Coming Down From Our Sugar Rush

They ate our cupcakes....SURREAL to say the least.

They ate our cupcakes....SURREAL to say the least.

Alright y'all, by now, most if not all of you have sat down to watch the all new Netflix original, SUGAR RUSH...episode 8 in particular! Didn't watch it? Not sure what I'm talking about? Ummm, Team Sweetness competed against three other teams for a grand prize of $10,000! Judging our confections were world renowned culinary professionals: Candace Nelson, Adriano Zumbo and Mindy Segal.  *Side note: All three of them are absolutely charming, kind and amazing to be around. And our competitors....amazing people. It was a privilege to compete alongside each and every one. And the entire crew working on production. We were seriously blown away by kind hearts.

Would we do it again? In a heartbeat. It was an incredible opportunity.

SPOILER ALERT***DO NOT READ PAST THIS POINT IF YOU DON'T WANT TO KNOW WHO WON

IMG_1879.JPG
Getting ready to watch the show for the first time.

Getting ready to watch the show for the first time.

Ahhhhh! We still can't believe how everything unfolded. That was absolutely bananas and we want to share a little about it. 

UNITY: So, we've had a lot of people comment and message us with the sweetest words about our unity and the love between us while we worked under such high pressure. I want to tell you a little about that. When we first knew that being on this show was a possibility, we started praying and asked others to pray also. Our greatest fear was that we would go on this show and under the pressure be snippy with each other, or just out right crazy people who would be a poor example of the love and character of Jesus. So we prayed that if we would be an embarrassment as Christians, that the doors of opportunity would just close. We would rather not go than to go and be a poor example. When it came time to fly to Los Angeles we prayed for three things: That God could somehow be glorified through this opportunity, we prayed for tremendous unity...because sometimes we fall apart in stressful situations, and sometimes it can be difficult to work with your spouse, and we knew we couldn't possibly glorify God without unity. And lastly...just before we left I asked one sweet sister to pray for us, that we would be charming....I know that sounds really weird right. But it's so much easier to interact with people (competitors and crew) when you're not awkward or stressed or grumpy, but likable, and friendly, and encouraging and charming. (sidenote: I had recently been to Beth Moore's Living Proof Live conference and she talked about how we should be charming as Christians. We should have something about us that is different and our character should be attractive to people. Our character should be one that people like to be around). So yeah, that's how we prayed for and through this whole experience and the support and encouragement and unity you might see between us...that's a whole bunch of answered prayers. It's not that we aren't always that loving and supportive of each other, it's just that we were definitely given extra grace to pour out towards each other during the challenges. 

HOW'D WE GET ON THE SHOW? We've been asked this question a lot and it's pretty funny actually. I received an email one day from someone I didn't know saying that there was going to be a brand new baking competition show with some twists on the standard format. It said it would be on a major streaming network and that there would be big name judges and asked if we would be interested. I honestly thought it was a scam! After I closed the email I thought about it and wondered...what if it's legit...that would be pretty cool. So I googled the name of the woman who emailed me and she popped up in IMDB....woah! This is for real! So I replied that we would absolutely be interested. Next came a phone call and I had a wonderful conversation about our background and what we did at our bakery...after that was a long application form and photo submission of work we've done....then followed a long Skype interview between Ben, Myself and a producer. I had no idea what they were looking for and I'm pretty sure I blurted out some ridiculous responses to questions, but we just rolled with it. Then we had a what felt like a long wait....until we got the email that we had been chosen to compete! (happy dance and happy tears and utter fear set in right about this time) The network flew us out to L.A. and so began the incredible experience. 

PRIZE MONEY: We had a lot of people say 'I knew you won, because you went to Thailand!' or ask things like 'Did you already get the money? What did you do with it?'

Response: We have not received the prize money. We competed praying for a win so we could pay for our missions trip to Thailand. Well, we won, but winners don't actually receive prize money until after shows air. So we funded our trip with MANNA Worldwide knowing that eventually, we would receive those funds. That trip was in January! So it's been a while. But here's the awesome thing. Our trip to Thailand cost about half our prize money...so what will we do with the rest? Pay for our next missions trip with MANNA Worldwide of course! We committed our prize money to God's work and that's exactly how we will use it. Our next trip doesn't have details set yet, but we know it will be to Guatemala with MANNA Worldwide. 

