Kristi Wahlman switches her career, exchanging balance sheets for baking sheets.
It’s not unusual, especially these days, to take a left turn when it comes to careers, but it can be said that Kristi Wahlman took a U-turn.
For 15 years, the Minnetonka resident worked as an accountant in the tax department of two public accounting firms, specializing in estates and trusts. She now owns and is the pastry chef for The Beancounter’s Sweets.
Since Wahlman was a child, growing up in St. Louis Park, she enjoyed baking—whether it was watching the women in her family whip up cookies, muffins, pies and different types of fruit crisps, tasting their confections or trying her hand around the mixing bowl. “My mom, grandma and aunts also liked to make special Scandinavian treats for Christmas—a tradition I’ve incorporated into my holiday offerings,” she says.
As an adult, baking was the palate cleanser, if you will, to Wahlman’s day job tending to balance sheets and the like. While accounting and baking seem to be different disciplines, they share figures as a cornerstone. Baking, like accounting, is precise, and one must pay attention to details.
Eventually, Wahlman decided to switch courses. “Life is too short to spend so much time doing something that doesn’t provide joy,” she says. “I’ve always had a passion for baking and finally decided to follow my dream of running my own bakery business.” The practical side of this accountant realized that it would take more than a dream to make a business work, so she enrolled in Saint Paul College’s pastry and baking program once her youngest child was in school in fall 2019. She split the one-year program into two years.
The Beancounter’s Sweets opened in November 2019, as she started taking courses. “I was eager to get in the kitchen, so I offered decorate-your-own cookie kits for the 2019 holiday season,” she says.
Operating under the Minnesota cottage food license allows Wahlman to sell baked goods from her Minnetonka home under specific parameters.
She has considered moving to a commercial kitchen, “… but, so far, I have not found the right fit. I enjoy the flexibility I currently have in offering different types of treats and experiences [cookie decorating classes, for example],” she says.
What has been a good fit is the switch away from financial figures toward baking measurements. “It provides a creative outlet that was not present in accounting work,” Wahlman says. “I also enjoy helping people celebrate their special moments. While I could be helpful as an accountant, no one really celebrates estate planning or Tax Day—except my fellow accountants.”
“As a mom, I know it’s helpful to have a fun and easy project on hand. My favorite hands-on activities connect kids’ current interests into the activity. For example, for kids who like creepy crawlies, here’s an easy, kid-approved treat to make,” Wahlman says.
Creepy Crawly Cookies
- black or red licorice
- sandwich cookies
- edible eyes (or a tube of icing)
Open the sandwich cookies. Cut licorice into 2- to 3-inch sections. Place icing around the cookie center. Place licorice ends into icing; replace cookie top. Attach edible eyes or use icing for eyes. Presto! You’ve made your own cookie spider.
The Beancounter’s Sweets offers a variety of baked items—and the list keeps growing. “I love getting creative with custom cakes for any occasion [and also] cupcakes, macarons, decorated sugar cookies, galettes and other pastries,” Wahlman says. To note: The baked goods come together courtesy of eggs by way of her backyard chickens.
Customers with a perpetual sweet tooth will be pleased to know that they can order monthly Bake Boxes. “I get to create different pastries and other bakery items, never repeating the same thing,” Wahlman says. “I enjoy surprises—something that we don’t get as adults enough.” The Bake Boxes deliver a mix of unexpected treats each month. Previous offerings have included hand pies, Swedish cardamom buns, tarts, a variety of cookies and bars.
One-off orders run the gamut. “I often get requests for custom cakes, cookies and cupcakes to help people celebrate birthdays, anniversaries and baby showers. Decorated cookies for sports banquets and other gatherings are also popular,” Wahlman says.
She will have many goodies available for purchase and planned events from October through December.
Tip: Thanksgiving pie orders are due by November 15 with pick-up November 22. Dates are in the works for cookie decorating classes for Halloween, Hanukkah and Christmas.
Class is in Session
- October 8: Adult/Child Halloween Cookie Class
- November 2: Adult Fall-themed class
- December 10: Adult/Child Hanukkah class
- December 16: Child drop-off Christmas cookie class
- December 17: Adult Christmas cookie class