1. Patisserie 46
For this bewitchingly bronzed specimen of chocolate chip cookie heaven, baker/owner John Kraus lets his busy ovens do all the heavy lifting, burnishing deep butterscotch-y flavor notes until they could very nearly stand in for crisp-edged blondies. And the price is a steal, just $1.35.
4552 Grand Av. S., Mpls., 612-354-3257, www.patisserie46.com
2. Fred’s Bread
Mandy Chowen, Fred Mische’s spouse and business partner, has been perfecting her doozy of a chocolate chunk-er ($1.65) for 14 years. Talk about time well spent. The addition of nutty, coarsely ground whole-wheat flour gives this beauty its appealing shortbread-like snap, with a dough lavishly built upon equal parts butter and chocolate. And what chocolate: It’s Belgian-imported Callebaut, and its bittersweet nature pairs beautifully with Chowen’s finishing touch: twinkling sea salt crystals.
6872 Washington Av. S., Eden Prairie, 952-905-1059, www.fredsbread.com
3. Sebastian Joe’s
Yes, an ice cream maker is also a baker of first-rate chocolate chip cookies. Try to snap one of these brown sugar-heavy, super-moist cookies ($1.75) in half, and they don’t break so much as pull apart. “I like them to be on the chewy side,” said co-owner Michael Pellizzer. “So we instruct our bakers to underbake them, by 30 seconds or a minute.” No wonder this generous-size cookie, a shop staple since 1986, makes for an ideal dunking-in-milk treat. The occasional overbaked accidents end up — where else? — chopped and folded into vanilla ice cream.
4321 Upton Av. S., Mpls., 612-926-7916, and 1007 W. Franklin Av., Mpls., 612-870-0065, www.sebastianjoesicecream.com
4. Cocoa & Fig
Baker/co-owner Laurie Pyle cranks up the pastry chef know-how as she transforms a beloved all-American staple into a crisply elegant indulgence ($1.50). Not only does she mix a pair of ultra-premium milk and bittersweet chocolates for maximum compare-contrast pleasure — and adds a just-before-baking flourish of sweet-busting fleur de sel — but Pyle also relies on brown butter for a rich, almost nutty, flavor layer. Brilliant.
6807 York Av. S., Edina, 952-926-2764, and 651 Nicollet Mall, Mpls., 612-333-1485, www.cocoaandfig.com
5. Salty Tart
“Is there anyone who hates a chocolate chunk cookie?” asked baker/owner Michelle Gayer. Which explains why she includes one on her menu, baking them fresh throughout the day ($1.75) and incorporating an ever-changing variety of milk and bittersweet chocolates. High-gluten flour yields the cookie’s enticingly chewy texture, and Gayer sells a snack-pack version, four smaller treats for $3. “It fits in your purse really well,” she said with a laugh. “You say you’re going to eat one, then you eat them all.”