Photo by Rachael Wolfson
There’s nothing better than a chocolate chip cookie. It is a classic cookie that most everyone finds irresistible. Yet, something so sweet and so basic can have tons of variations. Chocolate chip cookies can vary from being crunchy, chewy, soft, super sweet or not sweet at all. Every bakery makes their chocolate chip cookies in their own unique way. So, which bakery in Bethesda makes chocolate chip cookies the best?
I went to several local bakeries and bought one chocolate chip cookie from each. I did not try any other pastries – only the chocolate chip cookie. The bakeries in question were Levain, Paul, Le Pain Quotidien and Sunday Morning Bakehouse.
Before I tried any of the cookies, I made a prediction about which cookies I thought would be the best and which cookies I thought would be the worst based on appearance and smell. My initial ranking, starting from best to worst, was Le Pain Quotidien, Levain, Sunday Morning Bakehouse and Paul. With a cold glass of milk in hand, I eagerly launched into the taste test.
The Levain cookie was very thick and heavy. It contained a lot of chocolate chips. The cookie actually smelled like fresh chocolate. It did look slightly overdone on the bottom. But overall, the cookie looked very well baked. But, when I actually took a bite of the cookie, I thought I was just eating chocolate. There were just too many chocolate chips that the chocolate overpowered the cookie. I didn’t taste the cookie dough part. It had a very good texture with a chewy inside and crunchy outside and the chocolate was very good. But, for a chocolate chip cookie, it is essential for there to be an equal balance of chocolate and the cookie dough. The cookie base of butter, brown sugar and vanilla sets up the whole cookie, and I was missing that in the Levain cookie. Overall, the Levain cookie was pretty delicious despite the overpowering chocolate. Rating: 4.5/5. Address: 4844 Bethesda Road, Bethesda, MD. Cost: $4.50
The next cookie I tried was the Paul cookie. I did not have very high expectations of this cookie by first looking at it. The cookie looked very dry and very pale, with a chalk-like exterior. It did not look golden brown at all and the chocolate chips stuck out too much. I wasn’t mistaken when I tried the cookie. It was too dry to the point that it tasted stale. The cookie was too crummy and it didn’t taste like a fresh cookie from a bakery. It tasted store-bought. The chocolate was actually bitter. Overall, I did not enjoy this cookie. Rating:⅖. Address: 4760 Bethesda Ave, Bethesda, MD. Cost: $2.50
The next cookie I tried was from Le Pain Quotidien. I thought this cookie was going to be the best. It looked so good and was the perfect color, golden brown. It was a flatter cookie than the other, but it looked perfectly cooked. However, when I bit into this cookie, it did not taste nearly as good as it looked. It tasted bitter. The cookie was not crunchy at all. It had a really weird chewy texture. Similar to Levain, the chocolate chips overpowered the cookie. And I took a bite without any chocolate chips and the cookie tasted like nothing. I couldn’t taste any hints of sugar, butter, vanilla, etc. Rating: 1/5. Address: 7149 Bethesda Lane, Bethesda, MD. Cost: $4.50
The last cookie I tried was from Sunday Morning Bakehouse. This cookie was a lot darker than the other cookies. It looked very flat, moist, and chewy. It smelled a lot like brown sugar and had sea salt sprinkled on the top, which was very unlike the previous cookies. I thought this cookie was very good. It had a good soft, chewy texture. There weren’t too many chocolate chips, so I could actually taste the base of the cookie. However, I did think the cookie was a bit too sugary, even with the salt sprinkled on top. And the Sunday Morning cookie wasn’t your “classic” chocolate chip cookie in that it had other unique flavors, like coffee. Rating: 4/5. Address: 11869 Grand Park Blvd, Bethesda, MD. Cost: $2.30
All in all, it was close — even tied — between Levain and Sunday Morning Bakehouse, but I’m going to give the edge to Levain. Despite the overpowering chocolate, the Levain cookie tasted so fresh and had a great texture consisting of both crunch and chewiness. It was a cookie that in its simplicity really packed in the deliciousness and comfort food factors.