Madeleine Cookie Tasting Spree

It seems right that after my angel food cake spree, I should move on to something sort of similar: madeleines, pretty much the cakiest cookie I can think of.

I tried five different brands: Starbucks, Donsuemor (sold at Peet’s), Sugar Bowl Bakery, Archer Farms, and Trader Joe’s. With madeleines, there doesn’t seem to be as huge a gap as there was with angel food cake. But one thing I did notice: Sugar Bowl and Archer Farms both have more calories per cookie. Basically they’re two cookies packed into one.

That may be why they also seem thicker to me, breadier. I prefer the slightly lighter madeleines, so my winners are…

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Trader Joe’s and Starbucks, in a tie. I might like the taste of the Starbucks ones slightly better, but they’re also almost twice as expensive as the Trader Joe’s ones. (The Trader Joe’s ones cost a little more per package, but seriously–twice as many cookies.) Note: the Trader Joe’s ones do tend to stick together a bit, and if you want that distinction between crisper edges and softer center, it’s better to go with madeleines that look more browned. The Starbucks ones seem to be more consistent.

It definitely helps that in both these cases, the calories are low enough that I can eat two or three before I stop. Madeleines aren’t exactly a low-calorie food. But at least with my winners, I can snack (a bit) more responsibly.

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Angel Food Cake Tasting Spree

I love food. I can go on an incredible vacation, see beautiful things and have experiences I’ll remember for years, and what will I talk about when I come back?

It was an amazing eclair.

It was an amazing eclair.

That doesn’t mean I have a varied diet, though. Instead, I often go on stints where all I want is one particular food item. (And I’m definitely not a gourmet. Not to say I don’t love high quality food, but sometimes what I really crave is Oreos.) I’ll plan shopping trips because of it, try it in various iterations, and basically eat as much of it as I can get away with for a week or so before moving on to something else.

Most recently, that item was angel food cake.

Before I talk about my favorite angel food cake, a quick word: I have Crohn’s. It’s not something I was planning to bring up on this blog, but it’s tough to explain why I like certain things without touching on the fact that I have some dietary restrictions. My system *hates* fiber, for instance. It isn’t too crazy about dairy, either. It’s given me mixed signals for gluten; I’ve tried going gluten-free, and I’m not convinced that it helped, or helped enough to make the sacrifice worthwhile. Still, some of my beloved baked goods pack an unpleasant punch, which is what made me pick up my first angel food cake sample. I wanted:

  • Emphasis on the “cake” part of the name.
  • Something lighter, that wouldn’t hit my system as hard as a full-on cake or cupcake.

When I found that angel food didn’t seem to bother my stomach unduly, and that it satisfied my craving for… well, cake, the spree was on. I tried five specimens, including mini cakes and a loaf, from 4 supermarkets. Mostly I compared by slight overlap, with the survivor in each round squaring off against the next contender. I’m not going to go down the list in its entirety, though, because I’d much rather focus on the goodness that is my winner.

Angel Food CakeI love pretty much everything about this cake except that it doesn’t come in individual portion sizes, meaning I have to rely on self-discipline to stop me from eating embarrassingly large percentages of it at a time. Also, the pricing is a bit high; at $5.99 for one of these, it’s the most expensive sample in the group.

But it’s moist, smooth, and has a really clean taste; I wasn’t surprised to see that the ingredients looked quite basic compared to a couple of the other labels. Maybe the constituent ingredients just aren’t broken down as comprehensively, but that basic feeling tastes true. *And* it has 0 grams of fiber. Meaning technically two slices of bread have more fiber than this whole cake. Just saying.

My runner up wasn’t as forthcoming about its fiber content, but it was still pretty good.

Angel Food LoafThat’s right. WinCo. And if you can see that price tag–sorry, the photo’s a bit blurry–it’s $1.98 for 11 oz. (No amount of squinting will help you see the weight–it’s printed on the lower part of the label, out of frame.) That’s the same weight as my Whole Foods cake.

The ingredient list on the WinCo version looks more complex; the taste isn’t as basic, and the texture isn’t as smooth. But between these two denser, cakier angel foods, it seems like a matter of personal preference–or perhaps what companion you’re planning to pair the cake with. The Whole Foods one is so good that I like to savor it all by itself, but I can see where the WinCo one would be lovely with ice cream and strawberries. Something about the texture; it puts me in mind of shortcake. And if denser angel food isn’t your preference, I saw rounds and mini cakes at WinCo as well. I suspect those might be lighter than the loaf.

Fortunately or unfortunately, I don’t believe I’ll be testing those any time soon, because I sense that the (current) angel food cake era is coming to an end. I might check in next Wednesday with another food type post. I haven’t decided yet. We’ll see where the week and the grocery store aisles take me.