the maine event cookie at sweetart in st. louis photo by carmen troesser

Top 3 chocolate chip cookies in St. Louis

I remember the first time I had a “homemade” chocolate chip cookie. My dad made them from a Betty Crocker box mix while I watched Kristi Yamaguchi skate her way to Olympic gold. I loved them then, and I still would today. Rich and gooey, still warm from the oven, chocolate melting and a little soft in the middle is exactly the way I like them.

Nowadays when a craving hits there are experts around town that are masters at making a humble cookie a full on gourmet creation. It’s the quality of the ingredients and simple techniques that take a chocolate chip cookie to the next level. Here, three of my favorites.

union loafers' chocolate chip cookie // photo by meera nagarajan

1. Union Loafers Cafe and Bread Bakery
The Union Loafers team spent three months perfecting the recipe before offering the public a taste of its chocolate chip cookie. They age the dough 24 hours before baking to give the flour, long enough to absorb the egg and the Plugra butter, allowing the flavors to deepen. Like a stew tastes better several days after you make it, time improves cookie dough. Loafers also uses Cocoa Barry, a specialty semisweet baking chocolate made by French Chocolatier for complexity takes it a step above store-bought semisweet chocolate.

Despite it’s larger size, you can’t stop eating a Loafers chocolate chip cookie. It’s texture is crisp on the edges with a soft – but not doughy and dense – center. A final sprinkle of flaky sea salt delivers extra crunch and a punch of contrasting flavor to temper the sweetness of the chocolate and the cookie. It’s why it’s impossible to save for later.

chocolate chip cookie at comet coffee // photo by meera nagarajan

2. Comet Coffee
Like all pastries at Comet Coffee, its chocolate chip cookie tastes like quality. Comet Coffee owner and pastry chef Steph Fischer is careful not to overwork the dough, which prevents too much gluten development, and she also rests the dough at least 24 hours. This time allows the cookie to bake more evenly so they puff in the oven. When they cool, cracks form in the top for better texture.

Fischer uses chocolate discs, not chips, to create stratified layers of chocolate throughout the cookie. “Chocolate chips are designed to not melt much. The discs melt better, and they stay melty even after you bake it,” Fischer said. It's the kind of cookie you’d expect from a pastry shop that specializes in laminated dough – layers upon layers of cookie and chocolate.

3. SweetArt
SweetArt’s chocolate chip cookie, The Maine Event, is named for chef-owner Reine Bayoc’s brother Jermaine, who loves a good chocolate chip cookie. This one is smaller than the other two and feels like it came out of your mom’s kitchen — if you’re mom is as amazing a baker as Bayoc. It too gets a light sprinkling of sea salt to offset the sweetness and uses rich European butter.

What sets this SweetArt’s cookie apart is the crown of Callebaut Belgian chocolate in the middle of the cookie. Because this sizeable chocolate chunk rests on, you get an uninterrupted chocolate moment half way through, and it helps to keep the center a little chewy. Bonus for non-dairy eaters: SweetArt is known for its killer vegan desserts, and the vegan Maine Event is a masterpiece.

Meera Nagarajan is art director at Sauce Magazine.