America's Best Chocolate Chip Cookies
Winslow’s Home; St. Louis
This rustic urban restaurant and café makes a buttery, shortbread-esque cookie studded with a combination of Guittard semisweet and bittersweet buttons. The locally milled unbleached flour is responsible for the cookie’s signature chew, which pastry chef Cary McDowell prefers over crispiness.
Rustica Bakery, Minneapolis
The bittersweet chocolate cookie is the sleeper hit at this Minneapolis bakery known for its European breads. The cookies are deeply colored and richly flavored with bitter cocoa and Callebaut chips, then baked to a pliable texture with a crackly, sugar-dusted top. Each bite is a decadent treat: “Some people claim they can eat more than one, but I don’t know about that,” says co-owner Barbara Shaterian, with a laugh.
Levain Bakery; New York City
Co-owner Connie McDonald developed the Upper West Side bakery's mountainous semisweet chocolate chip–walnut cookie as a post-Ironman training treat a decade ago: “It felt so good to eat one after a 10-hour bike ride,” says McDonald, with a laugh. Just ignore the implication that you need to have a triathlete’s metabolism to eat the whole thing. The crisp shell gives way to a wonderfully thick, gooey, cakey interior.
Tartine; San Francisco
The husband-and-wife dream team of bread genius Chad Robertson and pastry chef Elisabeth Prueitt created a large, flat chocolate chip cookie that follows the expert bakers’ axiom that darker color means better flavor. Their cult bakery's cookie—made with oatmeal, walnuts and Valrhona Guanaja chocolate—is baked until it’s beautifully deep brown, with a caramelized butter flavor and a distinct crispiness.
Beurre & Sel from Dorie Greenspan; New York City
Beloved cookbook author, blogger and baking authority, Dorie Greenspan, goes brick-and-mortar at a tiny storefront in the Essex Street Market, where she sells her masterful double chocolate World Peace Cookies: a base of dense chocolate sablé dough (a French-style shortbread) made with local butter, studded with hand-chopped bittersweet Valhrona chunks and a hefty measure of fleur de sel. Greenspan’s recipe, which was given to her by renowned Paris pâtissier Pierre Hermé, calls for nearly equal measures of chocolate and flour, making for an ultrarich cookie that Greenspan describes as “very seductive,” with the power to engender happiness and world peace in each bite. beurreandsel.com
MILK; Los Angeles
The signature Ooey Gooey Chocolate Chip at this cute ice cream parlor and bakeshop is a rich, molten mass of a cookie, made from three types of chocolate (cocoa powder in the cookie base, plus hand-chopped milk chocolate and bittersweet chunks). The ultra-chocolaty concoction runs on the small side, just 3-inches or so across, but each bite packs dense flavor.
Two Fat Cats; Portland, Maine
When this retro-style bakery says it makes everything from scratch, it’s not an exaggeration: The bakers even prepare their own brown sugar by adding fresh molasses to granulated white sugar. Their cookies—crisp on the edges, soft in the middle, with bittersweet chocolate chips—have a simple, back-to-basics look and taste.
The Sycamore Kitchen; Los Angeles
At this hip new breakfast and lunch café from the husband-and-wife team that also owns Hatfield’s, the pastry chef Karen Hatfield continues her fabulous dessert streak. A former mentee of the American pastry star Claudia Fleming at Gramercy Tavern, Hatfield has a passion for tweaking classics, as evidenced by her thick, chewy, bittersweet chocolate chip-rye cookie with sea salt and a hint of caraway. “We probably made 20 different kinds of chocolate chip cookies before settling on this one,” says Hatfield. “I love the punch the rye flour packs—it adds great texture and an earthy depth of flavor to the whole thing.”
Clear Flour Bread; Boston
Using copious hunks of Scharffen Berger bittersweet chocolate at her tiny Brookline, Massachusetts, bakery, owner Christy Timon created a big, thick and chewy Chocolate Chunk cookie well-suited for dark-chocolate loving adults. “There’s a pretty powerful amount of chocolate packed in there,” she says. “They’re not really kid cookies.”
Cookie Bar; Chicago
A newfangled cookie specialist with a kitschy 1970s disco aesthetic, the bar offers a dozen kinds of chewy-crisp chocolate chip cookies, from the classic to a spicy version made with jalapeño chiles. Most of the cookies feature bittersweet Callebaut chips, and all have a dash of homemade vanilla extract made with a variety of spirits: The tequila-based version contains an earthy note, while the rum one is caramelly and slightly floral. Online only; cookie-bar.webstorepowered.com
Tartes Fine Cakes and Pastries; Philadelphia
This pretty, tiny hidden gem in Old City has no seats inside—just a sliding takeout window where customers pick up jumbo, extra-thick chocolate-pecan cookies. They’re made with high-butterfat butter and Callebaut semisweet chocolate chips, and baked until golden brown for a result that’s crisp-chewy.
