Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Final Post: Dunkin' Donuts New Fudge Croissant Donut

If you feel like time is flying by you, then make a commitment to yourself to do something at least once each week. Only then will you understanding how many weeks are in a year, as youre daunted by a commitment of something you know you wanted, but youre too lazy to execute. For years Ive dreamed of having my own food blog. Nothing ignites my passion more than having a new experience with some limited edition food item that I had to drive around town to find. Perhaps its the only modern day hunting and gathering instinct that a woman working in a cubicle can experience, but I can tell you it makes me feel excited and rewarded and that this blog has brought job into my life.

Eating food I shouldnt is sinful and exhilarating. But sitting down at least once a week and writing about it? Thats a challenge. Admittedly easy at first, I remember vividly the first few weeks of January when I found myself on multiple occasions sitting down and finding my fingers easily flowing over the keyboard. I couldnt get the words out fast enough about how I enjoyed or didnt enjoy whatever I was reviewing. But January bled into February, which then became March and my initial enthusiasm waned. Blogger is informative enough to show the posts broken down by each month and I can tell from my personal experience that the months where life got in the way, I barely wrote any posts. I dont even have enough fingers and toes to count the amount of times that I considered quitting writing this blog or the weeks that passed without an update. If not for the encouragement of others, recommendations and a guest blogger, then I would have put this To Do List Item off for another year. It would have been a failure and after all of the resources I had dedicated to this, it would have been a failure. Blessed are the gardeners of the soul.

Throughout the year of writing this blog, I have learned quite a few things about myself, as well about the dedication of people who regularly indulge in a hobby. Because I switch things up quite frequently from this list, I am something of a jack of many trades, but the master of none. I think I have a much greater appreciation for people who commit to a sport, or trade, or an art on a lifetime basis. Do not ask me how people do not get bored of the repetition, because that I cannot speak to. While this blog enhanced my life with new experiences and small indulgences, I can honestly say that I wouldnt be able to keep this going on a weekly basis indefinitely, try as I might.

Twelve months and fifty literal blog posts later, I take you to the last planned blog post of this year. Having fallen head over heels with Dunkin Donuts Snickerdoodle Croissant Donut, I was particularly excited to try their new Fudge Croissant Donut. As described by Dunkin, this pastry is a donut made of flakey layers, drizzled with chocolate frosting, and pumped full of chocolate fudge filling. The donut alone has 400 calories, so its not for the calorie conscious thats for sure, but if its anything like their last limited edition croissant donut, then calories be damned.   

What I did review as a part of this blog was the original croissant donut, which I wasnt quite as taken with. With a price tag of $2.49, when the average donut costs me less than $1,00 I cant say I was blown away by the taste to value ratio. Looking at this donut, I am staring at something that reminds me a lot of the original. Looking from the top, you can see there are four puncture points in this donut where filling was inserted, so perhaps thats exactly why this reminds me of the unfilled version. The glaze drizzled on top matches that of my favorite donut, the marble frosted, so I am cautiously optimistic. To note, this donut smells quite good, having the very particular aroma from a glazed Dunkin Donut.

Before biting into this thing, its cut in half to get a cross section view of the filling. You can see at first glance that even though there are four specific puncture points, the donut artist was a little more heavy handed at certain intervals here. 

The filling is impressively dark, lending itself to the whole fudge filled thing. Always being the type of gal who likes to dive in head first, my first bite here is where most of the filling is present. What strikes me first is the taste of the chocolate fudge filling, or lack thereof. Rather than being a dark chocolate that I would expect by sight, its more of a pudding taste. Another taster of this donut told me that this is the same filling that Dunkin uses in their brownie batter donut and I am slightly disappointed. Ive already eaten this entire thing with my eyes and my eyes told me that this was fudgy dark chocolate. The filling is more on the liquid side and the outside is closer to the flakey dry consistency of a croissant and I am not going insane for it. Theres a certain lack of harmony here and this all doesnt seem to come together quite right.

