I remember my first Le Gourmand experience like it was yesterday.
A few friends of mine had told me about this place where they had tried this outstanding cookie and because I am a full-blooded cookie monster, I went out of my way to go. I walked to Spadina and Richmond, ordered my cookie, and as soon as I took my first bite, my life was changed.
The Le Gourmand cookie is different to any other chocolate chip cookie you’ve had in your time on earth and that is because it is an out-of-body experience. There is a chemical reaction that occurs when the soft cookie meets your lips. Endorphins are released and oxytocin levels increase while eating this cookie, much like they do when having sex (okay I’m making this up but honestly am probably not wrong).
Why is the cookie so perfect? Let me break it down for you.
It’s the equivalent to eating a slice of cake, making this cookie a proper dessert and not a mockery of one, like silly Oreo Thins. It’s the shape, being often a lopsided circle, insisting on the organic form the dough takes upon baking. It’s a cookie with a good weight and thickness, meaning you will need to use both hands to eat it. The cookie is golden brown on the inside, with a crispy outer layer, but should you tap your finger in the centre of the cookie, you can feel it collapse into itself like a sheet of too-thin ice.
The sorcery that occurs upon baking allows Le Gourmand’s infamous cookie to have ideal exterior and interior. With the accuracy in butter and other ingredients (but mostly butter) used, the cookie is almost underbaked in its middle. So when you bite into it, the surprise doesn’t end with the good flavour but continues in the explosive centre of the cookie. I remember once describing it as a volcanic eruption in your mouth, but fundamentally, eating this cookie takes you on a journey.
Instead of generic chocolate chips, the bakers use chocolate pieces, allowing for optimal chocolate exposure in the cookie. And no matter what time of day you come into the shop, they are constantly baking these cookies because of their popularity, so you’re getting them warm and fresh. Sometimes this means you may have to wait (been there, done that) but don’t even think twice about it - it’s worth it. It means you’ll be getting an extra warm, ooey-gooey, divine, chocolate chip cookie straight out of the oven from heaven.
** WARNING: do not get the one that also has walnuts. Don’t fool yourself into thinking it will taste the same. You will regret it majorly. Stick with chocolate chip - if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Since having this cookie, I’ve only encountered a few other cookies that come close to matching this delicacy. One from Levain Bakery in New York (which in my opinion was almost too extreme) and a cookie in a bakery that has since shut down (truly RIP). Le Gourmand has set high standards for me in the world of cookies. I can never go back to Chip’s Ahoy. But it also has gifted me with a new superpower and that is the ability to visually detect a good cookie when I see it.
I can try to explain it in words, but ultimately, it is a feeling, like a sixth sense. The cookie must not be too flat, it must also be of healthy colour, depicting its freshness. If you can detect some moisture, that’s a good sign because nobody really likes a dry cookie, unless it’s a biscotti. The chocolate : dough ratio must be in balance, and if you’re ever in doubt, ask the workers themselves about their opinion on the cookie. I do this often. I’ll ask “how chewy is your cookie?” and then usually follow with “is it a good cookie?” and sometimes they amuse me and other times they cannot wait until I leave. Nevertheless, it’s a matter I take seriously because nothing is as disappointing as a sub-par cookie.
I hope that this review on Toronto’s greatest chocolate chip cookie has made you incredibly hungry and inclined to pay Le Gourmand and the cookie a visit.