Monday, May 31, 2010

Country Ma'am "Morning Toast" Cookies

It seems that a lot of new releases of funky flavors of various foods seem to show up at the same time at convenience stores. I'm sure there's some sort of rhyme or reason to the release scheduling, but I often find that there are "fertile" and "fallow" periods in my snack purchases. Sometimes I'll wander the aisles in boredom... well, the aisles are short so it's more like an extremely brief stroll... and at others I'll buy more than I can review in one week. These cookies showed up at 7-11 during what I consider a "fertile" phase for snack purchasing.

I've reviewed a lot of Country Ma'am cookies, and frankly, I had little intention of buying more in the immediate future. It's not that they aren't good cookies. They're actually pretty nice with their crispy outer shell and chewy interior. They are even more impressive if you warm them a bit in the microwave as the center takes on a quasi-brownie-like somewhat gooey interior. The main reason I was going to stay away from them is that they seem to be shrinking in size with every incarnation. These cookies are minuscule at around 3 cm in diameter (1.18 in.). I think these cookies are like a collapsing star. Some day, I'll open the bag and my hand will enter a black hole.

Generally, tiny treats don't bother me, but they're also 50 calories a pop for something which is two tiny bites at a stretch. You could easily gobble up this whole bag of 5 tiny, wastefully individually wrapped cookies and still have room for more. At least real "butter" is an ingredient in these. That's something they have going for them.

That being said, the promise of chocolate chip cookies that taste like buttered toast lured me in. I couldn't say no when I saw the little white bag on the shelf for a measly 105 yen ($1.14). When I opened the first packet, the smell of the cookies didn't encourage me as it was a bit like some sort of funky, day-old bread. My first taste was of a bit of the crispy shell that broke off in the packet. That part also tasted like weird, stale bread.

The buttery part of this cookie is concentrated in the interior, and the flavor is muted when you eat it cold. If you follow the instructions on the packet and warm it in the microwave (20 seconds is recommended for all of the cookies, but I did only one for about 8 seconds), the cookie's "butter" flavor comes alive and the center's texture is very, satisfying. It's not quite like a fresh-baked cookie, but it comes close. It's buttery, sweet, and nicely chocolate-flavored when warm.

I'm rather torn about these cookies. I liked the novel experience of their flavor combination, and unlike some of the other strange Japanese snack taste marriages that I have sampled, these two flavors ("buttered toast" and "chocolate chip cookie") went together decently. On the other hand, I'm not sure that they're worth repeating as they didn't bowl me over. Frankly, I think other Country Ma'am cookies, particularly the plain chocolate chip, are better. The best thing these have going for them is that they are thicker than average cookies from the Country Ma'am line so the gooey filling is more expansive.

If you have a chance to sample these, I recommend picking up a bag, but I also strongly advise warming them up rather than eating them as is. I think that the "toast" part is too strong when cold and the butter part is really brought out when heated. Though I can say they're worth trying, I can also say that one bag with 5 cookies is going to be "enough" for me and I wouldn't buy them again. It's not because I didn't enjoy them, but because they are too small and fattening for repeated consumption and just not significantly better than a classic chocolate chip cookie.

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