A selection from Whisked Away Bakery

Aside from having an incredibly adorable name, Whisked Away Bakery does whisk me- in both senses of the word- to a gastronomical fantasy land.

I got a large package, filled to the brim with treats and colorful paper. There were four treats to eat, an Aztec brownie with cinnamon, chipotle powder, and pine nuts on top, two chocolate chip cookies, two white chocolate cranberry cookies, and an orange creamsicle rice crispy treat.

I tried the white chocolate cranberry cookies first, while munching around and looking at the rest of the goodies. These are huge, huge cookies, about the size of a dessert plate, and thick as hell. They are overall, quite crunchy, with very little give. The white chocolate is dotted intermittently throughout the cookie with the cranberries, as well as some sort of strange, unlisted nut.

Shauna, the proprietor, puts an ingredient list on the back of each package so you know what’s going into it. There is very little going into these, and in this case, less is more. These cookies are very filling, if a tad too crumbly for me, but have a delicious, homey feel to them that makes them high on my list.

7/10- LOVELY

Next up were the chocolate chip cookies. I mean, damn, these things really are large and hefty cookies. The batter was similar, with the same warm and homey feel of the white chocolate cookies, but was liberally studded with chocolate chips.

I guess I felt like there would have been a little more chocolate in these, or maybe might have hit the point home better if they were half-dipped in chocolate. They were just a little too crunchy for me, but my dad liked them. He’s an aficionado for all things crispy-crunchy.

6/10- YUMMY

Next was the orange creamsicle rice crispy treat. This was truly a gourmet treat. It was two layers thick, one layer consisting of a vanilla bean rice crispy treat and the other layer an orange flavored treat, just like the frozen delight!

The cutest, most adorable part about this, which I personally loved, was the ice cream stick it was perched upon. This served two purposes. It made it into a lollipop, which was extremely cute and original and really played off of the ice cream pop flavor, and it took the stickiness away from my hands. Not that this was even a very sticky treat, actually.

The orange and vanilla, when eaten separately, were delicious, but together, fused a delightful and creamy-tasting treat. The crunch is of the utmost perfection when you sink your teeth into this. I loved how it retained its shape and stuck together without crumbling.

This is, without a doubt, the ultimate kid’s delight. And adults, too, now, with this sophisticated flavoring and tasty portability.

9/10- EXCELLENT

The last treat was the real star of this batch, the Aztec chocolate brownie. I have to admit- I almost didn’t try this. The idea of chocolate and spiciness has been kicked around by a number of chocolatiers, and the idea just didn’t appeal to me as much. But I had to try it, and I can never turn down a good, fudgey brownie.

I was so, so wrong. I warmed the brownie up for a few seconds before eating it, and topped it with a little whipped cream. I took a bite. It was chewy. It was smooth and dense, almost like a ganache cake than a brownie. But no heat. Just when I was about to write it off, it was like a little tiny Shauna was at the back of my throat, pounding at it going, “Not on my brownie, you don’t!”

Heat.

HEAT.

HEAT!

It burnt. It made me salivate. It was perfect. It was perfect and chocolatey and delicious. The ancho chipotle provided a smokey, but very subtle and tasty burn in my throat that didn’t hurt or take away any of the taste. It just warmed up my entire sensory system, like drinking a hot chocolate or eating something with lots of cinnamon. It was warm. And so, so tasty.

I was wrong. I’ll be the first to admit it. It was incredible. This brownie was like a dessert rather than a bake sale treat. It was amazing, and I’d be glad to try it again…and again…and again! I wish I had a picture to show you, but it’s a brand new product from Whisked Away. The pine nuts were the perfect, subtle crunch, too.

10/10- SUPERB

So if you’re like me, and dissuaded by some new things, don’t be! I tried quail egg…why not this?

Whisked Away Bakery
whiskedawaybakery.etsy.com

Fudgenmore’s Bakery Treats

Oh my god, this review is so overdue. I feel awful for letting it go so far, but here it is. Hopefully the baker, a wonderful lady out of Beaver Dam, isn’t upset!

So in the mail, I got two amazing treats. I got some white chocolate pretzel rods and turtle fudge. They came wrapped adorably in a nice little package, with tags on them.

