Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Enjoy Life Gluten-Free Cookies: Thanks, I'll Try.


Going gluten and dairy free after decades of eating whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, is not easy. See, I love food. I love food so much it's stupid. There is a very short list of Things I Will Not Eat, and it's basically mayonnaise and burgers from McDonald's (those are NOT hamburgers and don't you dare tell me otherwise). I was bred from the foodiest food-snob stock, and so much of my family's identity is wrapped up in our celebration of The Meal. Recalling any night during high school or a visit home from college, I can picture a number of us hanging out in the kitchen, making dinner together. Mom or dad hovers around the stove, while my siblings and I chop vegetables, whisk salad dressing, and steal hunks of rustic bread from the center of the table, swiping them in olive oil. There were usually candles, and fresh herbs from the garden. My parents are a slightly more middle class Williams-Sonoma catalog come to life, is what I'm saying, and it would be obnoxious if they weren't so goddamn nice and the food wasn't so good.

I don't know if any of this helps to illuminate what I'm trying to impart: I've never been the kind of person who eats to live. And what I'm finding is that people who eat mostly plant-based diets are primarily eating for sustenance. Or they've somehow tricked themselves into thinking they're not missing anything, with their soy substitutes and vegan margarine and whatnot. It is all well and good to enjoy dishes that are not trying to imitate something normally made with gluten and dairy - roasted vegetables, juicy steaks, and crisped bacon come to mind as perfectly good examples - but when you delve into the realm of gluten-free pastas or bread or cookies, that's when things start to fall apart.

I picked up a box of Enjoy Life cookies at my local grocery store the other night, where I was surprised to learn that Jewel carries a bunch of gluten-free brands. I was craving a nice, chewy, moist cookie, and knowing I'd have to forgo my beloved Matt's, I settled on Enjoy Life Soft Baked Chocolate Chip Cookies. I was drawn in with the promise that they were "chewy good loaded with chips." I'm not taking a point off for sloppy copy writing, but really, someone should fix that phrase, as it's randomly plastered across the front of the box.

The cookies themselves are disappointingly tiny. They're roughly the size of a small walnut, but flattened, and you get 12 cookies for $3, depending on where you live. Once I got over my initial surprise, I tried the cookie. And you know what? It was decent! If you've ever eaten a Fiber One brownie, it tastes a lot like that. FYI, Fiber One makes some of the most palatable breakfast/cereal/fiber bars around, in my opinion. If you've never eaten a Fiber One brownie, I suppose I'll have to do some actual work and describe these cookies to you.

They're soft and sweet, but the texture is a bit grainier than a real cookie. Once you start chewing them, they taste a bit heavier than a regular cookie - you know the way some cookies seem to melt away into a delicious pile of sweetness in your mouth? These don't do that. These cookies start off fine, and get slightly less-fine tasting the longer you chew. I think this is because they're made with sorghum flour and date paste and Xantham gum instead of things like butter and flour. Still, they actually do taste fairly similar to a Matt's cookie, despite being a fraction of the size and lacking that chocolate oomph. That brings me to my next minor gripe: these are not nearly chocolaty enough for me. I really, really love chocolate though, so this might be a personal preference. I like to be knocked on my ass by chocolate. I don't even know what that means, I just want you to know that I've never met a dessert I didn't consider not chocolaty enough.

All in all, these cookies were fine. They suffice. They weren't anything special, and they probably aren't something I'll ever crave on my own, but in the throes of a cookie craving meltdown a box of these would probably do the trick. I give them 5/8 tentacles, because "E" is the fifth letter of the alphabet, and Enjoy Life gets an "E" for effort.

Rating: 5/8 tentacles

1 comment:

  1. *Belated Author's note*: After trying these a few more times, I'm amending my rating to 6/8, because after trying a few more gluten free/dairy free brands, these Enjoy Life cookies taste remarkably more cookie-ish than all the others.

    I think my published score reflects my general unhappiness at going GF more than anything else. Because seriously, it's probably impossible to make things that taste EXACTLY like their buttery, floury counterparts without actually using either.

    What I'm saying is, keep on keepin' on, Enjoy Life!