauce. The puff pastry on the turnover was very flaky and crispy. Gives this dessert the perfect crunch. The vanilla bean ice cream was a good balance of flavor and sweetness to the turnover. The honey sauce was very nice and had some vanilla bean in there to round out the honey flavor. A ton of crispy toasted almonds were sprinkled on top to add some extra crunch. Very nice!! A super comforting dessert.
Cannot wait to see what other flavor combinations they serve in the future.

My second favorite was the Coconut Cream pie.
This pie was made with a bittersweet chocolate lined macadamia crust.
The creamy coconut flavored custard (probably has coconut milk or coconut cream in it) was nice and smooth. Unlike most coconut cream pies, this one has no shreds of meaty coconut in the custard. Instead all the shavings of toasted coconut are sprinkled heavily on top of the pie and plate. The plate is squiggled in a pattern with both chocolate and caramel sauces. Complemented the coconut custard perfectly. I really like the idea of macadamia crust, but I did not get a macadamia flavor at all. Kind of bummed me out. Would definitely order this again and again.

And I would recommend the Trio of ice creams...just would not want them to be served all together in the same dish again.
The flavors did not meld or melt together well. Of the three flavors, my favorite one was the vanilla grapefruit ice cream, yes ice cream, not sorbet. It had a lovely start in the mouth with vanilla undertones, then comes a creamsicle flavor of orange and cream and it finishes with a strong grapefruit taste. Very interesting.
We also had the Malted Chocolate (bittersweet chocolate ice cream with a tiny hint of malt) and Apple Cinnamon ice creams in the tulip glass.

JoLe: Farm to Table is located at 1457 Lincoln Avenue, Calistoga, CA
owned and operated by husband-and-wife team Matt and Sonjia Spector. Sonjia is the pastry chef and her desserts are updated versions of things her mom and grandmother made.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Peanut Butter

I know everyone is freaked out about the salmonella outbreak in peanut butter. Here is a link to a list of recalled items just in case you have something in question.

I still love my peanut butter.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Kara's Cupcakes, so good!!!

I know I said I would talk about Panna Cotta next...but I just had to tell you about the awesome cupcakes I just ate today. I was in Downtown San Francisco and had 4 wonderful cupcakes today from Kara's Cupcakes.
YUMMY!! I will be heading back into the city for the Fancy Food Show this coming weekend and will be buying more cupcakes...stay tuned!!

Today I ate:
Sweet Vanilla
Vanilla cupcake with madagascar bourbon vanilla frosting
OK, too die for!!!! This is a plain vanilla cupcake, yes, but there is nothing plain about it. Great vanilla flavor comes through in both the cake and frosting. (side note about Madagascar Bourbon vanilla--named for the region in which they are grown, has a rich, sweet flavor)
The cake was nice and moist and had a great crumb texture. And I love the little white sprinkles (or jimmies as I grew up calling them) all over the frosting. PERFECT!!!

Chocolate cupcake with rich espresso buttercreamI am not a huge coffee person and this was just perfect...not too much coffee flavor to overwhelm and not just a hint to be subtle...just right. The Italian Buttercream style icing had little flecks of coffee bean all throughout...added a great look and great flavor. And there is a coffee bean on the top of the cupcake to add to the crunch!!! The chocolate cake was nice and moist. The icing just melted in my mouth...I love it.

Kara's Karrot
carrot cupcake with a cream cheese frostingI am a huge fan of carrot cake and this was so very tasty!!!Great spice flavor and moist cake. Cream cheese frosting that was so soft and creamy, just perfect!!

Peanut Butter ganache
chocolate cupcake with peanut buttter and milk chocolate ganache frostingI love peanut butter!!!Great moist chocolate cake with a perfect blend of peanut butter and milk chocolate frosting. I love this combo and could have eaten about 10 of them.
I love Kara's Cupcakes!!!