By Emily Bernstein

Picture a glass of milk. Imagine that glass next to the family Christmas tree. Now envision Santa sliding down your chimney—ready to enjoy the “thank you gift” that he knows the children left out for him.

What completes this picture? Cookies, of course. No glass of milk, Christmas party, or caroling session is complete without a plate of cookies.

When visiting during this holiday season, make sure to stop by one of the many cookie stores in San Luis Obispo County, which offer dozens of choices of homemade cookies.

Here are a few suggestions of personal favorites.

just-bakedIf you happen to drive through Santa Margarita, you should stop at Just Baked Cake Studio and Bakery. Originally opened in 2010, Just Baked SLO’s mission was delivering warm chocolate chip cookies to Cal Poly students. When business started booming, Just Baked expanded their menu to include many new types of cookies, as well as other pastries.

“Our best cookie will always be our Flagship Chocolate Chip cookie, a double chocolate chip cookie with homemade toffee bits but if you ask me, our Salted Peanut Butter Brittle cookie is nipping at its heels,” owner Libby Ryan said. “[It has] fresh baked peanut brittle bursting in each bite, with a perfect hint of salty to compliment the sweet.”

As for Christmas specials, they offer two flavors of shortbread cookies, gingerbread cookies—available in gluten-free—and iced sugar cookies.

img_1993For the past 30-years Cowboys Cookie ‘n Grub has been a San Luis Obispo institution and continues to be an irresistible stop for many enjoying the vibe of San Luis Obispo. Cowboy Cookie prides itself on its gourmet recipes, and making sure to use the freshest all-natural ingredients.

Speaking of ingredients, “lots of butter, not margarine, just real butter” is the secret to the best cookies according to owner Scott Millhollon.

On a personal note, as a “chocoholic,” my favorite cookie is the “Outlaw”—a chocolate chocolate chip cookie.

Additionally, they offer “Cowchip” (chocolate chip), “Wrangler” (oatmeal coconut rice krispy), and “Trailblazer” (oatmeal raisin walnut) among others.

Whether it’s an after dinner treat with that special someone or the end of a family caroling outing, you can’t go wrong in this cookie season with any cookie in San Luis Obispo County.

Emily Bernstein struggles with chemistry and therefore has the utmost respect for quality bakers. She is currently studying communications at Cal Poly, and is serving as the communications intern for the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce