NATIONAL COOKIE DAY: RANK, TAKE AND BAKE THESE SWEET TREATS WITH US

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By Savannah Bullard and Ben Stansell

Nestled snugly between Thanksgiving and Christmas is an unsung hero of food-focused holidays, which happens to be today. If you were searching for a sign to lose the diet for a day and indulge, this is it: it’s National Cookie Day.

As per tradition, fellow intern Ben Stansell and I plan to give you a layout of the best types of cookies, ranked. We will also pepper in a couple of sweet spots to grab cookies for the holiday, then round out your 24-hour cookie binge with some awesome recipes to try at home.


THE RANKINGS

Here is a completely biased, incomplete, subjective list of our favorite cookie types, from best to worst. How do your pastry preferences compare?

  1. Chocolate chip
    • Obviously, the OG had to make the top of our list. Chocolate chip cookies are versatile, familiar and are a fond reminder of home for many. With the freedom to choose the perfect chocolate and endless ways to tweak a recipe to change the chemistry, chocolate chip cookies set the standard for what makes a great cookie.
  2. Snickerdoodles
    • This is Savannah’s personal favorite, among the cookie types. There is no better spice combination than cinnamon and sugar, and snickerdoodles bring all the joy and comfort of a warm afternoon indoors. (Psst: Have you ever heard of baking cookies just a couple minutes shy of done so they can finish cooking using the already trapped heat? Definitely employ that with snickerdoodles. If they’re baked a touch underdone and come out soft and chewy, they’re perfect). 
  3. White chocolate macadamia nut
    • Personally, we believe this is one of the most underrated cookies in the game. White chocolate macadamia nut cookies have a sense of sophistication about them. Maybe it’s the macadamia, or it could be the use of such a pretentious form of chocolate. Either way, they’re delicious. Plus, with the freedom to choose your chocoate-to-nut ratio, this is a great cookie for those who like to be flexible with their tastes.
  4. Sugar
    • We especially recommend the frosted sugar cookies that are sold at pretty much every grocery store anywhere. While they may render you unable to speak because the icing and soft dough stick to the roof of your mouth, the sugary rush you get from eating it is absolutely worth it.
  5. Peanut butter
    • Fun fact: Savannah hates peanut butter. But, the little fork indentations that are a part of this cookie-making process is too fun not to love. Peanut butter cookies, to us, are the ultimate “college cookie.” They’re so simple to make, they’re almost foolproof. And as some recipes only call for about three ingredients, these cookies are as accessible as they are delicious. 
  6. Store cookies (Oreos, Chips Ahoy, Pillsbury, Pepperidge Farm, Keebler, etc.)
    • These are great for parties, in a pinch or for when fresh, fancy cookies are just not available. Milk required. 
  7. Shortbread/Gingerbread
    •  While these are especially a favorite around the holiday season, shortbread and gingerbread cookies can absolutely be enjoyed year-round. While gingerbread isn’t a big seller outside the winter months, these are sure to get anyone in the festive spirit. A great way to fuse the holidays with National Cookie Day is to take an evening, pop open a bottle of egg nog and enjoy a cookie-decorating contest with your family, friends or roommates.
  8. Oatmeal raisin (we guess)
    • Look, this cookie is only on the list because it has to be. We understand how traumatizing it can be to bite into a cookie, thinking it’s of the chocolate chip variety, only to discover that you’ve been duped and it’s really full of gross raisins. It’s a betrayal like no other, and the fraud that is an oatmeal raisin cookie deserves to scrape the bottom of this list, much less be on it at all.

THE SPOTS

In no particular order, we baked up a batch of some standout sites for a good cookie. While most cookies are pretty interchangeable in terms of distinction and memorability, if we’re in the neighborhood for something more top-notch than your typical Oreo, here’s some local suggestions:

  1. SWEET STUDY SNACK: Monarch Espresso Bar
    • Monarch’s chocolate chip cookie is regarded around town as one of the best cookies in the 205. With a warm, productive atmosphere that’s perfect for college students to settle in and get work done, the vibe is just as good as the coffee and treats Monarch provides. So, make sure to dunk one of their massive, gooey chocolate chip cookies in your latte the next time you’re cramming for finals. 
  2. LOCAL LEGEND: Mary’s Cakes and Pastries
    • Mary’s Cakes and Pastries makes so much more than cookies, but their cookies are a big hit, too. Their adorable and intricate decorated shortbread cookies must be seen to be believed (and then eaten ASAP).
  3. PASTRY POWERHOUSE: Edgar’s Bakery
    • Edgar’s Bakery is located right over the Black Warrior River in Northport. Next time you’re in the neighborhood, grab one of their adorable Alabama-themed cookies with your lunch. They surely will not disappoint. 
  4. GOOEY GOODNESS: The Whimsy Cookie Co.
    • A newbie to Tuscaloosa, Whimsy popped up next to Jim and Nick’s Barbecue just a few weeks ago. They’re known for their butter cookies, which come in eight flavors including lemon and red velvet.
  5. ICE CREAM INCLUDED: The Baked Bear
    • The Baked Bear, a sweets shop located in Midtown Village, has been a Tuscaloosa favorite since the San Diego-based company brought a franchise to the 205 in May of 2018. The massive cookie sandwiches come in a variety of flavor options, all acting as vessels for a wide array of ice cream choices. 
  6. DESSERT AFTER DARK: Insomnia Cookies
    • Is there a greater business idea than late-night, freshly-baked cookies that can be delivered – with milk – right to your door? Absolutely not. Open until 3 a.m. each night, Insomnia has decadent menu options for any late-night sugar high.
  7. GRAB AT THE GROCERY: Publix and Fresh Market
    • Some grocery store bakery cookies can be a total miss, but Publix and Fresh Market are both standouts in this category. Plus, hefty batches are perfect for sharing, if you’re into that. 
  8. INTERNS’ INDULGENCE: Church Street Coffee and Books – Mountain Brook
    • Ask for the breakup cookies and thank us later. And yes, they are worth the hour-long drive from Tuscaloosa. 

