Oh, hey. A new product. Much like our Earl Grey Hot Chocolate Mix, it’s something that’s been in the works for a long time and our S’mores Kit is finally in the shops just in time for Valentine’s Day. You know, it takes us foreeeever to roll out our ideas, but we get it done. Eventually.
So what’s inside? You get a choice of either 6 cardamom or 6 maple marshmallows, a dozen of Mark’s graham cracker shortbread creations (more substantial, crumbly and tasty than a traditional graham cracker) and 6 squares of chocolate from Madecasse. If you don’t know about these chocolate makers then head on over to their site. They’ve got a branch here in Brooklyn and we’ve sampled quite a few of their chocolate bars, yum! The kit includes 3 mini skewers and is nicely packaged in a box with a classy charcoal grey ribbon (er, looks like I have to practice my stamping skills…it’s harder than it looks!).
Don’t forget, we’re taking Valentine’s Day orders until February 4th. And ps, I have a few food calendars for sale on the site (there might be 1 or 2 more NY calendars too) and on Etsy at 30% off.
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I keep forgetting how soon after the holidays Valentine’s Day is – that is if you’re in the retail business. Wasn’t I just covered in confetti, ringing in the new year?
I really loved our Valentine’s Day box from last year so we’re bringing it back again. Sometimes we develop products for a holiday and like it so much that we make it part of our regular product list, like in the case of the passionfruit marshmallows (in reality, however, these might very well be the first marshmallows Mark ever made as a Pastry Chef over 10+ years ago). Other cookies mutate into something else. The Chocolate Chili Hearts from last year’s box became the Chocolate Chipotle Caramel Sandwich Cookies (by the way, this year’s heart cookies are fewer, but bigger). The Meyer Lemon Rosemary sandwich cookies are seasonal as the meyer lemon season is so fleeting, so they’ll only make their appearance for a short time during the winter. You can also find A Little Box of Valentine’s Day Cookies in our Etsy shop.
And here’s your very last chance to get these Pumpkin Ginger Sandwich cookies until September. We’re taking them off our shops in about a week.
Lastly…stay tuned for a new product we’ve been working on which we’ll roll out very soon this week.
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If you know anything about mass baking then you know that it’s full of repetitive tasks. Scooping the dough and flattening them out onto baking trays. Cutting shapes of rolled dough with a cookie cutter, each and every cookie pressed down from cold sheets of dough by hand. It’s like home baking x 100. Then you have to package it all. I think it takes a certain type of person and a certain type of mindset to be able to do this day in and day out. Mark is like a machine in that sense; he can crank out thousands of cookies in a day and if he has a little help like he did this month from our friend Annie who came into the kitchen 2-3 times a week, then the quantities can multiply. This is how you get through the busiest time of year.
I rarely make an appearance in the kitchen, but I did come in to pack marshmallows this week (I’m useless in the baking department), but that too requires hours upon hours of putting one and a half inch cubes into little bags. I think everyone has a different methodology to get through tedious tasks. Maybe you turn on music and zone out, your movements pretty much on automatic. Or maybe you play mind games and challenge yourself. I tend to do the latter, imagining that I’m playing Tetris while trying to stack 2 rows of 6 marshmallow cubes as perfectly as I can in each bag. With brownies, I challenge myself to see how fast I can wrap each one. So far I can consistently wrap a brownie in 7 seconds. That’s about 8 brownies a minute. I’ve cut my brownie wrapping time in half over the last few years.
One thing that might get overlooked is how organized you have to be to run this business. Quite honestly? I don’t know how Mark does it. All I know is that he keeps track of how many cookies he needs to bake in random sheets of scrap paper with tick marks next to each item. With about 30 products in our shop, it’s a lot to keep track of. You have to be highly organized and on top of everything to know what orders need to go out when. At holiday time it can be killer, but in the 5 years we’ve been in business, we have only sent out wrong orders equal to the number of fingers we can count on one hand – and each mistake feels devastating. But human errors do happen occasionally and we try to make up each and every one.
