Anyone who knows us knows we are food-crazed. I’m lucky to have never been addicted to anything dangerous, although my mum may argue that my snacking on baked goods is borderline, however there are a handful of foods that I just can’t get enough of. Chinese takeaway is perhaps the most noticeable – I even get uncontrollable cravings that T will testify has led to many a tantrum. Steak is another that my mouth just waters at the thought of. The final, and perhaps most enduring, is my love of chocolate chip cookies.
When we were planning our time in New York City, amongst looking at sights to visit and restaurants to eat in, I began researching New York’s cookie offerings. A surprising number of people have been on a similar quest, all with differing outcomes (see links below), so I’ve decided to add my hat to the ring, and show you the best cookies in NYC. As a long-time cookie lover, I brought T into the taste-test to have a slightly less partial opinion. For the record, his favourite flavour is Oat & Raisin, and even then, give him a slice of Tiramisu instead on any day of the week.
After narrowing our options down, my cookie shortlist includes Levain on West 74th St, Pasticceria Rocco on Bleecker St and the Dominique Ansel Bakery on Spring St.
We decided that in order to judge them successfully we would need a set of criteria, and so decided on the following:
5. Wow Factor
On our first day in the city (after getting up at 2am at our hotel in Gatwick, London) we thought we’d soak up the sunshine on a walk around Central Park. Aiming to hold out until reaching our planned bagel spot (see our Central Park Itinerary here), the hunger decided to hit us around 74th St and so after checking the map, we dove off behind the Natural History Museum to find Levain. Located on a fairly sleepy street next to a busy fried chicken restaurant, Levain is very unassuming from the outside. In simple blue font, and an even simpler white interior, you can order coffee or buy cookies/cake with very little fuss.
Unfortunately I was unaware that the choc chip cookie only came as choc chip and walnut, and I’m annoyingly allergic, so opted instead for Double Chocolate, and for T, Oatmeal & Raisin.
B: 4 – Ideally wanted more chew, but gooey centre was perfection.
T: 4 – A little too crumbly, not quite chewy enough.
B: 4 – Impressive looking cookie, generous portions, lives up to the famed American style.
T: 4 – I was expecting bigger from the articles read, but it does have a pleasing mountain-like shape.
B: 5 - Beautiful quality of chocolate, without being over-sweet.
T: 5 – Best oatmeal cookie ever, chocolate was gooey and good quality.
B: 3 - Not overly welcoming due to no-nonsense interior.
T: 3 – There was little seating and it was quite clinical.
B: 4 - One hell of a cookie, annoyed at myself for not being able to try the choc chip!
T: 4 - Solid Cookie but a little overhyped.
On our second day in NYC, en route to the famous Joe’s Pizza, we stumbled upon a Pasticceria called Rocco that I had read about. They have a very impressive window of cookies, with chocolate chip, double choc, the famous New York black and white, and the one which caught my eye – the M&M covered cookie.
As soon as you step inside, you’re transported to Italy, with the traditional decor, mirrors everywhere and the centre piece – a long glass cabinet filled with row upon row of cakes, cheesecakes, canoli, biscuits, tarts and fruit – it’s a wonderful sight. The warmth of the atmosphere and the staff is refreshing in a city that can sometimes be quite blunt, and the general feeling is that Rocco’s is the kind of place that you want to stay a while.
B: 2 - Italian cookie with sponge-like texture, not my favourite, but just a personal preference.
T: 3 - Not a traditional American cookie, more of a cakey texture.
B: 5 - Incredible looking cookie, multi-coloured and literally stopped me in the street.
T: 5 - Impressive appearance, large cookie with good M&M coverage.
B: 3 - Disappointed that the M&Ms were not inside the cookie but just decorating the top, bit bland aside from that.
T: 3 Tasted like vanilla cake.
B: 5 - Gorgeous Italian bakery, traditional and beautiful bakes lining an extensive glass counter. Lots of seating, a friendly atmosphere and all of the staff speak Italian – a real gem in the centre of the city.
T: 5 - Smelled beautiful, all sorts of interesting pastries and cakes, would go back, just not for the cookie – give me some Tiramisu!
B: 4 - Cookie texture was a bit of a let-down but would come back in a heartbeat to sit, have coffee and indulge in ‘la dolce far niente’ (the sweetness of doing nothing).
T: 3 - Initially a huge wow factor but this excitement isn’t matched by the interior (of the cookie).
I’d read mixed things about the Dominique Ansel Bakery, famed of course for the invention of the Cronut (croissant-donut), and a reputation of long queues and being sold out by 11am. We arrived on a rainy afternoon, hoping that there would be something left, and were met with a long sprawling queue snaking down to the back of the shop. But the British love a queue, and so we diligently joined it – and boy were we rewarded.
We tried two different cookies, the first a cookie shot (consisting of a cup made of cookie, filled with a dark chocolate lining, warmed up and then poured full with vanilla-infused milk). It’s worth noting here that the cookie shot is only available after 3pm, so remember this when you visit. The second is just your classic chocolate chip cookie.
B: 5 - Perfectly chewy with the softness from the dark chocolate and milk inside – just the taste of childhood.
T: 5 - Not a traditional cookie, so hard to compare with others. Melted chocolate lining is incredible and soaks into the cookie cup, gives it a distinct advantage.
B: 5 - Milk and cookie in one – sweet dreams are made of these!
T: 5 - It’s a cup made of cookie.
B: 5 - Vanilla milk and melty dark chocolate on top of a warm cookie just amplifies all of that choc chip flavour. Thought I was going to cry at the beauty.
T: 5 - Vanilla milk is a perfect match for the chocolate cookie.
B: 5 - The bakery itself is a warm and friendly Tardis. Although there was a long queue and perhaps a twenty minute wait, our server was really friendly and eager to chat and make us comfortable. He also recommended we try the DKA, a kind of ultra-buttery circular croissant that changed the way I see pastry! An absolute must try if you visit here. There is also a lovely seated area at the back of the bakery, featuring the most Instagram-able flower wall imaginable. Just all round wonderful.
T: 5 - Loved the glass window into the kitchen and being able to watch the bakers at work. Long queue, which pre-empted the glorious cookie to come. Staff were super friendly and there was a bustling atmosphere.
B: 5 - I dream about this cookie.
T: 5 - It’s a cup made of cookie.
Choc Chip Cookie
B: 5 - Incredible. Dough-y all through the interior with a lovely crisp and chewy exterior.
T: 5 - Just exactly the texture you want from a cookie. Chewy, melted chocolate, warm and just out of the oven.
B: 5 - Picture perfect.
T: 5 - Classic choc chip.
B: 5 - Really well constructed with a rich buttery dough, a light milk chunk and a dark chocolate chunk.
T: 5 - Rich chocolate taste with vanilla. Dreamy.
B: 5 - Delicious, albeit slightly upstaged by it’s cookie shot sister, this is the best straight-up cookie I’ve ever had.
T: 5 - Straight out of the oven, warm, melty, just like *makes incoherent hand gestures* malleable, flops when you hold it.
Overall, our choice for the 'Best Cookie in New York City' is ...*wait for it*...
There’s some debate between us over which version, but the overarching theme is: get yourself to Dominique Ansel and order them both, immediately.