Friday, December 24, 2010

Gluten Free Product Smackdown: Chocolate Chip Cookies

My sincere apologies for being so lax in posting--between various job searches, short-term contracts, and finally new full-time job, I have been swamped. But I have a week break coming up, so there should be some new recipes and photos soon.

In the meantime, let's talk about something near and dear to most people's hearts:

Chocolate chip cookies.

They're yummy, in both dough and unbaked form. They can be used crushed up as an ice cream topping. They have zinc! (Okay, chocolate has a minor amount of zinc in it. Please do not eat a metric ton of chocolate chip cookies, gain 500 lbs and then tell your doctor you did it for the zinc content, and then blame me. Hey, even Cookie Monster is now declaring cookies a "sometimes food").

As with all GF prepackaged foods,some are better than others. Here's the scoop:

Pamela's Products-Chocolate Chunk Cookies:
These cookies are really good; more soft than crunchy, with nice, big chunks of chocolate. They come in a tab-top box with a slide-out tray, and each cookie is separated by a paper circle. They are usually my go-to cookies when I'm looking to make crumbs for a cheesecake. The average size is about 3" in diameter, maybe a teeny bit larger than a Chips Ahoy cookie. There are two downsides though; they are pricier than several other brands, and they have a tendency to crumble very easily. In fact, it's a rare occasion that I find a box with unbroken cookies upon opening. Rating: 4.5/5 for taste, 3.5/5 for packaging.

Glutino Chocolate Chip Cookies:
So far I have only found them at Whole Foods, but they're a good find!They come in an overwrap with a slide-out tray, which makes it easier for them to get stale, so you'll have to eat them relatively quickly! These cookies are smaller than the Pamela's; I can fit 2 or 3 into my hand. Crunchy and tasty, with nice bits of chocolate. Rating: 4/5 for taste, 3/5 for packaging.

Mi-Del Chocolate Chip Cookies:
These cookies are small and very crunchy, with not too much flavor. They come in a heat-sealed bag, which means the cookies will get stale very quickly if they are not either eaten right away or the bag is not properly re-closed with a chip clip or rubber band. Maybe it's a local supply thing, but for some reason, this brand seems to be much more readily available than others I have seen. I'm pretty sure even Trader Joe's brand GF chocolate chip cookies are really just private labeled Mi-Del. The price of Mi-Del is lower than most of the other GF cookie brands. To be honest, I'd buy them if I had a strong cookie craving and there was nothing else immediately available, but they wouldn't be my first choice. Rating: 3/5 for taste, 2/5 for packaging.

Kinnikinnick Chocolate Chip Cookies:
I have yet to find something Kinnikinnick makes that isn't really good. These cookies I believe are direct competitors to the Glutino brand (roughly same size, same packaging, same price). You can taste the vanilla in them, and the chocolate pieces are pretty large. I think this would be my default snacking cookie if they were easier to find. Rating: 4.5 for taste, 3/5 for packaging.

Enjoy Life Foods Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies:
In a word--ew. Just as I have yet to find a Kinnikinnick product that isn't yummy, I have yet to find an ELF product that is; and that makes me sad. I have traded a few tweets with their CEO and he seems like a really nice guy. I'm sure the company means well, but honestly, these cookies are a mealy, chewy mess. The best thing I can say about them is that they come in a tab-top box for easy access and freshness preservation. Rating: 1/5 for taste, 4/5 for packaging.

Liz Lovely Gluten Free, Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies:
These cookies are enormous (be forewarned, the serving size on the back of the package is actually only half a cookie), delicious, and come in cellophane-wrapped packs of 2. They are soft, moist and crumbly, with a flavor more reminiscent of cookie dough than fully baked cookies. I rate these the best for flavor, but the size and packaging make the overall eating experience very cumbersome. Unless you have somebody to share them with or can really eat an entire package of 2 cookies in one sitting (in which case, you would probably feel pretty sick afterward), inevitably you end up putting big chunks of cookie back into the bag and resealing the bag with a twist tie, which is kind of messy. Furthermore, the cookie's softness (which for me is typically an asset) becomes a liability when you're storing the bag, because they can very easily get misshapen or squished. You can't just toss these cellophane bags into a backpack, purse or other place where they'll get jostled and expect them to come back out in the same condition. Rating: 5/5 for taste, 1.5/5 for packaging.

What brands am I missing?