Slideshow: The Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie Tour

Alice's Tea Cup
Alice's Tea Cup
Nice and thick, doughy but adequately baked, the cookies from Alice's Tea Cup took second place this week. Ed called them "a better version of Levain"—though we're sure the Levain loyalists would cry foul. Our tasters called them "pleasantly toffee-flavored, with bittersweet, tasty chocolate" and "thick but delicious, with a perfect crunch." More than one decreed them "the best of the bunch." Alice's Tea Cup: Multiple locations; alicesteacup.com‎ Appeared in: Wild Card Round
Almondine
Almondine
The winner of the Brooklyn round was the chocolate chip cookie from Almondine. ("YES! Here is the cookie I want.") Enough texture: "Crispy, a tiny goo factor, audible crunch when you bite into it." "A firm tooth and a gorgeous caramelized edge." Incredible taste: "I get butter, I get brown sugar, I get salt, but there's something sneaky and wonderful in there too." And, despite the Mickey Mouse effect, even enough chocolate. It didn't beat Baked by much, but it was the decisive winner. Almondine: 85 Water Street (b/n Dock and Main); 718-797-5026; almondinebakery.com‎ Appeared in: Brooklyn Edition
Baked
Baked
If you took the Levain cookie, sliced it in half, and baked it a bit longer, you'd have these gorgeous cookies from Baked, which came in just a chip behind our eventual winner. "Buttery, brown sugary—everything a cookie should be." "Even though the center is doughy, it doesn't seem raw (cough, cough, Levain)." "No matter how thick, it still has that crisp-chewy balance." One taster? "I could eat this forever." Baked: 359 Van Brunt Street (at Dikerman Street); 718-222-0345; bakednyc.com Appeared in: Brooklyn Edition
Bklyn Larder
Bklyn Larder
We had no expectations from Bklyn Larder, having heard nothing about their cookies—but house-made, incredibly yummy, and a downright bargain ($2) compared to everything else in the store, they proved an absolute delight. Essentially a classic chocolate chip cookie, they won points for "salt-to-sweet balance" ("Salty enough! Finally!") the cookie's own flavor ("Some of them taste like nothing. This tastes like cookie"), and the large, dark, well-integrated chunks of chocolate. A cookie we'd recommend to everyone. Bklyn Larder: 228 Flatbush Avenue (at Bergen); 718-783-1250; bklynlarder.com Appeared in: Brooklyn Edition
Balthazar
Balthazar
Balthazar makes one intimidating chocolate chip cookie: "This looks big, bad, and mean!" one taster wrote. We're fans of crispy edges, but no one loves a dry cookie. "It's like a too-thick, too-baked generic Toll House." "I like the crust... but don't like that the whole cookie is crust." Ed's comment? "Mmm... burnt walnut." Balthazar: 80 Spring Street (b/n West Broadway and Crosby); 212-965-1785; balthazarny.com Appeared in: Downtown Edition
Blue Ribbon Bakery Market
Blue Ribbon Bakery Market
The winner of our wild card round. Technical difficulties kept us from Blue Ribbon Bakery Market in the Downtown Edition, and we almost gave these little gems a first-round bye. After all, Ed had once said these cookies were "moving up fast on [his] list of great chocolate chip cookies available in New York." But we threw them into the blind test, and sure enough, they fared incredibly well—and at 75 cents each, they're a bargain to boot. "Looked too dark, but were soft and delicious inside." "The first to be salty enough, without tasting salty." "There's a haunting flavor I can't put my finger on. I like it." Ed had the last word: "This is a serious cookie." Blue Ribbon Bakery Market: 14 Bedford Street (near Downing); 212-647-0408; blueribbonrestaurants.com‎ Appeared in: Wild Card Round
Bouchon Bakery
Bouchon Bakery
We've come to expect perfection from Bouchon Bakery, and its chocolate chip cookie was pretty darn close. "Perfectly baked, with three layers: crunchy border, softer middle, still softer core." "Just a little bit salty, just a little bit sweet." "Beautiful to look at. Better to eat." But some found it a bit dry. As one taster put it, "This just isn't a holy grail cookie." Bouchon Bakery: Time Warner Center, 10 Columbus Circle, 212-823-9364, bouchonbakery.com
