CHICAGO – When Pastry Chef Rebecca Haynes walked by her boss’s office one morning about a year ago, instead of exchanging “good mornings,” he said two words: “stuffed cookies.” After fueling up on coffee, Ms. Haynes sat down with Keith Schroeder, co-founder, chief executive officer and chef of High Road Craft Ice Cream, Marietta, Ga., to brainstorm the concept.

“I’m wondering, what is he thinking? We make ice cream,” Ms. Haynes said during a virtual tasting on Oct. 21 with retailer buyers and the media. “So, we sat down in his office and we came up with a plan to make a brownie-stuffed chocolate chip cookie, because how bad could that be? It was born out of trying to use the same machine that makes our Wallops.”

Wallops had recently been introduced to the marketplace. They are hand-held bon bon-style frozen novelties with an ice cream center covered in cookie dough. The entire treat is covered in dark chocolate.

Ms. Haynes and her operations team created a process that injects brownie dough into the center of cookie dough. First came chocolate chip and then peanut butter.

Made with no preservatives or artificial flavors, the ready-to-bake frozen cookie dough is hand-packed onto trays. The two varieties are making their debut into retail freezers across the country.

Participants in the virtual tasting were given the opportunity to experience the new creation. They were sent a box of both varieties, which come nine to a pack, along with some ice cream pints. Participants baked the dough while viewing a live tour of High Road’s manufacturing facility.

“There was no playbook. Something like this never existed before. There was a lot of tinkering. It was chef meets scientist meets tinkerer.” 
– Rebecca Haynes, High Road Craft Brands

“Getting the outside cookie perfect took a lot of time,” Ms. Haynes said. “It had to hold the brownie inside while letting the brownie bake so it was just gooey enough.

“There was no playbook. Something like this never existed before. There was a lot of tinkering. It was chef meets scientist meets tinkerer.” 

This is what the company is about. Founded 10 years ago by the husband and wife team of Keith and Nicki Schroeder, a James Beard award-winning chef and a designer, respectively, High Road’s mission is to create culinary-inspired, artisanal treats.

“When it comes to quality, we cut zero corners,” Mr. Schroeder said. “Some might call us control freaks. We take it as a compliment. Our dedicated team of chefs craft absolutely everything in-house, from our Aztec chocolate down to our slow-cooked strawberries.

“We like to think of our products as equal parts science and magic. And it all ladders up to a difference we know you’ll taste in every bite.”

After several years in the culinary industry, Mr. Schroeder decided to get his master of business administration degree. He made artisan ice cream his final project. That project eventually became High Road and the husband and wife team were busy developing premium ice creams “by chefs, for chefs.”

High Road’s beginnings were about providing high-quality ice cream desserts to restaurants, hotels and resorts, often working closely with the chef to create a signature flavor. But soon after the company was formed in 2010, friends asked if they could buy the ice cream, he said.

“So, we opened our factory to the public on Saturdays,” he said. “The lines grew and so did our fan base.”

A few years later, the Schroeder’s were approached by Whole Foods Market, Austin, Texas. The natural foods retailer lent them $50,000 to purchase a filler to package pints for stores in the Greater Atlanta area. 

“It’s been 10 years of learning,” Ms. Schroeder said. “We have our hands into a lot of different products.”

The creative team is already working on the next generation of stuffed dough products. To support the company’s growth, High Road has acquired the former Three Twins Ice Cream plant in Sheboygan, Wis. The acquisition will grow the company’s capabilities, doubling the brand’s packaged ice cream capacity, strengthening its march to national distribution, and allowing for significant logistics adaptability and efficiency.

The new facility will bolster company goals to grow revenue to over $100 million. The Schroeder’s want to become the highest caliber craft ice cream manufacturer at scale in the United States.

“The executive team at High Road has been ambitiously acquisitive in recent years and 2020 was no exception,” said Christian Rodriguez, COO. “Once we quantified the operational and logistical savings from the efficiencies that we would gain via this expansion, coupled with it being in the middle of the Dairy State, it was a no-brainer for us.”

Bryan Freeman, chairman of the board, said, “Adding the Midwest facility to our manufacturing footprint is another example of the High Road team executing on our mission to make beautiful craft ice cream and novelties at scale. It’s surprising how many ice cream brands do not make their own products.”

High Road has made Inc’s list of the fastest-growing private companies for the past five years. It boasts 397% growth in just the last three years.