There is so much promise in buying a $5.00 cookie made with Jacques Torres chocolate in New York City. This kind of cookie has the potential to be great, specifically because it is backed by a name known for high quality chocolate.
I remember this cookie well. I bought it in New York City’s Chelsea Market. I was even asked if I wanted my cookie warm or room temperature. For $5.00, I felt that my purchase was going to be well-worth it.
Unfortunately, this cookie did not deliver. I asked for my cookie warm, but it felt more like a sad attempt to mask a cookie that was already stale. The “cookie” part was bland and hard as a rock, while the chocolate had a bitter, burned flavor, like it had been left in the microwave for too long.
I was disappointed, but I finished the cookie anyway. My hands and face were also covered in this ridiculously expensive chocolate. I’m pretty sure Jacques Torres was just having a bad day, so it’s hard for me to pass judgement based on this incident. Still, it was not worth my $5.00.
When I look for a good cookie, I look for several things – quality of chocolate, distribution of chocolate (does it use chocolate chips, chopped chocolate or both?), flavor of the dough, and crispness versus chewiness.
Potbelly, a popular sandwich chain with numerous locations across the country, has a store a few blocks away from my apartment. In addition to my usual sandwich, I always buy an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie. (Thanks to dfw.com for the image.)
The cookie is crisp on the outside and soft in the center, just the way I like it. The melted chocolate chips are small enough not to make a mess. The cookie is somewhere in between thick and paper thin. This cookie is much better than the one I previously mentioned, and it’s $1.25.
Unfortunately, I’ve had to learn the hard way that you don’t always have to visit an expensive, fancy-schmancy bakery with an internationally renowned name to find an excellent chocolate chip cookie. I didn’t have to try to find Potbelly’s cookie, either. They are so abundant I might as well build a house out of them. Wait, a cookie house? Hmm…
Corner Bakery, another sandwich/coffee/desserts chain in D.C., is another winner on my list. The “Monster Cookie” (Pictured, left – thanks to runnersworld.com for the photo.) combines chocolate chips and M&Ms, making it much more chocolatey than Potbelly’s. The cookie is also crisper than Potbelly’s, but it is just as soft in the center. As a result, the contrast of the outside and the center of the cookie is more intense.
This cookie is incredible, and it’s $1.50. There’s a location in Union Station I frequent, but they are all over the city (as well as across the country!).
Grocery stores can also be a good bet for delicious cookies. I have been a fan of Whole Foods’ chocolate chip cookies for years. These cookies tend to be softer and less crisp than the last two I highlighted, but the chocolate chips are rich and flavorful. I also like BJ’s chocolate chip cookies, as well as Harris Teeter’s (My mom used to pack these in my lunches when I was in middle school).
Despite the winning cookies I mentioned above, there really is nothing better than a homemade, freshly baked cookie. If you have a good recipe, take the time to bake your own. I think it makes a difference.
Here is a great recipe I received at culinary school from one of my instructors, Chef Somchet. I like to use Ghirardelli chocolate, which packs the most flavor out of any other chip I’ve ever used.
CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
• 4 ½ oz. Crisco
• 4 ½ oz. soft butter
• 8 oz. sugar
• 8 oz. brown sugar (dark)
• 2 eggs
• 1 egg yolk
• ½ tsp. vanilla
• 14 oz. AP flour
• 1 tsp. baking soda
• 1 tsp. salt
• Sea salt (optional)
• Chocolate chips
• Chopped chocolate bar
1. Combine Crisco and softened butter in mixer (can use a hand mixer or a KitchenAid mixer).
2. Add brown sugar and sugar, and then cream with butter and Crisco.
3. Add the yolks and eggs slowly, one at a time.
4. Sift flour, baking soda and salt together, and then add to the other ingredients. Mix well.
5. Add vanilla and continue to mix.
6. Stir in chocolate chip and chopped chocolate with spatula.
7. Use ice cream scoop to place dough onto a sheet tray lined with Crisco.
8. Chill for at least 30 minutes.
9. Sprinkle the top of each cookie dough cluster with sea salt (optional).
10. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes.