In 2002, three members of Northport's Salmin family began a small cookie business. Kara and Erica, second- and third-eldest of six children, and mother, Charlotte, developed a large cookie, decorated in a bold but whimsical fashion, and "shaped" to the occasion: baby carriage for a baby shower, wedding dress for a wedding, and so on.
Charlotte Salmin was a veteran culinary-arts teacher in the Northport schools, but neither daughter had any formal training in baking, design or business. By 2004, "Quintessential Cookies" had outgrown the family kitchen, and the operation moved into a small storefront; it's next to Northport's John W. Engeman Theater. Retail wasn't a priority for the Salmins; mostly they just wanted a place where prospective customers could come in and sample the cookies before placing an order. Soon, however, they had expanded the product line to include a line of home-style cookies that could be ordered by the piece or in a range of platters and baskets.
Like the original "favor" cookies, the chocolate-chips, oatmeal-raisins, gingerbreads, heart-shaped Linzer tortes, brownies (to name a few) are made with real butter and real vanilla extract, and taste pretty much the way your own cookies would if you were a good baker. (The home-style cookies run 75 cents apiece; decorated favor cookies range from $3 to $5.)
Business continues to grow. Quintessential has a stall at Northport's Saturday farmers market, and cookies tastefully imprinted with corporate logos are providing a new revenue stream. These days, Charlotte is a part-timer; Kara, 29, handles most of the design, baking and decorating; Erica, 31, runs the business end.