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A chocolate chip cookie on brown greaseproof paper.
A chocolate chip cookie from Esters in Stoke Newington.
James Hansen

The Best Cookies in London

A cookie monster’s dream, running the gamut from chocolate chip to red velvet

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A chocolate chip cookie from Esters in Stoke Newington.
| James Hansen
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Miso, chocolate, and hazelnut cookie @ Burnt

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Burnt, the exceptional cafe-restaurant on Askew Road, boasts a continually evolving menu of imaginative brunch dishes and dazzling small plates, but the miso, chocolate, and hazelnut cookie has been a constant since day one. This thin-stretched cookie consists of mesmerising concentric circles of rippling dough with great splashes of dark chocolate and whole smoked hazelnuts, like stones dropped into a sweet, sticky pond. While miso cookies are undoubtedly a London trend, Burnt demonstrates fine judgement of salty-sweet intensity across all of its baked goods. Anzac biscuits are lifted by brown butter and toasted coconut taken to an almost burnt edge, and a brand new tahini and lemon cookie coated in white sesame seeds delivers sweet-savoury-sharp contrast in every crisp-edged soft-centred bite.

Hazelnut gianduja cookie @ Le Choux

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Patisserie and choux pastry atelier Le Choux occupies an expansive glass-fronted shop with an open kitchen on Ladbroke Grove. There are six flavours of cookie from Abigail Scheuer, and the hazelnut gianduja cookie spliced by whole roasted hazelnuts and rivulets of free-flowing gianduja spread is the original best-seller. For special occasions, Le Choux even offers a giant cookie cake that feeds 8 while retaining the precise look and feel of the smaller cookies — crisp on the outside, soft and fudgy in the middle.

Chocolate, peanut, and clotted cream fudge cookie @ Robins Bakery & Provisions

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Robin’s Bakery and Provisions is a Putney micro-bakery, where a changing cast of old-school bakes like Bramley apple turnovers, Eccles cakes, and Dundee fruit cake runs alongside weekly staples that include a chocolate, peanut, and clotted cream fudge cookie. It gives an American-style cookie a British accent, with an ingredient list that includes Carnation condensed milk, Shipton Mill organic pastry flour, Cacklebean eggs, and Estate Dairy cultured butter and reads like a tribute to British food producers old and new. Topping these cookies with roasted peanuts and cubes of clotted cream fudge — the former a staple of British pubs and the latter of British sweet shops — rather than using sweet peanut butter, a staple of US households, feels like a matter of identity, not purely texture. And at just £2 for a hefty 100g cookie in a city where as much as £4 is increasingly the norm, Robin’s Bakery evokes nostalgia for a bygone era of local bakeries serving hearty homemade treats at pocket money prices.

Khorasan, tahini, and chocolate chip cookie @ Milk

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Those in the know at Milk in Balham on a Saturday slip to the front of the queue and enter Milk Run, the convenience store occupying half the real estate, to purchase one of Milk’s standout baked goods along with a cup of expertly poured coffee from Berlin roastery the Barn. The Anzac is fair game for the best of its kind in the city — a vast domed frisbee of oats, coconut, burnt butter and golden syrup, substantial and wholesome enough to call breakfast but undeniably decadent. Meanwhile the khorasan, tahini, chocolate chip cookie engages customers in Milk’s favourite game of ingredients one has to surreptitiously look up. The ancient variety of wheat named after the Khorasan region of northern Iran brings its qualities to a tried-and-tested flavour combination, with the earthy wholewheat flour underscoring the nuttiness of tahini and vast chunks of Pump Street chocolate to establish this as a cookie for serious connoisseurs.

Espresso cookie sandwich @ Kaffeine

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Peter Dore-Smith’s Kaffeine is the rare model of a cafe in which food and drink are attended to equally, with speciality coffee on par with the very best and sweet treats to rival those found in London’s speciality bakeries. Whilst the banana bread, toasted and smothered with butter, is arguably the most famous and popular treat, the espresso cookie sandwich is precisely engineered to show off the Square Mile espresso used in every cup of coffee, in a frosting sandwiched between two dark chocolate brownie cookies. Delivering a bittersweet hit of caffeine and cocoa in every mouthful, this cookie is a concise expression of the founder’s passion for coffee as more than just a drink, as well as the fastidious attention to detail that has made Kaffeine stand out in the city for so long.

Preserved lemon and tahini cookie @ Honey & Spice

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Honey & Spice, the beloved deli from husband and wife duo Itamar Srulovich and Sarit Packer, boasts a range of indulgent yet homely cookies, sold individually from the pastry display or in bags of five, six, or seven. The preserved lemon and tahini cookies are made with rich nutty tahini, tangy lemon marmalade, and salty preserved lemon, before being encrusted with white sesame seeds and sugar. This results in a thrillingly different cookie profile: sharp and citrussy, with a powerful savoury thrust. Other hits include soft-centred, gluten-free marzipan cookies flavoured with orange zest and rolled in flaked almonds, developed to always have something to offer its coeliac neighbour, artist Rebecca Hossack — a story that speaks to the owners’s generosity. For those who can’t make it into Warren Street, Honey & Spice offers both London and nationwide delivery.

