Artisan Highlight: The Cozy Hen

Heather remembers baking with her grandma June when she was young. Together they would bake bread while her grandma took care of her. She loved homemade bread, and making bread was a staple activity for her grandma, who was born in 1916. Looking back, it wasn’t that the bread, in and of itself, was that exceptional. It was the process and time spent with her grandma that she looks back on fondly.

Daily home-cooked food and meals around the dinner table was Heather’s way of life growing up. They rarely went out to eat with their one income family. Though she took home economics in school and helped prepare the table at home, her own journey into baking didn’t truly begin until she moved out on her own.

Heather started baking cheesecake to give as gifts, back when the prices of essential ingredients like cream cheese were reasonable. They became her staple Christmas gifts to her husband Matt’s co-workers during the holidays.  She would make them for other people on a casual basis, but the idea of creating a business out of it seemed too daunting, with all of the codes and regulations involved in the food industry. An industrial sized kitchen wasn’t in the agenda or the budget while she homeschooled her four boys.

In the fall of 2017, Heather was presented with the opportunity to share an industrial kitchen owned by a local restaurant in Duluth. With very little investment needed, she began her business “The Cozy Hen.” By the spring of 2019, Heather opened up her own storefront in the Holiday Center of downtown Duluth.

“The Cozy Hen” business was thriving, but her use of the space came to an abrupt end as our country faced the Covid 19 pandemic. Thankfully, she was able to start using another commercial kitchen and, for the last year, though she has not had a storefront, she has been able to make deliveries and provide locations for her customers to pick up their orders, such as with her pop-ups at our Bailey Builds Store and Gallery. Her cheesecake is also on the dessert menu of three local restaurants: Bulldog Pizza, The Lyric Cafe, and The Hammond in Superior.

What drew Heather to the cheesecake business is that it is one of those desserts most people enjoy but don’t typically take the time to make for themselves. It’s one of the only desserts that you can’t make “out of the box.” It requires time and fresh ingredients. The fame of Heather’s cheesecake has spread through word of mouth, and she usually sells out every time she pops up at our gallery. Luckily, you can preorder anytime to make sure you get a hold of your favorite flavors.

Speaking of famed cheesecake flavors, Heather has created some masterpieces! For a very long time, she did not vere from her perfectly perfected vanilla cheesecake. Her stall on flavors was through her experience with others she had tried. The flavor profile always came across to her as over the top and way too sweet, like someone just shoved a candy bar in the center and called it good. If she was going to create flavors, they had to be better than that.  It wasn’t until one of her persistent friends finally convinced her to take a chance. That pesky friend happens to be me!! Heather and I were neighbors for years and have been close friends just as long. It took some convincing, but she finally created the best Turtle cheesecake you’ll ever lay on your tastebuds, per my birthday request.

Heather’s flavors expanded with the request from a customer who wanted to try several flavors to choose for their wedding. She took the challenge, and created a few flavors and combined a slice from each cake and put them together, which is what birthed the very popular sampler cake you can purchase now when one flavor just won’t do.  The Cozy Hen has around 5 flavors available year round, which are the original Vanilla Bean, Turtle, Tiramisu, Lemon, and Eau Claire.  She also has seasonal flavors to look forward to, such has Pumpkin Spice and Eggnog during the holidays. Right now, her summer flavors are Key Lime and Bananas Foster.

If you haven’t had a chance to try one of Heather’s amazing cheesecakes, it needs to be on your bucket list while visiting Duluth! They are full of flavor, yet not overpoweringly sweet. They are scrumptiously creamy, with a delicate texture. Her Cheesecake is the centerpiece of any gathering. Make sure to check out The Cozy Hen on both facebook and instagram @thecozyhen.