The Best Chocolate Chip Cookie in All 50 States

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Chocolate chip cookies are comfort food at its best: classic, simple and satisfyingly sweet. But taking a bite out of a stale, cloyingly sugary, or rock-hard cookie is a major bummer. These places bake some of the country’s best chocolate chip cookies though, no matter what state you live in.

1. ALABAMA // CHURCH STREET COFFEE & BOOKS

Cary Norton

Location:

Birmingham, Alabama

A coffee shop and bookstore hybrid, Church Street Coffee & Books serves an excellent chocolate chip cookie called the Breakup Cookie. Even if you’re not nursing your way through a recent breakup, the cookie’s chewiness, luscious melted chocolate chips, and salt sprinkled on top are sure to help you forget your troubles.

2. ALASKA // GREAT HARVEST BREAD CO.

Frank Flavin/Visit Anchorage

Location:

Anchorage, Alaska

Opened in 1994, Great Harvest Bread Co. serves fresh breads (they mill their own wheat) and cookies. Each day, Great Harvest sells an alternating lineup of specialty cookies, but their classic chocolate chip oatmeal cookies are so popular they’re available every day. Made with 100 percent whole grain and rolled oats, the cookies are sweet, filling, and even healthy-ish.

3. ARIZONA // SUPER CHUNK

Super Chunk

Location:

Scottsdale, Arizona

The husband/wife team at Super Chunk creates small batches of handcrafted mesquite chocolate chip cookies. Made with mesquite flour and nutmeg, the cookies have an earthy, smoky, and completely delicious taste.

4. ARKANSAS // DEMPSEY BAKERY

Dempsey Bakery

Location:

Little Rock, Arkansas

Housed in a 1940s building, Dempsey Bakery has offered specialty baked goods (that happen to be free of gluten, soy, and nuts) since 2011. Their classic chocolate chip cookie, which contains sorghum flour, white rice flour, and goat’s milk, is made fresh daily. Dempsey Bakery also serves the Jai Cookie, a dairy-free and egg-free version of their chocolate chip cookie.

5. CALIFORNIA // ERIN MCKENNA’S BAKERY

Sadiyya Ameena

Location:

Los Angeles, California

Formerly called Babycakes, Erin McKenna’s Bakery serves a unique vegan, gluten-free, and kosher chocolate chip cookie. Instead of the typical flour, eggs, and butter, Erin McKenna’s recipe contains garbanzo bean flour, fava bean flour, coconut oil, and applesauce, creating a surprisingly delicious and authentic tasting chocolate chip cookie … it might be even better than the “real” thing.

6. COLORADO // MERMAIDS BAKERY

Tomasz Stasiuk via Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

Location:

Denver, Colorado

Mermaids Bakery sells cakes, cupcakes, pies, and brownies, but their chocolate chip cookies are the best in all of Colorado. Although Mermaids offers a traditional chocolate chip, sea salt chocolate chip, and peanut butter chocolate chip cookie, the standout is their chocolate chip pretzel cookie, which is the perfect mix of sweet chocolate and salted pretzel pieces.

7. CONNECTICUT // SWEET MARIA’S

Denis Tangney Jr./iStock

Location:

Waterbury, Connecticut

For over two decades, Maria Bruscino Sanchez has sold her cookies at Sweet Maria’s. Her chocolate chip, white chocolate chip, and chocolate chocolate chip cookies are delicious, but her magic cookie bars—made with chocolate chips, coconut, walnuts, and graham cracker crust—are truly out of this world.

8. DELAWARE // SWEET SOMETHINGS DESSERTS

Denis Tangney Jr./iStock

Location:

Wilmington, Delaware

Although Sweet Somethings Desserts focuses on designing custom wedding cakes, they also sell scrumptious chocolate chocolate chip cookies. And because they’re dark chocolate cookies made with white chocolate chips, they're also visually striking knockouts.

9. FLORIDA // MATTHEESSEN’S

Mattheessen's

Location:

Key West, Florida

With two locations on Key West’s Duval Street, Mattheessen's is an incredibly popular spot for key lime pie, fudge, and ice cream. Their dense chocolate chip cookies, weighing in at half a pound, have a taste as big as their size. And, they can be customized by adding optional pecans and macadamia nuts.

