SCHENECTADY – The love behind Whisky Business Bakery on Union Street really began when Bri Larsen did a fourth-grade science project about baking chocolate chip cookies.
“Essentially, I took out an ingredient with every batch I made and learned the science of leavening agents, butter and creaming and temperature and I won,” she said. “I knew then I was going to be a pastry chef.”
She would spend her younger years baking all sorts of goods with her mom from cookies to muffins and quick breads.
Larsen went on to study the art and science of baking at SUNY Schenectady County Community College, where she graduated with a culinary arts degree and at the Culinary Institute of America.
It’s through that education that Larsen knew her love for baking was endless.
Following her education, Larsen went on to take over the executive pastry chef position at TC Paris Bakery in Saratoga Springs, where she said she perfected making French macarons, an abundantly sweet, round, meringue-based confection.
She continued working for various bakeries and even a hotel, until eight years later she decided to open her own bakery — a month before the COVID-19 pandemic happened.
“Opening a business was terrifying and then everything getting shut down was the unknown but because we were technically takeout we were able to stay open,” Larsen said.
Larsen said it also helped that her dad was by her side along the way. Bruce Larsen retired just a few months before Larsen opened her storefront in Rotterdam.
Larsen said while it was tough in the beginning, eventually people realized she was making macarons, something she said wasn’t really being done in the area at the time.
“That I think was our upper hand in getting business,” she said.
Larsen has created over 150 macaron flavors, including chocolate, best seller crème brûlée and peach cobbler.
Dad’s favorite is the peanut butter and jelly macaron.
But she also bakes cakes to order and various kinds of cupcakes and bars like The Local Blondie, which is a chocolate chip blondie with homemade caramel and Saratoga potato chips on top of it.
“So salty sweet,” she said.
She also makes lemon bars using her mom’s recipe.
The homemade caramel is also jarred for people to purchase.
The business did so well at its original location on Curry Road that she needed a bit more space and moved to 1671 Union St. in early 2022.
Now with a bit of a bigger space and in an area with more foot traffic, Larsen said she’s seeing many more customers. She said many parents will stop and purchase the ice cream sandwiches she makes with macaron shells after their kids finish up at the dance studio nearby. The ice cream is homemade too.
“It’s super popular,” Larsen said.
Larsen bakes custom orders for events too, including doing macaron towers.
Bruce Larsen said he’s extremely proud of his daughter.
“I knew she could do it, but I’m still very surprised at the way that she can balance everything,” he said. “She does it all.”
Know of a business The Daily Gazette should feature? Email ‘Biz Beat’ reporter Shenandoah Briere at [email protected]. Follow Shenandoah on Twitter @ByBriere.