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Blue Bell Mint Cookies ‘n Cream Review (On The Ice Cream Informant)

Once again, Chad (aka The Ice Cream Informant) has featured a review of mine, this time of the new Mint Cookies ‘n Cream ice cream from Blue Bell.  The link to the review can be found here.

Here’s the original review, along with the images.

There are two things I can’t seem to tear myself from. Most recently, it’s been Blue Bell ice cream, despite my last two ventures being completely skippable. The other is mint-chocolate treats which, given my childhood obsession with mint chocolate chip ice cream, shouldn’t be too surprising. Maybe it’s more than mere coincidence then, that Blue Bell would come out with a Mint Cookies ‘n Cream flavor to adorn their gold rim.

Blue Bell already have a traditional Mint Chocolate Chip flavor, but now we’re tossing cookies ‘n cream into the mix. For some strange reason, the pint is even more scant on details than Rum Raisin was, which is to say it has no details at all. Only when I seek out Blue Bell’s web site do I find that it’s a “smooth mint ice cream combined with mint creme-filled chocolate cookies and semi-sweet chocolate chips.” Fine by me, because without such guidance I might’ve suspected the cookies to be completely mint flavored, which would be interesting in theory if boring in execution.
But we have an ice cream to devour here, and even with a trench on the edge, I’m ready for that mint scent to grace my tongue. I dig in and am greeted by a brief, initial stiffness that quickly gives way to a medium-light body. The mint flavor is decidedly tame, offset by plenty of chocolate chips and more than a few Oreo imitators. These range from little crumbs to smudges and even entire chunks. It’s nice to see that Blue Bell didn’t skimp out on the mix-ins here, because even though “mint” is the first word for this flavor, it’s the chocolate that steals the show. I think it’s a good decision, since the ice cream has just enough flavor to balance the experience and hold everything together.
Blue Bell had me worried for a bit. After two lackluster offerings, I really wanted to find something that would restore my faith. I figured something similar to my favorite flavor as a kid would be the perfect chance for me to truly praise them again. I’m happy to say this is the case, with two classic selections coming together for a little something new and old at the same time. And yes, I’m already missing that lovely, green pint.
Question of the Day: What was your favorite ice cream as a kid?
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Posted by on March 19, 2013 in Blog, Food, Ice Cream, Review

 

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Blue Bell Rum Raisin Review, Featured on The Ice Cream Informant

Thanks to a personal favorite and fellow reviewer accepting reader submissions, my review for the Florida-exclusive Blue Bell Rum Raisin ice cream has been featured on The Ice Cream Informant’s website. Said review can be found here.

In addition, an earlier submission of mine appeared on The Ice Cream Informant’s site as well.  This came in the form of another Blue Bell flavor: Red Velvet Cake.  You can check out the review for that here.

 
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Posted by on March 9, 2013 in Blog, Food, Ice Cream, Review

 

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Freezerburns +1: My First Impressions

Two of my favorite online shows, Freezerburns and the Nostalgia Critic, have recently made their return to the internet.  While the latter, still charismatically portrayed by Doug Walker, remains in tried and true form, the former has undergone some noticeable adjustments.  As you’ve probably guessed, I feel compelled to acknowledge and address them.

For those who are unfamiliar, Freezerburns was a show dedicated to providing frozen food reviews.  These included “Fro-downs,” where similar dishes from various companies were compared, to testing certain meals when deep fried, to personal Top 5 lists, including the best frozen foods for when you’re snowed in.  However, when Greg, the show’s host and creator, took up the “Food Stamp Challenge,” things slowed down and change started to come in a way that fans are definitely reacting to.

The show is turning into a different iteration, called “Freezerburns +1.”  It appears that, for each episode, Greg will be taking a frozen meal and adding one “fresh” ingredient to make it better.  Our first taste (pun intended) has been through the addition of green peppers to a Newman’s Own skillet meal.

First, let’s run through what’s good about Freezerburns +1.  For starters, the production has definitely gone up.  Everything from the captured footage to the editing and instructions is clean and clear-cut.  The idea of adding something different to a meal so it can be improved is certainly interesting and creates a lot of potential.  However, this is also where the fundamental problem with the show’s new direction comes in.

