A lot of lemon dazzles your taste buds with Pamela’s Products Lemon Shortbread Cookies

Pamela's Products Lemon Shortbread Cookies
Pamela’s Products Lemon Shortbread Cookies

Product: Pamela’s Products Lemon Shortbread Cookies – $4.39+

Ah, Pamela’s Products.

One of my go-to brands when it comes to gluten-free…anything.  They do baking mixes and flours and snacks and…yes…cookies.  And I have loved and raved and just gone on about them in the past.  I mean…the peanut butter cookies, the pancake and baking mix, all the other cookies that have made it into my pantry because I just can’t get out of Cookie Monster mode…yeah…they’ve all been over-the-top WOW and YUM!

And when it comes to gluten-free products, that really, really is important.

Trust me, when I was out grocery shopping and decided that my pantry needed even more cookies, the decision was kind of sealed.  I saw two key words: Lemon Shortbread.

Yeah…I have this weakness for lemony things.  I. LOVE. LEMON.

I also have this amazing love of shortbread.  It reminds me of when I was in Scotland with my friend, Donna, and we each bought these huge tins of Scottish shortbread cookies.  They were so crumbly and buttery and just crisp and…

…sorry, I was starting to drool.

Of course, all of that was before I was told I needed to go gluten-free.  So, when I spotted a box of Pamela’s Products Lemon Shortbread Cookies…they won me over right away.  Into my shopping basket they went and I was one happy lemon-loving cookie-nomming girl.  And then, I had to get through other delicious gluten-free treats before I could open up this box.

But that changed tonight, my friends.

After eating another round of leftovers for dinner, I was ready for my treat.  No meal is complete without dessert to cleanse the palate.  So, off the top shelf of the pantry came Pamela’s Products Lemon Shortbread Cookies.  My roomie and I had been anticipating these because she’s as much of a lemon freak as I am.  So, after we did up our dinner dishes, I opened up the box and pulled out two cookies.  They definitely smelled lemony.  I carried one out to my roommate and I settled in with the other one.

She took a bite first and explained, “Wow…those are really lemony.”

She wasn’t kidding.  I took a bite and…the lemon flavor just hits your taste buds and stays there.  It is really a lot of lemon.  That is not necessarily a bad thing.  So often, packaged lemon cookies leave you wanting for the lemon flavor.  Well, not these.  Not these in the slightest.  The lemon flavor is throughout and little crystals of it seem to melt away on your tongue with each bite.

I’m okay with the strong lemon flavor.  However, I don’t feel that these should be called a shortbread cookie.  While these are made with butter, they lack that crumbly, buttery texture that I associate with shortbread.  These are very soft cookies.  I think shortbread should always have that crunch when you first bite and then melt away as you chew.  That’s what shortbread is to me.  Calling these Soft Lemon Cookies might be a better way to describe them.  They are luscious, chewy, and really packed with flavor.

Pamela’s Products Lemon Shortbread Cookies are gluten-free and wheat-free.  The company was founded in 1988.  The founder herself, Pamela, develops every product recipe and personally chooses, tests and approves every ingredient.  The company only uses high quality sugar, minimally processed grains, non-rBGH butter, and so on.  The company does not use any artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.  There is no high fructose corn syrup in any of their products (YAY!).  Basically, Pamela’s Products prides itself on good ingredients because they want to make a high quality and good product.

And that practice worked back when the company was founded…and still works today.

Now, the Lemon Shortbread Cookies are 120 calories for 1 cookie and 6 grams of fat.  That’s not too bad for a cookie, to be honest.  Even more impressive is that these cookies only have 5g of sugar.  Yep.  How’s that for cookie goodness?  Lots of flavor…an entire cookie…and only 5 grams of sugar.  It’s not a dream, friends…this is the reality of Pamela’s Products.

I would have to say…if you are big on lemon flavor, then these cookies are for you.  If you are more of a shortbread lover…I recommend one of her other shortbread varieties.  The texture and taste is not right for the shortbread label…but lemon…yeah…it has lemon.  Lots and lots of lemon.  So, if soft lemon cookies are your bag, then go to the store now and grab these cookies.  They are a fantastic fresh treat.

