As I wandered through downtown Culver City in search of the best cookies, I found an assortment of chocolate-loaded, naturally sugared and gluten-free goodies. What surprised me, however, was the number of filled cookies in each bakery – who knew those were so popular? A cookie isn't something I've spent a significant amount of money, or attention on, yet these restaurants made me and my palate sit up and listen--or I should say, taste.
Hence, my picks for Culver City's most delectable cookies:
#1 Platine's Chocolate Galore
The clean white and metallic ornaments inside Platine (French for "platinum") direct your attention to the main fixture of chef Jamie Cantor's gallery—a glass-encased display of the day's desserts. Peering through is like spiraling to Wonderland, into a miniature dollhouse with desserts to match. Conventional desserts -- s'mores, ice cream sandwiches and chocolate cookies -- and not so conventional -- bite-sized pancakes with candied bacon-- get a sophisticated twist here.
Made especially for the chocoholic, the Chocolate Galore cookie is infused with four types of gourmet chocolate and California walnuts to complete the rich, fudge-like encounter. The texture was incredible, and the sugar-high aftermath akin to drinking a sauce-like Italian hot chocolate.
Platine Sweets and Savories, 10850 West Washington Blvd., Culver City, CA 90232-3610; 310-559-9933
#2 Akasha's Ginger Cookie
The earthy and rich wood of Akasha's interior is a clear giveaway that the restaurant prides itself on local, organic and handcrafted ingredients. Nothing is too morning-fresh in crispness and taste. Its ginger cookie, for example, brought to me on an elongated white plate with three other silver-dollar-sized selections, was an immediate sensation of bright, well-trimmed ingredients that kept my interest long after the initial bite.
Apparently, owner and chef Akasha Richmond uses three types of ginger in crafting this cookie – freshly grated (moisture), candied (texture), and powdered (flavor). The use of one ingredient, prepared three different ways made the sting of this cookie like a BB gun -- extra cocked for impact -- which added to the excitement.
Akasha, 9543 Culver Blvd., Culver City, CA 90232; 310-845-1700
#3 Hotcakes Bakes' Passion Fruit French Macaron
Winner of 2009's Food Network "Cupcake Wars" for its Tres Leche Spicy Mango cupcake, Hotcakes Bakes is a quaint shop with novel and well-executed ideas. Its cookies, the staple of its traditionalist repertoire, are large and dense, but not overbearing.
Further intrigued, I spotted a colorful plate of French macarons: pistachio, passion fruit, lemon, chocolate, and vanilla. Taking the passion fruit for a safe airy nibbler, my tongue gave way to the fruit's natural flavor.
Baking the passion fruit-infused dough at 250 degrees gives the cookie a wafer-like shell that easily cracks to reveal a soft, moist, cakey interior. The filling, a chilled passion fruit butter cream, is just thick enough to add a sprinkle of sweet to the naturally flavored cookie, but thin enough not to overpower the beauty of the main idea.
We had to include this bakery--even though it straddles the Culver City and Los Angeles border. It's worth the short trip "out of town."
Hotcakes Bakes, 4119 South Centinela Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90066; 310-397-2324
#4 Sensitive Baker's Coconut Oatmeal Cookie with Vanilla Chai Filling
It's true--gluten, dairy, and soy free cookies seem at a disadvantage when compared with conventional confectionaries. However, tasting the Coconut Oatmeal Cookie with Vanilla Chai Filling at Sensitive Baker educated my limited imagination of what gluten free could be. The oatmeal cookie, while not a particularly fascinating or tasty item in and of itself, is completely transformed when swooped with vanilla chai whip. The combo is light, but the flavor is not. The cookie is a crunchy wrap. The filling, with a hint of vanilla bean, offers a soothing trickle down your throat.
Sensitive Baker, 10836 1/2 Washington Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232; 310-815-1800
#5 Grand Casino's Dulce de Leche
The most economical package ever--at two cookies for a dollar--Grand Casino's Dulce de Leche nibblers could be as sneaky as jelly beans; you find yourself at the bottom of the pile, overshooting your goal of eating two. Although none of Casino's other cookies are anything to shout about, its specialty caramel item is lovely and comes trimmed in coconut flakes. The mini stack is a sandwich of two moist and light sugar cookies with a respectably gooey interior.
Grand Casino, 3826 Main Street, Culver City, CA 90232-2620; 310-202-6969
Have a craving that you're itching to quench? Leave a comment or post it on our Facebook or Twitter page.