Kitchen Confidential: Holiday Baking Made Easy

. December 1, 2014.

by Pat Nowak

Jennifer Haley, owner of Sylvania’s  The Next Sweet Thing Bakery, was inspired to pursue  her vocation as a child, with a gift of an Easy-Bake Oven. She was hooked and   began exploring different ways that baking could be channeled into unique art forms through chocolates, sugar sculptures and cake masterpieces. She advanced  her career  by attending Schoolcraft College Culinary Arts program in 2007.

Haley was enthusiastic, and with several opportunities for cooking and baking, she spent the next several years working in different kitchens, including  working  as a chef on a privately owned ranch in Montana.

Every December, her passion for baking was put to good use, as she made Christmas cookies for friends and family. In 2013, she came up with a Christmas idea to craft  a ‘reindeer Oreo’ with pretzel antlers. Soon she had created a whole cast of Christmas characters from  different colors of chocolate with some special help from her mother, Luanne. Realizing that their take on cute and whimsically decorated  Oreos was unique, Jennifer and Luann decided it was time to go into the candy business.

Initially working from home and winning a Ronald McDonald Dessert Challenge for her creations, she quickly turned her dreams into reality and bought the former Syd’s Bakery in Mayberry Square. The Next Sweet Thing opened in January 2014. The shop is now a family affair, with a wide variety of donuts produced by her father, John along with Jennifer’s  custom cakes, gourmet coffees, pies and cookies. Her goal is to launch an online store, where goods, including the decorated Oreos,  can be shipped across the county for any occasion.  With Haley’s determination, it is just a matter of time.

Jennifer Haley’s Baking Tips:

-Don’t wait until the holiday frenzy to bake all of your Christmas cutout cookies! Bake and cool your cookies up to a month before Santa comes, and keep them in an airtight container in the freezer.

-Royal Icing is a great frosting to use if you plan to stack your decorated cookies on top of each other after they dry. 

-Turn your holiday cookies into individual place setting favors—wrap one or two cookies in a clear treat bag and tie with a festive holiday ribbon. 

-If time is short, buy cut-out cookies at the bakery, take them home and decorate them with your family to enjoy the fun without the  hassle! 

The Next Sweet Thing Bakery

Decadent No-Bake Cookie Recipe

This easy cookie recipe will be sure to whip up in a jiffy, with ingredients that are already in your pantry!

Yields: About 3 dozen


1¾ c. granulated sugar

½ c. milk

8 T butter, cut into large pieces

3 T unsweetened cocoa powder

½ c. creamy peanut butter

1 tsp vanilla extract

¼ tsp salt

3 c. quick cooking oats


– Add sugar, milk, butter, and cocoa powder to a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil for about three minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter, vanilla, salt and oats.

– Drop large scoops of no-bake cookies onto parchment paper. Allow to dry for about 10-15 minutes until the no bake cookies have become firm.

Optional: Stir in flaked coconut, mini chocolate chips, dried fruit or nuts before scooping. The cookies can also be drizzled with holiday-colored chocolate for a festive touch!    

Contact the bakery at 8252 Mayberry Square N., Sylvania, 567-455-5903 or


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