Chocolate Truffle Class at Chocopologie, South Norwalk

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- Fritz Knipschildt is the Willy Wonka of Connecticut’s coast. On a special evening, however, Miss Love and I experienced a special chocolate-making class- Golden ticket not required! Chocopologie has been featuring classes for its loyal followers, where participants can spend an evening rolling truffles with the man himself and enjoy dinner in the cafe. We were invited to roll up our sleeves and make some treats.

If you haven’t checked out Chocopologie yet, it’s a must-see. The dessert and truffle cases alone are worth the trip- homemade macarons and cakes fill the shelves, as well as Fritz’s unique take on truffles and classic treats like chocolate-covered Oreos, jazzed up with bacon and sea salt. We were too full to take any home with us but definitely recommend going with an empty stomach.

I don’t know how they’re able to make so many delicious treats!

Adorable Snickers cakes dotted the case along with…
Fresh peach macarons! 
But enough about awesome sugar treats. We were here to work, damn it. Along with a few more intrepid chocoholics, your faithful gourmand and her photographer waded through lakes of chocolate, miles-long deep freezers, and battled Martha Stewart herself for the last truffle. I kid, I kid. We learned the composition of a good ganache, how to infuse truffles with fillings like alcohol and fruit, and most importantly, the best pairings for chocolate in all shapes and sizes. Fritz told us that you can never go wrong with champagne, a sentiment I wholly echo, but also likes banyuls, a fortified French wine, for a switch-up.

 And then, the moment we were all anxiously waiting for- truffle class! Fritz had prepared some dark chocolate ganache ahead of time that we rolled into little truffles.

Awwww yeah gettin’ that molten gold. Straight up Callebaut, natch. This part got a little messy. Suffice to say, more than one of us left with a little chocolate in our hair!

Also, we were unionized for the hour-long period, which entitled us to a mandatory hot chocolate break. Ganache and heavy cream for the win.

 It was busy and bustling, and plenty of fun. We rolled our truffles in combinations of spicy cocoa powder, bittersweet cocoa powder, crushed almonds, and sunflower seeds. I can imagine these being wonderful with panko crumbs or sea salt, too!

The finished product- minus a few, of course.

After tasting, we sampled some of the store’s famed truffles to get an idea of the other flavors we could use. The possibilities are endless. Fritz names his truffles after beautiful woman. Seeing as I’m quite the hot number, the Jess would likely include a smoked dark caramel and beer ganache center with a malt powder and sea salt coating and a candied jalapeno on top! Complex, but fascinating…just like me. These truffles were the Lola, with lavender and dark chocolate, the Aisha, with Turkish coffee and dark chocolate, and the Antoinette, dark chocolate and rosewater. All were sumptuous.

 Also, I’ve heard that for an undisclosed sum, you can buy ten minutes alone with this enrobing machine. No limits, anything goes.

After our class, we were very hungry. We enjoyed coq au vin and poached salmon along with raspberry peppercorn martinis as the sun set. We’re still munching on our goodies this week- it was a really edifying experience, one that will definitely come in handy when the holidays come around! For $69, it was a tremendous value- generous portions of food and wine and at least two pounds of truffles. I highly suggest taking this class if you’re curious to learn more about what goes into these tasty treats. Fritz was wonderful and spent a lot of time answering our questions and telling us all we wanted to know about the store and the world of chocolate. It was a very pleasant evening.
If you know someone who loves chocolate and is tired of receiving boxes of truffles and gift certificates to chocolate mud baths, this is the perfect gift for them. Chocopologie is holding another class on June 16th, which you can sign up for if you’re in the area!

Thanks again to Chocopologie for having us to this lovely event…we’ll be back soon for more treats!