Chocolate chunk, pecan, and sea salt cookie @ Miel Bakery

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When Shaheen Peerbhai opened French boulangerie Miel on Warren Street, Breton speciality kouign-amann and “shiny AF” chocolate tarts commandeered most of the attention. However, it’s the chocolate chunk, pecan, and sea salt cookies, baked in small batches throughout the day, that have enticed passers-by and secured devoted customers from day one. They have remained on the menu ever since, and these palm-spanning ridged and crinkly cookies, served warm and molten straight from the oven — even baked to order if a customer is prepared to wait — feature extortionate amounts of 70 percent Valrhona chocolate, meticulously cut to size by hand for optimum melt and a satisfying distribution throughout. The dough is properly salty, made with French Charentes butter and Normandy flour to replicate true Parisian patisserie in a city where the use of British whole grains and ancient wheats is so prevalent it’s hard to find a high quality cookie that isn’t of this disposition.

Dark chocolate and crispy M&M cookie @ Aries Bakehouse

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At Aries Bakehouse on Brixton’s Acre Lane, cookies are favoured as vehicle for creativity and experimentation. At any given time, there can be as many as six flavours available, ranging from a crowd-pleasing dark chocolate and crispy M&Ms cookie, to a birthday cake cookie made with rainbow sprinkles and white chocolate,. Each cookie is a mighty 6oz beast, baked in muffin tins that prevent the dough from spreading. The mixture instead rises up, writhing and ripping to create thick, craggy cookies with a strong, walled crust and a sunken, squidgy centre housing all manner of playful additions.

Jumbo chocolate, pecan, and walnut cookie @ Winnie’s Baked Goods

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Winnie’s Baked Goods was a lockdown success for baker Caitlin Wymes, who spent the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic dedicated to perfecting her cookie recipes. Today, the thriving south London micro-bakery offers four cookies that span a litany of flavours, textures and sizes for postal delivery via her website and occasional drops on trendy London food marketplace Delli. The best of the four is the the jumbo chocolate, pecan and walnut cookie, rooted firmly in the archetypal style of Levain Bakery in New York City and producing an extra-thick chunky cookie full of texture and surprise.

Caramelised white chocolate, almond, and spelt cookie @ Maya’s Bakehouse

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Brixton micro-bakery Maya’s Bakehouse began with maternity leave, during the lockdown of 2020, when Maya, who trained at the renowned Ballymaloe cookery school in Ireland, began offering sourdough loaves, buns, and to neighbours via a Whatsapp group. Today, Maya balances baking for a much wider audience on the Delli app with motherhood. Her salted chocolate cookies, topped with Pump Street’s 72 percent Madagascar chocolate pastilles and a hefty pinch of Maldon salt, are loosely based on Ravneet Gill’s “perfect chocolate cookie” recipe. They really are a near-perfect rendition of a classic: crisp and plump, with dramatic puddles of chocolatey goo. Meanwhile, Maya’s caramelised white chocolate, almond, and spelt cookies, made with Valrhona’s “Dulcey Blond” chocolate, deliver waves of sweet, salty. nutty intensity in every bite.

Bitter honey and chocolate cookie @ Toklas Cafe and Bakery

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The bitter honey and chocolate biscuits at Toklas Bakery are built on Pump Street Chocolate’s 72 percent Madagascar chocolate and Ling heather honey from London Honey Company. The honey boasts a unique jelly-like consistency, which helps the biscuit dough retain moisture for an exceptionally close, buttery and crumbly shortbread-like consistency. Emmer and oat crunchie biscuits are a take on head baker Janine Edwards’s childhood memories of eating crunchies in South Africa, with the addition of wholegrain emmer flour milled on-site lending a honeyed, nutty complexity to a traditional recipe featuring oats and golden syrup. The tahini cookies, meanwhile, were recently removed from the menu to make space for new bakes but are expected to return due to customer demand. These intensely nutty dome-shaped cookies made with a mixture of light and dark tahini and unhulled sesame seeds from Oliveology have a unique halva-like consistency, all enveloped in a crumbly caramelised crust, making them something of a one-of-a-kind cookie in a saturated field.

