Sweet treats: An Andover baker finds solace in her delicious work
For this month’s In The Mix, Carla Eckels speaks with an Andover business owner who finds comfort in baking and in a kitchen.
Monday is a big day for Andover baker Nicole Williams and she's ready. She is preparing a vast array of sweet treats for Valentine's Day and her self-taught culinary skills aren't going unnoticed. Williams recently won the Kansas Woman-Owned Business of the Year award.
Standing at the kitchen sink, Nicole Williams begins washing the bright red strawberries swirling around in a bowl.
"This is the most intricate part of doing chocolate-covered strawberries," Williams said. "The most important part is cleaning them. And so, what I do is, I put them in a bowl, try not to submerge them too much inside of the water because it really affects the integrity of the leaf. I feel like the leaf is also a part of the strawberry, which is very important, when you're dipping and just for the aesthetic of it all."
It's a small chocolatey sample of what she will be creating for Valentine's Day. She says dipping strawberries in warm white or milk chocolate and drizzling designs on them is the fun part.
"We have a nice long ribbony velvet sort of ripple that I just love."
Williams, a native of Los Angeles, relocated to Andover eight years ago when her husband for work. After enrolling her boys in school, she realized she sorely missed support from home.
"And on top of that, we learned that our son, our youngest son was diagnosed with autism," she said. "So those two components together really spiraled me into a deep, dark depression and I knew that I needed to come out of that. And so, what I did with that was I started to bake.
"My hobby turned into my passion and my passion turned into my business. I can still remember the solace that I felt first shopping for strawberries. I can still remember that feeling. That's the part that I actually needed to survive. And to this day, I normally tell everybody that baking literally saved my life."
Saved her life and has brightened up the lives of customers who send in multiple orders for her homemade sweet treats.
"So for Valentine's Day, I normally prepare thousands of chocolate-covered strawberries. I usually stay up and watch the sunrise dipping chocolate-covered strawberries."
Williams then places the plump strawberries in decorated containers for delivery. Her home-based bakery, NCredibly Sweet, also offers gourmet cookies, candy, caramel apples, mini-bundt cakes, pretzels and gourmet caramel popcorn.
"One of my favorite flavors to do that customers love is a gourmet-strawberry-caramel popcorn," she says excitedly. "They're actually in love with our butter rum-flavored popcorn as well. I do cake pops, celebration cakes, rice crispy treats, Oreo cookie treats and the famous detailed chocolate-covered strawberries."
And her baking is getting attention. Williams was selected as the Pitch Competition Winner for the Wichita area Urban Business Expo 2021, hosted by Create Campaign.
She also was recently recognized by The Office of Minority and Women Business Development at the Kansas Department of Commerce.
"That feeling when I received that award ... it just put me in another realm of happiness. I can't even explain what it means for girls that look like me," she says thoughtfully. "I'm doing a lot of work with children and letting them know that whatever your passion is, whatever you dream of doing, you can do it if you work hard and you put your heart into everything that you do."