Yocheved Perlman and Shelley Perlman
Yocheved Perlman and Shelley Perlman

Family duo create kosher treats for the holidays.

What started out as a desire to create the perfect Passover cookie that didn’t taste like cardboard has taken off into “Cookies and More by Shelley and Yocheved,” a modest home-based Oak Park business that Shelley Perlman and her granddaughter Yocheved Perlman started two years ago.

Now that Yocheved has completed her coursework in pastry arts, the duo hope to take their business to the next level and open a storefront kosher bakery reminiscent of the old-fashioned kosher bakeries Shelley used to frequent in Detroit.

“When I was growing up, my mother felt that the best-quality breads and cookies could only be found in the old-fashioned bakeries like Zeman’s,” said Shelley of West Bloomfield. “From the quality of the cookies and cakes to the way they are packaged, Yocheved and I strive to make sure everything we bake is pleasing to the eye and the taste buds.”

Yocheved Perlman and Shelley Perlman of Cookies and More
Yocheved Perlman and Shelley Perlman

The Perlmans bake together in Yocheved’s kitchen about 10 hours per week on Thursday afternoons and Sundays. Though their products are not under rabbinical supervision, their Orthodox clientele have a strong sense of trust in their kashrut observances. Most cookies are pareve and, at special times of the year, such as Shavuot, cookies are prepared and baked on dairy equipment and ovens.

Two years ago, Shelley began a quest to create Passover baked goods delectable enough to eat year-round. She experimented with flourless cakes, brownies and Parisian-inspired macaroons and sold the best batches to friends and neighbors. With her granddaughter’s help, word got out and they cultivated a following.

A favorite cookie to bake is a crème-filled sandwich concoction. They contain a pareve filling — sometimes lemon, sometimes chocolate or even raspberry. The ends may be dipped in chocolate and then are finished off with colored sprinkles reminiscent of the kind one can buy by the pound in traditional bakeries.

The Perlmans bake favorites such as mandelbread, challot, babkas and cookies.
The Perlmans bake favorites such as mandelbread, challot, babkas and cookies.

This Rosh Hashanah, Cookies and More will offer apple honey challot — a favorite family recipe — along with babkas, honey cakes with poached pears, cranberry apple, caramel apple and pumpkin pies, and lots of cookies.

Yocheved, 26, completed the culinary baking and pastry arts program at Schoolcraft College. She often culls recipes from ones used for generations. Other times, the two peruse Shelley’s “wall-to-wall” cookbook collection for inspiration.

Most batches are a success. A few have been failures. But, as they say in the business, that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

“Our most epic fail was this Mexican hot chocolate cookie,” Yocheved admits. “It had all these fantastic ingredients like cinnamon, chili and nuts, but no matter what we did to the recipe, they came out like cardboard. We dumped those out pretty quick.”

Through trial and error, their business has grown. Last year, Shelley said all that sugar and flour turned a modest profit of $6,000.

Now that Yocheved is certified as a pastry chef, she hopes to one day create specialty confections such as wedding and occasion cakes, just as she did for her final exam at school. Next, she wants to enroll in some business classes at community college.

“We are grateful that our business has spread mainly by word of mouth,” Yocheved said. “It has long been my dream to become a professional pastry chef, and with my bubbie and business partner, it is coming true.”

For ordering information, look up Cookies and More on Facebook or call (248) 847-3273.

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Stacy Gittleman is an award-winning journalist and has been a contributing writer for the Detroit Jewish News for the last five years. Prior to moving to Metro Detroit in 2013, she was a columnist and feature writer for Gannett's Democrat & Chronicle in Rochester, NY. She also manages social media pages for other local non-profit organizations including the Interfaith Leadership Council of Metropolitan Detroit. Contact her with breaking news and feature story ideas that impact Detroit's Jewish community at stacy.gittleman@yahoo.com