Jewish-owned bakery showing 'sweet' support to Houston's Muslim community for Ramadan

Ramadan Cookies (Photo courtesy of Nirmi Bhakta) 

As Ramadan celebrations kick off around the world, a Jewish-owned bakery in southwest Houston is offering sweet support to the city's Muslim community during the holy month. 

During Ramadan, which began Friday evening, Muslims around the world abstain from food and drink (yes, even water) from sunrise to sunset for 30 days. 

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And when it's time for Houston's Muslim residents to break their fast, Sara Brook founder of Dessert Gallery Bakery & Café is hoping they'll get to do so with one of her delicious Ramadan butter cookies she's offering. 

Each cookie is hand-decorated and made with "butter, sugar, chocolate, and love," Brook said in an interview.

Ramadan Cookies (Photo courtesy of Nirmi Bhakta) 

The shop is located on Kirby near Southwest Freeway, where Brook, a fifth-generation Houstonian says it has remained since 1995 

"[The location] just feels really familiar to me," she explained. "And it's kind of in the middle of everything and easily accessible from lots of different parts of town." 

While there's no "special secret" to making her cookies, one thing is that their desserts have been made by the same people they've worked with from the beginning. 

"We've had the same people making our desserts," Brook said. "In fact, one person has been here since we opened 28 years ago…and there's quite a few people that have been here 20 and 25 years so when I say that 'there's love in those cookies,' I mean, really, and truly, there's love in those cookies." 

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That love has been shown indeed to Brook's Muslim customers with her Ramadan cookies for about four years now. 

"Not only do we hand-decorate the cookies, but we go back through, and we brush it with gold to make it really royal and elegant in keeping with the demeanor of the holiday," she added. "They're so beautiful."

The inspiration came from her involvement with a group called The Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom.

"I have so many Muslim friends, and we are known for these hand-decorated beautiful cookies, and it was getting close to Ramadan, and we were celebrating that and Passover, so I thought it would be really cool to make some [cookies] for my friends, and they loved them!" Brook exclaimed.

It wasn't long before Brook put the cookies up for sale in her bakery, where they became very popular! 

"People were so excited; it turns out, we have a big Muslim following," Brook said. "And, you know, the funny thing about cookies is people love to be able to see themselves in the cookies, and it's always kind of tickled me that people can relate so much to a cookie. And so it meant a lot to my Muslim friends and our Muslim customers to be able to see something really special that was created for them for their special time of the year." 

The inclusive intention behind these cookies is not just focused on religious holidays, however, but on all significant events.

"My hope that that is who dessert gallery is in the community because it's meant to be," Brook said. "I started out as a single mom, and [the shop] was literally my home away from home, I think of my guests as my family, I think of my employees as my family." 


"It's interesting, we just did cookies for Black History Month," she continued. "And I love something that one of my employees said (he's African American) and he really appreciated seeing himself represented in our cookies, and I love that it meant so much to him and I love it when we're able to show our support for something through our space, whether it's for Pride Month, for Black History Month or Elections."

In addition to Ramadan cookies this April, Brook says Dessert Gallery is also offering Easter and Passover cookies. 

"We're doing more hand-decorated butter cookies, but these cookies are, of course, bunny rabbits and Easter eggs and beautiful spring flowers," she said. 

Easter Cookies (Photo courtesy of Nirma Bhakta) 

For Passover, which Brook says is the shop's busiest time of year, they're also doing something a little differently. 

"And this year, for the very first time, we are doing flourless, hand-decorated cookies for Passover," she said. "We actually have a huge line of Passover cookies and cakes, because Passover is historically our biggest cake day of the year." 

Passover Flourless Chocolate Chip Cookies (Photo courtesy of Veronika Hernandez) 

In making these special cookies for Passover, Brook is also able to give back to Houston's Jewish community, where she says she got her start.

"We have probably 10 different flourless cakes, and then probably another 10 different flourless cookies," she continued. "And again, people love to see themselves represented in this space and I love it that I can connect with the Jewish community in that way - I mean, that's where I got my start - with the Jewish community and all my mom's friends, and now we reach beyond my mom's address." 

To learn more about Dessert Gallery Café & Bakery, visit their website.