Snickerdoodles

June 13, 2008

I don’t know what took me so long to make these.

Well, actually, I do. Most Snickerdoodle recipes call for shortening, and that’s just an ingredient that I never have and don’t use. Eventually, I decided to ignore the shortening and use all butter, because I have a Snickerdoodle-loving friend. After watching her eat Pepperidge Farm Snickerdoodles, I felt that I owed her a homemade version.

But… where are the peanuts, caramel, and chocolate? Snickerdoodles have popped up a couple times on my Google Reader recently, and a lot of bloggers originally thought the cookie to be a variation of the Snickers bar. That’s a perfectly reasonable assumption, and one that I probably would have made myself had I not had Snickerdoodles since I was a kid. Snickerdoodles actually aren’t related to the Snickers bar at all. They’re just sugar cookies coated in cinnamon and sugar, sometimes with a little nutmeg thrown in.

The verdict? These cookies are really tasty, though they don’t fit my schema of a Snickerdoodle. These are flat and chewy, but I think a Snickerdoodle should be puffy and soft. This is probably due to my using all butter in place of a combination of butter and shortening. But I like chewy cookies, so I’m not complaining.

Also, these cookies were sweet, which was fine by me and everyone else who ate them, but you could probably cut the sugar down for a less sweet cookie, as noted in the recipe.

Snickerdoodles
adapted from AllRecipes

Oven Temp.: 375°
Approx. Bake Time: 10 minutes
Yields: about 20 small cookies

Ingredients
4 tbsp. butter
1/2 c. sugar (OR 1/3 to 1/4 c. for a less sweet cookie)
1/8 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. cream of tartar
2 tbsp. beaten egg
1/4 tsp. vanilla
3/4 c. flour
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg (optional)
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. cinnamon

Instructions

– Cream the butter, sugar, baking soda, and cream of tartar. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Stir in the flour and cinnamon. Chill the dough in refrigerator for one hour.
– Combine one tablespoon each of sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Form a tablespoon of dough into a ball, then roll in in the cinnamon-sugar to coat. Place the dough on an ungreased baking sheet and flatten slightly with a spatula.
– Bake in a preheated oven for about 10 minutes. Let cookies stand on baking sheet for one minute before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

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Choxie Key Lime Bar

June 3, 2008

I crave fruit year-round, but with the heat comes the craving for citrus. My favorite citrus flavor is lime. Of course, the fruit itself is a bit tart to eat alone, so I’m constantly looking for recipes that utilize limes, as well as lime-flavored things.

Enter Choxie’s key lime bar. I was wary, partly because Choxie products have been hit or miss with me, but also because fruit and chocolate combos aren’t usually my favorite.

This is a dark chocolate bar filled with key lime flavored white chocolate and studded with graham cracker pieces. The aroma is a mix of dark chocolate and citrus-scented cleaning product… not exactly appealing, but I soldiered on.

The dark chocolate was ashy, but still decent on it’s own, but it doesn’t work well with the filling. However, to be fair, I don’t think anything would work well with this filling. Keeping with the scent, it tastes like a cleaning product — bitter and artificial. The graham bits are more like crumbs, and are fairly evenly distributed throughout the bar. They don’t add any flavor, but they give the bar a grainy/crunchy texture, depending if you let it melt or bite right in.

Bottom Line: Ick.

Nutrition Breakdown: Serving size is 1/2 bar. There are 200 calories, 13g of fat (9g saturated), 17g of sugar, and 2g of protein per serving.

Rating: 2/10

Name: Dark Chocolate Key Lime Truffle Bar
Brand: Choxie
Store: Target
Price: $2.00
Weight: 2.5 oz.


Cookies ‘n’ Creme Kisses

May 19, 2008

I like to try the limited edition Kiss flavors, and people know this. This week I was presented with two huge bags of Kisses — one Cookies and Cream, the other Vanilla Yogurt (which will be up later this week). That’s about 28 ounces of Kisses. Yikes!

I expected these to be like Hershey’s Cookies and Cream bar, which is white confection studded with chocolate cookie pieces. Instead, the Kisses are white confection studded with crunchy nonpareils, even though there are Oreo-like wafer cookies illustrated on the package. The crunchiness of the nonpareils is okay, but they don’t constitute cookie in either texture or flavor.

