For major chains, we have Hannaford's, Shaw's and Walmart. I like the breads at Hannaford's and Walmart has a good variety of pastries. However, for cookies and cakes I have found Shaw's to be superior to the other two.
I found some chocolate chip cookies at Shaw's that blew me away. They were a good cookie, chewy and flavorful, not processed tasting at all. But the pièce de résistance of these cookies was that they were dipped in chocolate which coated half the cookie. They were marvelous.
I introduced these cookies to many people and they all liked them as well. There was a problem, however.
They aren't made with any sort of regularity of schedule. When I asked one of the bakery people about it, he told me that he didn't know when they would be making them again. I asked if they were seasonal and he said no. Apparently, it's just a random thing.
So I decided I would try to make those kind of cookies myself.
Using frozen cookie dough from the store and a bag of chocolate chips to melt, I came up with these (bottom picture)....
My first problem was using the frozen cookie dough. I tried it a couple times and didn't get the results I wanted as the cookies baked rather flat and didn't rise. My second problem was that I caused the melted chocolate chips to "seize" when I put some vanilla flavoring in them. The smooth, almost liquid chocolate became chunky and grainy. I did some research to find out why and discovered that you don't add liquids to melted chocolate. People told me they tasted good, but I wasn't satisfied with that. I wanted good form as well.
So I kept at it.
Next attempt was by using the Toll House cookie recipe on the back of the chocolate chip bag. They turned out looking like this:
These were closer to what I wanted and I knew I was going in the right direction.
For my next experiment, I tried putting macademia nuts in the cookies and using white chocolate disks for the melt. Turns out you can purchase chocolate just for melting and in the store it comes in dark chocolate or white. They are made by Ghirardelli.
This was the result of that effort:
Esthetically, my cookies were looking better with each attempt. I nailed down ingredients, baking times (which I experimented with), and equipment for mixing and baking. I found that a double layer cookie sheet gives me a better result than a single layer.
For the next attempt, I tried making Snickerdoodles and I used eggnog in them because I had some left over and wanted to get rid of it. The dairy in eggnog and butter made the cookies very cakey which was nice, but I still preferred chewy over that.
I tried Snickerdoodles again, but this time I used a white chocolate drizzle on top of them. This is what they looked like:
Some people on Facebook commented negatively about my doing this, but I didn't really care. I thought they were good and some skeptics tried them and agreed.
Another batch I made was to use up a bunch of M&Ms I got for Christmas. No chocolate coating on these, I did however, add some cinnamon to the cookie dough and rather liked the flavor.
My most recent two batches were done within a week of each other. The first was to send to a friend of mine, and I also took some to my parents. They were dark chocolate chip cookies with a white chocolate dip.
These had mini semi-sweet chocolate chips in them and their texture was a little different from what I had been getting previously. I tend to think it was because instead of using 1-1/2 cups of brown sugar, I used 1 cup brown and 1/2 of white sugar. Not sure though.
And the last batch I made just a few days ago, I used peanut butter chips and totally coated the cookies with chocolate. I was very pleased with the way they turned out.
Not pictured or mentioned anywhere here was a batch of Snickerdoodles I made with dark brown sugar. They were good, but the dark brown sugar made them taste like molasses cookies. I also used butter in them which made the cookies cakey.
All in all, I have enjoyed the process of experimenting with cookies and tweaking the recipes to get desired results.
I think now that I never have to go back to Shaw's and buy their cookies again.