It's true folks, I've officially conducted my second city cookie search. And you thought I was kidding when I said I took cookies seriously!
I've been in Cedar Falls, Iowa (my hometown) for a few days now and my mom and I decided to find the best chocolate chip cookie that CF has to offer. Obviously, a city with a population of (roughly) 35,000 varies greatly from a city of 600,000. To raise our chances of finding a great cookie, we expanded our boundries to Waterloo, IA as well as Cedar Falls. The line is fuzzy anyway. I was pretty impressed with our findings. We ended up with 10 very diverse cookies from:
1. Granny Annie's
2. Gary's Restaurant & Catering
4. Jags Java
5. Roots Market
6. Natalies Catering
7. Johnson's Bakery (two different cookies)
9. Great American Cookie
All of these places make their own cookies in house, the surprise there being Casey's. Three of them are national franchise's but the rest are local. We also drank some great milk from Hansen's Dairy and Heartland Creamery. Heartland's goats milk is some of the best I've tasted. There are advantages to living in the midwest!
My mom, brother and I participated in the taste test. We tried a slightly different scoring system this time, giving more points for taste than for texture, appearance, or smell. After some silent tasting and note taking, we discussed our findings and agreed that there was actually no clear winner. Call us non-commital, but the top three cookies were all so different that we had a hard time placing them. So the top three cookies are:
This cookie smelled the best and it was the one that I could not wait to take a bite out of. The flavor was not as exciting as I hoped, reminding me of the Bread & Co. cookie from the Nashville search. However, it was a pretty delightful texture and seemed the freshest of the group. And it did have a unique sweet flavor. Turns out this cookie dough actually comes from the wedge coop out of Minneapolis. So props to the wedge, I hope to try your baked goods next time I come through, and props to Roots Market in CF, for baking great cookies to go along with your rad market. (the word rad is coming back)
Gary's Restaurant and Catering
This cookie tasted like a sugar cookie with chocolate chips, which was pretty dang tasty. I think it is the only cookie of both searches so far that is made with shortening instead of butter. It was also a crunchy, crumbly cookie which made it very hard to compare to the other cookies. However, we enjoyed it and wanted to come back to this one after it was all over. Way to go Gary's, I never would have known it. No offense, I'm sure your food is great.
Great American Cookie
This cookie came from a place called Freshen's in the mall who sell great american cookies. This cookie was crunchy around the edge and soft in the middle, which seems to be a desirable trait for most people. We all agreed that this cookie was maybe the best tasting of the bunch. As much as I would rather root for a local bakery, I suppose the name says it all. Maybe they do have something figured out.
on that note... a couple observations I've made are:
1. Bakery cookies have been my least favorite. They seem to get overlooked in the land of cakes and pastries, and even take on the smells and flavors of more ambitious treats that live under glass counters.
2. Health food stores have surprisingly had the most home baked flavor and texture.
3. None of the cookies have been as satisfying as a fresh out of the oven cookie from home. Maybe it's impossible to replicate...
but I'm still on the search!
Thanks CF, for a strong showing.