New Cookies & More

Hi Friends!

I apologize (as usual) for taking so long to write again. The new store is taking so much of my spare time. Tons to do and think about. The displays (what kind?). The counter (what material?). The walls (what color?). The oven (how much?..No seriously..THAT MUCH??) Don't get me wrong, I am thrilled. It's fun to think about all of these minuscule details that will make our store comfy and chic. The perfect place to go when your sweet tooth begs you for a little sugar (or a lot like mine does). It's nice- even if we are sooo very far from that right now.

Planning for the store also gives me the perfect excuse to surf the net and shop online. lol. For example, on my search for pink & brown accent pieces, I found the cutest set of baby modern bedding.
It's like it was made for my company. Look at the lamp! Sigh. The color Pink and Chocolate - two of my favorite things. :)

I also found these amazing cake stands from Sarah's stands on Etsy.

I adore Etsy. You can find almost anything your little heart desires. And even if you don't find it, chances are someone can custom make it for you!

Sarah makes these in 70 colors! I love to think about the possible combinations. Red, green and white for Christmas...Orange, black and purple for Halloween...Burgundy, brown and mustard yellow for Thanksgiving. Well, you get the idea!

Last but never, ever least....cookie pics! My favorite orders of the last couple of weeks:

This simple airplane design was used to celebrate a little boy's second birthday.

Another simple design.  :)
And lastly, Iron Man. It took quite a bit of research and planning to decide how I would make these little guys. We had fun...some more than others....
I made M an extra of course..and while uploading the pics from the memory card...lol

Coming soon: Store Pics (and progress), Cookie Stenciling (a tutorial), Contest (yeay!..who doesn't love to win stuff??) and Halloween Cookies!!

I hope all of you are having a fantastic week!!


A New Place??? (Not Again..) + Cookie Pics!

Halloooo! (in my best Julia Child voice)

I just realized it has been quite a long while since I posted any cookie pictures on the blog. Truth is, we haven't been super busy lately. The orders we do have are usually photo cookies and cookies that I have made a few gizillion times (yes, that is a real number - look it up)* There have been a few fun cookie orders, though, so those I am happy to share with you. :)

We've also been talking with a Realtor who has a 1,000 square foot store front very close to our house and in a pretty nice location. It used to be a take-out pizza place so it has a grease trap and all plumbing/electrical connections in place. The best part? We can actually AFFORD it. Woot! Woot! We're so excited because the commute to the North Miami kitchen has been killing us. Especially now that Alina has gone back to school, it's been tough to come up with a schedule that won't have us driving for 4 hours each day. I'm sure some of you can relate! Thankfully, we only made a 3 month lease on that kitchen space. Our biggest problem is that we need to HURRY because if we decide to move then we need to give our current place one month's notice. That gives us a whole 5 days to make a decision. I took some pics and will share them with you if we get a good counter-offer and decide to run with it! Our own store front...I have been dreaming about this for 8 years. Could it really happen? And so quickly?? Oooo...nervous tummy ache! Keep your fingers crossed for us, guys, please!

Now back to our regular scheduled programing of COOKIE PICS. Here we go!

 These pink bows were made for a bridal shower. Very girly and simple. My kinda cookie.

Ali and I love the book "Where The Wild Things Are" so I was thrilled to have the opportunity to reproduce Max as custom cookies for a special gift.

(I can tell M really likes the cookies when he puts a background on them before taking the photograph..hehe)
 Here is a closer look at a couple of Max's:
 And my favorite cookies of the past few weeks: Custom CookiePops for a Build-a-Bear Workshop birthday party. I want one of these as a real plush so I can squeeze it like crazy.

Well, that's it for now. I was thinking of making some traditional Peruvian & French dessert recipes to share with you. Suspiro a la limena, bavarois de lucuma, Mazamorra Morada and so many other delicious recipes from my childhood that are easy to make. From M's side there would be delicate French crepes, pastries and madelines. I was thinking of being borderline cheesy and calling it "Traditional Tuesdays."

Whacha guys think? Would you like to have more step-by-step recipes? Or just updates of cookies and other behind the scenes stuff?...lemme know! I didn't get any comments last couple of times so I'm afraid of boring you. :(

Happy Baking, Decorating and Labor Day Weekend!!!!


Banana No-Nut Chocolate chip Muffin Recipe

Hi Friends!

