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confronting the cookie

I love love love a good cookie--which, to my taste, is big, fresh, soft and gooey (the exception being shortbread), be it w/ or w/o nuts, chips, sprinkles etc.
But I almost never buy them b/c they're almost always a depressing waste of precious guilty-pleasure calories. Only cake by the slice surpasses a cookie in its ratio of good looks:blah flavor. Even Maria's only does so-so soft cookies (though the Italian varieties are pretty good).

Which bakeries in town have truly mastered the lowly cookie?


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  1. I think Lakota Bakery has the best cookies around. They are in Arlington Heights (near Penzeys and across from Something Savory). I'm partial to the macaroons (lemon, chocolate covered almond or coconut), florentines and their chocolate dipped shortbread. The lemon macaroons were my favorite of the three but my last purchase had an excess of icing. The chocolate almond is a close second. The coconut has a hunk of dark chocolate in the middle which is always a nice contrast.

    I usually buy my fix at Formaggio in Cambridge. However, sometimes, they can get a wee bit stale.

    I also love the Salt Oats cookies (at the bread counter at FK or by the boxed chocolate section. I *love* the chocolate salty oats cookie but they are $2.50 a pop. Big cookie but pricey.

    4 Replies
    1. re: beetlebug

      Ignore my post. I just saw the word "cookie" and I immediately thought of Lakota. They don't fit your parameters of big, fresh, soft and gooey. But they are tasty.

      Sorry about that.

      1. re: beetlebug

        We have the same palate for cookies...I LOVE Lakota (I like the chocolate sandwich cookies and the apricot linzer) and Salty Oats!!! I've tried, unsuccessfully, to replicate them myself!

        1. re: beetlebug

          I *love* the lemon macaroons at Lakota. They are sensational. I could polish off 1/2 dozen with a tall glass of milk, easy. My hubby feels the same way about their rumballs.

          1. re: beetlebug

            I met the Salty Oats cookies woman at the Hingham Whole Foods last saturday...She's really nice, and skinny, damn her! The cookies are absolutely delicious, and surprisingly, sigar is pretty low on the ingredient list. They were selling bags of six, a mix of the plain and the chocolate, for $9.95. Don't know if they carry them at other Whole Foods yet, but we can ask; she really deserves the boost! The company is called kayak cookies, or cookie, not sure which.

          2. Clear Flour does a few really good big cookies - I think the one most to your taste would probably be the oatmeal raisin. They also do a chocolate chunk, sometimes with and sometimes without nuts (I prefer mine with), and occasionally an all-chocolate cookie, which I haven't actually tried.

            They also do a variety of small bagged cookies, but those would definitely not fit your criteria as they are all of the crispy/crunchy or shortbread variety. I think it's probably hard to do a really gooey big cookie in a commercial setting, rather than homemade, because they don't keep at all well, but are only good when very fresh.

            1. Big, soft and gooey is hard to find in a cookie - they don't really seem to keep that way. Someone around here makes big, soft, gooey vegan cookies. I know I've seen them in cellophane at Pemberton's. Probably not at all what you're looking for, but the only soft ones that come to mind.

              3 Replies
              1. re: gini

                The vegan ones you are talking about are Boston Cookies-- cellophane wrapped and also available at Whole Foods, among other high end markets.

                Hi Rise cookies are pretty darn good-- fresh, crisp around the edges but softer & chewier toward the middle. The pricing is quirky-- some are a dollar, some are 2.25-- dependent on ingredient cost, I'd imagine.

                Agree with beetlebug-- Formaggio has a variety of sources, but staleness happens there more than it should.

                1. re: newhound

                  Ditto the above mentioned raves regarding Lakota. Their cakes are wonderful too. Being a baker, I tend to buy the cookies I don't make so I never buy their chocolate chip/oatmeal/peanut butter.

                  Russo's in Watertown makes a fabulous, soft, chewy Kitchen Sink cookie and at $1.25 it's a steal. They also have peanut butter, ginger/molassas and a few others which are probably worth a try. Sweet Tooth in South Boston makes super large, chewy old fashion cookies at very reasonable prices too. Happy hunting!

                  1. re: tweetie

                    I second Russo's! That was my first thought when I read the original post. I'm absolutely addicted to their ginger/molasses cookies, and it was dangerous when my fiance worked just down the street. Now, we get them less often, but they're still at the top of my list! I recently tried the Kitchen Sink cookies, and they're absolutely fantastic. Get some milk to go with them, though!

              2. Rosie's Bakery's cookie is definitely what you are looking for. Nice crisp edge with a soft gooey center. I know there is one in Chestnut Hill, but they also have a couple of other locations.

                3 Replies
                1. re: mabelm4050

                  I second Rosie's. I usually get the oatmeal rasin and it is fresh, soft and chewy-gooey. This one does not fit the descriiption but another favorite of mine from Rosie's is their biscotti -- cranberry pistachio, it's wonderful!

