Baking & Desserts

Cookie ties that bind

By: Mary Luz Mejia

Mother-daughter baking team TJ and Susan Peach of Susie's Shortbreads in Halifax, Nova Scotia Author: Canadian Living Credits: Mother-daughter baking team TJ and Susan Peach of Susie's Shortbreads in Halifax, Nova Scotia

Baking & Desserts

Cookie ties that bind

By: Mary Luz Mejia
Bite-sized orange and pink iced cookies, some speckled with the promise of chocolate and nuts, call out from under a sign reading “Susie's Shortbreads" amidst the rabbit's warren of the Halifax Farmer's Market.

One nibble of these shatteringly tender, melt-in-the-mouth morsels and you know this isn't your average cookie! Susie's Shortbreads is a mother-daughter team who turned a wildly popular family recipe into a bourgeoning mother-daughter business.

Great things happen when family bakes together
Tara-Jaye (TJ) Peach warmly remembers watching her mother Susan (the Susie in Susie's Shortbreads) make these cookies as gifts for family and friends every Christmas in Nova Scotia. It was a simple cookie recipe Susan developed and perfected over time, but no one could replicate. TJ also remembers the list of recipients growing and growing; word of mouth praise will do that to a cookie!

Eventually TJ helped her mom churn out piles of cookies each holiday season. With an MBA from Saint Mary's University in Halifax,TJ had a "lightbulb" moment in Christmas 2005. “My mom and I were baking hundreds of Christmas cookies when I told her 'I'm going to market these!”

Susan recalls, “Initially, I thought she was mad of course, but I was willing to try to market them with her.”

In January 2006 TJ registered the company name anyway and literally took the cookies to market - the Halifax Farmer's Market where you can still find their treats today.

Sweet success from a single cookie

Susan and TJ went from baking and packaging hundreds of cookies at Christmas to tens of thousands year-round. Today, that number has reached hundreds of thousands and growing! Susan's smashingly successful recipe left room for experimentation, where TJ really made her mark in 2006.

“The business was actually launched from a single shortbread cookie. My mom only made what we now call our 'Traditional Frosted Shortbreads'. I took the recipe to new heights by adding in different flavour combinations. We now have 15 different flavours,” TJ says.

Thankfully, Susie's Shortbreads delivers across Canada - you can peruse all of TJ's combinations at

Susan's little Christmas cookies aren't just for Christmas anymore - something TJ knew others would appreciate from the start. “I'm very proud of TJ. She took an idea and made it a reality,” says Susan.

Next page - family baking secrets and cookie recipes to share
What's their secret?
The Peach ladies say that, however cliché-sounding it may be, the secret ingredient in their recipes is “good, old fashioned love.” TLC and no substitutions; as Susan states, “All shortbreads, in my opinion, must be butter based - no shortening, margarine or lard used here."

Bickers and laughter in buttercream
Today, the mother-daughter team have a pretty boutique bakery in downtown Halifax, where they also sell their shortbreads, along with gourmet cupcakes and baby cheesecakes made with - what else, a  shortbread crust!

Best of all, this talented duo have each other. “I get to spend time with my mom, even if we are bickering and covered in butter cream. It is wonderful knowing I have someone beside me every day that is as committed to the business' success as I am, through the highs and lows, stresses and laughs, we are truly a team,” says TJ.

And if the cookie business bug strikes the following generation, TJ's two year old daughter will be the next in line to helm the growing Susie's Shortbreads empire. “My daughter is already telling me, 'Mommy, I want to help!' Boy, she has no idea what she's getting into!” says TJ with a smile.

Cookie recipes for your family baking day
Care to spend a baking day with your mom or daughter? Here are some of Canadian Living's most loved cookie recipes.

Strawberry Shortbread
A fruity version of Christmas shortbread with pretty pink icing.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Extremely easy to make and melt-in-your-mouth delicious

Dark and Dangerous Triple Chocolate Cookies
These dark, delicious, intensely chocolatey cookies are just the thing when you want a chocolate fix.

Crisp Seedy Oatmeal Cookies
This is a cookie to satisfy anyone. The raw pumpkin seeds are also known as pepitas.

Mocha Viennese Shortbread
A combination of buttery shortbread, coffee icing and milk chocolate. This cookie recipe was our 2007 cookie contest winner!
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Baking & Desserts

Cookie ties that bind