Udi’s Soft-baked Cookies Salted Caramel Cashew

I am probably not the best person to be marketed toward. Like you, my Google search terms can best be described as ‘erratic and occasionally emotionally disturbing.’ An evening may start on the NY Times, clicking around various op-ed articles about death, and then abruptly switch to sixteen different pasta recipes. From there, Bloomberg and Cracked are visited in equal amounts, and I typically culminate the evening with a two-hour jag of Corgi-hunting, crying, and pointing on Petfinder. Also, porn.

So whenever I see ads in my mailbox for food or Kleenex or caskets, I laugh because it’s all very obtuse. Google doesn’t know me much better than your average Facebook stalker does. Do I mind it? In the sense that I don’t want it to happen, yes. I’m entitled to my privacy in dog and carb-lusting, but the ads are so ridiculous that to an extent, I don’t even care. The spot-on precision of the recent Udi’s package, though, that’s an accuracy in espionage that I don’t mind at all. I received a box of products from Udi’s today that makes me want to lobby for the Foodette Inbetween Nourishment and Enrichment Bill of 2013, which exists solely for the purpose of me being able to eat all the muffins in one day. One of the included items was something I’d been ogling at each visit to Whole Foods, shaking my head every time I passed them. Soft-baked salted caramel and cashew cookies. Holy bane of my existence, Batman. Did they film me? Did they gauge the sweat on my palms through my implanted social media machine? I don’t know.
That is, until I got a box of Udi’s treats today, including these wonder-cookies. They’re beautiful. They are chewy and soft, and have the texture and homey raw flour tinge of a fresh sugar cookie. I had an ex who used to make killer cookies, and these are the closest thing I have to them. The cashews add a nice salty,  nuttiness, which offsets the more protein bar-esque flavor of the cookie base. I liked that the caramel element wasn’t in the form of a saccharine filling or sticky sauce on top, but felt more incorporated into the cookie, and gave it a rich, brown butter flavor. 

TL;DR: I ate four, thus negating the mega-power-ultra workout I did the other day. Oh, the timing of it all.

Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix

Three weeks off gluten, and only one transgression so far. But life isn’t all neatly highlighted casebooks, amaranth flour, and health clubs. There’s the extremely important matter of dessert, which I confess I wasn’t too concerned with until 90% of it was off-limits. It’s gotten to a point where I’m shipping the Cookie Monster hardcore and clicking through the Betty Crocker product page before I go to bed, restless, dissatisfied. 

Speaking of Betty Crocker, she now has a new line of gluten-free desserts that are not only anointed by the gods of Putting Things on Shelves I can reach, but are actually tasty, too. At $4.79 for a box of rice flour and chocolate chips, the thought of paying mid-2008 gas prices for cookies was irritating, but intriguing. The cookies are easy to prepare and even easier to screw up- unless you use a few good tricks.

I read reports of these that were ridiculously varying- from crispy, flat cookies that had to be scraped off the pan to puffy, barely baked dough, so I tried to be preemptive. I didn’t change any of the ingredients, but did chill the dough for about two hours before baking.

Baked, the cookies range in size from penny to pasty, and are soft enough to cover a stripper’s nipple. They’re gorgeous and came out exactly like they did on the box. It seemed that despite the light color on top, the flour cooked much more quickly on the bottom, and didn’t absorb as much butter as regular cookies do. They left the pan greasy– personal injury greasy. I’d advise you use a non-stick pan in addition to butter, though, as they were inexplicably sticky after and were difficult to remove from the pan.
The flavor is extremely buttery. Combined with the very toasty, salty flavor of the rice flour, it almost tastes like a thick, more crumbly pancake, like Bisquick. With milk, the nutty flavor comes out even more, the resulting sips after each dunk tasting like the bottom of a bowl of cereal. I realized later that they reminded me of Rice Chex because they’re effectively made with the same base. They aren’t really viable for dunking. They hold together well enough, but the milk just gets absorbed into the cookie and makes it unpleasantly soggy. All in all, I really liked them. They weren’t spectacular, and they are still really expensive, at approximately 30 cents for a very small cookie, compared to those giant $2 buckets of chocolate chip cookies at the store for about 8 cents a cookie, but are much more pleasant of an alternative than I thought possible.