10. GEORGIA // MUSS & TURNER’S

Michael Mussman

Location:

Smyrna, Georgia

While eating brunch at Muss & Turner’s, you’ll definitely want to save room for their excellent chocolate chip cookie and the "evil cookie" (a quarter-pound double chocolate chip cookie, with optional pecans). Muss & Turner’s also works with The Giving Kitchen, a non-profit charity to help Atlanta’s restaurant owners with emergency assistance, so you can feel good about ordering some extra for the road.

11. HAWAII // MT VIEW BAKERY

YinYang/iStock

Location:

Mountain View, Hawaii

Mt View Bakery inspires strong feelings, both positive and negative. Those who didn’t grow up eating the bakery’s legendary chocolate chip stone cookies don’t understand them—the cookies are harder and less sweet than your usual cookies—but most of the newbies are eventually converted into stone cookie lovers. To eat a chocolate chip stone cookie, dip it in coffee, hot chocolate, or milk, which will soften the cookie and create a deliciously crumbly texture.

12. IDAHO // SWEET VALLEY COOKIE CO.

vkbhat/iStock

Location:

Eagle, Idaho

Sweet Valley Cookie Co.’s jumbo chocolate chip cookies are made with tasty semisweet chocolate chips, and you can kick them up a notch by ordering a "brookie." Half brownie and half chocolate chip cookie, the brookie is made by baking a brownie into the bottom of their regular chocolate chip cookie. You can get Sweet Valley Cookie Co.’s cookies at their Eagle store, at the downtown Boise farmers' market, and on their website.

13. ILLINOIS // COOKIE BAR

Mampfred/iStock

Location:

Chicago, Illinois

Although Cookie Bar is an entirely gluten-free bakery, their classic chocolate chip cookies have the crispy edges, chewy insides, and overall deliciousness of a cookie made with wheat. The Belgian chocolate, grade AA butter, and Mexican vanilla extract (made in-house) really put the cookie over the top. For a giant version of their chocolate chip cookie, order Cookie Bar’s giant cookie pizza with chocolate chip crust.

14. INDIANA // THE CAKE BAKE SHOP

Becky Batchelor

Location:

Indianapolis, Indiana

The Cake Bake Shop’s owner and founder, Gwendolyn Rogers, serves delicious chocolate chip cookies that combine Callebaut Belgian semisweet and Valrhona French bittersweet chocolates, loads of butter, and are sprinkled with fleur de sel from the south of France. Très luxurious!

15. IOWA // NAN’S NUMMIES

Ron_Thomas/iStock

Location:

West Des Moines, Iowa

Proud of its traditional, Midwestern roots, Nan’s Nummies makes cupcakes, cookies, and bars. Nan’s chocolate chip cookies are made with crispy rice and oats, providing a crunchier-than-normal texture, and their almond chocolate chip is a butter cookie made with mini semisweet chocolate chips.

16. KANSAS // J. RAE’S BAKERY

ricardoreitmeyer/iStock

Location:

Wichita, Kansas

J. Rae’s Bakery happily bakes cheesecakes, cupcakes, and custom-made cookies, but they definitely shine with their chocolate chip cookie, a chewy concoction of medium thickness, and will bake special holiday batches, like heart-shaped chocolate chip cookies for Valentine’s Day.

17. KENTUCKY // PLEASE & THANK YOU

Josh Merideth

Location:

Louisville, Kentucky

The chocolate chip cookie at Please & Thank You is a truly stellar chewy cookie, not too thin and not too dense. Because it’s so loved, you can buy a bake-it-yourself version, which consists of mix or dough that you can make in your own oven.

18. LOUISIANA // EMERIL’S DELMONICO

Emeril’s Delmonico

Location:

New Orleans, Louisiana

Since chef Emeril Lagasse renovated the historic Delmonico restaurant in 1998, Emeril’s Delmonico has served Creole food and the best cookies in Louisiana. On the dessert menu, the chocolate chip cookies, which are served with ice cold vanilla milk, contain dark, milk, white, and semisweet chocolate chips, brown sugar, local walnuts, and salt. Bam!

19. MAINE // STANDARD BAKING CO.

Standard Baking Co.

Location:

Portland, Maine

Standard Baking Co. has made artisanal breads, scones, and pastries since 1995. Their sea salted chocolate pecan cookie is made with 70 percent Valrhona chocolate chunks and crunchy pecans, and is dusted with Maldon salt flakes. Get 'em while they're hot!

