Market research: Comparing chocolate chip cookies
Photo credit: Ryan Thatcher
By V.L. Hendrickson
Special to amNewYork
Fresh baked chocolate chip cookies are a favorite for many, but few have the time to make them from scratch when the craving strikes. Several packaged mixes are available to aid the time-crunched baker, from tubes of dough that just needs to be scooped out and cooked, to mixes that seem no less convenient than grandmas favorite from-scratch recipe.
Recently, a brave, multi-generational team baked and tested five types of pre-packaged cookie mixes. Each recipe made between 16-20 cookies and called for oven temperatures between 350-375 degrees. Cooking times vary.
There's no such thing as a "bad" cookie, but...
Pillsbury cookie mix can be found in the refrigerated section of the grocery stores, and takes little more effort than opening the package and spooning out the dough onto a cookie sheet.
The tube costs $3.49 and each cookie has 130 calories and 7 grams of fat. The cookies bake up fluffy and have a good texture, but taste a bit bland, according to testers.
The uncooked dough, the best part of cookie making some might say, has a slightly chemical taste.Best taste for the least effort
Another tester said the cookies, with 130 calories and 6 grams of fat, had better chocolate than the Pillsbury variety.
This dough also seemed to slip out of the package more easily and the uncooked mix got better ratings. A third tester said these cookies are sweet, but not very tasty.
You won't believe it's from a mix
The boxed Barefoot Contessa cookie mix was the winner among the five brands for taste, but the process of making the cookies is nearly as time-intensive as making the cookies without a mix.
The mix costs nearly $8, not including butter and eggs, so a from-scratch method may be more economical as well.
But the high-quality ingredients and big chocolate pieces bake up into delicious cookies with a crisp outside and gooey inside. They have 120 calories and 3 grams of fat.
For the health conscious
Pamelas Products offers a wheat- and gluten-free Chocolate Chunk Cookie Mix with dark chocolate chunks, making the mix itself dairy-free, although the recipe calls for butter or margarine and an egg or egg substitute.
The cookies are much darker than the other brands and the dough has a much chunkier texture. The intense dark chocolate chips give the cookie a strong flavor, but the cookie itself is bland. Each cookie has 150 calories and 8 grams of fat, and the mix costs $6.59 at health food stores.
Most economical, least delicious
Betty Crocker is the least expensive of the mixes, $2.89, though the recipe calls for you to provide a stick of butter and one egg.
The box mix was also the least favorite variety in this test. Testers complained that the raw dough, with 170 calories and 8 grams of fat, was disgusting and had an unpleasant aftertaste.