Fans have already commented about how the look and feel of the show is different and (severely) lacking a key factor: Greg.  The man is someone who’s just enjoyable to watch.  He’s fun, oftentimes charismatic, descriptive and leaves an impression of someone who’s informed but also among the common crowd.  An everyday person could watch his videos and see exactly where he was coming from.  It was all the more reason Freezerburns worked and continued to bring in subscribers.

This new format, on the other hand, is incredibly formal and, dare I say, commercial.  Based on what we have so far, it’s less entertainment and more infomercial.  And I want to address the show’s new core issue in the concept of adding one ingredient to a frozen meal.  This isn’t an interesting, eye-catching premise.  Anyone can add a single ingredient.  It doesn’t make for interesting material.  The videos themselves seem like they’re going to be incredibly limited too.  The +1 in the show’s new title suggests that the inclusion of only one ingredient will be used and tested, which is hardly riveting.  I would suggest experimenting and relaying the results of multiple ingredients one at a time in a single video, but that would be time-consuming, not to mention hard on the wallet.

One more reason I can’t see this new format taking off is because really, if you’re going to add ingredients like green peppers (with olive oil, mind you), why don’t you just make the dish yourself?  You’re already taking the necessary steps by doing so with the green peppers in a separate skillet, so there’s little to deter anyone from going all-out.  Many times the reason people buy frozen meals is because they’re convenient and the closest we can get to affordable variants of the “real deal.”  Like many people, I work in retail and only get a half hour break per shift.  I don’t like buying fast food or ordering from nearby eateries since it’s often time-consuming, more expensive, and even worse for me.  Thus, I resort to frozen food meals that are relatively quick and convenient, by comparison.  Am I going to have the time or resources to do something similar to what was depicted in this latest episode?  Not in an everyday breakroom, I won’t.

My concerns for the future of Freezerburns (+1) are quite high.  People got excited to see the show come back because they thought they’d be getting a new and improved version of something they knew, something that worked.  The show functioned fine on its own and, thanks to an ever-changing and expanding supply of frozen food entrees, it meant there was never any concern for new material.  Freezerburns had personality and a unique flavor (again, pun intended), this does not.  This is more makeshift cooking from home than it is actual input on stuff people use and buy.  Sometimes changes can be interesting, but as both fans and Doug Walker himself learned with Demo Reel, “interesting” isn’t synonymous with “good.”

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2013 in Blog, Food, Impressions

 

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Russell Stover Big Bite S’mores Bar


Look at that mallow filling!

I’m what you’d call a messy individual.  As such, I always welcome a bit of extra convenience; the less I have to worry about, the better.  This is why I find Russell Stover’s Big Bite S’mores bar to be a bizarre addition to their line-up.  Okay, so I’m a bit behind with my review of this peculiarity.  But both this and the Big Bite Pecan Delight have made, well, big waves at my store, so even a late review was irresistible.

When I think Russell Stover, I think neat, elegantly assorted chocolates.  Along with Whitman’s Reserve and the like, they’re the richer sweets that stick their noses up at all those Snickers and KitKat flavors, be it here or in Japan, respectively.  Like so, the worst mess you should face with them is a sprinkle or two left in an otherwise empty spot.


Not quite the case here.

Now, when I think s’mores, I think nature.  I think of the night, when wolves and coyotes are deciding which fatty of our clique to indulge in; I think of mosquitos sucking your blood out because you’re not in a loving, sharing mood.  I also think about how your epic s’mores concoctions fall apart easier than lettuce and black olives slipping out of your Subway sandwich.

Needless to say, the fact these two worlds are being combined is what a stereotypical English instructor would call an aberration.  But it can work.  This is Russell Stover, after all, so whatever mess is left should be relatively negligible, right?


You got your crumbs in my filling!

A co-worker actually treated me to one of these before, saying they wanted see my reaction (smile).  Apparently there’s a ritual of enjoying this ever-degrading, mallow-y treat before gathering crumbs aplenty on the floor.

