Whimsy & Spice
Whimsy & Spice's Honey-Lavender Shortbreads are classy three-biters measuring two inches in diameter. They come close to the ideal shortbread in that they're neither overly buttery nor heavy with the flour. Butter is good, but in shortbread, balance is key. You have this here with the honey and lavender in equal degree, not competing but complementing one another. No surprise cookie, but it's the classics done well that win in the long run.
Cookies at Amy's Bread are stacked tall next to the register, $2.50 apiece, on the large side. They are tempting and I give in every time, adding a few to my order at the last minute. Lime Cornmeal is finished in a sharp lime-kissed sugar icing, with a mouthful of cornmeal in each bite, offering that extra crunch. Beneath is Orange Butter, a shortbread-sugar cookie creation. Orange plays a light role, allowing the butter to star. A crumbly cookie, on the sweet side, this one is for dunking in morning coffee.
Tate's Bake Shop
Chocolate chip cookies without chocolate chips. The base for Tate's Bake Shop's famous chocolate chip cookies are so delicious that they sell the same cookies minus the chocolate. After tasting these, there's no turning back. With the same wide, crisp and light structure of their signature cookies, it's impossible to not fall for these appropriately named chipless wonders. The buttery cookies are fantastic plain—and outright dreamy when made into a vanilla ice cream sandwich.
Michel et Augustin
Dean & Deluca recently started carrying a wide range of shortbreads from Michel et Augustin, a French company I fell head-over-heels for on my last visit to Paris. And now, they're stocked in NYC; the shortbread cookies are sold in tiny boxes of six, $3 a box.They currently carry three flavors, all are free of preservatives and utterly delicious, especially a vanilla shortbread with poppy seeds. Tidy two-biters in a flower shape, vanilla serving as a clean background to the wicked and wonderful abundance of toasty poppy seeds.
In Pursuit of Tea
There are not many places in the city that offer tea-flavored cookies. Tafu was my go-to tea sweet spot before they shuttered, and I still head to Kyotofu on occasion. But for now, put In Pursuit of Tea at the top of my list. Baked by Melanie Franks, a chef instructor at the FCI, Genmaicha Cookies ($2.50) are nutty and crumbly sweet. What sets these tea sweets apart from other bakeries is the sheer intensity of tea. Confident and clear flavors—I pick sweets here not based on the type of pastry, but the type of tea I'm craving.