Fourteen Japanese Caramels

Food dreams are the absolute worst. Not dreams with food in them- I have no intentions of rambling on and on about the last dream I had, only to accidentally reveal a sordid repressed history of a life of teenaged crime off an ABC After School Special. I’m talking about the rare dream about food, some sort of product that infiltrates your subconscious that dream-you wholly believes to be authentic. I woke up this morning hell-bent on reaching into my real live purse and taking out a box of real live Japanese Inside-Out Chocolate Brownie Kit-Kats that my dream boyfriend gave me, only to discover that they never existed in the first place. I died a little this morning.
Luckily, Japan’s exportation coda requires all edible items shipped to the States to be completely wild and insane, so for today’s review, I’ve collected a whole bunch of bizarre caramels, some from Miss Love, others from J-List, to write about and review today. These make Brach’s look about as edgy as a broken Hummel figurine.
Sweet potato: Amazing! Tangy, slightly metallic, with a rich, creamy, starchy potato flavor. Very brown sugar and caramel-heavy, but delicious. Probably the best retention of the caramel and potato essence.
Corn:Milky and sweet, like fresh corn on the cob. Definitely candied and sugary, but distinctly vegetal. Butter: Disturbingly accurate—waxy, like margarine, with a forward salinity and sweet flavor, like sweet cream. Really rich.
Chestnut: The most dense caramel with a rich, coffee-like flavor and hint of nuttiness. Tasted more like chestnut syrup than actual chestnuts, but we weren’t complaining!
Matcha: Grainy and vivacious in texture and flavor, with an intense and concentrated flavor. Matcha buillion. Ghenghis Khan: Based off lamb curry (!!!) this was surprisingly mild, but not without a slight gaminess and faux-grilled tang. An excellent novelty.

Cantaloupe: The best, hands down. Tangy, cool, creamy, and sweet, with that quintessential pulpy melon flavor. This is what Starburst wishes it was. We demolished this box completely.
Persimmon: Prickly, sweet fruit with a slightly spicy undertone. I’ve never had a raw persimmon, but there was a distinct flavor to this that leads me to believe this wasn’t just half-assed.

Sticky rice in coconut: Definitely reminiscent of the coconut part, not sure about the sticky rice. Definitely had a glutenous chew, though!
City lights: I have no idea what this is supposed to represent. I’m going to go with either “pixels” or “14-year old girl,” and based on the sweet, berry-like flavor, it’s likely the latter. Japan, you so crazy. This tastes like boysenberries and haskap, slightly musky and sweet.
Natural yogurt: Their words, not mine. This tastes exactly like lemon cheesecake filling—tangy and fruity, with very little dairy. It’s bizarre.
Yuzu: This was the most unique as it was contained in an edible rice paper package, which offered a unique crunchy contrast to the sweet, gummy caramel inside. This was the chewiest and sweetest of the bunch.

These are delicious. And they’re even available at Japanese dollar stores. Kind of makes my local Family Dollar selection of crushed Saltines and headless dolls look even sadder.

McDonald’s Blueberry Banana Nut Oatmeal

I reeled back like I’d been shot. “What did you say?”
He tipped the brim of his visor and smiled out at me. “I have to go find the blueberries. Not to insinuate that I’ve lost them, but I just don’t know where in the refrigerator we have them.” 
He smiled again. “We know three-syllable words, too!”
At first glance, this might sound normal- if you were at a diner, or a regular restaurant, or at home. But this was around 11:30 last night, and I was idling in front of a McDonald’s. The visor-bedecked speaker was my server, and I’d just been handed a promise of Bizarro-world proportions. Fresh blueberries? In my oatmeal? At McDonald’s, it’s more common than you think.

Oatmeal isn’t a new item here- back in 2010, McDonald’s debuted its Fruit and Maple oatmeal, a version that, though better than the McGriddles of the world, still had some nutritional and textural kinks to work out. I’m pleased to report that this new version is vastly superior. Last year’s version felt like two dollars’ worth of Quaker in a bowl and a lifetime’s worth of bragging rights to your significant other or sibling. I counted no less than sixteen blueberries in my oatmeal before I smacked myself in the head for being such a nerd about counting blueberries. Let that sink in. Sixteen fresh blueberries! There were at least two in each bite and they were plump, fresh, and tangy, a wonderful contrast to the sweet, nutty oatmeal.

I liked that it was slightly creamy and very smooth, tasting more like a baked oatmeal than your standard microwave job. I was a little disappointed to find neither fresh banana nor pieces of walnut, but the flavor remained. It had a great, wholesome flavor, malty and sweet, with a healthy dose of spices to keep the sugar and touch of maple syrup in check. It’s exceptional.