As for my initiation, I was quite pleased.  Everything about the bar was what I thought it should be.  The graham crackers could’ve been crispier, but the marshmallow filling was enjoyably chewy which, combined with Russell Stover’s wonderful milk chocolate coating, made for a scrumptious treat.  That chocolate covering feels thicker than it looks, as it seeps throughout the crackers and filling to the point that you know precisely where those 25 grams of sugar went.

The bar that I purchased (and saved) for my blog was similar, all told; except the graham crackers were on the soggy and stale side.  You know how store-brand graham crackers tend to feel chewy even when they’re right out of the box?  That’s what this was.  And since they’re the first things you bite into, it makes for an off first impression.  Until the rest of the bar works its magic, that is.  When your tongue and teeth begin savoring the real delights of this bar, the crackers become an afterthought.

In Short: Messy and inconsistent, but ever so tasty.

Purchased At: Walgreens
Purchase Price: $0.99 (on sale)

Other Reviews

Candy Blog: http://www.candyblog.net/blog/item/russell_stover_giant_smores_bar
Junk Food Guy: http://junkfoodguy.com/2012/09/17/russell-stover-big-bite-smores-awkward-mondays-the-sunday-after-a-wedding-and-announcing-retro-cereal-week/

Nutrition

Serving Size: 1 bar
Calories: 230 (60 from fat)
Total Fat: 7 grams (3.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat)
Cholesterol: Less than 5 milligrams
Sodium: 140 milligrams
Total Carbohydrates: 42 grams (1 gram of dietary fiber, 25 grams of sugar)
Protein: 2 grams

 
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Posted by on December 14, 2012 in Blog, Food, Review

 

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M&M’s Marathon

A bag of M&M’s is like a bunch of little engines that could, mustering through as you crush their feeble little lives away.  Individually they’re among the smaller candies, but even with the same flavor per bag they consistently work some (black) magic.  Skittles might have variety going for them, but would you still eat a whole bag if they were all grape flavored?  I know I wouldn’t.

I haven’t been much of a candy eater as of late, but with Fall in session it means us Americans can feel less guilty about our sweet tooth fetish.  As much as anyone likes M&M’s, I tend to regard them as more of a (dessert) mixer.  Ice cream, cookies and a thick cake perhaps; that’s where the real M&M magic can be worked.  But we’re not here to mix M&M’s, we’re just here to eat M&M’s.  Today we have eight varieties and, to avoid cluttering, I’m going to forgo nutritional information.  Besides, who cares about nutrition when tossing bite-size sugar bombs over your greedy little tongues?

M&M’s Milk Chocolate

First up we have the classic M&M’s Milk Chocolate in the instantly (and boringly) identifiable dark brown bag.  The great thing about M&M’s is that even their thin shells seem to keep the chocolate intact, almost completely eliminating the possibility of a melted bag.

What makes these little buggers work is the crunchiness of the shell combined with the chocolate filling melting around your teeth.  It’s a tried and true consistency that, while very basic, remains fulfilling when you’re craving a simple treat.  Unlike a standard Hershey bar where your mouth has to act as an oven to melt the bar until you’re bored of the taste, these are more about instant gratification.

In Short: Sometimes all you need is something basic.

M&M’s Peanut

Next up is the other key staple in Mars’ M&M’s line up: M&M’s Peanut.  Anyone who knew me through high school knew that I was completely adamant about any form of nut.  Anyone who put nuts on my brownies might as well put them back in the oven until they burnt.  As such, Peanut M&M’s were irrelevant to me; they could’ve been discontinued and I’d have been content.

Since then I’ve grown more of an enjoyment for peanuts.  In fact, I’m surprised at just how addicting they can get.  Peanuts seem to go away very fast, just like bite-size candies.  I guess that’s the point of Peanut M&M’s: Bite-size snacks to leave you hungry and wondering where the hell your money went.  These are also the largest of the M&M’s I tried for this blog, so there are far less per bag, which again only screams inherent disappointment.

Taking a bite, I get the impression more chocolate wants to come out, but the peanut blocks it.  I think many guys have had a similar experience, whether or not you’re a virgin (leave me alone).  Many types of nuts have a nice, salty taste to them, so the sweet and salty factor should work here.  Maybe not to classic status like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, but something to a similar effect.  This is not the case.

