Coco-Luxe Halloween Truffles


Some delicious truffles from Coco-Luxe, just in time for Halloween!

Now, I’m not sure what some of the flavors were, so I had to do a little guessing based on the flavor. First, I tried the bat truffle. These were really adorable with the little images on top! Quite seasonal. The bat truffle was a dark chocolate with a dark ganache inside, with serious hints of cinnamon and liquor, a much darker and spicier flavor. Perhaps a pumpkin?

7/10- SPOOKY

The next truffle was the witch truffle. It was a dense ganache, with a little bit more of a sweet hint to it, like a cherry-raspberry flavor. The flavor was still dark, but didn’t carry as many of the spice flavors that the bat truffle did. The witchy witch was sweeter than she looked!

6/10- SCARY

Finally, the last truffle. This truffle said “boo!” on it. No doubt about it- this was a serious dark chocolate ganache, pure flavor with no interference! Really luxurious and silky chocolate, but also able to taste smokiness and depth to it.

7/10- BATTY

Happy Halloween!

Embrace Sweets


So I was sent some lovely brownies in the mail, from Embrace Sweets, and here they are, up for review!

The first brownie I tried was not a brownie, but a blondie, specifically, the Blondie Bombshell. It was very moist and buttery and tasted nice, with pecan undertones. I inexplicably got a smoky aftertaste, almost peppery, at the end of my bite. It was very moist and had a good flavor and texture.

7/10- GOOD

The next brownie was a caramel pecan, studded with crushed nuts. I tasted the pecan, it was unavoidable, but it was almost impossible to taste the caramel, though I’m not sure why. The ratio of nuts to caramel may have been it, combined with the chocolate flavor. This flavor may be more adept in the form of a blondie.

5/10- NICE

The next one was a peanut butter brownie. What I love about peanut butter in baked goods is that it makes everything so lovely and moist. This was no exception. It was a nice, moist brownie, very, very sweet with nice aromas and flavors of nuts and a good texture to sink your teeth into.

8/10- MMMMM!

Another good classic- the quintessential walnut brownie. The walnuts aren’t sweet, but add a nice flavor component and cut out the saccharine qualities of the chocolate, making a good balance with a nice texture. I prefer walnuts to be on top of brownies, rather than mixed in, so one doesn’t bite onto an errant chunk, so these were winners in my book.

7/10- LOVELY

Wrapping up the selection, we have a triple chocolate brownie. It was very sweet and very buttery, I wasn’t as impressed with it as the others, like the Blondie, as it was a little too greasy and just like regular chocolate. There was a really doughy texture to it and although I often like that, I like some pieces or differences in consistency throughout so that it offsets the sameness.

5/10- ALL RIGHT

Embrace Sweets
www.embracesweets.com

D’Lischka- Petite German Pastries


Do excuse the lackluster feeling in any subsequent reviews, if you happen to detect one. I’ve come down with the flu and can do nothing but drift in and out of consciousness and groan.

These are, without a doubt, some of the tastiest little cookies I’ve ever had. They’ve been in my dorm for about a week and a half and I’m quite surprised they’ve lasted so long! They’re petite german pastries in all sorts of flavors with different fillings attached to them, and they follow the trend of “things in jars,” which I rather like.

The first cookie was a Harvest Moon, with cocoa pecan pastries and orange jam, with a drizzle of white and dark chocolate on them. Overall, the orange and cocoa definitely overpowered the pecan, just in flavor. There were little nutty pieces that made a really nice texture. Some of the cookies were soft and some were hard, these happened to be in the soft variety and crumbled quite nicely in my mouth. A good, solid flavor, and the shape is adorable!

7/10- NICE

The next cookie was a buttery Hazel Ace. One aspect that I didn’t like about these cookies is that although they accurately follow the “ace” shape, the little ends of the ace tend to fall off and remain at the bottom. I liked crunching them up, but to be honest, that little extra bit of cookie would definitely add to a more flavorful dessert. These were of the crunchy variety, which I preferred to the softer ones, and are pecan cookie, hazelnut creme, and white or dark chocolate drizzled. The hazelnut, though delicious and tasting identically to Nutella, overpowered the butter cookie completely.

