Pros: Bite-size, chocolate covered graham crackers.
Cons: Seasonal item.
Each year there are consistent indications that winter is approaching along with the hustle and bustle of the holidays. The weather turns colder, the days get shorter, the stores are filled with shoppers, and in our grocery stores, usually prominently displayed, are Stauffer's Biscuit Chocolate Star Cookies, also known as Chocolaty Stars.
These cookies have always come in a distinctive box, about nine inches square. I first remember the cover being white with red and green dots (to simulate nonpareils) scattered all over it, but in recent years, the box is red with images of the cookies on it, and one large star-shaped window to see inside. There is no name or written information on the top of the box, but that does not matter. When you see them, you know what they are, and when discussing them with somebody, all you need to say is "star cookies" and they know exactly what you mean.
These one-bite cookies are fudge-covered graham crackers, with white nonpareils sprinkled on top. Each is a five-point star measuring almost two inches across. The light graham-flavored cookie inside stays crunchy, and the chocolate covering it is not overly thick or sweet. The nonpareils are embedded somewhat into the fudge, but there are still quite a few left on the bottom of the box.
Since they are covered in fudge, they do need to be kept in a somewhat cool area. Room temperature is usually fine, unless you leave them too close to a heating or cooking element, which then gets you a melted mess.
A serving size is four cookies, which contain 130 calories, 6 grams of fat, 20 grams of carbohydrates and 1 gram of protein. They are manufactured in a facility that also uses peanuts and tree nuts, and although they have the appearance of a Christmas cookie, they are Kosher-Dairy.
These cookies begin showing up on store shelves in my area just before Thanksgiving and by Christmas, they are gone. The star shape is associated with Christmas, but I think the fact that they are only available for a limited time makes people look forward to them as a holiday treat each year.
On occasion they can be found in chain supermarkets, but they are more readily available at bagel stores, deli's and small Italian grocery stores in my New York City Area. This season, the two-pound box was priced at $5.99, $6.99, and $7.99, depending on which store I was in. They are manufactured by a company located in York, Pennsylvania which is about 170 miles from me, but I do not know how geographically from York they are available. For further information you can visit their website at http://www.stauffers.net.
Each year, my household goes through about three boxes of these cookies. The first box is usually devoured in a week or two because we look forward to them so much each year. As our initial cravings wear off, box number two is brought out on holidays or when guests come over, and those that have not had them in some time are always happy to see them. The last box usually gets opened around New Year's Day and lingers a while, but they are always finished before the expiration date of about eight months later.
Although these are not the same as bakery cookies, they have their appeal just the same. In fact, on more than one occasion we have been given gifts of these cookies as small tokens of appreciation, and each time, they came with the comment that everybody loves these. Stauffer's Chocolaty Star Cookies may be a regional and seasonal product, but we look forward to enjoying them each year.