Cookie Clash: Which chocolate chip cookie is the ultimate in the Valley?

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JERREY ROBERTS
Chocolate chip cookie from Esselon Cafe in Hadley.JERREY ROBERTS | DAILY HAMPSHIRE GAZETTE

The lines were drawn. On one side, #TeamChewy and on the other, #TeamCrunchy. The Advocate’s chocolate chip cookie Taste-off was about to commence.

Who would have suspected the ubiquitous and beloved chocolate chip cookie would yield such feuding within our normally harmonious clan? Some valued tasty dough over high chip counts, but the chocoholics among us scoffed. What’s better: thick or thin? A little burnt or doughy white? These, we found, were no small questions, and our ratings on any given cookie ranged widely between 1 (yuck!) and 5 (yum!). But in the end, the average of our ratings — the findings of a blind taste test by Advocate editors Kristin Palpini, James Heflin and Jeff Good, reporters Amanda Drane and Hunter Styles, and designer Jennifer Levesque — delivered a winner. We award the title of Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie to …

Esselon, Hadley

Score: 3.75 (out of a possible 5)

Price: $2.55

The cookie dough was tasty enough to stand on its own, like a sugar cookie with bonus chocolate chips. Our only criticism came on chip distribution, which was decidedly uneven. We split the cookie in quarters for our test, leaving some of our tasters feeling slighted.

Jeff: Like America, this cookie’s wealth is unequally distributed.

Amanda: It tastes like a sugar cookie; there aren’t enough chocolate chips.

Hunter: This one had a nice bouquet. It’s sweet enough that you’d have to cut back on the chocolate.

Kristin: I really liked the dough. I thought it was buttery, sweet, a little salt in there. A classic chocolate chip cookie.

Black Sheep, Amherst

Score: 3.33

Price: $1.95

There was a tie for second place between Black Sheep and Hungry Ghost. The Sheep’s was fluffy, white, chewy, riddled with chocolate. This cookie was one of the most divisive.

Hunter: The chocolate goes “too far.”

Amanda: It’s delicious, chewy, chocolatey, buttery — it’s everything I want.

Jeff: It makes me think of the dirt road that runs by my grandma’s farm.

Jennifer: It’s fluffy; the texture is good. It’s not too sweet.

Hungry Ghost, Northampton

Score: 3.33

Price: $2.00

This cookie was buttery and chocolatey. It was chewy in the middle and crisp towards the outside. Its “uneven” distribution of ingredients was both praised and derided.

Hunter: I feel like this cookie’s making out with me.

Kristin: It’s too chocolatey and not well mixed. The outside tasted like a pretzel. I was not a fan.

Jeff: I liked the uneven mixture of elements. This cookie embraces diversity.

Mrs. Fields, Holyoke Mall at Ingleside

Score: 3.17

Price: $1.50

This cookie was doughy, chewy, but perhaps a little too sweet. It seemed to have a certain je ne sais quoi that drew us all in — perhaps it was the aroma.

Jennifer: I like the softness of it; I don’t really like hard cookies.

Jeff: I liked the texture. Chewy is beautiful.

Kristin: The chocolate is milkier, richer than I’d expect, which kind of overwhelmed the cookie flavor.

James: It had a beany aftertaste.

Amanda: It had a faintly plastic taste, as if premade.

Bread Euphoria, Northampton

Score: 3.08

Price: $2.00

This cookie stood out as crunchy and uniquely flavored with a spice — nutmeg? — that was dubbed genius by some tasters but turned off others.

Hunter: I feel like this cookie knew it wasn’t going to be a chewy cookie and if you’re going to make a not-chewy cookie, this is how you do it.

Kristin: It tastes like this cookie was sitting next to gingersnaps.

James: Craggy; very loud.

Jeff: I liked the spicy quality of the dough, the combination of chewy on the inside and crispy on the outside.

Green Fields Market, Greenfield

Score: 2.92

Price: $2.75

This cookie — a firmer, chocolatey cookie described as a “good milk cookie” — didn’t garner praise, scorn or, really, any strong reaction.

Jeff: It’s not a bad cookie, it’s just an undistinguished cookie.

Kristin: It had a nice, golden brown color and that’s all I remember.

Jennifer: Meh.

Celery Stock, West Springfield

Score: 2.83

Price: $1

This cookie was white, fluffy, and eggy, but it was a little dry and crumbly.

Jeff: This is a fat, white cookie.

James: The John Belushi of cookies.

Kristin: I liked this cookie. It’s something your mom would make.

Hunter: It’s like the chips are making the dough uncomfortable.

Koffee Kup, Springfield

Score: 1.67

Price: $1.50

This cookie was hard, thick, wide, white with tiny chips. It was difficult to cut with a knife and extremely crumbly. To be fair, the woman who sold us the cookies said they were a little old and that a new soft batch was in the oven.

James: This cookie is the most likely to require dental work.

Jennifer: I think my bra ate more than I did. And I tasted a substitute sugar.

Jeff: Not a cookie to eat with dentures or in a quiet place.

Kristin: A punk rock cookie … It’s not a follower, but a leader cookie.•

Amanda    
      Drane

Author: Amanda Drane

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