Consider the cookie. For many of us, it was likely our first dessert – if you can consider a zwieback cookie a dessert (but what do infant palates know?). Through the years they become our ‘quick-grab’ to satisfy a sweet tooth, or our ‘go-to’ when we want to bake something home made. For Kelly Clement, eating and baking cookies was all of the above, until baking also became her physical therapy. For years, Kelly baked cookies as a hobby that satisfied her own sweet tooth, and made her visits to family and friends deliciously anticipated. When she was sidelined by a misdiagnosed knee injury, physical therapy included all the usual grueling exercises, with one exception: her physical therapist ordered her to stand in the kitchen, and bake.
The knee injury and its consequences were, “The worst thing that ever happened to me,” according to Kelly, but it required a complete break from what she had been doing, and the opportunity to reconsider her work options. Kelly left her marketing job and took a position, fortuitously, as a server at Le Farm in Westport, where of course, she brought in cookies for her co-workers. Frank Rojas, the GM at the time, loved them and suggested to Chef Bill Taibe that they would make a nice menu item. He agreed, and “Plate of Cookies” was introduced as a Le Farm dessert selection. Once Kelly had a broader audience, and customer appeal for her cookies, momentum built toward the launch of a cookie company. When Bill offered Le Farm’s kitchen on days the restaurant is closed, there wasn’t much standing in the way of her and a cookie LLC, except of course a company name, logo, website, flavors, freshness, packaging, marketing and distribution. But it was a beginning.
As a small batch producer, Kelly has a great deal to consider about her cookies and her company, K is for Cookies. She has given much thought to every aspect of the process from ingredients, to packaging, to distribution. The outer packaging is food-safe (you can reuse it) and 100% compostable. The cookies are in a few select stores to ensure she can replenish the shelves frequently with fresh cookies. She’s chosen organic ingredients because she wanted to bake something good that she herself would want to eat. The cookies are all shortbread based because they have a better shelf-life (sugar and salt are natural preservatives and the only ones used) and because, “It’s such a great vehicle; you can do so much with it.” Kelly admits she “made a ton of different flavors initially,” but after a lot of input from family and friends, selected 3 flavor combinations: Lemon-Fennel, Salted Espresso and Black Pepper Parmesan.
So, you are no doubt wondering how they taste. In a word, delicious! In a few words, they have a great mouth-feel, or as some say, the perfect crumb. They are initially crispy, but give way to a buttery chew. Just when you’re happily registering the texture, the brightness and harmony of the flavors kick in, further extending your joy. The cookies are not overly sweet and the Lemon-Fennel and Black-Pepper Parmesan lean to the savory side. If you like being deliberate about your cookie consumption, the three flavors can be partnered successfully with espresso (Lemon-Fennel), with a cheese plate (Black Pepper-Parmesan) and with your afternoon, or morning coffee (Salted Espresso).
Some customers at the Black Rock Farmer’s Market, the only outdoor market selling K is for Cookies, by-pass the samples because they already have distinct flavor preferences. Another customer is such a huge fan that he buys enough bags of all three flavors to last him 3 weeks until the next market. Others buy bags for friends, as the hand-cut, scallop-topped packaging, tied with twine and tagged with a stamped label makes each a perfect present.
Kelly will be at the Black Rock Farmer’s Market on October 6th, where she is promising to debut a limited-edition fall flavor. She is still finessing the final product, but did reveal that a local, organic maple syrup would likely be involved.
Other locations carrying K is for Cookies are Saugatuck Craft Butchery, Sport Hill Farm, Fairfield Cheese Company, Ridgefield Organics, and Walter Stewart’s Market. Not all stores carry all flavors, but you can also buy them on line at: kisforcookies.com. Each bag carries 4 oz., or 8-12, cookies depending on the flavor.