Scores of bakers around the Midwest make unforgettable chocolate chip cookies, but we had to know who makes the best of the best. So we searched for the all-stars -- cookies that have earned a name at state fairs, popular bakeries and everywhere else cookie fans gather.
Then we pitted six top contenders against each other in the Midwest Living® Test Kitchen. Sure, this research is tough duty, but someone had to find the answer.
To see all the recipes and our winner, click ahead. But don't look for a loser. We'd take a dozen of any of these cookies, any day.
The Resume Our top cookie, from Lindsay's Chocolate Cafe and Coffee House in O'Fallon, Missouri, wowed us with its flavor-packed lineup of ingredients.
The Secret Rolled oats; grated milk chocolate; nuts; baking on a preheated stone.
Our Take Double chocolate adds flavor and color; oats and nuts add chewy texture. The baking stone makes slightly crispier edges.
The Resume An original (and customer favorite) at Krista's Kitchen Bakery/Cafe in Portage, Wisconsin, since the bakery opened.
The Secret Big cookies; cake flour; loads of chocolate chips and nuts.
Our Take The large cookie bakes crisp on the outside, cakey inside. It's extra moist with chips.
The Resume From the Cookie Jar in Sioux Falls, South Dakota; fave of Road Food author Michael Stern.
The Secret No restraint: cocoa powder, chocolate chips and a very chocolatey chocolate frosting.
Our Take Soft; packed with choco-flavor.
The Resume Top seller since 1976 for Doughbox Bakery at Sauder Village, Ohio, a living-history destination.
The Secret Butter with vegetable oil; extra salt; brown sugar; extra chips.
Our Take Salty-sweet flavor stands out; oil gives flatter look, softer texture.
The Resume Marjorie Johnson of Robbinsdale, Minnesota, won one of her 2,500 state fair ribbons with this recipe. It's also part of her cookbook, The Road to Blue Ribbon Baking.
The Secret All butter (no shortening or oil); heavy on white versus brown sugar; chopped walnuts.
Our Take Like the beloved Toll House cookie; butter and walnut flavors prevail.
The Resume People voted Rene's Bakery in Indianapolis one of the top Indy bakeries the past four years.
The Secret Lots of chips; coconut; let the dough sit overnight.
Our Take Coconut adds chewiness. Sitting overnight mellows flavor and makes softer, browner cookies.
Mix chocolates Try combining types of chips or chunks (such as milk chocolate, semisweet or bittersweet) for contrast, such as mixing milk chocolate with bittersweet. They all bake up the same way.
It's in the pan Dark-colored cookie sheets bake cookies browner than shiny ones.
Don't get stuck Keep cookies from sticking by baking on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. A parchment paper bonus: easy cleanup.
Is it done yet? If you want a soft-center cookie, bake until it looks just barely done. The tiny amount of shiny center turns dull when removed from oven. Let stand 1 to 2 minutes on cookie sheet.
Cookies on demand Every dough in our slide show is fine for freezing. Shape into balls before freezing. Place frozen balls on cookie sheet; bake a little longer than regular dough until done.
Creative serving Sandwich chocolate chip cookies around vanilla or chocolate ice cream.