Reading other blogs, the internet went insane for this thing, so donut be deterred by my review. The cronut is as good as the first edition, if that was your thing and this is just a chocolate pudding filled version of that. Chocoholics will be disappointed, but if you blindfolded them then perhaps not. Its not lost on me that there is the other, much lighter and richer chocolate used in those chocolate Kreme filled donuts, which I think would have gone over much better here. That frosting is thicker in consistency and deeper in flavor and this would have blown my lid. With a price tag of $2.49, I wouldnt buy this again or even pull this out of a box of a dozen if it was sitting in our work kitchen.

Signing out until the next chew, whenever that may be. Thanks for letting my words go through your eyes and into your brain over the past year. It means a lot to me. Stay delicious.

Monday, December 21, 2015

One More Poor Decision for 2015: Café Mocha M&M’s

The lack of pre-thought in asking a talented guest blogger to make an appearance on this blog is symbolic of the last twenty eight years of my life. Now you’re back to your regularly scheduled program and I’m staring at dinosaur sized shoes to fill. I wish that I had some kick ass product to review for you, which could outshine any previously written witty word like bacon infused butter sugar cookie cakes, but sadly you’d better buckle up.

You might remember back in September when I reviewed the Pumpkin Spice Latte M&M’s and my head was swimming with deliciousness overload. I really should have soaked it up then. Having dappled quite a bit in the confectionery pool, I was smart enough to recognize the candy for what it was – a welcomed addition to the seasonal line up. It’s not far fetched that I was evoking this favorable memory when I chose to buy the new Café Mocha M&M’s at Target. Sure, no pumpkin in the name but coffee was always that star of the old show anyhow so it was shaping up to be a good day.

It seems interesting to me that M&M’s chose to go the coffee route rather than something even more seasonal – I mean, why not do gingerbread or cookies and milk or something? Hell, I’m good for a minimum of five cups of coffee a day and we’re not just talking on Christmas. Besides the display of red and green, the background of the bag looks a lot like September’s bag and the star of this show appears to be the red M&M. Personally, I really enjoy the red M&M for how crotchety and upset he is all of the time. Hey Soul Brother, you and I are one in the same.

Opening the bag and taking a one large sniff, I don’t smell much of anything. This surprises me, as smelling coffee is nearly as satisfying as drinking it. I read a study years ago about rats who smelled coffee and fewer of the rats who were regularly subjected to taking a whiff  developed dementia as they aged. Sounds like a stretch, but not wanting to take any chances, I smell again. The bag is plenty full and I do feel like whatever I paid for this bag, at least they were kind enough to fill it up. Having read that these M&M’s are exclusively sold at Target, I was glad to have my attempted search be rewarded with a heavy bounty.

The M&M’s in the package are red and green. I have a relative who refuses to eat red M&M’s because she believes that the dye causes cancer, so happy holidays. Lucky for her, there's a disproportionate amount of green in my bag. Fortunate fate. My penchant for sugar laden processed foods makes the food dye concern a bit less prominent in my thought pattern and I take a bite. The first noticeable thing about these is the shape in my mouth, rather than any taste at all. These candies are plumper than their milk chocolate counterparts.

The balance of sugary coating is countered by the significant lump in the middle. As early as first bite, I feel awash with disappointment. This isn’t what I signed up for? I’m not even sure what the hell this tastes like. It’s not offensive, but it’s similar to sugary chocolate chalk and that’s not saying much. “Why is this crumbling in my mouth?” I ask myself, feeling grumpier than the Red M&M would in his commercials. It can’t be that these M&M’s are old, because they’re limited edition for Target, sold exclusively for this season. Without any knowledge if this is true, perhaps there’s instant coffee somehow mixed into the filling? Other blog writers mention there’s a nice coffee taste to this, but whatever they’re chewing, I sure didn’t buy because I’m at a loss.

