Luxury festive biscuits from Queen of Hearts in Worston
PUBLISHED: 00:00 01 December 2015 | UPDATED: 15:44 01 May 2016
When it comes to the crunch, luxury hand-decorated cookies made in Worston take the biscuit. Emma Mayoh reports
Andrew Hobson admits that if his old work pals could see him now they would roar with laughter. He spent 30 years with the police tackling serious crime operations. The 51-year-old. a retired inspector, investigated shootings, drug crimes and headed searches for vulnerable missing people.
But then something changed. These days,Andrew, who lives in Worston, spends his days baking and decorating luxury biscuits. He does it for Queen of Hearts Cookies, the business he runs with friend Sarah Lawrenson.
‘It is certainly different to what I was doing,’ said Andrew. ‘My time used to be spent running the custody suite, working with high risk people and missing and vulnerable young people. I’ve investigated murders and shootings. I worked on the more serious end of things.
‘I retired from that three years ago. If some of my colleagues back in the force knew I was spending my time icing cookies they’d roar with laughter – but for me it’s fantastically rewarding and great fun. It’s been a steep learning curve and just like my police job, every day is different.’
Together Andrew and Sarah, a former bio-chemist, have supplied cookies to big name customers. Ted Baker served Queen of Hearts Cookies to guests at a special event, they have sent their cookies to producers working on the 50 Shades of Grey film and hundreds of their tasty designs have been sent to recruitment companies who have sent them as thank you gifts to their clients.
These include Orla Kiely and Liberty of London. They have supplied Osprey Holidays and Zoopla too and are currently working to raise money for the Army Benevolent Fund. They created a pack of chilli shaped biscuits. One is heavily flavoured with the world’s most powerful chilli.
‘It is part of the ABF’s Big Curry campaign,’ said Sarah. ‘They launched the Chilli Cookies Roulette and asked us to prepare the cookies for them. One of them is laced with fiery chilli powder.
‘It is so hot. We were struggling making them because they are so powerful. But we’ve very proud to support something like this.’
Queen of Hearts Cookies launched with Sarah who first started making gifts for family and friends – the first was a Mother’s Day treat for her mum, Jean.
But as more people discovered her talents, she decided to launch the business. Andrew became her business partner shortly after, after buying some of the cookies for his partner, Shirley. The pair split running the business evenly and Sarah taught Andrew how to bake and ice.
They use the finest ingredients – best butter, fresh vanilla pods and finely milled sugar plus luxury items including ginger and top quality chocolate. As well as spiced lemon, honey and lavender. They create various designs from vintage inspired cookies to biscuit moustaches.
Christmas is one of the busiest times of the year. For several months before December 25th, the pair will have been slaving over the ovens in Sarah’s domestic kitchen in Worston. Their task being to produce stunning, hand decorated biscuits that would add sparkle to any festive dinner table.
They make everything from Christmas trees and presents to mince pies and a cookie advent calendar. Between them, they will bake and decorate thousands of cookies. Both of their homes will be packed with cooling trays filled with cookies, icing, packaging and everything else they need to produce their top quality products.
‘Christmas is a really crazy time for us, it is absolutely non-stop,’ said Sarah. ‘It starts to build up in October and my house just starts getting fuller and fuller. In the end we’ll probably have the children standing still with cookies on their heads as it will be the only place left to put them to dry.
‘We’ll have to throw some cookies out because they’ll burn, or the icing might be too runny. It is an intense time. If things go wrong, we just start again and do a new batch. We’re very pleased when it gets to the point where it’s not physically possible to post them to people in time for Christmas. We always get last minute orders from friends, though, so it doesn’t mean it’s completely over.’
A large majority of their customers are south of Watford Gap but they would love their biscuits to be enjoyed more in Lancashire.
‘I think it’s because we are that bit more expensive,’ said Andrew. ‘And the designs we produce are very luxurious, elegant and beautiful. In London, people want to buy something that really stands out and is different to what other people are doing. They must think that about us.
‘It is a huge compliment for us. We’re pleased with how things are going and we just want to get things going even more. It is hard work but it is also worth it.’
For more information go to www.biscuit.gift