Many of you are familiar with Mango Tree Coffee because we talked about it ALL THE TIME at the bakery and we sold it there. Well, MTC has a coffee bean plantation in Guatemala, where MANNA also has an orphanage. I can't begin to tell you how my heart flutters when I think of the opportunity to go and see the plantation and love those little children. The day I learned about MTC changed my heart forever. It was the day I knew with certainty that no matter what happened with the bakery, no matter what God did in our lives, our long term vocation goals would be intertwined with ministry and that has been at the forefront of everything since then. We are so incredibly thankful that not only did this show provide the means for our last trip, but it will fully cover this next one as well. 

If you are unfamiliar with MANNA Worldwide, or if you would like to know more about how to support the work they are doing around the globe to share the love of Jesus and meet nutritional needs, please email us at customerservice@houseofsweetness.com . We would love to chat with you about missions trips, financial support, shoe and water filter fundraisers, or how you can have a MANNA missionary visit your church. 

I know we've come a long way from sculpted cakes...but life is an incredible journey. When we are seeking the will of the Lord and we are willing to be guided  at the risk of walking away from things/places/jobs we love, we end up in the most unexpected places, doing the most unexpected things. For us, this unexpected journey has brought immeasurable joy, purpose and blessings. 

Thank you all for watching the show, for all of the congratulations, for sharing videos of your little ones watching the show or pretending to be on the show (precious). Please continue to follow our journey. We are just getting gstarted!

-The Coopers

Team Sweetness On Netflix

Oh...My...Word...we're going to be on Netflix! 

We are so excited, and so very thankful for this opportunity. Here's the breakdown:

WHAT: Sugar Rush is a brand new baking competition show with three round elimination. This show has four teams of two, competing for a Grand Prize of $10,000! 

WHERE: Watch this show through Netflix streaming! Watch it over and over if you'd like!

WHEN: The show airs July 13th! Team Sweetness will be on FB live during our 4:30(PST) viewing. If you are in the New England area, go to HPBC for a viewing on the big screen with some of our most favorite people! Event begins at 6:30PM (EST) with show premiere at 7:30PM(EST) *We will be live during festivities prior to viewing. 

Please let us know if you will be attending here:

WHY: Well, we were asked by the producer if we'd be interested in competing on a new baking show and we said yes! After a somewhat lengthy application and interviewing process, we were asked to participate. 

WHO: Want to know who the winner is? We can't tell you! But we can say that this was an incredible experience. The production company was absolutely amazing to work with. The competitors were not only incredibly gifted at their craft, but they were all wonderful people to share this experience with. Sometimes you see people behaving rudely and quite nasty during competition shows...not this group. 

So...be sure you catch us live on FB at 4:30PM (PST), and be sure to join the crowd at HPBC for the viewing if you're in the area. Feel free to ask us for more details about that. 

-The Coopers

 

 

Bittersweet...Not Just Chocolate

Hello Sweeties! We have some big, probably not so exciting news to share. There’s some important information scattered throughout so please read all we have to say.

This coming Wednesday, the 14th of February will be our final business day at House of Sweetness. I know I know, “but why?”… “I thought things were going well”… “where am I supposed to get my cupcake fix or weekend cinnamon rolls???” All very good questions. The truth is that our first year was amazing. You have all been very good to us and we’ve enjoyed it so much. Some of you know that the current ‘version’ of House of Sweetness is what we’ve been referring to as Phase 1, which was only supposed to be open for 9-12 months at the most, while we prepared for Phase 2 (a much larger shop with on-site kitchen, classroom, coffee service, seating and regular hours). Well, we simply aren’t ready for Phase 2. And through much prayer, our vision for Phase 2 is rapidly evolving into something much different than we originally imagined.

So why close? There are quite a few reasons, but we’ll list a couple of the key factors:

As mentioned above, this shop was never intended for long term business. It’s not the most efficient way to operate a bakery/cake shop. It limits our production capacity which limits our hours and menu. It’s not what our vision is and we would rather press pause for a bit to really focus on the next steps rather than forcing this to continue.

Obedience and faith. Not typically part of a business plan, we know. But we are striving to run our business differently. As we’ve come to realize that our desires in a business are different than what we’ve established, we’ve had to ask ourselves why stay open? Do we stay open to make money? Well we’ve been blessed with other means of financial provision, so that’s not a good enough reason. Do we stay open because common sense says don’t close the doors on one successful business until you’re ready to open the doors on the next? Well the Bible teaches us to not lean on our own understanding. So even though this doesn’t make much sense, we’ve been saturated in prayer for wisdom over the recent months and this is the conclusion we’ve come to…with a tremendous amount of joy and peace to boot! So yeah. God said close, even though we can’t see the next steps, so we will close and embrace the journey, because if you knew the details of our journey thus far...you would understand why we can walk boldly in faith in such a way.