20. MARYLAND // OTTERBEIN’S COOKIES

Otterbein's Cookies

Location:

Baltimore, Maryland

The most popular cookie at Otterbein’s Cookies is their crispy chocolate chip. Available in specialty grocers and major grocery stores throughout Maryland, the cookie contains Guittard semisweet chocolate chips, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla.

21. MASSACHUSETTS // WHEN PIGS FLY

BDphoto/iStock

Location:

Somerville, Massachusetts

If you pick up a loaf of bread at When Pigs Fly, don’t forget to also grab their salted caramel triple chocolate chip cookie. Truly decadent, this signature cookie features dark, milk, and white chocolate chips, caramel, and salt. Thankfully, with numerous locations across Massachusetts (Kittery, Freeport, Brookline, and Jamaica Plain), you’ll never be too far from this pleasing treat.

22. MICHIGAN // AVALON INTERNATIONAL BREADS

Bekah Galang

Location:

Detroit, Michigan

The baked goods at Avalon International Breads are made with 100 percent organic flour, and you can taste the care and thought that goes into each cookie. Avalon’s chocolate chunk cookies are substantial in size and contain chunks of Callebaut chocolate. You can customize your cookie by adding pecans, or opt for a sea salt chocolate chunk cookie for a smaller, chewier version (with coarse sea salt on top).

23. MINNESOTA // RUSTICA BAKERY

jpellgen via Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Location:

Minneapolis, Minnesota

The bittersweet chocolate chip cookie at Rustica Bakery is a dark, rich cookie that has the mouthfeel of a fudgy, unbaked brownie. Made with bread flour, brown sugar, butter, cocoa powder, and ScharffenBerger 70 percent cacao bittersweet chocolate, this cookie is perfect for dark chocolate lovers.

24. MISSISSIPPI // CAMPBELL'S BAKERY

Campbell's Bakery

Location:

Jackson, Mississippi

Specializing scrumptious cakes, cheesecakes, petit fours, and more since 1962, Campbell's Bakery offers a classic all-butter cookie with semisweet chocolate chips that is so rich it almost melts in your mouth.

25. MISSOURI // COMET COFFEE & MICROBAKERY

f11photo/iStock

Location:

St. Louis, Missouri

At Comet Coffee & Microbakery the couverture chocolate chip cookies are made with high quality couverture dark chocolate so they’re a totally gooey, melted masterpiece. And because the cookies contain more brown sugar than white sugar, they’re chewier and darker than typical cookies. Bakers sprinkle flaked fleur de sel on the cookie dough before the cookies bake, rounding out the seriously intense flavors.

26. MONTANA // BERNICE’S BAKERY

Redfishingboat (Mick O) via Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Location:

Missoula, Montana

The chocolate chip cookies at Bernice’s Bakery are classic, traditional, and made from scratch. Since 1978, the bakery has focused on making quality goods in a warm setting, and biting into their chocolate chip cookie will remind you of your grandmother’s timeless cookies.

27. NEBRASKA // CARSON'S COOKIE FIX

Carson's Cookie Fix

Location:

Omaha, Nebraska

Carson's Cookie Fix (formerly Kristen's Cookies) completely revamped their business recently, but kept their beloved old-fashioned cookie recipes—all 17 varieties—that date from the early 1900s. Carson's caramel chocolate chip cookie, made with semisweet chocolate chips and bits of caramel, is mouthwateringly chewy in the middle and crisp around the edges.

28. NEVADA // SUGAR BEE’S BAKERY

Miss Shari via Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Location:

Las Vegas, Nevada

Seven miles off of the Las Vegas strip, Sugar Bee's Bakery sells desserts, scones, and croissants, but eating Sugar Bee’s chewy double chocolate chunk cookie feels like hitting the jackpot. Big chunks of chocolate melt into the cookie, giving it a marbled appearance. To ensure the highest quality and freshness, Sugar Bee’s is only open Friday and Saturday for walk-in customers.

