Think back to your greatest childhood memory. Mom making chocolate chip cookies, the kitchen cozy and fragrant. She hands you the beaters, you stand and lick them clean. Ignore the part where somebody admonishes you both about the risks of eating raw egg.
Fast forward to college when cookie dough ice cream became your solace by the pint. No judgment, just a gold mine of cookie clods.
Cookie dough is back. In New York City's Greenwich Village, there are lines down the block at Do, shades of Dominique Ansel's cronuts. Online, there are the Cookie Dough Cafe, Edoughble and Unbaked: A Cookie Dough Bar.
And now the dough craze has rolled into Tampa Bay.
The Happy Dough holds its grand opening on Aug. 5 at the Tampa Premium Outlets, 2300 Grand Cypress Drive, Lutz. Owners Cary and Trey Sanchez say the dough is completely safe to eat raw, but you can take it home and bake it if you're a sissy. You can even mix it into another dessert if you're feeling artistic (look where it got Ben & Jerry).
Set up like a scoop shop, Happy Dough offers three sizes of dough ($4, $7 and $12) in flavors like all-American chocolate chip, the Cowboy (oatmeal cookie, walnuts, chocolate chips and coconut) and the Unicorn ("sugar cookie and magic," which evidently is very purple).
This newcomer will soon be joined by a new Metropolitan Ministries enterprise called Dough Nation (Get it? All proceeds from your purchases go directly to feed the hungry in Tampa Bay). This is the brainchild of Cliff Barsi, who is also the mastermind behind Inside the Box Cafe, which recently announced it would open another location in the lobby of the Tampa Bay Times building in Tampa.
The Dough Nation concept will debut in September in downtown Tampa, and will be set up like a scoop shop with flavors including dark chocolate, s'mores and even a vegan option (coconut macaroon). Dough Nation will serve as a training platform for the students of the Metropolitan Ministries culinary program transitioning out of homelessness.
What's the deal with all the dough? It's nostalgia, clearly, a guilty pleasure from our childhoods. But you can also blame social media and millennials: They like novelty, the next big thing. They have tired of Thai rolled ice cream and mini doughnuts. And what's more Instagrammable than hand-scooped cookie dough topped with a range of candies and treats, especially if it contains a little unicorn magic?
COMING SOON: Bento Asian Kitchen in St. Pete, new Flamestone