I opened up the pretzels first. She told me her kids made them, and I’m writing a little shout out here to apologize for taking samples. Buying these pretzels from her kids is awesome, because they get all the profits from whatever sales they make, so to the kids- sorry for taking revenue! Please don’t break my kneecaps.

The combination of white chocolate and pretzels is a dazzling one. The size and girth of these rods- giggle all you want- was a perfect canvas for these pretzels. The half dip mingled perfectly with the salty crunch of the pretzels, leaving a taste that was neither too sweet or too salty. I think that one of the nice things about white chocolate is that it has a very soft texture, so it doesn’t break off into brittle bits and it melts very smoothly.

9/10- DELIGHTFUL

The turtle fudge was next. Boy, was it tasty. It was a nice, dense fudge with a thick ribbon of caramel running through the middle, with pecans on the bottom.

This was a very soft fudge, as opposed to the more thick, chewy ones I’ve had in the past. I’ve almost preferred it to the others, as it was a nice chew to stick my teeth into. The chocolate flavor was very pronounced, and the caramel was quite buttery. I could feel the different layers on my teeth as I bit into each piece.

If there was one flaw with this, it would be that the sheer size and lumpiness of the pecans just dominated this. It’s as though the entire bottom was covered with them. I loved the taste, but at times, they just detracted from the overall soft and gooiness of the fudge. I’d have preferred chopped pecans, sprinkled throughout the fudge for a crunch. Instead, they just sunk to the bottom.

The turtle fudge was excellent, though. Fudgenmore makes many different flavors of fudge with an ample amount of goodies inside.

8/10- YUMMY

Fudgenmore
www.fudgenmore.etsy.com

A selection from Dei Fratelli

I was sent a nice package from a PR lady today, consisting of four tomato-related products from Dei Fratelli. I was sent two salsas- black bean and corn and Casera, and two tomato sauces- homestyle and tomato and basil.

I started up my pot and got my angel hair pasta cooking for the tomato sauces. I opted out of using parmesan cheese and oil so I could retain as much of the original texture and taste of the sauces as possible. Opening up the tomato and basil sauce, I was hit with a wonderful whiff of concentrated basil, really fresh-smelling, with the tomato smell coming up underneath. Delicious.

On the pasta, this came out just how I like pasta sauce- NOT CHUNKY. Other companies- do it this way. I hate chunks. I hate how they burst. Luckily, this was nothing chunky at all. Finely minced pieces of garlic and tomato could be seen, and it adhered to the pasta really well. Eating this was really good. The basil was a star player in the sauce, but mingled well with the tomatoes and didn’t overpower the taste at all. I would have liked to see a bit more garlic in this sauce, though.

8/10- DELICIOUS

The next sauce was the homestyle sauce. It was a little chunkier than the tomato and basil, and for some reason, seemed to have more basil pieces in the sauce than the other. This was strange to me, as a product that advertises basil in its name should certainly have more basil than one without. Regardless, I carried on. The sauce was not chunkier, but seemed to be thicker, like a tomato paste or puree consistency than a sauce.

It adhered well to the pasta, like its predecessor. One of the things I love about these sauces is that they just stuck really well. I had rarely any sauce left on the plate after trying both of these. This sauce was too salty, though. It had a strange mix of very salty and sweet to it, to the point where the flavors just pooped out and it was hard to taste any individual components. The sweetness really detracted me, although I have no idea where it would have come from.

5/10- OKAY

Onto the salsas. I was really excited to try these, as I am a huge fan of all things appetizer-related and Mexican when summer rolls around. So I popped this one open. It is a medium heat, and in the jar, shows many bean and corn pieces floating around. It seemed as though there was not a lot of these in my portion, though. Instead of smelling fresh and having a garden-like consistency, it tasted and felt more like a tomato sauce from a jar than a salsa.

On the chip, the beans were firm, not mushy, but I couldn’t find very much corn. What I did find was tasty. I would have liked to taste a little more heat or spices in here, because it just tasted like a weak picante sauce from a jar instead of a homemade feel.

