GARDNER – Meet your friendly neighborhood cookie lady.
Annelese Bartlett has been baking gourmet cookies for about a year, but she never planned on becoming a baker.
In fact, she almost found herself competing for a rather dubious title after her friends and family encouraged her to show her lack of culinary talent to a national television audience by submitting her name to the show’s producers.” Worst Cook in America” from the Food Network. .
“I got a call from the casting executives asking me to officially interview and meet with their casting directors,” she said. “I had an interview, but it never came through, mainly because I got a job and got pregnant, so I couldn’t have gone anyway. But it was really funny because it shows how bad my cooking is.
She is a baker but no chef
But, as Bartlett pointed out, cooking and baking are very different. While preparing a meal can often mean being creative with a variety of tasty flavors, the art of baking requires strict attention to step-by-step instructions, she said.
“With baking, it’s like someone holding your hand through the process, which was much more doable for me,” she said. “My brain needs a guide.”
Bartlett, who has lived in Gardner for about two years, got the idea to try her hand at cookie-making after finding herself in a friendly rivalry with her sister, Tara, known for baking the best cookies in the family. Bartlett began experimenting with gourmet cookie recipes and gifting the finished product to family and friends.
“I would post my cookies on social media, so people could see what they looked like, and my friends and colleagues would say, ‘We’ll pay you, don’t just give them to us,’ and that’s where it clicked with me that maybe people would pay for these – and they definitely do,” said Bartlett, who works at Fitness Concepts in Gardner. “It’s been easy for me, and it’s been really, really fun.”
Cookies Club of the Month
After creating a popular online “Cookie of the Month” club for customers, she soon found herself baking cookies every day just to keep up with demand, Bartlett explained. And after discussing it with her husband, Michael, she decided to offer her cookies to a wider audience. She set up a stall at the weekly Sterling Street market this summer. Her cookies were an instant hit.
“I was blown away – we sold out almost all of the cookies before the event was even over,” she said. Among the flavors on the market were Salted Caramel Cheesecake, Key Lime Pie, Chocolate Oreo Peanut Butter Chips and Classic Chocolate Chips. Bartlett posts on the Sterling Street Market Facebook page when she settles down.
“I love seeing people take their first bite and then seeing their face because I’ve seen people take a bite out of my cooked food and that wasn’t the reaction I always wanted,” he said. she stated laughing. “So to see people take a bite of something I’ve made and think it’s good has been a great experience.”
Bartlett named her new venture Berry Patch Cookie Co. (the name refers to a line from a TV survival show she and her husband enjoy), and said she was looking to find more outlets for present their products.
“I would love to move to more fairs and so on,” she said, adding that she had also researched ways to ship her cookies to customers. “But right now, my focus is on being able to shake hands with the people who support me.”
Juggling between business and motherhood
Bartlett said she is grateful to her friends, family members and clients who encouraged her to grow her business. She said she managed to find time in her schedule to cook by mostly going to the kitchen at night after her two daughters, Piper and Margot, were in bed.
“It’s like a full day of ‘mommy’ and then a full night of cooking – it’s pretty busy but it’s fun,” she said.
What is the difference between an ordinary cookie and a gourmet cookie? Bartlett said a gourmet cookie contains so many different elements that it’s almost an unfair comparison. She cites her Salted Caramel Cheesecake Cookie as an example.
“The base tastes like graham cracker crust, but that’s not where it ends,” she said. “And then you have this really good cheese frosting, but that’s not where it stops. You have caramel on top and then you sprinkle it with sea salt. There are so many moving parts, it’s is like a completely different experience.
Bartlett can be found on Instagram at @theberrypatchcookieco.