Opponents of the new oatmeal, Mark Bittman among them, have criticized the oatmeal in the past for its caloric value and needless additives. While it’s true that the new oatmeal, along with the humble pie I’m eating, doesn’t exactly need light cream and food starch, it’s a hell of a lot easier and cheaper to get here than to make. Why? Well, in the case of the previous oatmeal, which had mainly dried fruits and oats, it was a bit of a cop-out. I could easily make that. However, fresh blueberries are currently $5 per half pint, or roughly a cup of blueberries. And because this is Western Massachusetts, they’re organic to boot.

When I want breakfast, I don’t want to make a $20 investment to do so. Buying the exact ingredients it takes to make one serving of this- banana oatmeal ($5, for a banana and container of oats) walnuts ($5 for six ounces) light cream ($3/quart) and blueberries ($5/half pint) already has me out $18, or nine servings of this oatmeal at Mickey D’s. This version is easier to get, equally as delicious, and still one of the most nutritious hot breakfast items on the menu. 

Taco Bell Beefy Nacho Burrito

Like envisioning a post-apocalyptic backdrop in which our dinosaur overlords taunt us with what once was food as we choke down our pellet diets, it is difficult and panicky for me to visualize a town where the only viable quasi-Mexi option is Taco Bell. Suffice to say, the days of both Taco Hell, Schlocko Bell, and jokes lifted from 90’s topical jokebooks where the punchline (lunchline?) is always “looking for a byte to eat” because haha, computers, are OVER FOREVER.
I mean, sometimes they’re just so predictable. I used to be able to diagram Taco Bell’s new formulations in the same way that I diagram logic games. For instance: Taco Bell uses seven ingredients, Guacamole, Fresh tomatoes, Hot sauce, Imaginary steak, Jalapenos, Krunchtastic Chips®, and Lard to make four items, Qrazy Burritos®, Rollitos®, Stufftwiches®, and Tacos®. If guacamole and tomatoes are in a taco together, there can’t be any lard. No Rollito® can have more than three components. If a Stufftwich® does not have Krunchtastic chips®, it must have Imaginary steak. Each ingredient can be added one time to multiple items. No items have less than two ingredients. And so on.

However, with the release of the Doritos Tacos Locos and the newest member of the gang, the Beefy Nacho Burrito, I’m confronted with more than one wild-card element. Queso strips? A Dorito-laced taco shell? Where do those fit in? In the case of the Beefy Nacho Burrito, chips make a surprisingly successful addition to an otherwise blase burrito- that is, only if they’re not inside it. The core structural problem with the BNB is that, like its spicy predecessor, the Beefy Crunch Burrito, unless you live inside a Taco Bell or are eating it in the store (an awkward moment for anyone with a camera who, like me, intends to take photos) it inevitably turns into a monolithic, soggy mess as soon as you get back. It’s salty, sauce-heavy, and tasty, but in both cases, they present an issue I never thought I’d have: too many condiments.
The end bites are predominantly tortilla, cheese sauce, and sour cream. If you’re lucky, a few errant pieces of ground beef will be in there, too. I thought that this had a better balance of spices and heat than the Beefy Crunch, because the addition of Volcano sauce (which might not be standard) made for a more up-front spiciness and lingering heat. Perhaps this would be better if given the McDLT makeover- keeping the hot side hot and giving you a bag of strips like croutons to sprinkle on a few seconds before ingestion would solve the textural inconsistencies, but still eliminates convenience. Taco Bell R ‘n’ D- make some thicker chips! Or spray them with a nacho cheese-flavored hydrophobic coating.

