Up until recently I was unaware that some H-E-Bs had a "mix and match" cookie bar that offered more artisan treats, including some Italian baked goods that are usually hard to find in mainstream grocery stores. Note I did not describe this lack of awareness as blissful, because to be honest I'm pretty pissed off at myself that it took me more than a year to "discover" this option. I'm also mildly peeved that the cookie bar appears inconsistently among H-E-Bs; my West Alabama location, for example, lacks one.
The Buffalo Speedway location, however, does not lack a mix-and-match cookie. That is to say, they have one, and it is glorious. Yes, paying near $9 a pound for cookies may seem expensive, but it's not like you're going to buy and eat a whole pound. Wait, don't answer that.
Perhaps a more compelling reason to justify the price is that the cookies are well-made and sweetly sophisticated. (At least the ones I tried.)
As I am not a coffee drinker, I am not the world's best judge of biscotti, but the chocolate hazelnut and orange pecan varieties were enough to motivate me to enjoy a cup of joe just to have something in which to dunk them. I appreciated the crisp texture and mild cocoa taste of the former, while the latter impressed me with its juxtaposition of tart citrus and buttery nut notes.
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Even more to my liking, perhaps because they're more familiar to me, were the chocolate "lace" cookies, which I know as Florentines. The Italian side of my family frequently has these around during the holidays, and there's something about that intense savory brown crackle exterior that in combination with the semi-sweet chocolate makes me want to eat them like chips. Which I often do.
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I've been known to say that I don't like mixing fruit flavors in my cookies, and while this is generally true, I'll make an exception for the vanilla spritz raspberry cookies. Traditional spritz cookies are livened with a stronger vanilla flavor and then used to sandwich a thin, sweet layer of berry jam. They were the perfect complement to a warm cup of Earl Grey tea on a cloudy afternoon. I would also pair them with a cordial for an after-supper treat.
With so much to like about H-E-B's mix-and-match cookie bar, it's hard to stay peeved too long about my prior ignorance. Making up for lost time will be a delicious endeavor indeed.