To be frank with you, 95% of this bag is sitting in my office’s kitchen right now. There was no part of me that wanted to have any more than necessary to review these. It’s the holiday time and I’m unafraid of gorging myself with everything that my stomach desires, but I didn’t want to waste one more second on these than I had to. Mars, you're on my naughty list.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Guest Blogger: What a clusterf.... : Reese's Clusters

Writing for my own food blog has been a dream of mine for the past five years. As somebody who usually feels inhibited to share their private thoughts freely with others, it was an understood stretch of my comfort zone. With the expectation that there would be barely any readership if any at all, it was always about working on my ability to express myself and an excuse to try new and exciting junk more than anything else.

What it’s turned into however has been an uplifting mini excitement to the otherwise monotony which is the standard week. As we reach the final weeks of this blog’s foreseeable life, it is to my sheer delight that I am able to feature a guest blogger who has held me accountable and encouraged me to keep up with this goal. If weeks go by without an update, I hear about it. If I need help with photos or finding the newest item, it’s there.  The best part about it was that it’s my goal and all of that encouragement is because it’s what I want. Blessed are the people who kick you in your ass, so you reach your own goals.

Suffering from unrelenting type A personality syndrome, both myself and the guest blogger were afraid of what I would think of the humor and content of the review, but I was and am absolutely confident that the author of this next piece if something of a junk food expert and free reign was given. I’ve made the mistake up through even my mid-twenties of demanding  the things I want from people on my terms, leading only into disappointment and let this be a much needed lesson to me that by letting people be themselves, sometimes you’re blown away. And no New York Times, the following blogger is not for hire for your Restaurant Review Section. 

Without edit or ado, please welcome the kind of flavor and hilarity that this blog is proud to feature:

We're pleased to interrupt your regular blog schedule with a new snack review perspective. My humble apologies to our lovely Blog Queen, but in all fairness, how practical is it to take snacking advice seriously when it comes from a cute petite little blonde girl. It's sort of like going to a dentist with bad teeth, or going to a life coach (life coach? that's a thing? Fucking really?) that's a few fries short of happy meal. What you need is a snack expert. Me. I'm an expert. My stomach proudly muffin tops over my jeans. Anything that enters the shadow of my butt instantly freezes cause there ain’t no sun ever getting past it. I can't make it to 11am without eating sugar. Pour it straight into my face hole. I once ate a vegetable...because it looked like a kit kat. When the doctor tries to take my blood white granulated sugar pours out. Snack expert status unlocked. My mom also says I'm special. So I'm that too. Yup.

Aforementioned petite little blonde girl loves to buy snacks. Whenever something new pops up she's into it and has to try it. Cool. Recently she alerted me to a new delicacy from the fine folks at Reese's. Introducing the Reese's Clusters. Why is it called a clusters. Marketing fail. Those fabulous people working in the dingy hallways of the Reese's company must not be from a particularly creative gene pool. So what the heck is it? Just the facts ma'am -- Creamy peanut butter, caramel, peanuts and pecans wrapped in milk chocolate. I'm the kind of person that inadvertently drools when he hears the crinkle of a candy wrapper. I don't care what's in the thing, give it to me...NOW.

Upon being handed the bag the first thing that stands out is my disappointment. It feels kind of light for a bag filled with what must be 50 Clusters. Upon opening the sack I retrieve my first victim. Individually wrapped and tiny. Really tiny. Like, I'm pretty sure this is the candy version of the subject of that song from '20 Fingers.' That name doesn't ringing a bell? Sing it with me now..."What in the world is that thing? Do you need some tweezers to put that thing away? That has got to be the smallest..." Get the fuck outta here. This thing is comically small.

