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Over a number of years, Chocolate Chip has become the favourite Kea Cookies flavour. The cookies crunch and seemingly melt like the snow under our feet on a spring day. The chocolate chips pop out from the cookie like river stones in a fast flowing river heading from the mountains to the sea. A classic taste of New Zealand that can be found in any classic New Zealand setting.
With a family of coeliacs to feed I am constantly on the lookout for products that are healthy and gluten free but we also need to have treats (with sugar claims my six year old). I usually make my own chocolate chip biscuits but there s alway the occasion to buy these to take out for picnics or to friends houses. I find that my friends often have these in their cupboard also to feed my hungry hoard.
I do love with the Kea Cookies that they have such good packaging. I like that the packaging is environmentally friendly and I don't end up with a heap of plastic to dispose of. The cookies are in a plastic bag within a cardboard box that can be recycled. The box protects the cookies really well and they travel exceptionally well with very little crumb or breakage if any. This makes them great for lunch boxes.
The biscuits themselves are very firm and all very small, thick and round. They are made from the usual ingredients but disappointedly have added colour which surely isn't necessary. My tribe actually don't like eating too many of these cookies and I think it is because of the taste which is butterscotch and vanilla but may also be because they are thick. I tend to like these though for cheesecake bases as they are firm so create a good crunchy base for cheesecakes. Because they are firm they are good also for a sherry log which is a bit of a Christmas essential.
Overall these are a great biscuit and fairly good value for money.
Gluten free products are becoming more widely found in New Zealand now that more people are choosing to eat a gluten free diet either through necessity or choice. I personally have no issues with gluten, so I don't generally seek out gluten free products but I do have one friend who is gluten free so it is nice to know there are options that I can choose to cater for her if I ever needed to.
The Kea Cookies boxes seem to be all the same, as I was lucky enough to receive two different flavours to review. The only difference of course is the name of the product. The clear window on the front allows you to see in to the cookies inside. Appearance wise they looked much like a shortbread cookie, and appeared to be quite dry. This tends to be the norm with many gluten free products as the gluten free flours are drier than standard flour.
Tasting one of the cookies (of which there were 14 in the box) the dryness is what stood out the most. But it wasn't completely unpleasant. If you enjoy crunchy shortbread type biscuits you would enjoy these. The chocolate chips didn't provide too much of a chocolate flavour, but it was there very faintly.
Wanting to try these in a different way I decided to whip up a batch of my homemade ice cream and crumble some cookies through. Cookies in cream ice cream is one of the best flavours, and I was interested to see how the cookies would go in the ice cream. I made up the ice cream (which is simply cream and condensed milk whipped up together) and put the mix into a freezer container. I then crumbled up some cookies and mixed them through, crumbling up another couple to leave a layer of cookies on the top. I placed it in the freezer and came back to it later that day to have for pudding. The cookies were a nice addition, but they hadn't gone as soft as I had hoped. They were still reasonably crunchy inside the ice cream. Maybe if I had left them to sit in the cream mixture a bit longer before freezing they may have soaked up a bit more of the cream mixture and got a bit softer. It was still nice any way, and I definitely preferred it to eating the cookies by themselves.
Chocolate chip cookies are an absolute favourite in our family, especially with Miss 4 and her Grandad so I knew i'd have lot's of willing taste testers for these! Although no one in my family suffers from Coeliacs or is gluten free I was pretty sure that these would be tasty and something which could be enjoyed by all, and I also liked the idea of being able to have a yummy tasty treat to have on hand for when I have my friends visiting several of whom are gluten free, reading the packaging I found that these are also wheat, dairy, and egg free, but also vegan making them even better!
I decided to pull these out while Grandad was visiting and straight away I was asked "are those chocolate chip cookies?" when I said that they infact were I had smiling faces all around me everyone was wanting one. The cookies were of a uniform shape and size and looked like they may have been cut with a round cookie cutter, the texture looked to me to be very similar to that of shortbread and they had a very strong smell to them which to me smelt a lot like vanilla, but from reading the ingredients list I found it was infact Butterscotch essence. With 12 cookies in the box there was enough to go around.
Next up was the taste test with nobody having been told that these were infact a gluten free cookie I waited in anticipation for everyone's responses, Miss 4 declared them delicious but commented that she didn't think her biscuit didn't seem to have as much chocolate in it as other peoples did, and Grandad said he loved them and that it was like his 2 favourite cookies in one, chocolate chip and shortbread, everyone else agreed, myself included that they were really very nice. When I announced them gluten free everyone admitted that they would have never known if I hadn't told them and shown them the box up close.
It would have been really easy for us all to have just polished off the entire box of cookies but I decided that I wanted to use these in some Christmas truffles I was making which called for crushed up cookies. SO with 8 of the cookies left that is exactly what I did, popped them into the blender until they resembled a fine crumb, into this I mixed some melted chocolate and cream, followed by some hokey pokey pieces, before dipping them into chocolate and putting them in the fridge to set. The result was delicious, they tasted great however I did find that using these particular cookies did appear to make the truffles a thicker, more denser texture, possibly due to the different type of flour used?
