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Smart Cookies

A Guide To The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies Around

Is there a more classic comfort food than the chocolate chip cookie? Since its invention more than 80 years ago, it has remained one of America’s most beloved desserts. And though it might seem like a simple treat, bakeries across the U.S. are offering their fresh and innovative spins on the original. If you’re in need of a sugar fix, check out these offerings.

CHOCOLATE CHIP WALNUT COOKIE, LEVAIN BAKERY, NEW YORK

Levain Bakery’s signature treat is also the Big Apple’s favorite cookie. Crispy on the outside with a soft, gooey middle, the six-ounce cookie is filled with chocolate chips and walnuts, resulting in a warm, lucious bite. Bakery founders Pam Weekes and Connie McDonald invented the cookie because they wanted a snack to give them energy while training for a triathlon; they ended up fueling New York’s desire for the treats, too. It’s so popular that Levain recently launched a line of frozen cookies so fans can enjoy home-baked goodness in their own kitchens.

FIVE-POUND SEA SALT CARAMEL CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE, T-REX COOKIE CO., MINNEAPOLIS

Yes, you read that correctly: This cookie weighs in at a whopping five pounds. Chock full of chocolate chips and caramel bits, this sweet treat measures 16 inches in diameter and can feed up to 30 people, making it what T-Rex owner Tina Rexing describes as “the perfect shareable dessert.” The cookie, with an $89 price tag, has crispy edges and a doughy center. It’s also topped with flake salt, which Rexing says “enhances the flavor of the cookie [while] balancing the sweetness of the caramel.” But if you can’t finish it in one go, the cookie can keep for up to 14 days on the counter, and as long as three months in the freezer.

GIDEON’S ORIGINAL CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE, GIDEON’S BAKEHOUSE, ORLANDO, FLA.

The first thing you’ll notice about this cookie is that it’s jampacked with chocolate chips, and that’s by design. “It’s our signature,” says Steve Lewis, the owner of Gideon’s Bakehouse. “We have to make a crazy amount of cookies each day to meet demand, [and] it’s simply faster to top cookies with more abundance.” It took Lewis 15 years of trial and error to perfect the recipe, which takes 24 hours to prepare from scratch. The result? An almost half-pound cookie that’s flavored with a variety of chocolates and vanillas and has “a texture that might almost trick you into thinking you’re eating cookie dough,” Lewis says.

The cookie from Gideon’s Bakehouse is jampacked with chocolate chips
The cookie from Gideon’s Bakehouse is jampacked with chocolate chips.

SEA SALT CHOCOLATE CHUNK, SWEET MAE’S COOKIES, CINCINNATI

Tiffany Biddle’s love of baking has been passed down through five generations, but her “stuffed cookies with a thick Southern accent” are her own innovation. “From a young age, I’d help my grandmother and mother bake different goodies and became a natural at it,” she says. “My ultimate goal with our cookie shop is to be an extension of my family’s legacy.” The Sea Salt Chocolate Chunk is stuffed with chocolate chips and Nutella, topped with sea salt, and made with brown-butter dough, which Biddle says “creates the magical nutty flavor that you just won’t get with regular butter.”

QUADRUPLE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE, BIG.FAT.COOKIE., CHICAGO

Described by co-owner Linda Friend as a “gourmet brownie cookie,” the six-ounce treat is made with five types of quality chocolate (“quintuple didn’t sound like a good name!”), and comes out of the oven with a crispy exterior and a soft, gooey interior. But, the cookie’s popularity lies in its meticulous preparation. “Our founder designed and manufactured jewelry for 30 years,” Friend says. “Each cookie...is crafted by hand using the same attention to detail as she used in her jewelry. Big.fat.cookie is a form of edible art!”

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