Craving cookies but too lazy to make your own (and want something a little more grown-up than the squeeze tubes at the deli)? It’s Sweet Dough, an artisanal cookie dough handmade in Brooklyn, to the rescue. Thanks to founder Drew Kohl, the smell of freshly baked dark chocolate chip with sea salt cookies will fill your home in no time.
A Los Angeles transplant, Kohl started Sweet Dough with her baker mom the summer before her junior year of college. The mother-daughter duo peddled their dough at local L.A. farmers’ markets before Kohl was due back at New York University, where, with the goal of launching Sweet Dough as a real company after graduation, she took business and environmental studies courses (all of her dough is made with locally sourced ingredients and packaged in recycled and recyclable materials).
What Should We Do?! chatted with Kohl about how she got into baking, Sweet Dough’s specialty flavors, and her favorite places to indulge in New York City.
What Should We Do?!: What was the first thing you baked that you were really proud of?
Drew Kohl: Ooh, it was a long time ago. My mom is a pastry chef, so I learned how to bake from her. I remember when I was 7 or so, we had this giant bread machine on the counter that my parents got as a wedding gift. I would get on the counter and stare at the bread moving around in the machine. I‘m pretty sure it was bread, even though I don’t really make bread anymore.
WSWD: Where did the inspiration for Sweet Dough come from?
Kohl: My mom is famous in our neighborhood [in L.A.] for her cookies. One of the restaurants she used to create desserts for featured Michelle’s Cookie Plate [at Mistral in Sherman Oaks]; she was always the cookie lady. It was my dad, though, who approached me one day and said, “You and your mom should start a cookie dough company.” I was like, Huh, that‘s a really good idea. And that was that.
WSWD: Do you remember the first recipe you came up with that wasn’t your mom’s?
Kohl: I was super excited about it. It was a pumpkin cookie for fall that had homemade candied ginger in it. The cookie was perfectly chewy; it wasn’t cakey like pumpkin cookies usually are. I may bring it back for Thanksgiving time.
WSWD: Do you have any upcoming specialty flavors that we should keep an eye out for?
Kohl: Yes! This month, the special one is sweet corn, and I debuted it this past weekend. Also, S’mores. August is my mom’s birthday month, so I’m going to make her favorite cookies, which are peanut butter and jelly, and cornflake marshmallow.
WSWD: What‘s it like running a small business in New York City?
Kohl: Whenever I meet people and tell them I have a cookie dough company, the response is, “Oh, my God, what?!” It’s funny because I think people think I have my stuff together more than I actually do. They’re like, “You‘re just out of college and running a business!” I’m like, Well, I‘m faking it till I make it. It’s been a great learning experience. I feel like before I launched, I was trying to get everything ready, but then I realized that I was never going to start the business if I waited until everything was perfect.
WSWD: How do you incorporate sustainability into your business?
Kohl: I try to use as many locally produced ingredients as I can. For example I use Cacao Prieto chocolate which is made in Red Hook, Brooklyn. And then when I can get something locally I at least want that product to be organic. So I’m putting the best ingredients I can find in the dough. My packaging is also a kraft recycled paper tube and can be reused as well. I also drive a smart car for all my deliveries.
WSWD: Do you have any advice for someone who is trying to start a business?
Kohl: I would definitely say make it as perfect as you can without overwhelming yourself about all the little details. Even now I’m realizing that you keep learning and things are going to change. If something changes, it’s not like you failed; you’re just learning. It’s fun to evolve with your business.
WSWD: What’s next for Sweet Dough?
Kohl: I‘m hopefully going to be working with a distributor soon, so that’s exciting. I want to get into more stores around the city, and I’d love to partner with an ice cream company. Right now, my customers can buy the dough online or sign up for a cookie dough membership for two new dough batches every month!
WSWD: If WSWD could plan a perfect day for you, what would you want to do?
Kohl: I would definitely try new restaurants. I have a huge list; I really would want to try Le Coucou and All Hands. I’m obsessed with sushi, too, so I’d probably eat that at some point during the day [Maybe Sugarfish, which is from LA; it’s always a treat to eat there]. Then I’d probably get ice cream afterwards. I haven’t tried Morgenstern’s yet and really want to. Honestly, my perfect day revolves around food.
Drew Kohl’s Faves…in a NY Minute
Ample Hills. The Ooey Gooey Butter Cake is amazing.
Vanderbilt Avenue in Brooklyn. Ample Hills is there, plus a bunch of great restaurants.
I’m so Brooklyn right now. I really like the Crown Inn.
Slice of pizza?
Place to take out-of-town guests?
Wildair. It has a really good wine menu.
BYKlyn, a spin studio on Flatbush Avenue.
Place to go dancing?
Bembe in Williamsburg.
Place to relax?
Definitely baking and Netflix bingeing.
Feel like having a food-filled day like Drew’s? We can book you a table at Le Coucou or reserve you a few scoops of Coconut Ash from Morgenstern’s.