April 30, 2013

Cookie Stéfanie in Old Montreal: Gluten free baked goods

Although it has been open less than a year, Cookie Stéfanie is already making a splash in the neighborhood and beyond. It is hands down my favorite place for baked goods in Montreal, gluten free or not. If you have a hankering for a cookie or cake, Cookie Stéfanie can't be beat.

The cookies are relatively good for you, too, making this a good place to indulge.

What makes Cookie Stéfanie rise to the top?

The store

Although Stéfanie's products have been sold at various places in town for a while, the retail outlet is new.  It is set in a production facility, which might make it sound utilitarian, but it isn't. The store's design cleverly marries its dual purposes of shop and bakery.  The space is light, clean, and inviting. Not only are items available for take-out from the counter, but Cookie Stéfanie also has a lovely cove of tables and chairs where you can enjoy your baked goodies with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate.  The entire store is spacious without losing warmth or hospitality.

The goods

Yes, Cookie Stéfanie does sell cookies!  They come in regular and mini sizes, and there's a volume discount for purchases of 6 or 12 at a time.  The following flavors are usually available:
  • Maple-dark chocolate
  • Lemon-ginger
  • Chocolate

When I first visited Cookie Stéfanie knowing that all of the treats are gluten free, I braced myself.  I have been disappointed by gluten free baking almost too many times to count.  Recently, for instance, at a well rated restaurant I tried a gluten free pizza that literally squeaked when I ate it because of the large amount of corn starch that the crust contained.  What's worse, the colder it got, the tougher it became until the thing was more or less inedible at the end.  Eating gluten free baked items is often like trying to eat cardboard.  At the very least, quality is unpredictable.

Not so at Cookie Stéfanie!  When I bit into that first cookie I knew that this place is a winner.  It wasn't just that the cookie tasted good for a gluten free cookie.  It tasted good, period.  The cookie was moist.  The flavor was interesting and well balanced.  The amount of sweetness was just right.

Basically, I became addicted immediately. On subsequent visits I tried a rich brownie and the fabulous carrot cake with creamy icing.  It kept getting better and better.

After ordering take-out several times, I decided to stay and try a Queen Elizabeth cake with a latte at one of the lovely wooden tables in the store.  Here's what you are missing if you don't go:

While the latte was merely acceptable, the cake was outstanding.  It was a delicious and rich concoction with dates and delectable coconut topping that was both moist and crumbed well.

Believe it or not, it's actually gluten free

I have no idea how Stéfanie pulls it off. If nobody told you that her products are gluten free, you wouldn't guess it.  In fact, on a recent visit I overheard the person in front of me in line react in surprise when the person at the register told her that everything offered is gluten free.  This customer had already been to the store and had eaten several items without knowing that fact.  I suspect that it's not the only time it has happened, either.

Cookie Stéfanie
272 Saint-Jacques West
Metro: Square Victoria
Parking: Street

Highlights: Stellar baked goods.

Cookie Stéfanie on Urbanspoon

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