I will say this- the combination of Volcano cheese sauce, ground beef, and sour cream evokes the flavor of nachos, I guess, in the same way that looking at porn is just like having sex. To their credit, this is a passable alternative for nachos if you’re driving* and need to eat nachos**. Besides, by the time the actual nachos get to your clumsy hands, they’re already soggy from the condensation. It’s nachos lite, because the the tortilla strips are rendered as soft and pliable as the tortilla surrounding it. You can see them in the burrito, but in all other senses they don’t register at all. Which is why I asked for a separate bag of them to taste- exactly what do Queso Strips bring to the table?
They taste identical to the Four Cheese Doritos, now discontinued in the States but flourishing in Canada as far as I can tell, which leads me to believe that these exotic export hail not from sunny Mexico, as all Taco Bell items obviously derive from, but from our neighbors above. They’re thin and crispy, seemingly thinner than the Doritos here, with a mild, creamy cheesiness, like the powder that comes in boxes of mac and cheese. I think I enjoyed them more than the burrito itself. As for that, it’s a fun novelty, but not much else. Get some Queso Strips and sprinkle them in yourself if you must***.

*- while high
**- while high
***- while high

Rhythm Superfoods Texas BBQ Kale Chips

Wanna know the worst person at a party? It’s not your drunk uncle Manny, hitting on your teenaged cousin. It’s not your parents, renegotiating their restraining orders and custody over dill potato salad. It isn’t even that one doppelganger of a cousin you have, who somehow grew up with the same people you loathe yet is far more successful, interesting, and skilled with the ladies. 

No, it’s that one guy who may have wandered in from a homeless commune- ah, no, he’s somebody’s boyfriend, the one who goes over the edible offerings at any barbecue or gathering like he’s Larry the effing Health Inspector. You’ll find him loudly braying about raw food and omega-3 viruses and chlorine in chicken breasts to anyone who can stomach it while pigging out on potato chips and beer, both of which are most definitely cruelty-free and organic. The irony continues when you notice that he’s strapped an infant to his midsection for the past three hours- nope, that’s just his beer gut. He’s hypocritically fastidious about what he eats and he’s a colossal fatass. Thankfully, the best way to get someone like that out of the way is to occupy them with these chips.

Appropriately sourced from a discount, free-range, local grocery store, Rhythm Superfoods Texas BBQ Kale Chips are about as Texan as his ‘n’ his bedazzled bridal Stetsons. (But seriously, Rick Perry, those would be awesome.) The kale tastes like an absorbent sponge of oil, organic fertilizer and salt. Holy crap, are these terrible. If this was an Elementary Agromarijuana exam question, the answer would be “flesh-eating microvirus”. Gross. The basics of food reviewing 1.0: if it’s good, say it’s good; if it’s bad, say why. But where the hell do I start? These are bad because they have the texture of particle board and the flavor of body odor. They are thick, brittle hunks of UFOs- Unidentified Food-like Objects, choked with coconut oil and inexplicably, tahini. They are flaky, shedding copious amounts of barbecue-flavored food dandruff all over the place, and come three to a bag, a bag originally priced at $6.59 marked down to the low, low price of $3.00 for what amounts to a fistful of kale and broken dreams.

I guess that would be the only offensive thing about them if they were healthy and good for you and provided an alternative, albeit, terrible niche market for people who have moral or ethical concerns about eating barbecue potato chips. Logically speaking, a customer who purchases something proudly advertised as air-popped, organic, and raw is likely doing so because they are looking for a healthier alternative to snacks that are not air-popped, organic, and raw. So how do you explain why a 2 ounce bag of these have more calories, fat, and carbohydrates than a McDouble from McDonald’s?

It’s also worth noting that McDonald’s, for all the criticism it receives, has been fairly reliable about accurately reporting nutrition facts and has never gone on the record indirectly implying that eating its food can cause weight loss. Rhythm Superfoods’ website and bag have different caloric values and they have no problem convincing you that eating raw lets you “pig out” and potentially lose weight at the same time.

At least I can shoulder the realization that regardless of caloric value, these will still taste like crispy disappointment every time. Unlike a McDouble.

