Love at first bite: Denika’s home-made cookies are a hit
Denika Minors’ cookies are addictive.
“More than one person has said they can’t stop eating them,” said Ms Minors, owner of baked-goods business Cookieologist.
She has always baked in her spare time. Her friends and family urged her to go into business.
“My friends would say why don’t you start something?” Ms Minors said.
But for a long time she was unsure and said that she would think about it. But when the pandemic hit in 2020, she decided it was time to stop thinking and start doing. The business took off quickly.
Two years later, she usually has six or seven orders per week of cookies, cakes, popcorn and other goodies.
Baking is in her blood. Her grandmother, Carolyn Bristol, was well known in Sandys for making fudge. Now Ms Minors cooks in the same kitchen as her grandmother did on Beacon Hill Road in Sandys. Her uncle lives there and loans her the space.
“But I don’t bake fudge,” she said. “I would like to learn though.”
By day she works at the Accountant General’s office. She cooks at evenings and weekends.
She likes to listen to music while she bakes. “It gets me in the mood,” she said.
She makes a range of cookies from ginger snaps and oatmeal raisin to sugar cookies and chocolate chip. Ironically, she is not a chocolate fan.
“I will sample the chocolate-chip cookies to make sure they are good,” she said. “But then after I take a bite I put it in the garbage. My daughter and mother are always complaining that I waste cookies.”
She enjoys running Cookieologist.
“I love to see people smile when they eat my stuff,” she said. “It brightens me up. I feel that I am true to my mission statement: ‘we bring love and warmth to your palate, making you want more’.”
But February is a slow time for her, because many people are still following their new year’s resolutions of trying to eat healthier.
“I’m not knocking it, but it does slow me down,” she said.
But she has found that by Easter many people have fallen off the diet wagon and business picks up.
December is also busy. She did particularly well last Christmas, selling stockings filled with home-made treats.
“Sometimes I get overwhelmed,” she said. “There were people who wanted the Christmas stockings I did, but there were also people who wanted just chocolate-chip cookies, the ginger snaps or just cakes. I am very grateful to my job because they have encouraged me, as well as my family and friends.”
Sometimes Ms Minors just wakes up with a recipe idea in her head.
“Often I will come home on weekends and say ‘let me try this and see if it works’,” she said. “Then I will say ‘oh, it does work or no, it definitely does not’.”
Her family are also her biggest critics and will let her know when she is on the wrong track.
Ms Minors is entirely self-taught. She would like to see more baking courses offered in Bermuda, maybe at the Bermuda College. She would particularly love to learn how to decorate her cookies.
“There are a lot of techniques I don’t know, but I would love to learn them,” she said.
She is working towards getting her baked goods into local retail outlets but is not in a rush.
“I am still trying to perfect things,” she said. “I can be a perfectionist sometimes. Hopefully, we can get there soon. That would be my dream.”
One difficulty has been the rising cost of goods in Bermuda stores due to pandemic-related global shipping delays and shortages.
“The biggest challenge is when you go to the grocery store and you see something that was $3, and the price has now gone up to $5. Ingredients are just going up and up. Then you have to think about raising your prices. You want to be competitive but you don’t want to out-market yourself.”
But she always tries to make her products look high-end, whatever the price.
“To me it has to make sense,” she said. “If I am going to give you something that is $85, I will make sure it looks like it is worth more than $100. I am always going to make it worth the price.”
For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or see her on Instagram @cookieologist.bda.