If you have a sweet tooth, you’re probably familiar with how quickly dessert items tend to trend. In fact, in 2014, online magazine Slate completed a study in which writers searched the Nexis information database to find how many times different foods had been named “the next cupcake.” The most popular items claiming the title were macarons, donuts and pies — all of which have restaurants around the Queen City dedicated exclusively to them.
If we were going to name “the next cupcake” based on the newest neighborhood sweet spot baking up a certain specialty item, then the new cupcake(s) would be cookies and macaroons. Because Gaslight Gourmet Cookies, which serves fresh cookies, macaroons, coffee and tea from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, has appeared on our dessert radar.
Not to be confused with the colorful merengue-filled French confections, macaroons are small, round cakes made from ground almonds and coconut. Gaslight Gourmet offers gluten-free macaroons, with or without a dark chocolate coating on the bottom ($2 each).
Along with the bakery’s many cookie varieties, the macaroons are made using a recipe perfected by owner and baker Tom Jacobsen. Jacobsen says it’s the macaroon recipe many claim they’ve been searching for after trying one for the first time. He says “the best advertisement is a free sample” and one customer bought a half-dozen of Jacobsen’s macaroons within seconds of tasting a free sample.
Coconut lovers can also get toasted coconut cookies. It’s one of the 12 cookie flavors the bakery offers, along with kona coffee, macadamia peanut butter, white chocolate cherry, dark cherry cordial and cinnamon. Also on the menu are sugar-coated malasadas, which are Portuguese donuts either plain or filled with cream, raspberry or custard, plus sugar cookies dipped in seasonally colored sprinkles and traditional cookie flavors (chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin) for the non-adventurous. Jacobsen developed the offerings based on the reactions of people he gave the cookies to as gifts.
Although Jacobsen graduated from the Midwest Culinary Institute at Cincinnati State four years ago, he has been baking for more than 20 years. He worked for a private contracting business and in the kitchen at LaRosa’s before opening his own business. Returning to school helped Jacobsen fine-tune some skills he needed to open the business, such as cost control.
Jacobsen and his employees arrive to work at 5 a.m. to begin baking. Though this may be a bit early for most people, Jacobsen enjoys it because he finds baking therapeutic, he says. There’s no cutting corners — Gaslight Gourmet Cookies hand-makes all cookies and other goodies with real butter and Madagascar vanilla. The food also contains no preservatives, and customers can enjoy fresh tea and Seven Hills Coffee anytime during the day.
“It’s really satisfying and rewarding, especially when customers bring their friends in,” Jacobsen says. “You really feel like you’re doing things right when people bring their friends in after lunch and tell them what they’re going to have.”
While Jacobsen is a resident of Finneytown, he has always loved Clifton’s Gaslight District for its welcoming residents and business owners. He’s happy to be a part of it after waiting about five years for the perfect spot to open his business.
“After having to wait for the construction to get done for so long, to finally bake in the store for the first time was a good sense of accomplishment, relief and excitement,” he says.
Friend Sylvia Rombis, president of the Malton Art Gallery in Rookwood, designed the store’s walk-up window, which stays open two hours after the inside store closes (until 8 p.m.). The amenity was added because many residents walk or ride their bikes around the neighborhood. Customers can even get free dog treats from the window, provided by neighboring Petey’s Pet Shop.
In addition to tasting good, Jacobsen’s cookies do good — leftovers are donated to the Ronald McDonald house and other local causes or given to friends.
GASLIGHT GOURMET COOKIES is located at 272 Ludlow Ave. More info: 513-873-7777.