Everything you want to know about chocolate
We've gone all over Manhattan, but now it's time to head out to Brooklyn in search of the best chocolate chip cookie. After our customary preliminary taste-offs, we've done a blind taste-test of our favorite cookies all over the borough.
While we've had plenty of lively office debates about the merits of different chocolate chip cookies, this was the first week we had a true consensus. The winner was unanimous. The second-place cookie was also a unanimous vote—and every taster decreed it a very, very close runner-up. Third and fourth place? Also unanimous. It made for a very interesting blind test.
The contenders: Jacques Torres, Almondine, The Chocolate Room, Cocoa Bar, Baked, Pennylicks, Bklyn Larder, and Colson Patisserie.
The good, the burnt, and the gooey—plus a surprise bonus round!—after the jump.
Thanks, But No Thanks
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; map); 718-384-0158
The Funky Cookies
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."
No two batches of cookies are quite alike. I've had fantastic little cookies from the Chocolate Room in Park Slope, but when I went to pick up a few on Game Day, they'd taken on a grey pallor. Our tasters called them "cookies and cream ice cream in cookie form"; some found the chocolate well-distributed, others just vexing. "This cookie is having an identity crisis." Most would eat one again, but none thought them a perfect chocolate chip cookie.
Most Like Shortbread
We're big fans of the buttery pastries at Colson Patisserie, so perhaps it's not surprising that they went overboard with the butter in these cookies—which tasted more like shortbread than anything else. "Crumbly," "sandy," and "dry" were the biggest complaints. Tasty? Sure, but our ideal chocolate chip cookie it was not.
The Passable Frontrunner
We would have expected Jacques Torres to fare better. While everyone certainly liked this cookie, it trailed the favorites, coming in a distant fourth. The major complaint? Too much chocolate. ("Chocolate with a side of cookie." "Chocolate sandwich with cookie as the bread." "It's good chocolate. It's just so much chocolate.") "Very edible, just not a favorite." Points for crisp edges and a buttery scent, but when it comes down to it, a chocolate chip cookie should be a little more cookie.
The Surprising Contender
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.
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."
Our winner? 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.
So: we've done Uptown, Midtown, Downtown, and Brooklyn. We've tasted more than forty different cookie specimens for your cookie pleasure. And we've selected nine that will move onto the finals.
But that doesn't cover all of New York. And at Serious Eats, we have that silly democratic streak. So we're adding in one more round: The Wild Card. Let us know what cookies we've missed—and we'll chomp down on your suggestions, picking two to join the winners in the Champions Round.
Leave your entrants in the comments!