Saturday, July 23, 2011

Gluten-Free Cookies Review: Enjoy Life’s Line of Crunchy Cookies

Gluten-Free Cookies Review:

Enjoy Life’s Line of Crunchy Cookies

[by Kate — guest gluten-free blog author

Gluten-Free Cookies : Can Store-Bought Taste Good?

I’m always a little skeptical that I’ll end up enjoying the experience when I bite into a store-bought, pre-packaged, factory-produced gluten-free cookie. My pessimistic orientation to factory-produced GF cookies has been inculcated in me by many attempts to, in good faith, acquire such products — only to discover that the texture resembles that of sandpaper slowly disintegrating on the palate, or that what was advertised as chocolate flavored actually tastes like a wicked assortment of artificial flavors and chemicals, or that there is one overpowering flavor (for example, dates) that masks the intended flavor of the cookie.

However, I feel like I had a rather successful experience eating a couple varieties of Enjoy Life’s line of crunchy cookies, including their Crunchy Double Chocolate Cookies (my favorite), their Crunchy Vanilla Honey Graham cookies, and Crunchy Chocolate Chip cookies. Each of the varieties and, indeed, Enjoy Life’s line entire of products is designed to be safe for persons not only with celiac disease or what intolerance, but who also suffer from other (often concomitant) allergies. Allergens omitted comprise a long list, including: wheat/gluten, nuts (peanuts and tree nuts), dairy, egg, soy, fish, shellfish, casein, potato, sesame and sulfites.

Gluten-Free, and quite Crunchy

But, enough about allergens, let’s get back to the eating experience. The cookies are very crunchy, which I like, but if you prefer softer cookies you’ll want to seek out Enjoy Life’s line of soft baked cookies which I have not yet tried. I feel like part of why these cookies are able to succeed, however, is due to their crunchiness which I think makes them fairly versatile—you can eat them plain, dunk them in coffee, put vanilla ice cream in between two to make a homemade, GF ice cream sandwich, or crush the cookies to form the basis of a cookie-crust if you’re making a GF pie.

The flavor of the cookies is spot on in line with the way they are advertised, which is quite refreshing. The Double Chocolate Cookies offer a potent chocolaty taste that is augmented by the inclusion of little chocolate chips throughout the cookie which offer a soft, melt-in-your-mouth goodness that compliments the otherwise crunchy texture of the cookie. The Vanilla Honey Graham Cookies also live up to their name; I definitely feel as I munch on them that I’m eating a thinner, round version of a traditional graham cracker but I noticed that there was one flavor in the mix that threw me off a bit. Not necessarily because the flavor was disagreeable, but it conflicted with my imagination of how a traditional graham cracker ought to taste. Looking at the ingredients I think I’ve narrowed the culprit down to Rosemary Extract.

[Mike's Comments] I too found the "Graham" taste not quite what I remember a graham cracker being; and, I will add that I much preferred the chocolate variety over the other.
That being said, the flavor of the Rosemary is subtle and rather than unpleasant it, as I said, merely stands out as an exotic ingredient for a graham cracker cookie. Ultimately, it’s a flavor that I have found it easy enough to embrace and enjoy. The Chocolate Chip cookies were perhaps my least favorite. Not because they didn’t taste good—I happily ate every last one of them — but because I yearned for more chocolate.

GF Product Review Summary:
Good, but you can do Much Better Baking Your Own

Although I am overwhelmingly impressed by these cookies and think they’re a nice, quick alternative to baking your own when you don’t have the time, I do feel that I have not only to judge the cookies on their own terms (which I’ve done above) but to judge them in comparison with the cookies I can make using Gluten-Free recipes, like those found on this blog (or, its associated online Gluten-Free Recipes Library).  I’ve also made a pretty killer selection of cookies ranging from biscotti to pumpkin chocolate-chip cookies and peanut butter chocolate-chip cookies out of the Wheat-Free and Gluten-Free Gourmet Desserts book featured here, which has gotten similarly raving reviews from Amazon reviewers as well as sites like The Gluten Free Cooking School blog which reviewed it and called the recipes in it The Best Gluten-Free Desserts You've Ever Had.

When comparing Enjoy Life’s line of crunchy cookies to the cookies I’ve baked on my own, I’d have to cite one major critique: the fact that Enjoy Life’s crunchy cookies are verging on being wafer thin. They lack a heartiness and substantive feel when compared with a traditional cookie — something you wouldn’t guess by looking at the [photo on the] outside of the packaging which represents the cookies as having a robustness that, in reality, isn’t really there. There’s just something lacking in the experience of biting into a cookie that is really just a hard little wafer, albeit a pretty tasty hard little wafer.

[Mike's Summary Comments]
As I said earlier in this blog, I liked the gluten-free crunchy-double-chocolate version the best, particularly after I accepted it as being a very thin and very crunchy cookie (or, as Kate called it toward the end: wafer).  I actually had a secondary experience to add here... I let one cookie sit out for a bit accidentally, and the Houston humidity quickly softened it up some... I actually didn't mind that, as it made me forget about the super-crisp/wafer-like texture, and it was still fine as a "softer" cookie. 
I too prefer baking my own cookies, but if you feel the "need" for very crunchy gluten-free cookies in a hurry and don't have time to bake your own alternative, these may be quite acceptable.  I would have liked to get feedback from *kids* on these to see how they compare them to "real" (gluten-containing) cookies.  I will personally be sticking with my homemade cookies, as I can usually budget an hour in which to bake them — especially when I tend to bake a double-batch and put some in the fridge for the coming weeks; saves money too.

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