Archive for the 'cookie' Category

Russell Stover S’More(s)

July 11th, 2012 by Rosa

This Russell Stover S’More was yet another free sample snagged at Sweets and Snacks (get used to that opening line, folks. I got enough candy stashed from the Expo to wait out the zombie apocalypse).

S’mores was a weirdly big thing at the Expo. This was the only fully assembled s’more that I saw, but there were s’more flavored goodies and quite a few companies selling s’mores kits, which were basically a pre-packaged bundle of long sticks, marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate.

Part of me wanted to roll my eyes and go, “Seriously? We need someone to further process and package our processed and packaged food?” But another part of me thought, “For a real camping trip, I guess it would be better than carrying around a whole box of graham crackers and a whole bag of marshmallows.”

Aaaand end tangent; back to the candy! This thing was pretty cool: a marshmallow square covered in milk chocolate and sandwiched between two graham cracker squares. All the ingredients in real s’mores, minus the toasting.

It wasn’t the easiest thing to transport. As you can imagine, the combination of crunchy cookie and light marshmallow made for easy squashing. My crackers had picked up a few breaks by the time I got it back to Durham.

Alas, those crackers had gone stale by the time I tasted this treat, so the texture was a bit off. Surprisingly enough, I didn’t mind that too much, as the staleness was masked when it was all chomped up along with the chocolate and marshmallow.

The cracker had a decent flavor of sweet, toasty graham crackers. The flavor was a bit one-dimensional, and I found myself wishing for some highlights of honey, but it was good enough. Still, I wouldn’t recommend eating the graham cracker portion alone in its stale state.

The milk chocolate coating was thin on the marshmallow but thick in its melt with a slightly sour tinge. Classic Hershey’s-esque flavor profile there.

The marshmallow was lightly chewy and squishy and fluffy, with an oozingly long pull when I bit into it and drew it away from my mouth. It tasted entirely of sugary sweetness. Though I missed the toastiness of real s’mores’ marshmallows, I was thankful they didn’t include some sort of artificial flavoring to fake the toasties.

Though I found the marshmallow to be too sweet by itself, the graham cracker did an excellent job of toning down that sweetness, and the chocolate worked to tie everything together. I really enjoyed the mix of flavors and textures here.

I found myself on the fence on whether to give this an O or an OM. None of the ingredients on their own were particularly transcendent, but together, they worked. In the end, I think my appreciation for Russell Stover’s creativity and ingenuity wins out, so an OM.

Category: chocolate, cookie, marshmallow, OM, review, Russell Stover | No Comments »

Yan Yan Creamy Choco-Hazelnut vs Nutella & Go

July 6th, 2012 by Rosa

Nutella & Go won the Most Innovative New Product Award in the sweet snacks category at this year’s Sweets and Snacks Expo. It was a plastic tub with biscuit sticks and a little dipping well of Nutella.

Sounds/looks familiar? That’s because Meiji‘s Yan Yan has been making basically the same product for at least a decade. I remember eating them while growing up.

While Meiji was handing out Yan Yan’s at the Expo, no one handed them any awards. I’d say this is an instance of Europeans taking credit (or at least acclaim) for something Asian people invented years ago.

Clearly this calls for a head-to-head comparison. While Yan Yan comes in an assortment of flavors in both dipping cream and biscuit stick, I’m using their creamy choco-hazelnut dip for maximum similarity to Nutella & Go.

Both the Yan Yan and Nutella & Go were free samples from Sweets and Snacks. The former was given to me by Meiji’s US distributor for the purposes of this head-to-head review, while the latter was freely left out for all takers by Ferrero.

Both products were quite similar in packaging design with a little well separating the dipping medium from the dipping sticks. Yan Yan came in a trapezoidal tube (the top circle was slightly bigger than the bottom; is there a fancy math term for this shape?) while Nutella & Go was in a half circle tube with a trompe l’oeil Nutella jar look.

Let’s start with the dipping sticks. The Yan Yan biscuits were longer and a lightly toasty golden brown. They tasted slightly sweet with a tinge of butteriness to the finish.

The Nutella & Go sticks, on the other hand, were shorter, with the pale, alabaster hue of Dita Von Teese‘s skin. They were airier, like a crunchy restaurant breadstick. The flavor reminded me of the wheaty blandness of a saltless saltine.

Yan Yan definitely came out ahead on the dipping stick front. Let’s move on to the dips!

Yan Yan’s “smooth creme” had the texture of whipped frosting. When I dipped and then pulled out the stick, little holes were left in the cream. The flavor was that of malty chocolate with a light tinge of nuttiness.

