It’s not often that I get cookies. Not because they’re particularly hard to source here in Orlando, but the few cookies I’ve tried have been severe disappointments with a few exceptions. The problem with gluten free and dairy free cookies is that they are often small, dry, crumbly, and loaded with sugar and preservatives. After an initial attempt, I had all but given up on the sweet treats until a bakery in Philadelphia proved to me that I still could enjoy them. Since then, I haven’t seen a cookie that grabbed my attention until strolling around the Maitland Farmers Market bright and early one morning when a colorful truck and table of gluten-free cookies caught my attention. As I drew near, I soon learned that Heartsong Cookies, a local cookie baking company, is serious about giving gluten-free diners uncompromisingly great cookies.
As I looked over Heartsong’s offerings, I couldn’t believe my eyes as I took in big, beautiful cookies that are downright impressive. Dry and crumby would be the last words used to describe these beauties as they are thick and the perfect denseness. All of Heartsong’s gluten-free cookies are also vegan, corn free, soy free and preservative free which makes life easier for those watching out for multiple allergens. In talking with Kathy, the baker behind Heartsong, she explained that her cookies use Bob’s Red Mill flour as a base along with coconut oil, Enjoy Life Food’s chocolate chunks and other natural ingredients. As I looked over the table, I took in the many varieties she had baked, each looking better than the one before.
As we talked, her passion clearly shone through as she informed me of their baking protocol to reduce cross contamination. Though all of the gluten-free/non-gluten cookies are baked in a shared facility, gluten-free cookies are baked first and foremost so that baking appliances are thoroughly washed down between batches. Cookies are individually wrapped separately to prevent further opportunities for cross contamination. Tree nuts and coconut are used in some of the gluten-free varieties so those avoiding these allergens should be aware that they might be present even in the gluten-free cookies.
Of all the flavors at the Market, the straightforward and simple chocolate chunk caught my eye for its picture-perfect size and shape. Almost magazine cover-worthy in their appearance, each cookie is a testament to Kathy’s commitment to hand shaping each cookie to give them the perfect appearance.
What was so remarkable about the cookies was just how perfect they were all around: texture and taste. They reminded me of my favorite cookies from my gluten-eating days in that they were more “done” around the edges and soft, moist, dense, and chewy on the inside. The cookie has notes of brown sugar which give them a rich sweetness tinged with molasses that melds well with the flour to create a nice cookie to surround the chunks of chocolate. The chunks themselves are nice and big and perfectly compliment the cookie without being too sweet. By far, they surpassed all chocolate chip cookies I’ve had since going off gluten/dairy and I dare say they’re as good as, or better than, most of the gluten containing cookies out there. Kathy’s baking won me over as just one more loyal customer to join her missing to share smiles and cookies.
Here’s the allergen and ingredient information included on the cookies’ package for those who are interested:
My gluten and dairy loving family also tried a sampling of cookies and they earned rave reviews all around. It just goes to show that these cookies are the real deal.
Heartsong’s mission twofold: bake incredible cookies and spread the magic of hugs. As I made my purchases and chatted awhile with her, Kathy said that every cookie comes with her trademark hug and despite our mutual sweatiness thanks to a muggy Florida morning, the hug was heartfelt and solidified my love for this company, their cookies, and the people behind it. It’s people like Kathy who are instrumental in making Central Florida a much better (and delicious) place for gluten and dairy free folks. You can definitely see and almost taste the hard work and love that goes into each cookie as a result of Kathy’s optimism and love of what she does. It’s truly inspiring and I hope that Heartsong Cookies can expand its reach around the community and become a household name for those with and without food sensitives.
Those who want to find her cookies around time need not look far because they can be tracked down at Dandelion Communitea Cafe (my review here) and Bikes Beans and Bordeaux, and other local restaurants and cafes. Heartsong also is a solid fixture at the Maitland Farmers Market (where I found them) on Saturdays from 9am-2pm (the Market’s website). Locals can also get cookies delivered via their bright and cheery delivery truck. More information on this and the company itself can be found on their website: www.heartsongcookies.com. Gluten-containing cookies are $2.00 each and the GFV (gluten-free/vegan) cookies are $2.50 each.
Disclaimer: The review provided is current to the time I bought the product. Ingredients and manufacturing processes can change without notice. Each product should be reviewed for individual nutritional needs. Feel free to to contact me with any questions or comments. I was not compensated for this review and it is a reflection of my personal opinion.