                  1. re: SEH

                    Ditto the peanut butter chocolate chunk and the snickerdoodles. Which is strange, i always think of snickerdoodles as kind of flavorless, but theirs are chewy and dense. They're selling their cookie-dough, refrigerated at a few Whole Foods in the area, and the cookies it makes are amazing.

                    Speaking of which, WF has a jumble cookie that has dark chocolate, raisins, nuts and a bunch of stuff. Since their dough all comes from a commissary, and gets baked in store, you have to check carefully, but they can be divine. Worth every calorie.

                    1. re: galleygirl

                      Flour also sells their dough, which you can divvy up and freeze in cookie-sized portions and bake at will. Mmmm....warm cookies.

                2. I found myself in Arlington one afternoon so I stopped at Lakota. Thank god I don't live near there. I brought home a dozen, GONE in no time. The best around.

                  1. I have had relatively consistently good luck with Whole Food's vegan chocolate chip cookies. My son has food allergies so I tried them once and was amazed to find them delicious. I have occasionally had a slightly stale batch, but they're still on the softer side and the chocolate chips they use have a slightly more grownup taste.

                    1. Volle Nolle sporadically makes oatmeal or chocolate chip cookies that are great.

                      1. Thanks for the responses all (not to shut anyone down; keep 'em coming if so inclined!) Very handy!

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: tatamagouche

                          This is kind of a strange place, but the sandwich/salad place in the Prudential food court (name is escaping me at the moment) actually has really gooey chocolate chip cookies. They aren't big but they are so yummy (they give you one when you order a sandwich).

                          I have also always liked the big, fat chocolate chip cookies at Garden of Eden. I haven't had one in a long time but they are big and cakey, though not really gooey.

                          1. re: lissy

                            flour's chocolate chip cookies are amazing; second hi rise chocolate chip cookies (huge chocolate chips, soft cookies); though i generally dont like finale, i love their chocolate chip cookies. rosie's has an extrordinary peanut butter chocolate chip. nashoba bakery on columbus in the south end also has great cookies (as does appleton bakery cafe).

                            1. re: lissy

                              The place in the Prudential food court is Paradise Bakery and Cafe. I think it's a chain of some sort, so it may be in many other malls and food courts around (only seen the one, tho). The cookies are amazing - especially if you're there around lunch hour when they're handing out cookies as fast as they can bake them. Gooey inside with crispy outside.

                              Nashoba Brook Valley Bakery's South End location doesn't do the baking - they have another one. Given how good the baked goods are after the truck ride, the original is worth seeking out.

                              1. re: kbw18

                                A third chime in for Paradise Bakery in the Pru. Outstanding big gooey type cookies (chocolate chip, peanutbutter chip, oreo surprise), and even BETTER sugar cookies, with regular sugar and snickerdoodle. Don't be scared because it's a food court. They're damn good.

                          2. Based on your criteria, I suggest the oatmeal raisin at (of all places) Au Bon Pain. I don't usually recommend chains but I've been known to crave this chewy buttery cookie. It's surprisingly good and only $1.25. Do they still do half price after 4 at some branches?

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: gourmaniac

                              The oatmeal raisin at ABP is a very good call. Second that.

                              1. re: gourmaniac

                                They bumped up the time to the hour before closing, maybe 2 hours. I always wondered why the Brigham ABP was doing that at 4 when they stayed open til 10 or 11. That was a great deal that I seldom can take advantage of anymore. Sometimes I catch one at the ABP outside Harvard Sq.

                                I agree with the Whole Foods cookies, and the Govt Center location seems to be cheaper than the others. And I still say Dunkin Donuts does a pretty good cookie. Canto 6 has good cookies to tho I usually get shortbread ones there.

                              2. I'm not such a fan of the cookie, and I think mostly for the reasons you never buy them: 95% of the time, they just ain't worth the calories.

                                My favorite cookies are not soft, but I throw in my 2-cents anyway:

                                plain salty oats cookies (bought at Formaggio Kitchen)
                                pecan-something or other cookies from Mariposa in Central Square
                                "oreos" from Flour are pretty dang good
                                I love the apricot shortbread cookies from B&R Artisan Bread [full disclosure: I know the owners]
                                Full Moon in Huron Village does a nice (soft) giant oatmeal raisin that I quite like

                                1. It's been a while, but I seem to recall really enjoying the various cookies at both True Grounds in Ball Square, and Sherman in Union Square. Both establishments are going for the kind of cookie you're describing.

