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."
920 E. Lake St., Mpls., 612-874-9206, www.saltytart.com
While the bakery's bittersweet chocolate cookie seems to hog the limelight, signature-item status should also be conferred on the pancake-flat, wrinkled-like-a-Shar Pei puppy chocolate chip cookie ($1.25), which is like no other. Prodigious amounts of high-fat-content butter cause them to spread in the oven, and they stick around long enough to attain their tantalizing dark brown color and rich, caramelized bottom. If there were a chocolate chip cookie parade, this would be its grand marshal.
3220 W. Lake St., Mpls., 612-822-1119, www.rusticabakery.com
7. Lucia's To Go
Lucia Watson and her baking crew are the talent behind what is easily the classic Toll House-formula gold standard and, without question, the most satisfying way to spend $1 in the seven-county metro area.
1432 W. 31st St., Mpls., 612-825-9800, www.lucias.com
8. The Buttered Tin
Turns out that even the chocolate chip cookie is not exempt from the everything's-better-with-frosting truism. In the case of the Whoopie Cookie, it's a dollop of vanilla-kissed Swiss meringue buttercream, which baker/co-owner Alicia Hinze uses to connect two soft, chewy, bittersweet chocolate-packed cookies ($2). Think "ice cream sandwich," minus the hassle of the freezer.
237 E. 7th St., St. Paul, 651-224-2300, www.thebutteredtin.com
9. Honey and Rye
This St. Louis Park newcomer — barely a few weeks old — is turning out a doozy of a cookie right out of the gate. By necessity. "We have a focus on what everyone grew up eating," said baker/co-owner Anne Andrus. "And this is one of those cookies that you just can't get enough of." Home bakers interested in replicating its chewy center, crisp edges and crackle-topped appearance, listen up: It is achieved by building the dough with melted butter rather than room temperature, a process that makes for a distinctly delicious cookie ($2).
4501 Excelsior Blvd., St. Louis Park, 612-844-2555, www.honey-and-rye.com
10. Cossetta Alimentari
The cases that line the swank pasticceria inside the top-to-bottom remake of this Saintly City culinary classic are jammed with tiny, adorable and tempting Italian cookies and biscotti. But don't overlook the palm-sized, all-American splendor that is the Cossetta chocolate chip cookie ($1.75), which is jammed with so much chocolate that it's almost more candy bar than cookie.
211 W. 7th St., St. Paul, 651-222-3476, www.cossettas.com
11. Seward Co-op
Ingredients matter. Start with the sublime European-style high-fat butter from Hope Creamery in Hope, Minn., then add in the semisweet goodness of chips from 10 Degrees, a sustainable, small-farmer-focused Colombian chocolate maker, and you've got the basis for the kind of thick, golden, chewy Toll House-er ($1.29) that you could easily pass off as home-baked. No wonder it's the store's top-selling cookie.
2823 E. Franklin Av., Mpls., 612-338-2465, www.seward.coop
12. Common Roots Cafe
Owner Danny Schwartzman has the mantra down: "Good ingredients equals a great cookie," he said, then rattled off a locavore's grocery list that includes Hope Butter and organic, cage-free eggs from producer Larry Schultz in Owatonna, Minn. "It's a good, clean cookie," he said, before tossing in a few more trade secrets, including organic flour, an intense dark chocolate, a brown sugar-only formula and a twinkling garnish in the form of flaky Maldon sea salt. A good price, too: $1.75. "I eat a fair number of them," Schwartzman said with a laugh. "I try and stop myself and not make it an everyday thing."
2558 Lyndale Av. S., Mpls., 612-871-2360, www.commonrootscafe.com
Lunds and Byerly's crank out a pretty decent mass-market specimen, but the supermarket chain is bested by the department store's buttery, tender, chocolate-packed version ($1.95). Pick them up on Tuesdays, when the price drops to $1 with another food purchase.
Seven Twin Cities locations, including 700 Nicollet Mall, Mpls., 612-375-2200, www.macys.com
14. Yum! Kitchen and Bakery
For those who prefer to satisfy their chocolate chip cookie cravings in single (and semi guilt-free) bites, owner Patti Soskin offers a helpful solution: a thin, golden brown, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate chip cookie that's the size of a silver dollar and sold for a quarter. Genius.
4000 Minnetonka Blvd., St. Louis Park, 952-922-4000, www.yumkitchen.com
15. Bread & Chocolate
There they sit in the case at Cafe Latte's little sister, whole warm-from-the-oven trays of them ($1.75), trumpeting their buttery aura and demonstrating that, when it comes right down to it, they are little more than instruments for delivering gooey chocolate, and plenty of it. Then there's this deal, a role model for bakeries everywhere: Buy 10 and get two for free.
867 Grand Av., St. Paul, 651-228-1017, www.cafelatte.com/bread_chocolate.html
16. Bars BakerY
Sandi Younkin and Kara Younkin Viswanathan, the mother-daughter team behind this Selby-Dale delight, pump so much high-fat butter (another happy Hope customer) into their chewy, deeply golden chocolate-chip cookies ($2) that the centers collapse under the sheer weight of it all. "Butter, butter, butter, that's what we do," Sandi Younkin said with a laugh. They may be overshadowed by some of the shop's other temptations — right now, that means a pumpkin cookie with brown butter icing that has no local peer — but they continue to sell, and sell. "People always go for the chocolate chip cookie," said Sandi Younkin. "Time and time again."
612 Selby Av., St. Paul, 651-224-8300, www.barsbakery.com
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