Butter cookie face off

Life conducts a blind test to see how Chris Tan's homemade cookies stack up against Jenny Bakery

The proof is in the tasting and a panel of four tasters tried Chris Tan's cookies alongside those from Jenny Bakery.

The panel comprises Straits Times food editor Tan Hsueh Yun, its food critic Wong Ah Yoke, pastry chef Janice Wong of 2am:dessertbar in Holland Village, and bank officer Ben Ng, who queued for the cookies at Jenny Bakery on its opening day last month. All but chef Wong had tried the Hong Kong cookies.

The testers wear blindfolds before tasting the cookies, as Mr Tan's homemade ones look different from Jenny Bakery's factory-produced ones. The cookies are assessed on taste, aroma and texture.

After the blind tasting, the verdict is that Mr Tan's cookies have a more natural flavour but do not boast the airy texture that is synonymous with Jenny Bakery cookies. The panel is split on picking their favourite butter cookie.

Chef Wong prefers Mr Tan's cookies to those from Jenny Bakery.

She says: "For me, a cookie's flavour is more important than its texture. Chris' version tastes like premium ingredients were used, while those from Jenny Bakery leave an oily taste on my lips."

Mr Wong, too, prefers the homemade butter cookies.

He says: "The texture of Jenny Bakery cookies is amazing and unique and that attracts most people. They give a surprising impression when you first bite into them, but they leave an unpleasant artificial oily sensation."

Both Ms Tan and Mr Ng prefer the cookies from Jenny Bakery.

Ms Tan says: "They're lighter and that is what I like, but Chris' cookies have a better flavour."

When it comes to the coffee cookies, the panel is unanimous in picking Jenny Bakery as the winner - in terms of aroma, taste and texture.

Mr Ng says that Mr Tan's coffee cookies are "hard, dry and the coffee flavour is too light".

Agreeing with him, Ms Tan says: "The flavour from Jenny Bakery's coffee cookies fills your palate with aromatic coffee and lovely caramel notes, and they have a great light texture."

Mr Wong also prefers Jenny Bakery's version as "it has a balance of bitterness and sweetness".

He says: "I only get a bitter flavour from Mr Tan's cookies, which I don't mind if I am drinking coffee, but for a cookie, I like more complex flavours."

Chef Wong points out that Mr Tan's version is over-baked and leaves a chalky residue in her mouth.

On those from Jenny Bakery, she says: "I like the balance of flavours, and the coffee essence masks the oily taste, which is more obvious in the butter cookies. The coffee cookies also have a nice a tinge of salt."

At the end of the taste test, chef Wong says she is inspired to make her own version.

She says: "If I were to make the cookie, I would use butter, icing sugar, oil and shortening to create a lighter shortbread-like texture, as consumers here seem to like such texture in their cookies."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 29, 2015, with the headline 'Butter cookie face off'. Print Edition | Subscribe