Wild Ophelia Chocolate Bars (Southern Hibiscus Peach, New Orleans Chili, Sweet Cherry Pecan, Hickory Smoked Almond, and Peanut Butter Banana)

Katrina Markoff is forever bubbling clever ideas. Following the success of her wildly popular Vosges line of chocolate, the likes of which we’ve covered many times before, she has now introduced a line independent of the clever confections. Wild Ophelia is an Americana-inspired set of chocolate bars riffing off classic Southern flavor profiles.
Admittedly, while I’d have relished seeing Connecticut Hot Dog Stand in 66% dark chocolate and Bacon Clam Chowder suspended in white chocolate, these offer an approximation of Southern indulgences without having to leave the comfort of your home. Donna Tartt wishes she could have penned as convincing a Southern Gothic background story as these bars have. Miss Ophelia herself sent over a selection of five of the eight bar collection- Southern Hibiscus Peach, New Orleans Chili, Hickory Smoked Almond, Sweet Cherry Pecan, and Peanut Butter Banana, for our perusal.

Of the five bars, we were smitten with Peanut Butter and Banana and Hickory Smoked Almond, both offering fresh, defined flavor sets with an excellent balance between savory and sweet. Peanut Butter and Banana lacked the fruity, creamy punch that I typically associate with peanut butter and banana sandwiches, which might be why (amongst other reasons) I never added chocolate. I would have preferred to see this executed as a filled bar to better push the texture of gooey, silky banana. The salinity, however, offered a come-hither sensation that Vosges flavors are so known for. The smokiness of the Hickory Smoked Almond bar gave bacon a run for its money.

Southern Hibiscus Peach, Sweet Cherry Pecan, and New Orleans Chili sounded conceptually clever, but fell short of our expectations. The flavors of the former two were flat and subdued, overwhelmed by the sweet chocolate. Neither cherry nor pecan were discernible in the bar, and though a light, mild peachiness came through in Southern Hibiscus Peach, the hibiscus was lost. I was more impressed with the heaviness of the chickory and cinnamon notes in New Orleans Chili, but could not honestly say that I would have immediately associated that particular set of flavors with NOLA.

The marketing, packaging and color concepts are adorably twee, crisp and well-designed, and seem very appealing for the younger audience they target. These would likely fly off the shelves at places like Anthropologie or Urban Outfitters- they capture a certain upper-middle class, liberal arts-related zeitgeist. But unfortunately, what’s inside the package is not as clever and inviting as what’s on the outside. I feel like this is a good bridge between Vosges and the rest of the world- Vosges Lite for those who can’t handle Mo’s Bacon Bar (who, in that case, should likely stay away from Smokehouse BBQ Potato Chip and Beef Jerky) but who want a little more oomph. In terms of savory flavors, I’ve found brands like Komforte Chocolate and Askinosie to have more success. Wild Ophelia the Samantha’s groovy cousin Serena of the chocolate world, rather than the spirited, independent younger sister as the line suggests.

Don’t get confused by the difference in price points and weight- in actuality, they cost the same. Vosges’ regular line clocks in at 3 ounces for around $7.50 a bar, and Wild Ophelia runs you approximately $5.00 for two ounces. You’re no better off buying one over the other, economically- it’s all a matter of taste. In either scenario, you’re going to get a unique experience, but will perhaps find more consistency in the regular line.

Nestle Crunch Girl Scouts Candy Bars: Thin Mints, Coconut and Caramel, and Peanut Butter Creme

As many of you know, Nestle Crunch has partnered with the Girl Scouts of America to release a limited edition, limited release Crunch-bar version of three of their popular flavors of cookies– the Tagalongs (peanut butter cremes) Samoas (changed to the more PC caramel coconut crunch) and Thin Mints. And Foodette Reviews is proud to be one of the first reviewers to give you the full scoop.

For starters, people are going insane for these, and after eating them, I can totally see why. They precisely mimic the flavors (and hopefully not as much of the calorie bombing terror) of the cookies themselves. They are all delicious, and manage to be simultaneously nostalgic and original. Admittedly, the Crunch addition is a little superfluous- the bars are adapted from the Crunch Crisp and use the wafer and filling tactic to get the flavor. However, the original “Crunch” influence gets kind of lost within all of the flavors, manifesting a mere whisp of crisped rice on top.

We’ll start with everyone’s favorite- the peanut butter creme. This was definitely the softest of the bars, the wafers yielding to the deluge of peanut butter and chocolate. Flavor-wise, this was spot-on to a Tagalong. It’s similar to a Butterfinger creme bar, with a more satisfying saltiness and a lighter touch on the sugar. The peanut butter had a pleasant graininess that reminded me of natural peanut butter. The chocolate on the outside was a classic milk chocolate- buttery, caramely, and it held everything together. I received miniature bars, which were perfect both in portion size as well as ratio. They were delightfully thick and crispy and perfect as a snack. As far as this one went, everything was spot-on. It’s the cookie joy in candy form.