That said, given how much the peanut takes up, I’m actually surprised at how much of a chocolate layer there is.  Going through more I’ve found that it varies a bit, but I still think the potential and magic of Peanut M&M’s remains lost with Harry Potter’s relatives.

In Short: I’ll eat them, but I won’t buy them.

M&M’s Peanut Butter

As I said, peanuts were never really to my liking as a kid.  Peanut butter, on the other hand, was the nectar of the gods.  Before I can even literally remember, peanut butter was essentially my source of protein since I apparently avoided meats like the plague.  I’m just glad that part didn’t become a piece of foreshadowing for my future.  And since we all know that peanut butter goes with chocolate like cars and overpriced maintenance, M&M’s Peanut Butter was definitely among my most highly anticipated variants.

So I had to remind myself going in…what’s the difference between these and Reese’s Pieces?  Just that the shells have more color variety?  Bring up the medal for Mars, everyone!  To my surprise, these are quite bigger than regular M&M’s and even Reese’s Pieces.  And yes, I did try some of those not long before this blog as part of an (un)intentional reference.

These M&M’s nail the sweetness of chocolate and peanut butter building off of each other to a satisfying end, but for some reason they don’t quite have that sweet magic Reese’s Pieces do.  And since these are bigger, that’s a bit of an issue.  Even more so is that you can enjoy more Pieces for about the same (if not less) guilt of the M&M’s Peanut Butter.  Still a good candy, but if you have a choice, go for the true Pieces.

In Short: Good but inferior.

M&M’s Pretzel

We’re already working with the salty and sweet magic of M&M’s and peanut butter, so what other option did Mars have to give us?  Pretzels, of course!  As a kid I loved pretzels.  At least, the fresh and soft ones with plenty of salt, anyway.  Hard, store bought pretzels are just weak.  They’re a step above standard potato chips in that you don’t feel totally guilty eating them, but that’s not saying much.  Scratch that, they’re TWO steps above potato chips.  You know why?  Because there’s less air per bag and more solidified empty calories.  Suck it, Lays!

Chocolate covered pretzels seem to be a bit of an unsung classic combo nowadays.  I’ve already taken big notice of them in the seasonal desert sections of supermarkets, but never see anyone buy them.  I even made some white chocolate covered pretzels to snack on in college, using melted Hershey’s Bliss.  They tasted great, but I had to be kept in the fridge to avoid melting.  Why white chocolate?  Because Flipz, the most recognizable brand in chocolate covered pretzels to this kid’s mind, have amazing white chocolate covered pretzels, but the regular chocolate version literally tastes like wood.

Hopefully Mars and M&M’s can handle regular chocolate on their pretzels a bit better.

While these are about half to two-thirds the size of a Peanut M&M and have even less pieces per bag, these are easily the best option for the more nutritiously discerning buyer.  You get less than 200 calories and less than 20 grams of sugar per bag, which isn’t a bad snack while on a boring register shift.

Taking a half bite to see the ratio, it’s a similar story to the Peanut M&M’s, except the chocolate seems to play a bigger role here.  I want to say that has to do with the fact pretzels are less tightly packed, if you will, than peanuts.  As such, the chocolate is able to seep through and compliment the faint saltiness.  The crunchiness feels just right too, since the pretzel bite crumbles apart and continues to mix with the melting chocolate.  It’s a very pleasant experience.

In Short: Gives the oldies a run for their money (and flavor).

Coconut M&M’s

Mars really like to play inconsistent games with me.  Peanuts and pretzels?  Whatever.  Peanut butter?  Hellz yeah!  Coconut?  Might as well give me a side of asparagus.

That’s a bit much, but if there’s one flavor from my childhood I haven’t had too much of a change of heart in, it’s coconut.  I always found it incredibly bland and, to put in the words of one of this century’s best characters, “I hate coconut, not the taste, the consistency.”  Coconut is pretty much a less awesome version of dark chocolate in that I’ll only tolerate it if mixed with something very good.  Speaking of which, that’s a pretty decent combo for two unremarkable flavors.