The Nutella portion of the Nutella & Go was, as far as I could tell, the same as standard Nutella. It was much more flowy. When I pulled the sticks out of the Nutella, it clung to the sticks with a long pull, and the Nutella left in the well settled to fill in the holes.

Though it had a viscous flow in the well and on the stick, the Nutella felt thick, sticky, and pasty in my mouth. The hazelnuttiness was much stronger here, with a great nutty intensity that matched its chocolatey-ness.

I’m going to call it a draw on the dips. Though they’re supposed to be similar, they’re actually quite different in flavor and texture. I liked the Yan Yan version for its malty notes, but I also enjoyed Nutella for the nuttiness. And because its Nutella!

In the end, Yan Yan wins out for its tasty biscuit sticks. Nutella & Go’s sticks were not very good and didn’t add anything to the product. I’d stick with just getting Nutella in a jar. An OM for the Yan Yan and an O for Nutella & Go.

 

 

Category: Asian (China, Japan, and Korea), chocolate, cookie, European, Ferrero, Meiji, nuts, O, OM, review | 1 Comment »

Cinnamon Bun Bites

June 20th, 2012 by Rosa

Is there anyone who’s immune to the smell of Cinnabon? Something about the mix of sugar and cinnamon and heat is so intoxicating! I’ve never let myself succumb to the siren scent of Cinnabon (too many calories from “frat”!), so I was excited to taste these Cinnamon Bun Bites as a less calorie laden alternative.

I got them as a free sample from the Cookie Dough Bites folks at Sweets and Snacks. They were also showing off their Hello Kitty and Care Bear branded boxes of their other treats, but these Cinnamon Bun Bites were too new to warrant the licensed character treatment.

They turned out to be little spherical nuggets of cinnamon scented “dough” that were covered in a white confectionary coating. That coating was a bit greasy, probably thanks to the palm oil that went into it. It tasted sweet and creamy, like icing.

The doughy center carried all of the cinnamon flavor. It started off cinnamon-y and finished with a toastiness that was reminiscent of golden-brown baked goods. The texture reminded me of peanut butter cookie dough, with a soft yet solid pasty graininess.

I enjoyed these in small doses, but their sweetness quickly compounded and became overwhelming. Still, they were a decent approximation of cinnamon bun flavor and texture in a non-perishable bite. An O.

Category: cookie, O, review | No Comments »

Guest Post: Toggenburger Kägi-Fret

June 11th, 2012 by Neil

Hey guys! We’ve got a couple more reviews from Neil this week. I actually got one of these bars at the Expo but haven’t tried mine yet.

My most recent trip was to Switzerland, where I was very excited to pick up some chocolate treats to review for you all… and, yes, lord over those of you without access to them. On top of the stack was the Toggenburger Kägi-Fret. I can’t remember if I picked this up at a souvenir shop or a grocery store, but I’m pretty sure it was available through much of the Alpine region I was in.

The picture on the package made me think of Kit Kat bars, which are in, I suppose, my top 5 favorite “standard” candies (My officemate will tell you they’re in the top 2 things I most frequently purchase from the office vending machine).

It turns out they’re like Kit Kat, sure, but with more delicate wafers and a thinner, more luxurious milk chocolate. I’ve been racking my brain, trying to think of what other childhood treat they’re like an upgraded version of, and I’m blanking. Something from Little Debbie, perhaps?

Note from Rosa: Maybe Nutty Bars without the nutty?

Either way, these are simply wonderful. The chocolate melted a little bit too readily in the May heat. That just meant I got to lick it off my fingers and the wrapper. I wished I’d picked up a few more of these.  Definitely an OM.

Category: chocolate, cookie, European, guest post, OM, review | No Comments »

Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate filled with Speculoos Cookie Spread

May 25th, 2012 by Rosa

It’s here! It’s here! It’s finally here! After year (okay, really just months) of searching and asking every time I went into my local Trader Joe’s, after I completely gave up on ever finding one because a Trader Joe’s cashier told me that they were no longer orderable, I GOT TO EAT A SPECULOOS CHOCOLATE BAR!

Got a little over excited there… let’s back up. Trader Joe’s introduced their “Les Chocolates de Belgique” line of chocolate bars {filled with} things with three bars: a caramel one, a chocolate buttercream one, and a Speculoos cookie spread one. The first two were easily found, but the latter most interesting and delicious-sounding one was missing from my local Trader Joe’s.

Until now! My friend Amanda found them on her latest Trader Joe’s run and was kind enough to remember that I had been lusting after them.

If you’ve never had a Speculoos cookie, you’re missing out. They’re light and crunchy cinnamon spice cookies from the Netherlands. Delta serves them on their flights as Biscoffs, and Trader Joe’s sells them as Bistro Biscuits.

