REVIEW: Keebler Limited Batch Dark Chocolate Mint Fudge Stripes Cookies

Keebler Limited Batch Dark Chocolate Mint Fudge Stripes Cookies

I know what you’re thinking.

Thin Mints.

When chocolate and mint come together these days, the inevitable comparison is to those bewitching Girl Scout goodies. But my first impression of Fudge Stripes Dark Chocolate Mint cookies was something a little closer to my own ‘80s heart. Andes candies.

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I have memories of my parents putting Andes out in crystal bowls when they had company over, but I’m not sure if that was real life or an Andes commercial that I dreamed my family into. In either case, I had the distinct impression that these were sophisticated adult treats that I was lucky to get my grubby paws on. I wouldn’t taste Thin Mints until near middle-age and still have not partaken in a Shamrock Shake, so those tiny slabs are my mint touchstone.

After the disappointment of Strawberry Cheesecake Fudge Stripes, I was a little leery when I opened this package. My deep inhale was met by the cool minty aromatic embrace of Andes. “Come in,” they purred. “Remember us?” It’s summer, so the light green frosting stripes smeared on my fingers while trying to separate the cookies.

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I took a bite and YES – FUDGE STRIPES ARE BACK ON THEIR GAME!

The mint was a bright, refreshing flavor and sensation – there was a tiny kick of cool menthol there. The chocolate was a perfect companion, grounding the mint, but not competing against it. This was an Andes candies cookie and I loved it!

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My one (minuscule and easily dismissible) criticism is that while billed as dark chocolate, the cookie base didn’t read as such to me. It was like Oreos or the Fudge Stripes Cookies & Creme variation – a rich dark color, but not the bitter bite of dark chocolate. That being said, it was still delicious, so I’ll hold my thumb over the word “dark” on the package and happily chow down.

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These belong on the “should be a permanent Fudge Stripes release” shelf with Cinnamon Roll, Lemon Cream Pie, and Birthday Cake.

I had the urge to repurpose these and decided on a Stripe-S’Mallow-Mint Sandwich. Two cookies, one marshmallow, a few seconds in the microwave and I had a gooey decadent summer dessert.

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I made mine with jumbo marshmallows, but they were too big and I had a bit of a blowout. Take 2 (pictured) was half a jumbo. A regular ‘mallow would have been perfect.

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(Nutrition Facts – 2 cookies – 140 calories, 6 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 120 milligrams of sodium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of dietary fiber, 11 grams of total sugars including 11 grams of added sugars, and 1 gram of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.69
Size: 11.5 oz. package
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Minty fresh taste! Chocolate-y chocolate-ness. Crystal-bowl-worthy.
Cons: Not really dark chocolate. Not a deal breaker, though.

REVIEW: Hostess Chocolate Peanut Butter Twinkies

Hostess Chocolate Peanut Butter Twinkies

As a lifelong Hostess Cupcake devotee, when Chocolate Cake Twinkies hit the market earlier this year, my first response was “Stay in your lane, Twinkies!”

I just didn’t think this flavor swinger’s club was a good idea. The “golden” iterations of Cupcake were just Twinkie knockoffs to me. Any other flavor in the universe is fair game for either product, but chocolate belongs to Cupcake and vanilla is Twinkies, in my mind.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Twinkies has softened that stance just a bit.

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(I’m at my mother’s house – everything here is quilted. If I leave this Twinkie unattended, it will self-quilt.)

On opening the individually-wrapped cakes, the aroma that greeted me was all cocoa. Dark, rich cocoa. No peanut at all. Interesting, but it didn’t put me off.

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Next – the grease test. One Twinkie on a paper napkin for 15 minutes. I find modern Twinkies much oilier than when I was a child. Maybe they always left a shiny slick and I only notice it now as an adult who struggles to fit into the same pants I wore last year. But these Twinkies felt less greasy, and left a sheen so subtle my camera couldn’t capture it. Definitely a plus.

Like the scent, my first bite was 100 percent cocoa. It almost overwhelmed the peanut butter, which I picked up on increasingly with each bite. I was expecting the teeth-achingly-sweet peanut butter buttercream filling that seems to be the default recently, but Hostess got it right. There’s some sugar, but for the most part, they let the peanut butter be itself. PB is a perfect taste that doesn’t need a lot of window dressing, in my opinion. The texture here is closer to a fluffy frosting than the usual PB thickness.

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The cake was much better than I expected – a moist, velvety, deep chocolate. Very much like the Hostess Cupcakes I adore – which begged the question: why is this a Twinkie and not a Hostess Cupcake? With a big gob of filling in the center and slab of PB icing on top, the flavor may have taken more of a front seat than in the Twinkie. Or – why not this filling with the usual golden Twinkie cake? Have chocolate and peanut butter become so synonymous that we can’t partner them with other flavors?