Alright, size isn't everything...right?! Who cares, it's candy in my hand and I must eat it. The first bite impression is immediately reminiscent of a pecan turtle. My experienced tongue presses on further, the second wave indicates a smooth consistent peanut butter flavor that matches a typical peanut butter cup filling. The chemical reactions release hints and notes of flavors and textures...a little crunch, soft outer shell, a good mix of flavors, not too sweet, a slight hint of gooey caramel which quickly escapes back into the shadows to be undermined by the star of the show...the peanut butter. It all works together, this thing is good, not too sweet. Enough peanut butter taste to satisfy your peanut butter cravings, but not as powerful as the classic peanut butter cup. These things can often go downhill so what Reese's has done is actually impressive. Any time they mess with the ratio of contents things seem off (see Reese's peanut butter BIG cup). But the cluster, in all its tiny glory, avoids that same fate. It's got balance and hits all the marks. Good taste, classic peanut butter flavor, a little crunchy, satisfying caramel, and the chocolate to filling ratio is spot on. All in, and I'm impressed.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

You Need: Trader Joe’s Lattice Cut Kettle Cooked Sriracha Potato Chips

As a recovering ketchup addict, I remember the cold, hard day when I faced that fact that by dumping nearly an entire bottle of ketchup on fries, I was coupling my future of heart disease with that of diabetes. I actually got to the point where I thought that if I had to hear somebody say, even one more time, “Do you want some fries with that ketchup?”, that I was going to drown in a sea of re-occurring Dad jokes.

 I remember reading an article about a person who switched to hot sauce after a long, indulgent affair with ketchup and actually lost five pounds naturally after making no other changes. The thing about hot sauces is that no two are quite alike. In mainstream culture, there are two camps. People who love Tabasco are the long standing traditionalists. The no frills, vinegar taste is nearly guaranteed to be available at any eating establishment. On the contrary, people who love Frank’s basically “Put that shi*t on everything,” and can give you a dozen reasons why it’s better than Tabasco. For the purpose of this article, I will diplomatically say that both of these hot sauces have their time and places in my life, respectively.

Let’s fast forward to 2015 when Sriracha, like cookie butter became the “salted caramel” of 2014. The bottle boasts you can put it on anything from pizza to eggs and major food retailers are pumping out products heavily accompanied by this condiment. Regardless of the two earlier major players in the hot sauce game, Sriracha is my #1.
Not long ago, Men’s Health published an article warning ingesters of the 1 gram of sugar per teaspoon in the stuff, meaning that for my originally intended purpose of minimizing my extracurricular sugar intake, this sauce doesn’t fit the bill. Thank you very much for your words of caution Men’s Health, but the reality is that there are a tremendous amount of teaspoons getting past these lips with far more sugar than just one gram. May that be the very worst of it.

You can only imagine my imagination’s delight when I laid my eyes on Trader Joe’s Lattice Cut Kettle Cooked Sriracha Potato Chips. There are so few things from TJ’s that’s ever disappointed me. Admittedly that’s half because I can barely afford to buy anything there based on the prices, but certainly partially because they truly know how to pump out a high quality and interesting snack.

Opening up the bag, it was a little bit droopy to see how empty the bag itself was. Sure, these chips were firm and decent sized, but for seven servings – let’s not have Cracker Jack flashbacks. The second best part of the chips was the smell. I have no way of knowing why exactly, but these chips smell exactly like a pork egg roll from a Chinese Restaurant. Understanding my sanity can be questioned saying this, let’s just say that I was not the only nose that detected that very specific scent from these chips.

The combination of the lattice cut with the kettle cooking made these chips substantial and sturdy. There seemed to be no threat of cutting the roof of my mouth, which I never actually worry over, but always feel relief when the texture of such firm chips is just right. You can see visually that some chips have more flavoring than other. The ingredients list mentions Sriracha powder and it’s interesting to see that the powder didn’t spread more evenly in transit.