The chocolate bar had six segments full of Speculoos in cookie spread form, which was similar in texture to peanut butter. The cookie spread filling was creamy and thick but also pillowy soft.

The cookie bits added a slight grit and crispy crunch. It tasted of sweet cinnamon and dusky caramelized cookie.

The dark chocolate shell was softened by the filling and lacked snap. The whole bar was on the soft side, hence the squished segment on the end of mine.

It tasted of deep cocoa with a woodsy finish and a minimal amount of sweetness – just enough to keep the bitter away. Paired with the cinnamon cookie, it was sweet and spicey and crispy and melty. So much delicious!

It was also so much fattening – 51% of your recommended daily dose of saturated fat in just one little 1.58 oz bar – probably because its center was basically cookies plus whipped oil. For that, I must take it down a notch, to an OMG. I want to hoard them, but I will try not to, for the sake of my arteries.

Category: chocolate, cookie, OMG, review, Trader Joe's | 6 Comments »

Choco Roll – Pudding

February 17th, 2012 by Rosa

The last time I tried Choco Roll in their Taro flavor, it just didn’t work for me. Though my palate grew up eating lots of Chinese food, I couldn’t stand the Asian starchy root as a dessert.

Recently, I came across a box of Choco Roll in a Pudding variety. Now that’s a flavor that I can get behind!

The Chinese characters for pudding are a straight phonetic translation, a clear indication that “pudding” is a Western import.

The box pictures both a milk chocolate truffle and a delectable looking flan, so I guess they took some liberties in that importing process.

My box contained seven individually wrapped Choco Rolls. Each was a cream filled wafer cookie straw coated in milk chocolate.

The chocolate layer was quite thin. It was mild with little flavor or character and had a slight greasiness to it.

I think it was made with some sort of vegetable fat rather than cocoa butter. A look at the ingredients confirmed my hunch: palm oil and butter, but no cocoa butter.

The wafer cookie was nicely airy and crisp. Though it had the soft and easily crumbling texture of egg roll cookies, the flavor was more that of fortune cookies, minus that crunchy staleness that fortune cookies get.

The center cream filling was rather gritty with no creaminess. It was kind of pasty and fluffy, like dry mashed potatoes.

That cream filling was mildly sweet. It tasted pretty neutrally of dairy cream and left a fatty feeling on my tongue and lips.

I enjoyed these more than the Taro version, but I didn’t enjoy them enough to want to buy them again. I blame the packaging – it had me expecting creamy chocolate truffles and caramelized flan but only delivered neutral sweetness that was boring by comparison.

For that, it gets an O. And I’ve now got flan cravings.

Category: Asian (China, Japan, and Korea), chocolate, cookie, O, review | No Comments »

Milk Chocolate Salty Pocky

January 30th, 2012 by Rosa

I found these Milk Chocolate Salty Pocky at an Asian grocery store back home in Austin. I immediately snatched them up – salt + chocolate has always struck me as a European thing, so I was excited to see them on Pocky, a classic Asian treat.

They were basically regular milk chocolate Pocky – thin biscuit sticks dipped in chocolate – with an added sprinkle of salt. The salt crystals were small but visible, though not quite as sparkly as they appear on the packaging.

The biscuit sticks were crisp and crunchy. They tasted mostly neutral with just a bit of butteriness. Their purpose was mostly to serve as a neutral flavored but texturally interesting foil for the chocolate.

The chocolate coating was thin but creamy. It had a nice duskiness, and the salt crystals added a flash of flavor that really set the chocolate off.

These were a really simple yet wonderful treat. It’s amazing how the simple addition of a few grains of salt added so much more complexity to it. An OMG.

Category: Asian (China, Japan, and Korea), chocolate, cookie, OMG, review | 2 Comments »

Whisper

September 7th, 2011 by Rosa

I found this Whisper bonbon at the local Dollar store. I was in there on a failed expedition for clothes hangers (still working on setting up the new place!).

It was labeled “Milk Chocolate Bonbon” at the top. The whole thing was about the size and shape of a golf ball with the bottom third cut off.

The outer coating was a creamy, soft, and sort of greasy milk chocolate. That greasiness must be due to the preponderance of soybean oil in the ingredients list. Yum!

The chocolate had a light cocoa duskiness and over the top sweetness to it. It reminded me of hot cocoa – the kind that’s made from mix out of a paper envelope.

Immediately below the chocolate was a light wafer shell. It added a stale crunch that didn’t do enough to offset the sweetness of the chocolate coating.