4/10- LAME

This salsa was the real underdog in this review. It was incredible. Opening this, I got a really, really nice smell of heat from the jalapeno peppers, and a delicious tomatoey smell, too. I put it in the bowl and it poured out with a really salsa-y texture. Not many chunks, thank god, but with a really good balance between juice and sauce that made the chips soak up the liquid.

The taste was phenomenal. I just couldn’t get enough of this salsa on the chips. The heat was quite complex, and built up to a nice, lingering burn that stayed for a good long time. The texture was perfect, and it smells wonderful. People wouldn’t believe this is from a jar.

9/10- PHENOMENAL

Chili’s Chocolate Chip Molten Lava Cake


Okay, guys, sorry there’s been such a lag, but as of now, I am officially a high school graduate. This is very exciting to me.

So to celebrate, one of my friends took me out for graduation, to Lenny and Joe’s, and Chili’s for dessert. I figured I’d review the dessert aspect of the meal for you all, as it is a grand and celebratory dessert.

I had the chocolate chip molten lava cake. Many words to describe what is essentially an upside-down tart with ice cream. I can forgive, though. The tart came to me with a scoop of ice cream on top, with some of that magic shell chocolate sauce poured over it. I would have personally preferred fudge to the shell, as it made the entire ice cream presentation more cumbersome than fudge may have.

I ate the ice cream first so I could have room for the tart and eat it as it was presented. But to my surprise and horror, the ice cream was a ruse! It was a mask for the true nature of the tart. Chili’s skimped. Instead of making a tart with either ganache injected into the middle or an under-baked, “lava” center, they made a completely hollow tart, with a hole in the middle, like a very dense french cruller or a small angel cake, and poured fudge sauce in.

The sauce was good, though, and poured out the side. It was a nice, thick fudge sauce. The cake was dense and reminded me less of a chocolate chip cookie than a stale pound cake. Too crunchy, like it had been overmicrowaved, but it sopped up the melted ice cream and sauce around the edges relatively well.

Overall, not my favorite dessert, and nutritionally, nobody’s favorite. With 1240 calories and 64 grams of fat, this is pretty gross. And it’s small, too.

Don’t buy it. Please. For me. For the children.

3/10- LAME

Treats Done Wright: White Chocolate Pistachio Biscotti/Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies

Whoof! Hey guys; this review is way overdue, so my apologies! However, I have two delightful bakery concoctions to present to you today. Unfortunately, I don’t have pictures to share as my camera has not been kind to me lately, but I will try the best I can.

First up: Treats Done Wright’s White Chocolate Pistachio Biscotti
I’m not usually a big biscotti person, mostly due to the fact that I am a crumble-phobic. I hate food-induced messes, and cookie crumbles can be the worst. Thus, I wasn’t sure how I was going to go about reviewing a biscotti mostly due to the fact that biscottis are infamous for being, well, crumbly. Now to be honest, I’m Asian, and thus, my biscotti exposure has been close to none previous to doing this review. I’ve had the little Starbucks biscotti in the prepackaged plastic before, and that is about it. Needless to say, I was not impressed with Starbucks’ biscotti. This biscotti, on the other hand, was a welcome surprise.
Treats Done Wright’s biscotti is a chunky little thing; the portion I received was about three finger widths wide and two thick. However, it’s pretty light. Most of that probably has to do with the non-sugar-heavy-ness of the actual cookie, which I appreciated. Most of the sweetness comes with the white chocolate. Now personally, I’m a pretty big fan of white chocolate, but for those who are not (and I know there are plenty of you), the taste doesn’t make itself all that obvious, but it’s definitely there.
I am really liking the classic pistachio-white chocolate combo. Granted, I’m slightly biased considering that I am a big fan of both pistachio and white chocolate, but according to my 13-year-old little brother (we’ll call him our guest reviewer) who does not have an affinity for either pistacho or white chocolate, found the two elements to compliment each other in a way that creates a different blend of taste, rather than the tastes of white chocolate and pistachio smushed together.
And most importantly to me….minimal crumbling! I was pretty happy with this. The biscotti didn’t have a hard, crackery consistency like I had feared, but was more or less like….well, like it should be: a big, thick cookie with a nice, solid consistency. Be warned, however, that it is very difficult to break the biscotti into little pieces by hand….just take a big bite out of the thing like I did…you won’t be sorry.
I tried the biscotti with a little bit of tea…it doesn’t improve or detract from the taste, although it did make it a little mushier; not my favorite, but if crunchy cookies aren’t your thing, then go for it.
9/10-YUMMY