The white confection is grainy and oh-so-very throat-burning sweet… which isn’t surprising. There is a strong vanilla flavor, which I suppose can be translated as cookie-ish. Just think vanilla wafers, not Oreos. Actually, think of vanilla wafers dipped in milk with two extra spoonfuls of sugar, and you’re there.

Bottom line: Too sweet, grainy texture, and somewhat misrepresented. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with the giant bag I have. (Actually, I know plenty of people who will take them..)

Nutrition Breakdown: Serving size is 9 pieces. There are 210 calories, 11g of fat (7g saturated), 21g of sugar, and 3g of protein per serving.

Rating: 4/10

Name: Cookies ‘n’ Crème Kisses
Brand: Hershey’s
Store: Walmart
Price: $3.00
Weight: 18.8 oz.


Reese’s Whoppers

May 14, 2008

After reviewing the Strawberry Milkshake Whoppers a couple weeks ago, I felt I had to give the new Reese’s Whoppers a shot. The Reese’s line may be Hershey’s most popular, and they’ve expanded well beyond the classic Peanut Butter Cup over the past few years. I’m actually surprised that the strawberry flavor hit the market before these. Peanut butter is a crowd-pleaser, and it’s a natural place to take malted milk balls.

I wasn’t thrilled with these, but I didn’t have high expectation, so that’s okay. The peanut butter coating is greasy and waxy, keeping in line with other Whoppers products. It a bit too sweet for me. The malt and the peanut butter aren’t distinctive enough. I felt like I was eating sugary cereal… this is probably what the Reese’s cereal tastes like.

For me, the peanut butter and malt are two sides of a triangle, and they really need chocolate to serve as the missing leg. I think Hershey should have gone with the classic peanut butter and chocolate combo as opposed of simple peanut butter.

Overall, not bad, but not worth it.

Nutrition Breakdown: Serving size is 17 pieces. There are 190 calories, 8g of fat (7g saturated), 19g of sugar, and 4g of protein per serving.

Rating: 5/10

Name: Reese’s Whoppers
Brand: Hershey
Store: Wal-mart
Price: $0.99
Weight: 3.5 oz.


Classic Cheesecupcakes

May 12, 2008

Ah, neglect. Sorry guys, but the semester just ended, and between exams, papers, graduation(!), and seeing off friends, I totally neglected to post. But I’m back with something very yummy. :D

I was calling these New York Cheesecakes, but I’m really not sure what constitutes a cheesecake as New York. According to Wikipedia, there are dozens of types of cheesecakes. These are what I consider classic mini-cheesecakes with a graham cracker crust. I don’t have a mini-cheesecake pan, but muffin liners do the trick just fine.

Perhaps the best thing about these babies is freeze-ability. All I have to do to reach Cheesecake Heaven is pluck one out of the freezer and let it thaw on the counter for a few minutes. You’ll find notes on freezing at the end of the recipe.

Also, amidst everything, my computer ate a batch of photos — I guess it has a sweet tooth too! As such, I don’t have any pictures of these cheesecakes.. so here’s a picture of my cat instead. Isn’t he cute?

Classic Cheesecupcakes

Baking Temp.: 325°
Approx. Bake Time: 20 minutes
Yields: 6 mini-cheesecakes

Ingredients

Crust:
3/4 c. graham cracker crumbs (about 4.5 whole crackers)
3 tbsp. butter, melted

Filling:
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. cornstarch
2 tbsp. beaten egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tbsp. heavy cream

Instructions

– Mix together graham cracker crumbs and melted butter. Line a muffin tin with 6 paper cups. Spoon two tablespoons of the mixture into each liner. Press crumbs into the bottom and partially up the sides of the liner. (I press down with my tablespoon to make a little well.)
– Beat cream cheese, sugar, brown sugar, and cornstarch until smooth. By hand, whisk in the beaten egg and vanilla extract just until combined. Whisk in the heavy cream.
– Spoon the batter over the crust, filling the cups to the top.
– Bake in a water bath. Place the muffin tin inside a larger (and deep) pan. Using a kettle, fill the larger pan with very hot water so that it reaches halfway up the muffin tin. Move to a preheated oven.
– The cheesecakes are done when they are set but still springy. The batter may jiggle, but it shouldn’t slosh.
– Let the cheesecakes cool in the muffin tin for 30 minutes. Next, remove them from the tin and let cool on a rack until they reach room temperature. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours before eating.
Notes
– I like to crush my graham crackers between the two halves of a folded sheet of wax paper, with a rolling pin.
– To freeze: Place cooled, uncovered cheesecakes into the freezer for one hour. Remove from freezer, then wrap each cheesecake in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Stash them in a freezer-safe bag or container, and eat as you please. They should be eaten within a month, so date the container.


