Entering Gourmet Goodies, I saw a tantalizing smorgasbord—cookies, cupcakes, cheesecakes, cannolis, miniature pies, and unique theme cakes. I assumed the owner would be a grown-up version of a pigtailed little girl whose lifelong dream of baking cupcakes had finally come to fruition. . . but I was wrong! The backstory of this rapidly growing bakery is as twisting as the swirls of icing on their cakes.
Although I met with owner Carissa Hughes, the culinary wizard is actually her business partner and husband, Bob. Originally from Kentucky, Bob’s career was in construction, but he had a hobby of baking—no family tradition, no lifelong ambition—he just enjoyed baking. But there was something about his cupcakes—something so unique that friends begged to purchase them and the pastor of the megachurch the couple attended arranged for them to be sold at its popular café.
Success bred success—and after Bob “retired” and moved to Florida, the Hughes realized that what had been their lifelong dream of becoming entrepreneurs was within reach—and that reach was the span of an arm stretching across a counter for their delectable baked goods. Cupcakes were sold at garage sales, online and door to door. Then kiosks in three malls led to a store in February 2013 at Miller’s Landing Plaza on Cypress Gardens Boulevard. Soon, however, the bakery outgrew that space, so on November 2, 2015, Gourmet Goodies doubled its size, moving to the highly visible 4th Street NW address on Central Park.
The personable Carissa invited me to sample the snickerdoodle and mint chocolate chip cookies. As I bit into the thick mint one, I was struck by its pretty muted green color—a good sign that flavoring would not have been overdone, but when the thick cookie began to crumble in my mouth, I realized what the bakery’s secret is—the consistency! The outside shell of crisp granules of sugar melted into the delicious dough we all like to lick off the mixer beaters at home.
Carissa saw the dawning of understanding and said, “Yep, our cookies are all slightly under-cooked. We tell people, ‘if you want a thin, brittle cookie, our cookies are not for you.’” This is not to say the cookie was like a cake or that it was liquidified—on the contrary, the couple has mastered the exact moment to remove cookies from the oven—when the dough has solidified but is still slightly soft.