In late May 2017 I met with Chris Carroll the owner and head baker at Sweater Box Confections. Chris moved to the Outer Banks in 1993, leaving a PhD program in soil physics, to windsurf. She continued on our little sandbar working multiple jobs, wearing many hats and enjoying beach life. Most notable, she worked as a firefighter for seven years. During those years her favorite part-time job was baking.
Fast forward, shes baking full time in her business, Sweater Box Confections, inspired by her Grandma Carroll. Grandma also had worked as a baker and would give her eleven children and grandchildren a sweater box filled with her cookies and fudge each year at Christmas. They were made with precision and filled with love. Grandma Carroll also knew everyone’s favorites and made sure to include a few more of those in each person’s box. How sweet is that?
In preparation for our photo shoot Chris chose to make the Lemon Lavender cookies since they are her best sellers. They were inspired by the ladies at then, the Harbinger Lavender Farm. She met them at the Manteo Farmers Market, they shared their lavender, they talked about food, she experimented in the kitchen and vualá Lemon Lavender cookies were born! The Harbinger farm no longer grows lavender but Chris has connected with the White Oak Lavender Farm, in the Shenandoah Valley to keep her supplied in dried flowers. It’s a beautiful, family operated business that is open to the public.
Chris starts each batch with Julia, her 20 quart mixer, combining butter, sugar, lemon zest and dried lavender flowers. Chris says she loves the smell of her kitchen when the lemons are being zested, “it’s like summer and makes me want to go have a spa treatment.” She continues adding eggs, flour, etc.. She portions out the dough, rolls them into logs and covers them with purple sanding sugar. After firming up in the fridge each cookie is hand sliced and baked until golden.
At first bite you taste butter and sweetness followed by the hints of lemon and lavender. A cup of tea or coffee is a relaxing pairing but more often than not the bag can disappear before you’ve heated the water. You have been warned! Chris loves to bake these and other treats that can be found throughout the Outer Banks, at the Manteo Farmers Market on Saturdays, May-September, and via her website https://sweaterboxconfections.com/. Chris sent me home with a few bags of her delicious cookies and some chocolate and key lime pie, all of which barely lasted two days in my house.
I have been working with several local business owners who reside full time on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. We all have a different story as to how we ended up here. However, we all have one thing in common and that is our love for the island life and what it has to offer. Although, it can seem challenging to thrive in what is a seasonal location of tourism. My goal is to bring attention to as many small local business’ possible and to encourage visitors to seek local artists and business’ during their stay on the Outer Banks. Scroll down for a few frames of my afternoon in the kitchen with Chris!