Mark has wrapped up his holiday baking for the year. He’s at the Brooklyn Flea at One Hanson in downtown Brooklyn Saturday and Sunday for one more holiday fling and then a few days off. He’s looking forward to an evening of just sitting on the couch. Right now, however, he’s thrilled that he doesn’t have to bake anything for a whole week.
photo by Matt Feddersen for Brooklyn Magazine
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I avoided the news over the weekend, partly because we were so busy, but mostly because I didn’t want to feel anything. I don’t think I was ready. But while the kids were in school yesterday I did turn on the news. It’s too much. I don’t really want to say anything more because there’s so much that’s been already said – about guns and politics and mental health and religion – and I don’t want to personalize the tragedy. I did, however, discuss it with Mia and I’m glad I did even though it made her sad and worried because she told me that everyone in her class was talking about it at school on Monday. I don’t know how much of it she grasps (do any of us understand any of it?), but it was probably the first time her innocent world was chipped away.
Honestly, I was glad for the distraction of work these past few days. I remember wondering what the holiday season might be like while we on Thanksgiving break. It didn’t seem like it was going to be as busy as years past, but I reveled in the possibility that it would be ok actually, to have some sanity for the month of December. Last holiday season, to put it mildly, was just too crazy. So as a business owner you weigh both sides: is it better to have sanity or more sales during the holiday season? Can you have both?
December started out like any normal busy month, but it wasn’t the usual crazy like it’s always been. It even felt a little strange not to be running around in an adrenaline induced panic. Mark and I would look at each other at times and think, well…this is a little weird. We even had a leisurely family Sunday a few weekends ago, something that has never happened in December in all the years that we’ve been in business. But then it all changed last week and suddenly it felt like the holidays as we have known it for the last 5 years.
I’m not really sure how it happened considering how it started, but this might be our biggest holiday season yet.
We have to thank all of you for the sales and support of our business. It’s been a tough year on so many fronts, but I feel like we’re ending the year with a bit of momentum, a bit more security and some much needed positivity. We have 5 more days to go before we can put this holiday season to bed. We’ve been working 18 hour days for the past few weeks, but the holidays wouldn’t be the holidays without a bit of sleep deprivation, now would it?
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Lots of press this week (and a few more coming soon too). The New York Times included our biscotti in their Holiday gift guide this year (yay) and Dwell Magazine put our pink peppercorn sandwich cookies in their picks for holiday entertaining. Apartment Therapy’s The Kitchn featured our conversion posters in their 10 useful and Inspiring Gifts for New Cooks and our marshmallows are in Ebony Magazine. Thanks to everyone who spotted our stuff and gave us the heads up.
So…can you believe Christmas is only 2 and half weeks away? It’s not over yet, but I do believe that this holiday cookie season might pass without one of us in tears. It’s been busy, but downright civil. We’re actually really looking forward to this weekend too. On Saturday, the whole family will be selling at the PS 321 Holiday Shop in Park Slope. It’s a nice event with kids activities and great vendors so if you’re in the area, stop on by. We also have a tap recital, a holiday party and we’re devoting all of Sunday to family holiday fun time, yay! Have a great weekend!
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Well this is exciting. A brand new product – and I mean new as in different – just in time for the holidays. If you’ve ever been to any of our markets during the cold weather months, you may have tried our signature Earl Grey Hot Chocolate. People have been asking for this as a mix to make at home for years and Mark finally had some time this Fall to concoct a mix that closely replicates what he makes for the markets. What, it only took us 2 years. Oh man, I should show you our laundry list of product ideas that we have never gotten around to in the past 5 years we’ve been in business (5 years, what?). It’s sort of embarrassing how slow we move to get things going around here, but that’s what happens I guess when you have 2 people running the company with 1 person who doesn’t know how to bake. Or maybe it’s what Mark said to me yesterday, “Why do we have so many freaking products?”.
We’re starting our holiday market season tomorrow at the Bust Magazine Holiday Craftacular at 82 Mercer Street, Sat & Sun from 11-7 (these are loooooooooooong days). The rest of our holiday market schedule can be seen on our site.
Earl Grey Hot Chocolate Mix available (finally) here.
ps. I do apologize to all the West Coast customers for the high shipping charges, but we can’t control that unfortunately. We don’t really tack on any handling charges either. It costs a lot to ship priority mail to the West Coast from NY. Oh, the cost of doing business!
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