As someone who loves to bake, I’m not all that fond of pre-packaged baked goods. The cookies are always too crispy and the brownies too chewy. But one notable exception is Dancing Deer Baking Co., a local company, whose Molasses Clove Cookies are so chewy and flavorful that I have often selected them over a chocolate option. That, for me, is one of the highest compliments you can pay to a non-chocolate dessert. If this sounds a bit familiar, it should. They were part of my 40 Days of Giveaways last spring and I raved about them then, as well. In fact, I asked them to participate because they are one of my absolute favorite things.
This holiday season, Dancing Deer offered me some new treats to sample. Naturally, I said YES.
Sweet Lemon Squares – These were by far my favorite goodie of the bunch, although I was skeptical at first. The Sweet Lemon Squares were just the right amount of chewy with a slightly crispy sugary coating on top that melted in my mouth. While the lemon flavor is pronounced, it’s not like the tartness of a lemon curd or pudding. It’s more like a dense lemon blondie. Yum! I wished I had a big tin of just these, but luckily for my waistline, I only had a couple.
Salted Caramel Squares – I expected these to be the best of all, but I was slightly disappointed. They were certainly delicious, but the caramel and salt flavors melded too closely together. Rather than a gooey caramel brownie with a surprising salt, it tasted more like a salty caramel-y brownie. Like, I said, they were good, but I wasn’t "wow’ed." These were Big Guy’s favorite, though, so they might be yours, too.
Cranberry Orange Cookies – I’m not a huge cranberry fan, so I passed these on to my parents for their opinion. This is a whole grain cranberry and orange cookies with white chocolate chips. My mom had told me that cranberry white chocolate cookies were one of her favorites, so much so that she had just baked a batch of her own for Christmas. The Dancing Deer cookies had steep competition, but my mom liked them a lot. She said that the orange and cranberry went together perfectly and created a wonderful Christmas-y flavor. In fact, she said that the next time she bakes her cookies, she’s going to add some orange zest. Her only complaint was that she thought they could use a bit more of the white chocolate.
Since we deal with food allergies in our house I should mention that, like most gourmet bakeries, the items are not really safe for those with severe nut allergies. They’re all processed in the same space (although not necessarily on the same equipment)Fortunately, we had enough kid-friendly desserts for the kids, and Big Guy and I (and my parents) got the Dancing Deer treats all to ourselves. These are a seriously lovely gift for someone and I’m not just saying that because they sent us free samples. I’m kind of hoping someone who loves me will send me more of the Lemon Squares (along with the Molasses Clove Cookies and some Chocolate Chunk Brownies) for… I don’t know, Valentine’s Day? My birthday? Mother’s Day? Or just for no reason at all.. P.S. I just discovered that they also have shortbread cookies. How did I miss that? And doesn’t Maple Pecan Nugget Shortbread sound divine?
Dancing Deer is a pretty cool company, anyway. Their products are all-natural with no preservatives and they strive for environmentally friendly packaging where possible. The company is employee-owned, in that employees are all stakeholders, which I always find results in a superior product. And they have a strong philanthropic component to their business. Lastly, they’re local to the Boston area, which automatically makes them wicked awesome.
Disclosure: Dancing Deer Baking Co. sent us the samples mentioned above for review purposes. There was no promise of a positive review (although anyone who has ever mentioned Dancing Deer to me could have guaranteed a positive review) and the opinions above are my own (with help from Big Guy and my mom). Pictures are courtesy of Dancing Deer.