The caramel and coconut crunch bar may have been my favorite, though. It was a little less sweet, due to its dark chocolate coating, and a little denser in texture, crammed full of dried flakes of coconut. The caramel was more of an afterthought to the coconut and chocolate, but still bound everything together and infused the coconut with a much-needed sweetness. I also loved the swirl of caramel on top of this bar– each bar had something visually differentiating it from the other, a small aesthetic addition that was not lost on me.

Finally, we tried the Thin Mint, and all I could think of as I bit into it was, “Man, I bet this would be insane if I froze it.” It’s identical to a Thin Mint cookie. It had the right amount of minty coolness on the palate and a sweet, salty dark chocolate cookie middle and coating, like a Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafer. Fantastic and clever.

 I was surprised that Nestle was able to make these so well-balanced without overwhelming the palate with sugar. I mean, a Girl Scout Cookie Crunch Bar Sandwich sounds like something you’d come up with at 2AM because you don’t want to order take-out. Mint, peanut butter, and coconut are not new flavors, but these were executed and marketed in a way that really tied them to a familiar brand. Kudos for this collaboration- I’m always saying how more companies should band together, and this is a wonderful example of how amazing it is when they do.

Smoked Beer and Pretzel Cupcakes with Malted Vanilla Frosting…and a King Arthur Giveaway!

I envy people who can scarf down entire cupcakes without falling asleep after the first bite. I loathe to see children eating piles of ice cream and candy without a care. Me? If I even as much as look at a slice of frosted banana peanut butter glazed French toast or whatever the latest blogger is cooking up, I can feel my face go slack, my muscles pliable and limp, and can’t stop myself from falling asleep. Yep, I’m a sugar wuss. Syrup makes me sleep and frosting gives me lucid nightmares. I eat a cookie and pass out faster than a drunk chick at a Phi Beta Kappa mixer.

King Arthur and I recently teamed up to deliver you from the heebie-jeebies of hedonistic desserts. I was offered the opportunity to invent a cupcake with the cupcake kit they sent over, and I thought I’d give you my take on a reduced-sugar, but heavily flavor-assaulted version of a classic pairing: beer and pretzels. But not just any beer. You guys know I’m not really crazy about the stuff. Sure, I can cook with it in a thousand ways, but when push comes to shove, there’s only one type of beer I actually like to drink without taking baby sips and feigning class. (Similarly feigned interests: non-gay politics, clothes shopping, some jazz, and a love for taco salad.) And that beer would be smoked beer, rauchbier if you ask in German. Shit is off the hook meaty, I tell you.

For this recipe, I used Left Hand Brewing Company’s smoked beer, Smoke Jumper. It’s not something that I’d enjoy alone as it was kind of wimpy for its type, but worked excellently in the cupcake base. I’d recommend using something like that or a milder smoked variety. The German ones simply have too much of a meatiness to them to feasibly work in cupcakes. This was an easily substitute, and one that I’d definitely do again to jazz up a cake mix. I simply substituted the water, 1 1/3 cups for the mix, for beer and added the remaining ingredients. The flavor was really rich with a defined booziness and the cupcakes were very fluffy. And they look like a dark beer! Adorbs.

Try these if you’re in need of a 4th of July gift, but don’t feel like making one of those doofy flag berry cakes. Or make these for a backyard barbecue- they go well with testosterone, drunk people, and overcooked hot dogs. And if you want to win a King Arthur cupcake prize kit with chocolate cake mix, corer, dough whisk (also a multi-purpose tool to blow bubbles at cats with) and liners, comment on this post and tell me what other flavor of cupcake or dessert I should make. I have half a batch of batter left and need your ideas! The best idea wins and the contest will run until Monday, May 28th.