6/10- NOT BAD

Another tasty treat were the Almond Petals, with marzipan and pecan pastry, apricot jam, and white and dark chocolate. As I mentioned, the jars varied in the amount of cookies, and this one was stuffed to the brim with almond petals. These were of the softer variety of cookies, and I’m not sure how I felt about them. The apricot jam provided the sweetness to the cookies, whereas the marzipan and pecan held it together, but didn’t add much flavor. The almond was more of an essence and really changed the texture, leaving an almost half-baked mouthfeel to them. They were good. I just wasn’t able to eat many of them because of the texture.

5/10- ALL RIGHT

The next cookie was another crunchy selection, a Mint Bloom. These cookies are like the gourmet version of Thin Mints, without the greasiness and cheap chocolate! Kudos to these. One thing I have to say is that you guys keep throwing these flavors that I’m not much of a fan of- mint, coffee, alcohol- at me, and keep changing my mind with your delicious goodies! But these were good. I felt as though the pecan pastry got a little lost in the flavor, as it was primarily a chocolatey mint-dominated taste, but that worked in the cookie’s favor. With the nuts, there may have been too much going on. This was another cookie, like the Hazel Ace, that tended to fall apart a little.

7/10- AWESOME

The fifth cookie was a Razzle Heart. It tasted like something a grandma would make, or something that you’d serve at a afternoon tea. It was a really cute little cookie, with pecan pastry, raspberry jam, and white or dark chocolate drizzled. It was a really subtle mingling of raspberry and butter cookie, of the softer variety. I really had no complaints about this cookie!

8/10- TASTY TREAT

And finally, I’m saving the best cookie for last. A flavor that I wouldn’t have expected to enjoy, and certainly not put in my top favorites! Again, I was proven incorrect. This was the Dark Star. a crunchy butter pecan pastry with a black currant jam and white/dark chocolate drizzle. I loved the texture of the crunchies the best because they were really thin and offset the softness of their filling without making the overall experience gooey. This flavor was mainly butter, and I didn’t detect much chocolate, but in the back of my mouth, there was a wonderful currant taste, very dark and flavorful. A real winner!

9/10- EXCELLENT

You can buy these at www.dlischka.com. I imagine they’d be fantastic as little desserts at holiday parties for people to munch on but not feel overwhelmed with.

Starbucks Moravian Sugar Cookies


Finally, a good treat from Starbucks. The only real problem is that these weren’t homemade, they’re just sold at the counter. These particular cookies are in festive “fall shapes”. So I brought them home, because I’m always a sucker for a good cookie.

Well, took them out of the package. Not many intact “fall shapes” though my roommate swinging the bag at me might have had something to do with that. And there’s really only one shape to speak of, looks like a mildly retarded Canadian might have drawn up the blueprint. Still, festive. They’re packaged in this funky little folding box. I like it. So the cookies themselves are wafer thin and really, really crunchy. They remind me of Anna’s Gingerbread cookies, and I could eat a thousand of those. These are just delicious.

The flavor is more buttery than sugary, and I like that. It reminds me of a nice shortbread without having the characteristically nubby, thick pieces. These are a great snack while on the go or sitting and having some tea. Which I will be doing soon. Because I am super duper sick. Don’t worry, I’ll post tomorrow. 🙂

8/10- LOVELY

SNACKDOWN: The Cider Wars


Hello, foodies! I have another snackdown for y’all today, in the spirit of the quickly chilling weather.