Something that makes me sad about this M&M marathon is that it’s taken this long to get to a white M&M.  I guess it’s true, racism is A-okay whenever directed at whites.  Something else I’ve noticed is that all the other M&M’s are bigger than the traditional ones, even if they use a basic flavor enhancer.

And when I say basic, I mean basic: The coconut doesn’t play very much of a role here, being the recessive flavor.  In other words, I actually kind of dig it.  Part of the problem with my general coconut experience is that any time I try it, it’s the dominant flavor.  I’d rather it be secondary or used only for an aftertaste, which it does here.  If you love coconut, you’ll probably be underwhelmed.  If you don’t like coconut but are feeling adventurous, these might be worth a shot.

In Short: These work some reverse logic on you.

Mint Chocolate M&M’s

Once again, Mars have pulled the rug underneath my aching feet.  Except this time I anticipate a soft landing into ice cream rather than a bloody concussion on my forehead.  Why ice cream?  Because mint chocolate chip was always my go-to flavor as–you guessed it–a kid.  So imagine my excitement upon seeing the Mint Chocolate M&M’s.

Like peanut butter and pretzels, mint and chocolate are among the best of the classic flavor combinations.  You could make a good contest for which seems to mix better, peanut butter with chocolate or mint with chocolate.  But my excitement came to a “whoa, whoa” when I saw these M&M’s use dark chocolate instead of the standard milk chocolate.  The milky lover in me is feeling very wary.

Like the other M&M flavors, these are considerably larger than regular M&M’s.  It’s like flavors are to M&M’s as steroids are to humans.  Arrogant candy sibling jerks.  But the point at hand is the candy and, similar to the coconut flavor, the mint here takes a backseat to the chocolate, which in my case is less fulfilling than I’d like it to be.  That said, the aftertaste is more pronounced, so I’m left clinging to the mint flavor more than the coconut.  This is a nice combination that I’m sure fellow mint and chocolate lovers will like, but it ultimately leaves too much of a so-so impression.

In Short: You’re better off with a pint (or gallon) of ice cream.

Candy Corn M&M’s

And finally we have what I’m sure half my tiny selection of readers will consider the true rotten apple of M&M’s in the candy corn flavor.  Unlike all the others, this one is made with white chocolate.  I suppose this is to better compliment the aforementioned flavor.  I don’t know, has anyone tried candy corn dipped in milk chocolate?  Japan ought to know, they get all the awesome stuff first.

For reference, I have Brach’s candy corn to compare these too.  As far as I’m concerned, candy corn receives way too much hate.  I’d be lying if I said it’s spectacular, but there are far worse crimes, even in the candy world.  Those who say candy corn is something that keeps life from being good should stomach their way through a Hershey’s Air “Delight” bar and then tell me how cruel the world really is.

Candy corn itself has a subtle build up of mellow cream-like sugar that seems to get sweeter the more you chew it, which makes for a surprisingly enjoyable treat.  That is, in moderation of course.

There are various variants of the picture used on Candy Corn M&M wrappers for our red M&M friend; mine doesn’t seem too happy.  I’m nervous.  Taking these buggers out of the bag, it’s all but confirmed that every non-traditional M&M flavor wants to make the Milk Chocolate M&M’s seem anorexic.  Hey, America loves special flavors and we’re the fattest country in the world, it’s only fitting!

Taking a half bite to see the inside, it’s completely white, a big contrast to the dark brown of chocolate.  After looking at so much chocolate, I’m surprised by just how interesting a creamy white color can be.  As for the taste?  I definitely pick up the white chocolate, which is a nice plus for me.  The candy corn flavor itself?  Just like the mint and coconut flavors–a mild to moderate aftertaste.  What I like about these is that they’re the creamiest of the M&M’s, which is fitting given the fat and sugar inducing double whammy of Fall and Winter is upon us.  Will candy corn lovers enjoy this?  Maybe, but I think most anyone who likes white chocolate can dig these.

In Short: You might be (pleasantly) surprised.

 
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Posted by on October 6, 2012 in Blog, Candy, Food, Review

 

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The Blossom Experiment

I don’t know about the rest of you, but when it comes to baking, I get excited at just about any possibility.  What better way to enjoy life than to pick your poison for death by sugar overdose?

