I grew up eating Pepperidge Farm cookies, not so much because my mother couldn't bake (believe me, she made a mean chocolate chip and walnut cookie), but rather because I think she liked to use the brand's system of naming baked goods after European regions and urban centers as a means of expanding my geographical knowledge. "You know," I remember my mom saying, "Bordeaux is a region in France famous for wine." My internal-child stream of thought: Whateverthiscookiesprettygoodhopesheletsmeeatthree. I remain an admirer of cookies from Pepperidge Farm, which has significantly diversified its offerings since I was a kid. Here are my five favorites:
5. Vanilla Crème Milano Melts. Though initially wary of this new flashy line of filled Milano cookies, I have been won over by the Vanilla Crème variety. This flavor reverses the traditional Milano format by stuffing a crispy oblong chocolate cookie with very sweet vanilla crème frosting (remember, that accent grave on the "e" makes it extra-special).
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4. Chessmen. Who could predict that emblazoning shortbread rectangles with pictures of chess figures could make for such delightful cookies? And even if most of the appeal of Chessmen is derived from the pictures, their crumbly, buttery texture is reason enough to eat half a dozen or more with some milk tea.
3. Lexington. A member of Pepperidge Farm's "American Collection," the Lexington is a palm-size batter cookie with milk chocolate chunks, almonds and toffee bits. Real butter gives the Lexington a lovely crisp, savory sheen, and the addition of the nuts and toffee provides two types of crunch and is a welcome variation on the standard chocolate chip cookie.
2. Brussels. I consume Brussels with such celerity that in order not to feel shameful, I prefer to think of them as sweet chips rather than cookies. Each luscious bite of the Brussels' rippled sweet-salty exterior and dark chocolate interior produces a satisfying crackle that only prompts me to eat even faster. If only they came in large sacks rather than those neat little bags.
1. Mint Chocolate Milano. Dark Chocolate Milano cookies are terrific; however, the extra layer of mint creme engenders a sweet, cool contrast that only enhances the rich cocoa flavor. It's the perfect light cookie for mint chocolate lovers who find other confections combining similar tastes (e.g., mint Oreos) to be too rich and overpowering.