29. NEW HAMPSHIRE // GONE BAKING

Gone Baking

Location:

Bedford, New Hampshire

Former elementary school teacher Jenny Cheifetz now runs a dessert truck company, Gone Baking, delivering chocolate chip cookies to residents of Bedford, Amherst, Nashua, Manchester, and Merrimack. The tagline on Gone Baking’s van is, aptly, “Taking sweets to the streets.” The Get Loaded cookie is their chocolate chip cookie made with dark, milk, and white chocolate chips, sure to please all types of chocolate lovers.

30. NEW JERSEY // THE BENT SPOON

Gab Carbone

Location:

Princeton, New Jersey

Located in Princeton’s Palmer Square, The Bent Spoon sells a thick chocolate chunk cookie that’s smooth, buttery, and layered with chocolate. For a slightly lighter bite, their thin and crispy chocolate chunk variety is the way to go. If you’re in the mood for even more decadence, add artisanal ice cream—flavors range from sweet potato to crème fraîche—and turn your cookie into a choco-chunk ice cream sandwich.

31. NEW MEXICO // RUDE BOY COOKIES

Rude Boy Cookies

Location:

Albuquerque, New Mexico

One day every week, Rude Boy Cookies gives a portion of their sales to a local charity, so buying their cookies is altruistic and delicious. Also available as gluten-free and vegan options, Rude Boy’s chocolate chip cookies taste delicious on their own, or you can pair them with a glass of milk from the milk bar.

32. NEW YORK // TATE’S BAKE SHOP

Tate's Bake Shop

Location:

Southampton, New York

If you like thin, crisp, buttery chocolate chip cookies, Tate’s Bake Shop has exactly what you’re looking for. Consumer Reports and Rachael Ray deemed Tate’s chocolate chip cookie the best in America. If you’re not near Southampton, all isn’t lost. Tate’s packages and distributes their cookies to grocery stores across the country, including Whole Foods.

33. NORTH CAROLINA // LOAF

SeavPavonePhoto/iStock

Location:

Durham, North Carolina

Loaf got its start as a vendor at the Durham Farmers’ Market, and people loved their products so much that Loaf has been a brick and mortar bakery since 2011. The chocolate chip cookies are thin, crispy, and come in a bag so you can enjoy them over and over… and over, until you run out.

34. NORTH DAKOTA // NICHOLE’S FINE PASTRY

Michael R via Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Location:

Fargo, North Dakota

Chef and owner Nichole Hensen’s Nichole’s Fine Pastry boasts the best chocolate chip cookies in North Dakota. Big chunks of melted chocolate give the cookies a marbled appearance. You can purchase them for $4 for a bag of 13 cookies, or you can order cookie trays for a larger gathering.

35. OHIO // SASSAFRAS BAKERY

Can Pac Swire via Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

Location:

Worthington, Ohio

To get your chocolate chip cookie fix in Ohio, Sassafras Bakery has two perfect options. Their chocolate chip chunk cookie is made with toasted walnuts and pecans, and the salted chocolate chip cookie is a tantalizing mix of sweet and salty. Even better, every weekday afternoon is Milk and Cookie Happy Hour, where you can enjoy a free glass of milk or cup of coffee when you buy a cookie.

36. OKLAHOMA // TRENCHERS DELICATESSEN

suesmith2/iStock

Location:

Tulsa, Oklahoma

Trenchers serves breakfast, sandwiches, and salads, but you’ll want to save a lot of room for dessert. Employees make the cookies fresh every morning (and throughout the day if they sell out), and the dense chocolate chip cookies, made with dark chocolate and tons of butter, are their most popular cookie.

37. OREGON // PEARL BAKERY

sfgamchick via Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Location:

Portland, Oregon

Opened in 1997, Pearl Bakery serves handcrafted breads, sandwiches, and most importantly, cookies. Customers line up each morning to buy Pearl Bakery’s thick chocolate chunk cookies, which include ingredients like toasted pecans, orange zest, local butter, eggs, and Mexican vanilla extract.

38. PENNSYLVANIA // THE FROSTED FOX CAKE SHOP

Frosted Fox Cake Shop

Location:

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Run by a husband-and-wife team, the Frosted Fox Cake Shop specializes in designing cakes, but their cookies (available Tuesday through Saturday for walk-in customers) are seriously delicious. Based on family recipes, Frosted Fox’s thin, soft, chewy oatmeal chocolate chip, regular chocolate chip, or double chocolate chip cookies will make this a regular guilty pleasure.

