Portland – various locations
“Hey, so what are your favorite cookies in Portland?”
This is something that I hear, arguably, probably a lot more often than most people do – for obvious reasons.
When I answer, I usually rattle off the last memorable one or two that I’ve eaten – whatever is in the front of my mind and lingering on my taste buds at that particular moment. However, something I’ve been telling people for the past several months (even when they aren’t asking) is that Whole Foods is making some damn good cookies – better cookies than you find at most local bakeries, and (contrary to its “Whole Paycheck”/ high-priced reputation) more modestly priced, to boot.
I recently described the unlikely brilliance of WF’s Almond Horn, and at some point soon I will report on their way above average ginger cookie. But right now I want to talk about a cookie that I feel compelled to qualify even before naming – even though I already did so in the title of this post. Yeah, okay, it’s a vegan thumbprint – and it is also wheat free. Are you still reading?
Stay with me.
Because it is good. It is really good. I’ve wanted to write about this homely biscuit for some time, but I didn’t quite know how to accurately express my feelings.
Okay, so far I’ve told you merely that “it’s good”, but what I also need to point out is that what this cookie lacks in curb appeal, it more than makes up for in jammy, just-sweet-enough, toothsome, oaty, nutty (but not too nutty) earthy, craw-fillin’ happiness. This is a cookie that I crave and will go out of my way to buy because it satisfies a need of mine that needs filling approximately once-a-week. This one is on my short list, for sure.
There is nothing sexy about the vegan thumbprint. It contains not a lick of dark chocolate or fresh creamery butter. Instead, it looks as though it would fit right in with those piece of shit, sugar-free, carob-studded cookies your friend’s mom tried to pawn off on you when you were a kid. But it’s not. I swear to you, this is not that crappy hippie cookie we have all had the misfortune of enduring at one point or another – and despite the absence of refined sugar (it is sweetened only with fruit and maple syrup), it does not leave me wanting.
Here’s what’s in it:
maple syrup, almond meal, oat flour, rolled oats, canola oil, walnuts, barley flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, sea salt, raspberry jam (sans sugar), fruit pectin.
Something else that bears mentioning is that this cookie varies considerably amongst the different Whole Foods stores in Portland. The version found at the store on NE 43rd and Sandy as well as the store W. Burnside (seen on the right in the photo) are approximately 2.5-3 inches in diameter and have a smoother consistency, the nuts and oats having been ground more finely than the one at the NE 15th and Fremont store (on left). The latter is typically 3-3.5 inches and much chunkier than the former – the oats and nuts much more coarse and textured. I’m not really sure which I prefer – at first I was wooed by the superior girth of the bigger one, but there is something to be said for not being left picking out oats and almonds from between my molars afterwards. The flavor in the smaller, less chunky of the two seems more pronounced, probably due to not competing with the chewy texture of the oats.
Another inconsistency with the vegan thumbprint (and this goes for all stores) is that at times they are baked to crispness, and other times they are slightly underdone and soft – which I find to be far more pleasing. I think I irritated a certain WF baker/clerk at the NE 15th store by directing him to the exact cookie on the platter that I wanted – based on its apparent underdone-ness. Hopefully he’s gotten over it. Because it’s just a flippin’ cookie. And by the way, his hair is too god damned long and un-netted to be working in the food service industry, if you want my opinion.
Yes, I realize I’ve given this cookie a lot more thought and attention than what is probably healthy. But what can I say? This ungorgeous stone-like cookie fills up my senses. Come let me love you, little vegan thumprint cookie from Whole Foods. Come love me again.