Camberwell cookie @ Grove Lane Deli

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Grove Lane Deli’s best cookie is a must-try for anyone in the area for which it is named. Dark chocolate chunks, desiccated coconut, toasted pecans, and malty barley flour hang together in a wet, sticky dough. Cookies are baked slowly at a low temperature, and given a solid whack with the back of a spoon as they come out of the oven, resulting in a truly chunky cookie with a crunchy exterior which remains gooey inside. The barley flour imparts a sweet, earthy, malted flavour to a robustly textured and variegated cookie. When owner Danielle opened the doors to Grove Lane Deli a month or so before officially opening, offering freshly baked cookies to inquisitive passers-by, they were quickly swarmed by the local community who heard about these exceptional cookies. It’s for this reason that they became known as Camberwell cookies, and Danielle decided to cap the price at just £2 – a cookie “for the people” (of Camberwell, at least.)

Chocolate chip and soy sauce cookie @ Toad Bakery

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When the outstanding Camberwell bakery formerly known as Frog renamed itself Toad, following a legal challenge from Michelin-starred restaurant owner Adam Handling, its signature cookie also underwent a playful reincarnation. What began life as a miso chocolate chip cookie has evolved into a chocolate chip soy sauce cookie, in which a classic brown sugar cookie dough packed with Islands Chocolate 65 percent chocolate is injected with umami-rich soy sauce. The salty intensity is balanced by the melty pools of fruity chocolate, which carry an unusual banana flavour profile that really, really works with the soy. Toad has made its mark on London’s difficult-to-infiltrate bakery scene with a variety of eye-widening specials that defy flavour conventions, and this cookie is no exception, despite its basic logic of salt with sweet being entirely embedded in good baking sense.

Chocolate, fir tip, and rye cookie @ Esters

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Esters’ white chocolate and miso cookie helped to initiate a domino effect of bakeries adding the savoury Japanese condiment to their chocolate chip cookies, for its ability to leaven sweetness with a rich savouriness that salt alone cannot match. In that cookie, the butter is browned before creaming to emphasise the richness of the white miso, which dances happily with aromatic, malty stoneground flour; the bitter kick of ground coffee; and great chunks of almost aromatic white chocolate. However, N16 cookie connoisseurs convinced they’ve seen it all will be surprised and charmed by the newest addition to the baked goods selection: a chocolate, fir tip, and rye cookie that embodies Christmas. Esters makes a fir tip sugar that smells of Christmas trees and peppermint candy canes, by turns citrussy and resinous, making up the base of the cookies alongside two types of chocolate — Pump Street 75 percent Jamaica and Chocolat Madagascar 62 percent Madagascar — and rye flour from Hodmedods. A gloriously inventive and untraditional Christmas cookie.

Salted caramel cookie @ Brunswick East

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Brunswick East’s seasonally rotating cast of cookies that celebrate heritage grains and bean-to-bar chocolate possess seriousness of flavour and imagination. The salted caramel cookie is no exception, made with flour milled on-site for freshness from Gilchesters’s Emmer grain, chunks of 28 percent toasted Nicaraguan white chocolate from Hackney chocolate maker Land, and a salted caramel sauce that repurposes whey leftover from the yoghurt for the chilli poached eggs on the brunch menu. As Christmas approaches, Brunswick East bring back its brandy butter, white chocolate, and cranberry cookie made with homemade brandy butter, 40 percent Ecuadorian Pump Street white chocolate, and dried cranberries that swell fit-to-burst, in sync with the hearts of longstanding customers who look forward to this day each year.

YQ “Fig Newton” @ Leila's Shop

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Desserts at Leila’s Shop are in the custody of baker supreme Stroma Sinclair — formerly head pastry chef at Skye Gyngell’s Spring — and cookies regularly feature in various guises. YQ Fig Newtons offer a masterclass in regenerative baking, recreating the Nabsico-trademarked supermarket variety with a homemade fig conserve using produce sold at the shop, and YQ flour grown at Turners of Bytham and milled at Tuxford Mill. While nostalgia is a key ingredient in most cookies, Stroma takes this up a level with the likes of ravishing ginger snaps, homespun YQ digestives, and jammy thumbprint cookies. These cookies don’t try too hard to impress, but massively over-deliver thanks to top quality ingredients and masterful execution.

Spiced black treacle cookie @ Potter & Reid

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The spiced black treacle cookies at this newish Spitalfields cafe and restaurant from alumni of Allpress, Railroad, and Towpath Cafe are the perfect holiday cookie. Warmly spiced, boasting a teeth-sticking chew and crinkly-crackly turtle shell top, and set off by a dash of black pepper, they are made with Wildfarmed flour, which lends the dough a characterful malty flavour. Salted chocolate cookies and anise biscotti are year-round staples on the counter, suggesting this speciality coffee shop takes the matter of dunking as seriously as it does drinking.