City Bakery
City Bakery
All right—here goes. We're going to take a beating for this one. If you'd asked us to wager on the winner of this taste-test, I would have stacked my chips on City Bakery. Honestly, it would have been my bet to win the whole thing. At least a few tasters had identified as CB loyalists. But not a single one of our tasters put City Bakery in their top two. A few representative comments? "Harmless, and not terrible, but given the choice you wouldn't eat it." "Sweet without any actual flavor." "An overwhelming amount of chocolate." "Some of the edges are actually burnt. Not nice-dark-crispy-caramelized. Burnt." And the discernible grains of sugar were a little strange. A few people liked the crispy-chewy contrast, and the layering of chocolate that snuck a little into each bite. But no one really loved this cookie. Did we get an off day? (I certainly remember these cookies tasting an awful lot better.) Has the venerable City Bakery gone downhill? We're not sure. But the people have spoken. And City Bakery is no longer their cookie of choice. City Bakery: 3 West 18th Street, 212-366-1414, thecitybakery.com Appeared in: Midtown Edition
City Bakery's Vegan Cookie
City Bakery's Vegan Cookie
City Bakery does two chocolate chip cookies—the buttery ones, and the vegan ones. And while the vegan chocolate chippers didn't crack the top 3, they did pretty well, and only one taster called them out as dairy-free. They were called "crisp," "nicely gooey in the middle," and "just sweet enough." Several people complained about the "crumbly structure" and lack of chocolate. But for a vegan cookie, this is almost as good as it gets. City Bakery: 3 West 18th Street, 212-366-1414, thecitybakery.com Appeared in: Midtown Edition
Citarella
Citarella
Citarella's cookies fell into the tasty, but unremarkable camp. Thick and a bit soft, they lacked any exterior browning or chew, and had a cookie base described as "generic" and "OK." But the ample chocolate won a few points. Citarella: Multiple locations: 2135 Broadway (at West 75 Street), 212-874-0383‎, citarella.com Appeared in: Uptown Edition
Clinton Street Baking Co.
Clinton Street Baking Co.
There's plenty that emerges from the Clinton Street Baking Co. kitchen that we adore, and Dessert Buzz recommended these cookies to us. Points for "interesting cinnamon flavor" and "good inside chew," but our tasters, without exception, found this cookie far too sweet. So much that it became "hard to taste the chocolate." Clinton Street Baking Co.: 4 Clinton Street (near East Houston Street); 646-602-6263; clintonstreetbaking.com‎ Appeared in: Wild Card Round
Cocoa Bar
Cocoa Bar
You'd think a chocolate shop could make a mean chocolate cookie, and while we enjoyed these big flat guys from the Cocoa Bar, there was a lot of weirdness going on. Somehow spongy and dry at the same time, the texture was completely foreign to us—and where were the chocolate chips? "Tiny flecks of chocolate." "Can't even taste it." Cocoa Bar : 228 Seventh Avenue (b/n 3rd and 4th Streets); 718-499-4080; cocoabarnyc.com Appeared in: Brooklyn Edition
Anil Dash
Anil Dash
Friend of Serious Eats (and husband of Alaina) Anil Dash is a multi-talented man—director of Expert Labs, ten-year blogger, and a closet cookie baker. So when he happened to make a batch the night before our tasting, Alaina just had to smuggle a few back to Serious Eats World Headquarters. What did our tasters think? Though he was roundly condemned as a chocolate miser ("Way to skimp on the chocolate, man..."), most of us liked the "soft, doughy" interior and "homebaked feel." (Our tasters are perceptive.) Appeared in: Wild Card Round
Downtown Cookie Company
Downtown Cookie Company
