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Biting into the best chocolate chip cookies

A quick Google search yields 2,840,000 hits for “chocolate chip cookie recipe” and a significant number of website pages claiming to hold the secrets to the very best.

But chocolate chip cookies are as diverse as snowflakes, and what constitutes a perfect chocolate chip cookie is a matter of personal preference and, sometimes, impassioned debate. Where one person might praise the virtues of a thoroughly soft, even molten center, another might be just as allegiant to a chewy, caramel-like rendition or a cracker-crisp take.

Luckily, Buffalo’s bakery scene has a chocolate chip cookie for just about everybody. Here are some of region’s most outstanding, each with their own delicious character.

The Thick ‘n’ Loaded

Biting into the best chocolate chip cookies | Buffalo Magazine

Where: Bakery 55, Buffalo

When: Daily

Why: If you’re a fan of the massive chocolate chip cookies made famous by Levain Bakery in New York City, then make your way to the Cobblestone District for what may be Western New York’s most approximate substitute. There, the team at Bakery 55 is churning out dense, bulbous, decadently squidgy cookies crammed—to hedonistic proportions—with semi-sweet Guittard chocolate.

How: How: Extra-cold butter doesn’t spread as much in the oven, so bakery manager Alicia Bykowicz bakes the softball-size cookies straight from the refrigerator to preserve their impressively craggy domes. She also substitutes a portion of the recipe’s all-purpose flour with lower-protein cake flour to ensure the cookies stay soft and gooey through and through.

The Enigmatic Crowd-Pleaser

Biting into the best chocolate chip cookies | Buffalo Magazine

Where: Elm Street Bakery, East Aurora

When: Tuesday through Saturday (every day the bakery is open)

Why: Elm Street’s best-selling cookie is a well-rounded example of professional-caliber execution. The edges are caramelized but only slightly, and its lightly crisp, tawny patina belies a somewhat chewy, mostly soft (but not the least bit doughy), chocolate-flecked interior. All in all, it’s a cookie with high merits and zero extremes that everyone can appreciate.

How: Elm Street’s executive pastry chef, Hanna Winter, says the secret to great chocolate chip cookies is not overbaking them and using best-quality ingredients, like two kinds of bittersweet Callebaut chocolate—and one “super-secret” ingredient she refuses to reveal.

The Dueling Sophisticates

Biting into the best chocolate chip cookies | Buffalo Magazine

Butter Block's chocolate chip.

Where: Butter Block & Public Espresso, Buffalo

When: Butter Block cookies are available Fridays and Saturdays at The Farm Shop, Saturdays at the Elmwood Bidwell Market and weekly at Remedy House, all in Buffalo. Public Espresso cookies are available every day at its cafe in the Hotel Lafayette.

Why: At Butter Block and Public Espresso, using excellent chocolate is of secondary noteworthiness to the complex flavors the bakers at both venues manage to develop in the dough itself. Of all the cookies in the group, theirs are the most deeply caramelized, texturally interesting and nuanced, with toffee and butterscotch notes suffusing every moreish bite.

How: Public Espresso pastry chef Luci Levere browns the butter for her chocolate chip cookies for a more pronounced nutty flavor, while Butter Block’s Colleen Stillwell credits a high ratio of brown to white sugar, proper creaming technique and a finishing sprinkle of Maldon sea salt for her cookies’ particular excellence.

The Salty Bohemian

Biting into the best chocolate chip cookies | Buffalo Magazine

Where: BreadHive Bakery, Buffalo

When: Every day at BreadHive’s cafe and the Lexington Co-op on Hertel Avenue or delivered to your door by Fresh Fix.

Why: For a chocolate chip cookie with a deliciously distinct flavor profile and pleasing balance of crunch and soft, you can’t do better than the ones made daily by BreadHive, a cooperative bakery where many of the workers also have a stake in the business. Here, the cookies are intriguingly flavorful thanks to a heavy hand of intensely bittersweet chocolate chunks, a proprietary blend of local flours and taste-amplifying flakes of coarse Celtic sea salt.

How: According to worker-owner Valerie Rettberg-Smith, the team at BreadHive uses best-quality Callebaut chocolate; a mixture of all-purpose, pastry and spelt flours fresh milled from organic grain in the Finger Lakes; and lots of love to turn out cookies so tasty.

The Northtowns Dough Boy

Biting into the best chocolate chip cookies | Buffalo Magazine

Where: Half Baked Cookies

When: Order online at here for pickup or shipment by USPS or courier delivery, depending on your zip code.

Why: If you think licking the bowl beats eating an actual cookie, put in an order for the dense, nostalgia-inducing versions produced by Half Baked Cookies out of Gasport, which manage to capture all the impish, childhood pleasures of eating cookie dough with a spoon despite being a cooked—and totally safe—product.

How: Owner Angila Snediker credits her small-batch approach and fresh ingredients for the quality of her cookies, which she describes as soft in the middle with a slight crunch on the outside and just the right amount of sweetness.

The Colorfully Congenial

Biting into the best chocolate chip cookies | Buffalo Magazine

Where: Kaylena Marie’s Bakery, Orchard Park

When: Monday through Saturday (every day the bakery is open)

Why: Kiddos will go crazy for simply tasty cookies at Kaylena Marie’s, a bustling little bakery cafe that substitutes cheery M&Ms for standard chocolate chips. Parents will appreciate the tender, slightly sandy texture and the delicate hint of coconut-like flavor that pervades the altogether pleasant cookies. The bakery also makes a version with milk chocolate chips using the same dough base.

How: Owner Kaylena Marie Eisenhauer perfected her signature chocolate chip cookie recipe with her mother and attributes the cookies’ popularity to quality ingredients and the hard work they put into developing their products.

Chocolate chip and...

Biting into the best chocolate chip cookies | Buffalo Magazine

If your cookie tasting tour leaves you wanting for something a little extra, don’t miss the over-the-top cobblestone cookie at Bakery 55, which augments the standard chocolate chip formula with a cornucopia of salty-sweet mix-ins like kettle-cooked potato chips, peanuts, pretzels, Whoppers and butterscotch morsels.

Another variation worth a detour from the classic is Half Baked Cookies’ sea salt caramel chocolate chip cookie featuring caramel morsels, a gooey caramel center and a sprinkle of crunchy fleur de sel.

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