Friday, October 3, 2008

My Ultimate Snack Food - Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate chip cookies are food royalty in my life, they rule my sweet tooth world. As most people who like cookies go, you've probably had a ton of different types of chocolate chip cookies. There are only two real kinds - crispy and chewy (a.k.a. soft baked).

Chewy is just an abomination - unless you're personally standing there watching cookies come out of the oven, a cookie should not be flexible. Any chewy chocolate chip cookie is pumped full of chemicals to make it bendable, and tastes like it.

I'll focus on the positive - Crispy! There are many good crispy chocolate chip cookies out there, from mom and pop operations to mass market. Here's my take on the top few manufacturers out there in different categories:

Top National Brand - Pepperidge Farm Nantucket Chocolate Chunk Cookie, large and crispy, loaded with dark chocolate chunks. They carry several other styles of chunk cookies, all good as well. This is the best TRAVEL cookie - car trip, picnics, camping and more. They're even stored in seperate stacks inside the bag for easy sharing as well as for protection from busting up. The bonus is that in hot weather, you leave the bag in the sun and the chips get gooey, simulating fresh out-of-the-oven cookies. I can't tell you how many summers I spent as a teenager at the Jersey Shore reading Weekly World News and munching on gooey Pepperidge Farm cookies.

Top Local Brand (Northeast US) - Peggy Lawton Choco Chip Cookies, a best kept secret of New England. This is the cookie you find most in sub shops, grocery stores, schools, and roach coaches. It's the working man's cookie. They are shrink wrapped (it's an art form learning to open them up) in a set of 3, and come in several kinds such as sugar (mmm), peanut butter, oatmeal, and more. The link above is for a chowhound.com posting about the brand, as Peggy Lawton doesn't have a website that I can locate (old school!). The Choco-Chip cookies are this amazingly perfect dry and crisp cookie with almost a "salt" feeling, the chocolate chips rounding out the "sweet". It has the same draw for me as a chocolate covered pretzel. You definitely can not eat just one. It's all or nothing for Peggy Lawton.

Top Boutique Brand - David's Cookies, I discovered this brand through a cafeteria in our building at work. They get them through a foodservice company, and bake them fresh - handing out free samples on Fridays. Or I can buy them at 3 for a dollar, which I manage to do on average of once a week. They have captured the holy grail of Chocolate Chip Cookie Texture. The outside is firm and crunchy, but the inside is slightly chewy and the chips are borderline gooey. The taste follows suit as perfect. I can't vouch for David's offerings of pre-made cookies, but all I can say is I'm ready to buy a bucket of dough from these guys.

And one final note... I'm a No Nuts girl. Macadamia nuts are OK on occasion since they are exotic, but that's it! People manage to ruin a good chocolate chip cookie with the palatable taste of aptly named WALNUT MEATS. No thanks! Blech.

7 comments:

claire said...

I love Tate's cookies. You can buy them online (tatesbakeshop.com), at whole foods, and at most gourmet delis. They're super crispy, dark brown, and dangerously addictive. I had the misfortune of living near their bakery this summer.

Dawn Haley Morton said...

P.S. - Honorable Mention: Panera Bakery & Cafe's chocolate chip cookies. Aside from being monstrous, they also have a good crispy level with the soft inside. Yes, I am eating one right now (thanks Marji).

Brian Grossman said...

Thanks for this great posting, Dawn. I totally agree that chocolate chip cookies are food royalty.

I have to admit, I'm a total cookie snob. I have trouble enjoying cookies that aren't homemade. This I can blame squarely on my mom who is one of the best bakers I know.

Additionally, about ten years ago I inherited an amazing cookie recipe from a friend of mine's mother, who won a blue ribbon. They happen to have a cup of Crisco in them, but they also happen to taste amazing!

Have we talked about eating the raw dough? My wife and I will make enough dough to cook about four dozen cookies. We'll make about a dozen for company coming over, then it's rare that the rest of the dough ever makes it into the oven.

Also, on the topic of peanut butter cookies... does anyone really enjoy them? The only time I'll eat one is when all the other options have been eaten.

-Brian

TJ Shay said...

I hate to dispute the amazing Dawn Haley Morton and do so with great peril, but who eats baked cookies? If you eat the dough raw, you don't have to worry about the crunchy or chewy debate because they are alway chewy!

I vote for raw. Homemade is the best, but in a pinch in a bad work week, they do sell rolls at the local grocery.

Maribeth Bush said...

I have to disagree with you all! Fist of all, I'm not a fan of eating raw cookie dough. Do you guys really find it that enjoyable? And enjoyable over the baked cookies?

And Brian, yes - there are many of us who not only enjoy peanut butter cookies, but who LOVE them! I actually like peanut butter cookies more than chocolate chip cookies.

Back to chocolate chip cookies - I prefer chewy to crispy, and I disagree that the only way to make a cookie chewy is to pump it full of chemicals. I know some local bakeries that make some great chewy cookies that have cooled, but are still chewy. Also, I've baked cookies myself that have been chewy, yet chemical free. Though, if you're talking about chewy pre-packaged, store bought cookies, then yes... I would think they'd probably be filled with chemicals.

My favorite chocolate cookie recipes is one I got from someone at work who brings them in several times a year... to everyone's delight (if you're lucky enough to get one before they're all snapped up). They are slightly chewy - the trick being to take them out of the oven before they seem quite done. They are nut free, but have pulverized oatmeal in them. They are DEEEElicious!

Anonymous said...

I used to be a chocolate chip cookie person, until I found the Italian Rainbow cookies, especially the ones from the Cookie Outlet. Now chocolate chip cookies are in second place.

Great post, BTW!

Anonymous said...

oops, my link was broken. This one Cookie Outlet works.