SNEAK PEEK: Ben's Cookies in Manila

Their coin-sized chocolate chunks are heaven.

Ben’s Cookies
G/F The Podium, 12 ADB Avenue, Mandaluyong City
Open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. (Monday to Thursday) and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. (Friday to Sunday) 

PHOTO BY Majoy Siason

(SPOT.ph) Like a lot of our favorite sweets, cookies have multiple versions depending on where you get your fix. Some of them may include a few more bells and whistles than the usual, but in the end we can’t help but turn back to the simplest classic version—one that pairs well with milk and brings us back to memories of sitting by the kitchen table after school, indulging in a treat before dinner.

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Ben's Cookies in Manila uses the same dough as all the other branches in the world. 
PHOTO BY Majoy Siason

This is pretty much the inspiration behind Ben’s Cookies. First opening in 1983 as a stall at Oxford’s Covered Market, the bakeshop has now become an institution in the United Kingdom. It all began when Helge Rubinstein created and perfected a cookie recipe for her son Ben (after whom the cookies are named).

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The tagline of Ben's Cookies is "Baking with chunks not chips since 1983."
PHOTO BY Majoy Siason

Since then, Ben’s Cookies has grown to include multiple branches all over the U.K. and the world including the U.S., South Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, and now the Philippines. 

The oven at Ben's Cookies is custom-made for the store with settings adjusted based on the local climate and humidity 
PHOTO BY Majoy Siason
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But even now that they’ve become a giant cookie chain, the recipe created by Rubinstein decades ago has never changed. “[Ben’s Cookies] is very particular,” shares Ryan Serrano, who brought the cookie store to the Philippines. “Their philosophy is really centered on the cookie, so they can’t compromise it in any way. They’re very picky with what ingredients they use and everything has to be controlled.”

The Podium branch will be a take-out counter that offers 14 cookie flavors. 
PHOTO BY Majoy Siason
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Even with all their stores around the globe, the cookies you get will be the same ones offered at Oxford’s Covered Market. It all starts with the dough—of which Manila has 14 flavors—which are blast-frozen and shipped from London. “They have a production center that’s been around for over 30 years,” shares Serrano. “They don’t use machines to mix the dough. Everything is hand-mixed.”

The cookies are best fresh out of the oven! 
PHOTO BY Majoy Siason
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They use a custom-made oven, too—a conveyor belt-type machine that bakes the cookies in exactly 10 minutes. “They’re digital and [the settings] are controlled by [Ben's Cookies]” says Serrano. “They send [a technical team] from London who adjusts the settings depending on humidity, temperature, and everything else.”

Chocoholics can go for the Triple Chocolate Chunk—it has a chocolate-dough base and rich chocolate chunks. 
PHOTO BY Majoy Siason
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It may all seem like a lot of bother for cookies, but once you have one, you immediately understand that it’s all worth it. Ben’s Cookies uses Belgian chocolate chunks—produced in London so they can control quality—instead of chips. The result is large chocolate pieces that melt until gooey.

But what makes the cookies at Ben’s Cookies stand out is their dough. You’re lucky to have them fresh out of the oven—you get this rich, buttery flavor just from the first bite. But even when you leave them out for a while, these cookies manage to stay perfectly chewy with a crisp exterior, as if you had them fresh. 

The Peanut & Milk Chocolate is a classic combination that's sure to be a crowd favorite. 
PHOTO BY Majoy Siason
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The Macadamia & White Chocolate is studded with whole nuts and chocolate chunks. 
PHOTO BY Majoy Siason

Serrano shares that they will offer 14 flavors of cookies when they open on July 16. It will be difficult to choose, but there are standouts: The Dark Chocolate Chunk (P90/piece) is Serrano’s personal favorite—it's hard to beat a buttery-sweet cookie studded with gooey dark chocolate chunks. The Macadamia & White Chocolate (P90/piece) is a heavenly mélange of textures, its toffee-like sweetness a perfect match to coffee, while the Orange and Milk Chocolate (P90/piece), though likely to be polarizing, is a bright flavor combination that instantly makes you think of sunshine and summer days. 

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Maybe you don’t even have to choose at all—you could get the Ben’s Box (P450/box of seven, P900/box of 15) for sharing—or maybe you just want them all for yourself. We won’t judge. (Just remember that it’s best to consume these cookies within four days).

Aside from cookies, Serrano shares that they plan to serve gelati and ice cream-cookie sandwiches, called Cookie Monsters—and it frankly sounds like the death of us (in a good way). There’s coffee in the future, too. 

But, as Serrano puts it: “Cookies are the heart and soul of Ben’s Cookies.” With cookies that are already shaping up to be one of Manila’s best, anything extra would be the cherry on top.

Photos by Majoy Siason

*Ben’s Cookies opens on July 16 at 2 p.m.

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