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Top Pick Of The Week

November 6, 2007

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Pecan Chocolate Chip
Pecan Chocolate Chip cookie is the perennial best seller, but each flavor deserves to be tasted.

WHAT IT IS: Very buttery fresh-baked cookies in a dozen flavors, including seasonal specialties (Peach in the summer, Ginger Bread and White Chocolate Cranberry in the fall).
WHY IT’S DIFFERENT: Great home-baked flavor made with professional skill and terrific artisan butter. There are all the favorite flavors, and the ability to mix four in a tin.
WHY WE LOVE IT: So fresh, so fragrant, so tasty, so comforting. They’re our surrogate mom. (Sorry, Mom, but we’re happy to keep you baking your regular repertoire.) They stay fresh in the tin for a long time, too.
WHERE TO BUY IT: CharlestonCookie.com.
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Charleston Cookie Company:
Will Dance For Cookies

When we see all of the less-than-impressive cookie gifts for which people have spent good money, we feel sad that they don’t know the Charleston Cookie Company. We feel even worse for the recipients, who could be investing their calories in much better cookies. We are eating our fifth or sixth box now, and we’re not sharing.

Soft, plump and made of the finest ingredients, the Charleston Cookie Company sells gift tins of cookies in 11 flavors, four available sugar-free. The style is a cross between a fine professional baker and a great cookie-making mom—the type who doesn’t share her recipes and that’s O.K., because no one else could make them turn out so well. There’s craft and technique, but also love and succor. If Norman Rockwell were painting a bakery, he could prop with these cookies.

While the cookies make great gifts for friends, hostesses, corporate clients and anyone in need of love by cookie, remember that you deserve them, too. Just don’t order the small size—they’re coming from Charleston, and should enjoy a long visit. Read more in the full review below.

  • Read reviews of more of our favorite gourmet cookies in THE NIBBLE online magazine.
  • See the Table of Contents of the November issue of THE NIBBLE, plus the prior issues archive and our most popular articles.
  • All of the Top Pick Of The Week newsletters are permanently archived on TheNibble.com, in chronological order and by product category.
THE NIBBLE does not sell the foods we review
or receive fees from manufacturers for recommending them.

Our recommendations are based purely on our opinion, after tasting thousands of products each year, that they represent the best in their respective categories.

 

Bake Your Own

All American Cookie Book Big Fat Cookies Great Cookies
The All-American Cookie Book, by Nancy Baggett. Every American cookie you can think of is here—more than 150 of them—from luscious Black Bottom Mini Brownie Cups and chewy Chocolate Thumbprint Crackles to Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies and crisp, spicy Old-Fashioned Gingerbread Cookies. A must for the cookbook collection. Click here to purchase.
Big Fat Cookies, by Elinor Klivans. More fun than baking cookies is making big fat cookies. Anyone can whip up a quick batch of 50 different gigantic crispy, chewy or fancy-pants sandwich cookies. All recipes are wonderfully clear and appropriate for bakers of all skill levels. But, you’ll want to make every single one of them. Click here to purchase.
Great Cookies: Secrets to Sensational Sweets, by Carole Walter. With more than 200 delectable recipes and more than 150 tantalizing photographs, and tips covering every baking method, including foolproof techniques to ensure that your cookies look as good as the eat-me-off-the-page examples in the book. Click here to purchase.

 

Charleston Cookie Company: Will Dance For Cookies

INDEX OF REVIEW

MORE TO DISCOVER

In terms of cuisine, Charleston, South Carolina is known for lowcountry specialties. There’s pimento cheese, a blend of extra sharp cheese, pimentos and mayonnaise that you might (or not) put on benne wafers, small, round crackers made from sesame seeds (benne) that have both salty and sweet seasonings. As a first course, there’s she-crab soup, a creamy bisque made from blue crabs. Your main dish might be shrimp and grits—a bed of creamy, delicious, stone-ground grits topped with shrimp and bacon or tasso ham (or these days, prosciutto). Perhaps you’d like that with a side of boiled peanuts: Like peas and beans, peanuts are legumes (see our Beans & Grains Glossary). Or, have some Hoppin’ John, black eyed peas and rice. Drink iced tea. For dessert, don’t miss the pecan pie. And be sure to have a praline, a sweet fantasy of brown sugar and pecans. Did anyone mention cookies?

No...but there’s a Charleston tradition of the surcee—you are so informed by a card that arrives with your cookies from the Charleston Cookie Company. A surcee is an unexpected gift, given without an occasion.

Charleston House
A Charleston neighborhood house. Photo by David Oakes | SXC.

No one quite knows the origin—it may derive from a Scottish word, sussy, meaning to care (many Scots settled in the Carolinas during the 18th century). But wherever the provenance, a surcee, in the form of a tin of Charleston Cookie Company’s cookies would bring sunshine to almost anyone’s day. (We say almost because we recognize that there are people—dieters, the sugar-restricted, and others—who don’t want a surcee of cookies.) For the rest of the world, surcee away. With the disappearance of fine neighborhood bakeries and great home bakers, where does one turn, these days, for a truly wonderful, home-baked cookie?

Charleston Cookie Company Varieties

The cookies are about 2-1/2" in diameter—just the right size. They are round and beautiful—in a beauty pageant of cookies, they would be in the finals. Thick, firm and heavy in the hand, they are a substantial cookie; but they melt in your mouth—soft, chewy, seductive. One not-so-secret secret are the farm-fresh* eggs from Mepkin Abbey, a local Trappist monastery. You can taste the quality, as the saying goes (or at least, as our saying goes). Although the ingredients are rich—butter, chocolate, dried fruit—the style is light goodness.