Ew, did I really just say y’all? I’m very sorry. Regardless, I have two contenders up for speculation today. Representing the home team is an apple cider from the dining commons, brewed fresh out of Atkins Farms, in Amherst, MA, and representing the “new and fresh-faced” section, in the opposite corner, is the new kid from Naked Juice- Chai Spiced Apple Cider. So, who will win? Will it be the rookie in the game, the Chai cider, or the reigning champion, Atkins Farms?
Atkins Farms’ cider is a really well-crafted drink. It’s full of spices that don’t dominate the apple flavor as a whole and provides a really tasty, not-too-tart flavor. It’s a little sweet, which is a complaint many might have, and if you don’t shake it enough, there’s a little watery flavor at first, but really, I have no complaints to speak of. It’s a delicious cider.

The chai-spiced cider was really disappointing. It didn’t taste like cider at all! It was really just apple juice, a really artificially-flavored apple juice, with cinnamon and some other subtle spices. There’s a nutmeggy aftertaste but I couldn’t taste any of the other flavors typically associated with chai, like masala spices, ginger, or cloves. And it just didn’t have that “fall” (read: unpasteurized!) and raw, delicious taste that regular cider has, that implies that fall is nigh and you should drink cider all the time. I was kind of upset that this was so hyped and yet such a failure in the autumn department. Good cider, regardless of when you drink it, should transport you back to autumn, with falling and changing leaves and smoky smells.

ATKINS- 8/10
NAKED- 4/10

WINNER: ATKINS

Two for one: Pot Cookies

Another cooking adventure. Oh, joy. Okay, so I haven’t fallen off the edge completely now, y’hear? However…can someone please send me a baking sheet? Oven mitts? Even a piece of jagged sheet metal from a demolished building that can fit in an oven, for Christ’s sake? And a mixing bowl and spoon, maybe? It’s getting sad.

Very, very, very sad.


So yeah. This post is called pot cookies because technically, I did make them in a pot, and because I’m a sellout and people will love reading about pot cookies because they’ll think I’m a typical college stoner and not an atypical pretentious food critic.

Ahem.

And yes, that’s a pen I mixed with. This is why we can’t have nice things.

So the mixes used, this is a double-header, consisted of a chocolate chip cookie mix, gluten-free, from Doodles Cookies. All organic. And some of what Ina Garten would definitely consider “good” vanilla, in the form of Singing Dog Vanilla from Kestrel Growth brands.

I mixed the cookies, as you can see, and popped them in the oven. The girl in the background couldn’t have been more annoyed that I was cooking in the kitchen while she was trying to have a phone conversation about her boyfriend, GOSH.


Sorry for being so snarky, readers, but I do what has to be done. So, out came the cookies. I had to make them really tiny because I decided to bring them to rehearsal tonight and give them to the cast. And their verdict? The cookies were gone in about twelve seconds. Everyone came up and thanked me. Some select comments…

“Like little balls of joy.”
“Really chocolatey!”
“You can taste so much vanilla. It’s awesome.”
“I love these cookies!”
“Very squishy.”

Nobody knew they were gluten-free, either. So, Kestrel Brands and Doodles Cookies, you have met the seal of approval. Then again, one could say that hungry actors eat everything. Soon, I’ll make another batch of cookies and hopefully do a little foray in the world of crème brûlée. Anyone have a blowtorch I might borrow?

VANILLA- 9/10- LOVELY
COOKIES- 8/10- FANTASTIC

Moti Restaurant, Amherst, MA

Last night MM (Mangia Massachusetts) and I went to the grand opening of a new restaurant in the center of Amherst, Moti. So Moti is in what’s known as a cursed place because of its location next to the big contender of fast food, Antonio’s. I’ve always lauded them for their pizza varieties, massive slices, and excellent prices, but sometimes you just don’t want pizza.

And if this doesn’t jinx it right off the bat, I think Moti provides adequate sustenance for that pizza resistance.

I keep complaining about the lack of a good falafel, or rather, any falafel, in the immediate area, and although I love Amounez, I don’t love traveling an hour and change to grab one. Jesus has answered my prayers. So MM and I walked in and it was moderately bustling. The waitresses were extremely attentive and friendly and made sure to omit or add all the toppings we requested.

