Celine Zhou started DeLight Patisserie after moving to Santa Monica from Paris. (Celine Zhou)

A Santa Monica pastry chef has created a tasty alternative to greeting cards that are gaining popularity with local residents and businesses.

Celine Zhou started her online bakery, DeLight Patisserie, two years ago when she moved to Santa Monica after finishing pastry school in Paris. She originally sold cakes, but her business has really taken off since she started selling an innovative new product this past summer.

Several months ago, Zhou baked a batch of dainty shortbread cookies for a friend and stamped them with the message, “Wake up, kick ass, repeat.” When her other friends began clamoring for their own custom cookies for birthdays and bridal showers, she realized the cookies could be used to commemorate all the special occasions that one would usually buy a card for.

But the cookies she had sent to her friends needed work. Zhou ran dozens of tests on the cookies to make sure that the messages she stamped on them remained clear after baking. She also worked to perfect their flavors — vanilla, matcha and dark chocolate.

When she started selling the cookies online and at local businesses like Cafe Demitasse, she said customers were surprised not only that they were edible, but that they actually tasted good.

“Some people make cookies with custom messages, but the messages are always written in icing,” she said. “It looks cute, but it tastes too sweet.”

Zhou said customers flocked to her website to order cookies for weddings and baby showers, asking Zhou to print their names and the date of the celebration on the cookies. She was also surprised to see how many companies ordered branded cookies.

What she enjoys most, she said, is seeing how creative customers get in crafting their messages and the unexpected reasons why they order custom cookies. One customer ordered cookies with his name, age and phone number to hand out to potential dates and another sent a box of cookies with the message “less stress, more sex” to a friend mourning a breakup, she said.

One of her favorite batches bore the question, “Will you marry me?” and below it, “A: Yesss. B: Choice A.”

The popularity of the cookies has allowed Zhou to hire two part-time employees and start partnering with restaurants and hotels. She brings an edible business card when she introduces herself to potential clients.

“My cookie card does have my name and email address on it,” she said. “I put a paper card behind it, but with an edible business card, people are definitely more likely to remember you.”

madeleine@smdp.com

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