Lists seem to be all the rage these days. Travel + Leisure has their list of the best resorts, while CNNgo has their list of froufrou Bangkok tea shops, but I’ve decided to take on something much more important, and much, much more difficult: Finding a good cookie in Southeast Asia. A really good cookie is a rare thing everywhere, but nowhere more so than in Southeast Asia.
Now, I’m the first to admit that this subject requires more research and testing. Much, much more research, and a lot of repeated testing to make sure standards are maintained. Donations to support continued research can be made to the Cookie Research Undertakings Management Bureau (CRUMB).
Herewith are my preliminary results, not necessarily in any particular order:
Walnut White Chocolate Cookie – Java Gallery, Phnom Penh – These were quite the surprise. A cake-like walnut-filled dough surrounds a solid chunk of white chocolate. The earthy taste of the nuts forms a nice counter-balance to the flowery taste of the white chocolate. Java also sell a chocolate-almond cookie that’s quite good, but not as distinctive as the white chocolate creation. Java’s main shop, and gallery, is located on Sihanouk Boulevard near the Independence Monument. They also have a tea shop in Monument Books on Norodom Boulevard.
Chocolate Chip – Joma, Vientiane – It’s positively deplorable, the abominations that have been created using the name "Chocolate Chip". Most of them should be called "crumb bombs with bits of brown stuff." That’s what makes the Joma offering so great. Tucked away in sleepy little Vientiane, this little bakery café makes some amazing cookies, made with real butter, eggs, and chock full of real chocolate chips. Not far from the Fountain.
Macarons – Blue Pumpkin, Siem Reap – I had never encountered these marvelous French pastries until moving to Southeast Asia. Even here, with all the French influence, they’re somewhat rare. Blue Pumpkin has by far the best – large glossy cookies with creamy fillings. It would be hard to pick which of the six flavors is the best – and you’ll have to try all six to find the right one for you – but I would probably pick the lemon. The sourness of the lemon provides a balance to the otherwise very sweet cookies. Blue Pumpkin has several branches all over Siem Reap. If you’re in Bali, Bali Catering in Seminyak makes a pretty good macaron, among other things.
Cranberry Pecan Oatmeal Cookie – Sarah, Bangkok – The Thai capital is quite devoid of decent cookies, or maybe I just haven’t been able to get past the mangoes with sweet sticky rice to find them. My one consistently edible find is, oddly enough, a health cookie. Sarah’s Cranberry Pecan Oatmeal cookie is exactly what it sounds like: a chewy oatmeal cookie with dried cranberries in place of the more mundane raisins. These "health" cookies contain no sugar, but they are made with Malititol syrup, which some nutritionists argue is not good for you. No eggs are used, and sunflower butter is used in place of real butter or margarine. For the first time ever, I really can’t believe it’s not butter. Sarah’s cookies may be purchased at Villa Supermarket near Sukhumvit Soi 31.