This simple but sweet mantra sums up the reason Courtney Cowan, owner of Milk Jar Cookies, decided to open one of Los Angeles’ newest bakeries.
In 2005, Cowan started an online company called Sweet Cheeks Cookies. For seven years she baked and sold cookies through the website, building up a fan base and working up the courage to open a storefront.
Finally, after re-naming her enterprise and convincing her husband to take the leap of chance with her, Milk Jar Cookies opened its doors to an eager crowd that had lined up all the way down Wilshire Boulevard to get a cookie (or two … or 10).
“It was crazy, but fun,” Cowan said, recalling the grand opening of the store. “There was a line from the minute we opened to the time we closed.”
Since then, the cookie-crazed customers have settled down a little, though a rush of people impatient to satisfy an afternoon sweet craving usually causes a line to form around 2:00 p.m. After that point, the store usually remains busy until the dinner hour begins.
“It’s hard keeping up with the demand. We bake all day long and still run out of certain flavors,” Cowan said.
Sachin Doshi has already returned to Milk Jar Cookies several times since it opened.
“Everyone who’s come here agrees it’s their favorite cookie place,” Doshi said.
While waiting to purchase a dozen cookies to bring to a friend’s party, Doshi explained why these cookies beat the rest for her.
“They’re always soft,” Doshi said. “Even if you wait awhile before you eat them, you can re-heat them and it’s like they’re fresh out of the oven.”
That fresh-from-the-oven, warm aroma permeates the air of the shop, blending with the cozy décor like chocolate chips into cookie batter. From the chipped paint on the wood paneling to the antiqued doors and windows that adorn the walls, Milk Jar Cookies has the feeling of a well-worn yet stylishly shabby-chic home.
The decorations range from cheerful paper lanterns hanging in the front window to whimsically innovative chandeliers made of glass milk bottles dangling from the ceiling.
The cookies themselves, stacked on pastel-colored cake stands with scalloped, lacy edges, are a special delight for the eye and from the quintessential chocolate chip to the banana split, Milk Jar Cookies has more than a dozen flavors to choose from.
Despite her creative culinary concotions, Cowan has never had professional culinary training. However, she has a long history of experimenting with cookie flavors.
“As a little girl, I used to bake all the time. Then, as a teenager, I came up with my own recipe,” Cowan said.
She found her inspiration for many cookie flavors, such as rocky road or mint chocolate, from ice cream shops, while others came from family preferences.
“My dad used to always eat banana splits,” said Cowan. “So I thought I’d try to make it into a cookie flavor and people seem to like it.”
Everything about the Milk Jar Cookie experience is a delight. The cookies are served on tastefully mismatched china teacup saucers, and a tall glass of cold milk, served in miniature glass milk bottles with colorful striped straws, pairs perfectly with a Cowan’s baked treats. While shipping and delivery options are available, it’s worth your time to walk into the store and peruse the glass case of cookies and linger awhile.
For those interested in the baking process, Cowan can be seen in the kitchen hard at work. The windowpanes that overlook the kitchen, laced with cracked paint, give you the sense you’re peeking into her home. And from this viewpoint, one can see “ol’ sweet cheeks,” the oven in which all the cookies are baked, which was named for Cowan’s original online cookie endeavor.
Now that she has a physical store, Cowan is determined to keep her business small and stay very hands-on with her products.
“I love people,” said Cowan. “I want to be able to craft an experience for them and to see them enjoy the cookies.”
Though gluten- and nut-free options are available, the baking process is done with shared equipment, so those with serious allergies should be wary.
And at $3.00 a cookie, making a habit of eating these goods could become expensive, but the cookies are fairly large in size and undoubtedly worth it in taste.