(No, not that kind of baking)
Snowboarder Kimmy Fasani and skier Chris Benchetler met at a Mammoth Lakes ice cream parlor as teens—Benchetler working behind the counter and Fasani stopping in regularly for scoops. The parlor closed in 2008, but the two are now married, and one of the coolest couples in snow sports. (Fasani was the first woman to ever land a double backflip in a snowboarding competition and is a leading advocate for women in the sport. Benchetler spends most of his time skiing deep powder in those epic films we watch enviously from our cubicles.) In a happy plot twist, they’re also behind the new sweet destination where the Mammoth community can gather—this time over salted caramel cold brew coffee cream pie or hot cocoa with house-made marshmallows.
Mimi’s Cookie Bar, which sells cakes, marshmallows, ice cream, cookies (duh), and basically anything else you could possibly crave after a day of shredding, is named for Mimi Council, a competitive snowboarder-turned-cookie-pusher. Council left the sport in her early 20's to work at Roxy, but started pondering an exit strategy as the company laid off more and more employees. A lifelong baker, she knew her real dream job was opening a sweet shop. In 2011, she mentioned the idea in passing to Fasani. “Immediately, Kimmy was like, ‘we’re in,’” she says. They opened the Cookie Bar in September of that year.
Originally Fasani and Benchetler were only going to provide financial muscle, but the two quickly got involved in recipe advising, product testing, and even front-of-house duties. If the bakery is short-staffed and Fasani is in town, you can often find her behind the counter filling orders. “She has a lot of fun ringing people up, getting people their cakes and pies,” says Council. And Benchetler is the bakery’s top cookie tester—as a skier, climber, surfer, and mountain biker, he vacillates constantly between being ravenous and super ravenous.
Fasani and Benchetler have also been responsible for a few of the bakery’s key nutritional decisions. At their first official business meeting, the couple suggested Council offer vegan, gluten-free, and paleo options, “things we’d experimented with as athletes and thought others might want,” says Fasani. Even now, if Benchetler or Fasani are trying to focus on a specific nutritional strategy for training, Council will add cookies that fit that dietary profile to the menu. Recently that’s meant swapping in coconut sugar for regular as the two have been trying to keep their sugar intakes in check.
Having two pro athletes on board helps bring in a certain kind of clientele: the fast kind. Council says pro runner Deena Kastor is a regular, and Meb Keflezighi even stops by occasionally. Last time Sage Kotsenburg came to Mammoth to compete, he grabbed cookies at the friendly shop too. Council says Kostenburg ordered a variety of cookies, but Kastor, who is a regular, has to have her coconut fix. She loves to order the shop’s signature Dad’s Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies and Coconut Sweet Cream Pie.
While having famous faces in their store is fun, Fasani says opening the shop was more about creating something for the community. “There wasn’t anything like this here, not even ice cream,” says Benchetler. “We really wanted to build something that families and the community could enjoy.” They seem to have tapped into a sweet tooth at a time when a strong community is as important as ever for the ski town. According to Fasani, the bakery opened right after Mammoth’s last good winter—in 2012, the town filed for bankruptcy, citing lack of snow for some of their money troubles—and the past four winters have been a total bust for the local ski industry. But Mimi’s Cookie Bar is growing so much that it may be looking for new real estate soon.
While Benchetler and Fasani have big plans for filming this winter, they’ll return to Mammoth between shoots and continue their reign as two of Mammoth Lakes’ biggest cookie moguls. Fasani equates these past few years in business to skiing down a 2,000-foot vertical face of powder. “It’s such a wild ride, but you want to go back for another.” In other words, it’s a rush—a sugar rush that she and Benchetler can’t seem to get enough of.
Trail Mix Cookies
Packed with peanuts, cranberries, and chocolate, these are one of Mimi Council’s favorite mid-session treats. Council is publishing a cookbook of her most popular recipes from the Cookie Bar, due out before the holidays.
Makes 30-36 cookies
- 1 stick organic butter, softened
- 1 cup organic sugar
- 1 cup organic dark brown sugar
- 1 tsp organic vanilla extract
- 2 organic eggs
- 3/4 cup organic flour
- 1/4 tsp. baking soda
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 cup organic semi sweet chocolate chips
- 1 cup all natural chocolate drops
- 1/4 cup dried organic cranberries
- 1/4 cup organic roasted & salted peanuts
- 1 tablespoon organic sugar
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, add butter, sugar, dark brown sugar, and vanilla extract. Mix on low until all ingredients are combined.
- Add in the eggs, mix on low until combined, scrape the sides of bowl and mix again until combined.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and sea salt. Then add to butter mixture and mix on low until combined.
- Add the chocolate chips, chocolate drops, cranberries, and peanuts. Mix just until combined.
- On a cookie sheet with parchment paper, start forming your cookie dough balls. When “balling” the cookies, you want your cookie dough balls to be about 2-2.5” in diameter and look like a round disk. Space them at least 1” apart, they will spread a little when baking.
- Bake cookies at 375 degrees for 10 minutes.
- Mix the sugar and sea salt together in a small bowl, set aside.
- When cookies come out of oven, sprinkle them with the sugar and sea salt mixture.
- Eat cookies!
- Store in an airtight container.