Overall, I enjoyed these very much, and would buy them again, but might have been in rapturous love had it been a Hostess Cupcake. That’s just my cupcakes bias.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cakes – 260 calories, 80 calories from fat, 9 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 370 milligrams of sodium, 42 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 28 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price: $2.50
Size: 10-pack box
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Lovely not-too-sweet peanut butter filling. Hostess Cupcake-y cake. Less grease!
Cons: Why isn’t this a Hostess Cupcake? Needs a PB icing and squiggle.

REVIEW: Keebler Limited Batch Strawberry Cheesecake Fudge Stripes Cookies

Keebler Limited Batch Strawberry Cheesecake Fudge Stripes Cookies

This is the tragedy of Keebler’s Fudge Stripes cookies – adulthood steals your ability to wear them as a ring.

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As a girl, I delighted in prancing around in pretend evening gowns with a rock of a Fudge Stripe on my finger. Of course, it was far too ostentatious and impractical, so I nibbled around the edges to reduce it to a more modest size.

Inevitably, it would crack and fall apart in the process, so I would have to eat it and start all over again. Now my fully-grown fingers are too thick to sport the beloved shortbread & frosting jewelry of my youth. My FS consumption dropped off considerably.

Then Keebler started wooing me back with “Limited Batch” flavors. Peppermint. Red Velvet. Birthday Cake. Cinnamon Roll. Lemon Cream Pie. I loved them all. I was still a little sore about the ring thing, but I was definitely back in the fold.

Hence, I’d already written this review in my head when I lifted the package of Strawberry Cheesecake Fudge Stripes from the grocery shelves. 9 out of 10! How could I NOT love them?

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When I opened the package, I was greeted by the rosy pink color of the base cookie and a strong scent of tangy cheesecake. I wasn’t getting strawberry, however. No worries, I was sure the taste would make up for it.

On first bite, my expected explosion of Frankenberry-ish fake strawberry didn’t materialize. The cheesecake frosting flavor was good despite being a hair more acidic than most cheesecake flavored items. The strawberry shortbread apparently called in sick today, however. Instead of a fruity delight, it tasted more like eating a flour-flavored cookie with a chemical aftertaste. It’s surprising since the last two Fudge Stripes flavor releases, Lemon Cream Pie and Cinnamon Roll, were spot-on with flavor tone and intensity.

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This may be the only time in my life I’ve said this, but I’m probably not going to finish this package of Fudge Stripes. Every bite screams “not worth the calories.” They’re a fail for me.

But Keebler, how ‘bout an adult-finger-size Fudge Stripes release? Eh? Eh?

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cookies – 140 calories, calories from fat (not listed), 7 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 75 milligrams of sodium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 10g total sugars incl. 9g added sugars and less than 1 gram of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: 11.5 oz. package
Purchased at: ShopRite
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: Great color and tasty cheesecake frosting.
Cons: “Knock knock.” “Who’s there?” “Not strawberry.”

REVIEW: Hershey’s Flavor of New York Cherry Cheesecake Bars

Hershey s Flavor of New York Cherry Cheesecake Bars

The Flavor of New York. That’s a big promise – and an invitation for a loud “Yeah, right” from a New Yorker. We’re a cynical bunch.

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As any local knows, there are two New Yorks. One is the tourist-packed landmark areas like Times Square. While this might be the dominant image of the city, it’s the last place New Yorkers want to spend time. We avoid it like the plague – unless one (like myself at the moment) happens to be working for a media conglomerate that insists on making you wade through a sea of human road cones twice daily. This loud, inauthentic, unsubtle chunk of real estate is where I found the Flavor of New York Cherry Cheesecake bar – at Hershey’s Chocolate World.

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The other New York is where locals really live, eat and shop – the quiet side streets and less-traveled neighborhoods. On one of these surprisingly bucolic stretches, I purchased a true New York cherry cheesecake to compare Hershey’s bar to. Eileen’s Special Cheesecake has worked the same tiny storefront since 1976.

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These would be my base “Flavor of New York.”

Back at the office, I zipped open the Hershey’s bar. The creamy white chocolate with dark pink crunch balls looked close to what I expected. Some red speckles mixed throughout like the Cookies & Cream bar, wouldn’t go amiss, though.

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The first sniff was cheesecake, then my nose broke the bad news: faux cherry. I’m often down with artificial fruit flavors, but one molecule of fake cherry and it’s flashbacks of disgusting medicine for me. Blek. Apparently I’m very sensitive on the cherry front.

