The Cookie Jar

cookie jar cookies

It’s funny because whenever I come to New York, people always tell me about far-flung places that I, now a slightly bewildered tourist in this city, have barely heard of. (Although I seem to be pretty good at finding every TJ Maxx and Bed, Bath, and Beyond.)

When people say, “You must go to Williamsburg!” – I look at them funny, wondering why they are suggesting I head to a colonial in Virginia for dinner where folks are dressed in traditional garb. Red Hook was a place where many people only went one-way, in the boot of a Town Car. And bad things happened to people on streets in Manhattan whose name contained a letter…at least according to my mother.

peanut butter cookies with jam

I’ve gotten with the lingo a bit so I don’t look like a hick when people tell me about all these places, but no one ever talks about Staten Island.

A year or so ago, I had a guest come on one of my tours, who told me he owned a cookie company. Until now, the only people I knew of that made cookies usually stuck with standards like chocolate chip cookies or brownies.

cookie bars

But he gave me a box filled with a huge variety of cookies and included a pamphlet, which was almost sushi guide menu-like which clear pictures and descriptions of each buttery bite, along with names. I didn’t count them, but there at least a hundred on that list, and that doesn’t mention everything else they make. Like chocolate-covered marshmallows and other goodies they add as they go.

rugelach

So along with a gaggle of European tourists, a few commuters, and one woman in a low-slung halter top trying to pick up one of the policemen onboard, I crossed the river via the Staten Island Ferry to make the trip to Staten Island to visit owner James Carrozza and his son, and to see his bakery, The Cookie Jar. I knew which car was his when I got off the boat by the license plate.

cookies baking

The pamphlet I had seen didn’t do justice to the display cases filled with cookies, which also included cupcakes of all sorts, bar cookies, ethnic specialties, and other treats. But before I could eat anything, I was eyeing a sign noting them make toasted marshmallow milkshakes, which James whipped up for me. (I didn’t see how he did it, but it involved a blowtorch.)

toasted marshmallow milkshakechocolate covered marshmallows
the cookie jar cookieschocolate chip cookies

I don’t have the space on the site to go into the tremendous variety of cookies they make, but each one is made by hand and with top-quality ingredients. I noticed they used American Almond Products almond paste (from Brooklyn) and whole pecans and macadamia nuts, as well.

And lots of butter.

puff pastry

Every cookie and candy in the shop is sold for the same price – $10 per pound, because James said that it just makes it easier for everyone – you make more on some, less on others, he reasoned. I like that! But he did say that one cookie he had to charge a bit more for was the Pignoli cookie that was studded with European pine nuts, because they cost a small fortune.

the cookie jar -staten island

James is also a collector of cookie jars and the walls are lined with them, some for sale, and some from his personal collection. I ate as many cookies as I could, which was a feat considering we were going out for pizza (he suggested we try two well-known places on Staten Island, which I whittled down to one). Because the cookies are small and flavorful, a cup of coffee is nearly obligatory with them as well. Thankfully, there’s an espresso machine on the counter, and the remnants of the box I brought home I’ve been enjoying with my morning coffee every day.

cooke jar lemon ice at Ralph's

When I thought I could eat no more, we stopped at Ralph’s for a lemon ice, which I’m told is a popular specialty on Staten Island, especially to counteract the blazing summer heat.

ralphs famous italian ices

Since it was pretty hot out, I could see the appeal…although I barely made it halfway through because I was saving room as we were en route to Williamsburg for lunch. Luckily I found out we weren’t driving all the way to Virginia for hamburgers, which I gathered when we hopped out of the car and found everyone tattooed and dressed in plaid shirts instead of women wearing billowy sleeves and men playing fifes and drums down the street.

Although I’m wondering if in a few hundred years, someone is going to try to recreate a village full of people sporting vintage-looking eyewear, dressed in rolled up jeans. I kind of doubt it. But I do think that The Cookie Jar isn’t ever going to change, which in my mind, is a pretty good thing.

cookie jar equipment



The Cookie Jar
1226 Forest Avenue
Staten Island, NY



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53 comments

  • August 4, 2011 8:50pm

    love this post – just brought me right back to my childhood on long island. ah, fluorescent colored rainbow cookies. (never seem them unsliced like that above, very cool.) and ralph’s famous italian ices ! a summer staple after school… thanks for the sweet staten island tip here. a toasted marshmallow milkshake alone sounds worth the trip to me !

  • Debbie
    August 4, 2011 8:55pm

    Staten Island never sounded so good! Will definitely visit the Cookie Jar the next time I’m in NYC.

  • August 4, 2011 9:02pm

    As the co-founder and owner of a Paris-based American online cookies (Lola’s Cookies) I’m so excited by this post. I wish it had been around the time of my recent NY trip, I would’ve made a stop in Staten Island! Love that he offers dark chocolate pretzels, one of my favorites!