It is great to see such wonderful products such as these cookies coming into the New Zealand market for people with allergies to enjoy, the cost is steep if you were to compare it to that of a normal packet of chocolate chip cookies, but being gluten free it is fully explainable. I love that these are made right here in New Zealand and that buying these means you are supporting NZ made products, I have already recommended them to a friend who's little boy has just had to go on a trial of being gluten free.
I am always on the look out for products that are allergy aware, and I was really excited to see these in our local New World. They tick a lot of boxes for allergy families, being egg, gluten, wheat and dairy free! I read through the ingredients and was a little disappointed to see palm oil as one of the ingredients but I investigated their website and they seem a very ethical company, with a voluntary recall of these biscuits as they found dairy products in testing, and so they chose to recall the biscuits.
There are about fifteen biscuits in a box, and I found you could buy a bucket of this flavour if you wanted a larger quantity on the website. These are easily identifiable as New Zealand made, with a kea logo, and made in New Zealand on the front of the box. The box also has a clear display panel, so you can see the biscuits before you buy, always a plus for me. There was also a discount coupon in the bottom of the box to save .50c on your next purchase, which was a lovely surprise.
The biscuits themselves, were a shortbread type biscuit, there was an underlying flavour that we couldn't quite identify. A read through the packaging helped us, butterscotch essence, as soon as we read it, the flavour was recognisable. Everyone in our house went back for second's, which I find is a true indicator of did everybody like these, and shall I buy more? To be honest though, I wouldn't buy these as a staple for the family, but I would keep them for those who have allergies, at $6.15 a box or .40c a biscuit they are probably a little costly for everyone to enjoy everyday. I will be recommending these to all the families at my preschool who have children with allergies, as they are a great product, and a quick visit to the website informed me there were other flavours available in this allergy free range.
Seeing this product for the first time I was instantly impressed by the quality of the packaging. Bold reds and blacks mixed with natural beige and green colours, it provides a very professional impression. The matte look of the package also provides a great textured feel. It has a window in the front, but instead of having a plastic piece that reduces the recyclability of the whole packet, the cookies have an internal plastic bag that has the double purpose of keeping the product fresh and allowing you to see the product. The packaging has clear labelling on the front, side, and back, all saying the product is free of gluten, wheat, dairy, and egg, making it suitable for vegans, and those with coeliacs and other such dietary restrictions.
The cookies themselves are small, but consistent in size. Rounder than a button mushroom, they are approximately 5cm in diameter, and 1cm thick. Interestingly, for a cookie that doesn't have wheat, eggs, gluten, or dairy, the product is not very crumbly. It has a solid structure to it, at least until you bite into it.
Once you make that initial break into the structure of the product, it changes, and almost dissolves, rather than being a product you have to chew and break down, you can almost mash it with your tongue. The consistency is something that I would liken to a 'Melting Moment'. The product is very sweet, overpoweringly so, to the point that the chocolate becomes a minor part of the flavour, despite there being a reasonable amount of chocolate chips within each cookie. When you open the packet for the first time, the sweetness is obvious to the nose.
Personally, they are enjoyable but too sweet for my taste, with not enough focus on the chocolate flavour. A product I'd happily eat, but only one or two at a time. And as a single male, much of the 12 servings.would go stale before I had a chance to finish them.
Kea Cookies were something I had never seen anywhere, so when opening the box I was excited to try these. Biscuits are something we go through a lot at our house so always looking for new ones. Thought the packaging was super cute, easy to understand, and would stand out when recommending to friends and family to find in a shop.
I wasn't disappointed with these either. These tasted so good. didn't crumb too much, held their shape, and were a perfect biscuit to have with coffee. I did, however, offer to our kids. All four kids love them said they tasted like biscuits from a bakery in our hometown. So that I think is good. Happy they liked them and didn't waste the one I gave them. We loved the number of chocolate chips in them, its one thing the kids said about them, that there was the right amount, not too many and not too few. Next lot of reviewers right there.
Will highly be recommending these cookies to friends to try. It does say at selected retail outlets nationwide so hope I can find them in our town so that I can point people in right direction. So I can also find another flavour of these to try too. can't just have the tried and true chocolate chip biscuit have to try all.
After spending the afternoon at the beach/river we came home rather peckish. As dinner is still another hour away we needed something quick to eat and this box was perfect. After sitting down and seeing the biscuits peaking through the cellophane at me I could not resist, picking it up I had two girls saying 'yes please' and like that the box was open. I had a quick read of the box and I do love the description at the back saying 'the chocolate chips pop out from the cookie like river stones in a fast flowing river heading from the mountains to the sea' - which was so funny as had just been in that exact scenario.