Betty Crocker Cotton Candy Cookies

I’m back! I have approximately 200 words and 2 billion citations (CMS, natch) in between me and a shiny, special undergraduate degree, and I can guarantee you those 200 words will literally be the death of me. I am going to die with my hands frozen in the position of typing the word ‘gendered’ as a result of this paper. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing more that I love in God’s beautiful world than writing about feminism, food, gender ambiguity, and psychology, but a girl needs to eat and see the light of day every so often.

A recent adventure to Target yielded this gem of a product, the likes of which can be found in no other place on the internet, including the venerable Ms. Crocker’s website. The package tells me these, along with their frosting, are a Target exclusive. They’re easy to prepare- one stick of butter and an egg and they’re set. Unfortunately, I now know the psychological implications of these additions as a result of reading way too much Freudian psychology comingled with Crocker history. The egg is supposed to satisfy my need to have many, many babies. Thanks, Ernst Dichter!
The mix is classic unicorn cocaine plus sprinkles. There is the option to add frosting, if you want to undergo death by dental assistant.

I like these, but I can’t quite tell why. I think the sweet, vague resemblance to other sweet things- maple syrup, raspberry donut filling, and bubble gum, with the lemony undertones, make them enjoyable cookies, but they don’t distinguish themselves in the same way other aggressively flavored, sweet confections, like Thin Mints or cotton candy itself do. Their texture is almost perfect- grainy, obviously sugar-heavy, and incorporates the unusual addition of corn cereal which gives the cookies a layered, flaky heft, but they crumble so easily in both cooked and uncooked form that they’re difficult to eat.

They’re fun cookies, but on my current fun scale of my life, with ‘finals and uncomfortable family gatherings’ at one end of the spectrum and ‘spontaneous fauxhawks’ at the other end, these rank somewhere in the middle, lumped alongside walking to school and talking to professors. Do I enjoy these activities? I suppose. Would I willingly do them? Rarely. These cookies are just good enough to give to my neighbors- the ones who didn’t egg my front door.

HannahMax Baking Sea Salted Peanut Butter Crunchy Cookie Chips

Peanut butter cookies! For my day off. And by ‘day off,’ I mean, ‘day to do more work,’ and by ‘work,’ I mean, ‘drink and halfheartedly peck out a paper on feminism and cookbooks.’ But I’m drinking responsibly, MOM, by eating as I sip. And I am eating these cookies from HannahMax. I do not recommend pairing them with gin. Also, if you’re like me and have repeatedly confused HannahMax with Ashley Madison, you’ll be pleased to discover the former is about as wholesome as the latter is not. All natural ingredients and delicious flavors. The only obvious flaw is that cookies that are as thin and easy to eat as chips are potentially life-destroying.

Sea salt and peanut butter almost takes on a savory flavor. It’s the least sweet of the four flavors I tried, and was my personal favorite. While as with most products advertising a salted component, I would have liked to see more salt, this was still a solid cookie, especially with the addition of salted chopped peanuts.

The packaging is the only flaw I personally had trouble with. While I enjoy the concept of dessert as chips, roughly 60% of each package was cookie crumbs. I feel as if this had less to do with the cookie itself as it did with the container, a malleable, resealable bag. Something similar to a Pringles can would allow the cookies to stay within their concept of chips and not get so frustratingly mashed up in the process. It just made it messier and a little more shameful to eat in one serving while watching Twin Peaks. I mean, sitting around in a sweatshirt. I mean, working?

Oreo Coconut Delight Fudge Cremes

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the grocery store! I stopped by my local supermarket last night after a walk around town now that the weather has cooled down. Motivated by hubris and a strident feeling of douche-awesome stalking around the bakery section in a tank top, I decided to stroll by the cookie section.They can’t hurt me,” I thought, “Now that I have calves of steel and buns of terror. It also helps that I forgot my wallet at home.” Of course, then I walked by the Oreos, only to do a double take halfway through the aisle. Coconut Delight Oreo Fudge Cremes! How very tropical. How “staycation” of Oreo to model their latest cookie after such a popular poolside beverage flavor. Seeing no notice of it online, merely a tantalizing “coming soon!” banner on the Oreo headquarters homepage and some blogger’s grainy iPhone photo only served to further tempt me. Obviously, I drove back to the grocery store a half hour later, coming home with groceries consisting of 40% Oreo-related content and 60% zero-calorie beverages. I do it for the kids.

