Noms: A Careful Consideration of Stanford’s Chocolate Chip Options

Nov. 5, 2012, 12:30 a.m.

Sure, we love a quinoa-crusted venison with side of sautéed uni as much as the next self-pinned “foodie,” but even our refined palates ache for an American classic mixed, rolled, baked and scarfed a million times over: the chocolate chip cookie.

There are chocolate chip cookies to be found all over campus. Here’s the scoop on some of the most popular options at Stanford.


Arrillaga Late Night ($1.50)

Perhaps I had never considered Arrillaga’s cookies in comparison to other cookies, perhaps my cookie-tasting palate has been refined in the course of writing this article or perhaps Arrillaga was having an off night. Whatever the cause, I expected to have rated my frequent companions on long nights of paper writing or on post-frat snack attacks more favorably.

My qualm with Arrillaga’s cookies lies in the dough: copious and bland. The lingering aftertaste of flour and baking soda, rather than the honeyed length I’d prefer, make the doughy taste come to the front. This wouldn’t be an issue if the chocolate chips packed more of a punch, but instead your left with a cookie whose character comes more from the overly sweetened dough instead of the lively chocolate.

Taste aside, the cookie had a pleasing texture – its crispy edges crumble in your mouth almost as easily as the graham cracker crust of a cheesecake, and they are always served hot, so the inside is satisfyingly molten.

When served warm, the cookie makes up for its ordinary flavor, so I recommend gobbling it up quickly before turning to your IHUM – excuse me, Thinking Matters – paper due tomorrow, or to your still tipsy friends due tonight.


Lagunita Late Night ($1.50)

If Arrillaga’s cookies are too plain, Lag’s cookies are not plain enough. They really merit only one adjective: sweet. In most chocolate chip cookies, the dough distinguishes itself from the chocolate, or even from the crunchy edges and molten center. Not so at Lag. The dough’s taste-bud-raising sweetness overpowers the rest of the flavors, leaving you munching on an intensely sweet, yet otherwise uninteresting post-dinner snacklet.

Even so, in the right moment one might delight in the saccharine treat, in the way a costumed munchkin might indulge in a pile of Halloween goodies. Like Halloween for the cautious parent, however, it left me the urgent desire to schedule an appointment with the dentist.


Axe and Palm ($1.50)

Axe and Palm’s cookies are, in my opinion, the unquestionable winners in the it’s-midnight-and-I-just-want-a-damn-cookie category. Served warm with a solid inch of crispiness around the edges, the cookie offers a subtle, yet much more interesting taste than its peers at either dining hall. You can still suck the sugariness out of each bite, but it does not overwhelm.

From the little I know about baking, I believe that the complexity of The Axe and Palm’s cookies comes from salt. I’m not saying that the cookie tastes salty, but an added dimension will elude the taste buds in a way that sugar and chocolate cannot attain by themselves.

These cookies taste, in a way, old-fashioned. They are substantial and lack the plastic texture of margarine-laden store-bought cookies, reminiscent of those that I used to make with my mother from scratch when I was little.


Fraiche ($2.85)

Fraiche’s cookies are occasion cookies. Just got an A+ in Math 51H? Cute girl in your section just said yes to a coffee date? Just got the go-ahead to do a piece about chocolate chip cookies for The Daily? It’s an occasion.

For $2.85, the cookie had better deliver, and Fraiche’s golden-brown delicacies do, especially if you can intercept one fresh out of the oven. This thicker contender promises a higher ratio of chewy center to crunchy edges, and when warm, the center disintegrates into buttery goodness on your tongue.

As each morsel cools, it adopts a more mature, caramelized flavor with hints of toffee. The chocolate chunks become less molten, but their concentrated flavor maintains a pleasant contrast to the dough.

For me, the cooled cookie is almost too rich, and while you will probably enjoy every bite, your next craving may be a trip to Arrillaga Gym. This is why they are best left for occasions – if they were my go-to snack, the same richness that makes them unique among Stanford’s cookie selection would become heavy and overbearing.

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