Cookies (or what the Brits call ‘biscuits’) is food that conquered every aspect of culinary innovation, as this article from The New Yorker reads, “from homemade to mass-produced, from the kitchen counter to factory floor, from fresh to franchised.” In this culinary world of cookies, the spotlight easily belongs to the famous chocolate chip cookie; a butter dough, crisp on the edges with a delicately chewy body containing gooey morsels of chocolate. It’s a delight that is globally acknowledged, including in the local scene in Jakarta where it’s ripe with home-bakers and food manufacturer producing their own rendition of the chocolate chip cookie for every taste and preference.
In Jakarta, Dough Lab is a homegrown cookie store founded in 2018 with an unimaginable success selling handcrafted cookies and opened the door to Jakartan’s love for the bite-sized sweet with the first cookie, The OG: “She’s so special to us, I mean all of our cookies are, but she’s our first child that drew everybody to our small stand in Brightspot Market (in 2018),” said Hana Makarim, owner and founder of Dough Lab on the chocolate chip cookie that started it all and sold out in hundreds upon its debut.
Dough Lab isn’t a pioneer in the field. What they did was create and ace a version that covers all the bases of an extraordinarily simple choco-chip that hits every aspect of the cookie: sweet with a balance, bite-sized, good chew and easily addictive whilst being enough. “To me, the great thing about our chocolate chip is that you can feel just as amazing with one cookie as you will be with five or ten more,” the-mother-of-two cheekily explained. “The feeling of the right cookie is indescribable, you just know it after that first bite.”
Indeed, the perfect chocolate chip cookie is a contested affair everywhere because it exists in many perfectly imperfect versions, which means, the x-factor of a chocolate chip cookie is emotional and personal. It’s a baked good that ties to the sense of home and familiarity for those who grew up snacking on homemade or store-bought.
“Getting that ‘just right’ reaction wasn’t easy. When developing every recipe, we searched for what I call a ‘bliss point’, it’s a point where everything [about the cookie] is right not just in taste and texture, but also in terms of how it makes me feel, the reaction that tells me that ‘this is it.’”
To Hana, it’s what their cookies represent that also matter. “There’s a certain level of care and love in handling them,” and that labour translates to a success that made Jakartans see the value of gifting a box of Dough Lab cookies as a gesture of love. Ever since they’ve entered the local market, Dough Lab has three standalone stores and a few more locations as tenants and online pick-up points, amounting to countless of cookie batches being baked on the spot and sold daily, with The OG as one of the best-selling ones among the dozens of cookie varieties Dough Lab created.
“We’ve seen it people ordering for gift hampers, birthdays, even for self-care—we receive so much love.” Such success is manifested through emerging home and local businesses that pour their labour into creating their own version of the perfect chocolate chip. Yet, defining success was never a preoccupation with Dough Lab. Rather it’s the ability to remain consistent, batch after batch with every OG and “her sisters” for the customers that fell (and about to fall) in love with the cookie house, which ultimately drives Hana to want to be “involved in every aspect of Dough Lab to the day, which includes getting my elbow grease on at the central kitchen to make dough with my team,” she concluded.