Extraordinary cookies are a little hard to come by these days; unlike cupcakes and other sweets, there aren’t a lot of specialty stores around whose sole purpose is selling cookies. The Cravory changed all that when it opened its doors five months ago: everything from the locally-sourced ingredients to the hand rolling and the well-displayed finished product is dedicated to creating the perfect sweet treat. They have at least 100 different flavors in stock at all times and boast 11 signature cookies whose flavoring they’ve created purely from scratch. The Blue Book sat down with Derek Jaeger, part owner and Cookie Chef extraordinaire, to get to know a bit more about The Cravory.
Derek and his two friends, Nate and Adam, first started playing around with the idea of a small bakery about 5 years ago when they were fresh out of college. They had just completed degrees in various sciences and all had a passion for cooking, so they began experimenting – and in rather unusual ways. One day, after eating a balsamic rosemary salad, the trio decided it was so delicious they wanted to turn those same flavors into a cookie creation. They combined lemon zest, a balsamic reduction, rosemary, olive oil (instead of butter) and voilà – they had invented their now-signature Balsamic Rosemary cookie.
With $1,000 in their pockets, a modest business plan, and a few recipe ideas in mind, they got cookin’ and headed out to a local farmers market in San Diego. They sold 200 cookies the very first time they went out, and were so popular they almost immediately began taking online orders and shipping product across the country. They’ve been shipping throughout the US for about 4 years now, and half their profit is still sourced from outside of California: Los Angeles, New York, and in various airports such as LaGuardia and JFK. Last year, Derek and his co-owners realized they needed more space and began looking for a physical storefront; they celebrated the grand opening of their current shop on Point Loma Blvd this past January.
Meet the Cookies
A lot of the trio’s first recipes are their current signatures: the red velvet, birthday cake, chocolate chip with sea salt, cookies & cream milkshake, and salted caramel cream, to name a few. Whenever a holiday comes up, expect there to be a cookie (or several) dedicated to it; for instance, in light of the recent frenzy surrounding Comic Con, they created Chewbacca, the Hulk, and Kryptonite. The shop has 2 huge binders chock full of recipes, some of which date back to their earliest ideas 5 years ago. Every cookie is hand-rolled – an extremely labor-intensive process – but one that is, according to Derek, essential to the overall flavoring of the cookies.
They try to source all of their ingredients locally, especially the fresh produce and herbs. Derek uses only 100% butter and the best flour available, King Arthur brand. To Derek, hand-picking ingredients means their cookies have less calories, are healthier, lighter, and overall better quality than butter-based cookies. Staying true to their roots, the guys still visit farmers markets every week in La Jolla, Ocean Beach, Hillcrest, and Little Italy; look for them at the next Open Aire Market in La Jolla or at Adelaide’s on Girard.
There’s a Little Science Involved…
Derek’s background is in nutritional science, so he is well aware that baking isn’t just throwing things in a pan. He knows which ingredients will react to one another – and why, for instance, cocoa powder reacts with baking soda or what ratios of each item are necessary to create the perfect blend of flavor and substance. [pullquote]”There is a very real science to it”[/pullquote] “There is a very real science to it,” Derek said. Most people may not realize it, but the ‘perfect cookie’ is very much a mathematical creation. He writes the entire recipe for each new cookie by hand before he even steps foot in the kitchen to bake. Putting science first definitely means they’re doing something right – the cookies have that just-baked, soft texture to them and have creatively achieved that evasive balance between savory and sweet.
An Eye on the Future
What’s next for the guys at The Cravory? They’re currently working on new ice cream combo cookies, so keep an eye out for upcoming announcements! They’ve also been in the spotlight recently: they just won the Bacon Fest contest at the San Diego County Fair for a concoction including vanilla bean and Serrano chili pepper ice cream and are headed to Vegas for the National Bacon Championships in a few weeks. That will be the ultimate challenge – they’ll have to whip up something the judges request from scratch in 90 minutes, all on set in front of an audience.
Derek is always thinking of new recipes and, for him, the creativity never really stops. There are recipe ideas everywhere, and he draws a lot of his inspiration from different cultures, family, and his friends, and will even take customer requests on Facebook.
Tips for Making the Perfect Cookie at Home
We asked Derek for some tips on making better cookies at home for those of us feeling adventurous. He gave us two pieces of advice that he swears by to this day:
1. Portion your cookie dough into equal, rolled balls first so you can just place them on the cookie sheet later.
2. Make sure the dough is ice cold before it goes in the oven – always refrigerate it overnight or even put it in the freezer for a while. This is key.
Hungry yet? Check out their website or head over to The Cravory’s shop at 3960 West Point Loma Blvd. for the ultimate cookie experience! They’re open Sundays-Thursdays from 10am to 8pm, and Fridays and Saturdays from 10am to 9pm.
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