What I loved about the contestants from Downtown Cookie Company, sold at Joe the Art of Coffee: they tasted exactly like the first stage of chocolate chip cookies, when you're creaming the butter and sugar, and maybe vanilla, but the eggs and flour are nowhere in sight. As a cookie dough fanatic, I could devour twelve of these in a sitting. Others agreed: "I love the soft, thick, middle." "Buttery bliss." More on the dough: "Throw it in some Ben & Jerry's, and you're good to go." It didn't taste all that much like a chocolate chip cookie: "snickerdoodle," "sugar cookie," and "straight-up dough" were a few of the comments. But as a coffee companion, we'd eat it any day. Downtown Cookie Company, at two locations of Joe the Art of Coffee: 405 West 23rd Street, 212-206-0669; 9 East 13th Street, 212-924-7400 Appeared in: Downtown Edition
Dessert Club
Dessert Club
We're Dessert Club fans, so it wasn't too surprising to watch these chocolate chip cookies rack up the rave reviews. "The gooeyness of the chocolate gives it a perfect texture." "I love how it's woven in and swirly." "Soft, chewy, crisp." "You get the buttery, the salt, and the sweet." The only dissenters were those who thought that the chocolate dominated the rest of the cookie. (And Adam, who sensed an inexplicable "Twizzler aftertaste.") But for most of our tasters, the chocolate wasn't a bad thing. Dessert Club Chickalicious: 204 East 10th Street (b/n First and Second Avenues); 212-475-0929; dessertclubchikalicious.com Appeared in: Downtown Edition
Hampton Chutney Co.
Hampton Chutney Co.
A few commenters loved them. They made New York Magazine's Best Chocolate Chip Cookies of 2005 list. But not a single one of our tasters found much to redeem the hard, unexciting cookies from Hampton Chutney Company. "All crunch; no chew." "Completely generic." "This tastes like a packaged cookie." The one bright spot? Though the huge chunk-like chips were unevenly distributed, almost everyone appreciated the quality of the chocolate. But good chocolate does not a good chocolate chip cookie make. Hampton Chutney Company: 464 Amsterdam Avenue (at West 83rd Street), 212-362-5050, hamptonchutney.com Appeared in: Uptown Edition
Insomnia Cookies
Insomnia Cookies
I've had perfectly tasty cookies from NYU student cookie delivery service Insomnia Cookies, but for one of two reasons: one, it was 2:00am, I was ravenous, and a gooey cookie was all I wanted; two, it was straight out of the warming tray. It's hard to resist a confection so hot it hurts your fingers. But a few minutes out of the oven and these chocolate-chip cookies show their true colors: generic and unmemorable. "Processed." "Huge chunks of low-quality chocolate." "Sickly sweet." Some freshness and chewiness points, but that was about all. Insomnia Cookies: 50 West 8th Street (b/n 6th Avenue and MacDougal), 212-228-2373; insomniacookies.com Appeared in: Downtown Edition
Jack's Stir Brew
Jack's Stir Brew
The perfect cookie composition award might go to Jack's Stir Brew in the West Village and at the South Street Seaport, a coffee shop that bakes these soft, manageably-sized beauties every day. Essentially, the coffee lovers adored these cookies, and the less coffee-inclined did not. The pros: "Intriguing! I love the richness of the batter—dark, almost like pecan pie filling." "Pleasantly chewy, perfect edges, salty contrast." But others balked at a relative lack of chocolate—and with that (we believe) hint of coffee in the batter, it wouldn't win a classic choco-chip cookie competition. (Even though this writer will be back for a few more!) Jack's Stir Brew: 138 West 10th Street (b/n Waverly and Greenwich); 212-929-0821; jacksstirbrew.com Appeared in: Downtown Edition
Le Pain Quotidien
Le Pain Quotidien
We'd never seen a cookie as big as the one at Le Pain Quotidien. But when it comes to chocolate chip cookies, bigger doesn't appear to be better. "So crispy. All ten inches are crispy. Was this ever dough?" "Strangely dark, like a giant ginger biscuit." "Brittle." "Was the soul baked out of this cookie?" Le Pain Quotidien: Multiple locations; lepainquotidien.com‎ Appeared in: Wild Card Round
Levain
Levain
