Best bites: Battle of the butter cookies

The popular butter cookies from Hongkong’s Jenny Bakery hit our shores last month and started a queuing frenzy. We do a COOKIE BLIND TASTE TEST of nine brands — including Jenny’s — to find out if the Hongkong treats live up to the hype, and if they have a worthy contender

Butter up
Butter up
17 Nov 2015

Butter up

Full disclosure: this tasting panel (all 3 of them have been blindfolded and were fed cookies in random order by our intern) is rather fond of the cookies from Jenny Bakery. Writer Jieying once ate an entire large tin by herself over the course of a week. She immediately went on a diet after that. Senior ed Florence can wolf down about six cookies in one sitting. They’re so rich that she always suffers from heartburn post-binge, but she says the pain is worth it. Former 8 DAYS Eat editor Audrey lugged home tins of Jenny during her recent trip to Hongkong. They’re like crack cookies. But because trying to buy a tin from the two-week-old outpost at Ang Mo Kio is almost as tough as trying to win at Toto, we wanted to find out: are Jenny’s cookies really the best in town? Is there an equivalent, or at least a close second?

So we scour a number of artisanal bakeries and supermarkets in search of some plain old butter cookies to sample. This proves tricky as most handmade cookies in Singapore are flavoured with stuff like nuts or chocolate. That’s why we’ve broadened the line-up for this taste test to include both classic shortbread and butter cookies. 

A butter cookie often contains more sugar than shortbread and is therefore less crumbly than the latter. Oh, and one more disclosure: a cookie tastes best fresh out of the oven and declines in quality as days go by. But it was challenging to taste all the baked goods at the same level of freshness for this purpose — the ones sold by the mother of our senior art director were the freshest, followed by Jenny’s week-old specimens. The ages of the rest remain unknown since we bought them incognito. So which butter cookie is worth ditching your diet for? We put on our blindfolds and proceed to find out.

Battle of the butter cookies
Battle of the butter cookies
17 Nov 2015

Battle of the butter cookies

Jenny Bakery Butter Cookie, from the 4-Mix Butter Cookie Tin
$25 for 320g; $45 for 640g. www.facebook/jennybakeryasia

FLORENCE: I know where this one is from. It smells like Jenny Bakery’s cookies, the fragrance is obvious. This tin is already a week old, so it isn’t at its freshest, but objectively, I like this one best flavour-wise. It’s like spreading good quality butter all over your tongue. And the crunchy-creamy texture is shook!

AUDREY: The butter is not very fresh already. But it’s still very rich, so I were hungry, I’d like this one.

JIEYING: I find that Jenny Bakery’s cookies lose their freshness rather quickly. Maybe ’cos they don’t use preservatives. But this is what a butter cookie should be like — unapologetically rich and no holding back!

RATING: 5 STARS

Battle of the butter cookies
Battle of the butter cookies
17 Nov 2015

Battle of the butter cookies

(L - R) 

Butter Shortbread (baked by our senior art director’s mother, Janet) 
$12 for 24 small cookies. To order, call 9696-8993.


JIEYING: It could be that I ate this before and can recognise it as Chris’ mum’s cookie. This stands out ’cos the texture is airy and crunchy, yet buttery. As Ip Man said in the movie, “I want to take on 10 of these!”

AUDREY: Very refined and crisp. Crunchy, not too sweet. Like a cross between a cookie and shortbread. This is my favourite.

FLORENCE: It’s got a nice, freshly baked flavor. Very delicate crunch and dissipates in the mouth nicely. Could be slightly more buttery, though. If this is Chris’ ma’s cookie, then this was baked only two days ago, right [so it’s at its optimum level of freshness, unlike the rest]?

RATING: 4 STARS

*****


Plain Vanilla's Vanilla Shortbread
$6.50 for 100g, In Good Company Cafe, Tel: 6509-4786.

AUDREY: Wow, this one is super melty, like it has icing sugar in it. Tastes like a Malay pineapple tart, but flat. Very floury.

FLORENCE: It’s like kueh bangkit without the nice lemak-ness.

JIEYING: Yeah it’s floury and very soft. More salty than buttery and crumbles very quickly.

RATING: 2.5 STARS 

Battle of the butter cookies
Battle of the butter cookies
17 Nov 2015

Battle of the butter cookies

L - R

Baker & Cook Classic Shortbread
$6.10 for six large cookies. Baker & Cook, Tel: 6469-8834.


FLORENCE: Normally I’d have a second taste just to be sure, but I don’t want another bite of this. It’s a bit lao hong (stale), and limp.

JIEYING: It tastes stale and oily after my first bite. Then it melts into a strange powdery finish. Like eating my foundation compact powder.

AUDREY: It’s trying to be like Jenny Bakery’s cookies, but it’s too light.

RATING: 2 STARS

*****


Walkers Pure Butter Shortbread
$5.65 for 160g, Cold Storage supermarket.

AUDREY: This is another cheap one… the worst so far. And it smells stale too. Maybe when we cover our eyes, everything just tastes stale. We should have brought bags to spit out what we chew [and don’t fancy], like at a wine tasting.

FLORENCE: Good idea, although it’d be pretty gross for the intern to watch us spitting out chewed up cookies. I think this one is from a supermarket. Tastes like cardboard. Slightly more buttery than the previous ones, but not great.

JIEYING: This one is more buttery, though.

RATING: 2 STARS

Battle of the butter cookies
Battle of the butter cookies
17 Nov 2015

Battle of the butter cookies

L - R

Kjeldsens Butter Cookies
$9.60 for 454g, Cold Storage supermarkets


FLORENCE: This… isn’t a butter cookie? Tastes nondescript. Quite crunchy, with a hint of palm oil. Now it’s stuck to my molars.

AUDREY: Why don't you go ahead and dig them out [from your molars] since we can’t see you? Ha ha! This isn’t nice. It’s hard to discern anything from it.

JIEYING: The ingredients taste like the low quality kind. Reminds me of Kjeldsens’ butter cookies with cheap vanilla essence and what feels like sugar grains.

RATING: 2 STARS

*****

Marks & Spencer Scottish All Butter Shortbread Rounds
$5.90 for 180g, Tel: 6733-8122.


AUDREY: Chunky and tasteless. Like dough. What do you think goes into a good butter cookie?

FLORENCE: Yah, like raw dough. A good cookie must be crunchy at first, then crumbly and melty as you bite into it. It must be super buttery, with a fresh-from-the-oven flavour.

JIEYING: It’s oily, but there is a buttery aftertaste.

RATING: 0.5 STARS

Battle of the butter cookies
Battle of the butter cookies
17 Nov 2015

Battle of the butter cookies

L - R

Kent & Fraser Vanilla Butter Crunch
$8.90 for 125g. The Providore, Tel: 6732-1565.


FLORENCE: This is rock-hard, grainy and super sweet. Not very buttery and not worth the calories. Anyone got a spittoon?

AUDREY: It’s grainy, siap siap (astringent), tough and tastes of cheap vanilla essence.

JIEYING: Rough, like vanilla-scented sand.

RATING: 0.5 STARS

*****

P. Bistro Butter Cookies
$8 for 35 small cookies, P. Bistro,
 Tel: 6734-9268.

JIEYING: This might be P. Bistro’s. I like that it has coarse salt grains.

FLORENCE: Why do I taste orange? Quite nice at first bite. I like the texture. Very intensely crisp, but they shouldn’t have added orange zest. It overpowers the butter.

AUDREY: A bit savoury. If this is P. Bistro’s, I don’t recall it having any orange when I first ate it some time ago. Did they change the recipe?

RATING: 3 STARS

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