New dessert craze — cookie dough — has all the fla­vor, none of the risk

The Mercury News Weekend - - FRONT PAGE - By Linda Za­vo­ral lza­vo­ral@ ba­yare­anews­

For years, it was a slightly risky treat eaten in the pri­vacy of Mom’s kitchen. Some would just nib­ble on the eggy bat­ter; others would wolf it down by the spoon­ful be­fore the batch of cook­ies headed to the oven. Tummy trou­bles, be damned!

Now, thanks to the creation of cookie dough that doesn’t in­clude raw eggs or raw flour, you can in­dulge safely.

In the Bay Area, the guilty plea­sure born in a mix­ing bowl is poised to ex­plode in pop­u­lar­ity, with dessert bars open­ing in the East Bay and San Francisco, on­line com­pa­nies ea­ger to ship jars to your door and gro­cery stores stocked with re­frig­er­ated batches of edi­ble bat­ter.

Many dough sell­ers have been snack­ing on safe, home­made con­coc­tions for years and are ready to share. That’s the case with at­tor­neys- turned- en­trepreneurs Mahsa Gho­lami and Pezh­man Pak­ne­shan, who have just opened the Cookie Dough Par­lor in Pi­nole, and San Fran­cis­can Kelsey Witherow, who came up with a win­ning recipe while ex­per­i­ment­ing with semi-ve­gan baked goods.

“We have a huge sweet tooth. You have to do some­thing like this!” said Gho­lami, who han­dles the busi­ness end of the op­er­a­tion

“This is real cookie dough? Grow­ing up they say don’t eat cookie dough. I’m to­tally confused.”

— Rod Mar­i­ano, El So­brante res­i­dent

while her hus­band makes the dough.

Their shop dou­bles as an ice cream par­lor, with nine dough fla­vors made in­house — in­clud­ing Cho­co­late Chip, Brownie Bat­ter and Mocha Chip — and 16 fla­vors of ice cream. The sig­na­ture cup in­cludes one small scoop of the doughy stuff and one small scoop of the cold stuff.

On open­ing day last Sun­day, hun­dreds of the con­verted and the cu­ri­ous de­scended on the shop.

Rod Mar­i­ano stood, per­plexed, at the counter. “This is real cookie dough?” the El So­brante res­i­dent asked. “Grow­ing up they say don’t eat cookie dough. I’m to­tally confused.”

From the cash reg­is­ter, Gho­lami re­as­sured him. “It’s all good. We use an egg sub­sti­tute.”

At the other end of the spec­trum were Lakien Za­mar­ron, of Gilroy, who had heard that edi­ble bat­ter was trendy in New York City and couldn’t wait to try it out here, and Pi­nole res­i­dent Jes­sica Romero, who shunned the ice cream, say­ing she was “dou­bling down on cookie dough” in­stead.

As one who bakes wed­ding cakes for a hobby, Romero was savvy about what makes dough safe or not. “If they can guar­an­tee me no sal­mo­nella, I’m OK,” then pro­nounced the dou­ble scoop of cho­co­late chip “re­ally good.”

Over in Con­cord, the Lonardo fam­ily — mom Jill, son An­gelo and daugh­terin-law Ma­rina — is busy over­see­ing con­struc­tion of their shop, Out the Dough, sched­uled to open in late Septem­ber or early October on Clay­ton Road. They’ve all spent years in the food­ser­vice in­dus­try, and An­gelo is a pas­try chef, so the edi­ble dough niche was a nat­u­ral for them.

On Facebook, they are al­ready trum­pet­ing their in­au­gu­ral fla­vors, in­clud­ing Cho­co­holic’s Dream, a 100 per­cent ca­cao con­coc­tion stud­ded with semisweet and white cho­co­late chips, Su­per Se­cret Snick­er­doo­dle (and no, they’re not di­vulging the se­cret in­gre­di­ent just yet) and a pucker- your- face Le­mon Blue­berry. “We’re work­ing on ve­gan and gluten-free cookie dough this week,” An­gelo said.

