New York Times food writer Florence Fabricant’s call was Christa Hozie’s biggest surprise.
“She said ‘This is Flo Fabricant. Where are my cocoa cookies?’ then wrote about the ‘little cookie company in little Cayucos.’ ”
Hozie and sister Traci Nickson have always been foodies. They read every publication about food. They watch any chef shows on television. They talk food for relaxation and test recipes for entertainment.
Lately they brainstorm new cookie flavors for the cookie that has made Cayucos a must-visit location.
They launched the Brown Butter Cookie Company in January 2008. As Nickson regretfully closed her Cayucos specialty food store, The Little Market, a brown butter sea-salt cookie was a customer favorite. Tourists wanted it shipped. They decided to offer it online for the holidays.
“We ended up hand-rolling 10,000 holiday orders,” Hozie said. “By January, we decided to listen to the cookie that wanted to be tried. We changed our marketing plan to focus on cookies and invested all we were worth to take a chance.”
Today they have 20 employees to roll and bake a variety of cookies, but their original cookie is their signature. They modified a shortbread recipe with seldom-combined ingredients — brown butter, sweet brown sugar and a sprinkle of sea salt.
“We played with the recipe to make it our own,” Hozie said.
Now they offer cocoa, espresso, honey bourbon, and cocoa mint, besides the original. Open daily at their red barn bakery at the north end of Ocean Avenue, they are sold by the cookie or variety pack and online.
“We let the cookie speak for itself,” Hozie said about their marketing plan. “The bourbon cookie came from watching chefs like Tyler Florence on The Food Network.
“They all seemed to enjoy cooking while sipping some bourbon so we thought, why not try the flavoring in the cookie,” she said. “We send samples to potential retailers, editors or chefs who might talk about us.”
Hozie retold a follow-up conversation she had after sending cookies to Florence, a celebrity chef who has restaurants and shops in Napa and Mill Valley.
“A lady answered I assumed was his assistant. She said her husband devoured the cookies for lunch all in one sitting — maybe even the paperwork. It turned out it was chef Florence’s wife.”
In Westways Magazine’s July and August 2011 issue, writer Starshine Roshell inspired a record number of new customers.
“I found the Brown Butter Cookie Company during a summer getaway a moist, chewy confection that has me salivating even as I type this,” Roshell wrote.
“The cookie changed everything,” Hozie said. “We are best friends and business partners. We love our journey together.”
Contact Judy Salamacha at firstname.lastname@example.org or 801-1422.