The chocolate and vanilla sandwich cookie is a fond childhood memory for many. Late July Organic Snacks, Hyannis, Mass, has created a “grown-up” version of the this cookie classic.
“The sandwich cookie is one of life’s great pleasures, so it’s our mission to take what was an ordinary sandwich cookie and upgrade it into something that I would love and could feel good about sharing with my children,” says Nicole Dawes, Late July’s president and C.O.O. “Our hope is that all those people who had given up on sandwich cookies will pour a big glass of organic milk, sit down with our new cookies and be transported back to childhood.”
This summer, the company debuted its organic dark chocolate and organic vanilla bean with green tea sandwich cookies. The dark chocolate is intense and decadent, while the vanilla and green tea flavors complement each other well. The cookies have been Late July’s most successful product launch to date.
Dawes approached the R&D process by asking herself what kind of ingredients she would use if she were baking the cookies at home. She arrived at whole grains, real Madagascar vanilla extract, including the bean seeds, rich dark chocolate, and most importantly, organic ingredients. Both new sandwich cookies are USDA certified organic.
One of the ideas behind developing a more mature sandwich cookie was to be able to offer comparative health benefits beyond the organic label. The recent renaissance of chocolate in health circles presented an opportunity.
“Dark chocolate is one of the world’s most perfect foods. It’s not only delicious and rich in fiber and antioxidants, but also satisfying in small quantities,” Dawes says. “We wanted to create a cookie filling that celebrated dark chocolate’s flavor without negating its benefits.”
Green tea, also known as a source for antioxidants, became a flavor possibility after Dawes happened across a vanilla green tea drink during the R&D process. The R&D team found that green tea added a subtle sweetness that enhanced the vanilla bean filling’s flavor while making it less sugary-sweet.
The development of an organic sandwich cookie with an adult appeal proved challenging. The research and development process was more difficult for the cookie line than for any of the other snack lines developed by Late July.
“One of the signatures of a sandwich cookie is the black cookie color, but that wasn’t an option for us because the ingredient responsible for that, black Dutch cocoa, isn’t available organically. For the vanilla bean, we wanted to include the bean seeds, but were initially told that we would only be able to use spent bean pods because seeds weren’t available organically,” Dawes says.
“We didn’t want the seeds for their appearance, we wanted seeds because they create a more complex flavor that more closely mirrors what I made at home. Finally, the dark chocolate presented a challenge because it was so different from other chocolate sandwich cookies currently on the market. We wanted a piece of dark chocolate, not the traditional 50 percent shortening blend,” she adds.
Finding ingredients was time-consuming and involved extensive research. It seemed to Dawes that too many required ingredients were either not available organically or available in the wrong form. The successful end result involved the collective efforts of many and Dawes’ unwillingness to accept that it could not be done.