What happens when a macaroon encounters a cookie? You get what Dana Pollack calls a “mookie,” a flavorful treat and her online bakery specialty. Ten years ago, Pollack started his own business, Dana’s bakery, and now his daily life is to experiment with desserts, so there’s more to where this “mookie” came from.
Pollack grew up in Franklin Lakes and now lives on Long Island with her two daughters and her husband; but his famous bakery on Instagram (which has 161,000 subscribers @danasbakery) operates out of New Jersey. At South Hackensack, hundreds of orders are prepared each week (tripling during the holidays) and shipped across the country.
Pollack is constantly reinventing classic recipes and expanding its repertoire of flavors. What’s more impressive is that each treat is both gluten-free and kosher.
“We needed some great gluten-free flour, and I just couldn’t find one,” Pollack says. “I had to develop my own flour blend, which we now sell online. “
She had no idea that she would end up being a full-time pastry chef. She had gone from photo editing to cooking school, and that’s when she fell in love with macaroons. With this, his cooking began.
“It was one of those times in my life where I was like, ‘If I don’t do this now, when will I get a chance?’ “, she says.
Now she produced a book, “100 decadent recipes for unique desserts”, so she can bring her delicious treats right to your kitchen.
How did you find your way to the pastry shop?
I was a photo editor at Bodybuilding and fitness magazine. It just wasn’t my passion and didn’t satisfy me. I sat down and thought about what was really exciting to me. I loved cooking, entertaining and the process of creativity playing with the ingredients to achieve different results. I found a culinary school in New York City, signed up and gave my review within a week. I decided to go there.
When did you start Dana’s Bakery?
Around the middle of my culinary school training, I started working on the concept. I fell in love with classic French macarons, which were becoming more and more popular in the United States. That was about 10 years ago. I couldn’t understand why no one made them with fun American flavors like red velvet, s’mores, birthday cake. I saw a gap in the market, and the concept of my bakery was born.
We were one of the first direct-to-consumer bakeries at the time. Since I had no investments and no partners, the easiest thing to do was to open online. I would deliver by hand to New York only. With social media and my photography background, I photographed food like a sexy still life, as opposed to the fuzzy and fuzzy stuff everyone saw on Instagram. I was able to tap into different markets of people who might like the flavor profile, even though I didn’t know what a macaroon was. Now everyone ships online, but ten years ago that wasn’t a thing.
Pretty cool that your photo background came into play.
It’s cool because I feel like I’m more creative in it than I’ve ever been in photography. I just released a cookbook so I was able to create, style and do all of this myself. I always tell people who are changing careers that you can use your previous skills.
How did you design the recipes for your new cookbook?
I’m always looking at something and figuring out how I can make it my own. At Dana’s Bakery, I like to say that we color outside the lines and put our own touch on everything we touch. We don’t have a regular vanilla macaroon. We don’t make an ordinary black and white cookie. It’s either s’mores or rainbow or it’s a fun flavor.
The cookbook is a great way for me to share many of my recipes that I would like to make but cannot, due to logistical issues. Additionally, there are a lot of people who live outside of our delivery area who love Dana’s Bakery, such as people in Indonesia and Canada; and on Instagram, they’ve always wanted us to send them. Now they can do whatever they want with the book. It was really fun for me.
Explain what “mookies” are.
The mookie is a macaroon baked inside a cookie. This is the most amazing and crazy dessert. When you open it you have a great cookie with a surprise inside. The macaroon really complements the cookie. For example, one of our mookies is a chocolate oatmeal raisin with a raspberry jam macaroon inside. It’s the perfect balance between tangy and sweet.
What’s new at Dana?
We have just revamped our subscription service. We have a macaron of the month subscription; you get a varied box of seasonal flavors. We just reorganized it; you get different exclusives and assortments, and it’s a mix of cookies and macaroons. For October, our flavor of the month is Blue Sour Patch Kids. Our mookie doesn’t have a macaroon in the middle, it’s a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup with goobers and Reese’s Pieces. It’s pretty crazy.
What are your favorite fall flavors?
Apple everything. One of my favorite recipes, and it’s in the cookbook, is the individual apple pie pockets. I find that when you cut an apple pie, the ratio of the crust to the filling is never correct. With these, it’s the perfect bite with every bite. It’s a good time for a good cheesecake too, and I have a recipe for red velvet cheesecake with an Oreo crust that is great for Thanksgiving. If you want to make something easy, especially for the kids, I have s’mores treats. They are a Rice Krispie treat with Golden Grahams and mini chocolate chips.
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