What's on Tap

What's on Tap

Chapel Hill-based cookies are among Oprah's favorite things

Posted November 1, 2021 1:41 p.m. EDT

Tonya's Cookies - Pecan Chocolate Crisp

— A Chapel Hill baker has landed on Oprah's famous "Favorite Things" List this year.

Tonya's Cookies Pecan Crisp Jar, which is filled with baker Tonya Council's gluten-free treats, caught the attention of the media mogul.

"You won’t even know that these are gluten-free! Baker Tonya Council wanted GF cookies that tasted like her grandmother’s pie. The result: a sweet treat that’s rich while somehow staying very light," Winfrey wrote of the cookies.

The jar of cookies is $43 and can be purchased on Tonya's Cookies' website.

Council is the granddaughter of the late "Mama Dip" Mildred Edna Cotton Council.

As a child, Council would sit with her grandmother and crack pecans that would be used in pies. There she learned the basics about baking.

Council worked more than 20 years at her grandmother's restaurant, Mama Dip's.

"I used to go into the kitchen in between waiting on tables and mix up stuff," Council said in an interview with WRAL in 2013.

She started out trying to make cookies that tasted just like her grandmother's famous pecan pie. After many attempts, she came up with a pecan crisp cookie - light and full of flavor.

In an hour, she sold four dozen cookies from the dessert case at Mama Dip's.

Council wanted to keep filling the case at the front of the restaurant, so she kept baking.

Thirteen years later, Council has grown her business and even opened a restaurant, Sweet Tea & Cornbread Grill and Eatery, inside the North Carolina Museum of History.

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