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It carried over to the taste as well – cream cheese, white chocolate and cough syrup – albeit much less grimace-inducing than a shot of Robitussin. Let’s call it cough-syrup-adjacent. A bite of Eileen’s cherry cheesecake reminded me that actual cherries are delightful. I’d hoped that with modern technology, the flavor masters at Hershey’s could make a GOOD 2017 fake cherry. Sadly, these are 80s-era fake cherries and I’m not having it.

I do love a bar full of Hershey’s crunch balls, however, and the cream cheese / white chocolate combo was a pretty good interpretation of cheesecake. I just had a hard time forgiving the crime against cherries.

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To me, this candy bar is like Times Square. It has an underlying greatness, obscured by the flashing lights and garishness of chemical cherries.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 bar – 220 calories, 100 calories from fat, 12 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, less than 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 55 milligrams of sodium, 27 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 21 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: 5 for $5.00
Size: 1.5 oz. bar
Purchased at: Hershey’s Chocolate World Times Square
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: Good cheesecake taste! Nice crunchy balls! The Hershey store smells like chocolate!
Cons: Medicine-y taste, but won’t stop a cough. Doesn’t capture the “Je ne sais WHAAAT” of New York. Made me walk through Times Square.

REVIEW: Dunkin’ Donuts Peanut Butter Delight Croissant Donut and Chocolate Pretzel Donut

Dunkin Donuts Peanut Butter Delight Croissant Donut and Chocolate Pretzel Donut

Gee, I wonder how they got the peanut butter inside??

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Sorry to dive straight in, but I must address the appearance of this specimen I purchased because I’ve been obsessing over it since my first horrified glance. With messy holes on top and peanut butter smears, this Croissant Donut looks like I caught it mid-hangover after a night of serious debauchery. 

But, since these are locally-made items, there’s a good chance yours will be a well-rested, finishing-school graduate that keeps its holes underneath. Hence, I won’t ding it points-wise.

Back to our regularly scheduled review. 

Chocolate, peanut butter, caramel, pretzels – I love all these things, so I had very high expectations for both these doughnuts. I did not try the coffee pairings – I despise coffee. Let me break these guys down separately because they’re rather different creatures.

Peanut Butter Delight Croissant Donut

This isn’t really a Croissant Donut. It’s light and fluffy with large air pockets, but it’s missing a critical component: layers. Croissants and croissant donuts are made with laminated dough – many thin sheets of pastry with butter between. One should be able to pull a proper croissant donut apart layer by layer – this was not the case here.

Dunkin Donuts Peanut Butter Delight Croissant Donut and Chocolate Pretzel Donut 3

It wasn’t a bad donut, just mis-named. The taste and texture of the donut itself, sugar glaze and chocolate drizzle were lovely. This isn’t the peanut butter bomb I expected, however. A peanutty scent only became apparent when I sniffed closely. The frosting filling was just a hair on the sweet side for me. Straight-up PB inside would’ve been better – letting the glaze and chocolate drizzle sweeten it.

Chocolate Pretzel Donut

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The aroma of this was almost indistinguishable from DD’s regular chocolate cake doughnut (which I love). Mine seemed very light on caramel drizzle – I wonder if more would change the smell. 

The texture was also similar to the base model – moist, velvety cake. While the pretzel bits were a little soft, I liked that — it added a small crunch without stabbing the roof of my mouth with pretzel shards.

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Again, the predominant taste was the basic DD glazed chocolate cake. Caramel flavor was very subtle, presumably due to the sparse drizzle. There wasn’t much (if any) salt on the pretzels or donut, which was disappointing. The only thing that differentiated these from Dunkin’s regular chocolate cake donuts was the taste and texture of the pretzel bits. But as a fan of the original, that’s OK with me.

While they’re both perfectly enjoyable donuts, they fell short of great.

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(Nutrition Facts – Peanut Butter Delight Croissant Donut 410 calories, 190 calories from fat, 21 grams of fat, 12 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 25 milligrams of cholesterol, 360 milligrams of sodium, 49 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 25 grams of sugar, and 6 grams of protein. Chocolate Pretzel Donut – 400 calories, 200 calories from fat, 23 grams of fat, 12 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 530 milligrams of sodium, 44 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 19 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.00 for two
Size: N/A
Rating: 6 out of 10 (PB Delight)
Pros: Nice airy donut base, glaze and chocolate drizzle.
Cons: Might look like it was baked by a one-eyed raccoon. Like my hair – needs layers! PB frosting filling goes to 11 on the sweet scale.
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Chocolate Pretzel)
Pros: Good (familiar) chocolate cake base, non-dangerous pretzel shards.
Cons: Needs salt! (In fairness, I say this about almost every food I eat.) More caramel, please.