Annie May’s Sweet Café bakes up love in each allergen-free chocolate chip cookie

Annie May's Sweet Café Allergen Free Chocolate Chip Cookie
Annie May’s Sweet Café Allergen Free Chocolate Chip Cookie

Product: Annie May’s Sweet Café Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie – $2.50

It was Small Business Saturday and I made it known…I wanted to go to one of my favorite small businesses in the area.  Annie May’s Sweet Café in Louisville, Kentucky.  And I wanted to have breakfast there.  A gluten-free waffle.  Perhaps with a gluten-free donut.  Maybe I’d get the gluten-free apple cider donut with the glaze this time.  I just wanted to support a business that has literally changed my life in this area for the better.

My love affair with Annie May’s began with a simple birthday cake.  Because of Annie May’s, I didn’t have to bake my own cake or birthday confection this year.  It was done for me.  And the result was nothing short of spectacular.  I was enamored with them…and so…the love affair continued.

I have returned to Annie May’s as often as possible when I am in the area.  I have gone there for breakfast, for sweet snacks and treats, for take and bake cinnamon rolls.  If I am in town, I want to stop by for something.  And given that this past Saturday was Small Business Saturday, I made a point to go to as many small businesses as possible…and my first stop was Annie May’s for my usual waffle breakfast.

Annie May’s Sweet Café has the best gluten-free waffles.  Seriously.  I always get the regular ones, served with maple syrup and Earth Balance.  I did decide on the Maple Glazed Apple Cider Donut as well…and devoured that as soon as I hit the table.  I had not eaten anything since I had woken up bright and early that morning…so, needless to say…I was ready to eat.

And then…sad news was given.  They were having some trouble with their waffle batter.  It wasn’t working out.  So…they were going to make a fresh batch.  It would take a little while…and did we mind the wait.  I never mind waiting for food.  But, soon after we were asked if we would mind having pancakes instead of waffles.  No skin off my nose.  I keep thinking of trying the pancakes and always returning to the waffles.  I’m a waffle addict apparently.  They apologized numerous times and said that for our wait and our patience we could get a free cookie before leaving.  I don’t mind the wait.  I had an amuse bouche of donut, after all…

In the end, however, the waffles were able to be made and were delivered to our table looking all golden and delicious and ready to be consumed.  And they died a very messy death right there in the café.  Cathy went to clear the table and I was putting on my jacket when the nice woman behind the counter called me over to get my cookie.  I was going to leave without it…because I wasn’t upset with them, nor did I mind the wait.  But, she insisted.  So, she asked me to come over and choose between the cookies or the cupcakes or the brownies on the counter.  I had their brownie before (to DIE FOR!) and I wasn’t feeling cupcakes…so I stuck with the allergen-free (yes…it’s even vegan!) Chocolate Chip Cookie.  After all…I do love my cookies!

She packed up two of them for me and asked what Cathy was interested in.  I waved her off and said the cookies she gave me in the bag were plenty for us and thanked her.

After a busy day of small business shopping, Cathy and I returned home and I went for my 10K run for training.  Soon after, I was preparing dinner (leftovers!), which we settled in to eat.  And then…dessert.  With a bag on the counter with two of Annie May’s Sweet Café Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies…I knew exactly what dessert was going to be.

I carefully opened the small white paper bag and pulled out the paper-wrapped cookies.  They smelled amazing.  I handed one to Cathy and I took the other one.  As I settled in for my sweet treat to cleanse my palate, I took my first bite.

Homemade cookies are the best around.  And these, completely vegan and allergen-free, have to be some of the best I have ever tasted.  Most of the time, unless I make them myself, my gluten-free cookies are store-bought packaged brands.  Not these.  These are fresh from the oven at Annie May’s and the time and dedication to their products really shows.  The cookie was light and buttery.  The flavor was fantastic.  They were soft, chewy, yet with that golden crust that gave it a bit of texture.  And the mini chocolate chips were awesome.  Just the right hit of sweetness in each bite.  Not one bit of the cookie lacked in chocolate chips.  They were like my mom used to make.  And I do love a chewy chocolate chip cookie.  These delivered everything I love in a cookie and that…made me one happy girl.