They’re also think­ing out­side the waf­fle cone: They’ll be mak­ing cookie dough truf­fles and fill­ing can­noli shells with the edi­ble mix­tures. And they hope to branch out to farm­ers mar­kets, school fundrais­ers and cor­po­rate events.

While these East Bay dough­mak­ers are creating fam­ily-friendly scoops, Witherow is aim­ing her San Francisco en­ter­prise, DOUGHP ( pro­nounced dope), squarely at her fel­low mil­len­ni­als. That means fla­vor con­coc­tions such as “This S’More is Hella Lit,” with marsh­mal­low-in­fused dough, gra­ham crack­ers and cho­co­late chips, and “Red Rum,” which is red vel­vet cake and blonde cookie dough (“Get it?” she says. “Like from ‘ The Shin­ing.’ ”)

Part of DOUGHP’s ethos is giv­ing back to the com­mu­nity, Witherow says, so she part­ners with Berke­ley’s non­profit The Bread Project, which hires and trains low- in­come res­i­dents to make all of the dough. Her ver­sion sub­sti­tutes ground flaxseed for the eggs.

While the for­mer high­tech mar­keter pre­pares her pop-up company for its first per­ma­nent lo­ca­tion, at The Myr­iad on Mar­ket Street in San Francisco, she and the team are ex­per­i­ment­ing with a new fla­vor, Cayenne Le­mon­ade. Come fall, she ex­pects to bring back Gin­ger Snap, cre­ated by in­fus­ing the dough with gin­ger beer brewed by the Gin­ger Lab of Santa Clara.

And lest you think this is mainly a mil­len­nial craze, con­sider seller Deb­o­rah Castiblanco, who boasts a 40-year “ob­ses­sion” with cookie dough. “When I was in my teens, I would make a batch of cookie dough and sneak it up to my bed­room with three spoons to share with my two younger sis­ters,” she said. “We would eat the whole bowl.”

Now a grand­mother, she al­tered her fam­ily recipes to make them tummy ache-free for her grand­chil­dren — and soon af­ter, her on­line busi­ness was born. From her Florida kitchen, she ships her Dough­li­cious DO to cus­tomers na­tion­wide, in­clud­ing many in Cal­i­for­nia.

Hers is one of sev­eral home- based en­ter­prises ad­ver­tised on Etsy, along with raw treats from such com­pa­nies as Cookie Dough Ex­press, the Last Lick, South­ern Su­gar, Zero Guilt Sweets and Bat­ter Be Kid­ding. And cus­tomers can’t get enough of Castiblanco’s rain­bow-sprin­kled Con­fetti Cake Bat­ter and Spoon­ful of Heaven, which is packed with cho­co­late chips, caramel bits and Nutella.

But what if cookie dough is a flash in the pan, a trend like cup­cakes that crests then leaves just a hand­ful of busi­nesses be­hind?

Right now, that’s hard for these culi­nary en­trepreneurs to en­vi­sion as they grap­ple with this new­found de­mand. De­spite stock­ing up and mak­ing fresh batches of dough ev­ery few hours, the Pi­nole cou­ple ran out of ingredients af­ter just two days.

For many, Witherow says, the feel­ings of nos­tal­gia are over­whelm­ing when they sam­ple that first spoon­ful that takes them back to their child­hood.

“Peo­ple hug me! They say, ‘Oh my God, I can’t be­lieve this ex­ists.’ ”


Angel­yse Gray is handed her or­der as her daugh­ter Azra watches Wednesday at the Cookie Dough Par­lor in Pi­nole. The newly opened busi­ness serves ice cream and cookie dough, with a va­ri­ety of top­pings.

Cookie Dough Par­lor own­ers Pezh­man Pak­ne­shan, left, and his wife, Mahsa Gho­lami, hold­ing “CDP Cre­ations,” were at­tor­neys be­fore start­ing their busi­ness.


Mahsa Gho­lami serves cus­tomer Jeff Beringer, of Oak­land, at the Cookie Dough Par­lor.

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