I have some good news about the truck situation...we finally found a replacement for the disastrous Chicago Truck! I won't bore you with all of the details but we pretty much got screwed (pardon my French) by the car salesman over there. He promised us that the truck was ready and it wasn't. It needed to have the computer (a $6,000 part) replaced which would take weeks. We basically drove from Miami to Chicago (over 1400 miles each way) for nothing. But wait. Well, not exactly nothing. We were able to stand in line for 45 minutes and get our first taste of the highly coveted Sprinkles cupcakes. One of each flavor. That's 13 flavors so about $50 bucks worth of cupcakes. I couldn't help myself, really. The store looked so pretty, the cupcakes smelled and looked divine. I went into this excited sugar crazed mode and said "One of each, please!!" before my less insane counterpart M could stop me. Here are some pics of the outside:

Pretty nice, right? Well, the cupcakes were very tasty. Some I really liked - the vanilla was very good as well as the cinnamon. Others not so much. The cherry cupcake was just way too cherry. Cherry that was trying too hard. You get the point. Anyway, we did have a bit of fun during the trip but it wasted a lot of precious time and money (M still won't let me forget we paid $50 for cupcakes - just for the two of us). It also taught us that you shouldn't drive more than 1 hour to buy a vehicle. At least we never will. Lesson Learned. BAM.

Now for the fun part! I have a yummy banana nut muffin recipe to share with you. It's moist and hits the spot for breakfast or snack. I was happy to have some when she came home from school with a starved look on her face. They would also be great to put in a lunch box for dessert.

Here goes:

Banana No-Nut Chocolate Chip Muffin Recipe (adapted from Tyler Florence's Recipe on Foodnetwork.com)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 overripe bananas
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and lightly butter 2 muffin tins or use cupcake liners (which is what I did).

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside. Mash 2 of the bananas with a fork in a small bowl so they still have a bit of texture.

Note: I mashed 2 bananas (as seen below) but I also mashed the other bananas with the sugar before putting the electric mixer to them.
Note: I mashed 2 bananas (as seen below) but I also mashed the other bananas manually with the sugar before putting the electric mixer to them.

With an electric mixer fitted with a wire whisk, whip the remaining bananas and sugar together like you mean it, for a good 3 minutes.

Add the melted butter, eggs, and vanilla and beat well, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice. Mix in the dry ingredients just until incorporated. It took me about 1 minute on medium speed. Be sure not to over mix or you will have banana rocks! Fun to play with sure, but not very nice to eat.

Fold in the mini chips and the mashed bananas with a rubber spatula. I decided to make 2 versions, one with chocolate chips and one without so I divided the batter into 2 bowls.

Spoon the batter into the muffin tins to fill them about halfway. I used a large ice cream scoop and a plastic scraper. Very effective indeed!

Give the muffin tin a nice rap on the counter to get any air bubbles out.

Bake until a toothpick stuck in the muffins comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. It took mine exactly 19 minutes at 375 degrees. Let cool for a few minutes before turning the muffins out (or if you're anything like me you'll try to pop one out early while it's still piping hot). Here's a pic of the cuties once they were safely cooled down.



Last Post Title Could Be Here Again:

Hi Everyone!

I'm back! Actually...we're back! From Chicago, that is. (OK so we came back more than 2 weeks ago but I can 'splain)

Oh, the truck? You mean the one from the last post? I really don't wanna write about it. But, I suppose I have to. Explain. All the frikkin crap that has unloaded upon us in the last few weeks. Must. Not. Lose. Hope.

:) <--- That little happy face is me trying my best to stay positive. It's been working for the most part.

Let us rewind a little to where I left you the last time. Oh yes, 52 deliveries and sleep deprivation. So we made all 52 deliveries in 2 exhausting days.

FYI - attempting to make 52 deliveries with 1 car and in 2 days is insane in the membrane. So leave it to your trusty UPS or FED-EX guy or, better yet, get a courier. Honestly, M and I almost killed each other.

It went a little like this:

M - "Honey, I think you passed it."
Me - "Nooo, I didn't. We're almost there!"
M - "You passed it. I saw the sign, just back up...there's no one back there and we still have around 23 more to go."
Me - "I hate backing up..I'll just do a little U..."


M - "Oh, great. Just BACK UP! They close at 6!
Me - "Backing up is ILLEGAL, I'm short and it sucks..I'll just go around this way..."
M - "They close at 6pm... we'll never make it.." (Hysteria setting in)

4 minutes later: 5:58PM

Me - "See? I didn't have to ba-..."

-Car door slams

There were also a lot of incorrect addresses, disconnected numbers and "out to lunch" signs (even at 2pm..gotta love Miamians). This meant tons of running around and redelivering later.