Next up: Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies

I loved this. A lot. Even from first looking at it in its little plastic baggy, I knew this was going to be good…I’m not really sure why considering that it looks just like any other cookie. But considering that these cookies were mailed over from somewhere…not very close to where I live, I was impressed.
I think the thing that captivated me about this cookie was just its small size. I like a big ol’ cookie every now and then like any other person, but as a small, after lunch snack, that’s a little overwhelming. This cookie’s circumference is a little smaller than that of a soda can. Additionally, it doesn’t have that horrible addicting quality to it that, if abused, will probably make me fat. It’s a one shot deal: you eat this little cookie, and you’re satisfied, thinking, ‘Dang…that was a good cookie.’
Now about the cookie itself…I liked it. Its softish texture was especially nice considering that a) it didn’t fall apart in my hands, but didn’t crumble when broken in half, and had a generally pleasant mouthfeel to it, and b) it had been mailed to us. I don’t really know why this gets to me so much, but if a cookie’s delicate consistency can withstand the powers of the United States Postal System, then I am impressed.
I’ve always thought almonds as a white chocolate kind of thing, but that could just be me. The almond has a pretty savory flavor to it that I would think would do best coupled with something sweeter than plain milk chocolate, but this cookie has proved otherwise. The significant thing about this cookie is probably that the almond portions are relatively small (I could only see bits of quarter almond in the cookie) but the chocolate chunks make themselves rather obvious. I think the one complaint I’ll have about this cookie is that the almonds are practically nonexistent…before I had read the packaging (bad idea, by the way), I wasn’t really sure what it was. On the other hand, however, the almond has a fairly strong taste, so any more almond would probably upset the balance between sweet and savory….but a little more almond probably would have made this cookie pretty darn close to perfection.
Admittedly, however, I think the best part of this cookie is basically just how small it is, and how satisfied AND somewhat healthy it makes you feel. I’m kind of liking Treats Done Wright mostly because of this quality…its goods are really quite light in your stomach and satisfy one’s sweet tooth without being too overwhelming. This cookie is no exception.
9/10- SPLENDID
Vanessa Wright
Treats Made Wright
Well, folks, I’m finally done with school now so I’ll have some more time to go food hunting…stay tuned for more reviews!

Herr’s Baby Back Rib Flavored Potato Chips

Another review from the land of strange potato chips.

These were the same, wide-rippled tasty chips, with the good crunchy base we all know and love. These reminded me a lot of the Walker’s Max chips I tried while abroad in the UK.

The chips are very crunchy and crispy, many of them wiggly and wide. A lot of them came through unbroken. One thing about these chips that I loved was the sauciness. It was a thick, powdery, but really saucy taste that I swear, tasted just like a baby back rib barbecue sauce. This is what barbecue chips want to taste like. It was just saucy and tasty, and almost overwhelming. Can’t eat too many in one sitting.

I imagine these would be good coating for fried chicken, and they’re excellent on their own, too. They’re very authentic and stick quite well to their taste. The covering is evenly placed, so you don’t get too many bare chips, either.

8/10- TASTY

Herr’s Pizza Flavored Potato Chips


I cannot tell you how freaking excited I was to step into Caron’s Corner today, my local grocery store, and see these. For years, I’ve salivated over the strange and discontinued flavors of potato chips the wonderful Herr company puts out, and finally, there they were.

I grabbed a bag of the pizza chips as well as the baby back rib chips, which will be reviewed soon, and set home.

It was truly the perfect breakfast, in my opinion. A bowl of chips in each hand. They were wide, curly chips with a wide ripple to them, no skinny minnie ridgies for these chips. The chips themselves were thick, too, with that nice Herr’s potato smell.

Whoof. Oregano city here. The chips definitely have a pizza spice to them. They really smell like oregano and other assorted spices. They’re a bright orange from a cheese powder, which is interesting. These are good chips. They’re cheesy like a pizza. They’re spiced like a pizza. But there’s just no tomato like a pizza? Why is this? Pizza is supposed to have cheese. And Herr’s makes such a tasty and delicious ketchup potato chip, with a really good and authentic taste. I guess if they’d combined them, it would have been overload. I don’t know.

