Keep Calm & Eat (Katie’s) Cookies: They’ll Bring Out The Cookie Monster In YouNov 16, 2023 03:57PM ● By E. senteio Photography By Perry Smith
Katie Boardman of Katie’s Cookies.
“Are you ready?” That’s what Katie Boardman’s husband Casey asked her when he happened upon the perfect location for Katie’s Cookies in Lebanon, New Hampshire’s town center. “I’d been saying I wanted to open a cookie shop for years,” Katie says. “He called my bluff.”
Katie was a stay-at-home mom for 21 years, which she says “was always very important” to her. But as she enjoyed raising her six children, she was also biding her time. With her youngest child turning seven years old two days before the shop opened and her oldest turning 21 a week after opening, Katie knew the timing was just right.
Katie’s Cookies opened its doors in March. It was precisely when the aroma of freshly baked cookies drifted into the air around the Lebanon green. The scent, better than any calling card, beckons customers to come inside. “We start baking early in the morning and bake throughout the day.” Beth Robertson, who Katie says has been with her since the beginning, bakes with Katie. “The cookies we sell are made fresh the day you’re buying them.”
But it takes more than baking to make Katie’s cookies. “We make everything we can from scratch. We whip our cream, make homemade caramel, use real cream cheese, and make all our buttercreams with real butter.” At Katie’s Cookies, it’s like “getting your mom or grandma’s cookies fresh and homemade.”
In fact, many recipes Katie uses are from women in her family. “I grew up around women who loved to bake. There were always cookies around.” Katie was young when she learned to bake, and she was good at it. Yet, it wasn’t something she liked doing. She recalls how her mother would ask if she wanted to bake or do a chore, and Katie chose the chore. It wasn’t until she had children of her own, Katie says, “that I made it a priority for my kids to have real fresh food, so I just went back to my roots and started cooking and baking.”
Sweet Thoughts About Cookies
“Sometimes I’ll be trying to sleep, and I’ll say, ‘I have an idea!’” That’s only one of the ways Katie’s fantastical cookie flavors come into being. Depending on the day and season, these flavors may tantalize you from the menu: Banana Cream, Loaded Peanut Butter, Brown Sugar Maple, Boston Cream, Key Lime, Blueberries and Cream, Cake Batter, Pumpkin Chocolate Chip, or Snickerdoodle. Katie tries to have at least one chocolate cookie, a fruit cookie, her signature chocolate chip cookie, and a random, unexpected flavor cookie on her weekly changing menu. The majority of offerings change from day to day.
One of the top sellers, the Better Than . . . cookie is made with a triple chocolate cookie, topped with caramel and whipped cream, then sprinkled with English toffee. Caramel, cream, and toffee are made from scratch. Another popular option is Blueberry Crisp: an oatmeal cookie with blueberry compote and cream on top. There’s also coconut caramel on a shortbread cookie. When she thinks about it, Katie laughs: “I don’t even know how to describe it. Cookie ideas just pop in there. I don’t have many spare thoughts right now. Most of my thoughts are cookie related.”
Katie says that while she and Beth are baking, they like to run through ideas. “We’re always thinking about what different flavors go well together. We might talk about a cake, like Black Forest, and how to make that into a cookie. I love banana cream pie, so I turned it into a cookie. I ask friends about their favorite birthday cakes. That’s how we came up with the German Chocolate cookie.”
There are also seasonal specials like the Strawberries and Cream cookie that Katie only sells when fresh strawberries are in season. There’s a fall menu filled with pumpkins, apple, and spice. There’s Peppermint Marshmallow on the upcoming winter holiday menu, as well as Red Velvet for Valentine’s Day. But Katie quickly points out that although her cookies are nice to look at, they’re “dessert, not decoration.”
