Cookies are 'over the top'
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South Jordan • For some people, being an entrepreneur comes naturally.

Take the case of Rachel Smith, founder and owner of Over the Top Gourmet Cookies in South Jordan.

When she was in sixth grade, she made her own suckers and sold them in school.

So when she baked some special homemade cookies for a church function about 10 years ago and people raved about them, Smith started thinking about opening a business selling her creations.

She got a license in 2003 and, though she had to go to a commercial kitchen once a week to make the cookies, sold them out of her home for five years. Soon, too many people were coming to the house, so Smith started thinking about alternatives.

"It took awhile to talk my husband into having a store," she said. "But I found this place, close to our home, and it's a perfect fit for us. We've been here four years."

The small store at 1665 W. Towne Center Drive in South Jordan contains a kitchen in the back and a retail area in front where Smith sells signature cookies, dipped pretzels, candy apples, caramel corn with strips of chocolate in it, a variety of gift baskets, candy jars and holiday-themed goodies.

For example, on Halloween, she dipped giant marshmallows in different colors and flavors of chocolate and created creatures on a stick. She's working on some gingerbread concoctions for Christmas.

"I could do so much more if my store was bigger," said Smith.

The signature "over the top" cookies refer to the traditional candy bars Smith and her crew bake into the top of cookies. They include Almond Joy, Butterfinger, Twix, M&M, Milky Way, Snickers and Reese's peanut butter cups — Smith's favorite— where pieces of the candy bars or candy are placed on the top of a traditional cookie, creating a different taste and look.

One of the more interesting cookies she makes is a tart lemon concoction that uses Lemonheads candy as a key ingredient. That and a mint-flavored "Grassjumper" chocolate cookie rank among the favorites I tried.

Smith said all her ingredients are fresh and not artificial. She is always working on new cookie creations. She still loves eating cookies, but confesses her family has become a bit tired of being taste-testers.

Why cookies instead of cupcakes, which seem to be the trendy concoction these days and one not sold at Smith's store?

"I love cookies," she explained. "I thought that cupcakes were kind of a trendy thing. I didn't want to be the trend. Mine are more unique. Everybody loves cookies and milk. And when I did start, cupcakes weren't that big."

Smith, who said she sometimes works from 5 a.m. until midnight during busy holiday seasons, has thought about perhaps opening up more stores. But the mother of four said spending time with her kids and being a mom remains her number one goal.

And she said one of the best things about the business is that her kids who are now 21 (that son is on a church mission to Portugal), 18, 16 and 12 all work for her.

"The kids have after-school jobs for me," she said. "Those jobs are hard to find right now in this economy. It's a fun thing for our family…They come here after school and have our dinner here. I would rather pay them than somebody else. I know I can depend on them. They work up front with customer service, help bake and do the dough. They do everything."

Many of her friends and customers predict that Smith will become the next Mrs. Fields cookies some day.

For now, she's just happy with a small store and the chance to keep inventing a number of "over the top" sweet delicacies.

wharton@sltrib.com

Twitter @tribtomwharton