Most importantly, the flavor. These chips were excellent by my standard. The heat wasn’t nearly as overpowering as sometimes the Sriracha sauce itself can be. There was a meat taste associated, but in the best way possible. The entire time I was dreaming of having some dip to accompany these, but regretfully recognize that the lattice cut would make it more of a sloppy experience than my awkward mannerisms might otherwise do with regular chips.

I would purchase these chips again. I’ll find a holiday party to bring them to as a contribution, just so I can eat them again. Maybe I will even go out and meet new friends to get invited to a holiday party, to buy the chips in hopes of eating these again. Before I go on and on with a joke that’s probably only funny to one (me), let me wholeheartedly recommend these chips to anyone who likes a sweet, hot , beefy chip experience. With adjectives like those, you can’t go wrong.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

CRAPPER Jack Holdiay Sugar Cookie Popcorn

While everybody is busy fighting to put the Christ back into Christmas and overthrow Starbucks for their lack of religious festivity, I’m trying to make the most of my holiday season by gorging myself with holiday inspired edibles. I was never going to make Santa’s nice list anyway.

Growing up in a house filled with no sports or athletics, my relationship with Cracker Jacks has always been uncomplicated in the way that I never had one. Sure, I’ve tried them once or twice before but I have no fond memories, sitting in the bleachers, eating a boxful and then getting into a physical fight with my sibling over the prize.

Fast forward to where I’m old enough to be the parent of the kid eating the Cracker Jack’s and welcome to 2015. This year the self-declared “snack brand that America celebrates for over 120 years” has introduced Holiday Sugar Cookie Popcorn. Cookie flavored popcorn? Get out of town! Or maybe into town, to Norwalk so I can eat you.

The bag describes the treat as “Delicious holiday sugar cookie flavored coated popcorn decorated with holiday sprinkles.” Okay, that’s a lot for my mind to wrap my head around but so far no red flags. Perhaps hard to gauge from the picture, this isn’t a big bag. How shocking to me then to see that there are supposed eight servings in this bag? Are we using serving sizes from back 120 years ago? Color me baffled. Serving sizes aren’t my religion, so let’s move onward.

Opening up the bag, I’m greeted with two competing and distinctive scents, with popcorn being the most prominent. The second, lighter yet lingering scent is that of sugar. It’s pleasant and I’m excited. Looking at this popcorn, you can see the frosting coating on the kernels and they are quite hard to the touch. The coating isn’t even, but the beauty is in the festive sprinkles.

Not being able to wait any longer, I pop one into my mouth and yum. This sugar cookie popcorn is good. It’s not so different than caramel corn, because sugar is the most dominant flavor here. There is no particular flavor to the sprinkles and cookie isn’t the first flavor that comes to mind. That being said, I could see how it would be easy to polish off half of a box of this stuff.

As I continue to eat onwards, the sugar starts to overwhelm me. The flavor of the popcorn doesn’t become unpleasant, but the enjoyability starts to wane. After a little more than a handful, I voluntarily stop eating this. For any reader that knows me, that’s atypical. I love sugar in the sense that I am an addict of it and it’s a dark day when I don’t enjoy the delight of one of my oldest friends. This carb on carb action didn’t whet my whistle.

Overall, the idea of this was better than the execution in my personal opinion. Then I smile and think thank God there is a prize inside! The saving grace for this snack that I now possess 7.5 servings of and hope to never eat again. After digging around for what feels like a sticky eternity, I pull out my prize, specifically my “Holiday Prize” which I do not have to share with my butthead sister (love you.)

Opening it up and I am more heartbroken than any grown woman should be barring a divorce or the discontinuation of her favorite makeup brand. Cracker Jack, are you kidding me?! One gingerbread sticker? While millions of people are spreading holiday cheer, Cracker Jacks is doing their best to spread holiday disappointment and misery one prize at a time. I’d write them an angry letter, but this piece of junk only looks like a stamp. I’m glad I’m not a kid these days, because prizes like these would have me emotionally compromised well before it all started in my teenage years.