Sweet and Scrumbcious

Jessica Romeo of Chatham Township may have set the baking bar high when she named her business Scrumbcious, leaving no room for mediocrity. But, boy, do these goods deliver.

With names like Perfectly Pumpkin Whoopie Pies, Applelicious Apple Pie Bars, and Chocolate Perfection, Romeo’s goodies make your mouth water before you’ve even taken a bite. “The names are tempting,” says Romeo. “That’s my marketing background; it comes in very handy!” And her advertising tagline of “Show no restraint!” is equally apropos: When she first set up shop at the Farmer’s Market in downtown Chatham Borough, many admirers would pass by the Scrumbcious goods, citing a need to restrain themselves for dietary reasons. “But one cookie is not going to kill you,” says Romeo. “I’d rather you have six cookies than go to McDonald’s for a burger.”

Romeo, a former marketing executive at American Express who found herself with plenty of time on her hands after an economic downsizing a year and a half ago, turned to her first true love: baking. “I’ve always had fantasies of opening a bakery. If I look back to diaries as a kid, I have menus with seasonal items,” she says. “I’m very into food. My mother was Jewish, my father was Italian, and it was all about food.”

But these aren’t your ordinary sweets. Instead, Romeo stresses the importance of good food and only uses locally grown, fresh produce in season. There are Pumpkin Power Muffins made with flaxseed, walnuts, and whole-wheat flour; baby pear cakes; a tomato cobbler; and a peach galette. She often doesn’t know what she’s making until she’s taken a trip to the area farmers, and her menu changes seasonally. “We need to support our local people,” she says. “Plus, it tastes better.”

From the end of June until November, you’ll find Romeo selling her goods at the Chatham Farmer’s Market. The rest of the year, she’s busy catering for birthdays, holidays, and local restaurants. Customers find her through her website (scrumbcious.com), Facebook, and via word of mouth. “In a town like this, it’s all word of mouth,” she admits.

But Romeo isn’t toiling away in front of the ovens alone. Her kids, Braedyn, 11; Logan, 8; and Asher, 2, all don their Scrumbcious T-shirts, with business cards in hand, and help her out on weekends at the Farmer’s Market. “It’s a good lesson for the kids to be a part of the family business,” she says. Braedyn is the chief marketing officer, while Logan is the chief business officer. In addition to coming up with great new product ideas, such as Logan’s Lemon Dreams, perhaps their most important jobs, however, are as the resident taste testers. “I trust kids because they don’t lie,” says Romeo. Which may also explain her recent fascination and focus on whoopie pies—there’s banana mascarpone, pumpkin, chocolate Bailey’s, and new flavors being thought of each day. “I’m trying to be big into whoopie pies because they’re the next cupcake,” she adds.

But don’t let all of this sweet talk fool you. Romeo is a savvy businesswoman. She started the Women Business Owners of Chatham in an effort to band together and help home-based businesses, donates baked goods to the Newcomers’ Club in an attempt to attract new customers, sponsors a baseball team in town, and cleverly uses Facebook to promote her business. A simple posting of her latest Dora the Explorer cake resulted in multiple orders. And there’s even the possibility of opening up a storefront in Chatham in the near future, “so they know Mom is in town,” she adds.

“Getting laid off was a blessing,” says Romeo. “I’m having fun marrying the food aspect with the marketing aspect.” And by combining these two areas of expertise with her love of family, it seems like she’s certainly found the perfect recipe for success.

Peach-Blueberry Galette

This Farmer’s Market best-seller would be perfect for a Mother’s Day brunch!

For Cornmeal Crust:

Pulse 1 cup all-purpose flour, ½ cup cornmeal, 1 teaspoon Kosher salt, and 2 teaspoons granulated sugar in bowl of food processor until just combined. Add ½ cup cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, and process until mixture resembles coarse meal. With machine running, pour ¼ cup ice water through feed tube until dough holds together. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface; slightly knead until it comes together into a ball. Flatten into a disk, wrap tightly in plastic, and refrigerate for 1 hour before using.

For Peach-Blueberry Filling:

1-½ pounds ripe Jersey peaches, pitted and cut into sixths
1 cup ripe Jersey blueberries
½ cup granulated sugar
Juice from ½ lemon
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
Sanding sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. On lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 14-inch circle, 1/8 inch thick. Transfer dough to parchment-lined baking sheet; refrigerate until fruit mixture is combined. Gently combine all ingredients, except the egg, in a bowl. Arrange fruit on top of crust, leaving two-inch border all the way around. Fold border over fruit, overlapping with each fold, pressing lightly to adhere the folds. Brush edges with egg; sprinkle with sanding sugar.

Bake until crust is golden and juices are bubbling, about 45 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Serve at room temperature or warm with vanilla ice cream.

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About this article

Author: Issue: May/Jun 2010
Credits: Photographed by Deborah Ory; Makeup by Debbi Stewart and Hair by Lynn Blenner, both from C'est La Vie Salon in Chatham
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