Well, luckily, I won’t be ruining my sculpted physique any time soon with these. They’re solidly mediocre, on par with an $11 specialty drink at Chi-Chi’s or an $11 specialty dance behind a Hooter’s. I was initially a little worried about this flavor combination with the Fudge Creme. As I’ve lamented before, half the cookie and twice the mockolate coating does not a balanced snack make. In this case, it’s the same scenario. Would the coconut cream filling be tastier in a plain Oreo cookie? Possibly, but we’ll break it down further. The cookies smell off-putting, in a fake butter, stale popcorn artificial way. That’s the first strike. In flavor and texture, they suffer from the same imbalance of the Birthday Cake Fudge Cremes, yet lack that addictive canned frosting flavor that kept us coming back. The second strike? They’re bloomed! These are brand new and they’re already suffering from the poor quality of their outer shell.

The coconut filling is where this really fell short of expectations. These have been out for about a week, maybe even less, and the coconut is already muted and mild, with a mere hint of creaminess and toasted flavor. Were these sourced from a Taiwanese warehouse? Something doesn’t add up. These carry a very specific memory for me- once, my ever-thrifty grandmother bought two boxes of Girl Scout cookies and decided the package was superfluous. She stored the Trefoils and Samoas in a mutual Tupperware and forgot about them for six months. Half a year later, the Trefoils had a gentle infusion of coconut, not enough to significantly alter the flavor for the better, but gave them a noticeably strange hint of tropical ass. These cookies are similar- dull, sweet, and wholly synthetic.
These are the same way, reminiscent of Samoas, yet bland and overly sweet. Both the delicately salted chocolate cookie and the fruity coconut are drowned in a sea of awful coating. Seasonal flavors are a treat to see and these will do in a pinch if you’re housebound, but the waxy chocolate coating makes these pretty unappealing.

Dr. Lucy’s Cookies: Maple Bliss, Double Chocolate, and Ginger Snap

People love to ask me if I ever eat my words, or if I ever reevaluate a product after I review it for the first time. Because most companies are not masochists, and because I grew up in jaded 90’s SpecialKid land, I typically laugh in their face and tell them that, no, I do not, because words are not delicious and I am never wrong. But do you want to hear something private, secret internet diary? Sometimes, something good does occur and products that were once not awesome at all undergo a miraculous transformation that turns them into beautiful, sexy princesses with edible innards that I want to cram into my mouth. And they don’t even have to remove their glasses!

Dr. Lucy’s Cookies are a prime example of this transformation. About a year and a half ago, I reviewed Lucy’s chocolate chip cookies, featuring all-organic ingredients and a gluten, nut, and allergen-free stamp to boot. I thought the concept was in the right place, but that the flavor and texture still had a ways to go. Now, Lucy’s has introduced three new flavors of cookie- Maple Bliss, Double Chocolate, and Ginger Snap. And none of them taste like plant matter!

Seriously, this was what the boxes looked like two days in. I don’t think we’ve even gone through Oreos with this much zeal. And the fact that each cookie is around 40 calories doesn’t hurt in the slightest. What was so remarkable about these cookies was how they took a standard mass-produced cookie model and just made it better. I can honestly say that if I tasted these blindly against more well-known brands, I’d be hard-pressed to call a winner. The ginger snap is a great example of a twist on a classic. These remind me of a less tough, less sweet version of Trader Joe’s famous Triple Ginger cookies, with a crunchy texture and big pieces of crystallized ginger. They’re crunchy, but bend easily and have a great crumbly and crunch. And they’re really, really! Okay, I can’t end my paragraphs with that any more. I tried.

We loved the chocolate ones just as much. Their deep, dark, charcoal-heavy flavor of bittersweet cocoa powder and sea salt brought to mind a robust, thicker Oreo. It was tempting to want to sandwich these with icing! However, the winner of the new varieties, by a long shot, was the maple bliss flavor. The cakey, shortbread-esque texture of Maple Bliss, a little thicker than the others, topped with a generous scattering of maple sugar, tasted like a portable pancake! The 40 calories made it even easier to pile bacon on top, too. Or so I hoped. A girl can dream! In any case, these are fantastic. I’m impressed that they took such lengths to improve their formula and make these delicious, and even more impressed that they made a cookie that boldly faces the competition with a healthier design.