Smoked Beer and Pretzel Cupcakes with Malted Vanilla Frosting
Ingredients (makes 24 cupcakes)
1 box of King Arthur Flour Chocolate Cake Mix (or your favorite boxed mix- adjust liquid levels if using another brand)
1 1/3 cup of smoked beer
4 eggs
2/3 cups of vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1. Mix beer, eggs, salt, and oil together, and slowly incorporate cake mix.

 2. Scoop into cupcake liners and bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes.
3. Cool for 30-45 minutes and frost! Also, after they’re cool, you can core and fill them, too.

Malted Vanilla Frosting (adapted from Aida Mollencamp)
Ingredients (makes 2 cups of frosting)
1 1/2 sticks of softened unsalted butter
1 cup of powdered sugar
3/4 cups of non-diastatic malt powder
2/3 cups of whole milk
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 shot glass of beer
1/2 teaspoon of salt

1. Cream butter, sugar, and malt powder together until fluffy. Add milk until smooth.
2. Add vanilla, beer, and salt, and place into piping bag or Ziplock. Chill for 30 minutes and frost. And pair it with a baller cupcake sweatshirt, too. #davidlynchphotosofmygf

I think I need a nap now.

(Adult) Capri Sun Big Pouch Maui Cooler

I grew up in the 90’s. Yes, I’m part of Generation X…for EXTREEEEEEME sports, television shows, utensils, clothing, spy kits, video games, stranger danger activity kits, and most importantly, snacks! I’ve taunted you before with displays of nostalgic food and beverages to delight your childlike tastebuds. And now, all of your dreams, (except for the one where you’re flying naked through space with Jessica Alba) are going to come true. Capri Sun has introduced its exact same formula in a larger, more adult-friendly pouch with Capri Sun Big Pouch. And for the sake of this review, we’ll call it Adult Capri Sun.

Let’s get one thing out of the way: there is a literal caribiner atop this extravagant mess. It’s a juice bag for those in the know, and chances are, if you’re calling it a juice bag and using its non-functional rip-top extreme cap, you might be best classified as something that rhymes with one, too. The new Capri Sun Big Pouch comes in three flavors, Maui Cooler, Strawberry Kiwi, and Fruit Punch, only one of which I’ve decided to review today.

Visually, this is a portable wine cooler meets Camelbak meets children’s beverage for people who rarely leave the house. The rhetorical question on the back of the bag, “What’s your traveling record?” is a bit of a joke for its core demographic likely doesn’t stray beyond the warm embrace of their mother’s basements. Insert fact about wakeboarding and other activities given up in the 90’s, generic disclaimer about fermenting Capri Sun, and you’ve got yourself a new drink. It’s worth noting that there was an iteration of this back in the mid-2000’s, the Capri Sun Big, but that basically bridged the gap for children who felt the need to get something a little stronger with a little more heft than their kid sister’s Fruit Punch. This is literally marketed toward adults with Facebooks and jobs.

Googling this yields little more than a Tradmarkia result. Luckily, we’ve got the scoop for you here. I can proudly proclaim that this is no different than any Capri Sun on the American market today. Your 88 cents and 11.2 ounces buys a thin, yet sugary mouthfeel, slightly sticky, and a generic blend of tropical-esque fruits and leaves with an aftertaste of stale bubblegum and apple juice. The only difference is that it comes housed in what looks like a used vaporizer for the discerningly extreme gentlemen. Pro tip: if you’re having sex with someone who has one of these looped to his belt like he’s getting in a quick one before he climbs Mount Discovery Zone, stop.

 Also, here are some facts so you know exactly how stupidly face-saving this packaging is. One of these costs around 88 cents. A pack of Capri Sun (10 pouches, 6.75 ounces) for little diaper babies costs $2.88 on average. The Big Pouches are 11.2 ounces, so one of them holds roughly 1.66 kid’s pouches. Basically, they’re charging you the cost of ten pouches for the liquid of five. ALL TO SAVE FACE AND LOOK LIKE AN ADULT WHO IS NOT DRINKING CAPRI SUN. However, this is good for one thing: at least with the resealable version you can drink half of it and fill the rest with actual booze. Enjoy your Rugrats orgies and Cousin Skeeter fanfiction.

