Cookies For You is getting into the cake business in a big way.
Mary Helen Hasby, who owns the business located at 117 S. Main St., said a lot of her customers had been clamoring for something different, and she wasn't about to let a lack of training in cake decorating stop her from offering the new service at the store this summer.
"Luckily we were fortunate enough to find Emily (Hicks), and so I didn't have to start from the bottom up," Hasby said. "Emily came trained and knows what she's doing, so she can train the rest of us."
Hicks was the owner of Crown Cakes, which closed in 2007, and has extensive cake decorating experience. Although she is teaching the rest of the staff what she knows, they are also doing some additional training. Hasby said five employees have taken three courses in cake decorating from the Wilton cake decorating school in Illinois. Additionally, Hasby will be attending a two-week Wilton cake-decorating class.
"People come from China to go to that class," Hicks said.
After moving back to Minot from Williston, Hicks was about to go back to work when she got a phone call from Hasby.
"Mary Helen just happened to call me out of the blue, and it was so lucky, because I was gonna end up doing something that I really don't love to do, whereas now I get to do what I really want to do," Hicks said. "She asked if I wanted to come make cakes and I said, 'Yes I do,""
With Hicks in charge of the cake duties, Cookies For You can do all sorts of specialty cakes, from coconut cakes and cheesecakes to chocolate truffle cakes and stacked wedding cakes.
"Just about anything goes. We had a lady come in who wanted a penguin cake, so I was thinking maybe a little igloo with little penguins on it or something, and it would be all three-dimensional and very unique," Hicks said. "And as far as wedding cakes go, I've made a lot of wedding cakes, but I've never made the same wedding cake twice."
One of the keys to the unique design of their cakes is the use of rolled fondant, which is made from scratch. The smooth, edible frosting is rolled out almost like cookie dough and then sculpted to make a cake look like just about anything, from a ladybug to a handbag. Hicks is also able to add intricate details such as the stitching on a teddy bear or the fringe on a blanket.
"I know for a fact that no one else makes their own fondant here in town," Hicks said. "And the taste is remarkably different from bought (fondant)."
"If you were to buy it, sometimes it's not good tasting. It's edible, it's not gonna kill you, but you wouldn't want to eat it," Hasby said. "But ours, it actually contributes to the taste. You would want to eat it."
Edible images taken from a photograph or digital picture can also be added to cakes to make them even more personal.
Not only will Cookies For You make a specialty cake, they will also deliver. In fact, they prefer delivering it themselves because many of the specialty cakes can be quite fragile, especially wedding cakes, and the last thing a customer needs to think about on a special occasion is how to fix a broken cake.
Deliveries aren't limited to Minot, either. They will travel to Bismarck or even Fargo to make sure a cake arrives safely and on time. They can also ship nationwide and overseas.
Because Hicks is the only employee with extensive cake decorating experience at the moment, she likes meeting with customers personally to discuss their cake. She is usually in the store until 1 p.m. or so Monday through Saturday, and will also take appointments if that is what a customer prefers. Customers can call 839-4975 or 1-800-814-5334 to talk to Hicks about a cake.
Cookies For You is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. It is closed on Sunday. Many cake examples can also be seen on the Web site (www.cookiesforyou.com).
Along with cakes, Hasby is also getting into the homemade bread business.
"The homemade breads, we're experimenting with a little of bit grains, so we have multigrain, we have an oats and honey with poppy seed, and then we have a white bread," Hasby said. "We will be getting into rye, I have a couple of different flavors of rye bread."
They won't be doing any buns right away, and will be selling the bread by the loaf. Hasby said sourdough bread is also an option in the future.
"I look forward to, I guess, offering them with our lunches and sandwiches as sort of an upscale lunch or an upscale sandwich," Hasby said.
Hasby will also look to offer cinnamon bread, pizza bread and spicy jalapeno bread. Gourmet popcorn is in the works as well, which will include chocolate covered, chocolate and nuts, salsa, jalapeno spicy and kettle corn sold by the bag.
"We do scones made from scratch scones with fresh raspberries or fresh fruit when we can find it, and fresh frozen fruit when we can't find fresh fruit," Hasby added.
To make room for all the additional offerings, Hasby is expanding the store. She is taking over the space next door, formerly the Magic Mill, and will be knocking out the wall between the two stores to increase the size of Cookies For You considerably.
Construction has already started and takes place when the business is closed so customers aren't bothered. Hasby noted that even when the wall is knocked out between the two spaces, she will not have to close down, even for a day.
Hasby said she's been told it will be about another month before construction is complete, so she's expecting two months. As long as it's done by December and the busy Christmas season, however, she'll be happy.
"We just needed extra room for cakes, but also for dining, and we'll have a conference room and a tea room, things like that," Hasby said. "So we're really looking forward to not only expanding our business to cakes, but other things as well. Just kind of following what the customers want, and they definitely tell us what they want."