In spite of, or perhaps because of, all the cupcakes and whoopie pies, Courtney Cowan and husband Adam Tiller opened Milk Jar Cookies this past Tuesday. Their Mid-Wilshire cookie shop offers up to 14 flavors — all Cowan's recipes — at a time, such as cinnamon sugar and white chocolate raspberry.
A Tollhouse recipe for chocolate chip cookies got Cowan started on the track to developing her own recipes in her teens, and she's tweaked them over the years.
“I started to work on it once I was old enough to understand [that] there's a chemistry to baking. I remember the day we were out of baking soda. That was the day I learned about leavening agents,” she says.
Cowan started to develop recipes on a regular basis after work and on weekends, and she launched her online cookie company in 2005. “I was constantly baking and brainstorming to come up with as many inventive flavors as possible.”
Cowan owes her chocolate raspberry cookie to her brother's favorite flavor combination; the chocolate mint cookie was inspired by her love of the Girl Scouts' Thin Mints. And those led to what she calls her ice cream line, which includes rocky road and banana split.
“I've got no room for a crispy cookie in my life,” she says, describing the perfect cookie. “It's all about the soft and chewy. Not overly sweet. I like a nice balanced flavor and a lot of textures.” Her favorite, the chocolate pecan caramel, hits the mark on all counts.
Cowan was a post-production supervisor for 12 years on TV series including Six Feet Under and Dirty Sexy Money, while Tiller was in visual editing before they both decided to focus full-time on opening a shop. He designed the logo and other branding elements while she perfected her recipes. For months, the two worked on creating a space that would evoke their idea of an inviting home.
The two met over a copy machine while working on the set of Entourage. “The first day we met, she had a Tupperware of cookies and I thought, 'I need to get to know this girl,'” Tiller recalls.
Cowan bakes cookies at least several times a day, a schedule that the two are still in the midst of figuring out. They sold out of the couple hundred they had prepared within two hours of the grand opening.
“We were blown away by the response,” Tiller says. “It has been amazing. We've always had positive comments on the cookies, but they came from friends. Now, they're from strangers.”
Each cookie is $3; a half dozen is $15 and a dozen is $30. Seasonal flavors may include chocolate-covered banana, peanut butter marshmallow and a Christmas cookie with peppermint candy cane. A gluten-free chocolate chip cookie is available every day, but Cowan is looking to expand the range of those options.
To pair with the cookies, the shop offers milk from Broguiere's Dairy in Montebello and coffee from Handsome Roasters in downtown L.A.
It seems Cowan and Tiller may have opened their shop at the right time. According to a recent Wall Street Journal report, the cupcake trend is over. Maybe it's time to start eating more cookies.
And in related news:
Want more Squid Ink? Follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook. Follow the author on Twitter at @chrstnchiao.