  • August 4, 2011 9:02pm

    Ha ha! I will take Brooklyn’s hipsters over colonial Williamsburg actors anyday. Hipsters lead the way to deliciousness! Can’t wait to get back to NYC in a few weeks to follow the plaid shirts and skinny jeans to yummy yet unpretentious gems. Great post!

  • August 4, 2011 9:39pm

    Are they a commercial bakery? Some of those items look like the ones on the great cookie tray selection we used to get for monthly staff meetings, that went away with print advertising… I’m with you Chrissy – but I like Red Hook – great mix of hipsters and Mexicans!

  • August 4, 2011 9:41pm

    Hi David – what did you eat in Williamsburgh? Great thai food there. And the Cookie Jar sounds and looks awesome! I love Bake n Love almond paste from Bklyn (I’m from BK myself). : ) Really wishing I could’ve come to your book signing in NYC yesterday…I love your books and blog!

  • August 4, 2011 10:02pm

    Oh my gosh, this is the very definition of food porn. i want all these cookies, all at once! :) great post and I will definitely have to check out The Cookie Jar the next time I’m in NY!

  • Allison
    August 4, 2011 10:12pm

    My mouth is watering! Those tri-color Italian cookies and the pignoli are my two favorites. I can’t wait to visit this place!

  • Lillianne
    August 4, 2011 10:22pm

    “a village full of people sporting vintage-looking eyewear” – lol-ing at work

  • August 4, 2011 10:57pm

    I’d hitch a ferry right now for one of those. I love these New York posts, even jealously across the country.

  • Sara
    August 4, 2011 11:20pm

    LOVE THOSE COOKIES! I visualize Cookie Monster stuffing as many in his mouth as he could all at once with crumbs flying!!! I’m craving a baked good right now…

  • August 5, 2011 12:31am

    Help, it is past midnight and I am turning into a cookie monster!
    *gobblegobbleyum*

  • August 5, 2011 12:57am

    Oh my…rainbow cookies!! I was just saying I wish there was a good Jewish/Italian bakery here in So Cal…boy do I miss a good doughnut and rainbow cookies!

  • August 5, 2011 2:55am

    Oh god I love cookies!! I decided a while back to name them ‘the devil’ because you can never stop at one, and before you know it you’ve eaten so many that you need to go for a run. The devil.

  • August 5, 2011 3:12am

    I love the picture of the guy rolling out the dough.

  • Paula
    August 5, 2011 3:56am

    One of the highlights of weekend visits The Bronx growing up was the obligatory stop at a bakery before arriving at the relatives house to pick up a box of cookies. Do these pictures take me back! I have to ask – do they tie the boxes with the red & white string?

  • Katie K
    August 5, 2011 4:20am

    Crossing “the river” on the Staten Island Ferry? That’s not a river, that’s a harbor! It would have to be some river to be that wide. Or salty. Anyway, glad you’re having fun touring our great city.

  • Jodie
    August 5, 2011 6:06am

    Ralph’s makes a rainbow cookie flavor of ices….it’s better than you can imagine. They also make a jelly ring flavor—pieces of those Joyva brand jelly rings you can only get at Passover, that have the strangest texture, but are delicious anyway.

    Enjoy Williamsburg! Once you get past the dirty looks and ironic facial hair, there are some mighty good eats up there.

  • Julie
    August 5, 2011 7:41am

    What???? You mean no one has sent you to Staten Island for DeNIno’s pizza????? You might need “new” New York friends!!

  • Julie
    August 5, 2011 7:44am

    duhhh!!! if you went to Ralph’s then you must have been to DeNino’s….another blonde moment for me……..

  • August 5, 2011 8:59am

    I want my own box of cookies from The Cookie Jar! I’ll be adding Staten Island to my itinerary for the next trip to NYC which isn’t soon enough!

  • Sherri
    August 5, 2011 12:05pm

    David, you have never steered me wrong in NYC, thanks! If you haven’t been to Ruby et Violette over on W50th Street, treat yourself. Yes, they are expensive, but where else can you get a Rootbear Float cookie or a yummy Cookie Jar cookie?

  • Ken Fruit
    August 5, 2011 4:19pm

    There are a couple of good reasons to go to Red Hook theses days:

    1. The weekly gathering of Latin American food trucks at the Red Hook Ball fields.

    2. Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pies ( http://stevesauthentic.com/wpnew/ ) where, besides the obvious, you can get key lime tarts and “The Swingle” a frozen wedge of key lime pie, dipped in chocolate, on a stick.

    Take the subway or the bus. Avoid the boot of the town car.

    • August 5, 2011 4:22pm
      David Lebovitz

      Yes, I just wish Red Hook was a little closer. I’m also a big fan of Baked out there. It definitely is worth the trip!

