So after the last thread on those "Damn Dare" cookies (see link), I couldn't get them out of my mind. In a response on the thread, JK Grence (the Cosmic Jester) makes them harder to pass up as he explains how the cookies are sold under a variety of names in US markets, usually under the store's house brand. Apparently they have been spotted at Albertson's, Safeway/Vons, Super Target. Got my lemon cremes from Albertson's in NoCal under the Essensia label (see photo below) for $3.29.
Around the same time, someone on the SF board praises Carr's *ginger* lemon cremes. They can be found at Trader Joe's, but I got mine at my local market for $2.99. Dare/Essensia is a better value since you get 12 oz. of cookies vs. 7 oz. for Carr's. Even though Carr's brand hails from England, package says cookies were made in Canada (like Dare). And thus, Chowhound forces came together to trigger a lemon creme cookie battle that took place at my dining table.
Below are my notes for each cookie; I conducted multiple tastings over the course of a week for reliability purposes. :-)
Dare/Essensia: Good looking cookie and packaging. Like a bulky blonde Adonis who comes out in flashy designer duds. Truthful advertising as they looked nearly identical to picture on bag. Taste: buttery cookie, zingy lemon filling, but ends on a bad note. Jam-like yellow dot in center is chewy and gummy--icky mouthfeel for me. Started off promising, but weak finish.
Carr's: Standard looking cookie, but first disappointed since actual cookie doesn't have the homey crackled appearance depicted on the box. Hate dishonesty. Looks like the quiet, intellectual guy who wears a tweed blazer. Taste: Cookie has pleasant subdued ginger spice, lemon filling is subtle but natural tasting, combo of ginger/lemon is a knockout! Nice balance.
Winner: CARR'S ginger lemon cremes! Started off meek, but had depth and substance in the end. Maybe not a totally fair matchup since Carr's had the ginger advantage. Of course, Dare had the buttery advantage and is the winner for good looks. Overall, Carr's had a much more natural flavor that suited my taste and preference. Very nice served w/ English tea. Carr's are all gone while I still have half a bag of Dare cookies and don't really crave them. Looks like I like the quiet, intellectual type :-)
So...Dare hasn't sucked me into its vortex yet, but those maple cremes looked enticing. Make sure to check expiration date, as there were some packages on the shelves that were nearly expired. Oh, and waiting in that long line at my dumpy, understaffed Albertson's for one bag of cookies was a major drag!!! (I've already checked Safeway and Target here to no avail). Thanks, hounds, for bringing more lemony love into my life!!