Tennessee Moonshine Cake // Chattanooga Cookie Co. // Chattanooga, TN
You Yankees might munch hifalutin rum cake, but down south they douse their sweets in the local nectar — white dog moonshine. Dessert and nightcap in one, these cakes are moist and fluffy, kissed with lemon, and soaked in warming, white-corn-sweet mountain dew from Gatlinburg’s Ole Smoky distillery.
Dutch Stroopwafel // Rip Van Wafels // San Francisco, CA
Update your coffee break from a paper-cup-and-pastry affair to the stately Dutch koffietijd, a mid-day ritual of patience, pleasure, and oh yeah — a gooey caramel filling. Balance this rich, buttery waffle on the rim of your mug and let the steam slowly melt its syrupy core as you gaze over the rippling Herengracht canal, or the latest cat video making the office rounds. Go Dutch, but don’t share a bite.
Espresso Cocomels // JJ’s Sweets // Boulder, CO
Candy. CANDY. Yes, fine — go nuts, kid. But let’s trojan horse this a bit. Here we have a delicious chocolate caramel, and if that’s all you need, then stop reading right here, and bliss out in coco-land. But inside that chocolate coating, a good-for-you surprise. In case the locavore gym-rat on your other shoulder pipes up, dig this: These aren’t corn-syrup-ed Wonka bars. Cocomels are all natural, made with sustainably sourced, non-GMO cocoa and smooth vegan coconut milk. Candy even a mother could love.
Coconut Butter Cookies // Lark // Essex, MA
These Essex bakers call their decadent wares “cookies for grownups,” and while we’ll raise a Oreo-crumb-dusted finger in protest that adults can’t binge like the best sugar-mad kids, we must agree that while storebought sweets work in a pinch, real cookie comfort is rarer. It comes, if not from mom’s homemade, than from the next best thing: these cravable cookies from Lark. Good cane sugar for your sweet tooth, toasted coconut for a bit of lilting luau flavor, and rum for, well yes, your grown-up tastes.
Oatcakes // Effie’s Homemade // Hyde Park, MA
This old family recipe goes back four generations to a wind-racked Nova Scotia farm. But that barnyard chef knew his cookies: these snacks are a far cry from field-hand hardtack or the stale and mealy graham crackers you carry to camp (and that inevitably, inescapably get wet or crumble along the way). Rustically made but refined in taste, they’re crispy, nutty, just a touch sweet, and won’t lose their crunch even when smothered in melted marshmallows. Rain, though, is another story.
Mini Stroopwafels // Belgian Boys // Farmingdale, NY
New York knows its coffee, but what about the coffee break? Bagels and bialys satisfy stomachs, sure — but the sweet tooth? Take a tip from these born-and-bred Belgians, who missed their country’s sweets, wishing their adopted Big Apple home were caramel-dipped. They made their own — the classic stroopwafel — and nothing says coffee time like these crunchy, chewy, caramel-filled (and corn-syrup-free) snacks. Eat it like a local — balance on a mug rim to soften in the steam, or make a wafel-gato with a scoop of ice cream and drizzle of espresso.
Wafelgato Recipe Here
Chocolate Pumpkin Pie Biscotti // Marlo’s Bakeshop // San Francisco, CA
A healthy, post-brunch food coma is one thing; a sugar crash is another. Which is why biscotti always sneaks onto our tables as the sidecar to an after-meal espresso (or two): satisfying, but not too sweet. Problem is, traditional twice-baked biscuits are usually too teeth-rattling to eat without a thorough dunk in your java. Enter Marlo — or rather, Marlo’s grandmother Ann, and her secret recipe. Not as sweet as a cookie, not as brittle as biscotti, it’s the best of both.
Hazelnut Whiskey Cookies // Whimsy & Spice // Brooklyn, NY
A husband and wife team — he a pastry chef, she a designer — so you know their treats will look as good as they taste. And vice versa. This little bit of edible art sandwiches Scotch whisky-infused Madagascar chocolate between two crunchy, hazelnut- and chocolate-chip-studded cookies. It’s not bourbon, and it’s not (necessarily) breakfast, but we couldn’t resist. On their own or dunked in a cup of coffee (Irish or otherwise), if the rest of this breakfast box won’t get you out of bed in the morning, a cookie sure as hell will.
Lemon Sugar Cookies // Grey Ghost Bakery // Charleston, SC
Like a perfect crust, you could eat these sweet southern treats on their own and be plenty happy. But as with pizza, the right topping takes them, well, over the top. And for that, we turn to the greatest culinary innovation since sliced bread: sliced ice cream. Reach as far back into the freezer as you can and grab the most solid pint you find. (We got a raspberry sorbet.) Wielding your largest bread knife — and most carefully, we needn’t add — saw into discs, container and all. Peel off the wrapping, and sandwich.