Sometimes, you need a cookie asap. If I can’t be bothered to mix up a batch, I break a few Sweet Loren‘s Chocolate Chunk cookies onto a baking sheet and bake. I know that sounds crazy but, oh my goodness, these cookies are perfect for an instant fix. They’re all natural with no refined sugars and bake up in minutes. The best part? You’re going to get your own batch if you win this giveaway. Loren will ship a box of cookie love to one winner chosen at random. So tell us about your favorite cookie in the comments and, you know, let’s win some cookie gift love. (Giveaway details are just after the interview!) -Maggie
This giveaway is now closed and our winner is being notified. Thanks to everyone for sharing their favorite food gifts with us!
How did you find yourself opening a cookie company?
I used to teach yoga and worked at one of the best bakeries in New York City for a long time. I have always had the biggest sweet tooth, and I’ve always felt that there is nothing more delicious than a warm chocolate chip cookie. When I was 22 years old, I was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma – and my life completely changed. I started to look at food very differently, only wanting the most natural, whole, unprocessed ingredients in my body. Fully recovered, I starting looking for desserts in the marketplace that were made of ingredients I loved but that also tasted delicious… and just couldn’t find much. So, I started to make my own cookies out of a personal need to satisfy my sweet tooth and also stay healthy. Using my little sister as my taste-tester, I re-created my favorite kinds of cookies. Soon after, people started ordering them, I won a NYC food contest, and Whole Foods became our first customer. Sweet Loren’s was in business!
Tell us a little about Sweet Loren’s.
Sweet Loren’s is a 100% natural cookie dough company. We offer break&bake packaging so that you can bake one or all 12 cookies at a time — great for portion-control. Every ingredient we use is whole and unrefined — the way we believe food should be: we use organic coconut oil, 100% whole grain flours, no refined sugars, and all ingredients are NON-GMO. We believe in delicious, decadent food, and make sure not to skimp on our Belgium chocolate chunks too. We have now expanded to food service and ready-to-eat cookies, with plans to launch gluten-free cookie dough and cookies this year.
What do you look for when crafting the perfect, ready-to-bake dessert?
We look for great taste and great ingredients. We are big fans of chewy, moist desserts that have a depth of flavor and a complexity. We like crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside, no weird after-taste, and not too sweet. We want you to be able to taste of all of our delicious ingredients in each bite. The perfect ready-to-bake dessert tastes delicious unbaked and baked; is full of flavor and won’t weigh you down; is fresh and fun, offering a new take on favorite flavors; and is made from ingredients that make you feel great.
Tell us about how your experiences have influenced your food life.
I grew up in a “foodie” household where family dinners were very important to my parents (who were both busy business owners). Dinner parties and family get-togethers were important too, so I grew up loving to celebrate friends and family with good food around; nothing feels better to me. Both of my grandmothers were chefs — my paternal grandmother made chocolates for family in Germany, and my maternal grandmother was one of the first women to attend Le Cordon Bleu in Paris in the 1960s. My whole family has that crave-dark-chocolate-gene. I also worked at Levain Bakery in New York City, and fell in love with seeing how truly delicious desserts make people feel. It’s pretty magical.
You work with retailers, event planners and food-sensitive folks everyday. What’s the best part of sharing your cookies?
The best part of sharing Sweet Loren’s is seeing how happy they make people. Many people tell us that what we’re doing is brilliant because of taste, ingredients, and they way we package it. They can really keep a balanced, healthy lifestyle and satisfy their sweet tooth at the same time. I love how people do not feel guilty after eating Sweet Loren’s desserts. It’s such a great feeling to see people indulge freely with our products. They’re proud to serve them to their family.
What are some words you live by?
Inspire. Strength. Positivity. Breath. Dream. Improve. Smarter. Hustle. Love. Happiness. Health. Balance.
What’s a favorite quote that describes your creative process?
“You don’t scare me” -Hoda Kotb
It’s my belief that only fear holds us back. Few of us ever reach our potential because we are scared to dream big and find the courage to go after it. It does take an enormous amount of strength, but it is also the only way to discover ourselves and grow as individuals. I think it’s the way to true happiness too — follow what you are passionate about and dedicate your life to it. I want to get as close to that potential as possible because nothing feels better. I want to make this world better in some way.
If you could do it all over again, would you change anything?
I would do more research in the marketplace; raise money sooner; and write a business plan at the beginning. But, then again, I wouldn’t know all that I know now. I think listening to my instincts is the reason that we have gotten this far. And, surrounding myself with really smart people.
What’s the next step for Sweet Loren’s?
We are launching gluten-free cookie dough and ready-to-eat cookies this year. Get ready!
What is one piece of advice you would give another food maker just starting out today?
Make sure you’ve done your research on your industry; know it inside and out. See the goal, what need you’re trying to fulfill, listen to your customers, and hone in on something special that no one else has.
Finish this sentence:
“Every aspiring food maker’s kitchen should have coconut oil and sea salt (for savory or sweet) in it.”
If someone wants to incorporate your cookies into a special recipe, how would you suggest they use it?
Use our dough to make a pizookie (pizza cookie) and then pile high with ice cream, berries and fresh whipped cream. Everyone grab a spoon!
What is the best homemade food gift you have ever received? (besides your cookies)
I once received a huge, amazing cut of all-natural steak for my birthday. It was the most unpredictable gift but it was also a great way to make a delicious, celebratory dinner. Most people don’t send me sweets because they think I am picky. But I love trying everything. I always get inspired by delicious foods. And homemade food gifts are straight from the heart.
Keep reading for contest rules…
Leave a comment below telling us: What’s your absolute favorite cookie? It could be a childhood staple, a decadent treat, or even your favorite brand of cookie (Fig Newtons, anyone?)!
There are three ways to enter to win:
- Enter once by leaving a comment on this post.
- Enter twice by sharing this post with your Facebook friends – leave a message here to say that you did!
- Enter thrice by sharing this post with your Pinterest pals – leave a message here to say that you did!
This is a week-long contest, so all entries must be made by Monday, September 8, 2014 at 11:59pm, and a winner will be chosen and notified by Wednesday, September 10, 2014. We can only ship to US residents this time around.
Sweet Loren provided the cookies for this giveaway, but as ever, our opinions remain our own, and these cookies are delicious.
Photos taken and styled by Heidi Murphy/White Loft Studio.
Eat Boutique discovers the best small batch foods by boutique food makers and shares our version of #foodgiftlove. We share recipes, maker stories and city guides to eating boutique. We host tasting events and markets for food makers, cookbook authors and food fans. We craft seasonal, regional gift and tasting boxes and sell individual items that you can order in the Eat Boutique Shop. You can also follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr and Pinterest.
Eat Boutique is an award-winning shop and story-driven recipe site created by Maggie Battista. After hosting pop-up markets for 25,000+ guests, Maggie is now focused on opening her first permanent Eat Boutique–a food-retail concept space with a new way to the very best food. Her second cookbook, A New Way to Food: Recipes That Revamped My Pantry & Made Me Love Me, At Last, will be published by Roost Books/Penguin Random House in 2019. Her first cookbook, Food Gift Love, features more than 100 food gift recipes to make, wrap, and share and is available wherever you find favorite cookbooks.