Sesamie cookie @ Snackbar

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This palm-spanning, rapturously rippled and wrinkled, crispy cookie is based on the recipe that Ikoyi chef Jeremy Chan contributed to the Nearness Project — an online community created during the 2020 pandemic — claiming it to be “the perfect cookie.” Snackbar founder Freddie Janssen tried it, agreed, and now it’s on the menu. The recipe makes a rich, multi-textured and sensorily eclectic cookie using chocolate chips, white miso, sesame seeds, two types of sugar, and a butter-to-flour ratio so high that the cookies spread to the size of frisbees. The outermost edges become crisp, caramelised, and lacy like a tuile, surrounding a chewy inner rim and soft, chocolate-mottled centre, and the interplay of white miso with brown sugar clinches these cookies.

Cereal cookie @ Chatsworth Bakehouse

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While Chatsworth’s focaccia sandwiches sell out well in advance via pre-order, the signature cereal cookies are always available on the door in SE19. Fist sized balls of brown butter cookie dough packed with two types of chocolate, Cheerios and sea salt are baked in the bread oven to develop an aggressively caramelised exterior and retain a molten centre. Toasted marshmallows are frequently added at the last minute for a weekend flourish, while a recent batch of cookies showered with chopped-up Crunchie bars were exalted with religious fervour by those who made the Saturday pilgrimage.

Creme brulee cookie @ Bake Street

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Getting their hands on one of Chloe-Rose Crabtree’s creme brulee cookies has become something of a badge of honour among customers at Bake Street, to the point that there is often an order limit in place at weekends to manage the sprawling queue’s expectations. The cookies are inspired by a version at Dough & Arrow in Costa Mesa, California, and deliver the exact sensation of a creme brulee: a dramatically caramelised crunchy top with an oozing, vanilla bean-flecked creamy centre. Even with order limits in place, these cookies sell out fast, so arrive early to avoid disappointment.

Chocolate, rye, and sea salt cookie @ E5 Bakehouse

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The chocolate, rye and sea salt cookie at E5 Bakehouse is modelled on the much-replicated recipe from Chad Robertson’s Tartine Book No. 3, and is widely considered to be the best version this side of the pond. Made with wholemeal rye flour from Cann Mills, Fen Farm Dairy butter, Original Beans Cru Virunga 70 percent dark chocolate, dark muscovado sugar, and an unapologetic amount of sea salt, these dome-shaped beauties are rich and satisfying with an intense, complex chocolate flavour and delicately sour tang. E5’s triple chocolate cookies are comprised of very similar ingredients, except for browning the butter for additional richness, replacing dark muscovado with light, and including three types of chocolate from Original Beans rather than just one — to radically different effect. The result is a flatter, evenly spread cookie with a high chocolate percentage and a clear distinction between solid chocolate chunks and rich cookie dough. There’s also a vegan version, which swaps the butter for Honest Toil olive oil and includes a blend of buckwheat flour and light spelt flour for a satisfyingly chewy texture.

Red velvet cookie @ Liv’s Baked Goodies

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Liv’s Baked Goodies is one of a handful of noteworthy micro-bakeries that began during COVID-19 lockdown and made a lasting mark on London’s formidable and finicky pastry scene. The red velvet cookie brings together founder Olivia Benbanaste’s love of American-style bakes, and the regenerative approach to baking inspired by her time at Yardarm in Leyton. She recreates the classic cake in the form of a super-thick cookie made with fragrant Wildfarmed flour, with white chocolate drops in the place of cream cheese frosting. Cookies and brownies can be posted nationwide, meanwhile the full range of sweet and savoury bakes are available for London-wide delivery.

“Biscoff” cookie sandwich @ Hearth

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Hearth Bakery’s baked goods are frequently built to reduce waste in the kitchen, and the latest cookie is a take on the famous speculoos spread, Biscoff. The Hackney Wick bakery’s version is made with leftover breadcrumbs that have already been used once, for making so-called “bread tea” — an infusion that can be reduced into “bread treacle” or turned into kvass. The soaked breadcrumbs are dehydrated, and then mixed with speculoos spices, creamed butter, and brown sugar, before being baked into a crumbly biscuit. Those biscuits are then simmered with whole milk, butter, and brown sugar, to form a rich base that can be blended into an otherworldly relaive of Biscoff spread. Half that spread gets mixed with Emmer flour, cinnamon, and egg, to be baked into soft speculoos cookies; the rest becomes the filling for a sandwich of those very cookies. The method is at once inspiring and intimidating, but the result is indisputably delicious.

Chocolate chip and sea salt cookie @ Wood Street Bakery

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Seasoned London pastry chef Jennifer Moseley opened Wood Street Bakery in summer 2021, taking over the former Percy Ingle in Walthamstow. This tender, fudgy cookie, made with dark brown sugar, Maldon sea salt and 71 percent Nicaraguan dark chocolate from Land in Hackney is the platonic ideal of a chocolate chip cookie. Crisp edges, a soft-chewy centre, rich caramel notes and a flash of salt bring a crescendo of sweet and salty intensity in every bite. Meanwhile, double ginger cookies formed from a sticky brew of crystallised ginger, warming spices, and black treacle sit alongside an oatmeal raisin cookie, lightly spiced and packed with brown sugar, plump raisins and organic oats.