39. RHODE ISLAND // MEETING STREET CAFE

Denis Tangney Jr./iStock

Location:

Providence, Rhode Island

To prove just how serious Meeting Street Cafe is about their cookies, they devote a separate page on their website to their Cookie Store. Meeting Street’s chocolate chunk cookie weighs half a pound, measures 6 to 7 inches in diameter, and has big chunks of dark chocolate.

40. SOUTH CAROLINA // SAFFRON CAFÉ & BAKERY

Yamin Kegley

Location:

Charleston, South Carolina

At Saffron Café & Bakery, the owners’ Persian roots give a uniquely international twist to standard baked goods. Saffron’s “infamously giant” 4-ounce chocolate chip cookie and chocolate chunk cookie are homemade "with lots of buttery love," so you won't be surprised that they're insanely tasty.

41. SOUTH DAKOTA // COFFEA ROASTERIE

Joseph Bartmann via Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Location:

Sioux Falls, South Dakota

At the artisanal chainlet called the Coffea Roasterie, the baked treats are as elegant and refined as the beverages. Their sophisticated chocolate chip cookie is a dense disk of chocolate chunks and mellow sweetness made from scratch each morning.

42. TENNESSEE // MUDDY’S BAKE SHOP

Janine Smith

Location:

Memphis, Tennessee

Muddy’s Bake Shop makes everything from scratch each morning, so you’ll want to cross your fingers that they don’t sell out of their deluxe chocolate chip cookies before you arrive. The oversized cookies blend brown sugar, lots of butter, chunks of melted chocolate, and sea salt flakes for a truly decadent treat.

43. TEXAS // FRENCH GOURMET BAKERY

Paul Cooper via Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

Location:

Houston, Texas

Since 1973, French Gourmet Bakery has been family owned and operated. The bakery’s chocolate chip cookies are soft and doughy, making them more like cookie dough than full-on cookies.

44. UTAH // RUBYSNAP

Tami Mowen Steggell

Location:

Salt Lake City, Utah

RubySnap sells specialty cookies with flavors inspired by 1940s and 1950s pin-up girls. The Tommy combined an old-fashioned chocolate chip cookie with bacon for a smoky-sweet treat. 

45. VERMONT // SWEET CRUNCH BAKESHOP

Debbie Burritt

Location:

 Burlington, Vermont

At Sweet Crunch Bakeshop, the classic gooey chocolate chip cookie overflows with delectable semisweet chips. Choose the pecan or walnut variety for even more richness in every bite.

46. VIRGINIA // SUGAR PLUM BAKERY

Denis Tangney Jr./iStock

Location:

Virginia Beach, Virginia

Sugar Plum Bakery employs people with physical and mental disabilities, offering them long-term, stable jobs that allow them to support themselves and integrate into the community. The bakery offers various cookies by the pound (as well as cookie cakes), but the Chesapeake chocolate chip cookie—made with coconut and walnuts—is the most delicious.

47. WASHINGTON // HOT CAKES

Krista Nelson

Location:

Seattle, Washington

Founded in 2008, Hot Cakes uses ingredients from local, organic farms, and you can taste the quality. The chocolate chip cookie at Hot Cakes is legendary for its large size, buttery taste, and rich toffee and caramel notes. For an extra special dessert, order a warm chocolate chip cookie with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream on top.

48. WEST VIRGINIA // SUGAR PIE BAKERY

dszc/iStock

Location:

Charleston, West Virginia

Since 2012, Sugar Pie Bakery has delighted customers with cakes, brownies, cupcakes, and pies, and their chocolate chip cookie is no exception. Julia’s Famous Chocolate Chip cookie is so good that it appears elsewhere on Sugar Pie’s menu—their brown sugar cupcakes are stuffed with the chocolate chip cookie dough, and their Insanity Brownies are drizzled in peanut butter, fudge frosting, and chocolate chip cookie crumbles.

49. WISCONSIN // TANK GOODNESS COOKIES

Tank Goodness Cookies

Location:

Madison, Wisconsin

From its kitchen in downtown Madison, Tank Goodness Cookies bakes their premium Cerealized chocolate chip cookies with three types of Ghirardelli chocolate and Froot Loops mixed in by hand—a whole concept suggested by a loyal customer. But the best part is that Tank Goodness delivers—the company will travel throughout the greater Madison area with your order in a box with a heat chamber so the cookies are still warm and gooey when you get them.