This is the back of the restaurant. Yes, that’s a massive shawarma. Yes, that man is using little to no effort because that meat falls off like warm butter. Oh my god. It was a beautiful sight.

I had to order the falafel, though, and seriously, this might become my new brand of fast food. I can easily see myself ordering this, especially at the price of $5, to take and whisk away to classes on a busy day.

The falafel itself is like an amazing and wonderful sandwich. Easily a foot long, it’s the homemade and delicious rebuttal to Subway. The best thing about it is the style in which it’s wrapped in. This is serious fast food. Unlike regular falafels in pitas, which are great, but messy, this one never spilled a drop, even with the extra tahini and hummus I opted to add. The lavash bread was obviously homemade and still warm, and soaked up all the sauces. The falafel was flavorsome and had a really nutty taste and was nice and hot.

Any criticisms I have are pretty weak, actually. The falafel wasn’t as crunchy as some that I had, but that was because of the shape of the thing, and I’ll take shape over texture. The ingredient distribution was a little awkward and eventually, one must succumb and simply eat it by shoving the entire diameter in one’s mouth to get all the fillings at once. Which is fine, you know. But that was it. It was an amazing sandwich and if nobody else opts to go, I can promise you I’ll be single-handedly holding up this business. Go here. It’s a keeper.

9/10- FALAFELICIOUS

On a side note, I now have official business cards and am leaving them when I go places, like farmers markets and restaurants, so expect to see my calling card when I go out to eat!

Starbucks Morning Bun


I was intrigued by the neat coils of this little confection, and also by its whimsical name. A morning bun. It sounds like something that would be served by a sweet granny in a bed and breakfast, piping hot with homemade sweet cream and butter with pretty trees and horses outside, the kind of granny who calls everyone “sweetie” and makes you feel guilty about having sex in the room.

But imagine if, under that friendly, sweet exterior, that granny had a few screws loose. Maybe she grows marijuana amidst marjoram and marigolds in her garden. Or maybe she’s an underground hustler and the bed and breakfast is just pretense for her granny pimping. That was what the Starbucks Morning Bun was like to me.

It started out nicely. It was flaky and tasty and a little warm. But then, things got ugly. Some mild threats. A little too dry in one spot. A flavor that mocked almonds in its essence. A greasy inside. And the flavor was friendly and wholesome, but it just tried too hard. I saw through this morning bun. It was dry and tasteless and needed a slap in the face and some whipped butter to go with it. The morning bun had seen better days at one point and had now turned to whoring, smoking, and cheap ingredients to lure in its customers.

Do yourself a favor. Cook something.

2/10- SUCKAGE

Botanical Bakery


I was sent these teeny, tiny little tea cookies as a sample for a review. They’re cookies with plants in them. Was I afraid? A little. I made sure to eat them in the dark in case a swarm of bees came to attack me. I’ve been checking myself to see if I’ve pollinated or something. But all in all, these are some delicious little cookies.

I fancy combining these with a nice spot of tea, perhaps. I see them doing well at a garden party, and perhaps you’ll order some for yours in the near future. The small demographic of mine that potentially has garden parties. Oh well. Onto the reviews!

The first cookie, peppermint with cacao nibs, is a new flavor for winter. All of these cookies are on tiny, buttery shortbread bases, by the way. A nice and crunchy, not soft or stale, confection, and the flavor is very subtle. The mint doesn’t remind me of an artificial mint at all, more of the calming flavor one might taste in a chamomile tea. The buttery flavor works and softens the mint, making it a very fresh taste, and the cacao is in the background, adding depth but not overwhelming the palate.

7/10- GOOD

The next cookie has a little more crumble and acidity to it, the lemon thyme tea cookie. It’s quite tasty, a rather acidic taste for such a tiny thing. Eating one gives a full burst of lemon, followed up by a mellow thyme flavor. I’m starting to like the idea of pairing herbs with sugary things. Sometimes it doesn’t work out and ends up tasting like a pizza gone wrong, but in this case, the two flavors compliment each other really well.