Miso, chocolate, and hazelnut cookie @ Burnt

Burnt, the exceptional cafe-restaurant on Askew Road, boasts a continually evolving menu of imaginative brunch dishes and dazzling small plates, but the miso, chocolate, and hazelnut cookie has been a constant since day one. This thin-stretched cookie consists of mesmerising concentric circles of rippling dough with great splashes of dark chocolate and whole smoked hazelnuts, like stones dropped into a sweet, sticky pond. While miso cookies are undoubtedly a London trend, Burnt demonstrates fine judgement of salty-sweet intensity across all of its baked goods. Anzac biscuits are lifted by brown butter and toasted coconut taken to an almost burnt edge, and a brand new tahini and lemon cookie coated in white sesame seeds delivers sweet-savoury-sharp contrast in every crisp-edged soft-centred bite.

Hazelnut gianduja cookie @ Le Choux

Patisserie and choux pastry atelier Le Choux occupies an expansive glass-fronted shop with an open kitchen on Ladbroke Grove. There are six flavours of cookie from Abigail Scheuer, and the hazelnut gianduja cookie spliced by whole roasted hazelnuts and rivulets of free-flowing gianduja spread is the original best-seller. For special occasions, Le Choux even offers a giant cookie cake that feeds 8 while retaining the precise look and feel of the smaller cookies — crisp on the outside, soft and fudgy in the middle.

Chocolate, peanut, and clotted cream fudge cookie @ Robins Bakery & Provisions

Robin’s Bakery and Provisions is a Putney micro-bakery, where a changing cast of old-school bakes like Bramley apple turnovers, Eccles cakes, and Dundee fruit cake runs alongside weekly staples that include a chocolate, peanut, and clotted cream fudge cookie. It gives an American-style cookie a British accent, with an ingredient list that includes Carnation condensed milk, Shipton Mill organic pastry flour, Cacklebean eggs, and Estate Dairy cultured butter and reads like a tribute to British food producers old and new. Topping these cookies with roasted peanuts and cubes of clotted cream fudge — the former a staple of British pubs and the latter of British sweet shops — rather than using sweet peanut butter, a staple of US households, feels like a matter of identity, not purely texture. And at just £2 for a hefty 100g cookie in a city where as much as £4 is increasingly the norm, Robin’s Bakery evokes nostalgia for a bygone era of local bakeries serving hearty homemade treats at pocket money prices.

Khorasan, tahini, and chocolate chip cookie @ Milk

Those in the know at Milk in Balham on a Saturday slip to the front of the queue and enter Milk Run, the convenience store occupying half the real estate, to purchase one of Milk’s standout baked goods along with a cup of expertly poured coffee from Berlin roastery the Barn. The Anzac is fair game for the best of its kind in the city — a vast domed frisbee of oats, coconut, burnt butter and golden syrup, substantial and wholesome enough to call breakfast but undeniably decadent. Meanwhile the khorasan, tahini, chocolate chip cookie engages customers in Milk’s favourite game of ingredients one has to surreptitiously look up. The ancient variety of wheat named after the Khorasan region of northern Iran brings its qualities to a tried-and-tested flavour combination, with the earthy wholewheat flour underscoring the nuttiness of tahini and vast chunks of Pump Street chocolate to establish this as a cookie for serious connoisseurs.

Espresso cookie sandwich @ Kaffeine

Peter Dore-Smith’s Kaffeine is the rare model of a cafe in which food and drink are attended to equally, with speciality coffee on par with the very best and sweet treats to rival those found in London’s speciality bakeries. Whilst the banana bread, toasted and smothered with butter, is arguably the most famous and popular treat, the espresso cookie sandwich is precisely engineered to show off the Square Mile espresso used in every cup of coffee, in a frosting sandwiched between two dark chocolate brownie cookies. Delivering a bittersweet hit of caffeine and cocoa in every mouthful, this cookie is a concise expression of the founder’s passion for coffee as more than just a drink, as well as the fastidious attention to detail that has made Kaffeine stand out in the city for so long.

Preserved lemon and tahini cookie @ Honey & Spice

Honey & Spice, the beloved deli from husband and wife duo Itamar Srulovich and Sarit Packer, boasts a range of indulgent yet homely cookies, sold individually from the pastry display or in bags of five, six, or seven. The preserved lemon and tahini cookies are made with rich nutty tahini, tangy lemon marmalade, and salty preserved lemon, before being encrusted with white sesame seeds and sugar. This results in a thrillingly different cookie profile: sharp and citrussy, with a powerful savoury thrust. Other hits include soft-centred, gluten-free marzipan cookies flavoured with orange zest and rolled in flaked almonds, developed to always have something to offer its coeliac neighbour, artist Rebecca Hossack — a story that speaks to the owners’s generosity. For those who can’t make it into Warren Street, Honey & Spice offers both London and nationwide delivery.

