The macaroons I tasted in the late ’60s from a friend’s grandma came in a blue tin and were dense and chewy, pinwheel shaped with a maraschino cherry center, so hefty, you’d regret eating more than one.
So when I happened on Kuzala Macaroons, claiming to be “created with health in mind,” I was intrigued. Made without wheat, sugar, eggs or soy, these bite-sized cookies are crafted from nothing more than organic raw coconut, maple sugar, coconut oil, Himalayan salt and a variety of innovative flavors.
“When my wife, Jennifer Kosch, began suffering from food allergies, we decided to change our family’s diet,” said Christopher Dark, who founded the company with Jennifer five years ago. “It was impossible for us to find good tasting, packaged, allergen-free sweets, so we decided to make our own.”
As soon as Dark and Kosch began sharing their cookies with friends, they realized they were onto something good. Dark, who had been an administrator and teacher at Capella Education Co., put together a business plan.
“While what I was doing didn’t help me with the new venture, one of the best things about working in education is that you learn how to learn, that there’s a real value in asking questions others might be reluctant to ask,” he said.
“One of the things I’ve learned in starting a business is that, when it comes to food, there’s no such thing as a strange idea. There are all sorts of interesting foods ready to be produced and plenty of people ready to buy them.”
Kosch began to bake full time.
“Jennifer is one of those wonderful cooks who puts together flavors intuitively, just knows what is going to work. The size of the cookie is a tablespoon, and it just seems right. They’re rich and satisfying,” said Dark.
The name, Kuzala, is Sanskrit for happy, healthy and cheerful.
“It’s been a lucky ride from the start,” Dark said. “This work has connected us with so many interested, like-minded people in this region,” he said. That includes getting ingredients from Wilderness Family Naturals, an import company in Finland, Minn.
Dark credits City Food Studio in Minneapolis for much of Kuzala’s success.
“We all share information while we’re working on our products about packaging design, pricing, distribution,” he said.
Kuzala Raw Coconut Macaroons come in five flavors (chocolate, cherry banana, coffee, lavender vanilla and vanilla). Two new flavors will be introduced this fall (gingerbread and pumpkin spice). They are sold in 3-ounce packages of eight for about $8 and 1.5-ounce packages of four for about $4 in food co-ops, major grocery stores and local coffee shop; see mykuzala.com.