It's Time You Tried This Baker's Chocolate Chip Cookie With a Cult Following
Read the story behind Old Boy Bakery.
(SPOT.ph) Food is one of those subjects that many of us relate to on a personal level; we all eat, after all. Some of us take that love for food the next step and document our adventures eating and/or cooking on social media platforms like Instagram for other people—those we know personally, as well as friends we meet on the Internet—to see and read, and possibly even start conversations about. One individual who’s done that is Anton Miranda, a home cook and food lover in Bataan with a background not just in food but also fashion.
Miranda posts about his cooking and eating escapades on his personal account, zooming into aspects like why he chose a particular ingredient or technique or what they contribute to the whole. He’s also established his own baking business dubbed Old Boy Bakery, which has built up a reputation in Manila for their cookies—particularly their stellar take on a classic chocolate chip. We set out to discover how he's managed to set his chocolate chip cookies apart from the hundreds of other versions you can find out there.
Also read: Top 10 Chocolate Chip Cookies (2021 Edition)
Here’s the Story of Anton Miranda, His Business Old Boy Bakery, and His Chocolate Chip Cookies:
On Trial and Error to Make the Best Chocolate Chip Cookies
The cookie that brought Old Boy Bakery to fame sounds simple enough: the Chocolate Chip (P360/half-dozen, P720/dozen). At first glance, this version might pale in comparison to the more mammoth, thicc versions that have become trendy on social media, being just around three to four inches in diameter and a third of an inch in height. But quality’s where it’s at, and one bite will tell you why this cookie’s won over the cookie-loving crowd.
There are the lightly-crisp edges, for one, that make way to an interior that’s soft, but still firm enough to avoid being too gooey. Its dough base is deep and complex, thanks to the brown butter and dark-brown sugar—and this is taken to indulgent new heights as you’re hit with the melty pockets of bittersweet Belcolade dark chocolate. It’s the chocolate chip cookie we all know and love, with its best features brought out.
Miranda's love for the classic cookie goes way back to his younger days, and he cites Mrs. Fields’ version as his gold standard back in the day. “They were one of the few brands that, I guess you could say, brought the soft cookie movement [to our shores]. They’re one of the OGs.” In high school, he thought to make his own version that would be even better. He made a recipe that he was pleased with, adding cinnamon to the mix as he felt that it “gave a warmth” to the cookie.
Fast-forward to 2019, Miranda had just gotten his kitchen renovated and was excited to cook in it. “One of the things that I wanted to do again was a chocolate chip cookie,” he says. At the time he had no intention of selling. “I just figured like, okay, everyone needs a good chocolate chip cookie recipe. So I’m gonna be OC and make a really good one and test it over and over again, until I get to where I want.”
Miranda had a checklist of the qualities he was looking for: “It has to be warm, it has to be soft. Texture-wise, it should have lightly crisp edges but [it’s mostly about the soft chewy texture of a cookie. [For the] chocolate... milk, dark?” He then gathered recipes on the Internet and tried a few of them—and though none of them fit his ideal completely, they lent him insight on how different ingredient ratios and the like led to different results. “It was really just trial and error, adjusting certain ingredients,” he explains.
He no longer added cinnamon, instead going for browned butter (“it adds warmth… and depth to a cookie”); he also made his own dark brown sugar as the ingredient is difficult to find. He would space out his trials over months; eventually, he landed on his perfect chocolate-chip cookie recipe which he would share with friends in the gym. And it’s the same recipe that he uses for Old Boy Bakery today.
Miranda deliberately values that comfort aspect. “My personal opinion on food is that comfort food is so important… we love food that we ate growing up and that we associate a certain emotion with. For me it’s a crispy fried egg and rice—it could be as simple as that, but these are things that make us happy.” Though Miranda has “mad respect” for those who put out innovative and avante-garde takes on different eats, he shares: “At the end of the day, after a long tiring day… what do you look for? It’s usually the simple things.”