  • August 5, 2011 4:40pm

    OMFG, Ralph’s! And rainbow cookies! ::swoon::

  • Nana
    August 5, 2011 5:02pm

    I agree that this is a fantastic bakery. Originally from Staten Island, we look
    forward to our trips back just to pick up all the delicious Italian goodies
    available. We first learned of the Cookie Jar when some relatives came to
    visit and brought a few pounds for our delight. Enjoy New York, I am
    looking forward to Paris in September.

  • Natalie
    August 5, 2011 5:08pm

    As a Brooklyn-native, in a neighborhood as far southwest as you can get before you’re actually in Staten Island, I’ve never visited the island other than as a means of getting between here and New Jersey. I will be sure to ask my brother to stop in for a box on my behalf on his way to class. They sound (and look) like glass-of-milk cookies (cookies that aren’t fussy and pair wonderfully with a tall glass of cold milk).

    And I second Ken Fruit on his note. Steve’s products are always a treat, as are the pupusas sold from the trucks at the ball fields. Since taking a train out there can only get you so close, I’d recommend getting off by Brooklyn Borough Hall and hopping on the IKEA shuttle bus, which drops off in Red Hook (just a thought).

    A final note on my already-lengthy comment: I went to Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola for the after hours set with my father yesterday evening and we couldn’t figure out why the fellows on the drums looked like someone we’ve seen before. Lo and behold, halfway into their second song we concluded he was a David Lebovitz look-alike (The guy on sax looked like Thomas Keller!). Ever try playing the drums, David?

  • Jane Ridolfi
    August 5, 2011 5:16pm

    Another great, great post. You are brilliant at detailing information!

  • Renee
    August 5, 2011 5:38pm

    Wow! That is so impressive that you made it to Staten Island. I think I’ve only been there two times in all the years I have lived here! We had a Ralph’s in Forest Hills and always went there. So refreshing on a hot summer’s day. Have to say thanks to Ken Fruit for the Key Lime pies link. Ari loves Key Lime Pie and wants to go asap! You are really taking a grand tour of NY food spots! How you stay so slim with all these yummies, I’ll never know! Have fun!

  • August 5, 2011 5:44pm

    New York gets 8 characters on their license plates?

  • Doukissa
    August 5, 2011 5:46pm

    David, by now either you are tremendously “sweet” or spoiled rotten! You are so lucky eating all those goodies, and you don’t have to make them yourself. That’s a real treat! Please, try to remember you’re eating for the masses, so take a few extra bites of that Pignoli cookie, it’s a favorite of mine. Keep having fun! Love ya, D~

  • August 5, 2011 7:13pm

    This reminds me of my last visit to New York, there are always so many places to discover, though I sometimes have the feeling still missing the best, newest, hippiest ones,… Next time I will definitely try to get to this bakery, its an insider information for someone not living there. And the cookies look so good. Thanks, that is the kind of information I love.

  • August 5, 2011 8:37pm

    Great post, those bright cookies are so pretty and unique! Love that you mentioned the price of pine nuts as well, they are so expensive!! It drives me crazy lol

  • JanetMoh
    August 6, 2011 1:39am

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for coming to Staten Island. We Staten Islanders get a bad rap. We do have some good food here and it is worth the trip (OK we also have some bad food too but we don’t go to those places!)

  • Maureen
    August 6, 2011 2:06am

    Those rainbow cookies are my ultimate favorites!!! They have a name, other than rainbow. Can’t remember, though.

  • August 6, 2011 6:59am

    OMG all those cookies look so delicious! And a toasted marshmallow milkshake? You gotta be kidding! Guess a trip out to SI is due the next time I’m back home in NY! What is James’ background? Is it a family business?

  • August 6, 2011 8:27am

    I have a passion for cookies that is hard to explain! Whether exquisitely delicate and exotically flavored french macarons (my favorite), or a shopping mall Mrs. Field’s white chocolate macadamia nut, they bring me to a place of complete joy. The next time I am in NYC, I will have to add Staten Island to my list. :)

  • August 6, 2011 1:58pm

    Okay, good reason to venture outside Manhattan for sweets! These ordinarily aren’t my favorite kinds of cookies, but you’ve made a good argument for them. Staten Island ferry, here I come!

  • August 6, 2011 3:26pm

    I’m really intrigued by the pignoli cookies! I might have to look for a recipe…

  • August 6, 2011 4:26pm

    Hi David,

    Great post! I’m an absolute cookie fiend, but rarely go past classic chocolate chip cookies! Your post has inspired me to branch out a little further ;)

    xox Sarah

  • August 6, 2011 5:17pm

    $10 a pound sounds very, very dangerous.

