This Port Jefferson Station mom has a secret that everyone is talking about: Secret Stuffed Cookies.
When the COVID-19 pandemic caused Ashley Winkler to halt working at her beauty salon, the mother of three decided to get creative.
“I’m a baker,” she said. “So, I started doing it for my family. I stuffed a rainbow cookie into another cookie. Then we had some Girl Scout cookies, and I stuffed those in. I just had fun with it.”
That’s when Winkler posted her tasty creations to social media — and they blew up. Friends began asking her if they could order a dozen of her stuffed, hearty treats.
“I was just doing it for fun,” she said. “I wasn’t trying to make money.”
Winkler said she felt guilty operating a cookie company out of her home when other local bakers were struggling to keep their doors open. She also wasn’t sure how long she’d be able to do it.
Last March, she thought the pandemic might only last a month — but nearly a year later, her quarantine project has become a passion.
Originally her Secret Stuffed Cookies Instagram page was private, only accepting close friends and relatives for local cookie pickups.
“But then May came and people were getting stimulus checks … They started ordering two dozen cookies every week from me and referring my account to their friends,” she said.
Back to work, and raising three little kids, Winkler wasn’t sure if she’d want to continue the baking. With a little help from her sister and a few neighbors, she decided to keep at it.
By February of 2021, 11 months since her first cookie being made, she has nearly 4,000 followers and ships her baked goods nationwide.
Three days a week, she bakes a minimum of 300 cookies. She always has her “Rainbow OG,” a chocolate chip cookie stuffed with a homemade rainbow cookie, the “O-Mellow,” an Oreo marshmallow cookie and several others on the menu — but she’s always switching it up.
Compared to other stuffed cookie companies, Secret Stuffed has several options for people with a sweet tooth.
“I don’t want to tell people what they have to get. I want people to choose what they want,” she said. “There’s a whole range, and they can choose how they want to pay and how many cookies they want to get.”
Secret Stuffed offers same-day pickup from her Port Jefferson Station home, next business day shipping and a pre-order option. She also recently set up a cookie subscription box, which features new types every month.
Baked fresh and packaged individually, Winkler said her cookies stay good for two weeks. They can be frozen or refrigerated to last up to a month.
She also teamed up with local businesses to sell cookies in-person. Right now, customers can find her sweets in Town and Country Market in Miller Place, Joe’s Campus Heroes in Selden, and Rose and Boom Boutiques in St. James and Mount Sinai.