In short, if anyone asks to make more than 10 deliveries in one day remember this: You Will Regret Not Getting a Courier To Do Them For You.  Oh. And don't forget to get an UPDATED list from your customer. I can't stress this enough. Our list must have been from 1998 because out of 52 deliveries, there were more than 13 faulty addresses. We did call companies to verify but most of them had wrong numbers, too.

Lesson Learned: Delivery people are frikkin' amazing and we need to hire one PRONTO.

Next up: Our New Logo!! Pink Little Cake: I took your advice regarding the not enough pink. I totally thought so, too.

Here it is!

Do you see the pink in the hat? I know...it's not super pink. Maybe I should ask him to make the pink more pronounced. But, I've asked him to change the logo like 30 times. Hmm...what do you think? More Pink or leave it? We also changed the bottom to a cookie bite. It's going to be our new symbol. Nothing against cupcake-only shops but we're a cookie place...that just happens to sell bad@ss cupcakes, too. :)

Once our amazing website designer gets our homepage proof finished, I will share it with you to get some input. M and I have completely opposite views (he wants white, I want Pink - and on and on) so we need valuable feedback (that's where you come in and support me..hehe) :)

About our Chicago trip (we visited the highly coveted SPRINKLES bakery on opening day (pics to come!) And the truck (wiping a tear)...I promise I will blog about all of it soon. Stay tuned.

Happy Baking Friends!!


Always Expect the Unexpected...

Hi Everyone!

It's been 4 days since my last post, the one where I wrote I would be receiving the CCC mobile (I refuse to call it cupcake mobile since cookies are my first love) this week. Well, as most business owners know, the only thing predictable about owning a company is its unpredictability. That can be a great thing at times...or not. This week was actually a bit of both.

The great news: we received a 600+ cookie order from a large company. Yeay! The not so great news: They only gave us 3 days to complete it. There is nothing like 2 months of slow business and a drawer full of bills to give you that extra boost of energy to take on anything...no matter how insane. Truth be told, M and I haven't slept since Sunday (I think...what day are we again??). It's pretty sad when the only thing you desperately look forward to in your day is to go to bed as early as possible. On the bright side, it is crazy how much you can accomplish when you remove pesky sleep from your schedule! (kidding..I'm so frikkin kidding..but I must stay positive!)

However, the really annoying news of the week goes to (drum roll, if you please).dodododododdodo: The dealership in Chicago for telling us that we didn't have to go all the way to the windy city to sign papers..when in fact, we do. Lovely!

So, I ended up calling the inspector and cancelling the truck inspection for this week and also trying to figure out how the heck to go over there without spending a fortune on last minute plane tix. Do we wait for cheaper tickets and prolong the inspection..truck wrapping and grand opening or do we splurge and get the truck here sooner? We've even considered driving the darn thing down here ourselves to save on the shipping. I'm not sure what we'll do yet. M and I still have 52 local deliveries to deal with tomorrow so we'll have plenty of time in the car to come up with a solution.

PS. If you know any good bakeries in Chicago, please let me know! :) 

And in happier (less cranky/sleepy) news: The designer sent us our new logo!
I would really appreciate some feedback if you have a minute. We can still make changes to it and are open to some heavy criticism!

All of you have been so supportive of our little cookie company. All I can say is thank you from the bottom of our hearts. :)


Ali's Goes Mobile...Woot Woot!!

Hi Friends!!

I have been anxiously awaiting to write this post!!! I can FINALLY tell you the little secret I have been hiding from pretty much everyone, except my closest family and friends.

Exactly two weeks ago I contacted a gentleman in Chicago regarding a mobile coffee truck he posted online. I had my eye on it since early June but never really imagined we would be able to find enough funds to purchase it. I spoke to my father asking him what he thought of my idea of selling cupcakes (I know, I know - we don't make cupcakes - but more on this later I promise!!) cookies & coffee in an adorable pimped out pink mobile. There's nothing like this in Miami (we're very far behind on the food truck trend) and seriously..who can deny a delicious cup of java & freshly baked doughnut muffin? Not me that's for sure!

To make a long story short (I'll spare you our personal nightmare of endless phone calls, permits, paperwork, financing and loans) - fast forward two weeks later and here I am - owner of a Dodge/Mercedes Benz Sprinter 3500..(smiling like a proud mom)..Looksie!! I even have Pictures!!
Ain't she a cutie? It was love at first sight...

 That's where my boo-tay will be sitting for a few hours per day!

 She even has speakers so our customers can dance the day away, chocolate chip cookie in hand, of course.

