Chuck Haralson and Ken Smith were inducted into the Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame during the 43rd annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism
1. Almond macaroon, Silvek’s Bakery: I’m not quite sure how this qualifies as a “macaroon” (or “macaron,” for that matter), as it really resembles none of the other macaroons I’ve eaten in the past, but suffice it to say, this cookie may just be the best item in the entire display case at Silvek’s…which is quite large, I might add. The almond cookie is a thin, chewy delight. There are no visible slices or chunks of almond, instead they are using a sweet, nutty almond paste to create a smooth, almost creamy center to this splendid cookie. The interior is moist and soft, even pudding like—in this case, you can hold off on the milk, as you’ll never even feel the need to dunk it in any form of liquid to soften things up. The sweet almond cookie is finally coated in a thin sheet of translucent sugar glaze, adding sweetness but not to the point of excess. Buy a few of these beauties to snack on while you shop around the surrounding isles of the Height’s Kroger store—but be prepared to make a return stop there before you check out as you’ll probably be needing more for the ride home.Kris and Sam’s: You should know that I’ve always hated no-bake cookies. I’ve never been a fan of the raw oatmeal, the overly sweet, sometimes gritty texture of these things. But after my first visit to Kris and Sam’s, after they recommended I sample their popular no-bakes, I was completely won over. I don’t know what their secret is, but I can’t stop by this store without grabbing at least 3 or 4 of these cookies—and typically I’ll have to bring some home for the family as well or else all hell breaks loose when I show up empty handed. I’ve been confined to sleeping on the couch for less egregious crimes. The no-bakes come in chocolate fudge and peanut butter varieties. Both are remarkable and deserve your attention. Somehow Kris and Sam’s manages to make these cookies quite smooth and creamy, soft and silky across the tongue. They’re sweet, no doubt, but it’s an even-keeled, balanced sweetness. I was never a believer in the no-bake, but now I have been converted, and these are definitely the finest of its kind. Boulevard Bread: Of course, I like chocolate, but—having an affinity for fruit, citrus, and spice—it’s not typically my preference when selecting from a handful of dessert items. This does not hold true when selecting cookies from Boulevard Bread. Truthfully, all the cookies at Boulevard are pretty spectacular—if you can get your hands on one of their sweet and tangy lemon sugar cookies or their spiced ginger and molasses cookies, these are definitely not something to be overlooked. But I have to take my hat off to the double chocolate chunk cookies—they are really something special. Just looking upon this dark, almost black, round disc of chocolate, you know you are in for a real treat. It’s seductive and mysterious, sexy even. They’re packed with cocoa, deep and rich, then studded with soft chunks of dark chocolate. Chocolate overload? Not a chance. They’re well balanced and exquisitely done. While they’re the size of your palm, the interior is chewy and soft. You may detect a hint of espresso and cinnamon, adding depth of flavor to the decadent chocolate. Leave these out for Santa come Christmastime, and you might wake up with a Lexus under your tree. (P.S. they’re vegan...something you’d never know from the flavor and texture unless you were told.)
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