What will Phase 2 be and why aren’t you ready? As our vision for the next step is changing, our purpose and mission statement is changing. We can’t possibly move forward with phase 2 if we don’t have a clear vision of what it will be. But we know that we love cooking and baking, we have discovered a love for teaching, we have found new motivation to explore healthier baking alternatives, we are passionate about serving Mango Tree Coffee one day, and we absolutely want Phase 2 to be a business structured around and for the purpose of glorifying God and ministering to the needs of others. So these are big steps from where we are now… just focusing on custom cakes and cupcakes while offering a feel good experience to our customers is good, but we desire something extraordinary, and we are discovering a new plan placed inside our hearts that is growing into just that.

 

What do you mean by healthier baking? We want to feel good about what we’re selling people, and having healthier options has become an important factor. And, in recent weeks, my body has decided that many of the food ingredients I’ve eaten my entire life are enemies and I have had to eliminate all nuts, gluten, and dairy from my diet. Perhaps one day this will go away as quickly as it came on; but in the meantime…it's motivating to find new recipes. Even though we once had a gluten free and dairy free menu, we have not had a facility safe for avoiding cross contamination. So we are taking this into consideration as we ponder a future menu and facility. We would love to offer delicious products that include organic ingredients, sugar free ingredients, and allergen free goodies. So stay tuned for posts and videos on new recipes and tips as we see what we can come up with along the way!

So you’re just going to close and that’s it? Yes and no. We are going to close our store, but our interaction with the community is one of the most important and most enjoyable parts about what we do. So we are working on ways to stay connected. Continue to follow us on Facebook and Instagram for videos and posts as mentioned above. We are working on different baking and decorating classes that we can host for kids and/or adults to attend. Who wouldn’t love to learn how to make our Saturday Morning Cinnamon Rolls? Or decorate fabulous cupcakes!

Big news! You definitely want to stay tuned in to our social media pages because we have some exciting news in store for this spring. Believe me, you won’t want to miss this announcement.

I gave someone a gift certificate, now what? If you or someone you know has a HOS gift certificate, please be sure to stop by in the next few days to use it. We don’t want anyone to miss out on enjoying that gift. Saturday 9am-4pm, Tuesday 12pm-4pm, and Wednesday 11am-7pm.

Why such short notice? A few things factored in to our announcement. One was that this is a huge decision and the obedience we mentioned earlier, doesn’t always come instantly. We’ve been wrestling with this decision for some time and the strength to take this step came shortly before we left on our trip to Thailand. Another factor is my heart…even the past two days have been heartbreaking to have people tell us how happy they are that we’re back and how they missed us and couldn’t wait until we reopened etc. My heart could not handle the interaction with all of you for a prolonged period of time after making this announcement (a little selfish, but necessary). So we decided that we would go out with a bang. Valentine’s day is a busy and happy day, and we’d like to end this chapter on a high note.

A message to you from Team Sweetness: Thank you for your incredible support Sweeties. We never could have imagined the warm embrace we have steadily received from our community over the past 15 months. You warm our hearts regularly, and this has been an incredible journey that we’ve enjoyed sharing with you. We have made mistakes, and we’ve learned so much from them. We’ve learned our limitations in many areas and we’ve exceeded our own expectations of what we could accomplish in other areas. We’ve learned what we love about this business and what we don’t. We’ve come to know many of you and your families and that’s a beautiful thing. Above all, we’ve learned to acknowledge each and every day that we’ve been able to sustain our little House of Sweetness because of God. He’s given us every gift and ability and opportunity that has been essential for running this shop. And we have faith that He will grow our gifts and abilities and prepare new opportunities to use them in even bigger ways, for an even bigger purpose.

Love,

Amber and Ben Cooper

How We Do Chocolate

20170802_070802.jpg

Not all chocolate is created equal. This is why we use Chef Ben's carefully curated recipe to create the perfect balance of fluff, density, sweetness and rich chocolate quality. It warms our hearts to have had many non-chocolate-cake-loving-sweeties let us know that ours is the only bakery chocolate cake/cupcakes that they've ever loved.

We've tried and failed with many-a-recipes; but with great determination...possibly some frustration...we (by we, I mean Chef Ben) have fine tuned our recipe to be one that we love. Part of what makes our chocolate special is a few of the key ingredients; and the rest is the magic process Chef Ben has established to perfectly incorporate all of our ingredients.