Chocolate chunk, pecan, and sea salt cookie @ Miel Bakery

When Shaheen Peerbhai opened French boulangerie Miel on Warren Street, Breton speciality kouign-amann and “shiny AF” chocolate tarts commandeered most of the attention. However, it’s the chocolate chunk, pecan, and sea salt cookies, baked in small batches throughout the day, that have enticed passers-by and secured devoted customers from day one. They have remained on the menu ever since, and these palm-spanning ridged and crinkly cookies, served warm and molten straight from the oven — even baked to order if a customer is prepared to wait — feature extortionate amounts of 70 percent Valrhona chocolate, meticulously cut to size by hand for optimum melt and a satisfying distribution throughout. The dough is properly salty, made with French Charentes butter and Normandy flour to replicate true Parisian patisserie in a city where the use of British whole grains and ancient wheats is so prevalent it’s hard to find a high quality cookie that isn’t of this disposition.

Dark chocolate and crispy M&M cookie @ Aries Bakehouse

At Aries Bakehouse on Brixton’s Acre Lane, cookies are favoured as vehicle for creativity and experimentation. At any given time, there can be as many as six flavours available, ranging from a crowd-pleasing dark chocolate and crispy M&Ms cookie, to a birthday cake cookie made with rainbow sprinkles and white chocolate,. Each cookie is a mighty 6oz beast, baked in muffin tins that prevent the dough from spreading. The mixture instead rises up, writhing and ripping to create thick, craggy cookies with a strong, walled crust and a sunken, squidgy centre housing all manner of playful additions.

Jumbo chocolate, pecan, and walnut cookie @ Winnie’s Baked Goods

Winnie’s Baked Goods was a lockdown success for baker Caitlin Wymes, who spent the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic dedicated to perfecting her cookie recipes. Today, the thriving south London micro-bakery offers four cookies that span a litany of flavours, textures and sizes for postal delivery via her website and occasional drops on trendy London food marketplace Delli. The best of the four is the the jumbo chocolate, pecan and walnut cookie, rooted firmly in the archetypal style of Levain Bakery in New York City and producing an extra-thick chunky cookie full of texture and surprise.

Caramelised white chocolate, almond, and spelt cookie @ Maya’s Bakehouse

Brixton micro-bakery Maya’s Bakehouse began with maternity leave, during the lockdown of 2020, when Maya, who trained at the renowned Ballymaloe cookery school in Ireland, began offering sourdough loaves, buns, and to neighbours via a Whatsapp group. Today, Maya balances baking for a much wider audience on the Delli app with motherhood. Her salted chocolate cookies, topped with Pump Street’s 72 percent Madagascar chocolate pastilles and a hefty pinch of Maldon salt, are loosely based on Ravneet Gill’s “perfect chocolate cookie” recipe. They really are a near-perfect rendition of a classic: crisp and plump, with dramatic puddles of chocolatey goo. Meanwhile, Maya’s caramelised white chocolate, almond, and spelt cookies, made with Valrhona’s “Dulcey Blond” chocolate, deliver waves of sweet, salty. nutty intensity in every bite.

Bitter honey and chocolate cookie @ Toklas Cafe and Bakery

The bitter honey and chocolate biscuits at Toklas Bakery are built on Pump Street Chocolate’s 72 percent Madagascar chocolate and Ling heather honey from London Honey Company. The honey boasts a unique jelly-like consistency, which helps the biscuit dough retain moisture for an exceptionally close, buttery and crumbly shortbread-like consistency. Emmer and oat crunchie biscuits are a take on head baker Janine Edwards’s childhood memories of eating crunchies in South Africa, with the addition of wholegrain emmer flour milled on-site lending a honeyed, nutty complexity to a traditional recipe featuring oats and golden syrup. The tahini cookies, meanwhile, were recently removed from the menu to make space for new bakes but are expected to return due to customer demand. These intensely nutty dome-shaped cookies made with a mixture of light and dark tahini and unhulled sesame seeds from Oliveology have a unique halva-like consistency, all enveloped in a crumbly caramelised crust, making them something of a one-of-a-kind cookie in a saturated field.

Camberwell cookie @ Grove Lane Deli

Grove Lane Deli’s best cookie is a must-try for anyone in the area for which it is named. Dark chocolate chunks, desiccated coconut, toasted pecans, and malty barley flour hang together in a wet, sticky dough. Cookies are baked slowly at a low temperature, and given a solid whack with the back of a spoon as they come out of the oven, resulting in a truly chunky cookie with a crunchy exterior which remains gooey inside. The barley flour imparts a sweet, earthy, malted flavour to a robustly textured and variegated cookie. When owner Danielle opened the doors to Grove Lane Deli a month or so before officially opening, offering freshly baked cookies to inquisitive passers-by, they were quickly swarmed by the local community who heard about these exceptional cookies. It’s for this reason that they became known as Camberwell cookies, and Danielle decided to cap the price at just £2 – a cookie “for the people” (of Camberwell, at least.)