With this cornucopia of cookies, what is Katie’s favorite? “I love chocolate chip cookies.” Katie’s not exactly sure why. It may be the simplicity or the memory of her children coming home from school and looking forward to having them with a glass of milk. Either way, no matter the day of the week or the season, Katie’s signature Chocolate Chip cookie always remains at the top of the menu.
A Happy Space
“We love being an open bakery, so people can come to the counter and order one cookie, five, or a few dozen.” If you order one cookie, which is more of a mini dessert versus a snack, it will cost you $3.25; when you order a dozen or more, the price per cookie drops. But Katie also bakes hundreds of cookies on request. “We do a lot of events.”
Katie has baked cookies for Dartmouth College and the hospital, weddings, birthdays, bridal showers, and corporate functions. Lately, she’s noticed a rise in requests for gluten-free cookies. “We bake with gluten-free ingredients and are very careful to avoid crossover, but I tell customers we are not a gluten-free environment.” Whatever the occasion, if you need cookies, whether it’s a few hundred or one, Katie says, “We do it all.” But, she adds, “We don’t cater or deliver.” People can use DoorDash and other delivery services, but they’ll miss out on the joy of visiting Katie’s Cookies.
“People are happy when they come into the shop. They come through the door, smell cookies baking, and all these good memories come flooding back and they’re happy. So I really enjoy meeting my community in such a happy space.”
Caring and Sharing
On the infrequent occasion when there are still cookies from the day before, Katie may sell them at a discount, “but we usually donate them,” Katie says. “We might bring some to the police station or fire department. Sometimes, we just hand them out.” It’s one small way of saying thank you to a community she says welcomed her and her cookies.
That sense of community was something Katie first experienced at the annual Lebanon Farmers’ Market last year. It was her first foray into cookie sales in the area, but more importantly, her first real introduction to the Upper Valley community. “I’ve lived here for six years. Coming from the military community, it was hard to get to know people, and being a stay-at-home mom gave me limited opportunities beyond my home and family.”
But at the farmers’ market, Katie says, “People were so kind. They shared about my cookies on social media to help get the word out. They told their friends and brought cookies to their coworkers.” Over the season, Katie says she had regular customers who would come at least once a week. “The community just really helped us to succeed.” That sense of community support reinforced the dream of owning a cookie shop. In part, it’s what led to Katie’s Cookies opening its doors.
However, it was never Katie’s dream to open just any cookie shop. “I want a shop where everybody knows they’re welcome. I want it to be a safe space for parents to bring their kids and not feel like they have to apologize for them being too loud.”
Ellie, Katie’s youngest, seems to agree. You will often find her lending a hand at the shop. “She knows how to use the register and will say, ‘Can I take your order?’” It surprises people, Katie says, but adds, “She’s gained a lot of self-confidence. Whatever Ellie does, we are watching over her shoulder.” As a mom, Katie says she knows the importance of having a place where kids can be kids and parents can feel good about it.
Everyone Is Welcome
Students and bicyclists, nurses and clerks, postal employees and retail workers, everyone is welcome. People may not come to Katie’s Cookies looking for quiet, but they may come to eat a cookie, drink a cup of Mocha Joe’s coffee, and use the Wi-Fi. There are tables for people to sit inside and breathe in the cookie-ness and atmosphere. Sometimes, small groups come for cookies and socializing. “We’re very proud that we are friendly people who welcome anyone who walks in our door. I think our customers feel that, and that’s why they come back.”
Going from stay-at-home mom to business owner and baker has been an extreme change for Katie, and it’s been a lot of hard work. Yet, she is surprised that she feels a bit proud of herself. “To be part of the community and for my shop to be succeeding—I just don’t even have the words. Customers come back, and they’re telling their friends! I had so many sleepless nights thinking about how many cookies I’d have to sell every single day to make this work. I feel so happy and proud of what we’ve created and proud of myself for doing it. It’s just an incredible feeling and a positive experience.” y
2 West Park Street, Suite 104
Katie’s Cookies Holiday Cookie Event
Saturday, December 23, 2023