50. WYOMING // PERSEPHONE BAKERY

Persephone Bakery

Location:

Jackson, Wyoming

Persephone Bakery churns out rustic, artisanal breads and high quality pastries, and their chocolate chip walnut cookie is classic, comforting, and made with lots of semisweet chocolate and toasted walnuts.

This Macaroni and Cheese Meatball Recipe Is Easy Enough to Make in a Dorm Room

iStock.com/LauriPatterson
iStock.com/LauriPatterson

It's hard to make creative meals when you're working out of a dorm "kitchen," but Daniel Holzman, the chef/co-owner of The Meatball Shop in New York City, proves that college students don't need to limit themselves to energy drinks and instant ramen noodles. Using just a coffee maker and a toaster oven, he's found a way to prepare an easy recipe for macaroni and cheese meatballs.

The video below is the fourth episode of "The College Try," a new series from Food & Wine and Spoon University that challenges chefs to create meals using dorm equipment and ingredients. Holzman starts by "brewing" his macaroni in a coffee maker. Once the pasta is cooked, he stirs in one tablespoon of butter and transfers it to a plate. To start making the cheese sauce, he adds two cups of milk and two tablespoons of butter to the coffee pot before retuning it to the warm burner.

Holzman prepares the meatballs by mixing ground beef, breadcrumbs, cheddar cheese, salt, and the cooked macaroni in a bowl. After he shapes the meat mixture into 2-inch balls, he bakes them in a toaster oven preheated to 450°F for 12 minutes.

The last step is the sauce. The chef whisks a packet of cheese powder from a box of macaroni and cheese into the milk and uses that as the base for his plate of meatballs. In about half an hour, he makes a meal that looks a lot better than what you can find in most college dining halls.

From microwaved omelets to mug cakes, here are some more cooking hacks for dorm life.

[h/t Spoon University]

Eliza Leslie: The Most Influential Cookbook Writer of the 19th Century

American cookbook author Eliza Leslie
American cookbook author Eliza Leslie
Wikimedia // Public Domain

If it wasn't for Eliza Leslie, American recipes might look very different. Leslie wrote the most popular cookbook of the 19th century, published a recipe widely credited as being the first for chocolate cake in the United States, and authored fiction for both adults and children. Her nine cookbooks—as well as her domestic management and etiquette guides—made a significant mark in American history and society, despite the fact that she never ran a kitchen of her own.

Early Dreams

Born in Philadelphia on November 15, 1787, to Robert and Lydia Leslie, Eliza was an intelligent child and a voracious reader. Her dream of becoming a writer was nurtured by her father, a prosperous watchmaker, inventor, and intellectual who was friends with Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. She once wrote that "the dream of my childhood [was] one day seeing my name in print."

Sadly, her father’s business failed around the turn of the 19th century and he died in 1803. The family took in boarders to make ends meet, and as the oldest of five, Leslie helped her mother in the kitchen. To gain culinary experience, she attended Mrs. Goodfellow’s Cooking School in Philadelphia, the first school of its kind in the United States. Urged by her brother Thomas—and after fielding numerous requests for recipes from friends and family—she compiled her first book, Seventy-Five Receipts for Pastry, Cakes, and Sweetmeats, in 1828. Notably, the book included the term cup cake, referring to Leslie's employment of a teacup as a measuring tool ("two large tea-cups full of molasses")—possibly the first-ever mention of a cup cake in print.

Seventy-Five Receipts was a hit, and was reprinted numerous times. Encouraged by this success—and by her publisher, Munroe & Francis—Leslie moved on to her true desire: writing fiction. She penned short stories and storybooks for young readers as well as adult fiction and won several awards for her efforts. One of her prize-winning short stories, the humorous "Mrs. Washington Potts," appeared in Godey’s Lady’s Book, the popular 19th century magazine for which she also served as assistant editor. Leslie also contributed to Graham’s Magazine, the Saturday Gazette, and The Saturday Evening Post. At least one critic called her tales "perfect daguerreotypes of real life."