We all agreed, before the taste test, that the perfect cookie was thin and pliable, crisp around the edges, soft in the middle. Buttery without tasting like butter, sweet without a sugar overload. But that was before we tasted Levain. Nearly every taster forgot all about that ideal cookie they'd been keeping in mind. "This is incredible." "Melts in your mouth." "So moist! And so tasty." "I could eat this forever. But then I would die." Sure, it was a massive barely baked lump of dough. But such a good barely baked lump of dough. When we tallied up the scores, Levain came out on top. That said, there were a few hard-core anti-Levainites. "That's not a chocolate chip cookie! Homie don't play that." "This would be great, in a blondie taste-test." "Was this actually baked? I'm a little salmonella-nervous." In truth, it didn't hold up to our ideal cookie. Not at all. Does it say something that most tasters preferred a dough lump to most of the cookies on the Upper East and West Sides? Perhaps. In either case, we're advancing it to the next round, because people liked it just too much to hold it back. But our perfect cookie, it wasn't. Levain: 167 West 74th Street (near Amsterdam), 212-874-6080, levainbakery.com Appeared in: Uptown Edition
Little Miss Muffin
Little Miss Muffin
I live just a few doors from Little Miss Muffin in Prospect Heights, and was startled when a commenter suggested they had superior chocolate chip cookies—when I'm in a greasy, satisfying muffin mood, I'll stop in, but not for dessert. These were tasty ("Toll House-ish in a good way"); we appreciated their chew and ample chocolate. In the end, though, not a particularly memorable cookie. Little Miss Muffin : 174 Park Place, Brooklyn (near Flatbush); 718-857-4963 Appeared in: Wild Card Round
Milk and Cookies
Milk and Cookies
The chocolate chip cookies from Milk and Cookies had quite a few vocal fans, who loved their texture (gooey chocolate, soft interior, crispy edges) and buttery, chocolatey taste. But with more than a hint of oat in the batter, it just wasn't the chocolate chip cookie we were dreaming of. Milk and Cookies: 19 Commerce Street (b/n Seventh Avenue and Bedford); 212-243-1640; milkandcookiesbakery.com‎ Appeared in: Downtown Edition
Max Brenner
Max Brenner
Okay, we don't love Max Brenner's always-mobbed chocolate palace on Union Square. But, as Ed wrote, "This is one solid chocolate chip cookie." Though far too large to scarf in good conscience, it had basically everything we looked for in a cookie. "Crisp exterior, moist center, perfect balance." "Hint of spice, but not overpowering." "Enough salt! Thank goodness!" But just like Petrossian, while some loved the "cookie stuff action," others found it too overloaded. Max Brenner: 841 Broadway, 212-388-0030, maxbrenner.com Appeared in: Midtown Edition
Desserts by Michael Allen
Desserts by Michael Allen
Many thanks to the commenters who suggested Desserts by Michael Allen, a Clinton Hill pastry shop opened by a former United Nations pastry chef. We found his chocolate chip cookies a bit sweet (if more restrained than Clinton Street's) but appreciated the "crispy-chewy contrast" and "ample, awesome chocolate." "I'd eat this again," one taster wrote happily. Desserts by Michael Allen: 1015 Fulton Street, Brooklyn (near Grand); 718-230-3360; michaelallendesserts.com Appeared in: Wild Card Round
Petrossian
Petrossian
Petrossian had a number of vocal fans—"The crust is amazing, like crunchy butterscotch." "The center is gooey in a good way." "Buttery, chocolatey, memorable." One taster said she'd go out of her way to eat this cookie again. The main complaints? Too much stuff, and not enough cookie. "No room for the dough to get through." Or, as one taster put it, "Chocolate chip with a side of cookie." Petrossian Bakery: 182 West 58th Street, 212-245-2214, petrossian.com Appeared in: Midtown Edition
Penny Licks
Penny Licks
We heard several enthusiastic endorsements of Penny Licks, but their chocolate chip cookies just didn't do it for us. "Bland, bland, bland." "Like an oversized Chips Ahoy." Put succinctly: "I don't want to eat this cookie again." Penny Licks: 158 Bedford Street (b/n N. 8th and N. 9th Street); 718-384-0158 Appeared in: Brooklyn Edition