Zingerman’s; Ann Arbor, Michigan
The Funky Chunky Dark Chocolate cookies at this iconic Ann Arbor, Michigan, delicatessen (which also operates Zingerman’s Bakehouse) have a rich, rounded flavor thanks to organic unrefined muscovado sugar from Mauritius. There’s nothing truly funky about these cookies, but the chunky comes from hunks of Callebaut semisweet chocolate and walnuts pieces, both of which contribute to a firm, dense cookie.
The Flour Shop; Orlando, Florida
What started as a custom cake business has evolved into a full-service bakery in a Winter Park, Florida, strip mall. The company’s soft, chewy cookies are thin but distinctly jumbo in diameter, and are Orlando Weekly’s pick for the best cookie of 2012. Customers who order in advance by the dozen can opt for the Triple Play cookie, which is packed with three kinds of chocolate: Semisweet, milk and white. flourshop.net
Macrina Bakery; Seattle
Olivia’s Chocolate Chip Cookies (named for owner Leslie Mackie’s daughter) are a classic Toll House-style cookie (soft and chewy) with semisweet chocolate chips and a sprinkle of gray flour de sel. The dough is made with a combination of butter and shortening to provide a soft, rich crumb, and rests chilled for 24 hours before baking. The process ensures an even bake for every batch, because the moist ingredients like eggs have time to thoroughly penetrate the mixture.
Jacques Torres; New York City
At his five New York locations (plus seasonal pop-ups), former Le Cirque pastry chef Jacques Torres puts an expert spin on the American classic, keeping his dough tender and crumbly by mixing cake and bread flours and refrigerating the dough for 24 hours before baking, which allows all of the flavors to meld. Filled with hefty bittersweet chocolate discs and garnished with sea salt, the oversize result is the platonic ideal of this sort of cookie: golden in color, chewy throughout, and slightly crisp at the edges.
Pearl Bakery; Portland, Oregon
Customers line up at 9 a.m. to make sure they’ll get their cookies before they sell out. The Pearl Bakery’s thick, chewy chocolate chunk cookies feature a crispy edge and a gooey, pecan-studded middle. The batter is made with locally sourced butter and eggs, Mexican vanilla, a subtle hint of orange zest and Callebaut semisweet chocolate chunks.
JD’s Chippery; Dallas
Cookies and muffins have been the focus of this old-school mom-and-pop shop since it opened in 1983. The chocolate chip cookies contain Guittard semisweet chips and bourbon vanilla extract. A superb pick for purists, they’re made in small batches and baked into thick discs.
Graze; Madison, Wisconsin
Chef Tory Miller’s locavore gastropub operates as a bakery and breakfast café on weekday mornings, turning out dense Chocolate Sand cookies studded with warm, gooey Cordillera semisweet chips and sprinkled with Maldon sea salt. “The crumb is pretty big—kind of like wet sand, held together by melty chocolate chunks,” says Miller.
Victory Love+Cookies; Denver
At her permanent pop-up within the Denver Bread Company, owner Kristy Greenwood makes a traditional soft Callebaut chocolate chunk cookie with a few subtle twists: extra brown sugar for chewiness and a dollop of molasses in the dough to add depth of flavor. Greenwood lets her dough sit in the refrigerator for up to a week before baking, swearing that an aged cookie dough brings “a ton more flavor to the table.” victoryloveandcookies.com
Sugar Bakeshop; Charleston, South Carolina
This quaint, ‘50s-style American bakery owned by two New York City expats makes small-batch chocolate chip cookies, chewy inside and crisp on the edges. Ingredients include organic flour, local eggs and Nestlé chocolate morsels.
Blackbird Baking Company; Lakewood, Ohio
In this upstart that has become one of the Cleveland area’s favorite bakeries, a young husband-and-wife team makes everything from scratch in an open kitchen. While the specialty is bread (Blackbird supplies nearby restaurants such as the locavore spot Flying Fig), the small selection of sweets is expertly produced, too. The large, soft semisweet chocolate chip cookies are dusted with sea salt before baking, and come out thick and chewy.
The Cookie Studio; Decatur, Georgia
Formerly a head of information systems for a law firm, owner Barbara O’Neill believes that making cookies with perfect texture is a science: She spent eight months perfecting her bakery’s signature Cookie Studio Chocolate Chip cookie. The oversize result is crunchy outside and soft within, crafted from a buttery dough and Guittard semisweet chips. The Studio’s motto is “cookies with a cause,” and a portion of the proceeds goes to the Atlanta Day Shelter for Women and Children.