They’re oversized. They’re bursting with fillings. They’re made from a secret recipe and only offered two days a week. They’re Donna’s Gourmet Cookies’ latest delectable addition: “Ooey Gooeys.”
After Head Baker Sara Menendez went on a three-day bakery crawl in New York, where she tried treats from over 10 different bakeries, she was inspired by the overstuffed cookie trend that was blowing up Levain Bakery’s Instagram.
“They’ve got thousands of followers on their Instagram, so I had to see what it was all about,” she says.
Sara, who is Founder Donna Phelps’ daughter, has been professionally baking for six years (and learning and practicing alongside her mother her whole life).
This bakery crawl was the first time she had looked outside of Cincinnati for inspiration and also the first time she’d brought a new idea back to Donna’s.
“People are making cookies like this all over the country,” she says, “but no one was doing it in Cincinnati.”
The trick to these mouth-watering, foldable, gooey cookies is their massive size, mix-ins, and the temperature they’re baked at, which Sara wouldn’t disclose as part of her secret recipe.
Sara has been able to get creative with her trial-and-error process in launching new fillings for the oversized cookies. Some recipes, like a bacon and chocolate filling and a Candy Corn cookie, haven’t worked out. But others, like the hodgepodge “Monster” cookie, filled with oats, chocolate, peanut butter, M&M’s, raisins, pretzels and coconut, have taken off.
“The Monster cookie is like the underdog,” she says. “A lot of people didn’t want it because of the raisins and coconut, but I pushed it that first day and people came back and were like, ‘Holy crap, that was delicious.’”
The Ooey Gooeys even come in a peanut butter and jelly flavor, where the popular combo is sandwiched between chocolate chips. Sara says the same cookie wasn’t a hit when they first tried it five years ago, but today, when unique flavors are trendy and with the new overstuffed style, it’s a best seller.
The staff mixes the dough Thursday and freezes the cookies overnight to prepare them to be baked Friday and Saturday. The team makes multiple batches throughout the day so they won’t run out.
Why the limited weekend release? “Keeping it to Friday and Saturday makes them more special,” Sara says.
So far, Donna’s has served up Ooey Gooeys in Double Chocolate, Animal Cracker, PB & J, Oreo, Monster, Salted Caramel Pretzel and, of course, Chocolate Chip. Halloween brought Ooey Gooeys with Butterfinger and Reese’s fillings and for the upcoming winter months, Sara is looking to introduce chocolate and peppermint.
Check out Donna’s Gourmet Cookies’ Instagram to see which favors are being served up this weekend.
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