Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Archway Cookies: A Nostalgic Review

When I was growing up we didn't have soda or candy in the house, or junk food like Twinkies, but we did have cookies. Sometimes my mom made cookies from scratch, and sometimes she bought them. The thing is, some cookies need to be fresh and homemade, like chocolate chip cookies or oatmeal cookies. They just don't taste right to me if they aren't. But then there are some commercially produced cookies that are just fine and dandy.

When I was growing up I can almost guarantee you would have found pecan sandies, lemon coolers, raisin biscuits, or almond windmills in the cookie jar. Oddly enough most of those cookies are not so easy to find these days. Pecan sandies are a kind of shortbread cookie, flecked with bits of nuts and are the only cookie I still routinely see in the supermarket (though reviews seem to say they aren't as good as they used to be). Lemon coolers were very tangy cookies coated in powdered sugar. Raisin biscuits were affectionately known as "fly biscuits" in my family. They were thin layers of cookie, filled with raisins. They came in long strips that were perforated. Almond windmills later became just "windmills", as the amount of slivered almonds was drastically reduced. Windmills are based on a spiced Dutch cookie called speculaas.

Recently I got an email informing me that Archway was launching an iced lemonade cookie. Was I interested in trying some samples? Little did I know I would receive 13 packages of cookies in the mail. 13. Packages. Of cookies. So for you, my dear readers, I opened virtually every package and tried them. Call it professional responsibility. Somebody has got to try all those cookies and it might as well be me! Not every cookie made the cut, but a few varieties rose above the rest. Here are the ones I think are particularly noteworthy:

molasses cookies
Molasses Cookies
These are soft big cookies with a lingering molasses flavor and a bit of crunch from the decorative sugar crystals. Perfect with a mug of black tea and milk.

ginger snaps
Ginger Snaps
I like these a lot. They really have a good bite of ginger in them and are not too sweet. They would also be great in desserts. I'd use ginger snap crumbs in place of graham crackers to make a press in type of crust or to top an apple or pear crisp.

iced molasses
Iced Molasses
You have to like molasses to appreciate these chewy little gems, but I enjoyed them even more than the larger soft molasses version.They are really good and strong like a bracing cup of black coffee.

iced lemonade
Iced LemonadeThese are not my beloved lemon coolers, but I like them. They are tangy, not too sweet even though they are frosted. Actually I think most of the lemon flavor comes from the glaze. They are small and very crunchy.

windmill cookies
These are practically as I remember them, just light on almonds. From the photo it's impossible to see any almond flakes, but they are in there. The primary flavor is cinnamon but there are other sweet spices too. Windmills are hard cookies, but not as hard as the ginger snaps. They have an almost melting sandy texture. Are they that delicious or am I just being nostalgic? Hard to say. But I am enjoying them immensely.

You will find these cookies in various supermarkets.

What store bought cookies do you love or miss?