These Iloilo Cookie Shops Prove There’s Nothing Like Homemade Goodness

Cris Antonio |

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Did you know that Americans eat more than 2 billion cookies a year? That’s about 300 cookies per person and 35, 000 cookies in a lifetime! Do you know what this means? You don’t have to feel guilty indulging in several chocolate chip variants. So yes, feel free to buy an entire box for yourself (or to share) this weekend.

Speaking of baked goods, Iloilo has its own share of local and home-based shops that will indulge your sweet tooth. No need to visit the U.S. or slave over a stove. These cookie stores are ready to win over your heart with their signature treats, all baked with love.

Cookies Made with Love from Sunday Bake Night

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One thing you may not be expecting when visiting an ancestral house is a modern cookie shop specializing in out-of-this-world flavors. But that’s exactly the surprise that awaits you at Balay Sueño. With her love of history and baking, Regine Amparo S. Espinosa has managed to create treats that will satisfy the eyes and taste buds:

“I enjoy food when traveling, like trying out different pastry shops and restaurants. I enjoyed specialty cookies in New York City. The different flavor combinations were something fun and different. So I started baking with my friends for fun. From there we tried selling. Then during the pandemic, I started taking the cookies seriously.”

We’re certainly glad she did. Today, Sunday Bake Night offers delectable combinations such as Cookies and Cream, Chocolate Chip Walnut, Double Chocolate, and classic choco chips with English Toffee.

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“…When I bake, I always think about how my customers will enjoy the cookie. How it can make them happy.”

Although Regine considers baking a hobby, she’s happy it turned out to be quite a successful enterprise. She credits her family, friends, and customers for turning the idea into something amazing.

“I’ve met so many people who helped me pursue this venture. I learned so much from those I met at bazaars, too. I’m thankful to every one of them…Everything is a learning curve… You have to learn and overcome these things. Challenges are part of a growing business.”

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Regine believes that the Ilonggo market is ready for new and exciting things. That’s why she never stops thinking about more flavor combinations for her creations. Her principle is simple: make a product and do it really well. Despite a full schedule, she enjoys getting to know her customers and saying yes to opportunities. When asked what makes her products unique, she says:

“It’s happiness in every bite. Made with love and good enough to share!” 

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For Regine, cookies are serious business. Their bestselling classic chocolate chip took her two years to perfect the recipe. The hard work paid off though. The crunchy exterior will give you the perfect first bite, while the soft, moist inside will melt your worries away. Pair it with one of their coffees or treat yourself to two. Regine thinks cookie preferences are highly personal.

“I think cookie preferences are particular. People like our crazy flavors. Some like it with a hit of nostalgia, while others might go for a classic. That’s the fun thing about cookies. Like people, each one has their own characteristics and personas.”

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Did that make you hungry? Before you grab a bite, Regine has this fun fact for all you cookie monsters out there:

“The chocolate chip cookie was made by accident. So remember - not all mishaps are failures; some are just opportunities waiting to happen!”

Customizable Cookie Treats from J’s Cookies and Pastry

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Almost everyone is familiar with the old adage: ‘when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. But when Mariless E. Basco was caught off-guard during the 2020 pandemic, she made cookies.

“It was during the height of the pandemic when I had the idea of starting a business I love. The intention was two-fold. First, I loved baking, especially pastries. Second, I wanted to address the unstable working conditions.”

Two years in and their cookies are still flying off the shelves (not literally!). Their bestselling Choco Chip cookie has customers begging for more. Aside from the classic, J’s Cookies and Pastry also offers Oaty Dark Choco, Black & White Choco Chips, and everyone’s favorite: Choco Crinkles. Everything is homemade but you can have them customized for events or to serve as giveaways.

“We value affordability and quality…We can customize for birthdays, wedding giveaways, and Christmas gifting. So far, the response has been overwhelming! I definitely believe we have a market here in Iloilo City.”

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Mariless learned her love for baking from her mother, who passed away this year. Aside from hard work, lots of research and proper time management, the relentless owner of J’s Cookies has 20 years of experience in customer service to help her handle even the most discerning palates.

“There’s a saying that goes: If you do what you love, you’ll never have to work a day in your life. I believe that it’s only through passion and love that we get the best results. So when your hands are full, delegate…Teach your employees well so you only need to supervise them.”

As proof of her unending dedication to her business, Mariless studies during her free time. She watches videos, determines areas for improvement, and accepts feedback from customers. She believes touching base with them is a surefire method for understanding your market. To cast a wider net, she and her team use social media.

“My Facebook page now has 1.8k followers, and I’ve reached customers as far as Cebu and Manila.”

And why not? Their signature Choco Chip is loaded with locally made chocolates, making them moist and extra chocolatey.

“Cookies are the perfect comfort food because you can grab them anytime, anywhere. It can make people happy – even when they’re not in the right mood.”

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I don’t know about you, but I’m always in the mood for tasty treats! I haven’t met anyone who wasn’t tempted by traditional chocolate chips. My particular way of enjoying it is with hot coffee or tea. Meanwhile, Mariless recommends:

“Dunking a warm choco chip cookie into a glass of cold milk is one of the most satisfying ways to enjoy this sweet treat!”

Why be sad when you can have a cookie? Whether you love classic choco chips or you prefer ooey-gooey peanut butter, there’s a delicious confection waiting for you. Take your pick from Sunday Bake Night and J’s Cookies and Pastry. Or order from both! After all, one can’t have too much of a good thing.

Have a happy cookie day! 


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Author Portrait

Cris Antonio

Cris Antonio is a freelance Copywriter, Editor, and Speaker. If she’s not writing or editing, she helps business owners and young adults build their presence on the Web.