Monday, September 7, 2009

Review: Donna Hay chocolate cookies

Packet mixes of cakes and biscuits are not often a feature in my trolley. I prefer home-made treats where possible, mostly for taste reasons but also because I know exactly what's going into the final product and there's no hidden preservatives or chemicals.

But I admit to a twinge of curiosity when Donna Hay recently launched her own brand of cupcake and cookie mixes. I'm a huge Donna fan and have all her cookbooks. I couldn't imagine her putting her name and brand to any product that wasn't of the highest quality.

Last week, when visiting Andrew's Choice in Yarraville, which is so much more than a butcher's shop and stocks a great range of deli items, my son Daniel found a box of Donna Hay chocolate chunk cookie mix, conveniently placed at exactly his eye level. He was entranced by the enticing picture on the front of the box and no doubt thought he could open the box and find the biscuits inside, waiting to be devoured by a hungry toddler.

So, in the interests of research, the cookie mix came home with us and we baked the biscuits. Making biscuits is not a hugely time-consuming exercise at the best of times, but mixing up the biscuits was so fast that the 12-minute cooking time felt like an eternity. We provided 80g of soft butter and a melted egg, and the box provided the cookie mix and a generous bag of dark chocolate buttons.

The raw dough tasted as good as anything else I've made and the final product was delicious - one of the best chocolate chip cookies I've eaten. In fact, it tasted exactly like the Donna Hay chocolate cookies that I make from her cookbooks. Checking the ingredients list, I discovered that the mix contains wheat flour, brown sugar, natural vanilla flavour and raising agents 450 and 500. There are no added artificial colours or preservatives.

The verdict? This product gets a huge thumbs-up. Most people would not be able to pick that the biscuits originate from a box and it certainly does save time in the kitchen. The only slight downside is the price: on the Donna Hay website, they are listed at $14.95 (although currently on special at a more reasonable $8.95). I know choc bits and other baking goods have recently increased in price but $15 seems quite steep for a box of biscuits - I don't think it would cost that much to make a batch from scratch.

But that is a minor quibble - chocolate chip cookies are a treat, rather than an everyday indulgence anyway. As Donna says on the box, these biscuits is "as good as baking from scratch, only foolproof." I'll definitely use this product again.


Heather @ what's blooming this week said...

Hi Melinda - I'm also a huge fan of Donna Hay - she is not as well known here in Canada - but I love her cookbooks. Nice to here that her recipes transported well into a mass produced product. How many cookies did you get from the package?

Melinda said...

Hi Heather - I got about 18 biscuits. You can make them larger or smaller but I basically got the number that was predicted on the packet. If these products become available in Canada, I highly recommend that you try them!

Anonymous said...

hi, I'm glad you did this review. I've been meaning to try her brownie mix, but had always been put off with the cost. If the cookies are as good, maybe the brownie too.. [amanda]

Melinda said...

Hi Amanda - yes, I want to try the brownie and the cupcake mixes as well now. Hopefully they will be just as good!