Taste Test: Gluten-Free Chocolate Sandwich Cookies
March 7, 2013
As a community, we gathered to taste gluten-free sandwich cookies. These are the results!
For longer than I'd care to admit, I wanted to organize a “taste test” for gluten-free foods. I thought it would be a fun way to connect with my local community of gluten-free (and non-gluten-free!) eaters. Chatting with folks on-line is great but nothing beats face-to-face interaction. But I'm a little shy when it comes to organizing gatherings.
So I thought about it. And I thought about it. Finally I decided to be brave and ask on Facebook if any local folks would be interested in joining me for a casual taste test evening. Lots of folks said yes! And not only did people say yes, Sari, the owner of Tiny Tots Tearoom offered her space for the event.
It was all set. The only question that remained was what would be taste?
Since Oreo cookies claim status as, “America's Favorite Cookie”, I thought it would be fun to try gluten-free chocolate sandwich cookies. Or as one of the members of taste panel called them “Feux-reos.”
What we tasted
1. Kinnikinnick's Kinni-Toos
2. Mi-Del Chocolate Sandwich Cookies
3. Schar Chocolate O's
4. Glutino Chocolate Vanilla Creme Cookies
These brands are available throughout the United States or on-line. I purchased all brands myself*. (Before you ask, I tried (really, really hard!) to purchase a box of Jo-Sef's sandwich cookies for the event. However, even after chatting with someone at the company, I couldn't make it happen.)
The folks at Kinnikinnick sent me a box for the sample. However, we needed more cookies; so I bought another box.
No Homemade Cookies? Why?
Several folks knew that there's a recipe for chocolate sandwich cookies in my baking cookbook. They asked why I didn't include a homemade cookie in the taste test. Good question! I thought about this A LOT while organizing the event. In the end, I decided that taste tests will include only store bought items. Lots of gluten-free eaters don't bake. So I wanted try what's on the market. Home baking, as you know, is very different from store-bought. I didn't want to muddy the waters by including something home baked in the tasting.
We tasted blind, of course. Each cookie was sealed in small bag with a number attached. Since “palate fatigue” happens during taste tests, I asked folks NOT to eat the cookies in numerical order. Someone might have sampled the cookies in this order: 2,4,1,3, While someone else might have tried 1, 3, 4, 2. This means that no cookie was favored over another.
We didn't chat about the cookies during the tasting to prevent biasing each other. Tasters rated the cookies overall and then graded the cookie and filling on a scale of one to ten.
1. Glutinto Chocolate Vanilla Creme Cookies
Tasters noted that Glutino's chocolate sandwich cookie was the closest to an Oreo. One wrote, “Smells like an Oreo!”
The chocolate cookie garnered high scores for it's crunchy texture and rich, chocolatey flavor. Most liked the filling, calling it creamy and smooth. A few, however, did not like how the filling oozed out of the cookies, making them look like “store brand Oreos.”
Overall, this cookie won the hearts of most of our tasters. One person found the cookie too sweet and another said, “It's a little dry but I still like it the best.”
2. Kinnikinnick K-Toos
Second place Kinnikinnick was less than one point behind the winner. And the tasting notes showed the love with the cookie earning overall praise. The reason why it came in second? The filling.
Over and over, folks noted that there simply wasn't enough filling. The filling's taste earned high praise, leaving tasters wanting more. Someone said, “Why so skimpy with the filling? More filling is all I'm thinking about.”
One taster noticed that the cookies had a slightly sour odor that got better with time.
3. Mi-Del Chocolate Sandwich Cookies
Again, less than one point behind the second place finisher, Mi-Del cookies earned praise for their cocoa flavor. But thanks to their packaging and creme, they came in third.
Several tasters noted that their cookie was broken. “So crumbly!” said another. (See note below.) One mentioned that the cookie pulled away from the filling, leaving her with “a disk of filling and two bald cookies.”
The cream was where these cookies lost favor. Several noted that the cream was “dry and waxy”. Others didn't like the color of the filing. “The filling isn't white. It's beige.” It did win the heart of one taster who wrote, “Nice consistency. Cookies crisp and filling's sweet but not too sweet. I want another one!”
(Note from Elizabeth: When I opened one package of Mi-Del cookies, the cookies were fine. The next package contained nearly all broken cookies.)
4. Schar Chocolate O's
Wow. This was the moment of the tasting. While all other brands had individual champions, the Schar cookies did not. Not one. And when I tallied the numbers, I could see that not one person prefered Schar's cookie best. Ouch.
Several commenters said, “Disgusting!” “Gross!” and “Eww!” Another noted, “These shouldn't be sold. Anywhere.” The problem? The texture. The cookie was too thick for our panel and nothing like “A fake Oreo should be.” These cookies also lost points for size. “About the size of a quarter.” and “Too small” read the comments.
The filling didn't hold up any better. Folks noted that the filling was “too dry” and “not creamy at all.” Getting to the point, one taster noted that the filling was “just wrong. Plain wrong!” One person did like the filling. However, that's not necessarily good news. They wrote, “The filling is great. Overall: Bad smell. Small cookie.” (Note from Elizabeth. That tasting note seriously made me laugh.)
So what do you think? Agree? Disagree? What's your favorite brand of sandwich cookies?
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