BitterSweet

An Obsession with All Things Handmade and Home-Cooked

Gluten Vs. Glutton

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About a month ago, I first spotted an intriguing and potentially tasty-looking cookie on the shelf of my local health food store that just happens to be gluten-free. What a funny coincidence that almost as soon as I had finally collected and tried out all of the varieties offered by Enjoy Life Foods, Emily decided to review a different brand of gluten-free cookie!

My first experience with Enjoy Life Foods began with a much earlier sampling of their “no oats” cinnamon raisin granola. It was certainly edible, but not exactly my all-time favorite considering the vast scope of commercial granola products, since I personally am not limited due to celiac’s disease. Had I been looking for an authentic gluten-free alternative, I’m sure my response would have been much more enthusiastic. In regards to this particular taste test, it all began innocently enough when I couldn’t find my usual granola bars, but chanced upon their oatmeal raisin cookies instead (Granola bars, cookies with oats… It’s really all the same, right?) Little did I know what I would be getting myself into… Before long, I was scouring every market in town for their other varieties, almost to the point of breaking down and ordering them online. Never have I done this before, so this fact alone should sum up everything I’m about to say about the individual cookies: They were amazing.

Oatmeal Raisin

When I first open the box, I was so surprised at how small they were! Not more than an inch or inch and a half across each! Well, I guess that makes portion-control a bit easier that way, so after getting over the initial confusion, the size was a very welcome aspect.

Taking the suggestion on the side of the box, I heated them in the microwave for 20 seconds before digging in. This was to make them taste “Bakery-fresh,” the box proclaims, though I doubt you’d find anything nearly as healthy in any bakery, near or far. Honestly though, it only adds to the appeal for me, because I feel that treats shouldn’t always be those fatty mountains of sugar and pastry commonly brought to mind when thinking of desserts.

I was still somewhat skeptical (It doesn’t take much for healthy sweets to go a bit overboard and miss their mark,) so I took my time in arranging and photographing them, not sure what to expect. Steeling my nerves, I took a deep breath and took a large bite, which I found I didn’t regret in the least. Wow, are these things amazing. Soft and warm with bits of crunch non-oats, punctuated by sweet juicy raisins, they won over my heart within the first bite. They’re absolutely saturated with cinnamon flavor, which is something I particularly love. One might think that being vegan, gluten free, etc, they would be bland and of disturbing texture, but it’s completely the opposite. My mom thought that the “oats” were a little strange, but I didn’t have a second thought about it, personally.

Snickerdoodle

I couldn’t find a large box of these, so I bought a little individually packaged container with two cookies in them. When I wrestled them out of their foil wrapper, again, I wasn’t so sure that I was in for a tasty treat. They didn’t appear to look like the traditional snickerdoodles I was familiar with, since they were so dark in coloring, and it was difficult to see the ubiquitous cinnamon-sugar mixture around the exterior. Still, looks mean close to nothing in trying to determine taste with these things, so the only thing I could do was suspend doubt and bite in.

These were mind blowing, again with an intense cinnamon flavor throughout, but these were a bit sweeter than the “oatmeal” cookies. I couldn’t believe these truly were gluten free! The texture was unbelievably soft and chewy; I would even be tempted to describe the mouth feel as being smooth and velvet. When microwaved, they literally melted on my tongue. I’m not sure if I’ve ever experienced a more delicious commercial cookie.

Man, do I wish I could have found the bigger package.

Gingerbread Spice

Upon first breaking the seal containing the smooth, half-rounded domes, they elicited a pungent whiff of molasses and spices – A very good thing indeed. It was a little bit off-putting when I tried to remove one and found that it was very solidly stuck to the cookie behind it. I suppose they’re so moist that they adhere to one another after they’ve been in contact for a certain period of time. Or maybe some extra moisture got into my container. Either way, I pried them free and used the top one for photographing.

Briefly heating, I broke my prey into two, I saw that the texture was the same as the snickerdoodle I had tried earlier – Very soft and sporting a fine crumb, almost like a cake. On my first bite, I was a bit under whelmed with the flavor after having been assaulted by such intense smells. It didn’t quite “melt” as the other one did, but the texture definitely suited it perfectly, and I felt that it was spot on with the ginger bread it was attempting to replicate.

I tried a second one, this time without nuking it in the microwave, and found that the taste was actually better this way, in contrast with the previous varieties. Now it exhibited all of the moist properties I imagined it to have when trying to separate each cookie from the others. So rich and indulgent tasting, I couldn’t believe how healthy these actually were! Although I was disappointed at first, they definitely lived up to my high expectations. I love all things spiced, so this one seems like it was made for me.

Chocolate Chip

Upon first sight, they appeared somewhat similar to the oatmeal cookies, simply because they didn’t have the entirely round and uniform shape as the others, due to the protruding chips. This time however, there was no immediate smell emanating from the open package.

Taking a tiny bite into only dough, I thought it to be a bit bland at first. It only took a little persistence on my part; the second bite was like a revelation. I honestly couldn’t believe it. This was the chocolate chip cookie dough of my childhood, pre-veganism. All those delicate nuances of sweet yet slightly tangy, was a smooth undertone full of vanilla essence. Not only that, but it had the ideal softness that is so hard to replicate. Having tried to directly translate my family’s secret recipe into a vegan version and producing tasty, but hard cookies, I know what a true feat this is to have accomplished.

The mini chocolate chips were an excellent choice – Not so large as to dominate the cookie, but big enough to be seen. They provided bright bursts of deep, rich cocoa, perfectly dispersed and bringing delicious contrast to the sweetness of the dough.

Double Chocolate Brownie

Knowing not to doubt this product any longer, I was fully prepared when the aroma of cocoa instantly penetrated my nostrils as soon as the cookies were in sight. I was happy that these didn’t all stick together so much as they usually did in the package, so maybe that aspect depends on moisture level during production.

These little brownie bites feature the same pure dark chocolate chips as in the chocolate chip cookies, but now the dough is saturated with a smooth cocoa flavor. I wouldn’t say it’s deeply chocolate-y, but I like the fact that it’s not so heavy as to make me feel guilty after scarfing down half the package… Which of course I would never do. Or have already done. Ahem.

They’re lighter than any real brownie you might find, and are also very sophisticated in taste by excluding all that excess sugar. Simpler than the other varieties since it only has one dominating flavor, but sometimes that’s all you really want in a cookie. Easy to eat and enjoy. Oh, and if you want a more complex taste, these are a good candidate for microwaving. Can you say ‘molten chocolate cookie’?

I apologize for such a lengthy review – I simply can’t speak highly enough of this product!

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Author: Hannah Kaminsky

Author of My Sweet Vegan, Vegan Desserts, Vegan a la Mode, and Easy as Vegan Pie.

3 thoughts on “Gluten Vs. Glutton

  1. Sarah of seh80 sent me some of the double chocolate brownie cookies awhile ago. Thank you for reminding me that I never finished them. I’d like to add to your review that they either don’t go stale or they still taste good slightly stale (I can’t tell!!). Yum!

  2. Thanks for the review. I’m always skeptical of gluten free products, so it’s nice to know that you found some good ones. Which flavour did you like the best?

  3. Okay, I’ve seen these cookies at the health food store. But not having any wheat or gluten sensitivities myself, I tend to ignore gluten-free products. I realize now that I’ve been wheat-ist. You make them sound so awesome that I’m going to pick some up this week, though. Mmmmm cookies.

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