Chocolate chip and soy sauce cookie @ Toad Bakery

When the outstanding Camberwell bakery formerly known as Frog renamed itself Toad, following a legal challenge from Michelin-starred restaurant owner Adam Handling, its signature cookie also underwent a playful reincarnation. What began life as a miso chocolate chip cookie has evolved into a chocolate chip soy sauce cookie, in which a classic brown sugar cookie dough packed with Islands Chocolate 65 percent chocolate is injected with umami-rich soy sauce. The salty intensity is balanced by the melty pools of fruity chocolate, which carry an unusual banana flavour profile that really, really works with the soy. Toad has made its mark on London’s difficult-to-infiltrate bakery scene with a variety of eye-widening specials that defy flavour conventions, and this cookie is no exception, despite its basic logic of salt with sweet being entirely embedded in good baking sense.

Chocolate, fir tip, and rye cookie @ Esters

Esters’ white chocolate and miso cookie helped to initiate a domino effect of bakeries adding the savoury Japanese condiment to their chocolate chip cookies, for its ability to leaven sweetness with a rich savouriness that salt alone cannot match. In that cookie, the butter is browned before creaming to emphasise the richness of the white miso, which dances happily with aromatic, malty stoneground flour; the bitter kick of ground coffee; and great chunks of almost aromatic white chocolate. However, N16 cookie connoisseurs convinced they’ve seen it all will be surprised and charmed by the newest addition to the baked goods selection: a chocolate, fir tip, and rye cookie that embodies Christmas. Esters makes a fir tip sugar that smells of Christmas trees and peppermint candy canes, by turns citrussy and resinous, making up the base of the cookies alongside two types of chocolate — Pump Street 75 percent Jamaica and Chocolat Madagascar 62 percent Madagascar — and rye flour from Hodmedods. A gloriously inventive and untraditional Christmas cookie.

Salted caramel cookie @ Brunswick East

Brunswick East’s seasonally rotating cast of cookies that celebrate heritage grains and bean-to-bar chocolate possess seriousness of flavour and imagination. The salted caramel cookie is no exception, made with flour milled on-site for freshness from Gilchesters’s Emmer grain, chunks of 28 percent toasted Nicaraguan white chocolate from Hackney chocolate maker Land, and a salted caramel sauce that repurposes whey leftover from the yoghurt for the chilli poached eggs on the brunch menu. As Christmas approaches, Brunswick East bring back its brandy butter, white chocolate, and cranberry cookie made with homemade brandy butter, 40 percent Ecuadorian Pump Street white chocolate, and dried cranberries that swell fit-to-burst, in sync with the hearts of longstanding customers who look forward to this day each year.

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YQ “Fig Newton” @ Leila's Shop

Desserts at Leila’s Shop are in the custody of baker supreme Stroma Sinclair — formerly head pastry chef at Skye Gyngell’s Spring — and cookies regularly feature in various guises. YQ Fig Newtons offer a masterclass in regenerative baking, recreating the Nabsico-trademarked supermarket variety with a homemade fig conserve using produce sold at the shop, and YQ flour grown at Turners of Bytham and milled at Tuxford Mill. While nostalgia is a key ingredient in most cookies, Stroma takes this up a level with the likes of ravishing ginger snaps, homespun YQ digestives, and jammy thumbprint cookies. These cookies don’t try too hard to impress, but massively over-deliver thanks to top quality ingredients and masterful execution.

Spiced black treacle cookie @ Potter & Reid

The spiced black treacle cookies at this newish Spitalfields cafe and restaurant from alumni of Allpress, Railroad, and Towpath Cafe are the perfect holiday cookie. Warmly spiced, boasting a teeth-sticking chew and crinkly-crackly turtle shell top, and set off by a dash of black pepper, they are made with Wildfarmed flour, which lends the dough a characterful malty flavour. Salted chocolate cookies and anise biscotti are year-round staples on the counter, suggesting this speciality coffee shop takes the matter of dunking as seriously as it does drinking.

Sesamie cookie @ Snackbar

This palm-spanning, rapturously rippled and wrinkled, crispy cookie is based on the recipe that Ikoyi chef Jeremy Chan contributed to the Nearness Project — an online community created during the 2020 pandemic — claiming it to be “the perfect cookie.” Snackbar founder Freddie Janssen tried it, agreed, and now it’s on the menu. The recipe makes a rich, multi-textured and sensorily eclectic cookie using chocolate chips, white miso, sesame seeds, two types of sugar, and a butter-to-flour ratio so high that the cookies spread to the size of frisbees. The outermost edges become crisp, caramelised, and lacy like a tuile, surrounding a chewy inner rim and soft, chocolate-mottled centre, and the interplay of white miso with brown sugar clinches these cookies.