That center filling was comprised of thick and creamy peanut butter. It was lightly salty and rather nice.

For a cheap dollar store find, this turned out to be surprisingly tasty, mostly thanks to the nice salty-sweet balance to the center. Unfortunately, the wafer shell was a tad too stale, and the chocolate coating was a tad too sweet for it to make it past an O.

Category: chocolate, cookie, O, peanut butter, review | 2 Comments »

Cheesecake Pejoy

August 26th, 2011 by Rosa

Today I’ll be reviewing a treat in the “Asian treats shaped like sticks” genre: Cheesecake Pejoy. I bought them in China.

Cheesecake Pejoy is made by Glico. They have a decent U.S. presence (they make Pocky), and various flavors of Pejoy are available in U.S. Asian grocery stores. I’d never seen the cheesecake version in America before, so when I came across them in China, I just had to pick up a box.

China is modernizing at a rapid clip, so I may be a bit behind the times, but I don’t think cheesecake is all that well known in China. There, even just cheese is a fairly new import, so I was surprised to see cheesecake as a flavor. But I’m not complaining – I love cheesecake. Probably too much!

Pejoy are basically an inside-out version of their more famous Pocky counterpart. Pocky are biscuit sticks coated in a thin layer of some sort of flavored frosting-like coating, such as chocolate or pumpkin. Pejoy are hollow tubes made of biscuit and filled with flavored frosting-like substance.

My Pejoys’ color varied from a pale yellow on the underbelly to a lovely golden brown toastiness on its top. Most of mine had little darker hatch marks – almost like grill marks – along the edges.

The cookie shell of the Pejoy tasted rather bland. I think it may have contained vanilla and butter, but the flavor was so neutral that it teetered on the edge of being savory in comparison to the sweeter filling.

 

The off-white, grainy-looking filling was creamy on the tongue, but it lacked flow. The texture was fine, but the rippling ribbons of cheesecake filling depicted on the box made me expect something a bit more luxurious. I couldn’t help but be a little disappointed.

Similarly, the tangy cream cheese scent of the sticks made me expect a similarly sweet and tangy flavor. Alas, the filling turned out to taste sweet with a dairy-ness to it, but it wholly lacked in tanginess.

For me, tangy creaminess is the best part of cheesecake. These Pejoy captured the essence of cheesecake in scent but not taste. While they were a nice snack, they weren’t a cheesecake snack, so they get an O.

Category: Asian (China, Japan, and Korea), cookie, O, review | 1 Comment »

Leonides Les Truffes

June 1st, 2011 by Rosa

Today I’m reviewing more European treats that were gifts from my friend Neil, this 9-piece box of Leonides Les Truffes. There were 6 kinds of truffle in the box: Classique, Noire, Cafe-Caramel, Champagne, Noisette Croquante, and Speculoos.

They got a little smooshed in transit, so a few had cracked shells, but they all tasted fine! All of the truffles were shaped like giant Hershey Kisses and had chocolate shells with soft, creamy ganache centers.

Classique was pretty plain – cocoa dusted milk chocolate around milk chocolate. It had a light sweetness and a mild cocoa flavor.

Noire was just a darker version of the Classique, this time dark chocolate around dark chocolate. It lacked complexity and had just a deep cocoa flavor with minimal sweetness.

Cafe-Caramel was where things got really interesting. This had a pale, light brown ganache center.

I’m not exactly sure what the outer powder on this was, but it was extremely bitter and almost medicinal in taste. That coating overwhelmed any nice caramel or coffee flavors of the center and made the truffle rather unpleasant.

Champagne was more palatable. It, too, had a pale center that was nearly cream colored, and it was covered in fine granulated sugar.

It tasted extremely sweet with a light boozy undertone. I found it too sweet for my taste.

Noisette Croquante’s chocolate shell was studded with bits of candied hazelnuts. Those nuts were great! They tasted sweet and crunchy.

While the dominant flavor of this truffle was that of toffee from the candied nuts, there was a light nuttiness that came through as well.

And finally, the Speculoos. I love Speculoos cookies, which are really tasty crisp cinnamon cookies. If you’ve ever been on a Delta flight, Biscoff cookies are the same.

The Speculoos truffle was covered in fine cookie crumbs. Those crumbs added a great crunch and toasty complexity to the truffle’s light chocolate and cinnamon flavor. It was my favorite of the lot.

The Speculoos and the Noisette Croquante are the only ones that I would seek out to eat again. The Cafe-Caramel was too bitter for me to ever want to eat again, and the rest were fine but unremarkable. Thus the whole lot gets an O.

Category: chocolate, cookie, European, nuts, O, received as gift, review | 2 Comments »