Birthday Cake Golden Oreo Fudge Cremes

Another month, another birthday celebration. If this is what Oreo does when it turns 100, imagine what it’ll be like when it turns 200! Free cookies, memory implants, and days of leisure from our robot chipmunk overloads for all. I recently got the opportunity to try the second of the new birthday cake Oreo cookie flavors, the Birthday Cake Golden Oreo Fudge Cremes. Like its previous incarnation, the packaging is adorable and clearly celebratory. Oreo is ready to party hard in yellow and blue.
If the Birthday Cake Oreo represented two layer cakes shrunk down to bite size like in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, the Birthday Cake Golden Oreo Fudge Cremes are like a girl who got too drunk at a party and ended up taking her top off and falling in the cake. There’s a lot going on here. I can see what they were going for here, and I think it’s awfully cute that they mimicked the cross-section of a chocolate frosted vanilla birthday cake in the cookie, but the overall effect is a mishmash of flavors and textures, none of which is entirely discernable from another and ends up roughly translating to “sugar overload” in the mouth.

I’ll be honest, I’ve never been crazy about the Fudge Creme line. I don’t see the brand as entirely representative of Oreos and if I hadn’t known these weren’t Oreo brand cookies, I definitely wouldn’t have guessed. I had confidence in the birthday cake flavor, but these missed the mark for me. Visually, I felt like these were a little more festive than the Birthday Cake Oreos and I adored the plentiful rainbow sprinkles on top, but the flavor was almost cloying.

In this case, the frosting-flavored cream only contributed in exacerbating my tooth pain instead of distinguishing itself as it had nothing to play off of. The chocolate coating tasted waxy and one-noted and the cookie’s flavor completely disappeared. Regardless, these may be more appreciated by kids celebrating the 100th birthday of Oreo as they have a distinctly more kid-like feel and appeal to them, but personally, I’ll stick to the classics.

Brown Butter Cornmeal Cookies with Basil-Lime Glaze

We’re all friends, right? Good. Because I need some intimate advice from you. I know I’m a review site. I know that you come to me, like slightly tubby older men seeking discipline from a ravishing dominatrix or college students flocking to Jackass 3, for a little snark and a laugh at the expense of cookies or soda. Does my posting recipes make you want to punch me in the face? Do you die a little when I wax about my many forms of enchiladas or inwardly cry when you see another angled, bokeh-infused photo of a cake? Discuss, please.
Well, even if you do hate it, I sure don’t. And these cookies should win you over for sure. They’re crumbly, they’re soft, they’re chewy and salty and crispy from the cornmeal like the more sophisticated older sister of Momofuku’s corn cookie. If I loved you enough, I would send each and every one of you a batch of these. But even if I don’t, you can still make them at home! This is one of the first baking recipes I’ve just winged and made from scratch and I’m really pleased with the results.
Brown Butter Cornmeal Cookies with Basil Lime Glaze
Ingredients (makes about 24 cookies)
1 cup of unsalted butter
1/3 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tablespoons of vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
1 cup of flour
2 cups of coarse yellow cornmeal
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar
1/2 cup of whole milk plus two tablespoons
3 tablespoons of lime zest
2 tablespoons of lime juice
3 tablespoons of minced basil
1. Preheat oven to 350. In a large saucepan, melt and cook the butter on medium-high until the milk solids have cooked and browned at the bottom. When the butter is fragrant and an amber brown color, take it off the heat. Let it cool for about 30 minutes to a few hours or until it’s at room temperature and soft.
2. Cream with the sugars and add eggs and vanilla. Stir vigorously and add dry ingredients. Chill for 30 minutes or until solid to the touch and bake in oven for 12-15 minutes. When the cookies are puffy and slightly brown on top, they’re ready.
3. Combine glaze ingredients in a bowl and mix until smooth. Drizzle over cookies and garnish with extra basil if desired.
Come on, you couldn’t hate these if you tried.