While my visit to Annie May’s Sweet Café on Saturday didn’t initially involve trying their Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies…now that I have, I think I’ll be purchasing more in my future.  Honestly…the best gluten-free chocolate chip cookie I have had…to date…anywhere!  And we all know how much of a cookie monster I am.  So, that is truly saying something.

I really am fortunate to have a small business that caters to people with food allergies in my area.  The day I discovered Annie May’s Sweet Café my life changed…and it was all for the better.  My life is whole lot more delicious these days too.

Small Business Saturday…I hope you were kind to this fantastic little café on Frankfort Avenue in Louisville, Kentucky…because this café is always good to me.

Columbus Ohio’s Pistacia Vera bakes up light, sweet, gluten-free macarons and more

Pistacia Vera, Columbus, Ohio
Pistacia Vera, Columbus, Ohio

Restaurant: Pistacia Vera, Columbus, Oh

Mmmmm…macarons!

Actually, until this journey to Columbus, Ohio, I had never even had a macaron.  I have heard of them, looked at them online, even thought about making them myself.  What is a macaron?  Is it really a macaroon?  Nope.  There actually is a difference.

A macaroon is an American version for a flourless egg-white based cookie.  Most often it is made with coconut.

A macaron, however, is a French cookie made with almond and egg whites that are sandwiched around a cream-based filling.  They are often found in a rainbow of colors and a variety of flavors.

I don’t know how Jenn and I stumbled across the Web site for Pistacia Vera on Saturday morning…but we did.  And we noticed they had a gluten-free menu.  On it were a plethora of baked items…including every macaron that they made.  Yes…macarons are gluten-free because they are made with almond flour.  Gotta love that.  So, after stopping by the race expo for the Hot Chocolate 15K, we hit up a market, and on our way to get ice cream, we swung by Pistacia Vera to get some macarons to take with us.

Pistacia Vera is a sleek looking dessert boutique located on South Third Street in German Village in Columbus, Ohio.  They are a from-scratch pastisserie which boasts a menu of over 60 seasonal pastries and confection.  All made by-hand and with great care.  They specialize in classic European technique, making it a truly special stop while in Columbus.  Their Web site boast that their coffee and espresso are considered to be the best in town.  If it’s made like it is in Europe…or even France for that matter…I bet they’re right.

I didn’t get coffee when I was in there that morning, however.  I was there on a mission.  A mission…for macarons.

Jenn picked four she wanted to choose and Cathy and I decided to split the difference and each choose two to sample.  We were actually quite interested in the same flavors, but I let her take them and went for a couple of other delicious sounding ones.

Pistacia Vera's Buckeye Macaron, Maple Walnut Macaron, Peppermint Chocolate Macaron, and Mocha Hazelnut Macaron
Pistacia Vera’s Buckeye Macaron, Maple Walnut Macaron, Peppermint Chocolate Macaron, and Mocha Hazelnut Macaron

In the end, Cathy got the Peppermint Chocolate Macaron ($1.25) and the Buckeye Macaron ($1.25).  Since those two were taken by my roomie, I opted to give the Maple Walnut Macaron ($1.25) a try and the Mocha Hazelnut Macaron ($1.25) a try.  They both definitely sounded delicious.  Actually, the entire display case of macarons sounded awesome, but I figured as I had never had a macaron before, I would start small and I could always come back for more.  As we were checking out, I spotted the gluten-free caramels near the register.  Specifically the Cashew Caramel with Fleur de Sel ($1.50).  We got one single piece of that and were on our way.  With much to do that day, like going out of town, the cookies and caramel got left behind at Jenn’s house.

