Cookie Maker Kristin Dowling Delivers Big Flavors and Brilliant Designs at Rude Boy Cookies
Editor’s note: Cocina Connection is a monthly feature that takes a behind-the-scenes look at a New Mexico-based chef, who, in turn, shares some recipes.
Every day, Kristin Dowling rolls out cookie dough and bakes cookies.
Of course, there must be loud music alongside the heat of the preheating ovens.
“I don’t like quiet,” she laughs. “I need noise to keep my focus.”
During vacation time, Dowling works at a frantic pace.
“Around Christmas, I’ll be making about 100 dozen cookies a day,” she says. “It’s not uncommon for me to arrive at 6 a.m. or spend the night. These days, I come home later, around 9 am.
Dowling co-owns Albuquerque-based Rude Boy Cookies with Michael Silva. The duo opened the bakery in July 2014 and it’s located at 1916 Central SE, Suite E, across from the University of New Mexico campus.
Dowling says a new location will soon open near the campus of the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center.
“It’s been so exciting to see how far Mike and I have come,” Dowling said. “It was one of my dreams.”
Every day, Dowling will create dozens of cookies.
For Valentine’s Day, Rude Boy Cookies has tons of choices.
Some examples are rappers Snoop Dogg or Valentine’s Day duo Biggie Smalls, which consists of a cookie with the image of one of the rappers and a saying like “Gangsta Love” or “I Love It When You Call Me Big Poppa”.
Then there’s the “We Go Together” series which includes a cookie decorated with red and green chili, or fries and salsa.
“Anything we can imagine, we’ll try to do,” Dowling says. “It was Mike’s idea to make the Biggie, Snoop Dogg and Tupac cookies.”
It’s among dozens of special cookies the company bakes alongside the classic seven – chocolate chip, double salted chocolate, red velvet, peanut butter, sugar cookie, oatmeal caramel and snickerdoodle. Not to mention the oat cream pie and The Duke Turtle cookies.
“Anything you want, we’ve got it,” says Dowling. “There’s always room for one of the classics.”
Dowling’s love of baking began in childhood.
Her grandmother was an artist and encouraged her to do anything that brought her joy.
“She was always helping me express myself in every way possible,” Dowling recalled. “She let me do restaurants in her kitchen when I was a kid. I wanted to be a waitress when I was growing up. It’s funny to think about it, but I knew I was going to do something creative and the do for an audience.
Dowling was born in California, but grew up in Farmington and Albuquerque.
After high school, she put her talents to use in the culinary arts program at Central New Mexico Community College.
Today, she and Silva have three former CNM Culinary Arts students working for the company.
“I’m lucky to have this team of young culinary artists working for us,” she says. “They bring so many fun things to the table that I never would have thought of. So it’s also a matter of collaboration.
Dowling uses these collaborative opportunities because it helps him challenge himself.
With social media, creativity can be seen in an instant.
“I really like being able to keep my creative nature and not be bogged down by all the outside noise,” she says. “If you honestly stop comparing yourself to others and just compare yourself to your past, you’ll keep moving forward. That’s how I like to think.”
Dowling loves the creative process and never realized how much math and science she would use in her career.
“I’m not good at math,” she laughs. “I’m very good at baker’s math. I failed chemistry. Baking is the closest thing to chemistry. I guess I could say I’m a STEAM girl. I use science, technology, engineering, arts and math.
Although Dowling has achieved a lot in her career, there are so many other opportunities she wants to pursue.
She and Silva moved into the Central Avenue premises about two years ago.
“This building is really fun, though,” she says. “It opened up opportunities for us to do bigger events and have classes here. We even had markets here which was great to involve the community. »
Rude Boy Cookies has also expanded its online orders during the pandemic, which accounts for the bulk of its business.
“We really shifted gears and opened up a Square website for the online ordering platform,” she says. “Big companies order from us now because it’s much easier. Wish there was more foot traffic so I could see customers.
In 2017, Dowling was on the national stage when she entered and won Food Network’s “Christmas Cookie Challenge.”
The premise of the show is simple – four talented cookie makers are given a theme and then time to bake cookies. There are two rounds judged by Damiano Carrara, Ree Drummond and Jamika Pessoa. After both rounds are completed, one baker remains the winner. Oh, not to mention a check for $10,000.
Dowling competed against three other bakers.
During the first round, Dowling created a biscochito scene with Santa Fe churches and Chilean ristras.
In the final round, the challenge was to showcase a Christmas tradition with at least two types of gingerbread cookies.
Competitors had three hours to complete the challenge, and Dowling decided to set up a gingerbread structure.
“Being on the Food Network was obviously the best and funniest thing ever,” Dowling says. “That’s where we got the idea for our cookie decorating sets. I love having weird sets. We once had a Pokémon and astrology set that was so weird to put together. J love all challenges.
Dowling and Silva worked together at the Flying Star Cafe in Rio Grande before starting the business.
“I remember talking to my wife about the idea,” Silva says. “I knew I couldn’t do Rude Boy Cookies without Kristin. She’s the creative push.
Red Velvet Flavor Cookie
1½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup Dutch cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ tsp salt
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup dark brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tablespoon buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon red gel food coloring
1 cup white chocolate chips
Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Put aside.
Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars until combined and creamy. Stir in egg, buttermilk and vanilla extract, scraping down sides and bottom of bowl as needed.
Once mixed, add the food coloring and beat until combined. Turn off the mixer and pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Turn on the mixer on low and beat slowly until a soft dough forms. Add the white chocolate chips. The dough will be sticky.
Cover and chill the dough in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. If chilling for more than a few hours, allow the dough to come to room temperature before rolling and baking as it will be quite tough.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
Scoop out 1½ tablespoons of dough and roll it into a ball. Place 9 balls on each baking sheet. Bake for 13 minutes. If the dough does not spread, press the hot cookies to slightly flatten them.
Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.