By Cheramie Sonnier
Advocate Food editor
July 25, 2012
Carolyn Pizzuto Green, of Baton Rouge, turned her family’s Italian cookie tradition into a business last year as a way to cope with the loss of her 93-year-old mother, Marie Pizzuto.
That’s why she named her company, Momma Mia’s Authentic Italian Cookie Co.
“I was raised making cookies for St. Joseph’s altars for my aunt and uncle in Kenner,” Green said. “When I was 10 or 11 years old, my older sister, Lynne Pearson, had me helping make fig cookies and other traditional Italian cookies. It was a tradition every year at Christmas for the Pizzuto family to get together to make cookies.”
She said her company’s recipes for their handmade fig cookies, Italian seed cookies, biscotti and other traditional cookies have been passed down for generations from her father’s family, which moved to Louisiana from Palermo, Sicily.
“These two,” said Green, pointing to older son Jeff Green, an anesthetist, of Prairieville, and lifelong friend Joan Burton LeBlanc, who owns Amazing Cakes bakery, “were sort of my inspiration for going into business. I was mourning my mother and I had just retired from my state job. Joan had been telling me for years she wanted to learn how to make Italian cookies.
“I made some with her and she gave them to her customers as they came to pick up cakes. We started getting calls for them. Jeff told me I should sell them. Joan was motivating me from one end and Jeff from the other.”
The three teamed up to form Momma Mia’s LLC as a subsidiary of Amazing Cakes, LLC.
“Jeff is the brains behind the operation and I’m the icer,” laughed LeBlanc, who bakes cakes to order from her commercial kitchen behind her Prairieville home. She can be reached by calling (225) 572-5856 or on her website at http://www.amazingcakeslouisiana.com.
“We started with a website — http://www.mommamias.com — but it was taking a while to set up so we started a Facebook page and on the first day, we took orders from 8 in the morning to 10:30 at night,” Jeff Green said.
Carolyn Green can also be reached at (225) 939-7839.
Unlike the traditional crunchy biscotti, Momma Mia’s biscotti are very delicate with a cakelike texture, Carolyn Green said.
She described them as “a little bit bigger than what you see on the St. Joseph’s altar.”
Her company’s biscotti are available in a number of flavors.
“We are branching out into modern-day flavors,” Carolyn Green said. “The traditional biscotti flavors are usually almond, anise and lemon, and our new flavors are bananas Foster, blueberries and cream, mint chocolate and strawberry. We are working on a peach biscotti. In the fall, I’m hoping to offer gingerbread and other flavors.”
The company also sells Italian cherry cookies, Italian chocolate crinkles, spice balls, Italian wedding cookies, Italian wine balls and seed cookies.
The cookies are sold by the pound and prices range from $15 to $17.50 per pound.
“All our cookies are made to order,” Jeff Green said. “They are baked on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday so we have fresh cookies to mail out on Monday morning.” Jeff Green also delivers cookie orders.
“When I was a kid, Italian cookies had dull colors or no icing,” Jeff Green said. “They also were very hard and crunchy.
“Ours are very fresh and soft, custom ordered. We ice our cookies in fresh, bright colors to Americanize them and reach out to people who’ve never had Italian cookies.”
His mother emphasized that their cookies “are hand made, hand glazed and rolled by hand.
We use Louisiana figs and pecans to make our fig cookie filling. I also make the fig preserves to make the fig cookies.”
Their cookies will be available at both locations of Calandro’s Supermarket in Baton Rouge beginning Saturday .
Carolyn Green will be offering samples of her cookies at the store’s 12732 Perkins Road location from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.
“I learned how to make Italian cookies by doing it ... It is our hope to preserve this dying art and provide quality cookies,” Carolyn Green said.