7/10- NICE

I’m totally biased. This next cookie was my favorite, a cinnamon basil. Honestly, the only thing I could come up with was that it’s a very fresh, popping taste. The basil, as one chews, emits a licorice-like flavor and mingles with the cinnamon, which, like the cacao, creates a very subtle taste. I find that with the butter, the flavors are accentuated in a more sweetened way, but also muted and cut with the richness to make a sweet and not bitter cookie. The small size of these is also fantastic, as I’m not sure if a larger one would suit my palate like these tiny ones did.

8/10- MMMM!

This cookie was flavored with fennel pollen. I don’t know if it’s my personal bias to eating pollen, but I only got a subtle fennel flavor and somehow expected pollen to taste different. The texture was a little more powdery, the butter flavor, the same. Very rich. A little strange. I can’t decide whether I liked it or not. There were small flowery essences. I guess the idea of eating pollen just didn’t appeal as much as I thought it might have.

5/10- OKAY

And then the last cookie, a lavender cookie. Despite having the buttery shortbread base, this one carried the strongest flavor of all and went with the butter very well. At first, the only thought that was in my head was of chewing on one of those aromatic pillows or face masks, but then my brain switched in and reminded me that it was a cookie. The soothing benefits of lavender sort of come to play in this cookie, making a really mild treat that relaxes the mouth and the flavor evokes lovely images of lavender flowers…

7/10- GREAT!

Botanical Bakery
www.botanicalbakery.com

Three Cheesecake Tuesday


Well, kind of a two cheesecake Tuesday. I ate one a few nights ago and still need to review it, so here’s the last three cheesecakes in the Decadence Cheesecake lineup!

The first cheesecake I tried was the New York style cheesecake, a few nights ago. It was wonderful and creamy, but the flavor was somewhat bland. It was reminiscent of just a creamy flavor, without any of the often sour subtleties of the sour cream. The crust was also good. For some reason, this cheesecake was also slightly less firm than the normal standard of these cheesecakes. It was good, I’ve just had better plain cheesecakes. I tend to prefer those with a less sweet flavor than this one.

4/10- GOOD

The next cheesecake, though, the one I’m eating right now, was absolutely phenomenal. This was the cheesecake that had me sold on the Decadence Cheesecake lineup. It’s a Southwestern Cactus, comprised of a blue cornbread crust with a prickly pear cactus filling and a sour cream and agave glaze. I was so excited to try this!

The texture of the cornbread crust and the creamy filling was amazing. The combination just created this moist, lovely flavor in my mouth, and there were fantastic notes of corn and salt in the middle of it. The filling is amazing. The overwhelming feeling in this is just this freshness that explodes throughout the thing, a quenching flavor. It has bits of the cactus in it for flavor, too. How cool is that? A dessert with a cactus. I’m glad it didn’t come with the thorns, but it was pretty phenomenal.

9/10- EXCELLENT

The next cheesecake brought in my personal area of expertise: chocolate and peanut butter. The Outer Banks cheesecake consists of a chocolate crust, peanut butter and chocolate chip filling, with a chocolate ganache topping and crushed macadamia nuts on top.

Well, it was a damned good cheesecake. But something was missing. The entire thing wafted peanut butter smells throughout my room, there were elements and subtle notes of chocolate, pecan, coconut, licorice, macadamia, and almond…but there just wasn’t enough peanut butter. Seriously. I tasted many flavors, and I did taste peanut butter, just not enough to substantiate the claim that this is a peanut butter cheesecake.

I liked it a lot, but I was confused. I’m not sure that if I’d known this was a peanut butter and chocolate cheesecake, I’d have necessarily guessed it. Still, a lovely dessert, and I can’t reiterate enough that I love the idea of desserts in jars!

6/10- GREAT