Blue Ox Beef Jerky and Peanuts

A box of jerky came in the mail today. Why was this such perfect timing? As I was shrugging on my tight, fitted rainbow oxford underneath a distinguished but dirty v-necked t-shirt with the ever-enigmatic caption, “welcome to the champagne room” atop madras shorts and dock shoes, I checked my watch and hollered to Miss Love,
“Grab the jerky, we’re going to Pride.”

Yup, it was Noho Pride today and obvs, we went. And we came bearing jerky, but not just jerky appropriate for all demographics: manly jerky, or in this case, butchy jerky. Or a jerky butch, your call. The enclosed bumper sticker makes the egregious claim of being a throat-punching, aggressively masculine brand with guaranteed testiculized satisfaction. It extends this claim to its consumers, also fully bearded, beer-slugging, glass-punching men with testicles of hirsute, engorged nature, the likes of which only Paul Jesus Bunyan Pantysnatcher himself could have. For the sake of full disclosure, I feel that it is pertinent, for the sake of this review, to inform you, the reader, that I do not have balls. And for the sake of full disclosure, it is also worth noting that Blue Ox Jerky does have balls, the likes of which were proclaimed in their jerky. It was perfect- packed full of protein so that I had enough vocal power to shout pick-up lines at ladies riding motorcycles from across a crowded street and full of fiber so that using the provided grody port-a-potties was virtually unnecessary.

Just to clarify, Blue Ox Jerky is manly jerky, so we’ve compiled some things for you that are decidedly manly and unmanly, and supermanly.

Not manly.


The manliest thing ever. Nascar boner!

So, while this is definitely a jerky that could just as easily punch out a guy in a bar fight as it could cry at the end of The Notebook, we think that two chicks who bone are pretty qualified to review it. And evidently, so does Blue Ox- they sent over all this cool stuff to write about. Amongst the plethora were five kinds of beef and turkey jerky as well as some deep-fried peanuts. Definitely stuff I’m game to try out. Of the flavors sent over, we definitely liked the honey barbecue beef and turkey the best. While the beef definitely had more sinew than the turkey, a remarkable piece of meat as soft and yielding as a gummy bear made of flesh, both had a sweet and savory coating that we really enjoyed. 

From a textural standpoint, the beef jerky was not as successful as the turkey was. They were a little splintery and tough, and with some of the larger pieces, we ended up feeling like we were dogs wrestling with Kong toys. It took more than a little muscle to bite off pieces. However, all the flavors were balanced and  not oversalted. The black pepper and hot ‘n’ spicy varieties were both very spicy, but not overwhelming, and infused with heat. All varieties, both beef and turkey, received the Foodling Seal of Approval– here she is fishing the remnants of the turkey jerky out of a shot glass with the dexterity of a shot girl.
What really wowed me in this selection were the included varieties of deep-fried peanuts. And not just shelled peanuts- the package encourages you to pop ’em, shell and all, right into your mouth. Deep-fried protein in its original protective husk sounds pretty manly to me. Of the two varieties we tried, one tasted like eating vegetables disguised with spices and one did not. The cajun flavor fell into the former category, with an overly fibrous crunch and dull snap. Lightly spiced, they didn’t really deliver the snack-like sensation I expected and instead made me feel like I was trying to eat my daily recommended serving of doctor-recommended foods to ensure healthy digestion.

The peanut brittle peanuts, on the other hand, tasted like a completely different snack. The annoying stringy sensation was blanketed by a candy crunch and they delivered a uniquely satisfying, if unfamiliar, crunch. Think of these as the soft-shell crab of the snack world- the husk makes for a quirky textural barrier, but not a bad one at all. They have a little oil in them from the frying, but it only serves to enhance the nuttiness. All in all, they’re not too sweet nor too salty and offer a funky alternative to regular peanuts. I’d have these with a beer or two.

If you think you can handle it, man or ladyman, Blue Ox delivers a pretty solid product. Outside of some inconsistency between varieties, they definitely offer a good selection of jerky and peanuts and are packed full of flavor and a clear care for their product line. And with every order of Blue Ox, you are guaranteed to grow either a full penis (6.5 standard) or a grungy half-moustache or your money back.