Home to world-famous dessert destinations like Magnolia Bakery, Gino’s Pastry Shop, and Dominique Ansel, New York City might very well be the sweets capital of the world. But despite operating in a crowded confectionery market, Seth Raphaeli knew his company, Studmuffin Desserts, would stand out due to its unique history and special ingredients.

Raphaeli had one goal in mind when building Studmuffin Desserts: “To enhance the dessert experience and enable everyone to enjoy dessert without the guilt.”

After working on Wall Street for about 15 years, Raphaeli reconnected with his lifelong passion for desserts. While growing up, it was his favorite go-to snack after football practice. But whenever his pantry was empty, he’d pick up a spatula and mixing bowl and bake some crunchy or chewy bits on his own.

Food entrepreneurship runs in his blood, after watching his mother own and operate a gourmet catering company throughout his childhood. His father, a chemical engineer, applauded Raphaeli’s new hobby. Before he knew it, he went from baking basic cookies to designing opulent cakes featured on the covers of Bon Appétit, Saveur, and Gourmet magazines.

Raphaeli eventually became a banker and was always enthused by opportunities to invest in food and hospitality ventures. After years of monitoring the category, he discovered a white space in the market. His mission for Studmuffins was to deliver all natural, handmade, low-calorie sweets that don’t compromise on big flavor.

“We produce all natural, handcrafted with big flavor, and low calorie Signature Cookie Bites!” says Raphaeli. “Eleven cookies in a serving are only 150 calories, so now everyone can finally indulge without the guilt.”

But he can’t say that all his recipes were created from scratch. He proudly drew inspiration from his grandmother’s family recipes to influence his initial product lineup.

He, of course, would add his own twist by tweaking flavors to enhance taste and presentation. After leaving his test kitchen with a small batch of cookies, he handed out early samples to 30 of his closest friends which included chefs, financiers and other foodies in New York City. The overall response ranged from extremely positive to some friends begging for “More please! Now!” Raphaeli knew if he was able to grow a following among native New Yorkers, then his proof of concept would resonate worldwide. In addition to e-commerce, his products can be found at retailers like Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus and Sur la Table. When launching the business’ website, StudmuffinDesserts.NYC, he chose the .nyc domain “to communicate the relationship of the brand with NYC.”

His business would evolve from signature cookies, to creative concepts like Space Cakes, described as “small-batch artisanal treats of two cakey pillows floating on our secret family recipe Vanilla Marshmallow Cloud frosting maximize the cake to frosting ratio giving you the best bite in each bite!”

In tune with his customer’s needs, Raphaeli also developed a line of gluten-free products, featuring Studmuffin’s Gluten-Free Bleecker Street Brittle. It isn’t the only Manhattan-themed delectable on the menu. The website also features Big Apple Bites, which is an apple pie flavored cookie bite from the Empire State.

The company’s NYC roots run deeper than its domain and branding. Its Studmuffin Desserts Signature Cookies and Bleecker Street Brittle are prepared with only the best locally sourced ingredients from Manhattan’s West Village, creating dozens of jobs for others who share in his passion for baking.