Hilary Koloski goes to great lengths to get people her confections. She gives away generous samples of her Cow & Crumb cookies at farmers’ markets, she ships any amount, anywhere, for $8. And she’s happy to teach anyone who can get online how to make her cookies.
On her website, along with a brief clip from a Will Ferrell movie extolling the virtue of cookies, Koloski has five instructional videos in which she demystifies professional baking, showing viewers every step to make her Matzo Salty Surprise, Roses for Your Date, Peanut Butter Pretzel, Snickerdoodle, and Sunrise Fruit and Nut cookies. “Everybody should have one good cookie recipe up their sleeve,” says the baker. “And I’d have to be a very paranoid person to think that if I post one video, somebody else is going to start a company based on my cookies. If somebody can make my cookies and have a positive feeling about Cow & Crumb, that’s a bonus.”
The recipe videos were shot by How2Heroes, a Cambridge-based online food magazine. Koloski’s six videos on How2Heroes’ site have been viewed more than 1,800 times. Part of what makes her cookies unique is her mixing method. But, she adds, “if there’s one secret to our cookies, it’s cold butter. I’m not a flat, crispy-cookie kind of person. That’s such a letdown,” she says. “To have a cookie with a luscious mouth feel, you need cold butter. That’s really the best baking tip.”
Koloski loves to give those tips. “I love to share, and I love to cook,” she says, and she’s done both for a while. The 27-year-old started Cow & Crumb in October 2010, after completing the pastry program at Cambridge School of Culinary Arts and a stint as a baker at Sofra in Cambridge. She says she got the idea for the company while an undergraduate at Cornell School of Hotel Administration, but “baking was something I always loved to do.” Her father was her first taster when she was cooking in her pajamas and still too small to put pans in the oven.
She perfected her chocolate-chip cookie recipe — what she calls “the canvas of all my recipes” — in her high school boyfriend’s kitchen. “His poor little brother got quite chubby,” Koloski says.
Today she keeps 10 varieties of cookies on her regular menu, as well as holiday specials such as a dark chocolate-cherry for Valentine’s Day, a Halloween Frankencookie (mint and chocolate chip baked together), and a Father’s Day assortment chosen by her dad (his favorite is Spice Girl). She also makes two snacks: “Street Nuts,” roasted with sugar and spice, and “Gran-ooh-la-la.”
The shelf-stable nuts and granola are sold at Cocoanuts Boston in the North End and as part of gift boxes from Winston Flowers and Eat Boutique, and the Life Alive restaurants in Cambridge, Salem, and Lowell use the granola in their Crunchy Hippie bowl (“Hers was better than anybody else’s we’d had,” says Brett Fermeglia, Life Alive’s regional manager).
Because the cookies don’t contain preservatives, they are not sold in stores, though Koloski says she sees a place for them in supermarket freezers down the road. In the meantime, the bulk of her business is e-commerce. Koloski makes the cookies in the kitchens of Gourmet Catering in Roslindale, baking the same days cookies are shipped. Delivery takes one to four days, and Koloski says the cookies remain tasty 10 days after baking.
“It’s a fun business. The best-case scenario is people feel pleasure and joy from a cookie. The worst-case is someone gets their cookies a day after they expected them,” she says. “That’s the kind of business I want to run.”
Cow & Crumb cookies are available at farmers’ markets in Kendall Square, Allston, and Jamaica Plain. Call 617-714-3185, or go to www.cowandcrumb.com for a schedule.