TAKING THE GOOEY DIVE into an oven-fresh chocolate chip cookie—warm, rich, buttery—is like transporting yourself in time. These morsels of comfort are the portals through which grandmothers become superhuman in children’s eyes and budding bakers first enter the messy and thrilling world of home cooking. But for all its simplicity and unadorned goodness, the chocolate chip cookie is still the greatest test of a baker’s mettle: how do you improve upon a classic, a pretty damned good recipe for which can be found on any Tollhouse bag?

Answers are as diverse as Portland’s tastes. When asked to name their favorite chocolate chipper of all time, most Portland bakers and loyal tasters responded “my own!” or cited a recipe from the family graveyard. Few agree on what defines chocolate chip perfection, but in the end depth of flavor, quality of ingredients (from the butter to the chocolate), and texture (crispy on the outside and lusciously moist at the epicenter) reign supreme. Size also counts, as do thoughtful touches like toasted ?almonds or a dash of fine sea salt.

In search of that perfect chocolate chip cookie, we took to the streets, testing single-batch bakers and heavy hitters alike. Pour yourself a glass of milk and turn the page for our favorites.

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