But Sunday after my 15K race…we all split the Cashew Caramel with Fleur de Sel (I forgot to take a picture of it!).  It was delicious.  Very light.  Not too chewy, but just enough.  It wasn’t going to get lodged in your teeth.  This was caramel done right and done well.  It had a delicious flavor to it.  I love cashew, so it was the ideal one and probably why it caught my eye.  Even though she groused about having to eat a caramel, my roommate seemed to like it well enough.  It just took her forever to eat it because she was just in a grumpy mood and thought it would get stuck in her teeth.  She has a thing or two to learn about good caramel.  Hopefully this helped.

The macarons, however, made the journey back to Louisville with us.  And last night, I decided that they would be perfect to have for dessert.  After polishing off dinner and doing up the dishes, I pulled out the macarons and dished out each of our chosen ones.  Cathy got the green minty one and the deep brown chocolate/peanut butter one.  And I got the two lighter colored ones.  I was looking forward to trying these out for the first time.

Cathy had already taken a bite of each of hers by the time I made it back out to the living room.  She declared that they were both really good, but that she really liked the Buckeye one.  Being that it was chocolate and peanut butter, I now kicked myself for not getting it.  But, alas…there will be other options.

I settled in and decided to give the Maple Walnut Macaron a try first.  It was the lighter one of mine.  One bite and I was hooked.  The light, chewy outer layer was fantastic and very delicious.  I loved how these treats weren’t heavy at all, despite being sandwiched around a layer of cream filling, usually a buttercream or a ganache.  It was love at first bite.  So, I moved onto the Mocha Hazelnut one…and yeah…that was like taking a bite out of a fresh coffee.  Honestly.  The flavors are amazing and just simple.  I loved the softness of the cookie and the richness of the cream inside.  I could have probably eaten more of these and not felt full at all.  They are that light and airy.  And yeah…I’m now a fan of macarons.  Go figure.

Maybe I will give making them a try sometime.

Until then, I am thankful for places like Pistacia Vera in Columbus, Ohio…for having a gluten-free selection that is awesome and extensive…and so very good.  Yeah…I’ll definitely be visiting this place again.  They have way more flavors of macarons for me to try.  And maybe I will get some coffee next time…just to see if it really is the best in town.

Pistacia Vera's Maple Walnut Macaron and Mocha Hazelnut Macaron
Pistacia Vera’s Maple Walnut Macaron and Mocha Hazelnut Macaron

Schär doesn’t come up short with Shortbread Cookies

Schär Shortbread Cookies
Schär Shortbread Cookies

Product: Schär Shortbread Cookies – $4.99+

Yes.  The Cookie Monster is back and in full swing.  This shouldn’t come as a surprise at all.  After all…we all know that I love my cookies.

And it just so happens that one of my go-to gluten-free companies makes some killer gluten-free cookies.  But I didn’t know this until yesterday.

The cookies were actually a giveaway at the Gluten-Free Expo I attended back in Birmingham, Alabama.  They have been in my pantry just anticipating the day I would get to them.  Finally, after much pantry sifting and working through products that expired first…the evening arrived last night.  And Schär Gluten-Free Shortbread Cookies were my dessert.

These cookies are little golden biscuits of shortbread.  But these aren’t typical shortbread.  Schär makes gluten-free products, so these shortbread cookies contain no ingredients that have wheat, lactose, or gluten in them.  These are made with corn flour, giving them a sweeter taste to them.  But it doesn’t stop there, these are also sweetened more with a kiss of honey and sugar.

The result?  A delicious golden biscuit that has a slight crunch when you bite into it, but keeps that buttery-rich texture as you chew.  They aren’t your typical shortbread cookies, but…trust me…these are amazing and delicious.  I could see how they would be fantastic crushed up to use as a crust or as a topping for an apple crisp or the like.  They are that smooth, buttery, golden flavor that you remember shortbread as tasting, but these cookies aren’t rock hard and they are just as good on their own…or dipped in melted chocolate.  And my favorite part is the lingering taste of vanilla after each bite.

