Cronut, schmonut. While other bakeries and donut shops continue to engage in a cronut arms race, XA Sweet N Savory Cafe stands above the fray. I'm of the opinion that their own pastry hybrid, an apple pie cookie, is deserving of the fame and the Internet fervor that came with the cronut. It's a cookie with all of the flavor and goodness of an apple pie, all inside a soft-in-the-middle-crunchy-on-the-outside disc that you can dunk into a cold glass of milk.
If you haven't tried it: do it now, and then discover the other kooky cookies owner, chef, baker, cookie-Willy-Wonka Shawn Xa has created that day.
A few months ago I found yet another triumph in his Rocky Road, a dense, chewy chocolate cookie with rivulets of gooey melted marshmallow running through it like veins. There was a carrot cake cookie and a tiramisu cookie which tastes, well, like carrot cake and tiramisu. Then there was that time I saw him make a cookie with lucuma, the Peruvian fruit most us have only tasted in ice cream. He's only gotten more daring ever since.
Two weeks ago, Xa went to a place I never thought anyone would go: he made a cookie with Spam and roasted garlic. I was beside myself with glee when I saw it. I bought four and found that it came with instructions from Xa himself. “You need to reheat it in a toaster oven for a few minutes”, he said. So I did. And here's what it tasted like: Imagine biting into a vanilla-scented, brown sugar-sweetened and buttery cookie, and then, bam! A salty Spam landmine explodes. Then another. And another. When you think you've stepped into safe terrain, the roasted garlic hits you, and stays, and stays. It's about then that something happens in the brain–the same thing that probably happened the first time you had garlic ice cream or a bacon maple bar: a lightheadedness that comes when pre-programmed revulsion turns into unabashed love.
No, it didn't happen with the three other people who ate the cookie with me, so it's not a guarantee that–if Shawn Xa decides to do his Spam and roasted garlic cookies again–you will like what you taste. But that, I think, is what's most exciting about Xa's cookie creations. They are, if nothing else, never boring. With every new cookie flavor, there's a sense of adventure and originality that you won't find in the next cronut copycat.