It was a good flavor, but I just got bored too quickly with these. And the oregano was overpowering. The bag was misleading, with a nice slice of gooey pizza. Oh well.

4/10- UNIMPRESSIVE

The Fancy Lady Gourmet Cupcakes and Cookies

I got another package in the mail, from The Fancy Lady Gourmet, and as soon as I opened it, I couldn’t believe how adorable it was.

The packaging itself is exquisite. The packing was baby blue tissue paper, and each confection was packed in a colorful Chinese food carton. I felt like I was opening an individual gift with each one. There was a label on each telling me what I was opening.

The first thing I tried was a coconut brownie cupcake with graham cracker crust. Now, I’m not really a fan of coconut, but this blew me away. The brownie was like a delicious, dense hybrid of cupcake and brownie, it was definitely an amazing homemade treat. The frosting was a bit hard, which I can expect, being in the mail, so I popped my piece into the microwave and let it nuke for a few. Probably one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I then realized that the frosting wasn’t frosting at all, but white chocolate with toasted coconut on top. Delicious. It basically turned into a ganache.

This brownie cupcake was fantastic. I think I’m a convert.

9/10- FANTASTIC

The next treat was a s’mores brownie. Opening this was just like a real s’more! Very gooey good! The marshmallows were nice and toasty brown, but the cake was very dry and had a really strange mouthfeel to it. It left a film in my mouth and a strange aftertaste that I can’t put my finger on. I’m not sure if it was the graham cracker crust or the brownie itself, but something was a little off. I did like how the marshmallows were roasted on top, though, instead of being put in the mix.

5/10- OKAY

This last one was really the star of the show. It’s an adorable little red velvet cupcake with a lovely fondant flower on top. The cake is a deep, dark, rich burgundy color, almost, and you can smell the cocoa scent of a good red velvet from three feet away.

I almost don’t want to cut into this cupcake, it’s so cute. It’s got a perfect daub of white chocolate on top. I’m torn between eating it or putting it by my bedside table and making it my firstborn child. But alas, I must share with Patricia, as my family ate her last share of baked goods, so…I must cut.

The cake is a little bit dry, but maintains a deep, rich, buttery red velvet flavor that goes perfectly with milk. The frosting is delicious, again, a really buttery white chocolate dollop on top, and the fondant was a pleasant surprise for me. The cupcake was smaller than the brownie, but this was perfect. Any more would have been too much. The density is just perfect with this one.

8/10- TASTY

I strongly recommend these desserts for anyone to try. The Fancy Lady Gourmet is out of Moonachie, NJ, and can be found on her website on Etsy.com

The Fancy Lady Gourmet

Moonachie, NJ

Asian EXTRAVAGANZA! Part 1: Drinks

Okay, so a little background. My friend Swagger and I went out yesterday on a delightful quest for an Ocean State Job Lot, which turned into a huge adventure finding and retrieving items from an Asian Grocery.

We got some beverages first, for review. I’ll be doing it all in part by cuisine. We found dollar store beverages and Asian things to show you today.

First up was the Wang Dream aloe juice. After giggling profusely at the funny name, we took a sip. The texture is very strange. It’s a very thick juice, and the texture is only comparable to drinking melted Jell-O. At first taste, it tasted like apple-scented shampoo would taste like. On the second round, it developed a muscat-like taste, and the little beads of aloe tasted much better. It was, in all, a really refreshing drink and not horrible for costing $1.70. The texture is a little off-putting, though. I kept expecting it to develop a skin on top, like its Jell-o imitation.

5/10- OKAY

We also found a treat I’d been dying to try, but hadn’t really wanted to order online: soda for weeaboos, AKA ramune. The ramune was immensely fun to open, like a grenade launcher, and I felt a real sense of accomplishment when I got the marble down and the soda tried to explode all over my hands.

