Dawn Casale and David Crofton are the owners of One Girl Cookies (68 Dean Street, 212-675-4996), the Brooklyn-based shop that sells, naturally, all sorts of cookies and other baked goods. They are also the authors of One Girl Cookies: Recipes for Cakes, Cupcakes, Whoopie Pies, and Cookies From Brooklyn’s Beloved Bakery, which hits shelves on January 10. We called them up to learn more about their new book and to discover what is the most underappreciated in the cookie canon.
In your book, you talk about how you guys met and ultimately fell in love. At what point did you know that you wanted to be more than just co-chefs?
Dave: We hit it off as friends immediately. We lived right down the street from each other and worked together all day, and then I’d take classes, and then we’d hang out at night, getting dinner or hanging out at Dawn’s apartment. Instantly, we were friends and there was an attraction, but we were working together so Dawn set me up with her best friend. [Dawn and I] definitely flirted, saying “Oh, your apron strings are untied,” but it took a while. We started the conversation about being business partners before becoming romantically involved. Both of those happened at roughly the same time, and I remember thinking if we date or go into business together this is going to be a relationship that will change my life. It was a big decision, but obviously we did it.
Dawn: And going back to how we met, I was looking for a baker and needed some help. I needed someone trained because I wasn’t formally trained, so I put the word out to friends and family and a friend introduced us.
So did you woo each other with cookies?
Dawn: Dave was going to pastry school at the time and would be making sweets in his class and he’d bring them home to me. So yeah, he kinda did.
And what attracted you both to pastry arts?
Dawn: For me, it wasn’t really pastry specifically. I really enjoyed food and preparing it and sharing it, and that led me to a decision to do something in culinary world. Food played part of my daily life and how I got to sweets was more of a business decision. I thought about different things and I considered something more in the line of catering, but I felt there was a void [in cookies]. I recalled seeing people getting boxes of chocolates and seeing how special that was. I wanted to offer the same experience but with cookies.
Dave: I had been a bread baker for a few years. I started out a cookie scooper and dough kneader and became head bread baker in Virginia and then moved to New York. I took some time off and got some office jobs and was enjoying that, but when it came time to get started with my education in the food world, I realized that it was the sweet things that I’m more passionate about.
How would you guys describe the culinary outlook of One Girl Cookies?
Dawn: I think that in terms of what we offer, we want our products to be fresh and made using old-world techniques. It is a European style but still approachable. Our cookies are small and not overly gooey or sweet, and we don’t have buttercream-laden cakes. Really it’s about enjoying a small bite of something.
Dave: It’s a lot about passion. We want the cookies to be delicious. We really think about the flavors and the ingredients. Even butter, which is the backbone of what we do. I went to five purveyors to find the right one.
Are there any types of cookies or ingredients you’ll never serve?
Dawn: We always said we’d never make a chocolate chip, but we do now.
Dave: When we opened the shop, we weren’t making a chocolate chip. You can get it in a lot of places and the cookies we do are different. They’re not strange, but we’re presenting them in a different way. Chocolate chip had been done, but people were asking for it, and whether you’re six or 60 that flavor is comforting. So we came up with one that’s a little bit different, and we love it. But it was a funny thing since we said we’d never do that.
What are some tricks or tips about cookie making that you’ve learned along the way?
Dave: As a quick tip, I think that whether you’re making cupcakes or whoopie pies, make the dough a day ahead and then give it a day to relax. You’re baking it fresh and selling it the day you bake it, but giving the dough time to settle in makes a huge difference in everything we do. We also take a little extra time to make sure cookies are presented beautifully. If there was just one cookie that encapsulates One Girl Cookies, what would it be?
Dawn: Lucia, the shortbread-caramel-chocolate square. Besides the chocolate chip, it’s the most popular cookie we do. It’s really pretty, and it’s something that takes a lot of time to make, but we do it anyway because that’s what we’re about, and it’s the perfect decadent bite. When you eat one, you feel like you ate something made with care and fine ingredients and worth every calorie
Dave: Sadie is really my kind of cookie. It’s an orange shortbread with an unsweetened coconut topping. It’s awesome. It’s familiar flavors but in a new way. It’s a sleeper. You think, “Oh, that’s good,” but as you’re eating it, it gets better and better.
Would you say there’s an underappreciated cake or cookie that should be revived?
Dawn: One that’s a sleeper that we actually do is a coconut macaroon. Ours has toasted almonds and sweetened condensed milk. People say, “I don’t like coconut” or “I don’t like macaroons” because they’re used to ones out of a can. But really, it’s a delicious little bite made from four ingredients.
Check back in tomorrow, when Dawn and David discuss their plans for their new outpost.