Kendra and David Jarding thought they had no chance of winning with their entries into last year’s Chocolate Festival Sweet Treats Cookie Competition.
“All of the other entries were dressed up on fancy plates, but our cookies were just sitting on a sheet of parchment paper,” David recalls. “We figured we had failed.”
However, the judges must have ranked flavor over appearance. Kendra’s S’mores Cookie took first place and David’s Winter Wonderland Cookie took home second place at the annual festival.
Cookies have been a sweet part of the Lisle couple’s relationship. David took culinary arts classes at College of DuPage, and Kendra says she “always loved baking.” Neither of them pursued a career in the field until a bus trip to a White Sox game changed their lives.
“I decided to bring cookies to take on the trip,” Kendra says.
She made a batch of her white chocolate chip and chocolate chip cookies, as well as her cow cookies, a chocolate cookie studded with white chocolate chips and chocolate chips.
“Everyone on the bus was eating them and raving about them,” Kendra says. “Several people said they would pay me to make these cookies for them.”
Inspired by this endorsement, Kendra and David began experimenting with recipes.
“For about a year, we worked on perfecting our recipes,” David says. “It took a lot of trial and error, but now we have recipes for over 200 different kinds of cookies. We never give out those recipes.”
The couple’s goal is to someday replace Mrs. Fields as premiere cookie makers.
Kendra works as a nanny, and David is involved in remodeling historic homes, but evenings and weekends are spent perfecting cookie recipes. They have made cookies for relatives, friends and friends of friends during the past year.
They came to the rescue of a bride who’s wedding cake didn’t arrive with a display of 450 cookies. They sent cookies to a soldier in Afghanistan, and filled orders to go to Hawaii and Peru. Their largest order to date was a corporate client who ordered 90 dozen cookies to use as gifts.
At this point, most of their cookie orders come from referrals. They do not advertise but have a Facebook page under Kendra’s Custom Cookies. One of their specialties is creating cookies to fill a client’s flavor requests.
“We never want to lose the homemade flavor of our cookies,” Kendra says. “We always want to scoop them by hand, one by one.”
The couple sometimes has to rent space in a professional kitchen to fill large orders.
Kendra and David, who are both 30, got married in September and are focused on getting the perfect business recipe. They have converted a closet in their apartment to a pantry to house a 100-year-old cupboard from David’s great-grandparents. They fill it with their secret ingredients for cookie making.
Among their latest ideas are cakes fashioned from layered cookies and fillings like their three-graham-cracker chocolate-chip cookies infused with chocolate cheesecake and filled with marshmallow cream.
You’ll have a chance to try their handy work this weekend. They are entering two new creations into the Chocolate Festival contest.
Although they have many secret recipes, they are willing to share a few of their ideas. Kendra created a simple treat for a child she was caring for and named them Little Essies in her honor. Although they are simple, they are still delicious, Kendra says. The couple also shares a recipe for double chocolate rolls that are similar to cinnamon rolls but with chocolate taking the starring role.
Break each graham cracker into eight small pieces. Spread marshmallow cream on half the pieces. Place remaining pieces on top to make mini sandwiches. Dip each sandwich into dipping chocolate. Place on parchment paper. Sprinkle mini marshmallows on top of each sandwich. Allow to harden for 15 minutes and then enjoy.
Double Chocolate Swirls
4-1/4 cups white bread flour
1 package (2-1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
1/2 cup superfine sugar, heaping
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
6 tablespoons butter
2 large eggs
1-1/2 cups milk
1 small egg
6 tablespoons chocolate hazelnut spread
7 ounces chopped milk chocolate
Place flour, yeast, sugar, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl and mix together. Melt butter and cool slightly. Whisk eggs and milk into butter. Pour into flour mixture and mix to form a soft dough. Knead on a floured work surface for 10 minutes until dough is smooth. Place dough in a large floured bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise in a warm place for about 1-1/2 to 2 hours.
Punch down dough and divide into four equal pieces. Roll each piece into a 1-inch thick rectangle. Spread each rectangle with chocolate hazelnut spread and sprinkle with chopped chocolate. Roll up each piece from long edge. Cut each piece into six pieces. Place each piece onto a lightly oiled baking sheet, cut side down. Beat small egg. Brush lightly onto each piece. Bake at 425 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes. Serve warm.