Restaurant News & Reviews

Brown Butter and Red Moose: Cookie creators extraordinaire

Brown Butter Cookie Co.'s signature cookies.
Brown Butter Cookie Co.'s signature cookies. The Tribune

Your sweet tooth deserves a trip to the coast to relish the delectable treats from Brown Butter Cookie Company in Cayucos and Red Moose Cookie Company in Cambria, both of which use fine ingredients in their hand-crafted delights.

Brown Butter Cookie Co.

Sisters Christa Hozie and Traci Nickson were already pretty busy when they created their Brown Butter Sea Salt Cookie, with Hozie managing their gourmet grocery The Little Market and Nickson running operations at the Cass House next door.

The cookie — a delightful dollop of sweet and salty developed from a shortbread recipe — was meant to be a treat to serve at the inn’s afternoon tea and to sell at the store, but evidently the little cookie had other plans.

“People would have a bite at the Cass House, then come into the market and buy a package of six, then come back in and buy four dozen before they left town,” Hozie said. “The cookie basically said the word, and we listened.”

In December 2008, they launched a website where customers could order online, a move that kicked open the doors to the future of the company. During the next few weeks, Hozie estimated that “we hand-rolled about 10,000 cookies just to keep the holiday orders filled.” In late February 2009, the cookies received a prominent feature in Gourmet Weekly, “which was just huge.”

The buzz gave the sisters the confidence to go after some wholesale accounts and “some great people said yes right away,” said Hozie.

By April 2009, the Cayucos market space had been transformed into the Brown Butter Cookie Company storefront and production facility. Mentions from the New York Times, Good Housekeeping and Rachael Ray’s daytime television show continued to fuel the momentum, and now the Brown Butter Cookie Company team handcrafts several thousand cookies to order each week, with several more flavors recently added to the lineup.

Red Moose Cookie Co.

Though it got its start in the northwest, Red Moose Cookie Company has “come home” to Cambria, spearheaded by former Coast Union High School classmates Caren Fallows and Roger Wall.

Fallows was eyeing retirement from a 20-plus-year career as a dental assistant in Washington state when she spotted a mention “of some cinnamon chips in a magazine.”

Always someone who “wanted to ‘bake’ people happy,” she came up with a mouth-watering cookie recipe with cinnamon chips, toffee, oatmeal and walnuts that proved a big hit with family and friends.

When a friend took some of those “Cinnful” cookies to work, they wowed the taste buds of a cookie distributor, and the rest is Red Moose history.

The cookies became very popular in local markets, and were eventually tapped by a large resort for turndown service.

Fallows — aka “Jane Dough, CEO” — went from baking a few hundred cookies a week to a few thousand, also adding flavors such as Lemon Moose Cookie, Peanut Butter Dream and her signature “Naughty Rod” pretzel dipped in caramel and rolled in mixed nuts.

But the baking and years of standing at work took their toll, and Fallows underwent spinal fusion surgery in 2008.

Red Moose ground to a halt, “because I didn’t think I could find anyone to put the kind of love into this as I do” she said. A phone call from Wall — with whom Fallows had kept in sporadic but close contact — jump-started the business.

“He said ‘it’s time to come home and we’ll do it together,’ ” Fallows remembered.

Red Moose Cookie Company reopened in Cambria in August 2009, because “there’s only one other person I could trust with this, and that’s Roger.”

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