Monday, August 25, 2014

Product Review: Vegan, Gluten-free Ice Cream Sandwiches by The Cookie Counter

It was an happy accident. I was stumbling along the trail of the Hopscotch Festival in Central District on a Saturday afternoon and came across the cutest little VW van I've seen in awhile. Converted and adorable, the owners Chris and Chelsea were seated inside the blue van behind, yes, you guessed it! A cookie counter! With Chris' smiling face and Chelsea's deft hands, this team is well suited for a mobile culinary adventure.

Chris and Chelsea in Ice Cream the Van

The brains behind the cookie scheme, this Seattle duo made a culinary confection come to life. With flavors like Snickerdoodle with Chai "ice cream" (all the "ice cream" is a coconut milk-based frozen treat), Cookies n' Cream, Chocolate with Coffee Ice Cream, PB&J, Earl Grey with Lemon Zest, S'mores, Chocolate with Mint Chip, and more, these little frozen goodies are something you want to stand in line for. Go hunt down that blue van. 

Ice Cream Options

Chris and Chelsea came up with the concept for The Cookie Counter three years ago and through rigorous creation and product testing (how bad can taste-testing be?), they have completed the circle with help from a whole lot of friends on Kickstarter by converting their blue van into a mobile gourmet ice cream truck unlike anything else in Seattle. With all vegan ingredients, most of them organic and natural (read: no artificial or animal anything), and a mix of traditional wheat cookies and gluten-free options too (read more about their kitchen here), Chris and Chelsea have turned the ordinary ice cream sandwich into a culinary delight. Traveling to fairs, street festivals, one-day events, and even to someone's very own home, these guys are worth the find. 

Now, what about the tasting? How good are these? Well, I certainly wanted to find out. Chris tipped me off to a little deal they had going with the store they were parked next to, Two Big Blondes - a plus-size consignment shop and one of their Kickstarter supporters. Buy something inside and get a free sammie! Now, that's a deal! Kind of like a two for one! 

After finding a really great deal inside the store (they had discounts of up to 95% off!), I got my coupon for my free sammie and proceeded to Chris and Chelsea's van. They had four gluten-free options to choose from and four or five wheat cookie options. I chose their GF special of the day: Cookies n' Cream. Chris handed me (with his signature smile) a cute little wax paper package sealed with their logo sticker. I unwrapped the treat and headed to my car, ice cream happiness in hand. The Oreo-ish cookie was crunchy and cold with a nice chocolate flavor, very much like an Oreo. The cookies n' cream vegan ice cream was creamy, smooth, with a nice mouth feel and little chunks of cookie embedded all through. It was yummyness. 

A little package, a little van

Wiping my face and hands as I walked, I enjoyed each very cold bite (they store the goodies on dry ice), letting it melt just a bit so I could feel the textures and enjoy my sammie. I got to my car and kept thinking about the GF Snickerdoodle with Chai Ice Cream. How can you make a proper review only trying one thing? More product testing would make for better accuracy, wouldn't you say? 

So, I headed back to the blue cookie van, this time in my car, found a nice shady spot (it was a remarkably warm day in Seattle) and handed Chris my crisp $5 bill. He handed me a GF Snickerdoodle ice cream sandwich and a couple of wet wipes they keep in a jar on the cookie counter. I meandered slowly back to the car, not really wanting to waste time or potential cookie eating moments, and tore open the second bag. I hadn't had lunch, so this counted, right? 

The GF snickerdoodle was soft, yet crunchy with a slight sandy texture from the sugar-cinnamon it had been rolled in. The flavor was outstanding. Oftentimes, when you eat a frozen cookie, the flavor gets a little lost either in the ice cream or just from being frozen. But here, it stood out bold and proud. The vegan chai ice cream was soft and creamy with a beautiful chai-cinnamony-cardamomy flavor. It was perfection. 

Happily filled with yummy vegan treats, I headed back towards home in my warm car with a ice cream-cool tummy and a smile as big as Chris' on my face. 

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