Cereal cookie @ Chatsworth Bakehouse

While Chatsworth’s focaccia sandwiches sell out well in advance via pre-order, the signature cereal cookies are always available on the door in SE19. Fist sized balls of brown butter cookie dough packed with two types of chocolate, Cheerios and sea salt are baked in the bread oven to develop an aggressively caramelised exterior and retain a molten centre. Toasted marshmallows are frequently added at the last minute for a weekend flourish, while a recent batch of cookies showered with chopped-up Crunchie bars were exalted with religious fervour by those who made the Saturday pilgrimage.

Creme brulee cookie @ Bake Street

Getting their hands on one of Chloe-Rose Crabtree’s creme brulee cookies has become something of a badge of honour among customers at Bake Street, to the point that there is often an order limit in place at weekends to manage the sprawling queue’s expectations. The cookies are inspired by a version at Dough & Arrow in Costa Mesa, California, and deliver the exact sensation of a creme brulee: a dramatically caramelised crunchy top with an oozing, vanilla bean-flecked creamy centre. Even with order limits in place, these cookies sell out fast, so arrive early to avoid disappointment.

Chocolate, rye, and sea salt cookie @ E5 Bakehouse

The chocolate, rye and sea salt cookie at E5 Bakehouse is modelled on the much-replicated recipe from Chad Robertson’s Tartine Book No. 3, and is widely considered to be the best version this side of the pond. Made with wholemeal rye flour from Cann Mills, Fen Farm Dairy butter, Original Beans Cru Virunga 70 percent dark chocolate, dark muscovado sugar, and an unapologetic amount of sea salt, these dome-shaped beauties are rich and satisfying with an intense, complex chocolate flavour and delicately sour tang. E5’s triple chocolate cookies are comprised of very similar ingredients, except for browning the butter for additional richness, replacing dark muscovado with light, and including three types of chocolate from Original Beans rather than just one — to radically different effect. The result is a flatter, evenly spread cookie with a high chocolate percentage and a clear distinction between solid chocolate chunks and rich cookie dough. There’s also a vegan version, which swaps the butter for Honest Toil olive oil and includes a blend of buckwheat flour and light spelt flour for a satisfyingly chewy texture.

Red velvet cookie @ Liv’s Baked Goodies

Liv’s Baked Goodies is one of a handful of noteworthy micro-bakeries that began during COVID-19 lockdown and made a lasting mark on London’s formidable and finicky pastry scene. The red velvet cookie brings together founder Olivia Benbanaste’s love of American-style bakes, and the regenerative approach to baking inspired by her time at Yardarm in Leyton. She recreates the classic cake in the form of a super-thick cookie made with fragrant Wildfarmed flour, with white chocolate drops in the place of cream cheese frosting. Cookies and brownies can be posted nationwide, meanwhile the full range of sweet and savoury bakes are available for London-wide delivery.

“Biscoff” cookie sandwich @ Hearth

Hearth Bakery’s baked goods are frequently built to reduce waste in the kitchen, and the latest cookie is a take on the famous speculoos spread, Biscoff. The Hackney Wick bakery’s version is made with leftover breadcrumbs that have already been used once, for making so-called “bread tea” — an infusion that can be reduced into “bread treacle” or turned into kvass. The soaked breadcrumbs are dehydrated, and then mixed with speculoos spices, creamed butter, and brown sugar, before being baked into a crumbly biscuit. Those biscuits are then simmered with whole milk, butter, and brown sugar, to form a rich base that can be blended into an otherworldly relaive of Biscoff spread. Half that spread gets mixed with Emmer flour, cinnamon, and egg, to be baked into soft speculoos cookies; the rest becomes the filling for a sandwich of those very cookies. The method is at once inspiring and intimidating, but the result is indisputably delicious.

Chocolate chip and sea salt cookie @ Wood Street Bakery

Seasoned London pastry chef Jennifer Moseley opened Wood Street Bakery in summer 2021, taking over the former Percy Ingle in Walthamstow. This tender, fudgy cookie, made with dark brown sugar, Maldon sea salt and 71 percent Nicaraguan dark chocolate from Land in Hackney is the platonic ideal of a chocolate chip cookie. Crisp edges, a soft-chewy centre, rich caramel notes and a flash of salt bring a crescendo of sweet and salty intensity in every bite. Meanwhile, double ginger cookies formed from a sticky brew of crystallised ginger, warming spices, and black treacle sit alongside an oatmeal raisin cookie, lightly spiced and packed with brown sugar, plump raisins and organic oats.

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