At Courtney's Cookies, a web-based Miami food business, a batch of warm and doughy chocolate chip cookies is made entirely vegan and gluten-free. You have Courtney Kohout to thank.
The Ohio native, who moved to South Florida to study nutrition and health at Florida International University, has always loved cookies. Some of her fondest childhood memories involve baking with her mom and grandma. So when she became gluten-free and vegan, Kohout was determined to produce similar, great-tasting cookies using alternative ingredients.
"I didn't like anything that was in the grocery store," she says. "I knew there had to be a way to make gluten-free or vegan cookies taste better than what was already out there."
Kohout spent months sampling gluten-free flours and blending different ingredients in the kitchen. Then, in October 2016, she launched Courtney's Cookies. Compared to traditional cookies, Kohout's creations are free of wheat, eggs, dairy, and refined sugars. Instead, she uses a mixture of oat flour, coconut oil, chia seeds, salt, coconut sugar, and tiger nut flour. All cookies are baked in a commercial kitchen in Palmetto Bay.
Six signature flavors — including chocolate chip, raspberry chocolate, sunflower raisin, and peanut butter chocolate chip — are available for purchase by the half-dozen or dozen ($12.50 to $23). She also offers ice-cream sandwiches ($6 to $15), which are stuffed with vegan ice-cream flavors such as triple coconut or mocha almond fudge, supplied by Sweet Melody's Mike Romeu.
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"The cookies and vegan ice cream are a match made in heaven," Kohout says. "The products complement each other so well.
Though Kohout operates without a storefront, she services hundreds of customers by selling at farmers' markets such as the Miami Flea, wholesaling to local restaurants like Lilikoi Organic Living in Miami Beach and Tea & Poets in Sunset Place, and delivering free to patrons in Coral Gables and Coconut Grove. Customers from South Florida and around the nation can also order her cookies online.
"Every month we keep growing," she says. "To look back on the numbers and see where we started is crazy. Now the next step is taking it national. We're looking at different retailers like Target, Whole Foods, and Milam's. By the end of the year, we hope to be placed in different stores."
Courtney's Cookies. Order via courtneyscookies.com.