Tikka Masala Enchiladas with Cilantro Jalapeno Crema

I have a problem? An enchilada problem? No. No, no, no, no- you’re the one with a problem. I won’t hear anything else. The problem- your problem, mind you, is that you don’t have a forkful of these crammed in your mouth right now. That’s the story and I’m sticking to it.
These all started when Miss Love, weary of my enchilada fixation, casually suggested we eat something different for dinner outside of the six versions of faux-Mexican we’ve eaten in the last month. As if. Something with a little less corn tortilla and tomatillo. Something with curry, with grapes, with bread, with anything but chicken and hot sauce. Unfortunately, I’d just finished the last of our previous batch of enchiladas and really wanted more. She, in all her wily form, went straight for the heart and suggested chicken tikka masala, one of my favorite dishes.
What I countered with may have changed our eating patterns forever. “How about chicken tikka enchiladas?” And so it began. It wasn’t like we planned on layering charred pieces of chicken marinated in a revamped Russian dressing on corn tortillas with cheese, tikka masala sauce, and topping them with a cilantro jalapeno crema. It wasn’t like we anticipated nearly inhaling the whole pan all the while discussing how good tomorrow’s lunch would be. It wasn’t like we predicted that during all of this, the kitten would teach herself to adhere to the screen door, grapple her way up to the door frame, and balance atop it yelling until we took her down.
And yet, it all came together beautifully. Two stubborn women were momentarily quiet as they ate their dinner, two cats cried for chicken, and the lemony, spicy, sweet, meaty goodness of these enchiladas proved to me that arguing with your lady can sometimes bring wonderful things. Namely, more enchiladas.
Chicken Tikka Enchiladas with Cilantro Jalapeno Crema
Ingredients (serves 4)
3 large boneless and skinless chicken breasts
1/3 cup of sour cream
1/3 cup of spicy ketchup
1/4 teaspoon of minced garlic
2 teaspoons of hot sauce
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 teaspoon roasted ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon chili powder
Dash of red wine
Salt and pepper to taste
1 jar of tikka masala sauce
12 corn tortillas
1 1/2 cups of sharp cheddar cheese
Cilantro jalapeno crema on top
Cilantro Jalapeno Crema
Ingredients (makes about 1 cup)
1 cup of chopped cilantro
2 jalapenos, deseeded and cored
1/3 cup of sour cream
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt to taste
1. Set your oven on broil and prepare your sour cream marinade. Salt and pepper your chicken breasts. Mix together sour cream, the garlic, the spices, and spicy ketchup. Taste and adjust as needed and spread over chicken breasts on a foil-lined baking sheet.
2. Depending on how thick the breasts are, they will need to broil for 12-14 minutes on each side or until cooked and crispy. While they are broiling, prepare the crema by placing all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blending until combined and chopped. Grate the cheddar cheese and set it aside.
3. When the chicken is cool and easy to handle, chop it into bite sized chunks. Heat half of the tikka sauce on the stovetop and dip the tortillas in, one at a time, letting them sit for a few seconds until they are soft. Place the chicken in a bowl and pour more sauce into the bottom of the saucepan, enough to cover the bottom.
4. To assemble the enchiladas, place a few tablespoons of chicken in the tortilla and top with cheese. Roll them up and set them in the pan, lined up until the pan is full.
5. Pour the remaining tikka masala sauce over the top and sprinkle with cheese. Heat on low until cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve with crema and hot sauce to taste.
And we never argued again.

Oreo Bits Sandwiches Ice Flavor Lemon

It’s silly to get so excited about the weather but Massachusetts is leading me on like a craigslist hookup. I mean, holy crap, 75 degrees and balmy, when did you show up? And why?! I spent it as any blogger should: inside and at my computer screen. I disintegrate in the outdoors, see. However, I thought I’d make it up to you by offering Japan’s latest and greatest summer treat, one of the tastiest Oreo incarnations this side of birthday cake.
Yes, I’m still elated about the new Oreo flavor, but with whomever’s heading Asia’s marketing team, it pales somewhat in comparison, like my white, pale skin to J-Lo’s, to flavors like coffee caramel, matcha, sakura, and banana. And now, lemon ice for summer, not-quite-guaranteed to cool you down. This was a gift from Miss Love and I’ve been waiting for a while to crack them open on the right occasion. Opening special gifts like these is a big deal for me, so I decided to check them out on our warmest day this winter.
They are stupendous. The Japanese Oreo cookie base is so much less sweet than ours and has a flakier texture and saltier flavor with an almost bittersweet cocoa base. Inside, the cream is also less sweet and has a distinct lemon flavor with a powdery aftertaste like confectioner’s sugar. This carried an extremely nostalgic flavor for me and reminded me of the Archway lemon sandwich cookies I liked to eat as a child with a soft, mushy interior and crisp outer layer that soaks up milk and still maintains its shape. They’re incredibly tiny, probably 3/4ths of the size of our Oreo miniatures and are easy to pop and chomp.
The lemon flavor is strong and has a slightly bitter rind flavor, softened by the sugar, that interacts well with the chocolate. While I can’t make any claims of it tasting too similar to an ice pop, as there’s no real cooling sensation involved, it’s a really excellent riff off a classic flavor.