New York City: Cookie Town
Let’s put on our New York City thinking caps and play word association. Ready? I say Jacques Torres, you say… chocolate. I say City Bakery, you say… pretzel croissant (or hot chocolate, since it’s their 19th annual hot chocolate festival this month). I say Serendipity 3, you say… Frrrozen Hot Chocolate. I say Dorie Greenspan, you say… Baking? Paris? French cuisine? But if I say Dorie and Josh Greenspan, you say… cookies! Mother and son’s outrageously popular CookieBar pop-up in 2010 had New Yorkers lining up for freshly baked cookies until they sold out – which they did rather quickly.
Well… they’re back! CookieBar 2.0 is popping up again in time for Valentine’s Day, and will be at Mizu salon on the Upper East Side during the week of February 7th. This means two things: 1) New Yorkers and visitors to New York City during this time are lucky. And 2) my parents have to make room in their freezer again.
Unfortunately my trips to New York from Switzerland haven’t coincided with these sweet pop-ups yet, but I took it upon myself to see if the CookieBar selection freezes well, and would taste fresh on the other side of the ocean. Think of it as research for their online store in the works. The verdict: yes; yes indeed they do. They freeze very well, and survive translatlantic flights too (when my parents brought them on a trip here). The winners were thin and incredibly chewy molasses spice cookies, sweet and salty peanut butter crisscrosses and perfect sablés, sugar-topped and espresso-chocolate, the latter I especially loved with a tall glass of milk. The coconut lime shortbread and amazingly chocolately chock-full (Valrhona) chocolate chunkers were not far behind. (recipes are from Dorie’s cookbook, Baking From My Home to Yours)
This year, the favorites are back with their signature round shape and straight sides; and worry not, that means the famous World Peace Cookie too. (Check out the full cookie menu). There are also new creations that will soon find their way into my parents’ freezer and then on a plane to Zürich for Taste Test 2.0. Jammers are three treats in one: sablé, Sarabeth’s jam (strawberry-raspberry or pear-pineapple) and streusel topping. And Broundies sound like pure heaven: an ingenious marriage of brownie and blondie. Don’t forget the caramel blondies too, which in CookieBar’s words, are “a sweet that stretches the borders of cookiedom.” Can’t wait to taste them all, defrosted in Switzerland soon.
I recently shared my favorite sweet spots in New York City with Canadian blogger, lifestyle and entertainment expert, Kim Vallee. Five of my six choices have exceptional cookies, among other goodies. (We all know I’m a cookie girl.) And so, after you lucky New Yorkers have filled up on those purple boxes at CookieBar, exchanging hellos, laughs and cookies with Dorie and “The Kid,” here are a few more addresses in Manhattan to get your cookie fix.
Jacques Torres, Mr. Chocolate, hardly needs an introduction. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that his mudslide cookies have a fan club of their own. But my Torres cookie of choice is the classic chocolate chip. Eaten on the spot at Chelsea Market, warm from the oven, it’s nothing short of irresistible. So resist not.
Although my main reason for going to City Bakery is the unparalleled Pretzel Croissant, the cookies at the counter always make it into my hands too. Again, no point resisting here either. Large, thin, crispy, chewy, caramelized, chocolately… these are the things sweet dreams are made of.
At the always bustling Momofuku Milk Bar, the Corn Cookie remains my personal favorite. It’s always fun to taste the original Compost Cookie there as well, as its endless variations continue to come out of my oven at home (recipe here). Oh, and for the record, I don’t have any complaints about their birthday cake truffles either.
I’ve mentioned a stellar chocolate chip cookie at Spot Dessert Bar before, and it’s still high on my list. Below right, it’s simply huge, has multiple layers of chocolate (as well as grated coconut) and is seriously decadent. As are the mega cookies from Vosges, a name most people associate with chocolate, rather than cookies. I am a loyal fan of their exotic candy bars, yet must say that these massive treats are worth the attention too. The same flavors of bars show up as cookies, like the Naga exotic cookie, with sweet Indian curry powder, coconut, pumpkin puree and milk chocolate chunks. You have to try it to believe it. After one bite, when you’re convinced, put the Caramel Toffee (sweet butter toffee, milk chocolate chunks) or the Costa Rican (dark chocolate chunk) cookie in the microwave for about 10 seconds. Heaven.
Last but not least, a restaurant that’s worth going to for one cookie alone (even though the entire menu, savory and sweet, 3 meals a day, is worthy of praise too). Karen DeMasco‘s Nutella cookie (below left) at Locanda Verde. Need I say more? I enjoyed a marvelous breakfast there – thanks to the toasted hazelnut French toast with citrus salad and apple cider doughnuts, and to my breakfast date, friend and pastry chef Shuna Fish Lydon. I recommend letting your cookie radar take you to Peels on the Bowery as well, where you can devour Shuna’s cookie plate, while deciding which cake, pie and sundae to have next. Hint: you can’t go wrong with any of the above. (DeMasco’s treats below)
Of course there’s cookies from Levain Bakery, Tate’s and Ruby et Violette too, other perennial favorites of mine. Without forgetting a NYC classic, the black & white cookie from William Greenberg. So many cookies, so little time.
What are your favorite cookies in New York City? Anyone going (or already been) to CookieBar?