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Campus Eats: C Is for Cookie

Where to find Boston’s best chocolate chip treats

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TopOfTheHub_1_t.jpg

In my opinion, the chocolate chip cookie, when executed perfectly, is characterized by crisp edges and a soft middle, with rich bittersweet chocolate and a slightly salty, buttery finish. This iconic cookie provides the perfect end-of-meal treat, portable snack, or if you’re like me, an obsession to be consumed in large quantities any time of day.

Freshman year, I found my chocolate chip cookie–loving soul mate in the form of my friend Alice, and we have long bemoaned the fact the while our beloved cookies are certainly ubiquitous, finding one that’s truly great proves a difficult task — most versions are too sweet, too dry, or too greasy.

This year, we embarked on a citywide quest to find what we would deem Boston’s Best Chocolate Chip Cookie. Armed with a bit of Internet research, a couple of extra friends, and temporarily empty bellies, we proceeded to spend two days sampling the offerings from seven different purveyors.

We rated each cookie in five different categories, each worth up to 10 points: chocolate distribution, chocolate quality, cookie consistency, overall flavor, and ambience. By the time we found a winner, we were too stuffed with butter, sugar, and chocolate to walk.

(Recognizing that not all cookie-loving palates are created equal, we tried to remain as objective as possible in our comparisons. But in the spirit of full disclosure, we favor cookies with borderline-doughy soft centers, dark chocolate, and a touch of salt for balance.) Click here to check out more Campus Eats.

Flour Bakery & Cafe
1595 Washington St., Boston
 (617-267-4300)
www.flourbakery.com
$1.70 each

We didn’t expect to love Flour’s chocolate chip cookie at first, because of its flatter, chewier consistency. But the taste was incredible — ultrasmooth Scharffen Berger dark chocolate layered in large chunks combined with a strong buttery flavor made up for the cookie’s texture. As one fellow taster noted, “These would be perfect milk-dipping cookies.” Luckily, milk is available at Flour. And the ambience in the bright South End café made the cookie even more enjoyable.
Score: 43

Rosie’s Bakery
2 South Station, Boston (617-439-4684)
www.rosiesbakery.com
$2.10 each

There was a lot of Internet hype about the cookies at this bakery, located at a stand in South Station. A batch came out of the oven just as we arrived, so we were even more excited about trying them. However, the oversized cookies were too greasy, spongy in texture, and filled with chocolate chips that were gooey to a near-liquid point. Rosie’s did receive points for being fresh and for having decent chip distribution.
Score: 30

The Boston Chipyard
257 Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Boston (617-742-9537)
www.chipyard.com
$7 per dozen

Located in Faneuil Hall’s Quincy Market, these bite-sized cookies delivered in a paper bag were the perfect size for snacking on while strolling around the area. Crisp on the outside and soft on the inside, the texture was great. The cookies’ flavor, however, was still a bit too sweet for our liking and lacked balance.
Score: 38

Kilvert & Forbes Bakeshop
200 Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Boston (617- 723-6050)
www.kilvertandforbesbakeshop.com
$2.86 each

Walking around Quincy Market, we noticed a beautiful giant chocolate chip cookie sitting at the counter of this bakeshop, a place that hadn’t come up during our online reconnaissance. After tasting the cookie, though, this wasn’t much of a surprise. It was dry and overbaked throughout, and though there was an even smattering of chocolate, the chips were tiny.
Score: 28

Paradise Bakery & Cafe
Prudential Center
800 Boylston St., Boston (617-267-3335)
www.paradisebakery.com
Price: $1.30

I’ve been sneaking samples from this place for three years. But Alice had never tried the deliciousness that is Paradise’s giant doughy-in-the-middle, lightly-crisp-on-the-outside, chocolate-studded wonder. Paradise lost points only for ambience, as it is located in the busy food court at the Prudential Center, and for the chocolate, which was good, but not as high a quality as the chocolate used at Flour.
Score: 45.5

Top of the Hub
Prudential Center
800 Boylston St., Boston (617-536-1775)
www.topofthehub.net
$13 per dessert

Most of the cookies we sampled cost between $1 and $2.50. We decided to find out if a luxurious, expensive version proved worth the money. For $13, Top of the Hub, the restaurant atop (where else?) the Prudential Center, provides a plate of a dozen baked-to-order cookies surrounding a mountain of cinnamon-flavored Chantilly cream. Falling-apart-hot, richly flavored cookies covered in thick, spiced cream proved every bit as delicious as we had hoped. And being able to see the entire city while listening to live jazz made the experience even more decadent.
Score: 48

Clear Flour Bread
178 Thorndike St., Brookline (617-739-0060)
www.clearflourbread.com
$2.50 each

We were surprised that we hadn’t heard of this tiny bread shop earlier, as it is nestled in nearby Brookline, just off of Thorndike Street. The cookies here are massive, with quality chunks of bittersweet chocolate and an intense buttery flavor. The texture, though, was a little too hard for our liking.
Score: 37

The winner: We expected the expensive restaurant to have an overrated and overpriced cookie. Well, we were wrong — Top of the Hub was definitely the best, and technically the price tag comes to about a dollar a cookie, although there’s no à la carte option. But for a snack on the go, you can’t go wrong at Paradise or at Flour.

Leah Mennies can be reached at lmennies@bu.edu.

6 Comments

6 Comments on Campus Eats: C Is for Cookie

  • Anonymous on 01.23.2009 at 10:02 am

    Chocolate Chip Cookie

    It is impossible to scout every location in the city that offers chocolate chip cookies – especially the less obvious locations. Volle Nolle, a “not so average” sandwich shop on hanover street in the north end, has the best chocolate chip cookie I have ever had. One wouldn’t expect it, since this is the only baked good offered but they are so popular that arriving too late for lunch will leave you cookie-less.

  • Caroline on 01.23.2009 at 10:54 am

    I’m definitely going there with my parents when they come visit–thanks for the tip!

  • Anonymous on 01.23.2009 at 4:37 pm

    Wow, this article is fantastic! I love chocolate chip cookies like SLAYUMMM, thanks for the great advice on where to go in Boston.

  • Anonymous on 01.23.2009 at 11:16 pm

    chocolte chip cookie

    Where did the cookie come from that you used in your article? Is it a stock photo or an actual cookie you saw? It looks the most delicious of all.

  • kcornuelle on 01.26.2009 at 11:50 am

    The top cookie?

    It’s a pic by Leah!

  • Anonymous on 02.09.2009 at 11:44 am

    Thanks for the heads up about chocolate chip cookies around Boston! I can’t wait to find some of these places :)

    You should do the test on the dining hall cookies… haha they’d probably get in the 20s.

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