By Andrew Lin
A look at the doughy discoid treats HUDS has to offer.
Following the resounding success of the Indy’s first inaugural HUDS review, we are proud to present the second iteration – and this time, we’re indulging our sweet tooth with a review of the cookies HUDS has on offer. For those of you unfamiliar with the nature of dining at Harvard (we’re looking at you, Dudley Co-Op people), Harvard’s cookies are almost uniformly offered at lunch and Sunday brunch as the lone dessert option of choice. Consequently, they have attained a uniquely important standing in the hearts and minds of foodie Harvard students such as myself – and it is only right and proper that we cookie-lovers of the Indy should use our control of the presses to disseminate the right and proper way to eat a cookie at Harvard. As usual, some cookies have been omitted from this review for brevity’s sake – email in with cookie (other foods are available too) suggestions for a possible round 2!
A Note: On the Variation of Cookies within their Own Species
As anyone who stalks the dining halls of Harvard regularly knows, not all cookies are created equal – even within individual cookie recipes, there exists tremendous levels of intra-species variation in terms of size, doneness, and density of additional ingredients. Granted, the question of selection at this point depends on a wide variety of factors ranging from such mundane considerations as personal tastes to important decisions such as how many cookies you want to eat. The Indy (or at least the author) proscribes the following: cookies should be medium in size, with a gentle crunch which offers the best combination of doughy yield and stiff snap-back and an even but not excessive distribution of toppings/ancillary ingredients.
Cookie Varieties: A Breakdown
The classic cookie as rendered by Harvard usually hits all the right notes – its distribution of chocolate chips is generally even, and the dining halls often achieve the trick of keeping the edges crispy and browned while retaining the moist squish of a doughy inside. Much of this is accomplished via the use of baking soda, which imparts that greater squidginess so sought-after by the author. The balance of flavors works too: the gentle notes of vanilla extract that overlay the creamy and deep bites of chocolate are sufficiently sublime such that I can forgive their use of margarine (come to my arteries, sweet, sweet butter!) and wheat flour.
This color-spangled cousin of the good ol’ chocolate chip cookie presents an interesting twist, what with its substitution of M&Ms (or what the HUDS ingredients page simply calls ‘Candy’) for chocolate chips. The substitution works, however: the crunch of the rainbow outer candy coating reveals chocolate nuggets which serve much the same function as the chocolate chips in the aforementioned cousin cookie. And compositionally, the cookies are more or less identical, featuring the same baking-soda-based doughiness of their chocolate-chip brethren.
The black sheep of the cookie family, this fruity interloper in the world of cookies is often slandered and disliked by many. But its darker, subtler flavors are to this author reminiscent of the burnt sugar and wholesome oats of sachets of oatmeal past. Much of that complexity is owed to a dollop of molasses in the dough mixture, a dollop which again conceals the same margarine and the same enriched bleached wheat flour. Texturally these cookies intrigue as well: full of wholesome oat pieces and juicy, plump raisins, these cookies offer a complicated and delightfully raffish alternative to the straightforward sweetness of its chocolate-based competitors.
Double Chocolate Chip:
Studded with white chocolate chips over a background luscious in its darkly chocolatey appeal, the double chocolate chip cookie means business for anyone with a sweet tooth to sate. Compositionally, however, it is effectively identical to its inverted chocolate cousins in almost every respect aside from the additional chocolate with which its dough is spiked. But that doesn’t mean this cookie isn’t exciting: its bold, simple flavors mingle well with the creamy richness of the white chocolate chips to make a powerful statement of intent in just 120 calories.
For many semesters, I personally was never fully sure as to what a ranger cookie was — its origins and constituent components were a mystery to me — and I only knew of its cracked-rice and coconut contents. But the ranger cookie is no newcomer or HUDS invention. Its popularity peaked in the 1950s and 60s before steadily decreasing in the face of more mainstream cookies. The ranger cookie itself is another oat cookie like the oatmeal raisin, featuring rolled oats, coconut, and crisp rice for texture along with more prosaic stand-ins such as the ubiquitous margarine and enriched bleached wheat flour. Nonetheless, it works as a whole for its flavors and textures form a welcome break from some of the more orthodox items on offer at the dessert rack, and the ranger cookie is a beloved component of the HUDS dining experience for many.
The ever-present sugar cookie, arguably the most unique of all out of the cookies we’ve discussed today for its lack of interloper ingredients, is a true classic in American culinary history, and HUDS does it well. With its doughy center and gentle sugar/high-fructose corn syrup flavor (check the ingredients), the sugar cookie has no pretense and hides nothing. And at 108 calories, it’s certainly one of the slimmer cookies on the menu – an important consideration for this author, especially after his dedicated sampling of the cookie varieties on offer here.
In addition to cookies, Andrew Lin ’17 ([email protected]edu)
also inhaled far too many Gimbal’s jelly beans this week.