Unfortunately, the taste was really disappointing. We had the choice of original, melon, Hawaiian blue, and strawberry, and chose strawberry. Swagger said the Japanese don’t like things too sweet, and it was evident in the taste. If anything, the ramune tasted like watery and minimally flavored seltzer. If that was strawberry flavored, plain must be really gross. A huge disappointment, even if the packaging was awesome. We loved the Engrish on the label, too. “Enjoy pop soda!”

4/10- DISAPPOINTING

That was it for the Asian beverages, as we’d already stocked up on discounted sodas at an Aldi and Ocean State Job Lot before. Onto the discounted stuff. We bought two sodas from a company called “Snow,” advertising crisp, minty beverages, and one ominously nomikered Java Pop.

The “Icy Green Tea- Light” Snow pop thing was nothing special in the way of bottle mechanics, like the ramune, and it was encouraged to serve “ice cold”. Okay. So we put our ice batons and waited. We took a sip.

The smell was intense, like we’d just sauntered into a Colgate factory on a hot day. It looked like beer, and tasted like sparkling Listerine. There was no green tea flavor at all. We now understand why these were three for a buck. They were loaded with sugar, 35 grams a bottle, but had no sugary or sweet taste to speak of, and were horrible. We spat them out and dumped the remainder of the soda in the yard.

0/10- INEDIBLE

Okay, so after that astronomical failure, we popped open the Whiteout Peach flavor. Not looking good so far, Swagger said. So we opened it, poured it into our glasses with ice batons, and waited. Took a sip. Again, we hated it. Just spitting out the drink made me feel much better.

I don’t know what was wrong with these two beverages, aside from the glaringly obvious fact that we bought them from a dollar store. But the Whiteout peach was exactly the same. There was no peach taste to find, it smelled like toothpaste, and was sugary on the label, but had no sugar to be found. These just sucked, completely.

0/10- INEDIBLE

I’m not proud to do it, but I have to give the Snow Pops my first zeroes. We spit them out. They were horrific.

Last up was the ever-intriguing Java Pop, in vanilla flavor. It boasted being all organic, all seeing, all knowing, with pure sugar cane.

We opened it and poured it into the bottle. It had a sickly sweet flavor of sugar and vanilla, like snorting powdered sugar. Upon trying it, we smacked our lips a little, probably trying to see if they stuck together. It did taste like vanilla coffee, that was accurate. In fact, if you condensed it, it would probably taste even better sans bubbles. But this combination was just gross. Soda and coffee is really disgusting. And the sugar this one had almost negated the fact that it was organic. Just disappointing.

1/10- GROSS

Tine Temptation’s Treats

I got a lovely sampler package from Tine Temptations, an independently owned store out of Chicago.

The package was very tastefully designed, with little spotted bows and pink and black logo stickers. It was adorable. Melissa, the owner and baker, assured me that this was not her normal packaging, but that she minimized to save space and w2eight on shipping, a move I appreciated, as she paid for shipping, too.

She sent in the package, two chocolate and peanut butter pretzel bites and her famous cinnamon bun cookies.

The cinnamon bun cookies were really, really soft, but had a delicious grainy texture to them that I can’t quite find the source of. They definitely tasted just like a cinnamon bun. The swirls of cinnamon sugar pop in your mouth and are aesthetically beautiful to see on the cookie itself. I put a few bits of this in the microwave and got a real treat.

Oddly enough, there was a coconut flavor to these that worked really well. They tasted like a Samoa with this. I just can’t tell where it’s from. Coconut oil? Coconut in the flavoring? Whatever it was, it’s a winner.

8/10- DELICIOUS

The chocolate peanut butter pretzel bites were cute little treats with a peanut butter and chocolate coating on top of them. They were drizzled with alternating flavors, a feature that I loved.

The pretzels were a little too hard for me, I think that might have been in their aspect. The coating was also slightly thin, but was rich and coated entirely.

Taste-wise, they were a yummy treat, but just a little too dry for me. The chocolate definitely added well to the moisturizing aspect and the peanut butter was tasty, too. I think these would be wonderful with those peanut butter filled pretzels, like from Trader Joe’s, but I’m not the baker…

5/10- OKAY

Tine Temptations can be found at Etsy.com, at her store. She’s a great seller and very accommodating in what she makes for customers. Her treats are original and very tasty.

Tine Temptations
Chicago, Illinois