"This is the best chocolate chip cookie I've ever had," declared my daughter, shortly after biting into a giant-sized cookie made by Monster Cookies & Cakes, a local business owned by Raleigh mom Michelle Stees.
And when she tried Stees' lemon cookie creation: "This is my favorite cookie ever!"
Stees is next up in the featured moms on our Made by Mom Gift Guide.
I have to agree with my seven-year-old here. Stees is baking up some amazing confections in her certified kitchen in her downtown Raleigh home. I first met Stees last month as I prepared for Go Ask Mom's event at the Midtown Raleigh Farmers' Market in North Hills.
The market, which closed for the season on Saturday, is Stees' home base. But Stees also sends her giant cookies and cakes across the Triangle through special orders and catering all year.
Stees started baking cookies as a child with her own mother every year for the holidays, she tells me. After her mother passed away about a decade ago, she started baking more often and the cookies and cakes started getting bigger and bigger. She began experimenting with her mother's recipes, trying different combinations, flavors and sizes until she landed on the perfect creations.
One of her goals has been to make huge cookies that are both crispy and chewy. And I can personally attest to the fact that she has accomplished that quest. These are thick and delicious - monster in both size and flavor.
"It's just a creative outlet," Stees said. "It's almost like wrestling a bear. I just love making things big and making things insane. It just makes it fun and it makes it crazy and I guess that 's just the way I like to do it."
Best of all, Stees is able to include her daughters - Emma, 12, and Bridget, 9 - in the business.
"I'm able to work form home and spend time with them along with building my business," said Stees, who has a day job too. "This community has just carried us month after month after month."
Monster Cookies & Cakes has 13 kinds of cookies, including chocolate chip, lemon, coconut, oatmeal raisin, sweet tea, mocha and sugar. The cakes come in carrot, chocolate, coconut, lemon, marble, Neapolitan, strawberry and vanilla.
Go Ask Mom is featuring a dozen local moms as part of our Made by Mom Gift Guide. Check back on Wednesday for our next featured mom!