I was surprised by the flavour as in my experiences most Vegan/Dairy Free/Gluten Free biscuits have been rather tasteless and I found I really enjoyed these. The size of the biscuit was perfect and it felt rather solid. Both girls and the husband were back ready for another one. You find you don't feel guilty eating them as they are relatively good for you and they are very easy to eat. They taste more like shortbread and I found the chocolate was not over powering at all. My husband found his second biscuit to be rather dry and said it had the texture of pumice where as I enjoyed them and found them divine.
Both girls said can we get again and I personally do not have a problem with that - well that is until I saw the price. I know you pay more for Gluten Free but I still reckon these are rather expensive. With four of us they did not last very long and I could not imagine a second box would either but the price does not justify the quantity of the product. It is a pity as I did enjoy them.
Miss Five really likes chocolate so she was delighted when I told her she could not only try the first biscuit in the packet, but could also put the rest on a plate and pose for a photo with them. She is a generous little girl and likes to offer things around so this was her job for the day - to ensure everyone present got at least one and gave her (and me!) their feedback.
My cousin was quite enthusiastic about them. She said that chocolate chip biscuits vary a lot in quality. Often they are too chocolatey and can be sticky and likely to melt on a hot day. These cookies held their shape well, and she thought the chocolate was well integrated with the other ingredients so that it did not separate out when she bit into them. The other thing she commented on was the buttery flavour which is the sign of a good home made shortbread. Even though these cookies are not actually marketed as a shortbread, they do share some characteristics despite being crisper.
Miss Five, of course, thought they were wonderful. The chocolate pieces were not as sweet as those she is used to and I thought that might put her off, but she seemed to be quite happy with the stronger chocolate taste and carefully picked a piece out of her biscuit so she could taste it on its own and prove a point. Her brother was not quite so keen; he said they were ok but not his favourite because he thought the chocolate had an unusual aftertaste. There again, he is known to be quite picky with his food.
The adults all enjoyed them. As with other biscuits in the range, we found it hard to believe that this was a gluten free product. They tasted exactly like "normal" biscuits apart from being marginally crisper: my daughter thought they would go really well with coffee as the result would be a mocha blend - a flavour she is very keen on. Despite the price, she said she would buy them as a treat or to keep in the cupboard for visitors who are gluten-intolerant as it is often difficult to cater for people with specific dietary requirements.
We gave the product two ticks, one for being a local product as it is good to support NZ producers, and one for the 100% recyclable packaging. Both of these would encourage us to choose them over another brand. And as far as the texture is concerned, I inadvertently did a little experiment which proves how well the biscuits stay in one piece. I accidentally dropped the last biscuit into the sink when I was clearing the plates away and it fell straight into a mixture of hot water and dishwash liquid! Instead of discarding it, I scooped it straight out, rinsed it well and then put it in the sun to dry. (I have to add that we had not at that time put any dishes into the sink so apart from the detergent the water was pretty clean!)
After a few hours, the biscuit had completely dried out and had held its shape perfectly. It looked just like a biscuit fresh from the packet. I could not resist it - I ate it just to see if I could tell the difference. And I couldn't. It had survived its brief dunking with chocolate pieces intact, texture retained, and original taste preserved. This bodes well for future coffee dunking as I know now it won't disintegrate into the contents of the cup!
I have always loved choc-chip anything, from ice-cream to biscuits. Not having to worry about any food allergies, the fact these were free from almost every known allergen wasn't a factor for me other than out of sheer curiosity. With the food industry investing a lot of time and money into making allergy-friendly food that doesn't taste like paper-mache, and having been fortunate enough to find many GF version of favourite foods that are as good as, if not better than, the regular versions... I was very keen to test these.
I have to say... I was a little disappointed. Perhaps it's the sugarholic in me, or perhaps it was the unusual combination of ingredients that allow cookies to happen without any of the regular binding agents such as milk and eggs, but these didn't really impress me. They were nice, and good enough to dunk in a hot chocolate drink, but to eat them on their own wasn't an exciting or pleasant experience for me. My expectations didn't match the results.
Wanting to give them a second chance, I offered one to my youngest son. He is a fussy eater at times - like his Dad he knows what he likes and isn't afraid to say when something falls short - so I was surprised when he said he liked them. He didn't *love* them, but he was far more willing to eat them than I was. he too has no concern about food allergens, so I was glad that he found them appealing and interesting enough to finish the box off for me. I hate wasting food.
Overall, not really my thing, and a lot more pricey than the non-allergy-friendly versions, but given that they are part of a growing range of foodstuff catering to an expanding demographic, I think the price is fair for what they are. The R&D that went into making these work at all impresses me no end. If you do have food allergy concerns, and enjoy a biscuit or two, or want to get something for guests or to take as a 'plate' to an event that may have food allergy policies, these could be your thing. That said, personally, I would suggest you explore more of the range - there are a lot of other flavours and some that I have personally tried are simply astounding!
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