Toronto's Best Cookies
Anna Olson nibbles her way to the city's best cookies
by Karen Aagaard
Top chef and Food Network star Anna Olson is an expert in all things baked. In the spirit of the holidays, we invited her to help us nibble our way through dozens (upon dozens) of cookies — tough job, but someone had to do it! Read on for Olson’s sweetest selections.
Grand Prize Winner
Dufflet, 2638 Yonge St.
From cute-as-a-button frosted sugar cookies to zingy ginger ones, Olson only has praise for Dufflet’s festive biscuits. “Whoa! This one is awesome,” says Olson, crowning Dufflet’s orange–chocolate chip cookie the overall “winner” of the day. Price: from $1.35 ea.
Top Xmas Pick
Wanda’s Pie In The Sky, 287 Augusta Ave.
“I’m getting some nice heat from this ginger cookie,” says Olson, before picking up one of Wanda’s chocolatey offerings. “This chocolate crinkle cookie is awesome! They’re really using some good ingredients.” Price: from $1.50 ea.
Finest French Confection
La Bamboche, 4 Manor Rd. E.
Financiers, madeleines and macaroons round out our selection from this superb French bakery. Olson gravitates toward the “excellent brown butter financier” and gives the madeleines and macaroons a “thumbs-up” for both form and taste. Price: from $2.89 ea.
Urban Herbivore, 64 Oxford St.
“Now this looks really decadent, says Olson, taking a bite of Urban Herbivore’s gooey-chewy vegan mocha cookie. “They’ve done a really good job with this — they’ve achieved a great texture and mouth-feel. A seriously good cookie.” Price: $2.50 ea.
Phipps Bakery, 420 Eglinton Ave. W.
“This chocolate chip cookie has a nice chewiness to it,” says Olson. “But I think the average customer would want more chocolate.” Moving on to the shortbread, Olson says: “Now here’s a shortbread! This one’s a winner.” Price: from $0.99 ea.
Sweet Flour Bake Shop, 2352 Bloor St. W.
“These are nice, big, chunky cookies,” says Olson. “This peanut butter–chocolate chip cookie is just as you’d expect — maybe a little dry, though. But this one with blueberries is great, still hearty, with a bit of a sweeter composition.” Price: from $2.26 ea.
Nino D’aversa, 7287 Yonge St., Thornhill
“These must be from an Italian bakery,” says Olson, sampling some of Nino D’Aversa’s cookies. Although our chef finds the bakery’s liberal use of almond extract a tad “overpowering,” she thoroughly enjoys the chocolate panforte. Price: $32.50/kilo.
Butter Me Up
Patisserie La Cigogne, 1626 Bayview Ave.
“These look like they’re either from Rahier [nope!] or Cigogne [correct!],” says Olson, sampling these petit cookies. “These ‘cats’ tongues’ are tasty. They’re all really nice and buttery, actually! Price: $9 per bag.
Called On Icing
Grodzinski Bakery, 3437 Bathurst St.
“These are a little messy,” says Olson, picking up one of Grodzinski’s treats. “But the flavours in these big sandwich cookies are really nice. I like the vanilla and apricot jam combination.” Price: from $7.50/box
With Sugar On Top
Patachou Patisserie, 1120 Yonge St.
“These ones taste like they’re homemade,” says Olson, suggesting that one could even “put them on a plate and pass them off as [one’s] own!” Don’t mind if we do. Price: from $0.75 ea.
Leaf Me Alone With These
Future, 483 Bloor St. W.
“These are some nice-looking drop shortbreads,” says Olson, explaining that well-baked shortbread cookies should “snap and melt on the tongue.” After a bite? “Pretty good!” Price: from $2.29 ea.
Rahier Patisserie, 1586 Bayview Ave.
“I really like the size of these,” says Olson, eyeing Rahier’s dainty cookies. Perhaps not the “freshest” of the bunch, they’re still sweet and satisfying. Price: from $5.05/100 g.