Okay, you might be noticing a bit of a pattern given that my last review was also of the sweet variety – but what can I say – I have a very large sweet tooth. Now I get a large number of requests from companies to review their products but more often than not they are just more of the same. I mean let’s face it – the boom in gluten-free products, while much appreciated as a celiac, resulted in the marketplace being flooded in a mass produced sea of sameness and quite frankly mediocre products. I am a huge proponent of small gluten-free start-ups because I find that they have a level of creativity and entrepreneurial spirit that is lacking in the majors nowadays. I am always on the hunt for new and innovative products that are more artisanal in nature and push the gluten-free envelope.
One item that seems to be a favorite for mass production is cookies. Just walk down any gluten-free supermarket aisle and you will see cookie after cookie in all shapes and sizes with seemingly every company throwing their hat into the ring. When Deirdre the owner of Soulfully Sweet reached out to me I have to say at first I was a bit skeptical at first because I thought great, another cookie. Yet after hearing how passionate she was about her company and how it was still very much a small operation I couldn’t help being intrigued. I checked out their website and was immediately struck by their approach of using real, mostly organic (cookies are 84%-90% organic) and non-GMO ingredients to create some classic flavors along with some modern takes on some old time favorites.
I received five wonderful flavors to sample: Chocolate Chip, Oatmeal Raisin, Peanut Butter, Chocolate Chocolate Chip, and Oatmeal Cherry Chip. The first thing that you notice when the cookies arrive is that they are beautifully packed in the signature colors of the company but more importantly they are well-packed – all arriving completely intact. It is these little details are just a prelude of what was to come.
Ever the cookie purist, I started with the classic chocolate chip flavor. I say classic but these are really classic in name only. The base that Soulfully Sweet uses for all of their cookies is a unique mix of navy bean flour, brown rice flour, and potato starch. These allow for something truly amazing to happen – perfectly soft, yes soft cookies right out of the package. It does not matter if you eat them immediately or take them out of the refrigerator after storing them – the final result is always a wonderfully chewy cookie with a crisp outer shell. In other words cookie texture perfection. Back to the chocolate chip – these were chock-full of chocolate chips but had the perfect balance of sweetness playing off the mild base that had the slightly salty note from the butter that I look for in a cookie. All of the ingredients played perfectly against one another providing what is, in my opinion, the perfect cookie synergy.
Next up was a personal favorite of mine – the oatmeal raisin. Now I know that oats are a sometimes sticky point among celiacs but I have no issues with certified gluten-free oats (which are used in these cookies). These were soft oatmeal perfection that had a balanced sweetness with an additional kick of sweetness from the raisins. The texture was perfect and the addition of walnuts (something that I am normal not a fan of) really worked in these adding a layer of nuttiness to flavor profile without being overpowering.
The peanut butter variety was another standout. These pack a robust peanut flavor with just a hint of vanilla shining through that was rounded out but a slight salty undertone that you look for in peanut butter. Again, perfectly soft with a slight crunch to the outer layer and these remain so even after I had put them in the refrigerator for storage. Just pop them out a bit before you are ready to eat them allowing them to get to room temperature and you are good to go.
If chocolate is your thing (like it is mine) then you will fall in love with the chocolate chocolate chip. Rich cocoa powder is added to the base to give these a solid chocolate foundation on which more chocolate is added in chip form. Now you are likely thinking that there would be sugar bombs but no – these are actually perfectly balanced with the cocoa notes playing the leading role and the sweetness playing a supporting role.
Last but certainly not least were the oatmeal cherry chunk. These were likely my favorite of the bunch because the addition of dried cherries and chocolate chips to the oatmeal base made these a true homerun. I like to call it the flavor trifecta of earthy (from the oats), sweetness (from the chocolate chips), and tangy (from the dried cherries) – all perfectly playing off one another to create a truly unique cookie.
You can order the flavors I tried along with a few others on Soulfully Sweet’s website where you can also learn more about the company. At present, the company is baking in a shared facility but using their own production tools and are testing product to ensure that they are well-below the established 20 PPM threshold. They are hoping to be able to move into a dedicated facility in the future. Their commitment to providing a quality gluten-free product line that is safe for celiacs is apparent.