His Culinary Beginnings
Food is a deeply personal subject for Miranda—both eating it, and making it. “I’d say I’ve always been around the kitchen, so I guess you could say I’ve always been cooking,” Miranda says. “The kitchen was really my playground,” and to elaborate, he shares that the first thing he remembers preparing was microwaveable mac and cheese at the age of four. “I spent really spent a lot of time there, like I wasn’t like your normal kid playing video games. I was in the kitchen.”
His mom changed their kitchen range to one that included an oven, and by the time he was 10 years old, he was enrolling in baking classes from the likes of Heny Sison and Annabel Tanco (of Bizu). “I remember going to those classes and all my classmates were like titas, [while I was just] 10 years old,” he laughs. The first thing he made was a chocolate cake from the cover of a magazine—which he admits he “messed up completely.”
“I guess this whole interest in food really stems from a need to create things,” Miranda relays, as he was also into art and writing while growing up. “So there’s this commonality of creative pursuits and I guess cooking was just the strongest out of all of that.”
In and Out of the Worlds of the Pro Kitchen + Styling
Miranda took his love for cooking to the next level at culinary school. “My whole life, I wanted to be a chef,” he explains. “I never wanted to be a doctor or a lawyer or any of those typical jobs that our parents would let us—that was never my thing… [so] for college I only applied to one school, which was culinary school.”
The enthusiasm soon faded as he was hit with the reality of how the professional kitchen can be—what with the long working hours and its immensely hectic, perfectionistic nature. The school Miranda attended had an in-house restaurant where students would help out after classes, to get a taste of the real restaurant experience—and it was a fast and furious environment with “all the shouting,” similar to what you see on TV.
It all resulted in an immense respect for chefs and other people in the industry. “I mean, it’s hard work. Really hard work.” Still, he came to the realization that going this route might not be for him. “I was romanticizing the whole idea of being a chef,” says Miranda. “You know [how] you only see the good stuff when you want something, then when you’re finally put into that reality… [especially considering] I wasn’t even actually working yet? I really had a lot of second thoughts like, ‘Is this the career that I’ve always wanted?’ [and] ‘Is this what I wanna do for the rest of my life?’”
Two and a half years into culinary school, Miranda decided to shift courses. This led to his foray into another huge passion: menswear. He entered design school and discovered styling, eventually applying for internships and landing one at Esquire Philippines, before joining the team of menswear brand Signet and having grand plans to move to New York. But in 2018, his plans changed.
Back to the Food World, and the Trials and Tribulations of Starting a Business
“It was a year of pruning,” Miranda says of the year 2018, as he realized he wanted to move away from the city and go back to his hometown of Bataan. “I resigned from work… [and] took a complete 180 [degree shift],” he says. “I said, I think I wanna settle down in the province where I’m really from… my roots are in Bataan, so I figured why not just settle back home?”
Having left his job and moved back to the province, Miranda knew he needed to find a way make a living, and he thought to go back to his first love: Food. He put up a canteen in Bataan that would cater to students in the area by selling quick, affordable 'silog type meals around the 55- to 80-peso range. “I named it Tony Boy’s Diner,” Miranda shares.
It didn’t do very well—just two months in, he had to shut it down as they were losing money. Thinking of what to do next, he sought to focus on passion and do food he actually wanted to make. Miranda was cooking at home a lot at the time and posting it to Instagram; his followers would engage with the posts, too. “So I figured, why don’t I just sell this?” He thought to start a brand of ready-to-heat meals and jarred items, which would revolve around his love for regional American food.
“I wanted to pattern it after what the titas would do, like selling their bottled tuyo… [or] their cheese pimiento in jars,” shares Miranda. “But instead of the usual stuff I wanted to sell like, legit Southern-style pimiento cheese or mullet roe dip… [or] new takes on bottled fish, spreads, and jams—all centered on regional American food, using local ingredients.”
By the start of 2020, he started sourcing for ingredients and got in touch with a branding agency that designed a logo for him. He was all set to launch this new venture—but alas, the pandemic hit. Miranda admits he was initially “really chill” when news about the quarantine broke, thinking it would only last two weeks. “And, well, it did not last two weeks,” he says with a laugh. “I was in denial, [thinking] okay, maybe the week after it [could] launch already... [but] it didnt happen.”