3 sinks & one hand-washing station as required by FL law. Can't wait to disinfect everything and start selling!

She still needs to be fully wrapped..but we found the company who will be helping us with that. Now we're waiting for the website designer to send us our revised logo and the truck to be delivered next week..alll the way from Chicago.

It feels like a year that I have been in negotiations with the dealer with so many different obstacles being thrown my way, but I'm happy it is finally almost over.

Now that the cupcake is outta the bag, I can reveal what M and I have been doing the past 6 months. Eating. Like crazy. Stuffing our faces with cupcakes and lots of them! Almost every single day. I have gained roughly (and when I say roughly..I mean 15) 10 pounds since February. And you know what?? It was worth it. We now have 5 cupcake recipes that are Insanely Fantabulous. I know, only 5 recipes..in 6 months? Don't do the math..it's depressing! But out of 100+ recipes and variations of those recipes, we found a combination that made extremely tasty and moist cupcakes. Now besides baking and eating our own recipes, we bravely ventured into our own Miami version of Cupcake Wars. This one had 8 competitors..and only 2 made it to our final round. We do have a favorite cupcake bakery here in Miami but we knew we had to make it better. WAY better.

Mission accomplished but not exactly finished...now we need to come up with the other 30 flavors I have in mind!

As soon as the truck finishes getting its final touches, we're hoping to satisfy Miami's sweet tooth with our newest treats! Are ya ready Miami???

Stay tuned..I will post again very soon with more updates and pictures!!


Hi Friends!

This week literally flew by..so much to do and think about! Expanding our company in this economy feels so risky and yet so right at the same time. How can that be? I have no clue. I'm just running on pure adrenaline and my instincts telling me to "go for it".

Tons have happened since my last post. I contacted the Realtor regarding the warehouse space (yeap, the ugly one from last week's post in case you just tuned in). The contractor said he needed drawings before he could give us a quote for the whole build-out. (scary stuff people!)

Apparently, the owner of the building lives in Venezuela so who knows how long it will take him to get me the drawings. Not one to have any sort of patience I quickly began scouring craigslist and loopnet again for any location that had a kitchen already in place. And guess what?

GUESS I SAID!! Just kidding..sorry about that..

I FOUND it!! I called the owner on Tuesday and one day later I met up with him at the warehouse space which is approx. 40 minutes from my house. A small price to pay for having everything ready to go..ovens..check..huge walk-in fridge..check..not having to install a grease trap and go through months of red tape and permits? Priceless.

So, boys & girls, I'm off tomorrow morning to pick up my best bud or "BFF" (Bootylicious Femme Fatale) as I like to call her (long story) from the airport and then sign the lease. We'll start on the 19th guns..er..pastry bags blazing! I didn't have a chance to take any pics but I will definitely take some as soon as we get settled in. Woohoo!

In other news: We're looking for a super cool, cookie and cake loving, talented baker who lives in Miami. It won't be much to start - only about 24 hours per week but there is plenty of room for growth. Anyone interested? Holla! I mean, E-mail me for more info. :)

Lastly - Here are photos of some cookies from this week.
Rock themed cookies for a corporate client that wanted some delicious gifts for their new employees.
3.5" Baby Chick cookies for a baby shower. The picture was taken with our old camera (that's why it looks yucky).

4th of July Photo cookies...Happy Birthday America!!

I should have some great pics to show you next week. The surprise is almost here! I have a few clues..it is HUGE..WHITE (mostly) and loves to EAT. Hehehehe...if you guess correctly I'm sending you a dozen cookies of your choice..no lie!! I'm so excited!! Crossing my fingers that everything goes as planned. :D


The Good, The Bad & The Ugly (Warehouse, That Is)...

Hi Everyone!

*I would like to apologize in advance for my indecent grammar mistakes and horribly long run-on sentences - consider yourself warned!!*

The orders are finally starting to pick up around here (yeay!). I'm feeling much more confident this week. I apologize for my last post. After reading it again a few days ago...I kinda cringed. I hate to be a downer. The reality of life is that it has its ups and downs..I just don't want to hamper on the "downs" if ya know what I mean!

So, back to the "ups" :)  After scouring Craigslist, Loopnet and every other online commercial space site the last few weeks, we found a great decent warehouse space (In Other Words - BIG and CHEAP). It's 1,800 square feet of warehouse plus 200 square feet of office. It is only meant to be a pick-up location (for those crazy enough to drive all the way to no man's land to find us). Yes - as always - cheap has a downside. The location is less than ideal but since most of our orders are outside of Miami anyway, I think we should be fine.

