On a recent stroll through the cookie aisle of the supermarket, I noticed not one but two new cinnamon flavored cookies. Joy! They each took a very different approach—one simple and classic and the other novel and...mall-tastic—so I grabbed both to give them a try.
Pepperridge Farm's New Soft Baked Snickerdoodles
Sometimes the more simple or the more classic a recipe is, the harder it is to achieve a good mass produced version. When I saw that Pepperidge Farm had introduced a Soft Baked Snickerdoodle I had two thoughts: 1. Sigh. All snickerdoodles should be soft!* 2. Chances are this is going to taste like a bland vanilla sugar cookie.
*I realize that the soft versus crunchy snickerdoodle debate is one that has no winner. In this instance, I just prefer a soft cookie. I think it better highlights the lightly crunchy exterior.
But let's start with the basic premise: the whole point of a snickerdoodle is that it's a sugar cookie rolled in cinnamon sugar. It's not just a sugar cookie with cinnamon. It's sweet and vanilla-y on the inside, with the light crunch and punch of cinnamon-sugar on the outside.
To my surprise, the PR cookies are actually soft with a bit of pleasant chew. And they are indeed rolled in cinnamon sugar—visible, touchable, tastable cinnamon sugar. The coating tastes like a cross between Cinnamon Toast Crunch and a cinnamon sugar doughnut; which is to say, pretty cinnamon-y. And while I did just reference a breakfast cereal, the cinnamon errs on the side of authenticity. Plenty of cinnamon sweets taste like artificial cinnamon extract or Big Red Gum. Not these. The package says they're "sweet and simple cookies" and, to my surprise, they are.
Keebler Cinnamon Roll Original Cookies
I decided to taste these two new cookies back to back, which, as soon as I found success with the snickerdoodle, seemed like a colossal mistake. I was chasing a "real cinnamon" cookie with a cookie that was clearly going to taste anything but. The new Keebler cookie is "a soft swirl cookie with Cinnabon® cinnamon, drizzled with cream cheese flavored icing." Cinnabon is great, but "real cinnamon" it's not. This cookie was hoping to be a more mass produced version of an already mass produced product. Quite a way to start.
And yeah, my first taste made me think I had just bit into a Yankee candle: too sweet, too much fake cinnamon. Then I noticed a little note on the package: "Tastes great warmed up!" Remembering how much I like Soft Batch Chips Ahoy in the microwave, I decided to give it a go. It took me 15 seconds, which is more than the 6-9 suggested, but the cookies significantly improved. Heated, the middle cinnamon swirl becomes a little gooey and the icing softens. The sweetness doesn't mellow so much as unify with the cinnamon, and it really tastes like a Cinnabon. Which, needless to say, is awesome.
My only qualm is that the entire structure of the cookie softens and becomes prone to falling apart. But really, who cares, because I was already shoving it in my mouth.
What we have here is a good day for the union of supermarket sweets and cinnamon. Any others out there that I should try?