*Whenever you can, buy fresh eggs from a farmers market or other resource. You’ll see that they make all the difference in the world, whether in baking or just making a lighter, fluffier omelet.

There are currently 11 flavors: Absolutely Almond, Double Fudge Chip, Hazelnut Chocolate Chip, Oatmeal Chocolate Chip, Marble Fudge, Oatmeal Golden Raisin, Peanut Butter, Pecan Chocolate Chip, and White Chocolate Pistachio, augmented by seasonal flavors—currently Ginger Bread and White Chocolate Cranberry. You can get four different flavors in a tin of 12, or three different flavors in a bag of six.

Cookies, Please

  • Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookie. If your friend wouldn’t give you this recipe, you’d steal it—and no court, lay or spiritual, would convict you. It’s a different style of chocolate chip cookie, very heavy on the pecans, which balance the sweetness of the chocolate (photo at the top of the page). They burst with pecan halves and chocolate chips, buttery undertones, tranquility and happiness. They’re so good, you can be satisfied with one...for now. We’re giving the Pecan Chocolate Chip cookies as gifts to our pecan-loving friends.

Double Fudge Chip Cookies

Double Chocolate: a really satisfying chocolate cookie.

  • Double Chocolate Cookie. Made with bittersweet French cocoa and dark chocolate chips, these deep chocolate cookies satisfy. We don’t see chocolate cookies as often as  chocolate chip, oatmeal, peanut butter and butter/sugar cookies, and muse that more people would bake chocolate cookies if they had this recipe. Then we acknowledge that the recipe is just the half of it. What these cookies show off is the breed of their top-quality cocoa and chocolate. Chocolate connoisseurs talk about the finish, or aftertaste, of a quality chocolate bar. Here, you’ll taste it in a cookie.

Seasonal Cookies

Special flavors like these are a more memorable gift; and the ability to mix flavors in a tin means that you can add some traditional favorites, too.

  • Cranberry White Chocolate. We love the contrast of tart red cranberries and sweet white chocolate.
  • Peaches ‘n Cream. We really enjoyed this flavor, packed with chewy peaches and almond slivers. We’ve never had a cookie quite like it. Though you have to wait for the summer months, to enjoy it alone or with a side of peach ice cream makes the wait worthwhile.

The only thing we miss here is a “cookie of the month club,” although the obliging folks at Charleston Cookie Company will be happy to send a tin each month to anyone you designate. Each gift tag can include a motivational quote, from the collection on the website.

Cranberry
Cranberry White Chocolate for winter; Pistachio White Chocolate is available year-round.
Peach Cookies
Peaches ‘n Cream is a summer flavor, worth waiting for.


Peanut Butter Cookie Recipe

Charleston Cookie Company sells their Peanut Butter cookie only in the winter months (when the cookies are shipped, the warm-weather heat is not kind to the oil in the PB). Here’s their recipe so you can enjoy it year-round.

Ingredients

Have all ingredients at room temperature.

  • 1 cup butter
  • 2/3 cup chunky peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup 10-X sugar (confectioner’s sugar), sifted after measuring if it’s lumpy
  • 1 cup brown sugar, tightly packed
  • 1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 10 peanut butter cups, chunked to about
    half size
Cookie Dough
Peanut butter cookie dough.

Directions

  1. Mix together dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt) until thoroughly blended. Beat butter, peanut butter, 10-X sugar and brown sugar on medium speed until well blended.
  2. Beat egg, egg yolk and vanilla until well mixed. Add to peanut butter mixture. By hand, stir the flour mixture into the peanut butter mixture until well blended and smooth. Add the chips and peanut butter cup chunks, mixing carefully by hand. Let the dough stand for 5 minutes to firm slightly.
  3. Scoop 1" pieces of dough and roll by hand into balls. The dough will be fairly soft. Place the balls on a greased baking sheet about 2" apart. Press the balls in the center with the tines of a fork to flatten them slightly.
  4. Bake 9-12 minutes at 350°F until slightly brown at the edges. Transfer to racks and cool.

 

If you’re headed to Charleston, make a point to visit the bakery in person. While we can’t imagine the cookies tasting any better than they arrive, you might need to test a few to be sure.

—Karen Hochman

FORWARD THIS NIBBLE to anyone who likes cookies...or who wants to send those folks some cookies.

CHARLESTON COOKIE COMPANY
FLAVORS (Change Seasonally): Absolutely Almond, Double Fudge Chip, Lemon Poppy Seed, Marble Fudge, Oatmeal Chocolate Chip, Oatmeal Golden Raisin, Peaches ‘n Cream, Peanut Butter, Orange Cranberry, White Chocolate Lime, White Chocolate Pistachio
SUGAR FREE: Almond Peach, Chocolate Chip, Pecan Chocolate Chip, Oatmeal Golden Pecan

  • Bag (1/2 dozen)
    $8.95 Regular
    $9.95 Sugar Free
  • Tin (1 Dozen)
    $19.95 Regular
    $22.95 Sugar Free
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Cookie Basket
A tin of assorted flavors.

Purchase online at CharlestonCookie.com

Price and flavor availability are verified at publication but are subject to change. Shipping is additional.

 

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