For starters, we use fresh eggs, King Arthur flour, Cabot butter, and Bourbon Madagascar vanilla.  Two of the most important ingredients: Cocao Barry Cocoa Powder and Mango Tree Coffee. That's right; we have tried many many cocoa powders, and Cocao Barry just knows what they're doing. They should, they've been making chocolate products since 1842. Aside from that, we use fresh brewed Mango Tree Coffee (Cafe Roast) in our chocolate recipe. If you're not familiar with MTC, it's delicious. You can pick up 2oz sample bags at our store (we sell at our cost), or you can order right online through their website! Why do we add coffee? Because it enhances the flavor of the cocoa powder in a special way to fully develop that rich chocolaty goodness you all love so much. Why do we use MTC coffee? Because they send 100% of their proceeds to MANNA Worldwide, who feeds children around the world. So basically...by eating chocolate cake and cupcakes, you're feeding children around the world!

 
 

From this recipe we get our chocolate cakes as well as nine stock varieties of chocolate cupcakes. Also....from the Cacao Barry cocoa powder, we get our mildly sweet and perfectly rich chocolate buttercream. Let's talk about this for a moment! I've never liked chocolate buttercream. If you were around when we first opened...you didn't see a lot of it on our products. Now a-days, it's one of my top recommendations for cake filling, because Cacao Barry in the buttercream has changed my life. It's actually my very favorite.

Pair our chocolate buttercream with our chocolate cake or cupcakes....oh my. 

20170802_094203.jpg

House Cookies & How It's Done

If you have not yet tried our House Cookies....you should. I can write that, because it's Chef Ben's recipe and I can't actually take any credit for how delicious they are. That being said, you can complain to Chef Ben when you get to the bottom and realize you just ate  the whole box by yourself (that's what I do). 

We currently offer our House Cookies in six flavors, and have been known to rotate in some special flavors here and there. We call them House Cookies because we use the same 'house recipe' for our cookie dough when making all of the different flavors. Sound boring? NOPE! It's amazing what the different ingredients do to the flavor of the cookie when properly portioned and mixed.

  • Andes Mint

  • Callebaut Chocolate Bits

  • Callebaut Chocolate Bits with Cashews and Pink Himalayan Salt

  • Callebaut Chocolate Bits with Walnuts

  • Reeces AND Pieces

  • White Chocolate Pistachio with Orange Zest

The cookie dough is the foundation for our special cookies. We use Cabot butter, Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla, fresh eggs, a blend of sugars and Chef Ben's special flour combination in which he always uses King Arthur flour. Quality across the board for these medallions of goodness. And it doesn't stop there. Let's talk about what goes into these babies...Andes Mint is kind of self explanatory. We hand press bits of Andes Mint chocolates into our dough for the perfect balance of mint and sweet. We do something similar for our Reeces AND Pieces, but instead, we hand press crumbles of Reeces peanut butter cups as well as Reeces Pieces into the dough for a burst of peanut butter goodness. Our Callebaut cookies are special because it's not your average chocolate chip cookie. Oh no. For these, we press in bits of Callebaut Chocolate, which is expertly crafted in one of Belgium's oldest cocoa roasteries. We make these gems original, with walnuts, and also with cashews and pink Himalayan salt for that savory sweetness that is just oh so good. Our White Chocolate Pistachio also uses Callebaut chocolate, along with roasted pistachios and just the right amount of fresh orange zest to keep it interesting!

Covering The Highlights

420 Boston Road, Billerica, MA   Read our    pre-opening article    in the Billerica Minuteman!

420 Boston Road, Billerica, MA

Read our pre-opening article in the Billerica Minuteman!

Our sold out bakery case on opening day.

Our sold out bakery case on opening day.

We've had many opportunities to get involved with the community and it has been so much more fulfilling than we ever imagined. We've been able to thank our Police and Fire stations with surprise deliveries of goodies;  engage with our Girl Scouts, local schools, the Billerica Alliance and many non-profit organizations. We've had the privilege to provide sweets and donations to support many wonderful organizations and causes. 

Delivering goodies to nearby Police and Fire stations.

Delivering goodies to nearby Police and Fire stations.

Our menu has undergone a lot of fine tuning! We still don't have our kitchen and store under one roof, which is a challenge for us. It creates limitations, but we're ok with that for now. We've definitely honed in on what we want to be doing at this stage of HOS and we've really tried to harness our passion and pick just a few things to focus on and do them well.

Today we offer all kinds of cakes, mostly by special order, but we stock simple dessert and birthday cakes too. We've had a busy wedding and graduation season. We've done countless cakes for so many different types of events! We stock 18 signature cupcake flavors every week, in addition to our Simply Sweet vanilla and chocolate cupcakes. And we rotate in special flavors as we feel inspired! We stock cupcake minis, delicious tartlettes, six varieties of our house cookies and on Saturdays....we make fresh baked Saturday Morning Cinnamon Rolls! They have been well received to say the least. 

