I would like to introduce Jessica “Jessie” Williams of Black Forest Brownies. I met Jessie at the backyard market in June of 2022 after I spotted a line of hungry customers. I usually gravitate to booths with lots of people because they always seem to have the inside scoop. I chatted up a fellow customer and he asked me if I had ever tried a Black Forest Brownie. I told him that I hadn’t, but looked forward to getting my hands on one. He told me that they were the BEST brownies he had ever eaten. That is high praise, and I am a bit of a brownie snob so I was eager to sample one. I purchased a triple chocolate, a smore’s, and a salted caramel brownie. My favorite by far was the Salted Caramel because the salty caramel played so nicely with the fudginess of the brownie. Make sure you have a hot cup of coffee or a cold glass of milk and help to cleanse the pallet between delicious chocolatey sweet bites!
I didn’t realize it at the time, but Black Forest Brownies are gluten free, all of them! I don’t know what type of magic they are using in their kitchen, but these did not taste gluten-free at all. In my experience, gluten-free often means dry, weirdly textured, and flavored with sadness. I was thoroughly shocked at how moist and fudgy the brownies were despite the lack of wheat flour. I personally feel better when I omit gluten from my diet, but I feel deprived when I can’t eat things I love… like BROWNIES! Y’all this was a game changer for me. Perhaps “gluten-free” has improved since I wrote them off? But I digress, these brownies don’t taste like I am sacrificing anything. Well done, Jessie!
I recently reached out to Jessie and asked her if she would be interested in being featured as my August Culinary Queen. To my delight, she agreed to be interviewed. Turns out, Black Forest Brownies is a family affair. I love that her entire family has had input in developing their brownie recipes. That makes their story so much more inspiring. Read on to find out more about their story and their business.
Jessie, tell us about your background:
Black Forest Brownies is owned by my husband Ben and myself. Together we have four kids and live in Black Forest on about 6 acres with lots of animals and a big garden. I have a background in business and have successfully owned several businesses throughout my life. Entrepreneurship has always been a huge part of my life, even as a child. I attended the University of Denver earning a master’s degree. In high school, I worked at a local chocolate factory and my love of creating desserts began. My husband Ben was an active-duty special forces medic for many years. He went on to become a Physician Assistant and works in neurosurgery as well as serving in the National Guard.
What inspired you to create Black Forest Brownies?
There was a lot of inspiration that went behind Black Forest Brownies. My love of baking and candy making was the first step. I have a tradition of creating each family member a special dessert of their choice for their birthdays. I was often asked by other friends to create desserts for their special occasions as well. Meredith, one of my children has celiac disease so I was inspired to create gluten-free treats that were just as delicious for her too. Ben encouraged me to obtain my certification so that I could begin selling the treats in 2020. Black Forest Brownies wasn’t established until 2022 after I finally agreed I was ready.
What makes your brownies unique?
Black Forest Brownies are unique in several ways. First, they are made with all gluten-free ingredients. Additionally, I source the ingredients locally and organically whenever possible. The flour is from a Colorado business, the butter is hand rolled locally and the eggs are collected daily from our own flock of chickens. We strive to have the best ingredients and to support other small businesses as well.
What are your favorite flavors?
All the flavors are created with so much love and thought. Each flavor is inspired by a friend or family member so depending on who you ask – you will get a different answer. Personally, I love the turtle brownie. Salted caramel, triple chocolate and blondies are very popular as well.
What is the most rewarding part of your business?
I love creating delicious treats using quality ingredients that can be enjoyed by the whole family, even those with gluten sensitivities. The most rewarding part though is that I gets to do something I love, with ingredients I feels good about and support other small business while doing so.
What has been your proudest moment since creating Black Forest Brownies?
My proudest moment has been when my daughter (part of the reason Black Forest Brownies exists) decided to join and passed her food safety certification. Having the whole family involved is truly meaningful.
Besides your website, how can we purchase your delicious brownies?
Other than the website, be sure to follow Black Forest Brownies on social media for events. We can be found most Saturdays at the Backyard Market in Black Forest through October.
What are your future plans/goals for Black Forest Brownies?
My husband Ben and I have talked about opening a full bakery in the future, but for now, we are enjoying each stage of the business.
What advice would you give to a woman thinking about starting a culinary business?
My only advice is to have fun with it. Running a business is tough and comes with lots of ups and downs, so if you are having fun in the process, it makes it all worth it.
Can you share any tidbits or stories that our readers might enjoy?
This is truly a local family business. A great deal of pride and thought is taken in each step of the process from ingredient selection, to decorating and even packaging. We compost everything we can, which goes directly back into the garden. Most of our packaging is compostable as well. We do our best to not only support our community, other businesses but also the environment.
I loved writing this feature because it turns out that Jessica and I have a bit in common. I also married a guy named Ben and have 4 children. I also appreciate that her family uses quality ingredients and are environmentally conscious. My very favorite aspect of Black Forest Brownies is the fact that it is inclusive to those who have celiac and/or a gluten sensitivity. As I stated before, many gluten-free products leave me feeling like I must sacrifice flavor and texture in order to omit gluten from my diet. Black Forest Brownies nails the flavor, the texture, and includes a level of creativity that I have never before experienced in the gluten-free market. It’s those little things that make me want to support small businesses like Jessie’s. I know that one day they will realize their dream of opening a successful bakery. Until then, I will happily buy their products at The Backyard Market and utilize their website to fulfill my newest brownie craving!