Raw cookie dough trend arrives in the Triad

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Press releases generally go automatically into the trash folder in my work email. But a subject line that begins with “Edible cookie dough” coming from one of the owners of Tart Sweets is certain to grab my attention. I immediately forwarded it to my girlfriend Kacie, who might’ve been even more excited by the news than I was.

Tart Sweets is almost criminally underrated, though plenty of people frequent the dessertery inside a stately former home just west of downtown Winston-Salem on Fifth Street. Blame it on the location or the business’ relative newness, or maybe my over-enthusiasm for the Tart family’s products. A story I wrote more than a year ago about Tart Sweets’ in-house ice cream cookie sandwiches remains one of the most popular food stories I’ve ever written, so it isn’t like nobody knows about the place.

But when you think about dessert in Winston-Salem, you probably think of Dewey’s first, a well-deserved accolade for the bakery. I think of Tart Sweets, and now I think of its raw cookie dough.

Starting last month, Tart Sweets set up an edible cookie dough bar in the front room of the house, operating the raw bar on Fridays and Saturdays with several core flavors and a variety of toppings and sprinkled cones. Kacie and I showed up as soon as we could, sampling several of the varieties and agreeing with our server that the cake batter may be the best of the bunch.

Yet the other menu options drew me in. You can order cookie dough sandwiched between two of Tart Sweets soft, impeccable cookies, or a “doughwich” — two thick, square slabs of cookie dough with ice cream in the middle, stored in a freezer behind the counter. Sold.

Kacie opted for a couple scoops of cake batter with added chocolate chips atop a sprinkled cone, thoroughly enjoying it on the venue’s private and serene back patio. But it took regular reminders that this wasn’t ice cream and won’t melt, with the temperature throwing her off more. Delicious, yes, we agreed — but it might take some getting used to.

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My doughwich, on the other hand, began melting slightly after a little while in my hand, the dough and ice cream a perfect marriage of texture, temperature and flavor. It’s a bigger helping, maybe worth sharing, and won’t transport as well as the straight-up dough choices. But it’s easily my first choice.

Fears about raw cookie dough have never stopped me from eating it, but Tart Sweets uses heat-treated flour and pasteurized eggs, making it more certifiably safe for consumption, according to the shop’s press release. If you follow any food bloggers or bigger-name Instagrammers, you’re likely aware that this trend has hit some of the country’s bigger markets recently, but the “dolci dough” — as the family is calling it — is the first of its kind around here.

Unlike other food trends that seem to hit the Triad long after they’ve popped elsewhere — think cupcakes, ramen, food trucks — the raw cookie dough bar at Tart Sweets is actually right on time.

Whether you’re more of a Plain Jane — a flavor made up of vanilla bean and sugar — or a Monster — a peanut butter-based choice with M&Ms and more — I’m confident you’ll find something you like among the half dozen flavors and toppings.

For now, the dough is sort of like a pop-up within the restaurant, only operating for a few hours two days a week, but the Tarts plan to expand availability based on demand.

If you have any sense or even the mildest sweet tooth, you’ll be knocking down the doors for a taste of that chocolate-chip cookie dough ice cream sandwich.

Visit the raw cookie dough bar at Tart Sweets at 848 W. Fifth St. (W-S) on Fridays from 1 to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Find Tart Sweets on Facebook or Instagram for more info, or see tartsweets.com.