Mel the Bakery's Cookies are Just as Hype-Worthy as the Bread

2021, Aug 21

Mel the Bakery’s founder and head baker, Nora Allen, is no stranger to fame vis a vis yeastie perfectionism. Prior to launching Mel, she garnered a nation-wide reputation as the “sourdough-whisperer,” doling out advice to at-home pandemic bakers stymied by the slimy state of their sourdough starters.

Since launching Mel in September 2020, Allen has continued to evoke high-falutin praise from the culinary cognoscenti — Food & Wine Magazine described Mel as “Nora Allen's temple to local grains and natural leavening” — and the bakery has become a must-visit for bread obsessives looking for house-milled loaves, bialys and focaccias.

Visiting Mel the Bakery’s handsome storefront at 1 Ludlow Street this afternoon, I was tempted to crush a few mid-day croissants — another crumb cornerstone which Allen has supposedly perfected — but I had to stick to my mission. I’m in cookie mode, ya’all, and can’t be distracted with any other cultured carbs.

Mel the Bakery’s rye chocolate chip cookie is wide and dense; assessing the dark color, I was curious about the cookie's softness. Would biting into a Mel cookie be like biting into a rustic country loaf — chewy, fulfilling, but not precisely in the same ballpark of ‘dessert’ as, say, a 6 oz. chocolate chip dough-bomb from Levain?

One bite, however, proved Nora Allen knows exactly what she’s doing with her cookie-baking. Salty and chocolatey, the pastry had that magical gooey-buttery quality of a great, classic cookie. The rye accentuated the rich caramelized-toffee flavor. I was pleasantly surprised, also, to find little red cherry pieces in the cookie — just enough to add a delicious tart kick to certain buttery bites.

I give Mel the Bakery’s cookie a 9 out of 10. Much has been said about the bakery’s bread game; not nearly enough has been written about the cookie. Bread-lovers, do yourself a favor and pick up a rye chocolate chip cookie to-go along with that sourdough loaf. Your life will be a lot richer.

Until next time.