With that, Miranda decided to take a break from business matters and just cook and bake for leisure. “That was fun at first,” he says. “I noticed that because people were stuck at home and people were also cooking a lot for some reason, I ended up meeting different people online on Instagram—like other home cooks would reach out, [or] other friends who started cooking would reach out, and it was great.” But he was also getting anxious and feeling unproductive.
The Birth of Old Boy Bakery
Miranda admits he’s “not really a business man” by nature. But he got the confidence to start Old Boy Bakery as he saw friends who he didn’t necessarily associate with the kitchen start their own businesses as well. He launched the brand in June of 2020, beginning by selling his signature chocolate chip cookies—a recipe he had settled on even prior to the pandemic. “I figured, what’s an easy product that I can transport to Manila from Bataan, that I can bake in large quantities easily, and that I can use for my business? And that was cookies.”
Old Boy Bakery takes inspiration from the “nostalgia and cheer” of childhood treats from the past decades, and “good ol' homecooking.” They go for classic confections but does them really well, banking not on trends but on using quality ingredients with great execution—though they occasionally do more playful treats as well.
Expanding the Menu
Miranda's chocolate chip cookie was met with great success, and over the next few months he would introduce more flavors to his lineup—leading to the six-cookie menu he’s got today. As with the savory cooking posts on Miranda’s personal account, Old Boy Bakery does numerous posts and Instagram stories that detail the process of coming up with his recipes, as he narrates his experiments with different kinds or ratios of ingredients and procedures, and explains the rationale behind his decisions.
He makes sure to brown the butter, toast the nuts (to really deliver that peanutty flavor and crunch), and sprinkle sea salt over (as a reference to one of their “favorite noontime snacks,” salted peanuts) in their peanut butter cookies, dubbed Miss Lily (P360/half-dozen, P720/dozen). Yes, it's a twist on the name of the famous local peanut-butter brand Lily’s, which also the peanut butter he uses for the recipe.
For the Crinkles (P360/half-dozen, P720/dozen), he uses European-style butter as the fat (as opposed to many other versions that use oil, or a mix of oil and butter), and browns it for how it to brings out its warmth and nuttiness that goes with the chocolate; he employs Dutch-process cocoa for its darker color and bolder taste, along with a hint of espresso that echoes the cocoa’s depth.
In the Red Velvet (P420/half-dozen, P840/dozen), he incorporates the classic cake's subtly-chocolatey and tangy flavors into his cookie version by way of buttermilk powder, cream of tartar, and natural cocoa powder. For the the sprinkles-studded Happy Birthday (P360/half-dozen, P720/dozen), a special sweet milk powder they prepare themselves makes for a creamy, dreamy taste and chewiness, while the use of egg yolks give it a slightly-fudgy chewiness. There’s also the ingenious Good Shepherd (P420/half-dozen, P840/dozen), inspired by the Baguio brand’s famous chocolate cornflakes, which Miranda reinterprets into a crisp-meets-fudgy chocolate-cornmeal cookie base rolled in cornflakes.
Miranda also introduces seasonal cookies or other desserts from time to time—as of writing he also currently has a special, seasonal Banana Pudding (P210). This leveled-up version of the classic American dessert, typically made with store-bought ingredients like Nilla wafers and Jell-O pudding, is made from scratch, and goes for amped-up flavor with layers of a roasted banana custard, homemade brown-butter wafers, honey-butter glazed bananas, and whipped cream.
“2020 was great in terms of business,” Miranda shares. “I was sold out for 18 weeks straight, and this was without any paid ads—we didn’t give any free food to influencers, it was all purely organic.”
How to Order From Old Boy Bakery
Old Boy Bakery announces their Metro Manila delivery dates on their order form—these are usually on Tuesdays—and they accept payments made via bank deposit (BPI and Metrobank), GCash, and cash on delivery. Just fill out their order form to get your fix.
We are now on Quento! Download the app and enjoy more articles and videos from SPOT.ph and other Summit Media websites.
this strange new world.