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East Grand Forks high school student to follow pastry chef dreams

At only 17, Aspen Moreland runs her own cottage food business, Aspen’s Kitchen, out of her family kitchen and bakes for two restaurants in town. After graduating from high school this month, she plans to start working on her next goal - becoming a pastry chef with her own location.

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Aspen Moreland, a senior at East Grand Forks Senior High, started baking when she was three years old and has put together her own cookbook. Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald
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From simple chocolate chip cookies and cupcakes to French macarons and towering layer cakes with toasted meringue frosting, Aspen Moreland bakes it all.

At only 17, Moreland runs her own cottage food business, Aspen’s Kitchen, out of her family kitchen and bakes for two restaurants in town. After graduating from high school this month, the East Grand Forks student plans to start working on her next goal — becoming a pastry chef with her own location.

Moreland started Aspen’s Kitchen in seventh grade. She is a survivor of childhood brain cancer, and wanted to raise money to donate to charities supporting other children with cancer. What started as a small operation to sell cookies to friends has grown into the start of a career.

While she has taken a break from Aspen’s Kitchen to focus on graduating high school early, she plans to start selling again after she graduates this month. Typically, an eight inch, three layer cake sells for $40. A dozen cookies is $7 and a dozen macarons is $15. While she has a repertoire of recipes, she says she is always willing to try new things.

Moreland sells under a Minnesota cottage food license, which allows producers to prepare and sell non-potentially hazardous foods, which are foods that do not support rapid growth of bacteria outside of refrigerated temperatures. Common foods sold under cottage food laws include dry baked goods, jams, dried spices and canned fruits and vegetables.

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All of her recipes are family recipes handed down from relatives like her mom and grandmother, but the Moreland baking genes go further back than a few generations.

“My family had opened a bakery in the 1900s in New York, New York, and I have their recipe book that they published,” Aspen Moreland said.

That recipe book, browned with age and falling apart from use, now serves as more of a decorative reminder of a family tradition than a day-to-day resource in the Moreland household. But, Aspen does have her own book of the recipes she uses — a large black binder with the words “Aspen’s Kitchen” on the front containing her favorite recipes, typed out to include her edits and preferences.

“She’ll make adjustments to recipes and redo them and they always turn out a bit better,” said Aspen’s mother, Jen. “I don’t know how you can ever improve a grandma recipe, but she always finds a way.”

Aspen works as the pastry chef for Ely’s Ivy and bakes macarons for French Taste, both in Grand Forks. For French Taste, she makes 100 macarons a week in flavors like s’mores and salted caramel. At Ely’s Ivy, she makes all the breads and cakes.

“They let me choose what to bake and I have my own freedom to make anything,” she said about working at Ely’s Ivy.

Prior to working at Ely’s Ivy and French Taste, Aspen worked at Paola’s Pastries, which closed in October 2020. Jen says local businesses that have taken Aspen seriously, even at a young age, are part of the reason she is so good at baking. Each of her employers have taught her new techniques and allowed her to experiment with baking in a professional setting.

“They’ve all taken the time to teach her and I think that only happens in good communities,” Jen Moreland said.

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Aspen plans to attend business school at Northland Community and Technical College in East Grand Forks in the fall to learn how to run a business. Then, she hopes to open a restaurant or bakery.

Orders can be placed by sending a direct message to Aspen at the Aspen’s Kitchen Facebook page and @aspens_kitchen on Instagram.

Ingrid Harbo joined the Grand Forks Herald in September 2021.

Harbo covers Grand Forks region news, and also writes about business in Grand Forks and the surrounding area.

Readers can reach Harbo at 701-780-1124 or iharbo@gfherald.com. Follow her on Twitter @ingridaharbo.
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