THE RECIPES

If you’re more adventurous than Ben and me, feel free to skip the line at your local bakery and hit the kitchen! Here are three fun, tasty and culturally relevant cookie recipes that is sure to satisfy that sweet tooth. 

Smithsonian Cookie

For this historic recipe, how does starting out with a pound of butter sound? According to archivists, James Smithsonian, the namesake for one of the United States’ most notable museums, might have considered this gingerbread cookie recipe a personal favorite.

{{tncms-inline type=”twitter” html=”<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-width="550" data-dnt="true">
<p lang="en" dir="ltr">The gingerbread cookie recipe our founding donor James Smithson dog-eared starts with a pound of butter. 🤤 Our <a href="https://twitter.com/SILibraries?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@SILibraries</a> recreates the 18th century recipe: <a href="https://t.co/mLAx3HmpQQ">https://t.co/mLAx3HmpQQ</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NationalCookieDay?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NationalCookieDay</a> <a href="https://t.co/gTDUCbg0AH">pic.twitter.com/gTDUCbg0AH</a></p>
<p>— Smithsonian (@smithsonian) <a href="https://twitter.com/smithsonian/status/1202268072805064704?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">December 4, 2019</a></p></blockquote>”}}

A Cookie Fit for a Kennedy

A devout Francophile, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy kept the White House chef busy with French-inspired pastries. One of her personal favorites are these chocolate chip almond tuiles from the 1960s, whose recipe has been immortalized in author Bev Young’s 2005 book, “Presidential Cookies.”

{{tncms-inline type=”twitter” html=”<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-width="550" data-dnt="true">
<p lang="en" dir="ltr">It’s <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NationalCookieDay?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NationalCookieDay</a>, you say? 🍪🍪 We have a Kennedy White House recipe for you to try! <a href="https://t.co/mafhtXw8YA">https://t.co/mafhtXw8YA</a> <a href="https://t.co/BCjoemYYT3">pic.twitter.com/BCjoemYYT3</a></p>
<p>— JFK Library (@JFKLibrary) <a href="https://twitter.com/JFKLibrary/status/1202283180180545537?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">December 4, 2019</a></p></blockquote>”}}

The Girl Scout Cookie that Started It All

Long before the great Thin Mints vs. Samoas debate (obviously, we’re team TM), there had to have been a cookie that jump-started the Girl Scouts into a pastry-producing empire. The service organization geared toward empowerment, innovation and sustainability for young women prizes itself on its famous cookie fundraiser, and this is the recipe from which the multi-colored boxes’ fame was born.

{{tncms-inline type=”twitter” html=”<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-width="550" data-dnt="true">
<p lang="en" dir="ltr">National Cookie Day + Holiday Season = Recipe to Bake!<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NationalCookieDay?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NationalCookieDay</a> <a href="https://t.co/RzvQ4XuLxs">pic.twitter.com/RzvQ4XuLxs</a></p>
<p>— Girl Scouts (@girlscouts) <a href="https://twitter.com/girlscouts/status/1202248748111474694?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">December 4, 2019</a></p></blockquote>”}}

Fresh from Food Network

One of Savannah’s all-time favorite celebrity chefs, Jet Tila, shared a cookie recipe created by his wife Ali that offers nothing but pure tasty joy. These sweet and salty brown butter chocolate chip cookies are simply to die for and are very easy to make! 

{{tncms-inline type=”twitter” html=”<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-width="550" data-dnt="true">
<p lang="en" dir="ltr">There’s only one cookie I’m interested in for <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NationalCookieDay?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NationalCookieDay</a>: <a href="https://twitter.com/MrsJetTila?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@MrsJetTila</a>’s Sweet and Salty Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies. </p>
<p>Get the recipe here: <a href="https://t.co/eLRlhbYoPA">https://t.co/eLRlhbYoPA</a> <a href="https://t.co/SK5Tbpfhzw">pic.twitter.com/SK5Tbpfhzw</a></p>
<p>— Jet Tila (@jettila) <a href="https://twitter.com/jettila/status/1202227333920374784?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">December 4, 2019</a></p></blockquote>”}}

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