    I have an unrelated question. I’m visiting my parents for a couple days, and I neglected to bring along my copy of The Perfect Scoop. However, my mom has enough Oregon Marionberries burning a hold in her freezer that we need to make more than just preserves. I’m planning to make ice cream and thinking about these amounts: 1 lb marionberries, 1 C milk, 1 C cream, 3/4 cup sugar, plus seasonings. It’s been a while since I’ve made a berry ice cream – obviously I can/will taste and adjust along the way as always, but does that sound like a good starting point to you?

  • Sarahb1313
    August 6, 2011 7:28pm

    Oh wow. that could very well make for a road trip when the weather gets crappy in the late fall!

    All I can say is thank goodness I am having a therapeutic baking weekend!!

    Macarons last night, popovers in front of me at the computer and Thank you David!! the Biscotti variation of Anise Ice Cream from your Perfect Scoop book (with the yolks from the macarons) chilling in the fridge for churning and eating tonight!!!!

    Otherwise I could very well be jumping in the car and making my way over there!!

    Those tricolor-marzipan-raspberry jam cookies are almost as good as a macaron for me…

    Thanks for sharing the pics- they’re great.

  • August 6, 2011 9:20pm

    Gorgeous cookies!!! I love that you went to Staten Island, I feel like most New Yorkers never make it there, except for ferry rides. I’m guilty of that myself — the ferry and the start of the marathon have been my only ventures there so far. But the cookies and the lemon ice are enough of a lure — thanks for sharing!!

    We’re big fans of The Perfect Scoop in our little corner of Brooklyn, btw :)

  • marie zazzi
    August 6, 2011 9:59pm

    Thx for the cookie shop. I think that Royal Crown is a great Italian old fashioned bakery on Staten Island and also in Brooklyn.

  • August 7, 2011 1:23pm

    Like a lot of people, I’ve always had a small fantasy about running a bakery somewhere off the beaten path.

    Thank you for curing me of that. I’ve never seen a cookie list HALF that long. Wow. Yeah, I’m cured.

  • August 8, 2011 4:54pm

    Cookies are my favorite and I gotta love the different colors and toppings! Yum!

  • KG
    August 8, 2011 8:05pm

    for those who don’t want to travel to Staten Island…ralph’s is now located at 144 East 24th St btwn Lex & 3rd.
    but also check out Soft Serve Fruit Co….on 18th/union sq west. awesome

  • adrian
    August 8, 2011 11:00pm

    hm, looks tastey. I need to get myself back to NYC to try out all the delicious locations you are writing about. Just one thing gets me: Why, why on earth does so much have to come in plastic?! A friend of mine had his lobster in Montauk on a plastic plate. Aside from not being so environmentally friendly, it somehow makes a dish less nice in my eyes if you don’t have a proper plate.
    Thanks for the cool stories!
    Adrian

  • August 9, 2011 11:22pm

    I grew up eating cookies. My mother made hundreds of them at Christmas time to share with everyone. I, on the other hand, can not bake but maybe 3 cookies well.
    I love to eat all of them and this post just makes me wish I could bake because I will never be able to acquire cookies such as these anywhere near where I live. Thank you for making me a kid again, if only for a minute or two.

  • August 10, 2011 4:01pm

    Oh, how I love cookies! I wish there’s a place somewhere near our place where I could buy something like these!!

  • August 10, 2011 9:37pm

    hey david… i am so happy to see my hometown portrayed in such a good light!! lately, all people associate staten island with are guido mob wives, over-orange tanned skin, and ugly attitudes… this post really made me smile! i love the cookie jar, it’s never a dissappointment! thanks for sharing :)

  • August 16, 2011 12:28pm

    Can I vote “The Cookie Jar Bakery”, best bakery in the WORLD!?!?! Because I would if I had the chance. It looks amazing! I wish I had a similar community bakery where I live. You framed the place beautifully! Nice job!

  • August 23, 2011 3:56pm

    Hi David — I was wondering if you’ve ever come across a recipe for Italian Ice like the kind served at Ralph’s — soft serve ices traditionally flavored with lemon as opposed to shaved ice with flavoring. Or am I thinking of granitas? I’m getting confused.

    I ask because there’s a wonderful Italian Ice shop here in Middletown, Connecticut called Vecchitto’s, and it’s said that they make their ices exactly like old-fashioned Italian Ice from Sicily. But they won’t give up their secret. There’s a story in my family dating back to the 1950s about the time we asked Vecchitto for his recipe and were soundly rebuffed!

    In the meantime, I’ve been looking for a recipe so that when we move away I can make myself some Sicilian ice, and while searching (futilely, I might add), I realized there was no one better to ask than someone who writes about dessert for a living. Have you ever? Is this distinction only in my head?

    Many thanks, and gorgeous photos of those tri-color cookies at the top. Reminds me of holidays from when I was a kid.