Jennifer Brown came up with the concept of plant-based cookie dough, but her 5-year-old daughter Leah gets credit for the sprinkles.
In the midst of working on the cookie dough mixture, Brown turned her back for a minute. That's when Leah poured in an entire bottle of sprinkles.
After stirring in the unexpected addition, turns out Leah was right. The cookies needed sprinkles — lots of them.
Now they're the signature ingredient in the Clouds & Confetti cookie dough produced by the family's company, Mix Makery.
Like the dough, the sprinkles are made of vegan ingredients, as are the mix's chocolate chips and marshmallows.
Why vegan cookies?
Brown and husband Chess transitioned to a vegan diet in 2019 after he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.
But even vegans like sweet treats.
"I love to bake, and I started baking cakes about four years ago," Jennifer Brown said. "I just taught myself, and I took a class online. We started our vegan diet about two years ago, so I had to change the way I baked. When I went to the grocery store, I never found the type of cookie I was looking for."
So, she started experimenting, substituting flaxseeds for eggs and buying raw organic cane sugar and vegetable-based butter from specialty stores.
"It was a lot of trial and error," said Jennifer Brown, including the sprinkles incident.
"They tasted so good," she said. "After making these every night, I said, 'You know what, maybe I should stock these, because I'm sure there are other people who have a plant-based diet who want to enjoy regular-tasting cookies. And so that's how it started."
The Browns perfected their recipe in 2020 at the LSU AgCenter's food incubator, Foodii.
"We come to the food incubator once every two weeks and make a batch," Chess Brown said. "One batch makes 85 jars."
The cookies were a hit when the couple brought them to the Red Stick Farmers Market in July. They sold out within the first hour.
"We set out samples of baked cookies for people to try," Chess Brown said. "Once they were able to get a taste of the cookies, they bought it out."
"That was during COVID," he added. "That time gave us a chance to come in here (the Foodii lab) and tweak our recipe and get it to where we wanted it. We also wanted a little business of our own. So many people were losing jobs during COVID, so we thought that if we could create our own business, we couldn't fire ourselves. This was a way we could try to support our family."
Both Browns are pharmacists. She works at Baton Rouge General Regional Medical Center, and he works at Walmart. They juggle their jobs, along with Leah and her sister Nova and brother Caleb, and now Mix Makery.
Robin Marshall seriously thought about not rebuilding when the Magnolia Cafe burned in 2003.
In addition to the farmers market, the cookie dough can be purchased at mixmakery.com.
"We'd like to market it to other places in the future," she said. "We'd love to get it into local grocery stores."
The Browns also can bring their cookie dough to special events.
"Whenever we meet people at the market, we engage with them," Chess Brown said. "We try to sell customer service, try to get everybody's name. If I can try to remember and address them by name and say, 'Hey, tell me about yourself.' The customer experience is as important as the cookie dough."
Jeremy Langlois has been working in the kitchen since high school, when he started off washing dishes for chef John Folse.
Currently, the cookie dough comes in only Clouds & Confetti flavor, but the Browns are hoping to offer more products as their business expands.
For now, they are the only workers on their production line, so the one cookie dough flavor is enough.
"As it grows, we may have to scale down the hours of our other jobs to work more on the cookie dough," Chess Brown said. "And it's definitely growing. The word is being spread. I love helping the community as a pharmacist, but this is my passion, something where I just want to wake up and I can't wait to start working on it."