REVIEW: Dunkin’ Donuts Frosted Sugar Cookie Donut and Gingerbread Cookie Donut

Dunkin Donuts Frosted Sugar Cookie Donut and Gingerbread Cookie Donut 1

There are a few jobs I hope I never have. Aside from everything Mike Rowe has tried, Santa’s personal chef and copyeditor for his Naughty and Nice List come to mind. Also, the guy who has to develop “new” holiday-themed products for fast food chains.

Between the cookie exchanges, parties, and all those special childhood foods your mom is going to cook for you, there’s a lot of pressure to efficiently maximize your calories. If I’m going to eat a donut during December, I don’t want to waste my time on some plebeian attempt to deconstruct hot chocolate in cruller form.

So consider this an early Christmas present — taking one for the team so you don’t have to feel massive guilt (in addition to feeling massive) for scarfing down holiday flavors that may or may not fall in the “meh” spectrum of taste.

Dunkin Donuts Frosted Sugar Cookie Donut and Gingerbread Cookie Donut 2

Dunkin’ Donut’s new Frosted Sugar Cookie Donut combines sugar cookie and chocolate chip cookie flavors, which, when you think about it, is sort of like the cookie version of Chrismukkah.

Oddly enough, the combo works, even though the cookie dough-flavored filling doesn’t taste much like cookie dough. Actually, I’m not quite sure what it tastes like. Brownish sugar, maybe? Whatever it is it’s not bad, but the real star of the donut is the frosted sugar cookie crumble topping. It’s like a hybrid of vanilla Chex, puppy chow, and streusel topping.

Dunkin Donuts Frosted Sugar Cookie Donut and Gingerbread Cookie Donut 3

Overall, the cookie crumbles give the usual (if not underrated) combo of white icing and airy donut an extra level of yumminess.

Sadly, the Gingerbread Cookie Donut doesn’t have the same level of yumminess. While the gingerbread cookie topping has a strong gingerbread flavor, the pieces are stale, as if they’re from a box of ginger snap cookies that’s been open since 2012.

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I have a friend who swears by salted caramel vodka, which sounds disgusting. However, after trying the caramel frosting I’ll have to down a fifth to get the sticky cloying taste out of my mouth. It’s not the most inauthentic caramel taste in the world, but it lacks any depth and tastes of nothing but sugar.

I tend to treat donuts by the pizza maxim (even when bad, they’re good) but the Gingerbread Cookie Donut comes close to legitimately sucking, meaning it’s frankly a toss-up between it and a piece of fruitcake.

All things considered, Dunkin’s new holiday-themed donuts are a mixed bag, like your childhood stocking filled with candy but also socks. Still, for as bad as the Gingerbread Cookie Donut is, the Frosted Sugar Cookie Donut might be good enough to leave out for Santa, if you don’t eat it first.

(Nutrition Facts – Frosted Sugar Cookie Donut – 420 calories, 21 grams of fat, 11 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 410 milligrams of sodium, 52 grams of carbohydrates, 1 grams of dietary fiber, 30 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein. Gingerbread Cookie Donut – 310 calories, 17 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 360 milligrams of sodium, 36 grams of carbohydrates, 1 grams of dietary fiber, 14 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $1.09 (each)
Size: N/A
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Frosted Sugar Cookie Donut)
Rating: 4 out of 10 (Gingerbread Cookie Donut)
Pros: Sugar Cookie Donut topping is one of the better toppings I’ve had on a Dunkin’ donut. Good quality freshness in donut bases.
Cons: Gingerbread cookie topping is as stale as your great uncle’s Christmas jokes. Cookie dough filling doesn’t really taste like cookie dough. Caramel frosting is cloying and out-of-place.

REVIEW: Burger King Chicken Cordon Bleu Sandwich

Burger King Chicken Cordon Bleu Sandwich

Burger King’s Chicken Cordon Bleu is like me realizing I’ve run out of soap while in the shower. I’ll use whatever else is available, which is shampoo.

With the sandwich, Burger King forgoes chicken cordon bleu’s traditional Swiss cheese and uses the mozzarella it has lying around because of its Chicken Parmesan and Crispy Chicken Buffalo Melt sandwiches.

The BK Chicken Cordon Bleu features a 100 percent white meat seasoned crispy chicken filet that’s topped with black forest ham, two mozzarella slices, and a tomato pepper signature sauce on a golden brown potato bun.

I picked one up at my local airport’s Burger King, so excuse the almost $14 meal price below. But, at first, I thought it was a good thing because the last time I ate at this airport Burger King, I had the best chicken sandwich I’ve ever had in my life from a BK. It was the Crispy Chicken Sandwich that came out earlier this year and it was delightful. It was crispy, juicy, and at a temperature I’ve never experienced at a Burger King in decades. So I expected my taste buds to be pleased again.

