When you hear that the name of a business is Cookie Lady, human nature undoubtedly leads you to picture a matron in an apron – possibly even your mother or grandmother. So it will probably come as a surprise to learn that Sister Bay’s “cookie lady” is actually Rachel Haas, a normally soft-spoken, petite, young woman who comes to life when she talks about baking.
“I’ve always loved to bake,” she smiles. “From the time I was a little girl I was baking. And I am completely self-taught,” she adds, with a measure of pride.
Rachel’s Cookie Lady business grew out of her other business, Drink Coffee, which she purchased from Dale Daniels in 2005.
“Before Dale had Drink Coffee, it was started by Mark Martin and I worked with Mark at Mr. Helsinki’s in Fish Creek. When Dale decided to sell the business I decided to take the leap,” Rachel explains.
With the advent of her new career, homemade bakery goods were a natural extension of the business. She began baking muffins, breads, and other goodies, including cookies. The idea of starting Cookie Lady as a separate business occurred four years ago, shortly after she moved Drink Coffee to its new, storefront location at 10647 N. Bay Shore Drive in downtown Sister Bay.
“My cookies were very popular with my customers,” Rachel says, “but the idea of a separate business didn’t really take shape until I gave my father a ‘cookie-of-the-month’ as a Christmas present. After that things just kind of evolved.”
The key to all her baked goods, and particularly her cookies, is using quality ingredients and avoiding shortcuts. As she notes, “The ingredients in my cookies have to be ingredients I am comfortable eating.”
Today, Rachel offers a variety of cookies that she typically sells by the dozen, both in her store and online at cookieladyonline.com.
“I’m very flexible in order to accommodate my customers,” she states. “They can mix and match the cookies as they choose and we ship anywhere.”
As you might guess, Rachel offers a “Cookie-of-the-Month” package that provides the recipient a different type of cookie each month of the year. In addition, she offers a College Cookie Club in 3, 6, 9, or 12-month increments that ensures your favorite student a monthly treat while they are away from home.
Rachel’s most unique offering is – without a doubt – her cookie bouquets. These elegant gifts feature individually wrapped cookies arranged bouquet fashion in a chocolate base.
“The bouquets have been extremely popular for everything from birthdays to graduation,” Rachel says. “And Mother’s Day bouquets really keep me baking!”
While Cookie Lady is a tremendous success, Rachel continues to look for ways to grow. New cookies are tested with her customers in Drink Coffee and feedback from patrons helps her perfect the recipes.
“Friends and customers have been extremely encouraging and help point me in the right direction with everything I do,” she says.
So whether you stop in for a treat to take home for yourself, or are looking for a unique gift for a loved one and want to shop from home on the internet, the Cookie Lady is certain to have a cookie waiting just for you.
Cookie Lady Sugar Cookies
2 cups (4 sticks) butter at room temperature
2 cups sugar
2 eggs at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla. Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture. Mix until just combined. Chill in disc shapes covered in plastic wrap or waxed paper for 1 to 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out dough onto lightly floured surface – not thinner than 1/8-inch for softest cookies. Use cookie cutters to cut dough into shapes. Place on ungreased cookie sheets and bake for 8 to 10 minutes until edges are just golden. Cool on the sheet for one minute before transferring to cooling rack. When cookies are completely cool, frost with Royal Icing.
4 teaspoons meringue powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon lemon juice (optional)
1 pound powdered sugar – sifted
Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Using the paddle attachment of your mixer, mix on low speed for one minute until the ingredients are just combined. Increase speed to medium high and mix for three minutes until frosting is stiff. Color with food coloring and dilute with water for a smoother look.
Three Tips from the Cookie Lady
1) Start with good ingredients (e.g. real butter). Shortcuts and inferior substitutes result in inferior cookies.
2) Blend your sugar and butter for three minutes (set your timer). This will seem like a long time, but the result is worth the time and will lead to softer cookies.
3) Fill all your measuring cups with a scoop. Using the measuring cup itself to scoop compacts the ingredient and results in too much getting into the mixture (particularly true of flour, which leads to hard cookies).