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