We also have a pretty darn good marketing plan (at least it looks good on paper) which we're hoping will increase local sales. AND there is another little surprise. I'm seriously dying to share it with you but I can't..It's killing me because I HATE secrets. I'm one of those people that spoils great surprises. Like when I would buy my mother's birthday gift 2 months before, attempt to keep it a secret and undoubtedly show it to her 1 day later (I would then wrap it and give it to her on her real birthday.. please don't ask..I told you we bakers are not normal!!).  I try to keep surprises secret...really I do...but sometimes I can't contain myself! OK OK...I promise to share soon..I would do it now but I'm afraid that M might actually read the blog and poison my orange juice.

M actually took some pics of the warehouse but I won't share them with you yet because seriously..the space needs a woman's touch. It's not that bad but it will require a crapload bit of TLC. We will probably sign the lease next week and (as soon as we get the place all cleaned up) I will share some pics. I was hoping you would help me out with some ideas on getting this place looking like a cute cookie shop rather than the stark white scary-clinic look it has right now. I've seen your blogs..you guys have taste!!

I wish I could end my long rant with some new 4th of July cookie pics but our photographer (aka Hubby) hasn't taken them yet. :(  Hopefully I'll be able to post them before Monday.

Happy Baking!!


A Tough Time...

Hi Friends!

I know I have been missing..again. Many things have been happening around here..some great, others not so much. But..the truth is..I HAVE had time to write on the blog. Did I catch you off guard? I know. I'm sorry. I like to be 100% honest. That is just the way I am. So here goes. Last 3 weeks have been rough. Since 2005, we have had times of craziness and slow times like any normal business. After 2008, things did slow down a bit but we still had many periods where we were swamped and going out of our minds. Last month was so slow that I figured it was only a matter of time before we picked up again but honestly we haven't. Sure, we still have some orders but the phones are very quiet and my normally full mailbox is pretty empty. So this is the real reason I haven't been writing in the blog..I'm kind of in this scared-jittery mood that is not really like myself at all! I'm usually a very very hopeful and happy person. A gimme-a-break-that-glass-is-almost-frikkin-full kinda gal. But the fact is Ali's Sweet Treats is our family's only income. We're basically a mom n pop place (plus a few kick-butt part-time employees). So anyway, that is why I have been so quiet. Finally, this morning I felt a rush of I CAN DO IT and so I went to the office and began sketching and forming some new simple designs that we can offer at a lower price point. So that's where we are at right now. Simply coming up with ideas.

As far as the store, we ARE still looking for places but we are thinking that our eyes may have been much bigger than our bellies in regards to the storefront. We've decided to go with a larger warehouse which would allow us to expand what we currently offer but still keep the rent pretty affordable. Will it be as cute as I had envisioned? no. But I'm hoping we can increase production & new products (can't wait to share with you guys!!) and employees which would inevitably help us to obtain our real storefront. Not really what I had my little heart set on but I'm still thrilled that I can continue decorating cookies for my clients. Bittersweet.  

At the end of May I received many sweet E-mails. Thank you. You guys are so cool and sweet and I wish all of you Bakers (you know who you are!) absolutely the best.

Finally...here are some new cookies we've been working on. And if you know anyone who might want cute cookies for their event..please let them know about us! Thank you!


Realtor Update...

Finally! After days of playing my least favorite game in the world...phone tag...I got the Realtor on the phone Friday afternoon. And the results are..(drum roll please)...I won't know diddly until next week. :/

He says he is already in negotiations with another bakery (sniff sniff) but nothing is certain yet. He said he would call me next week. :( It doesn't look good, friends. M and I have already started looking around for other properties available for lease but I have found that anything that has food permits gets snatched up pretty quickly. So I'm literally looking 2x a day for anything new. It seems like we will know for sure next week regarding this property. Sigh. If it is meant to be it will be! I'm trying to stay positive :)

I did promise a few new cookie pics last week so here they are!! The first is a custom sample order for some very happy hot dogs!! The little boy who is getting these for his birthday in June is actually one of my very best & favorite customers!
Here he is 2 years ago holding his Mario cookies! Isn't he just adorable!?!
 Last year his cool mom ordered him some custom Iphone cookies (they were iced front AND back to look like the real thing!!) She was also sweet enough to send me these pics (thank you again Patricia!!) :)

I look forward to these orders every year. I can't even imagine what he might ask us to bake next year & I can't wait! It feels so good to be able to bring even a small happiness to someone else on their birthday or any day. :)

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