One particular combination of flavors I’ll happily die by is peanut butter and chocolate.  I’m not even just talking Reese’s, I mean anything with those flavors together.  The combination leads to an automatic categorization of awesomeness  That said, it’s amazing that I haven’t tried a little twist on the classic PB & J: Peanut Butter and Nutella.  I probably should.

What am I getting at with this?  Well, let me entertain one last tried and true combination so I can transition: peanut butter blossoms.  The first time I learned about these as a kid, I freaked.  I HAD to have them.  And like a polarized cousin to the peanut butter cup, I fell in love.  Since then I’ve pondered varying twists on how I could deform the original blossom.  One that I made twice and yielded moderate success with was chocolate candy cane blossoms for Christmas.  What were those?  Take chocolate chip cookies and instead of adding normal Hershey Kisses, use the Peppermint Kisses from Christmas time.  They probably work well with regular sugar cookies as well, but I like variation in the consistency of my food.  The fact I can have chocolate while I’m at it helps too.

And with the advent of Fall upon us once again, I got some ideas for a nice, seasonal twists on the classic blossom.  Curiosity brought me to two combinations: peanut butter cookies or gingerbread cookies with regular Kisses or Caramel Kisses on top.  But then I thought…why not have both?  The two don’t seem so alien from each other to me, so I figured I’d find a couple recipes for peanut butter and gingerbread cookies that used similar core ingredients and mix them together.

By that point the most challenging part was getting the portions down, but I took an average of whatever two weren’t too demanding and yielded a similar quantity.  This is to say that I prefer to be more sparing than six dozen cookies, I’m not THAT addicted (I swear I’m not).

There were two final things I needed after deciding how I’d handle the quantity and preparation of ingredients.  The first came from looking up ginger cookie recipes, most of which involved dipping or covering the rolled up cookie dough in sugar.  I guess the ginger, cinnamon and sugar in the dough already just isn’t enough sweetness for everybody.  At that point I thought what would be a nice way to put a little twist on that as well?  Last-minute summer staples began to converge on my creativity as the latest idea popped: graham cracker crumbs.

That’s right, we got ginger, peanut butter and graham crackers together at once.  And we haven’t even reached the second of the two final things I alluded to.

Like I said, the Fall season is already in full swing with pumpkin literally being infused into everything.  If the stuff from a recent Spotted on Shelves (courtesy of The Impulsive Buy) wasn’t enough for you, I saw a bottle of pumpkin flavored vodka from Pinnacle.  I think we all know where this is going, what with the blossom topic: Pumpkin Spice Kisses.  But I still had a hard time deciding between pumpkin and caramel for the Kisses flavor, so once again, I decided I’d include both.  Half the batch would have one flavor of Kisses and the other half the other flavor Kisses.  Once again we’re getting the best of both worlds, because I believe in awesomeness like that.  Politicians should really listen to people like me.

Much like a previous recipe I tried (dark chocolate raspberry cupcakes for one’s birthday), this was a moderately lengthy, occasionally frustrating experience.  I always forget how tough it is to mix ingredients when finally brewing the actual cookie dough itself.  “But hey,” I though, “the results have to be worth it.”

Turns out the batch I concocted yielded more cookies than I would’ve liked, which left me rummaging for extra baking sheets and struggling to fit them all in the oven at once.  Those of you who know baking and cooking can probably tell this is a big fat no-no, especially when you’re only putting your work in the oven for a few minutes.  Cue a burning smell and the bottom baking sheet (almost half my batch) was burnt.  Yet the top sheets seemed to come out alright, so I focused on taking a frozen Kiss to indent in them a spot for the remaining Kisses.

As I let the good cookies cool off, I checked underneath the burnt bunch and only two of the 21 didn’t seem too bad.  And by that I mean they didn’t look pitch black.  Biting into those to see if they were any decent yielded such a bittersweet emotion.  I loved it.  The cookies were great, even burnt and without Kisses on top.  And as someone who doesn’t look fondly on stiff cookies like regular Chip A-Hoy! (chewy for me), these crunchy babies were remarkably scrumptious.  All the more reason I hated my egghead move.  Success and failure all at the same time.

