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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Cookie Girl Xanthe Milton Makes Sweet Comeback to Baking

After a hiatus to focus on her family, Xanthe Milton, famously known as Cookie Girl, is re-entering the culinary scene. Rising from modest beginnings to remarkable heights, she stocked her celebrated treats in Selfridges and penned the bestselling cookbook, Eat Me! The stupendous self-raising world of cupcakes and bakes according to Cookie Girl.

Xanthe’s passion for baking ignited early, baking her first cake at six and mastering a soufflé by eight. Her professional journey began 18 years ago when she transformed a £10 investment into a profitable batch of 100 cookies, which she sold around Notting Hill while donned in a Red Riding Hood-inspired outfit, carrying a basket given by Chrissie Hynde. This charming persona quickly solidified her as the beloved Cookie Girl.

Her business flourished, attracting a celebrity clientele including Take That, Blur, and Annie Lennox, making her the favoured baker for high-profile parties and fashion shows globally, from Europe to the Middle East and Hong Kong.

But since having her two girls, Xanthe has acknowledged that “you can’t have your cake and eat it.”

“Having babies while running a business was unbelievably challenging. I don’t really know how I coped. I think you just muddle along as best you can. There is a lot of pressure on women to balance a thriving career and the perfect family, which is amplified when you are self-employed and the main breadwinner but you can’t be everything to everyone.

“I did my best to maintain the business and a stable income but I didn’t have the time or brain capacity to keep on building the brand so I had to step back from the spotlight just at the moment when doors were really starting to open for me.”

Away from the limelight, Xanthe has been developing a corporate offer with packages ranging from team-building away days to an Apprentice v Great British Bake-Off style event.

Xanthe is a partner of Choose Love, which provides humanitarian aid to provide refugees and displaced people with everything from lifesaving search and rescue boats to food and legal advice. As such, she encourages her clients to sell the cookies and cakes they make in workshops to raise money for charity and contribute towards their corporate social responsibility goals. 

She has also been working on a new podcast, a fictional comedy drama starring herself, her husband and Juliet Cowan, who plays Amy Winehouse’s mum in the upcoming biopic Back To Black. Loosely based on her own life, the podcast addresses taboo issues such as grief, postnatal depression and the temptation of infidelity in a light-hearted way. 

“Cookie Girl is a skewed fairy tale character who has worked hard to establish her successful baking business but now her mid life crisis has hit hard. Her beloved mum has died, which has made her alarmingly aware of her own mortality. She is filled with regret at not having worked harder to make her ambitions as an actress and writer a reality.

“I really wanted to take hard-hitting issues that can be difficult to talk about and present them in an accessible way to encourage listeners to open up to friends and family about their own troubles. I’m sure no mother would regret having children but it’s perfectly normal to feel resentful at having to sideline your career to bring them up so the podcast is a parody exploring those kinds of feelings.”

Xanthe also hints that another book could be on the horizon.

“I’m working on recipes with healthier ingredients. My eldest daughter is vegan so I’m thinking that if I was to do another recipe book that’s what I’d like to do. Since discovering that I’m gluten intolerant, I’ve also been experimenting with different flours.” 

“I tend to be relaxed when it comes to allowing the girls to have cakes and cookies as they are always in the house so hard to avoid. My belief is the more of a big deal you make about children not having treats, the more obsessed they become with wanting them. But I also try to balance our diet with a lot of healthy dishes. I’m really interested in coming up with economic, healthy and tasty recipes. A big thing for me is store cupboard cooking as with two little ones sometimes it’s too much hassle to pop to the shops for fresh ingredients.”

With her voluptuous figure, raven tresses and penchant for foodie porn naughtiness, it’s easy to see why Xanthe has been compared to Nigella Lawson but she wants to be judged on her own merits.

“I’m flattered by the comparisons but why do we feel the need to compare one woman’s success with another? Now I have two girls of my own, I’m more aware of the pressures on young women to compete with what they see online and the anxiety this can cause. I’ve become a huge advocate of mindfulness.

“Baking is good for the soul. This is why it became such a popular pastime during lockdown. Taking a break from technology, focusing on an activity and being creative frees the mind of stressful thoughts and can boost your mood.”

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