Fort Wayne – It was nine months ago, nearly to the day, that Cassie Gemmer was hired to be the manager of The Java Bean Café in downtown Decatur.
The café had just been bought by Ed and Kate Dyer, and now Gemmer, 39, is gearing up to open her own shop.
She’s naming her candy shop, which will also be in Decatur, That One Candy Shack on Fourth Street. Her business partner for that shop just happens to be her son, Jonathen, 19.
We just got our building permit. We’ve been getting our name out there. We would like to be open by mid-October, she says.
Gemmer thinks her love for baking and candy-making began around the age of 7. And she credits her mom, Judy Fields, of North Manchester for instilling the baking bug in her.
My mom taught me to cook. My first recollection was when I was 7. She was there to answer all my questions. She taught me to make baked goods, candy, all the home-style meals, Gemmer says. She taught me cake decorating. She stayed up all night to help me make my first wedding cake. It was 13 cakes.
She could have made money cooking but chose to help others with her talents – church fundraisers, all of it. She chose to give to others, she says.
Besides learning to make dessert items, Gemmer was taught to cook healthy meals.
No. 1, I grew up in a household that you had a meat, a vegetable, a potato and a dessert. You ate at the table. We still do that. We sit down, say grace and eat together, she says, referring to her husband, Andy, Eating healthy is just eating in moderation and well-rounded. Make sure you always have a vegetable or a salad.
In addition to candy making, hobbies are another area that keeps Gemmer active.
I love to paint. I sing. I love to be outside. And my sugar glider, her name is Phoebe. It’s an Australian version of a flying squirrel. I’m heavily involved with the Elks. Ed (Dyer) is, too, she says.
Q. What’s your favorite cookbook?
A. I love, love, love Betty Crocker, but my go-to book is Pillsbury. I’ve got a thick old Pillsbury. If you need to find anything in there, it’s awesome.
Q. Do you have a lot of cookbooks?
A. I have about 60 to 70. I like to go to garage sales and buy a box (cookbooks). I have a big, long shelf, and I keep that shelf filled. I still like the feel of a cookbook over a Google. In a pinch, I’ll look on my phone, but if I’m looking in a cookbook, I’ll come across one I’ve forgotten about.
Q. What’s your go-to meal?
A. I would say the tuna casserole. My family loves it. Or a chicken pot pie. I make up eight or nine of those and freeze them. My husband can pop that in the oven.
Q. What advice would you give to beginner cooks?
A. Be fearless. Even if you don’t think it will work out. I’ve had lots of happy accidents in the kitchen. The first 15 times I made éclairs, they fell. The 16th time, I made them. I knew you could make them. My mom did.
Q. If you were stuck on an island, what’s one food you would have to have?
A. Wow. Or drink? I’m so addicted to espresso. My coffee machine sits in my pantry because I have a commercial espresso machine. Some women are addicted to shoes and purses. I’m addicted to commercial equipment.
Chocolate Chip Scones
1 cup butter, frozen
1 cup sour cream
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
4 cups flour
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Put butter in freezer. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, combine sour cream, eggs, chocolate chips and walnuts. Set aside.
In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda. With a medium cheese grater, grate butter onto top of flour mixture. Mix together until flour mixture is like cornmeal.
Add sour cream mixture to flour mixture. Knead into a dough. Remove dough from bowl onto a floured surface. Separate dough and form two balls. Flatten each ball into 8-inch circles. Cut each circle into 8 pieces, just as you would a pie.
Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until golden brown on 2 greased cookie sheets. Makes 16 servings.
Maple Nut Clusters
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup butter, cubed
7 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 cups chopped walnuts
2 teaspoons maple flavoring
1 teaspoon almond extract
4 cups of real dark chocolate (needs to be tempered) or chocolate coating
In a small saucepan, combine milk and butter. Cook and stir over low heat until butter is melted. Place the powdered sugar in a large bowl; add milk mixture and beat until smooth. Stir in the walnuts, maple flavoring and almond extract.
For each piece of candy, shape 1 tablespoon of mixture as desired; place on waxed paper-lined baking sheets. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. Melt chocolate or coating according to directions. Dip balls into chocolate; allow excess to drip off. Place on waxed paper; let stand until set. Store in an airtight container. Makes about 13 dozen.