Cookies made easy

Cookies 1

BY Molly Congdon
Gazette Reporter

HALFMOON—When was the last time you made cut-out cookies? If you’re a modern American family, living an extremely fast paced lifestyle, it’s probably been a while. Especially when you have to refrigerate the dough for three to four hours prior to transforming the thick, malleable mixture into various shapes and characters.

Dolce and Biscotti Fine Italian Bakery—located at 1758 Route 9—is giving their customers exactly what they’ve been craving: cookie decorating kits. All the fun of frosting and decorating the delicious morsels without all of the time, effort and dirty dishes.

“In the back of my mind I’ve always had this kit of cookies to decorate,” co-owner Tom Fron said. “I believe that two things have happened: Women, and it’s primarily women—not to be sexist, but they don’t have time to bake with their kids anymore or they’ve never been passed along that skill.”

In today’s world, we are all about instant gratification. “Everything is, I want it now, I want it now, I want it now,” Fron said. “So I said okay, let’s put together a quality kit where we give them themed cookies with all the accessories. What makes it unique, in addition to being a quality product, is they’re themed. So, for halloween, you get the ghost, you get the cat, you get the pumpkin. You’re not just getting—there are some cookie kits that are out there, but they’re like a round cookie and you throw some frosting and sprinkles on it; this is unique in that it’s truly custom for whatever the event is.”

The new element of the business has been a long time coming. “We’ve literally been working on this since February,” Fron said.

The kits retail for $27.95. And then there’s a kit plus, which would be two dozen cookies, ’cause there’s actually enough ingredients in the kit, the accessories, the meringue to mix the frosting, to do two dozen cookies.

The new division of the bakery extends far beyond the boundaries of homey kitchens. “The other aspect of it is, especially this time of year, it seems like daily —sometimes more than once a day— I get requests from organizations looking for donations of product. You know, can you give us some cookies as a raffle item or can you give us a donation, and you get to the point and say okay, who do you say yes to and who do you say no to?” Fron said. “So what we came up with is, I call it Fundrace. RACE is an acronym for, R is the easy one, revenue—that’s what all fundraising is about, and the other components of fundraising are awareness, conversation, and enthusiasm.”

“We’re working with the American Cancer Society, so we came up with a kit that reflect what they’re trying to do,” Fron said. “We put together the Strides for the Cure: The sneakers, a ribbon, a pair of breasts, hope, and then they also have a relay for life. They put this out to their team leaders who then go out and try to promote stuff. So for every kit that’s purchased, we donate $7 back.”

He continued: “To me this kind of bridges the need between organizations that are looking for ways to raise money and a way for me to sell a product. And look, if you’re going to go out and sell my product, I’ll give you a commission. That’s basically what it is at the end of the day, right? I’ll give you $7 for every kit that you can sell, and we can tie it into whatever organization we want.”

These cookie kits have even gone viral. The website(cookiedecoratingkits.com) launched a couple of a weeks ago.

“The other thing is that’s kind of got me motivated about this is right now my selling domain is Clifton Park and the greater capital area,” Fron said. “With this, my selling domain is 50 states; I can ship this anywhere and that’s really our goal. If I never sold one kit through the store and sold them all through ecommerce I’d be very happy. But obviously we’re starting with our grassroots.”

He continued: “We feel that we’re coming online just in time for the major holidays, between Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and again we’ve seen people that are interested for fundraising, which is fantastic.”

They’ve already had some kits travel to Connecticut, Colorado and Florida.

There doesn’t seem to be a ceiling to the number of shapes they can conjure. “We have close to a thousand cookie cutters as it is, and a lot of times when you look at a cookie cutter, like this one is kind of like a cloud [he points to cloud shaped cookie], you turn it another way and it could look like something else,”Fron said. “What we do is on the website we put the pictures up to give you an idea of how to decorate it. It’s still totally up to you. And then, we get people saying oh, I could never decorate it to look that well. That’s not the point; the point is to have fun.”

“The other thing is that’s kind of got me motivated about this is right now my selling domain is Clifton Park and the greater capital area,” Fron said. “With this, my selling domain is 50 states; I can ship this anywhere and that’s really our goal. If I never sold one kit through the store and sold them all through ecommerce I’d be very happy. But obviously we’re starting with our grassroots.”

He continued: “We feel that we’re coming online just in time for the major holidays, between Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and again we’ve seen people that are interested for fundraising, which is fantastic.”

They are also a huge hit on the birthday party scene. “You do your craft and your favor all in one,” Fron said. “If you have a princess party we’ve got tiaras, little princess dresses; if it’s a construction party we got dump trucks.”

One of the most popular, though, are the emoji faces.

OLD RECIPE
“I remember as a little kid that that’s what I used to do at Christmastime,” Fron said. “This recipe for the cookies is actually over 100 years old; it’s actually my grandmother’s recipe, so it’s been with my family forever, it seems.”

He continued: “It is a soft, tender cookie that has vanilla flavoring. Unlike a sugar cookie, it tends to be hard and crisp, if you break this one open you can actually see cell structure versus a hard cookie where there’s smaller, more dense dough.”

Tom’s wife, co-owner Mary Baldi-Fron has perfected the frosting.

“A lot of the frostings that people use right now to do decorating is what we would refer to as royal frosting,” Baldi-Fron said. “So it is a meringue-based frosting that tends to dry the cookie out. It dries super hard very quickly to the touch but what it also does is it pulls the moisture from the surface of the cookie and the cookie ends up being dry and hard quickly.”

She continued: “I was able to take some meringue, whip it up in a certain way so it isn’t super fluffy but more foamy, and then I add that to my confectioners sugar and we add much more liquid than a typical frosting would be and we make more of what would be called icing…It just slides onto the cookie and it dries to the touch on the surface, but underneath the surface it still has all the moisture. Have you ever bitten into like chocolate glaze? Then you know what I’m talking about. You just put your finger on it, it’s not going to come off, but when you bit into it it’s soft.”

Now all you need is a tall glass of ice cold milk.