IRON MOUNTAIN – It was 13 years ago when Melissa Boyles, owner of Dulce Nulla Gourmet Desserts at Iron Mountain, was forced to get creative in the kitchen.
Boyles and her husband Stewart learned that their 2-year-old daughter Ariana, now 15, had severe food allergies.
“She couldn’t eat anything” said Boyles. “She was allergic to 75 of the 96 tested foods – including wheat, dairy products, nuts, eggs, soy, and most fruits and vegetables.”
So Boyles started experimenting with ways to make recipes gluten-free.
“The Internet is a fantastic resource” She said. “I would take a recipe and modify it to make it my own.”
Born in California, she moved to Iron Mountain with her family six years ago and started a photography business.
“I finally got it in my head that someone else might have to eat like my daughter.” said Boyles.
She began selling her Cottage Law gluten-free baked goods and made them at the licensed Northeast Wisconsin Technical College Woodland Kitchen in Aurora, Wisconsin for about 3 1/2 years.
Iron Mountain’s Edelweiss Coffee was their first commercial account. “You dared and sold 1,000 muffins within four months.” She said. “There was a wish that needed to be fulfilled.”
Given the demand, Boyles decided it was time to expand into a storefront. On December 1st, Dulce Nulla Gourmet Desserts opened in Suite 6 at 415 S. Stephenson Avenue in downtown Iron Mountain.
Boyles also won the Downtown Development Authority’s Business IDEA Contest, which earned her a year of rent-free at her new location. The competition was made available to serious entrepreneurs ready to take a business idea to the next level. The aim of the DDA was to promote economic growth in the city center by setting up new shops and filling vacant shop fronts and areas.
The name, Dulce Nulla, roughly translates from Latin into “Sweet nothing.”
“It was a joke that I couldn’t make something out of anything for my child that couldn’t eat.” She said.
Boyles said she got it “Talent” for baking and creating desserts at a young age by her grandmother and mother.
“I feel like it took me a long time to get here, but here God has helped me more.” said Boyles.
She loves sharing her love of baking and the kitchen with her three children – Ariana, 11-year-old Kaia, and 5-year-old Elliott.
Boyles said she also has a keen sense of what ingredients can be substituted for with others that make it safe for people with gluten sensitivity – and, more importantly, taste great.
She runs her shop as a gluten-free zone, meaning nothing with gluten comes through the door.
The gourmet bakery offers a selection of sweet treats such as cakes, cookies, cupcakes and muffins.
For July, Boyles will be adding red, white, and blue and strawberry cheesecake muffins to the menu. Regular flavors include blueberry, white raspberry chocolate, banana chocolate, and s’more.
“I always try to keep four different varieties – two gluten-free and two vegan -“ She said. “We sell a lot of muffins.”
The typical cake flavors are almond and raspberry, cookies and cream, death by chocolate, funfetti, red velvet and vanilla pod. “Almond-raspberry is without a doubt our best-selling cake.” She said.
Decorated birthday cakes are available by special order.
“I want to add picnic cake this summer for an easy-to-grab treat.” said Boyles.
Cupcakes are sold individually or by the dozen and are available in almond-raspberry, chocolate, funfetti, red velvet, and vanilla.
“We live from customer-specific orders and that is often what drives what is in the suitcase.” She said. “When people demand certain flavors from objects, I make more of the suitcase.”
Their black and white cookies have become popular, along with their regular chocolate chips, oatmeal, peanut butter, Snickerdoodle, and sugar cookies.
Boyles recently added a new device that allows them to offer photo images on cookies. “It will be great for special events and companies and will be great fun.” She said.
Boyles asks a week in advance for custom cakes and about two weeks for cookies. She found that customers can always call to see what’s available.
Dulce Nulla bakes bread once a month. Current options are garlic herb, marble “Rye,” Pumpernickel, sourdough and white sandwich. She plans to add hamburger buns.
Boyles also makes fresh cinnamon rolls every Saturday. “You can get them hot out of the oven in the morning and be available frozen for the rest of the week.” She said. “I have people who tell me that once they went gluten-free they would never be able to eat a cinnamon bun again.”
Occasionally donuts pop up in the suitcase, including Paczki for Fat Tuesday.
Pies are another sweet option for special gatherings. “I plan to bake some apple pies for July 4th.” She said.
A fun addition is 16 different flavors of meringue cookies and meringue pops. Boyles is switching the flavors of the gluten-free and egg-free made with Aquafaba so every customer can try them all.
“I’m currently working on a sugar-free meringue”, She added.
Some cool goodies for the summer months are their gluten-free ice cream sandwiches, as well as a vegan version, a sorbet sandwich.
Next, Boyles hopes to expand the pastry to include cream puffs, Danish pastries, and eclairs in the near future. For the autumn Oktoberfest she offers gluten-free pretzel canapés. Dulce Nulla’s savory options include chicken pot pie, broccoli cheddar pot pie, vegan pot pie, pies, and quiches.
“I’m trying to add more savory foods to the gluten-free community, but sweets are my lucky place.” She said.
Boyle says it’s worth stopping by once a week to see what’s new on the case.
She also stressed that customers shouldn’t be afraid to call with special requests. “There is very little that I couldn’t work” said Boyles. “I was called a wizard in the kitchen.”
In addition to gluten-free and dairy-free, it offers dairy and nut-free options.
“I won’t make sugar occasionally, but we’re a confectionery bakery” She said.
Dulce Nulla is committed to offering products that the gluten-free community can’t get anywhere else, and adds that she has many repeat customers driving from Marquette, Gladstone, Escanaba, and parts of Wisconsin.
“People are ready to travel when it comes to safe food” She said.
The bakery has an outdoor booth this summer during Out to Lunch events on Thursdays that sells muffins, desserts, cookies, and the occasional sandwich.
“I hope to be able to add pies on Thursdays in the near future.” She said.
The opening times of the Dulce Nulla summer shop are Wednesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
To place orders or questions, contact Dulce Nulla Gourmet Desserts at 906-828-1442 or on the Facebook page at Facebook.com/dulcenulla.
Terri Castelaz can be reached at 906-774-2772, extension. 241 or [email protected]