What happens when a macaron meets a cookie? You get what Dana Pollack calls a “mookie,” a treat full of flavors, and her online bakery’s specialty. Ten years ago, Pollack started her own operation, Dana’s Bakery, and now her daily life entails experimenting with desserts, so there’s more where that “mookie” came from.
Pollack grew up in Franklin Lakes, and now lives on Long Island with her two daughters and husband; but her Instagram-famous bakery (which has 161,000 followers @danasbakery) operates out of New Jersey. In South Hackensack, hundreds of orders are prepared every week (tripling during holidays) and shipped across the nation.
Pollack is constantly reinventing classic recipes and expanding her repertoire of flavors. What’s more impressive is that every treat is both gluten-free and kosher.
“We needed a 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 didn’t know she’d end up a full-time baker. She’d jumped from photo editing to culinary school, and there she fell in love with macarons. With that, her baking began.
“It was one of those times in my life where I thought, ‘If I don’t do this now, when am I going to have the chance?’” she says.
Now she has produced a book, “100 Decadent Recipes for Unique Desserts,” so she can bring her delicious treats directly into your kitchen.
How did you find your way to baking?
I was a photo editor at Muscle & Fitness magazine. It just wasn’t my passion and wasn’t fulfilling me. I sat down and thought about what I was really passionate about. I loved baking, entertaining and the process of creativity in playing with ingredients to get different results. I found a culinary school in New York City, enrolled, and gave my notice within a week. I decided to just go for it.
When did you start Dana’s Bakery?
Around the middle to end of my training in culinary school, I started to work on the concept. I fell in love with classic French macarons, which were becoming more popular in the States. This was about 10 years ago. I didn’t understand why no one was making them in 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 of the time. Because I had no investment and no partners, the easiest thing to do was open online. I would hand deliver to New York City only. With social media and my photography background, I would photograph the food like a sexy still life as opposed to the soft out of focus stuff everyone was seeing on Instagram. I was able to tap into different markets of people who might love the flavor profile, even though I didn’t know what a macaron was. Now, everyone ships online, but ten years ago, that was not a thing.
Pretty cool that your photo background came into play.
It’s cool because I feel like I’m more creative in this field than I ever was in the photo field. I just came out with a cookbook, so I was able to actually make and style and do all of that myself. I always tell people who are career changers that you can use your previous skill set.
How did you conceive the recipes in 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 twist on anything we touch. We don’t have a regular vanilla macaron. We don’t make a regular 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’d love to make but can’t, due to logistical challenges. Plus, there’s a lot of people who live outside our delivery zone who love Dana’s Bakery, like people in Indonesia and Canada; and on Instagram they always wished we shipped to them. Now they can make whatever they want from the book. That’s been really fun for me.
Explain what “mookies” are.
The mookie is a macaron baked inside a cookie. It’s the most amazing, insane dessert. When you open it, you have a great cookie with a surprise inside. The macaron really complements the cookie. For example, one of our mookies is oatmeal chocolate raisin with a raspberry jam macaron inside. It’s the perfect balance of tart and sweet.
What’s new at Dana’s?
We just revamped our subscription service. We have a macaron-of-the-month subscription; you get a variety box of seasonal flavors. We just revamped it; you get exclusives and different assortments, and it’s a mix of cookies and macarons. For October, our flavor of the month is Blue Sour Patch Kids. Our mookie doesn’t have a macaron in the middle, it’s a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup with goobers and Reese’s Pieces. It’s pretty insane.
What are some of your favorite fall flavors?
Apple everything. One of my favorite recipes, and it’s in the cookbook, are individual apple pie pockets. I find that when you cut into an apple pie the ratio of crust to filling is never right. With these, it’s the perfect bite every bite. It’s also a great time for good cheesecake, and I have a red velvet cheesecake recipe with Oreo crust that’s great for Thanksgiving. If you want to do something easy, especially for kids, I have little s’mores treats. They’re a Rice Krispie treat with Golden Grahams and mini chocolate chips.