And then I found the one. I first tasted the best cookie in the world at Cafe Grumpy in Chelsea, NYC. I clocked that bad boy through the glass counter, skeptical of its vegan title given its clear good looks. Obviously I felt compelled to try it, keen to prove its mere existence wrong - surely it couldn't be good and vegan, I scoffed. I carefully removed it from the grease-marked brown paper it had been wrapped in and dove right in.
It was delicious. The first bite took me by surprise, 'but it's vegan!' my brain screamed at itself, sure that there had been some kind of error on the labelling. 'Those grumpy coffee aficionados must be messing with me', I concluded before inhaling the rest of the best cookie I had ever tried in about 0.3 seconds flat.
When I got back to London I began trying to recreate the magic, and settled on using Ovenly's vegan choc chip cookie as a base. The first attempt was incredible, following their recipe pretty much to the T I found that I had a deliciously classic, chewy and slightly crunchy cookie - but it was missing that shortbread aspect I like so much. I wanted it to be crunchy, chewy and crumbly all at the same time. What can I say, I'm hard to please.
I revisited the recipe, this time subbing canola for coconut oil and found that I had struck GOLD. The dough itself was more shaggy and crumbly, but came together nicely when I pressed it into mounds - like a shortcrust pastry would. When the cookies emerged from the oven, just crisp yet almost lava-like before cooling, I basically couldn't handle my life.
But I still wasn't 100% happy. They didn't have that speckled chocolate flex that I'm all about, the choc chips instead gave off too much of a cookie next door all-American vibe, plus I wanted a more balanced salt flavour, rather than a heavy game on top.
This is where Lindt's Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt came in. Not too much salt but not too little that the flavour fails to come across, I chopped a couple of bars into chunks and shards and threw them into the mix. The result? Speckled, salty, crunchy, chewy, ever so slightly crumbly - everything you could want in a cookie.
Suck on that, Chips Ahoy.