Kirk F. - owner, creator and baker of Kirk's Cookies - is a genuinely nice guy who has a slightly overwhelming obsession with cookies ... and after trying his Chocolate Cayenne Espresso cookie, I might be fostering a small cookie obsession myself. A dark, crumbly cookie with a shortbread base, the chocolate chips offer a rich sweetness that is well-balanced by the espresso, while the cayenne starts a slow burn down your throat.
So what's the deal with Kirk's Cookies? Well, Kirk is obsessed with cookies, and Kirk's Cookies is the result of his grassroots efforts. Without any professional baking experience, Kirk created his company based solely on self-taught prowess and a serious (serious) affection for cookies. "Let's face it," he says on his Web site, "homemade food is not just flour and eggs. There's love in there. Every made-from-scratch chocolate chip cookie is a token of friendship and affection." Aw.
An Arlington resident, Kirk makes a weekly trip to a commercial kitchen in Alexandria that he rents by the hour. He bakes approximately 500 cookies per week, heading over on Friday evenings after wrapping up his day job at a DC consulting firm. Once a year Kirk's orders spike up to 2,500 cookies, when he bakes for his firm's canned food drive - a platter of Kirk's chocolate chip cookies is the grand prize.
Kirk's Cookies currently offers seven varieties of cookie:
- The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie
- Fresh Ginger & Molasses Cookies
- Pumpkin Muffaroons, which Kirk describes as "a cross between muffins and cookies, but neither 'Muffkies' nor 'Cooffins' sounded as cool as 'Muffaroons'"
- Peanut Better
- Five Spice Oatmeal Raisin
- Chocolate Cayenne Espresso (delicious!)
- Eggnog Snickerdoodles, which "are like innocent sugar cookies that started hanging out with a rough cinnamon crowd," Kirk says.
So far, Kirk's experiences - although overall positive - have included some growing pains.
"When I first started up Kirk's Cookies, I was very naive," Kirk said. "I offered about 10 different kinds of cookies, all sorts of muffins, scones, breads, cakes, cupcakes, pies, you name it. That worked out OK for a little while, and then one day someone ordered 'two of each.' I pulled an all-nighter mixing up about a gazillion different recipes. Then I brought extras to work and gave them away, because nobody makes just two cupcakes, right? I went on the Web site pronto and dropped down to six types of cookies, and life has been much happier."
Another time Kirk offered the seasonal strawberry shortcake as a regular menu item. "In the summer, strawberries were available everywhere and pretty affordable," he said. "But then I forgot about it until someone ordered 150 strawberry shortcakes in January. That was another all-nighter; I finally found the berries (for an outrageous price) at Costco and spent the rest of the night slicing strawberries, whipping cream and baking biscuits. [I] definitely lost money on that one."
The thing about Kirk is that he doesn't just love cookies, but he also knows his stuff. Talking to Kirk about baking is like a mini-lesson in chemistry; I think I learned more in a 20-minute conversation that in an entire year of 11th-grade chemistry class. Kirk admits that this fascination has been a lifelong endeavor. He's collected dozens of notebooks filled with cookie recipes, observations and ideas, and he even includes a timeline of his cookie fanaticism on his Web site.
Although Kirk has a long way to go before he's DC's version of Mrs. Fields, Kirk's Cookies appears to be on an upward trajectory. Short term, Kirk is working on adding an online ordering form to his Web site. He's also in the midst of perfecting his shipping and packaging techniques, with the goal of offering a "Cookie of the Month" club. Long-term, Kirk briefly entertained the thought of a Kirk's Cookies food truck, but he doubts the validity of a standalone cookie truck.
In the meantime, though, Kirk plans to continue to think big. "I would love to have a global cookie empire," he said. "If you know anyone who has empire that they're not using, or a spare, please let me know."