How This University of Delaware Student Started His Own Stroopwafel Business
The first time I tried a stroopwafel was in class when my classmate, Joost Elling, offered samples to me and my fellow classmates. He explained to us that he'd created his own stroowafel business, Joost Wafel Co., inspired by a family vacation. From there, his business has expanded to selling his desserts in stores and on his own website.
What's a stroopwafel? It's a type of cookie made from two thin layers of freshly baked dough with caramel-like syrup in the middle. This dessert was created in the Netherlands, and is now gaining popularity in the US.
After I tasted Joost's cookies myself, I thought it would be a great idea to learn more about how he started his company and why he is passionate about baking. He sat down with me and talked the ins and outs of starting the business and turning his love into a career.
Spoon: What inspired you to start this cookie company?
Joost Elling: When I was 13, I went to the Netherlands, where my Dad was born and raised. While I was there, I came across this enticing aroma, I followed it and found the old-fashioned Dutch cookie called a stroopwafel and fell in love with them.
When I came back to United States, I couldn't buy them anywhere so I decided to try and share the experience of this amazing cookie with family and friends by making them myself.
Spoon: Does University of Delaware/your major give you the tools to help expand your business?
JE: Yes, my entrepreneurship minor has provided a fantastic system of networking by allowing me to meet people who sincerely want to help other people grow their own businesses.
Spoon: Do you have a favorite cookie brand?
JE: I am a big fan of the Baltimore-based cookie called Berger Cookies. They are really rich flavored cookies that came out of a small bakery started by immigrants.
Spoon: What is your process when you actually make the stroopwafels?
JE: I start by making the dough and caramel from scratch and scooping each dough ball by hand. Then I put up to five dough balls on my iron at a time and leave them squeezed in the press.
After about 35 seconds, I take the thin wafels off of the press (they are about 5mm thick) and I then, carefully, slice the wafels in half thin-ways.
Once cut in half, I spread a thin layer of warm caramel on the inside half of a wafel and put the two halves back together stuck with caramel.
Spoon: Is there a company or brand that you aspire to be like?
JE: I really admire Dogfish Head as a brand because of their commitment to the community even though they have grown into one of the most famous craft breweries in the US.
They are a Delaware-based company and I have met the owner, Sam, who is as a friendly can be. The DFH brand prides itself in being off-centered and not run-of-the-mill in its brand style.
Most importantly is the focus on the quality of product and loyalty to employees that DFH has that I learn from.
Spoon: Will you move onto other treats? Or keep changing flavors of the original stroopwafel?
JE: I am looking into moving new ways to use the cookie such as mixed into ice cream, or used along with ice cream as a cone.
Spoon: Have you always loved cookies as a kid? Or baking for that matter.
JE: I always liked helping out in the kitchen while I was growing up and that joy in making food goes into my time making these cookies.
If you love cookies as much as I do, make sure to check out this unique dessert and keep on the lookout because you never know when it could be in stores near you!