Shelly Butcher shared this comparison review of vegan cookies from three little bakeries during her stint with the former blog network, Well Fed on the Town. All three are still around (updated in 2018!) and shipping their cookies to customers across the country.
Vegan baked goods are an odd lot. Without butter and eggs, they are like photocopies of a photocopy of a photo–pale imitations of the original. I do enjoy trying my hand at vegan baked goods, and have managed a pretty decent cornbread. But I’ve wondered about those vegan goodies one sees in Bay Area markets. Are they tasty? Do they come close to their butter- and egg-laden cousins? Out of curiosity, I bought a sampling of locally produced vegan cookies and taste tested them all. Cookies are rated on a scale of one to five chips.
The Vegan No Cookie Cookie: Chocolate Chip Vegan Cookies
Flavor: Very sweet, could use a little salt for balance. This cookie cries out to be eaten with a glass of milk (or almond milk). No baking soda aftertaste. The dark chocolate chips contrast nicely with the sweetness of the cookie.
Texture: Soft and chewy.
Mouthfeel: Melting and smooth. Barley flour is the main ingredient here, and it works well.
Overall: A good chewy cookie that goes well with milk. Could use less sweetener and more salt. Making a smaller cookie might help mitigate the sometimes overwhelming sweetness.
Rating: 4 chips.
Vital Sweets: Chocolate Chip Walnut Vegan Cookies
Flavor: Mellow sweetness perked up by chocolate chips. Needs salt to enhance flavor.
Texture: Pleasantly chewy on the inside, with crisp edges, but a bit dry.
Mouthfeel: These cookies have a somewhat buttery mouthfeel, but a distinct tofu aftertaste reminds you that they’re vegan.
Overall: This is a whole grain cookie that doesn’t look or taste like a “whole grain cookie.” The tofu aftertaste, however, interferes with the cookie’s mild sweetness. Could use more walnuts, a dash of salt, and a little less baking soda.
Rating: 3 chips.
Vital Sweets: Coconut Chocolate Chip Vegan Cookies
Flavor: Sweeter than its non-coconut counterpart, and without the pronounced tofu flavor. Still tastes a bit too much of baking soda.
Texture: Dry, crumbly, chewy–and not in a good way.
Mouthfeel: Feels a bit stale, unpleasantly airy and far too chewy.
Overall: If Vital Sweets removed the coconut, scaled down the baking soda, added salt and a little more liquid, these cookies might be more fun to eat.
Rating: 1 chip.
Grindstone Bakery: Coconut Chocolate Chip Vegan Cookies
Flavor: Sweet with a good amount of salt to round out the flavor. Baking soda, while present, does not dominate.
Texture: Pleasantly chewy, although the shredded coconut is a bit annoying. I found myself chewing bits of coconut after I’d finished chewing the rest of the cookie.
Mouthfeel: The main flour here is barley, which lends a soft, melting quality to the crumb. At times, it’s a bit too much, as the barley flour stickiness lingers on the tongue.
Overall: Fun to eat, if a bit sweet. This is a very substantial cookie that could easily replace a meal. The cookies are baked in a wood-fired brick bread oven, lending them a rustic density. These would go well with a glass of hot tea.
Rating: 3.5 chips.