The sway of flavors is interesting.  When I bite in, I’m immediately greeted by the ginger, with the peanut butter quickly being picked up before the ginger comes back once again for that final aftertaste.  As I said, the cookies came out rather stiff in texture, which is probably because of the molasses.  This was also the first time I used or got a whiff of molasses…I almost thought of not including it the second I opened the jar.  It’d be nice for these to be softer, so if you forgo that and try these, let me know how they come out.  I’d say these were successful, but I’ll have to work on them again to nail down what I really want.

Here’s the recipe I used:

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 teaspoon salt
About 1/2 cup chopped crystallized ginger
3/4 to 1 cup of sugar
1/3 stick of butter (room temperature)
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup vegetable shortening (room temperature)
1/4 cup mild-flavored light molasses
1 egg
3/4 cup (smooth) peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
About 3 whole graham crackers smashed into crumbs
1 bag of Hershey Kisses of your choice

-Combine first 6 ingredients in bowl with whisk, mixing in crystallized ginger.  Set aside
-In large bowl, cream together white sugar and butter.  Add and beat brown sugar and shortening.  Add egg and molasses and beat until blended.  Mix in peanut butter and vanilla.  Add dry/flour mixture and mix until blended.  Cover and refrigerate for an hour or so.
-Grease cookie sheets
-Preheat oven to 365 degrees
–Using lightly wet hands, roll and form dough into small balls, dipping in crushed graham crumbs to finish.
-Bake until golden brown (about 10 minutes)
-Create crease in cookies with a wrapped up kiss (frozen/refrigerated).  Add Kisses immediately.  Set cookies aside to cool off.

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2012 in Baking, Blog, Candy, Food

 

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Marathon Reviews: KitKat

I was never much of a KitKat fan growing up.  Then again I wasn’t much a fan of anything outside the most sugar and chocolate-drenched concoctions.  A regular Hershey bar sometimes quenched those cravings; I always forgoed the dark, nut or air-filled variants (Cookies n Cream is another story).  When you’re a kid, you want the exciting stuff, something KitKat never had.

So why honor something I’ve no fond memory of with a comprehensive blog?  My best retort is that lowered standards really do things to a man.  Not low enough to the point of trying or enjoying Ramen noodles per se, but if you’re like me and have tried losing weight, you know you’d better damn well open up.  So go figure that, in the past couple years, I’ve found myself enjoying an occasional KitKat.  And by occasional I mean once every eight months or so.

But enough about my lovely success story, let’s have a look at our real stars.

KitKat really aren’t doing much in the creativity category.  Sans three popular flavors and a typical selection of sizes, what do they offer that’s so different?  I may be pre-critical, but even Milky Way jumped at more opportunities in the past who-knows-how-many decades.  And let’s be honest, who (voluntarily) buys Milky Way?  I should probably get off this tangent.

KitKat

Nutrition

Serving Size: 1 package (42 grams)
Calories: 210 (90 from fat)
Total Fat: 11 grams (7 grams saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat)
Cholesterol: Less than 5 mg
Sodium: 30 mg
Total Carbohydrates: 27 grams (less than 1 gram dietary fiber, 21 grams sugar)
Protein: 3 grams

Tearing the wrapper off our classic KitKat unveils the nice, clean look these bars are known for.  Whatever the guys at Hershey do to make these appealing certainly works, since I can’t recall ever opening an unappealing KitKat.  If only they could do similar work with excess skin from those who lost weight “too fast.”  But don’t even get me started on how many times I’ve had a deformed Hershey bar or Reese’s, those are a whole other ballpark.

The wafer-to-chocolate ratio is nice and balanced, which is helped by the fact thin traces of chocolate sneak in-between layers of wafer.  I still think it’s crazy that something as boring as wafer, even mixed with the awesomeness of milk chocolate, comes out so well.  It shouldn’t be this good, but for some reason it is.  The sweetness is just right, which is probably why it works so well (those 21 grams of sugar).  In fact, if it weren’t for the fat and inherent consequences that come with all sweets, I’d call this a sinless treat.

