What's a party girl to do during a pandemic? For Maya and Aria Christian, co-founders of Twins That Cook, the answer to that question involved bringing party vibes to their home kitchen. And when I ordered my first box of baked goods from these self-described "Renaissance women," I felt like they had extended an invitation to me.
"A lot of people are figuring out what the new normal is," Maya told me. "So, when they can have something beautiful in their home, open up a delivery with a love note inside and it feels so special in that moment, it makes us feel really really good to share that. That feeling is part of our brand."
There's the rainbow-sprinkle–filled "Party Cookie," which they describe as what unicorns would snack on if they partied at Studio 54 on New Year's Eve. The lemon-poppy seed "Champagne Poppy" (a play on Drake's Instagram handle, @champagnepapi) which they call "a cookie for the elite" because the bracingly tart icing is topped with 24-karat-gold flakes. "Why wait for a celebration?" asks the description on their website. Reader, I didn't. After finding out about this duo on Instagram, I found myself placing a massive order for absolutely no reason and with only one other person in my household, heaven help me. Who were these magical bakers and why was I in a better mood before the cookies had even arrived?
The Massachusetts-born twins say that their love of cooking is in their blood. "Our dad, who passed away a few years ago, never went to culinary school but he was an incredible chef. Like literally the best," they said. "He was an artist and music professor who traveled a lot and he would get inspired by the food in the places he visited and come home and just whip up the craziest meals. From the Caribbean to Japan, he recreated all these insane flavors in our little town in Massachusetts so it developed our palates at a young age. He'd have the Food Network on and we'd guess what the chefs were making before they were finished."
Their mom, a designer, is the one who taught them to make everything beautiful. "Dad served things family-style but mom would just be so bougie," Aria laughed, reminiscing about how she would make table arrangements, use the good china and teach them about plating a dish. "We learned to marry those skills."
It wasn't long before the twins found themselves taking over in the kitchen. "In high school, we would make pancakes for our friends and discovered we wanted to feed everyone," said Aria. The twins parted ways for college, which they both described as a "very sad time," and eventually reunited in Brooklyn, New York.
"Right before quarantine, we started taking Master Classes on baking. Then quarantine allowed us to be locked away and give this our full attention," said Maya, who also works as a jewelry designer and mixologist, while Aria is a full-time musician with an album release coming up. "The industries we are in shut down and we couldn't do the things we normally do, professionally or hosting the dinner parties we love, so we found ourselves in the kitchen. You can only watch so much Netflix!"
When asked if they always get along as well as it sounded over the phone, the twins, who finish each others' sentences, said, "We do pretty much always get along. The typical sibling things come up but it's like who better to work with than your sister, someone who can literally read your mind? We have the same palate, we like the exact same things. We always get where each other is going, not just food but the business aspect of it as well."
They did a series of holiday pop-ups in 2019 that told them they were onto something. "At our last pop-up during the holidays, we sold out the first hour and we had booked our spot for seven hours," Maya recalled. "We literally saw it happen before our eyes, we watched one person eat a cookie, go outside and bring three friends back inside. Then they ate theirs and went back out and brought in more people. We actually got to see a domino effect in real time. People's eyes don't lie — it's so much cooler to watch them eat it (than ship deliveries) because you can see the honest reaction right away. You can't hide that."
For Maya and Aria, that's what it's all about. "When you show your talent and see someone's honest reaction, whatever industry you're in, that is the reward," said Aria. "Getting to see them enjoy it and tell their friends about it made us realize, this is the beginning of something."
Not long after, a happy customer told her local ice cream shop, Bed-Stuy's Lady Moo Moo, that the twins' cookies would be amazing with their ice cream. It was a pandemic partnership born in sweet-tooth heaven. Maya and Aria were stuck at home and looking for ways to spread joy. Then they watched their baked goods start selling out at Lady Moo Moo, too. "It was perfect. People were smiling more in a tough time and we were like, we're going to run with this."
That's when they decided to focus on their online shop, which now ships nationwide, and their social media presence. And being able to share the love to a larger audience is already paying off. Maya told me about a time that she was posting stories from her kitchen and Food Network star Tyler Florence responded with some tips. "I was like, one of my favorite chefs just gave me advice on how to cook!" she said. "So that was a cool moment."
These days, you can find Aria and Maya hard at work on their next "cookie for the elite," a lavender-Earl Grey cookie with a Madagascar vanilla bean icing. If that cookie sounds a little extra, well, that's the point.
"We love a party and we love a celebration so we make party cookies! Everything in this box is just a little more fabulous," said Aria.
"The pandemic has been very heavy for everybody, so the fact that it's keeping us happy, too, is a great feeling, spreading joy to everyone," added Maya. "We're just very, very grateful. We feel very blessed."