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Do you ever go shopping for ingredients and wonder if there really is a difference between the brand name and store brand ingredients? Part of me thinks that the store brand sugar and brand name sugar are probably grown within a mile of each other, and processed at the same plant. But part of me thinks that the brand name must be better… surely I’m paying for more than a fancy logo and an ad campaign, right?
That’s why I was super excited when I was contacted to be part of the Smart & Final taste testing project. I bought identical ingredients, and baked cookies with them. That’s right – I baked up two batches of my Brown Cow cookies. The boys in this house were very, very happy.
I started by gathering my ingredients. On the brand name side, we have C&H Pure Cane Sugar, Challenge Butter, McCormick Vanilla, C&H Powdered Sugar, Gold Medal flower, Arm & Hammer Baking Soda, and Toll House chocolate chips. On the store-brand side we have the Smart and Final brand. I bought the same ingredients of First Street Products. Both butters are unsalted. The only notable difference is that the first street vanilla is 4oz, whereas the McCormick is 2oz.
I wasn’t going to taste the individual ingredients, but I did taste the chocolate chips. Chocolate chips right out of the bag are one of my go-to treats. I usually have a giant bag of Toll House chips in the freezer, so that’s what I’m used to. I thought the First Street Chips had a slightly more earthy, raw-chocolate taste to them. My husband, however, thought they tasted identical.
I then made the cookies (recipe at the bottom of the post). Two delicious batches. These cookies actually make pretty small batches, only about 30 cookies, so making two batches wasn’t an overload.
You can see the cookies look a little different. The brand name on the left are a little lighter, and the First Street on the right had a different powdered sugar distribution pattern.
After baking the cookies came the important part… the tasting. Hubs, Little Moore and I all tasted. Little Moore took the tasting very seriously.
Little Moore liked the brand name best. He declared “those are the good ones”.
It was a close call for me, but liked the brand name better as well. I thought they were slightly sweeter and softer. The First Street cookies did have a richer cocoa flavor, though.
My husband liked the cookies made with First Street ingredients best. He said that it was the First Street cookies that tasted sweeter to him.
But we all agreed that cookie tasting is something that we should do more often!
If you want to make up some of these yummy Brown Cow Cookies yourself, here’s the recipe:
BROWN COW COOKIES
Recipe from Always Expect Moore
1/4 c butter
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
powdered sugar to coat cookies
Do not preheat your oven. The dough will need to refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
In a double boiler, or carefully in the microwave, melt together the butter and chocolate chips.
In a mixer, vigorously mix together the melted mixture and the sugar until the mixture begins to cool.
Add eggs and vanilla.
Slowly incorporate flour, baking soda, and salt.
Refrigerate dough for 3 hours or overnight.
When you are ready to bake your cookies, preheat your oven to 300 degrees and grease your cookie sheet.
Roll the dough into 1″ balls, and coat with powdered sugar. Place at least 3″ apart on a cookie sheet (these cookies spread out a LOT)
Bake for 12-15 minutes until the cookies begin to set.
Allow to cool slightly, and remove to a cookie rack to cool further.
I like to serve my brown cow cookies with a glass of cold milk.