                                  1. I enjoy reading this website mostly for the baked goods recs - and I'm always on the lookout for a great cookie - especially the classic chocolate chip. So here are my reviews:
                                    best ones i've had:
                                    au bon pain - i like the chocolate chip and the oatmeal raisin. make sure you get the fresh ones and not the bagged ones (some locations only carry the bagged ones).
                                    Rebecca's - again, a chain, but their chocolate chocolate chip (I think they're called Mocha chip b/c they have coffee in them) are pretty darn good. I don't think their other cookies are worth it.
                                    Boston Chipyard in faneuil hall - these are not big, but they are ooey and gooey and fresh. i actually don't like the plain chocolate chip - the cookie portion is too bland, but the chocolate chocolate chip is awesome.
                                    paradise bakery - these are usually delish, although one time i had them they were not that great - so i'm not sure how consistent they are. i loved the choc chip and the coconut chocolate chip.
                                    Flour - I tried the chocolate chocolate chip, which was soooo good.
                                    Carol Ann's Bake Shop in Fanueil Hall - this is the first place on the left, next to Starbuck's, and a very recent find of mine. The chocolate chip is excellent, as is the M&M (which is just the chocolate chip one coated in M&Ms). The chocolate chocolate chip is really good, but not as good as the choc chip (and not as good as the Chipyard's choc choc chip).
                                    not worth it:
                                    Rosie's - I know people like this place, but i thought the chocolate chip cookie was just okay. not worth going back to.
                                    Petsi Pies - Some people highly recommended this place as well, so my husband and i tried one of each of their cookies. Although they are huge and weighty and crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside, they're just not great. The cookie portion of the chocolate chip was too bland, the chocolate chocolate chip outright bad. The ginger was pretty good, but not great. The peanut butter was the best of the lot, but it just tasted like a regular, make from a box peanut butter cookie. Nothing special.
                                    Pete's coffee - I tried their chocolate chip cookie right after we moved to Boston. It was so bad, I returned it.
                                    Hi Rise - I think most of their baked goods are blah. They look so good, but they always disappoint. The chocolate chip cookie here has delicious, good quality, huge chocolate chunks, but again, the cookie portion of the cookie is super bland. It just tastes like flour.
                                    Max's Deli Cafe, Milk Street, Sebastian's, Whole Foods (from the bakery section where you can buy one at a time - i've only tried the chocolate chip) - all not good.

                                    The best cookie i've ever had is from a place in NYC. So if you're ever on the upper west side, go here: http://www.levainbakery.com/product.html. The chocolate chocolate chip is to die for.

                                    1. Again, thank y'all so much. I'm going to do a taste test soon, armed with these recs, and will report back.

                                      1. It's a little outside your original specs for soft cookies, but the florentines at Modern Pastry are amazing (the big ones, not the dainty little ones) - covered in dark chocolate with bits of candied orange zest and, I think, cinnamon. Phenomenal.

                                        I think someone mentioned Whole Foods' cookies, and I would endorse them too, especially the double chocolate. Straightforward and good.

                                        Oh, and I had a very nice thin almond cookie a while ago from Cafe Cakes (I *think* that's the correct name) on Galen Street in Watertown. Not a decadent, over the top cookie, but crisp, subtle and very very good.

                                        1. I second the Finale rec. None of the proper desserts have blown me away, but the cookies are wonderful. The oatmeal raisin is the best I've had in the Boston area--not enormous, but a wonderful blend of chewy and crunchy, with very nice spicing.
                                          Hi-Rise and Whole foods are my other two usual stops. Try the cherry oatmeal raisin at High-Rise, as well as the chocolate chip.
                                          Toscanini's do a nice hearty wholemeal chocolate chip cookie--good dark chocolate, and almost a small meal.

                                          1. Forgot one that EXACTLY matches your specs: 1369's chocolate chip cookies. I don't usually bother with buying chocolate chip cookies cause they're so easy to make, but theirs are excellent - big chunks of chocolate, browned near the edge, underbaked in the center. I always mean to save half for later but never actually do.

                                            1. It's a little far afield, but I recommend the cookies at Baker's Best on Lincoln St. in Newton. The macaroons that are dipped in dark chocolate are delicious and meet the OP criteria of big, fresh, soft and gooey.

                                              1. I'm a big fan of almond macaroons - when done well, match most of your criteria - fresh, soft and gooey - they are usually on the small side.

                                                I like getting a few from Mike's or Modern Pastry - if you catch them when they're fresh. Absolutely delicious!

                                                My favorite packaged cookie is from Dancing Deer - Almond Cherry Chews. You can buy them at Whole Foods - but I've been noticing they usually don't have them in stock these days. Delicious. Soft, chewy and substantial!

                                                1. There is always this stand at the Newton farmers' market selling gigantic cookies for some insanely low price, maybe $1.25. They're always very fresh, and if popped in the microwave, are amazingly gooey. The market is open on Tuesdays after the 4th of July.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: qwertyu

                                                    There's a guy who's in Brookline on Thurs. and Copley on Tues. and Fri. who has huge cookies foro that price. Pretty good.