A standard KitKat proves to be something that works well and simply makes sense.  At the same time, I can’t call it one of the best candies out there.  It’s like chocolate cake with vanilla frosting: good (maybe even great) on its own but, as we all know, yellow cake with chocolate frosting is better.

The Verdict: Grab It On Sale

KitKat White

Nutrition

Serving Size: 1 four-piece bar (42 grams)
Calories: 220 (100 from fat)
Total Fat: 12 grams (8 grams saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat)
Cholesterol: 5 mg
Sodium: 45 mg
Total Carbohydrates: 26 grams (0 grams dietary fiber, 18 grams sugar)
Protein: 3 grams

Now we have KitKat White, which certainly has a more eye-catching wrapper than the standard KitKat…if only for the fact it’s white instead of the standard red/orange wrapper.  I’m a bit of a sucker for white chocolate, despite the fact it’s so plain.  It’s like vanilla ice cream in that you don’t think much of it on its own.  But when that stuff is mixed with the right ingredients it becomes a right mouthgasm.

However, things aren’t always what they seem.  We have supposed ice creams being “frozen dairy desserts” (I’m looking at you, Edy’s) and here we have a KitKat bar simply called “KitKat White.”  And unlike the standard KitKat which reads “Milk Chocolate,” these simply say “Crisp Wafers ‘n Creme.”  What’s more is that there’s no sign or mention of ANY chocolate in the ingredients.  Disappointment has already settled in.

One funny note is that regular KitKats read a serving size as “1 package” while White goes an extra mile to say “1 four-piece bar.”  I guess we’re supposed to take comfort in being compensated via the wrapper print.

Stripping the candy bar(s) I immediately noticed the coating has some thin spots.  I’m not sure if this is also the case with regular KitKats, but if it is, the chocolate does a good job covering up traces of laziness.  As I already mentioned, white chocolate is amazing when mixed with the right stuff.  But again, it’s a plain flavor which is being mixed with the boringness that is wafer, so I became increasingly hesitant.

It’s very tough to pick up the taste of the creme coating until you start getting the aftertaste.  But while you’re chewing the bar itself the wafer actually overpowers the creme.  That alone should speak all you need to know.  I always love a smooth, creamy taste, but this one isn’t nearly as good of a match as milk chocolate KitKats.  It isn’t bad or even remotely repulsive, but my fellow white chocolate comrades can easily live without this candy.

The Verdict: Toss It In the Spill

KitKat Dark

Nutrition

Serving Size: 1 bar (42 grams)
Calories: 210 (100 from fat)
Total Fat: 11 grams (7 grams saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat)
Cholesterol: Less than 5 mg
Sodium: 30 mg
Total Carbohydrates: 27 grams (less than 1 gram dietary fiber, 21 grams sugar)
Protein: 3 grams

And here’s KitKat Dark, whose announcement of permanency on store shelves sent some people into a gushing (like Gusher) phase.  Hardcore Candy Blog followers will know what I’m talking about.  Once more, there’s different wording for the serving size on these packages, simply reading “1 bar.”

I’ll be honest, much like regular KitKats, I was never a big fan of dark chocolate.  In most regards I’m still not too keen on it.  But like white chocolate, when mixed with something good, I’ll enjoy it (dark chocolate raspberry cupcakes, anyone?).  Looking at the nutrition of all three KitKat bars, it saddens me that a bit of chocolate and wafer is enough to give you more than a day’s worth of saturated fat.

But shrug all that aside upon unwrapping the KitKat Dark, as you’re immediately greeted by a prominent dark chocolate smell.  I was also glad (and surprised) to see the dark chocolate looked the part too, since the chocolate is far more black than the milk chocolate KitKats.  Upon biting, I felt the bar was a bit firmer than the others, which might have to do with a thicker covering.  The flavor itself is a fairly decent chocolate taste and certainly has more character than KitKat White.  I’m no closer to boarding the dark chocolate wagon than I was before, and while I had more inclination to finish the Whites, KitKat Dark does work better for what it is.

The Verdict: Grab It On Sale

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2012 in Blog, Candy, Food, Review

 

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