As much as Leslie loved writing fiction, however, it didn't always pay the bills. She wrote a second cookbook, Domestic French Cookery, in 1832, and achieved the pinnacle of her success in 1837 with Directions for Cookery. That work became the most beloved cookbook of the 1800s; it sold at least 150,000 copies and was republished 60 times by 1870. She offered pointers on procuring the best ingredients ("catfish that have been caught near the middle of the river are much nicer than those that are taken near the shore where they have access to impure food") and infused the book with wit. In a section discouraging the use of cold meat in soups, she wrote, "It is not true that French cooks have the art of producing excellent soups from cold scraps. There is much bad soup to be found in France, at inferior houses; but good French cooks are not, as is generally supposed, really in the practice of concocting any dishes out of the refuse of the table."

In The Taste of America, noted modern food historians John and Karen Hess called Directions for Cookery “one of the two best American cookbooks ever written," citing the book's precise directions, engaging tips, straightforward commentary, and diverse recipes—such as catfish soup and election cake—as the keys to its excellence.

Leslie is also credited with publishing America’s first printed recipe for chocolate cake, in her 1846 Lady’s Receipt Book. While chocolate had been used in baking in Europe as far back as the 1600s, Leslie’s recipe was probably obtained from a professional chef or pastry cook in Philadelphia. The recipe, which featured grated chocolate and a whole grated nutmeg, is quite different from most of today's chocolate cakes, with its strong overtones of spice and earthy, rather than sweet, flavors. (You can find the full recipe below.)

Later in life, while continuing to write cookbooks, Leslie edited The Gift: A Christmas and New Year’s Present, which included early publications by Edgar Allan Poe. She also edited her own magazine of literature and fashion, Miss Leslie’s Magazine. She wrote only one novel, 1848's Amelia; Or a Young Lady’s Vicissitudes, but once said that if she was to start her literary career over, she would have only written novels.

A Uniquely American Voice

Historians have argued that Leslie was successful because she crafted recipes to appeal to the young country’s desire for upward mobility as well as a uniquely American identity. At the time she began writing, women primarily used British cookbooks; Leslie appealed to them with a distinctly American work. (She noted in the preface to Seventy-Five Receipts, "There is frequently much difficulty in following directions in English and French Cookery Books, not only from their want of explicitness, but from the difference in the fuel, fire-places, and cooking utensils. ... The receipts in this little book are, in every sense of the word, American.")

Leslie included regional American dishes in her books, promoted the use of quality ingredients, and was the first to (sometimes) organize recipes by including ingredients at the beginning of each recipe instead of using a narrative form, setting the tone for modern recipe writing. Her books were considered a treasure trove of knowledge for young pioneer women who, frequently separated from their families for the first time, often relied on Leslie's works for guidance.

Unmarried herself, Leslie never managed her own kitchen, and often had others testing recipes for her. She maintained strong ties with her erudite, sophisticated family, and lived for a time with her brother Thomas while he was attending West Point. Another brother, Charles Leslie, was a well-regarded painter in England; her sister Anna was also an artist, and sister Patty was married to a publisher who produced some of Leslie’s work. As she got older, Leslie lived for years in the United States Hotel in Philadelphia, where she was something of a celebrity for her wit and strong opinions.

Leslie died on January 1, 1858. Many of her recipes are still used today, but it's likely she’d be most pleased to know that many of her short stories are available online. Modern readers can appreciate the totality of her work: the fiction writing that was her passion, though for which she was lesser known, and her culinary writing, which guided generations.

Eliza Leslie's Recipe for Chocolate Cake

From The Lady's Receipt Book:

CHOCOLATE CAKE.—Scrape down three ounces of the best and purest chocolate, or prepared cocoa. Cut up, into a deep pan, three-quarters of a pound of fresh butter; add to it a pound of powdered loaf-sugar; and stir the butter and sugar together till very light and white. Have ready 14 ounces (two ounces less than a pound) of sifted flour; a powdered nutmeg; and a tea-spoonful of powdered cinnamon—mixed together. Beat the whites of ten eggs till they stand alone; then the yolks till they are very thick and smooth. Then mix the yolks and whites gradually together, beating very hard when they are all mixed. Add the eggs, by degrees, to the beaten butter and sugar, in turn with the flour and the scraped chocolate,—a little at a time of each; also the spice. Stir the whole very hard. Put the mixture into a buttered tin pan with straight sides, and bake it at least four hours. If nothing is to be baked afterwards, let it remain in till the oven becomes cool. When cold, ice it.

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