We coeliacs have to look far and wide for our fun (although I concede that eating gluten-free [GF] foods is much easier than it was even 10 years ago).
So I decided to invite a few coeliacs around to Bee HQ to sample some GF cookies. Just an excuse to forego a proper breakfast and move straight to the carb/sugar rush? Perhaps, but also simply a bit of fun and a good opportunity to meet some new people.
Where did I recruit these lovely cookie-eating-helpers? The town I live in has a group FaceBook page specifically for parents – people on it are helpful, polite and friendly so I decided that was a good place to start. I was hoping for a group of 5-6, but conducted the taste testing on a weekday morning when I was not teaching; the majority of people were of course at work, and others had child-minding issues. Oh well, all the more cookies for us – but thank you to those who were enthusiastic but couldn’t come along.
I will say upfront that this was in no way a scientific experiment. To be clear, A) there were only 3 of us doing the tasting. B) The cookies and biscuits were all slightly different, though themed around CHOCOLATE (hooray!) In a proper taste testing, you would have 6 plain digestives, for example, and conclude which is the best. Unfortunately the range of GF foods does not allow this when it comes to cookies, though I intend to do a bread tasting, which would better meet that criteria. The other thing to mention is that all the biscuits/cookies were from a GF section of the shop. There are some perfectly lovely GF options (the Mrs Crimble’s range for example) of macaroons etc, but these are aimed at what I believe prisoners call the “Gen Pop” (general population) and what some coeliac wags call “Muggles”!
So, with hearty thanks to my two new coeliac buddies, Jackie and Sarah, I give you the low-down on which cookies left us cold and which could have passed for ‘normal’.
The five I chose to test were as follows, as they were all available on the same day from my High Street, here in the ‘burbs:
- TESCO FINEST – FREE FROM All Butter Chocolate Millionaire. 5 biscuits, 185g, £1.35
- DOVES FARM – ORGANIC AND FREE FROM Double Chocolate Cookies. 7 cookies, 180g, £2.25, bought from my High St, independent health food shop
- MARKS AND SPENCER – MADE WITHOUT WHEAT RANGE Triple Chocolate Cookies 10 cookies, 170g, £2.50
- PREWETT’S – GLORIOUSLY GLUTEN FREE Rich Triple Chocolate Cookies 8 cookies, 150g, £2.29 bought in my local Waitrose, which didn’t have any own-brand GF choc biscuits or cookies for us to test.
- PREWETT’S Milk Chocolate Digestives 14 biscuits, 155g, £1.50 bought in Sainsbury’s which also didn’t have any own- brand for the taste-testing on the day I shopped.
So what was the result? Our least favourites were described as “dry, bland, powdery, hard, greasy, oily, insubstantial, pale”. The ones we much preferred solicited descriptions such as, “crisp, chocolatey but not too sweet, melt in the mouth, nice balance of bite and crumble”.
The make which all 3 of us least liked was the Doves Farm (“powdery, gritty, not much flavour, dry, brittle, bland”) and the best (also unanimously) were the Prewett’s Triple Chocolate Cookies (“appetising, chunky, chocolate-coated, delicious”).
I very rarely buy biscuits (unless we have coeliac visitors) because, once opened, I lack the will-power to not plough on through the entire packet before the kettle has even boiled. I had never even come across the Prewett’s make before this week, so that was an interesting find for me. So who are they? Now based in Bristol, they do a large range of healthy and free-from foods, and you can order from their website here as well as finding their products in supermarkets and health food shops nationwide. Interestingly, their Chocolate Digestives also came out well, despite looking rather less interesting.
So, my new pals and I discussed good GF recipes, and made various recommendations to each other, including this book, “The GF Cook-book for Kids”; the No G website; A Basing Cakes; an entirely GF cafe/restaurant (how often do you hear that?!!) near me here in Hertfordshire called The Saddlery Cafe which I cannot wait to visit and Atkins and Potts who apparently do exquisite GF sauces.
So a good morning’s work. Unscientific for sure, but a lot of fun, and we all agreed that the trials and tribulations of having Coeliac Disease are diminished when shared between friends over a cup of tea or coffee. And cookies.
Annie Bee x