Pret a Manger
Pret a Manger
A British chain beat out every one of Midtown's all-American cookies. This is the magic of blind taste-tests, right? When we drew up our initial list, a few non-believers didn't even want to include Pret a Manger. But with only one dissenter in a team of ten tasters, this was almost unanimously decreed the best cookie. "Wow!!" came a shout from the tasters when they got to Cookie #7. "This is perfection in a cookie," one wrote. "Buttery and salty and sweet and crispy and doughy and perfect." "Moist but not wet, with perfect chip distribution." "Distinctive and interesting spice." "A really daring salty-sweet combo." "I think this is the best cookie I've ever eaten." Pret a Manger: Various locations in New York, pret.com/us Appeared in: Midtown Edition
Ruby et Violette
Ruby et Violette
The "Perfect Cookie" from Ruby et Violette isn't exactly modest. But small and chewy, with delicately crisped edges and a bold dose of chocolate, it almost lived up to its name. "This is a totally classic cookie." "I like how the cookie isn't too overwhelmingly sweet. It lets the chocolate shine." "This is a buttery cookie. I like buttery cookies." The complaint? Not enough crisp in the crust to balance out the softness. It was the texture of a Mrs. Fields cookie—even if it tasted 20 times better. Ruby et Violette: 457 West 50th Street, 718-728-6250, rubyetviolette.com Appeared in: Midtown Edition
Silver Moon Bakery
Silver Moon Bakery
Often appearing in Best Cookie roundups, Silver Moon Bakery makes a mean chocolate chip cookie. Our tasters liked the buttery taste and soft innards, and chocoholics, take note: this is one choco-heavy cookie. ("Chocolate overload!" "Where's the cookie?") And many noted that it tasted far less burnt than it looked. But it was a bit too thick and sweet to win anyone's nod for the best cookie we tasted. Silver Moon Bakery: 2740 Broadway (at West 105th Street), 212-866-4717, silvermoonbakery.com Appeared in: Uptown Edition
Sugar Sweet Sunshine
Sugar Sweet Sunshine
The shop smells incredible. The cookies come from a jar. They cost just fifty cents. But that's pretty much all we love about the chocolate chip cookies from Sugar Sweet Sunshine on the Lower East Side. "Dried-out." "Bland and unmemorable." Most telling comment? "Why are you trying to game this tasting with Chips Ahoy?" Sugar Sweet Sunshine: 126 Rivington Street (b/n Essex and Norfolk); 212-995-1960; sugarsweetsunshine.com Appeared in: Downtown Edition
Subway
Subway
There's a pretty good rule of thumb for chocolate chip cookies, one that applies equally to bagels and pizza—if it's straight out of the oven, it's probably tasty. That would explain why Subway chocolate chip cookies have so many fans. And our tasters gave them points for their buttery, salty flavor. (One described them as "popcorn.") But once they're out of the oven too long, they harden from crunchy-melty to crunchy-crunchy. For the record, we aren't averse to fast-food cookies in general (in fact, a chain restaurant won our Midtown round.) But these grew too hard to love. Subway: Multiple locations; subway.com Appeared in: Wild Card Round
Times Square Hot Bagels
Times Square Hot Bagels
You said "Times Square Hot Bagels!", and we listened. And tasted. But we found nothing to love about these cookies. "Tough and unpleasant." "Neither crisp nor crunchy nor moist." And, the consensus was, "just stale-tasting." Times Square Hot Bagels: 200 West 44th Street, 212-997-7300 Appeared in: Midtown Edition
Two Little Red Hens
Two Little Red Hens
As a cookie, the entry from Two Little Red Hens won all sorts of praise. "Love the buttery chew!" "Crisp caramel flavor, tastes almost brown-sugary." But with virtually no chocolate, these tasted far too much like pecan sandies to win a chocolate chip cookie title. Two Little Red Hens: 1652 Second Avenue (at East 86th Street); 212-452-0476; twolittleredhens.com Appeared in: Uptown Edition