Miami is about to get its first Artisanal Cookie Shop thanks to Cindy Kruse and her cookie concept, Cindy Lou’s Cookies. In her words, “veggies might nourish the body, but cookies nourish the soul.” I couldn’t agree more! These cookies weigh a crazy five ounces each and are fresh baked daily. Cindy has been renting kitchen space on South Beach but is finally moving into her own space in Little River by the end of this year.
Not only will she be able to have her own space to crank out cookies that she’s hand delivering all over Miami by herself, but she’s hoping to one day open it to the public so everyone can have their cookie craving satisfied in an instant.
In the meantime you can enjoy her cookies at spots like Panther Coffee, Jimmy’z Kitchen, Vice City Bean, and Rail 71 Café. It wasn’t always about cookies though – Cindy has made her mark in famous kitchens all over the country while working under Wolfgang Puck, Emeril Lagasse, Charlie Trotter, Charlie Palmer and Jean Georges Vongerichten. She’s even made desserts for the Emmy Awards in Los Angeles.
Upon her arrival in Miami she was the Executive Pastry Chef at the Fontainebleau on Miami Beach until they closed for renovations where she then oversaw dessert production at Barton G. for two years. As much as she loved all those experiences, she says making her cookies has always been her dream.
I sat down with Cindy this week to find out a little more about her 30 varieties of cookies and what inspires her most. Personally, I’ve tried at least 10 different flavors and I’m in love with them all – the Captain Crunch Cookie is out of control and the Double Chocolate Nutella Cookie is amazing as well.
Here are some of the highlights of our chat:
Tell us a bit of your background and what made you decide to go into pastry?
When I was 10 my mom used to bake cakes for her friends. She was a homemaker and she loved to bake. I was always just interested in licking the bowl and that always had a special place for me. When I went to college and graduated from Boston University in 1990, my dad said “it’s time to get a job” and I said I didn’t want a job! I just finished four years, I needed a four year break! And at the time the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York was looking for minorities to give scholarships to and my dad did all the research, because I had no interest in it. So my dad said “Cindy, lets send you to the culinary institute, do you want to learn about cooking?” And I told him I liked baking because of mom and he said “good, if you don’t want to get a job, then lets continue your education” and that’s how it happened. I went to culinary school for two years and once I left there I was so into baking. I went for their regular program and then I graduated and I just started baking and I never looked back.
What has the most influence on your menu?
I really get inspiration from many things, but basically it’s all memories, childhood memories. When I bite into my cookies, I even go back to being 10 years old. Being a kid and the innocence of everything. It’s the joy of just the simple things. When you’re little you want to grow up but when you grow up you want to be little again. It’s just the innocence and simplicity of being young. Even though I have 30 different flavors of cookies, I like to think they are all simple and delicious. Simple things in life make me the happiest, kind of like walking on the beach.
What’s your favorite cookie currently on the menu?
I’m gonna say it’s the Coconut Chocolate Chip with Pecans. Chocolate Chip is the best seller out of all of them, but I love coconut – that’s one of my favorite things. And there’s something about nuts, the smell of them and then of course chocolate. To have that all combined, it’s just magical. It’s crunchy and soft and sweet and savory because of the nuts, and I add a little extra salt. It’s just everything combined and it’s perfect.
What’s your biggest sweet guilty pleasure?
Cookies! Cookies, I eat cookies, I kid you not for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It’s all I eat. Some people say they don’t eat their own product, but it’s all I eat. I just had one of the Lemon Cookies for lunch and nothing else. And I know that’s not good to do that. If I’m having a bad day, then suddenly I’m craving a cookie, they just make me feel better. The only other cookie I really like is from True Loaf, the Chocolate Chip with Walnuts. It’s so awesome. People ask me how my cookies are so good and honestly, I tell them that I have them for lunch every day – so it better be good, it’s my LUNCH! I eat one for lunch every day and sometimes I eat them until I have a belly ache.
Cindy started a Kickstarter Campaign to really get her new shop going. She’s hoping to raise $30,000 and she’s over halfway there! She says she knows it’s going to be tough but it will be worth it in the end.
She wants to create a place where after she gets the wholesale business up and running, for the first time ever, Cindy Lou's Cookies will be directly available to the general public. Kickstarter funds will be used to help complete the construction and shop build-out. The funds will also go towards start-up capital to help her grow from a "one woman show" into a full scale wholesale establishment with real employees and a delivery truck. Her ultimate goal is to build something wonderful and delicious - an incredible new cookie community in Miami's hottest up-and coming neighborhood, Little River.