Of note here…while these do have that buttery texture to them, these cookies contain no butter at all.  Now that’s a true test for a shortbread cookie, yes?  I love the crispiness and richness in each bite.  And one serving is 4 cookies.  FOUR COOKIES!!  YES!  And that will only set you back 130 calories.  A serving of these cookies has only 5 grams of fat and, get this, only 5 grams of sugar.  That’s amazing for a cookie.  But with shortbread, you want the sweetness to come from the honey and vanilla…and that’s what you get here.

If you are gluten-free and looking for a different sort of cookie than the run-of-the-mill sugar cookies, chocolate chip cookies, snickerdoodles, and such that are offered in the grocery stores…seek out Schär Shortbread Cookies.  Take a bite out of golden sunshine.

Schär…once again you have impressed me.  You definitely live up to your golden reputation for delicious gluten-free foods.

Pamela’s Products Chunky Chocolate Chip Cookies a soft, sinful, sweet treat

Pamela's Products Chunky Chocolate Chip Cookies
Pamela’s Products Chunky Chocolate Chip Cookies

Product: Pamela’s Products Chunky Chocolate Chip Cookies – $4.39+

Gluten-free cookie makers…make note.  If you are going to make a cookie that everyone, not just the gluten-intolerant and Celiacs among us want to eat…you need to make something that is full of flavor, delicious, and doesn’t taste like a box.  While gluten-free goodies have come a long way since…before I even had to eat gluten-free…I used to try gluten-free items from Whole Foods every now and again and…yuck.  Now that I have to eat this way, I am so thankful for companies like Pamela’s Products.

Pamela’s Products has wowed me once again.  I don’t know what the secret to making everything so amazing and delicious, but I can promise you, even those who are not following a gluten-free diet would be astounded by the flavor and texture of the cookies.  These are definitely not the first cookies I have reviewed from Pamela’s Products (I have previously done the Peanut Butter Cookies and the Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chunk Cookies…as well as the Simplebites Extreme Chocolate Minis…and I have eaten (but didn’t blog about since I was on vacation and forgot to take pictures) the Shortbread Swirl Cookies).  What this proves is that once again, something as simple as a cookie can make a big impression.

Tonight’s dessert was Pamela’s Products Chunky Chocolate Chip Cookies.  These won me over at chunky and chocolate.  I was so thrilled to open up the box tonight and pull out one for myself and one for my roommate.  Dessert as easy as opening a box…yeah…that’s nice to have every now and again.

One bite was all it took.  These cookies are super soft.  For being processed and boxed…I was thinking they would have the texture of a shortbread…but I was wrong.  When I say soft, I mean soft.  That’s how I like my cookies because they remind me of being fresh out of the oven.  The cookies themselves are not overly sweet.  The flavor isn’t rich and buttery, but the crumbly texture almost gives that illusion.  Actually, while looking at the ingredients, the surprise addition has to be the grape juice.  I never would have pegged that.  But I love how natural sweeteners are used.  While the cookie itself is all good, the star of these baked treats is certainly the chocolate chips.  Huge chunks are scattered throughout the cookies so that each bite is a chocolate burst of flavor.  So delicious.  For the chocoholic in us all…this is the best part of these soft, chewy cookies.  They remind me of what Chips Ahoy soft-baked cookies were like…except much better (in regards to flavor and nutrition…for a cookie).

Pamela’s Products Chunky Chocolate Chip Cookies are Dairy-Free, Wheat-Free, and Gluten-Free.  The serving size is one cookie (they are about 1.5 inches round), which sets you back 120 calories and 6 grams of fat.  These contain no high fructose corn syrup (Chips Ahoy do) and no artificial colors or flavors.  Less sugar too!

So, if you are like me and enjoy a delicious, soft, yummy cookie (like I said in previous posts…I am a Cookie Monster!)…look for Pamela’s Products.  These products have never let me down and I don’t foresee that happening any time soon.  And I have quite a stash going in my pantry for upcoming reviews.  But so far…Pamela’s Products is the name I trust when it comes to cookies, baking, and more.

It’s my own little gluten-free love affair…with one of the best providers of gluten-free foods on the market.

Really!  Can you blame me?