junk food junkie: pumpkin cookie throw down!
Fall rolls around and suddenly it becomes all about pumpkins, particularly in the grocery store food world. And with it, I usually like to give a review round up of some of the offerings some stores like to push on people with pumpkin in their descriptions. Like these and these and these and several others you can just search the blog for under pumpkin. It can be overwhelming at times and I sometimes am like, ugh, gawd, can I really stomach more things with "pumpkin"!
Usually the answer is...yes I can! Though this year I decided to limit myself mostly because it can get old and there were a number of repeats on offer and not many new things. After looking over what my options were I narrowed in on cookies, duh, and came across ones from competing stores Trader Joe's and Whole Foods. I thought, how convenient, why not just see which one is better in a pumpkin cookie review throw down.
Here we have Whole Foods 365 Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Sandwich cremes. Notice how it doesn't really say cookie on the box and there is the side note of "delicious pumpkin flavor" and some cinnamon sticks. Plus the top offers more of a holiday theme (see the snowflakes?) which means these could be around through Christmas.
In this box you get 18 cookies for $3.99. Since these are "cheesecake" it is a white cream filling. The overwhelming smell with these is of cinnamon, cinnamon and more cinnamon. I'm getting more holiday cookie vibe with it than specifically fall pumpkin cookie. Possibly a bit of a pumpkin misdirect but I guess it is a way to have them available longer in case they sell better in one holiday season than the other. That is why they call it marketing people, in case you didn't catch on.
These have a pretty good amount of filling. Unlike Trader Joe's, it is all about the cream cheese filling which is kind of like it. They have cream cheese powder to give it that flavor which is fine, though it tastes a bit like the cream cheese frosting in a can. Not a bad thing per se as I've been know to scarf down a can of it every now and again when I'm too lazy to make the real thing. It's what it is for, right? Anyway, decent filling, okay flavor, but no pumpkin in this part.
The cookie had a slightly deeper brown color and is of the similar shortbread variety, though no salty taste here. The spice for these is all in the cookie and you do get the flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg and, unlike Joe's, there is ginger, a nice kick. Plus it is a spice that screams holiday, not just fall. Turns out there is pumpkin seed powder in the cookie, but you'd be hard pressed to taste it as it's all about the spices. Kind of why you put "pumpkin flavor" in quotes.
Put them both together and it is a pleasant cookie I'll say is more holiday season cookie than just about the pumpkin. You could easily serve this up at Thanksgiving or Christmas and it can pass muster. A good way to spread out the shelf life!
In this corner we have Trader Joe's Pumpkin Joe-Joe's. They are describing them as pumpkin sandwich cookies with pumpkin cream filling. They are also giving you a harvest color and them with the box packaging. Trying for that farmer family vibe with that Amish barn image and what not. Plus with the pumpkins and color it is all very fall and thus a limited release.
When you open this box you see you get 20 cookies for $2.99. Trader Joe's is usually cheaper than Whole Foods and you get two more cookies. The cream filling stands out too as being orange, cause you know, pumpkin. Also upon opening, the smell of fall seasonings do hit you. Not necessarily pumpkin, but does a pumpkin really have an aroma? Technically it could be wet earthy but fortunately, you don't get that here. I just detect the spice like cinnamon and nutmeg.
You do get a decent amount of cream filling. I guess it is kind of pumpkiny in color, though that can be attributed to the annatto which is an ingredient. It helps add the reddish orange color. But ultimately, what is pumpkin flavor? The box says there is pumpkin puree and pumpkin powder in the mix so you know it is there. But really, it is the spices which will give you some sense memory of what you think pumpkin tastes like. Kind of like pumpkin pie, you know it is in there and you think you taste, but you aren't totally sure.
The outer cookie is like a crispy shortbread cookie and you can really taste the salt. I like a good salty buttery shortbread cookie, maybe needs to be a bit more buttery. It does has a nice brown color but not pumpkin flavor. The cookie part seems to have the cinnamon and nutmeg in strong doses which definitely helps the smell, though it can be strong and does overwhelm the cream filling somewhat.
As one whole bite it wasn't too bad. Crunchy and creamy, it does evoke fall in a mouthful but that is coming through from the spice mix as opposed to the pumpkin. It is hard to bump up pumpkin as it really doesn't have much of a flavor on its own.
Both cookies are also quite sweet and as with most store bought cookies, sugar is the number one ingredient in them. Surprisingly for each of them, three cookies is 150 calories. Kind of a lot when sometimes it is hard to eat just one or two or three or however many more we burned through without thinking. Just something to keep in mind.
After all is tasted and done, me and the SO did like each cookie on their own merits. Trader Joe's has more pumpkin, costs less and offers more cookies in the box, though, once Thanksgiving passes, as a holiday cookie it will go away like all those cornucopia displays. The Whole Foods cookie isn't all that big on the pumpkin but on holiday spice, giving it more of a Christmas vibe. In the end I'd say go with the Joe-Joe's through November then move on to the cheesecake cremes once December rolls around. Kind of makes it a wash but a win win for the lazy party planner or attender. Just grab a box of these, put them on a plate and voila! Dessert! No need to bake a thing. Or, you could be like the rest of us and get a box of either one and eat them in private on your own sitting on the couch as a way to deal with all the stress the holidays bring. Yeah, that's it. Now I just need to dig out my elastic waistband sweats.