Baked Goods from Top Chef and The Chew Host Carla Hall
Product Description: From her press release: “Carla is the owner of Alchemy by Carla Hall, an artisan cookie company that specializes in creating sweet and savory ‘petite bites of love.’ Her approach to cooking blends together her classic French training and Southern upbringing for a twist on traditional favorites.” We were sent an array of her cookies and bars as well as her Salted Caramel Banana Bread. Her cookies are made in small batches by hand using premium ingredients such as European-style butter, couverture chocolate and artisan cheese. The cookies we received were both from her bite-sized collection as well as some larger examples such as the Oatmeal Cookie Sandwich, Magic Bar and a tea bread and quick bread.
Ingredient List: We chose a few products as examples. These are presented as they are on her site.
Black Forest Crinkle: Sugar, premium flour, semi sweet chocolate chips, butter, dried cherries, cocoa powder, cage-free eggs, cherry liqueur, espresso powder, vanilla extract, 10x sugar, baking powder, salt.
Lemon Black Pepper Shortbread: Premium flour, salt, lemon zest, black pepper, unbleached rice flour, sugar, butter.
Oatmeal Cranberry White Chocolate: Premium flour, butter, brown sugar, sugar, oatmeal, dried cranberries, cage-free eggs, white chocolate, vanilla extract, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt.
Test Kitchen Overview: You might know Carla Hall from ABC’s The Chew or perhaps from her tour of duty on Top Chef. Her approach and branding has always been focused on accessibility and good old-fashioned home cooking. While some of the flavors of her cookies, bars and breads are a bit high concept for “home baking” and reach into more of an upscale arena (like the Chocolate Hazelnut Praline) most are very down-to-earth with her renditions of chocolate chip, Oatmeal Cranberry White Chocolate, Magic Bars, banana bread and the like. Other items include Chocolate Cinnamon Tea Cake, Harissa Spiced Nuts, Lemon-Glazed Five Flavor Pound Cake (that also includes rum, coconut and almond flavors), Almond Ginger Cherry Shortbread and Apple Walnut Bread, among others.
Pros: Testers loved the dimensions of her “Sweet Bites”, the tiny cookies that are literally olive sized and as addictive in terms of popping them into your mouth one after the other. They have a great crunchy texture that still has moistness, and yet they can be a bit crumbly at the same time and they are not perfect in shape. We really like all of those qualities. They look homemade and they taste homemade, more so than any other commercial product we have tried. Kudos to Carla and the formulation. The Salted Caramel Banana Bread was off the hook. Seriously. It is moist and banana-y, with a rich salted caramel taste and an unexpected but welcomed crumbly, sugary topping. Not quite a streusel, but it elevates the bread beyond the typical.
Cons: Well, it’s hard to not eat too many of the tiny cookies, but that’s our problem, not Carla’s! Some of the items on the site do not have ingredient lists and some that do, like the Lemon Black Pepper Shortbread shown above, list salt and black pepper ahead of butter, which doesn’t make any sense. (Typically ingredients are listed in descending order of amount). It is also hard to tell the size of the cookie containers. For example, the shortbread information says: “Serving Size 1 oz, Servings Per Package 6”, but it doesn’t clearly state anywhere that for $6.50 you are getting a 6-ounce container. We had the advantage of having the containers in front of us, but it would make on-line ordering easier for folks if there was more information.
Suggested Use: Again, we love the bite-size of her tiny cookies. Perfect for an addition to a cup of coffee or tea in the afternoon to energize your day. The combo boxes (check out the site) make a lovely selection for a gift as well and come in savory as well as sweet collections.
Where to Buy: Through CarlaHall.com and there are also brick and mortar stores listed on the website.
Price at Time of Review: Banana bread comes in a small loaf for $10 and large loaf for $20. (Dimensions are not provided on the site). Small cookies vary from $6.50 to $8.50 per container. Gift boxes provide a good deal. Bars come in a two-pack for $5.
Have you tried this product? Let us know what you think in the comments below!
Bakepedia received this product as a gift for review. All opinions are the reviewer’s own.