It’s one of life’s cruelest ironies: many of the best-tasting foods are also the most fattening. Desserts are perhaps most exemplary of this problem, as cookie maker and Willow’s Wonders founder Michelle Mazur-Grosskopf can attest.
“I wanted to change my diet,” she said. “But I still wanted to have cookies that tasted yummy.”
Mazur-Grosskopf eventually discovered that her daughter, Willow, for whom the company is named, had several friends who had food allergies. Mazur-Grosskopf decided to develop a cookie recipe that was gluten-free and free of several major allergens without sacrificing taste. Eventually, she got it just right.
“It was like, ‘oh my God, these really taste like real cookies,’” Mazur-Grosskopf said. “And they’re good for you.”
Mazur-Grosskopf’s “eureka” moment was fitting for the type of dessert that, to some, might sound too good to be true. The company’s cookies contain coconut but have no other tree nuts. They also have no wheat, soy, peanuts or eggs and are made with dairy-free chocolate. But despite having little in common with traditional cookies, Mazur-
“They ask all the time,” Mazur-Grosskopf said. “That’s the beauty of it. That’s what makes our cookies different from the others. Other cookie brands might only be free of one or two of these ingredients. And they’ll taste really hard, not soft and chewy, like ours.”
From the beginning, Mazur-Grosskopf has placed emphasis on using nutritious and high-quality ingredients, including organic flax seeds and gluten-free vanilla extract. However, when Willow’s Wonders started, its cookies were being made in a co-op kitchen in Amityville, something that Mazur-Grosskopf worked to rectify.
“When we talked to customers face to face, they said the cookies were great, but they aren’t made in a dedicated facility,” Mazur-Grosskopf said. “In a shared kitchen, you can never be completely sure that the food won’t get traces of other ingredients. So we realized we had to get to that next level.”
Willow’s Wonders now has a dedicated cookie facility in Williston Park. Its cookies are carried in several stores around New York City as well as stores in Garden City and Roslyn. Mazur-Grosskopf is hoping to expand further, though she is also wary of losing quality in her pursuit of quantity.
“Our goal is to go regional,” she said. “But we’re an artisan cookie, so we have to be careful to not become mass-produced. We don’t want to become the thing we’ve been trying not to be.”
The fact that some feel that tasty cookies and healthy cookies are mutually exclusive isn’t lost on Mazur-Grosskopf; she’s faced skepticism from customers before. But in the food business, the proof is often in the pudding, or in this case, the cookie, and Mazur-Grosskopf is confident that her treats deliver the goods.
“To any skeptic, I say taste the cookie,” she said. “I love seeing the look on people’s faces when they try it. There are healthy treats out there. This is an all-around good cookie.”
Find out more about Willow’s Wonders, including locations to buy them at www.willowswonderscookies.com.