I buy free-range chicken, local apples, and strawberries only in season. But when it comes to desserts, whether or not they're made from all natural ingredients couldn't be further from my mind. After all, I grew up in the state that invented Marshmallow Fluff, on a steady diet of Pop-Tarts, Double-Stuff Oreos, and Hoodsie Cups.
But lately, I've noticed a lot of "healthy" baking mixes on supermarket shelves. I was curious: how would they compare to standard versions? I decided to put Nature's Path Organic Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix ($4.49) to the test.
My suspicions about how good the cookies would taste were raised when, upon examining the box, I discovered that Nature's Path also manufactures a hemp brownie mix (that's like magic brownies, minus all the fun), and something called FlaxPlus Multigrain Pancake Mix. It all sounded just a bit too, well, earthy for me.
Preparing the cookie dough was simple enough: just add 1/3 cup of vegetable oil and 5 tablespoons of cold water. As I mixed everything together, I couldn't help noting the rather paltry amount of chocolate chips. Just because the mix was organic didn't mean it had to be parsimonious.
The cookie dough turned out a bit damp and grainy, but it held together well enough when I scooped it into balls on two baking sheets. Using heaping tablespoonfuls, I had just enough for 18 cookies. I slid the baking sheets into a 350°F oven for 15 minutes.
When I took the cookies out of the oven, they looked a lot like they did when I put them in. That is to say, the cookies hadn't so much spread and crisped as they had hardened into little balls. Working quickly, while they were still soft and malleable, I flattened them a bit with the bottom of a drinking glass. Then I transferred the cookies to a wire rack to cool.
When it was time for the official taste test, I broke a cookie in half. It had a moist center and the (few) chocolate chips were melted and gooey. I took a bite. The cookie tasted a bit like bran meal and the texture was quite granular and coarse. I could tell it was healthy, but after finishing the first cookie I didn't really want to eat another one, which is not a problem I've ever had with Toll House.