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Meet Jenni Benerofe: Chef and Founder of Happiness Jones

Meet Jenni Benerofe: Founder of Happiness Jones
Jenni Benerofe: Founder of Happiness Jones

Meet Jenni Benerofe: Founder of Happiness Jones

Ready to learn more about the best cookies in Westchester? Soft, chewy, and beyond delicious, these cookies also happen to be vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free and don’t contain any refined sugar. Sounds too good to be true? We thought so too until we had the chance to try these delectable bites at a recent heymama event. During the event, we meet Jenni Benerofe, also known as The Balaboosta Chef, who shared more about her new cookie brand, Happiness Jones. We recently had the chance to learn even more about Jenni, the inspiration behind the line, and how you can get these delicious cookies delivered to your home.

THE GINJ: Spiced Ginger Molasses Cookies from Happiness Jones
THE GINJ: Spiced Ginger Molasses Cookies from Happiness Jones

Westchester Family: How did the idea for Happiness Jones come about?

Jenni Benerofe: Happiness Jones happened by accident as a fun culinary challenge. My husband, Jory, was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at age 41. He had to completely revamp his diet, including all snacks and desserts. He found this “clean” cookie on Amazon and every night he would eat it with this sad, unsatisfied look on his face. It was absolutely killing me to watch him eat this dry and crumbly thing. I remember thinking immediately: I can do better than this. Sweets make me so happy…why should this be his best and only option?? And that just set my wheels in motion. We should all be allowed to indulge in satisfying, high quality food that fits into our lifestyle.

Earlier in my career, I had a business creating meal plans and food delivery for clients with dietary restrictions, so figuring out how to make something healthy without sacrificing taste, consistency and enjoyment is in my wheelhouse. I challenged myself to figure out how to make him a better-for-you cookie that was not only considered acceptable in the health food space, but something I would be jonesing for, as well. It took me three years of recipe testing to get Happiness Jones up to the standard I was striving for, while keeping it gluten, grain, dairy and refined-sugar free. We started serving it to our friends and family and the response was so overwhelming that I figured there had to be a market for a cookie made from ingredients with integrity.

Meet Jenni Benerofe: Founder of Happiness Jones

Westchester Family: Tell us more about the cookies at Happiness Jones.

Jenni Benerofe: Happiness Jones are delicious, soft-baked cookies that also happen to be gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, soy-free, vegan, and have no refined sugar. It’s a dessert (or a breakfast, depending on who you ask) that doesn’t make you feel icky after eating it. We currently offer two flavors: The Jones and The Ginj.

The Jones is a rich and chewy chocolate chip cookie and The Ginj is a soft baked spiced molasses cookie that tastes like a warm holiday hug all year long. They’re sold individually-wrapped by the dozen. We’ve got three more flavors in the tank ready to go, so keep an eye out for those launching in the future!

Westchester Family: Where can people find the cookies?

Jenni Benerofe: Happiness Jones cookies are sold exclusively online and will ship anywhere in the United States. We bake our cookies fresh every week and cookies go live on our site on Mondays. They usually sell out by Thursday, so order them early and often!

Meet Jenni Benerofe: Founder of Happiness Jones
The Jones: Chocolate Chip Cookies from Happiness Jones

Westchester Family: How are your cookies different from what’s out there?

Jenni Benerofe: I think Happiness Jones checks all the boxes, especially the most important one: taste. When you look at what’s out there, I see plenty of gluten-free options, but not many that are also dairy-free, vegan and refined-sugar free. And If you do happen to find something with a similar ingredient list, most of the options just taste….less than, you know what I mean? They are like Jory’s original Amazon cookie: a sad version of the “real” thing. It was incredibly important to me that Happiness Jones be able to stand up to any dessert table, something that appeals to health-nuts and sugar-freaks alike. Many of my repeat customers don’t have a single dietary restriction or they order them because they feel better about feeding them to their kids, which to me is the true sign that I succeeded in my original challenge.

Westchester Family: You are also known for your work as The Balaboosta Chef. Tell us more about your services.

Jenni Benerofe: I started teaching cooking classes 10 years ago after graduating from culinary school at the Institute of Culinary Education. I teach in a client’s home for groups as small as one or as big as 12. My goal is to help you cook for your friends and family with confidence and ease. Considering we have to feed our families everyday, cooking really shouldn’t be so intimidating.

I try to keep my teaching style informal and fun, but still informative. My clients know I’m there for them well after the class ends. I get texts from the supermarket aisles asking about a specific ingredient. I’ve FaceTimed from my vacation walking clients through a recipe. If having me on call in a moment of kitchen panic takes some of the stress off feeding your family, I’m happy to do it. Unsurprisingly, many of my clients have become close friends over the years.

Westchester Family: Why is cooking important to you?

Jenni Benerofe: It’s everything to me, and occupies much of my thoughts from morning to night. The entire process of menu planning, shopping, prepping, cooking and eating a meal with my friends and family…and then talking about that meal afterwards…brings me so much joy. Food brings people together, it allows for deeply interesting conversation and opens your eyes to different cultures and flavors. If you’re invited to our house for dinner, I’m going to absolutely spoil you with good food. I love how sitting around a table together feels intimate and casual all at once. It fosters a deeper connection, while also allowing for silliness and fun and that magical feeling that you don’t want the night to end. Plus, the drinks are free, the music is always good and no one has to wear shoes.

7. What are some of your favorite things to do in Westchester?

Jenni Benerofe: Obviously, we love to eat in Westchester! We love to sit at the counter with our kids at Parkway Cafe in Scarsdale and watch the talented cooks sling pancakes and chop salads. Going there doubles as entertainment for us. We’re big fans of Purdy’s Farmer and the Fish in North Salem and also Freddie’s in Pleasantville. I could stroll the Pleasantville or Chappaqua farmers markets all day long.

For non-food related fun, we’re always down for a brisk hike in Ward Pound Ridge, no matter the season, or a movie at the ever-charming Bedford Playhouse. And for stress relief, there’s nothing better than acupuncture and a massage at The Well Center in Armonk or a night of live music at the Capitol Theater in Port Chester.