When Daniela Olotu-Gottfried started her Austrian cookie business, Servus Cookies, it was with no small amount of trepidation. "Americans love their cookies," she says, "but I didn't know if they'd like my cookies."
She describes herself as "not so into chocolate," but Austrians "love our butter. We don't have any reduced-fat stuff." She describes her cookies as "simple," adding, "They're similar to what they'd have in the old days, what your grandmother might have made."
While each of her cookies are made using just a handful of straightforward ingredients, none are overly sweet, and they all have a similar melt-in-your-mouth crumbly buttery quality. They're very "distinct in taste," she says, setting them apart from the wares of bakeries that use the same dough as the base for all of their cookie varieties. The vanilla crescents have ground hazelnuts in the dough, while the almond hearts get their flavor strictly from the nuts; there's no extract added to boost the flavor. The nut-free vanilla cookies in the linzer tart sandwich tart are filled with red currant jelly, rather than the raspberry jam more common in Stateside interpretations.
At the moment Servus—named after a friendly, informal Austrian greeting—is available at two stores in Brooklyn: By Brooklyn in Carroll Gardens and Owl and Thistle General Store, which is near Olotu-Gottfried's home in Crown Heights. She'll soon be adding marzipan-decorated gingerbread hearts to the line, but otherwise wants to keep the company's growth moving at a manageable pace. "I want to take it slow," she explains. "The quality is better if they're made in small batches. They have to be hand-rolled."
Interested? Keep an eye on her website to catch one of her frequent tastings. "People don't know the cookies," she explains, "but if they taste them, they like them."
About the author: Stephanie Klose has more mustard than you. You can follow her on twitter at @sklose.