Solomon’s Gourmet Cookies
Just Like Grandma’s—If Grandma Is Frieda Solomon
We remember an America where no one spoke of take-out, dads carved turkeys and moms baked wonderful goodies every week. Daughters spent enough time away from celebrity magazines to share the joy of baking, and you could look forward to the school or church bake sale, knowing there were butter-laden treasures to be found. Mrs. A’s apple pie, Mrs. B’s brownies and banana bread, Miss C’s chocolate chip cookies, and Grandma D’s devil’s food cake were made by women who knew nothing of baking with boxed powders that called for mixed in oil or margarine, or of frosting cakes with a product from a can. Even if you didn’t bake, you would ask them for the recipe.
If this sounds like an era that passed you by, or one that has gone with the wind of progress, take heart: there are still a few practitioners of the old craft of home baking in pockets of America. Some of them even are in business, fighting for your right to enjoy traditional delights of great cookie, cake and brownie recipes. They hold out against the high rents, low margins, long hours and back-breaking work that have driven their colleagues into more sensible professions—such that when an old-fashioned-style bakery opens, it is generally considered a cultural “event.”
By 1994, 51 years after Frieda first shipped cookies to Aaron overseas, she turned over her recipes to her daughters; ultimately, in honor of Frieda and Aaron, Solomon’s Gourmet Cookies was formed.
The Wisdom of Solomon
Solomon’s calls their products “elegant gourmet cookies, brownies and bars.” It’s all semantics, but in the interest of journalism—how “elegant” is a brownie, chocolate chip cookie, or oatmeal bar compared to complex pastries?—we would call them a line of casual standards, elegantly turned out. If you’re a good baker, these are recipes that you would bake as treats for your family—not the fancy wares people expect for desserts. That being said, they are executed as beautifully as any artist could paint them and packaged in a simple but sophisticated presentation that makes the whole indeed more “elegant” and “gourmet” than the sum of the parts.
In fact, Solomon’s does not aim to turn heads by being super-rich, over-the-top, complex, sweet or nouvelle. They do what grandmas have always done best: take butter, sugar, chocolate, and other simple, quality ingredients, and mix them into wholesome, familiar, uncloying yummies. They are sweets that are not too sweet.
While all are good, we’ve asterisked our favorites. There are the familiars:
Solomon’s makes other items too, but we left them for another day: if anyone reading this wants to send us a gift, we’d like to try the mandel bread and the Muriel Roth bar (a friend of Mrs. Solomon?). If you live in the Chicago area, there are many other treats you can buy at the bakery that aren’t available online.
We had a feeling when we first saw the photography on Solomon’s website—among the most beautiful we have seen in our thousands of hours of looking at food producers’ websites—that their baked goodies were going to be delish. But like a blind date with a guy or gal who sends fabulous photos and a great dossier, you never know what you’re going to get until you meet and spend an evening together. Solomon’s was the tastiest of first dates...and seconds...and thirds....
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