I absolutely love gifting food. But several years ago, I came upon a personal dilemma. I can’t have dairy myself, and no longer felt right making or purchasing dairy-laden foods for others. I have always felt like a gift should be something I would want myself, and quite frankly, milk chocolate and butter cookies aren’t on my Christmas list. Not to mention, I feel like dairy-free is misunderstood. People automatically assume a lesser product. So over the years I have set out to disprove them … baking delicious gifts in my own kitchen and seeking out manufacturers of tasty dairy-free goodies.
I am just amazed it took me so long to try Allison’s Gourmet. This is an all-vegan bakery, so no eggs or dairy (milk products) on the premises. I asked Allison if I could sample an assortment, just a bit of each type of product they sell. What I received was a beautiful box (loved the iridescent purple tissue … gorgeous!) that was carefully packed with each of the following …
Mint Chocolate Chip Wheat-Free Cookies
Allison’s Gourmet is transitioning all of their cookies to wheat-free (from whole wheat pastry flour to oat flour), including this unique mint chip flavor. I was expecting an ordinary chocolate chip cookie made with mint chocolate chips, but the actual cookie is boldly minty throughout.
It is a chewy, tollhouse type cookie – not crispy, yet not too soft – but a touch heartier than your average cookie thanks to the oat flour. I love the earthy flavor of oats, and thus felt that no indulgence was lost. These cookies (which come 2 per package) aren’t too sweet either. Definitely dessert, but not sugary sweet like some commercial brands can be. I think my only request would be more chocolate chips. These are generously-sized cookies (large, but not jumbo), and could use a few more chips per cookie to balance them out.
Allison’s other wheat-free cookie varieties (Oatmeal Raisin, Cinnamon Snickerdoodle, Pumpkin Spice, Classic Chocolate Chip, and Chocolate Chip Pecan) appear to have the same chewy Tollhouse vibe, but I haven’t yet had the opportunity to sample these.
Peanut Butter Cups
These were picture perfect, classic, gift-worthy chocolates. I honestly couldn’t think of a better present for my peanut butter and chocolate loving sister than this “gourmet” version.
Enrobed in a rich dark chocolate, these are definitely what I would classify as “grown-up” cups, with a slightly sweetened center. They are more rich than sweet, but definitely dessert; like an elegant and refined Reese’s peanut butter cup with slightly less peanut butter and sugar intensity. In terms of mass, I would say they are like mini peanut butter cups, but a touch more robust in height and overall size.
Peppermint Crème Patties
Hello mint rush! The thick filling was positively bursting with flavor; delicious, but powerful. Allison’s Peppermint Crèmes easily taste better and far more natural than your average York patty, though they possess a similar overall vibe. Like Allison’s other chocolates, these are spotless little chocolates, beautifully presented and not a chocolate nick on them from transit.
Wheat-Free Pecan Brownies
The label on these cracked me up – they were called “Mini Pecan Wheat-Free Brownies.” Mini compared to what? The whole pan? In the shape of a tart (not a cut square as shown on their site) and nestled into a cupcake-style wrapper, this hefty little brownie is easily a two person dessert.
I loved the packaging and generosity with the pecans. Unfortunately, it was already evening when we dove into this dessert (bad lighting), so I couldn't get a good shot of the inside of the brownie, which was moist and chewy, almost like a thick Tollhouse-style cookie. This alone impressed me, since most vegan brownies I have tasted to date (store bought and homemade) are more like chocolate cake – this was a true brownie! Both my husband and I described it as a rich dark chocolate version, not too sweet and almost hinting at the taste of espresso. Though I'm not a coffee fan, I thoroughly enjoyed my half with a cup of chai tea, and could even see dunking this brownie in a cool glass of almond or rice milk.
This looked like brownie’s fraternal twin. One could have easily been mistaken for the other if not for the substantially sized walnut pieces on the fudge versus the generous dotting of chopped pecans on the brownie.
But looks can be deceiving. This is the brownie I was looking for … because it is fudge. By far the sweetest offering I have tried some Allison’s – this fudge meets all sugar and chocolate-craving needs. Though the packaging easily meets Allison’s standards for beautiful, gift-worthy quality, don’t expect the same elegant, dark chocolate taste found in some of her other products. This is a down and dirty, sugary-sweet, perfectly holiday fudge. Loved it! You will never miss dairy in a single bite of this, nor will anyone else.
The jumbo sized mini-tart is more than I can (or rather “should”) eat in one sitting. Contrary to the peanut butter cups, the fudge is more sweet than rich, but it is still decadent enough that just a wee bit will give you that sugar fix. The nuts are large and add a nice contrast, slightly moderating the sweetness. I don’t typically like nuts in fudge, but I can honestly say that they went beautifully.
Beyond cookies, brownies, chocolates, and fudge, you will also find truffles, caramels, brittles, toffees, cocoa, tea, and coffee at Allison’s Gourmet! They ship throughout the U.S., year round.
Article and photos by Alisa Fleming, author of Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook, founder of GoDairyFree.org, and blogger at AlisaCooks.com. This is a third party review. For more information on these products, and to purchase, visit the Allison's Gourmet website.