Hershey’s Cacao Reserve Truffles

May 5, 2008

I love this idea. It’s like emergency chocolate — little one-bite truffles in a portable tin. Each Altoids-like tin is filled with eight itty-bitty molded truffles, though they do have a homespun look to them.

I found these on clearance, but they usually ring up at $2.50 per tin. That’s a pretty steep price for Hershey’s fare. I know it’s part of the Cacao Reserve line, but for me, premium Hershey’s doesn’t equal upscale.

Milk Chocolate: These melt away into something thick and greasy that coats my mouth unpleasantly. The taste is similar to Hershey’s milk chocolate — tangy and yogurt-y, but more so. It’s actually borderline sour. I’d rather have a tin of mini Hershey’s Kisses.

Nutrition Breakdown: Serving size is one package. There are 310 calories, 22g of fat (14g saturated), 23g of sugar, and 3g of protein per serving. That breaks down to about 40 calories and 3g of fat per truffle.

Rating: 4/10

Dark Chocolate: The outer shell is a bittersweet chocolate with a dry snap that sets it apart from the creamy center. The filling may or may not be the same as the milk, but it does have the same thick and greasy texture. It contains cream and milk, which accounts for the tangy dairy flavor I get. Overall, it was actually rather bland, but I still prefer it to the milk version. These are best enjoyed by popping the whole thing in your mouth and letting it melt away.

Nutrition Breakdown: Serving size is one package. There are 290 calories, 22g of fat (15g saturated), 17g of sugar, and 4g of protein per serving. That breaks down to about 35 calories and 3g of fat per truffle.

Rating: 4/10
(taking the regular price into account)

Overall, as much as I love the idea, these are overpriced and not all that tasty. I’m going to keep the tins to see what other wee treats I can fit inside.

Name: Cacao Reserve Milk and Dark Chocolate Truffles
Brand: Hershey’s
Store: Target
Price: $1.24 / $0.62 (regular $2.50 each)
Weight: 1.8 oz. each


Chuao Chinita Nibs

April 28, 2008

It took a few bites over a few days, but Chuao’s Chinita Nibs and I have developed a respectful relationship. It’s a 4×6 tablet wrapped in gorgeous purple foil. In fact, that purple color is what roped me into buying the bar in the first place.

At first bite, I really disliked it. The nutmeg flavor is quite potent, and it reminded me, honestly, of crab boil seasoning. Now, Chuao’s tagline is “unusual, unexpected, and delicious.” This was the unexpected part I guess, but it wasn‘t delicious. Crab boil is not a flavor that I really want mixed with my chocolate.

I pulled the bar out again the next day with little enthusiasm, but I wanted to write this review. I was quite surprised to find myself appreciating the bar’s earthy flavor. Now that I knew what to expect, I found the bar to be quite pleasant, and the unfortunate crab boil comparisons faded. The bar is grassy and spicy, but not hot.

The bar is full of nibs; they’re quite visible along the bottom of the bar. They’re crunchy and not fibrous at all. The chocolate is 60% cacao, not too dark but still substantial. However, it definitely plays second-string to the nutmeg’s start. It seems lovely and makes me want to get my hands on more of Chuao’s stuff.

Nutmeg is a spice that is easy to overdo, and I think Chuao crossed the line here. That didn’t stop me from enjoying the bar in small doses, but I don’t have any desire to buy another one. Still, I think a lot of people will love this bar, even if I didn’t.

Nutrition Breakdown: Serving size is 1/2 a bar. There are 200 calories, 15g of fat (6g saturated), 16g of sugar, and 2g of protein per serving.

Rating: 6/10

Name: Chinita Nibs
Brand: Chuao Chocolatier
Store: World Market
Price: $3.99 (sale)
Weight: 2.82 oz. / 80g