But when I bit into it, I noticed the temperature contrast between the hot chicken filet and cool-to-warm ham and cheese. I was surprising because I watched the BK employee make my sandwich and after layering on the cheese and ham and wrapping it up, I thought I saw her lift into a microwave, stand there for several seconds, and then pull it out of the microwave. But it tastes like I imagined that.

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The lukewarm ham and cheese is an issue because they take away from the chicken’s crispy breading and slight juiciness. They also take away from the flavor of the new sauce, which is tasty. It’s like sweet and peppery Thousand Island dressing, but without the relish.

Eventually, the chicken causes the cheese to melt a little, but that happens halfway through eating the sandwich. The ham uses the mozzarella as a cheese shield, preventing any heat from affecting it. The worst part is that the ham and cheese don’t add to the flavor of the sandwich, they just subtract from the heat of the sandwich.

Overall, Burger King’s Chicken Cordon Bleu isn’t a horrible sandwich. There’s a lot of good — the sauce and crispy chicken filet. But, the lukewarm ham and cheese bring down the whole experience.

(Nutrition Facts – 730 calories, 39 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 90 milligrams of cholesterol, 1930 milligrams of sodium, 63 grams of carbohydrates, 16 grams of sugar, and 32 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $13.79*
Size: Small Combo
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Crispy chicken filet. Tomato pepper signature sauce has a nice flavor.
Cons: Warm-to-cool mozzarella and ham brings the sandwich’s temperature down. Ham doesn’t add to the sandwich’s flavor. Uses mozzarella instead of Swiss.

*I bought this from an airport Burger King, where things are a bit pricier.

REVIEW: Starbucks Toasted White Chocolate Mocha

Starbucks Toasted White Chocolate Mocha

I frequent Starbucks a little too often. (Mom, if you’re reading this, Starbucks gift cards are a very acceptable Christmas gift). I also am a sucker for the holiday and/or limited edition drinks, like Starbucks’ new Toasted White Chocolate Mocha.

The beverage includes espresso, caramelized white chocolate, whipped cream, and candied cranberry sugar. When I received my hot drink, I was super pleased that what I got DID look like the promotional picture.

There’s plenty of whipped cream (although it was sunken in due to the heat of the drink when I took off the lid) and cranberry sugar that, in my opinion, kind of looked like bacon bits. (Hey Starbucks, there’s an idea! A drink with bacon? This would have done wonders for the Maple Pecan latte that was released this fall. The drink fell flat for me, and bacon would have seriously enhanced it with the maple. I end my rant.)

The first sips of the drink were mostly whipped cream, which is never a bad thing. Once I got to the actual drink, I was definitely a fan. I didn’t taste too much of the “toasted” flavor, but the white chocolate was strong and delicious. While there is espresso, I didn’t taste any coffee – I felt like I was drinking a fancy white hot chocolate.

This is definitely a fun “dessert” drink or mid-afternoon pick-me-up (I’m plotting it for a Black Friday sugar rush), but don’t count on it for your morning caffeine jolt. It DOES contain caffeine, but it just wasn’t too noticeable for me. I usually avoid caffeine after 5 p.m. so I can get to sleep like a normal person at night, but I had this at 7 p.m. and my 10 p.m. bedtime wasn’t a problem.

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Back to the candied cranberry sugar — this was the most unnecessary part of the drink. Not only did I not taste any cranberry flavor, once the fruit bits got soggy, their texture was too soft and chewy. Because cranberry isn’t in the name of the drink, I think you could do without it.

I drank the Toasted White Chocolate Mocha over the course of an hour, and the flavor and temperature held strong. One key takeaway is although this is a sugar bomb – 41 grams in a tall! – it’s not overly sweet. Perfect for sipping and shopping, if you ask me.

Starbucks, another well-done holiday drink. Can’t wait to see what you come up with next. (cough, bacon, cough.)

(Nutrition Facts – 12 oz – 330 calories, 12 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, 300 milligrams of sodium, 45 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 41 grams of sugar, 11 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $4.25
Size: Tall (12 oz.)
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Strong white chocolate flavor. Didn’t keep me up all night.
Cons: Bacon bit-looking cranberry sugar on top that just wasn’t necessary.

QUICK REVIEW: Baskin-Robbins Tiramisu Ice Cream

Baskin Robbins Tiramisum Ice Cream

Bucking the ho ho ho-hum trend of cramming peppermint or gingerbread into every new or limited flavor this time of year, Baskin-Robbins’ November Flavor of the Month is Tiramisu. Tiramisu-flavored ice cream is filled with pound cake pieces, a chocolate mocha ribbon, and chocolate flakes.