Hello Sweeties! Our most sincere apologies that we haven't been posting to this spot. Hopefully you've kept up with our sweet updates on Facebook and Instagram. 

It has been a journey to say the least. It's been a little over eight months since we opened our shop doors and it has been incredible. We have had the opportunity to get to know so many of our wonderful customers and we've had a blast creating new flavors and making fun cakes! 

Here's a quick overview of what's happened (you can also read our article in the Lowell Sun!):

Opening day was a huge success! With the help of several friends and family members we opened on time, with a variety of cupcakes, cookies, and pastries. Not everything went as planned, but it went! I mean really, what opening actually goes off without a hitch?

The ladies pictured below, along with many others not in the photo were essential to opening on time. We didn't sleep, we hardly ate, a lot of things didn't work, but they stayed by our sides the entire night/day with smiles on their faces and love in there hearts. A day in the memory vault forever!

Opening day Team Sweetness.

Opening day Team Sweetness.

Guest judges for a Cake Decorating Competition at a local church in Chelmsford, MA. What a joy it was to encourage these young girls in their craft.

Guest judges for a Cake Decorating Competition at a local church in Chelmsford, MA. What a joy it was to encourage these young girls in their craft.

Some of our Signature Cupcakes. Our best seller hands down is the Oreo!

Some of our Signature Cupcakes. Our best seller hands down is the Oreo!

As with everything else we bake...Chef Ben makes the dough fresh and from scratch each weekend for perfectly soft, fluffy, warm and delicious cinnamon rolls on Saturday mornings.

As with everything else we bake...Chef Ben makes the dough fresh and from scratch each weekend for perfectly soft, fluffy, warm and delicious cinnamon rolls on Saturday mornings.

So all in all, things are running quite smoothly at House of Sweetness. We survived our first holiday season with much thanks to some kind chefs from CSCA. Again, we couldn't have made things happen without gracious hearts in our lives. Chef Ben graduated from the Professional Pastry Program at Cambridge School of Culinary Arts in March. We have added Sarah to the team an assistant baker working along side Chef Ben as well as getting to know you Sweeties by spending some time at the shop as well. We are growing, we are learning, and we are excited to see how the future unfolds.

While I could only cover the highlights in this one, long overdue update, I will be keeping you updated on additional highlights from the last several months, specials, news updates, and we will be posting a series on how we make things at HOS. (learn what makes our sweets so special!)

Until then...thank you for your support, thank you for your encouragement, and thank you for embracing your sweet tooth!

Have a sweet day,

#TeamSweetness

The Sweetest Moment

Alright, I just have to share about a total Cake Boss moment. So we have our keys to the new shop, it's not set up at all, but I got to meet a customer there this weekend for an order pickup. Our very first customer to step foot into the shop...special moment. Let me do my best to paint the picture for you. Myself and two of my dearest friends whom I'm sure you will all meet at the shop over time are chatting with the electrician when a gentleman approaches the door with two darling daughters. I look at the girls and ask their dad "Are one of these the birthday girl?". When I identified sweet Kyra as the one celebrating her fifth birthday I knelt down and popped the cake box open a bit so she could see the Shopkins cake inside. There were no words from sweet Kyra, just her tiny fingers over face, allowing just her eyes to peek out and stare into the box with excitement. A moment, truly, I will never forget. In her overwhelming joy she turned to her big sister and gave her the biggest hug and then looked at her father and threw her arms around him, only to place her hands over her face again in complete joy over the cake we made for her. What a precious moment...the first of many I hope. We don't have photos of it, we don't have video, but it was one of those magical moments I've seen over and over on shows and each of us in the room felt it. I couldn't have asked for a better experience with our first Cake Shop customer. 

-Amber 

We Found Our Home

key.jpg

We did it! We got the keys to what will become House of Sweetness Cake Shop; right here in our town of Billerica, MA! We didn't do it the way we thought we would, we didn't find the kind of location we thought we were looking for, but we did it with a tremendous amount of prayer and encouragement and the location we've landed in feels nothing shy of perfect. It's so much better than what we thought we were looking for. To have a place to call our own, at the very center of the town that has truly become our family's home is amazing. We look forward to meeting so many new customers and making friends along the way. We expect the shop to be open in early November and will certainly keep you posted on the grand opening! In the meantime, we are in full production and taking orders now! Stay tuned for online ordering in the next week or so. 

~Amber and Ben Cooper