By Jen Aly
Second-generation Italian, Agatha “Aggie” Westerhoff says, “My passion is my baking. It brings joy to everybody.”
Unlike bakers who arise early, “The Italian Cookie Lady” enters a creative zone of baking around 9 o’clock at night. “Then I can do whatever I want to do; I sing and I also talk to my cookies,” she shares. Aggie reassures the cookies of where she’s at in the process of making them with phrases like, “Just a little longer in the mixer.”
Before retiring in 2010, she was an operating room nurse in the Washington, D.C. area. There was a demand for her pastries at parties and doctors would take breaks from surgery to guarantee their share of Aggie’s cookies. When she and her husband relocated to Brevard, she started out selling cookies at the tailgate market.
Her cannoli, just like those made in New York City’s Little Italy, compete with her Pignoli cookies and Italian wedding cookies for most popular item. Aggie lights up as she tells me, “In an Italian wedding, the cookies are more important than the cake.” She’s especially proud to offer a “Queen’s Cake,” which is three levels of your choice of cookies and/or pastries topped with Kilwin’s chocolate caramel apples decorated as the bride and groom.
Aggie, who didn’t learn to cook until she was married, uses Italian flour, which she says “brings another level to the cookies.” She uses the purest chocolate she can find, and her eggs are from a local farm. Everything is made fresh from scratch, no preservatives are used, and she never freezes anything. Delivery is available within the tri-counties area and she ships cookies all over the U.S.
Aggie says, “baking is my psychiatrist.” She also assured me the cookies don’t talk back. I tried her lemon rum ball and that led to the cannoli and that led to … you get the point. Each bite was more decadent than I had imagined.
They taste like they were made with love and kind words.