Coffee is unabashedly the dominant flavor in this dish, emanating a distinct smell and exercising as much subtlety as a Targaryen barbecue. The tiramisu-flavored ice cream base seems enjoyable on its own, but I had difficulty isolating it from the generous mocha ribbon.

Baskin Robbins Tiramisum Ice Cream 2

Unfortunately, this proves to be too much of a good thing as a coffee-flavored ribbon in a coffee-flavored base leaves a somewhat bitter aftertaste and feels as unnecessary as taking a dip in Goo Lagoon when you already live in a pineapple under the sea.

It also creates a problem for the semi-sweet chocolate flakes which add a nice snap but fail to punch up the chocolate notes enough to stand out despite decent representation. Meanwhile, the scarce pound cake pieces are relegated to merely providing a pleasant spongy texture as their flavor is completely overshadowed by the coffee.

Baskin Robbins Tiramisum Ice Cream 3

Perhaps the rich buttery essence of a mascarpone swirl would have resulted in a more balanced and authentic flavor than the coffee overload created by the mocha ribbon.

I like a bold coffee-flavored chocolate ice cream, and this certainly fits that bill; it just isn’t the iconic, layered taste experience you know and love in ice cream form. This rendition of tiramisu is as authentic to its Italian heritage as a Brooklyn plumber riding a dinosaur.

Baskin-Robbins says a 4 oz. scoop has 26 milligrams of caffeine.

Purchased Price: $2.79
Size: Large scoop (4 oz.)
Rating: 5 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (Small Scoop) 260 calories, 13 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 50 milligrams of cholesterol, 125 milligrams of sodium, 33 grams of carbohydrates, 24 grams of sugar, 1 gram of dietary fiber, and 5 grams of protein..

REVIEW: Burger King Spicy Nuggets

Burger King Spicy Nuggets

It’s beginning to look a lot like Chicken Season.

Fresh off the heels of Wendy’s and McDonald’s new chicken tender options, Burger King has once again dipped their toes into the “spicy” chicken pool, this time in the form of nuggets.

I say it every time I review their food, but Burger King is smart. I always find myself fighting on their behalf. They’ve embraced the weird “Taco Bell” style menu niche, and they’re the only ones really doing it in the burger world. No matter what they add to their vast menu, it seems to pique my interest.

This isn’t the first time they’ve filled in the fast food blank either. I still don’t understand why Wendy’s took Spicy Nuggets off their menu, but Burger King is attempting to swoop in and corner that market.

Good on them, but are they actually good?

Well, it depends on your definition of good.

I won’t sit here and pretend this is high-class cuisine. Then again, I think you’re all smart enough to realize that at 15 cents a nugget, you probably shouldn’t be expecting that.

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First and foremost, I’m a fan of BK’s nuggets. I’m not only a fan of the ridiculously cheap price point, but I think they’re pretty tasty. They aren’t the best nugget on the market, but they still always provide a nice tender bite of white meat chicken, and you can buy them in bulk.

The spicy nuggets have a darker orange hue to them, with some speckled bits of pepper – that’s the universal sign you’re about to eat breaded chicken branded as “spicy.”

Burger King Spicy Nuggets 3

Upon the first couple bites, they taste like the regular nuggets. Once you chew a few seconds, the slight heat kicks in. Sorry to say Spiceheads, but it’s slight. These aren’t even as spicy as Wendy’s nuggets were.

Getting 10 nuggets (I actually got 11 – bonus nugget!) for less than two bucks is a gift and a curse. After you eat about three or four, you start to notice that they are really salty. As the heat dries your mouth a bit, it amplifies the saltiness. You might think you need a drink for the burn, but you really need it for the salt.

Burger King Spicy Nuggets 4

Still, I find these pretty damn satisfying and they would pair nicely with one of BK’s cereal shakes.

Like the other restaurants, BK didn’t offer any fancy new dipping sauces, but honey mustard worked well for me. No complaints there.

The nuggets also had a solid afterburn. They didn’t give me agita, but I knew I had something “spicy” for a little while. There was nothing unpleasant about the aftertaste.

So look, these aren’t gourmet, but for $1.49 you could knock out a ridiculously cheap meal one night.

I’m hoping this gets McDonald’s to attempt a spicy nugget next.

(Nutrition Facts – 10 nuggets – 530 calories, 37 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, milligrams of cholesterol, 1420 milligrams of sodium, 28 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of sugar, and 20 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $1.49
Size: 10 nuggets (11 for me!)
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Very tender white meat (I hope.) Cheap as hell. Filling a Fast Food void. Two free dipping sauces. Bonus nugget!
Cons: Definitely could be spicier. Increasingly salty. Not as good as Wendy’s Spicy Nuggets. Price makes you want to order more stuff.