But fear not, I (for once) have a plan. Since I lack the proper gluten-free perspective and a healthy fondness for these kinda cookies, I'm actually going to take a small step aside here for a moment. One of my good friends, Allison, has had to adopt a gluten-free diet for the past several years, and when she, in a little bit of a break from the norm, started raving on Facebook about how tremendously awesome Trader Joe's Gluten Free Joe-Joe's are, well, it got my attention and so I invited Allison to share her thoughts about them.
"In eating gluten free, you generally find good replacements (IF you search around-there is a lot of bad gluten-free food that you have to weed out). Products that are a good substitute, however, are exactly that: a substitute. TJ's gluten free Joe-Joes are the first gluten-free product I have tasted that taste just like the original. They are oh-so chocolaty, and have an amazing texture, reminiscent of Oreos (in my opinion, better, since you can taste the real vanilla bean in the middle). I had my non-gluten-free husband try them, and he loved them as well, guessing that he wouldn't have been able to tell the difference in a blind taste test," she wrote. "I would also add that good chocolate flavor in cookies and cakes (gluten free or not) is hard to do. Many times the chocolate flavor is flat, especially in packaged cookies. These cookies give you a full, robust, chocolate flavor, satisfying any chocolate lover's craving."
There is another difference though, which Allison tipped me off to, but apparently is par for the gluten free course. The box of regular Joe-Joe's cost $2.99 and had 42 cookies, so about 7 cents a cookie. The gluten free ones cost $3.99 (so a third more) and had 28 cookies (so a third less) which computes to about 14 cents a cookie. For another example, regular TJ's mac 'n cheese (yum!) goes for a buck a box, while the far inferior rice/celiac friendly version costs a paper Jefferson. Yeesh. How do you all with gluten sensitivities and a budget do it? Mad respect. And perhaps I'm a bit slow, but I can't think of a great justification for the widely divergent price points, and find all of that to be a wee bit unfair.
Alrighty, Golden Spoons time. I'm keeping out of this one altogether for two reasons. First, Allison is the leading gluten-free expert I know, so I'm giving her the courtesy of scoring on my behalf. Secondly, if there's anything that over 3.5 years of marriage (and just over 1 year with a delightful daughter!) have taught me, it's that when there's a question of whose opinion matters more, there's not a question after all. Sandy just went "mmmmm" while munching a mouthful and flashed me all five digits. That texture's got a hook on her. Allison agrees. "For really great junk food (that would also make an amazing pie crust) gluten-free or not, I give it a 5." There you have it. All you gluten-free peeps out there, rejoice.
Bottom line: Trader Joe's Gluten Free Joe-Joe's: 10 out of 10 Golden Spoons