REVIEW: Dunkin’ Ham & Swiss Croissant Stuffer

Ham and cheese products from Dunkin’ hold a special place in my heart. Way back in 2012, when the chain was still called Dunkin’ Donuts, and the concept of serving food that wasn’t donuts was still new and baffling, I fell in love with its Ham & Cheese Bakery Sandwich. Alas, it was ultimately discontinued. So I was thrilled when I caught wind of the new Ham & Swiss Croissant Stuffer. Could this be a reunion with my one that got away?

Right out of the bag, it certainly looked and smelled promising — plump, golden, football-shaped, and emitting a gorgeously toasty aroma. The singed cheese shreds on top were a nice touch, adding some pretty orange-y color, crispy texture, and an extra pop of concentrated Cheez-It-esque flavor.

Upon slightly closer examination, though, the ham bits poking out of the edge seemed unusual, and I wondered if I’d accidentally been given bacon since they were so burnt. Spoiler alert: it was indeed ham, and despite being rather frizzled, it tasted meaty and mildly-but-not-overly-salty, which was as nice as I’d hoped.

Since I always like to start my reviews by tasting each component of a product individually, I moved on to the croissant next. It was more or less what I expected, buttery and rich, although it was also surprisingly burnt (at least the outer layer was; the inner layer was softer and doughier, more reminiscent of a Pillsbury Crescent Roll).

Getting to the Swiss required some dismantling since none of it was peeking out with the ham. That made sense when I opened up my croissant to see the cheese melded in a thick, slick layer (unlike the shreds on top, this seemed to be a single slice) so tight against the bottom that it was difficult to distinguish it from the croissant. Fortunately, it wasn’t melty enough that it was difficult to peel off, and boy, was it tasty — mild, nutty, and buttery. It was my favorite thing I tasted.

While I was peering at the inside of the croissant, I also noticed that the ham appeared to be just one large, circular slice (I had been expecting a thinner piece like deli meat, but this was a lot more substantial) folded over itself for some extra oomph. The bulk of it was definitely not as burnt as the ends had been, though it was firm in a way that made it feel a bit overcooked.

Refolding my croissant as gracefully as I could (which, admittedly, was not very) and biting into all three layers at once yielded a masterclass in texture, with the brittle, flaky croissant giving way to the dense ham with a pleasing snap before being caressed by the gooey cheese. The flavor, though, was a bit muddled. I described the croissant and Swiss as “buttery,” and that was pretty much the only thing I tasted in this mixed mouthful. If I hadn’t just been staring straight at it, I’m not sure I would have realized from taste alone that the solid slice in the middle even was ham.

So, this might not have been the second coming of my lost love, but it was still tasty. I’d advise you to check it out, if only so that you’re full and fueled to join my letter-writing campaign to bring the Bakery Sandwiches back.

Purchased Price: $4.45
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 330 calories, 17 grams of fat, 10 grams of saturated fat, 60 milligrams of cholesterol, 580 milligrams of sodium, 30 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 6 grams of sugar, and 14 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Dunkin’ Butter Pecan Donut

To celebrate the return of Dunkin’s ice cream-inspired Butter Pecan Swirl (a pump of flavoring that can be added to customize your drink), it has released an entire Butter Pecan-themed lineup, including the original Butter Pecan iced coffee and the new signature latte and frozen coffee… which I’m going to ignore because the star of this review is the sole non-beverage addition, the Butter Pecan Donut. As someone whose college degree involved a research project that required standing outside a nut shop for four hours surveying tourists on how they pronounced “pecan,” I consider myself pretty much an expert on this subject!

Right off the bat, this donut smelled uniquely delicious. The scent was bready, of course, but also oddly… earthy? There was a sort of bitter, almost coffee-like aroma that didn’t quite match up with the super-sweetness I usually expect from Dunkin’s donuts, which made me even more eager to give it a taste.

This is a round donut with no hole in the middle, foreshadowing the buttercreme stuffed inside. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves because before you can get to that, you’ll need to chomp into the donut itself, which is nothing too special — yeasty, flaky, airy, and yummy. Similarly, the tasty-but-plain vanilla icing on top seems to be the same as you would find on what might be the simplest item Dunkin’ offers: its vanilla frosted donut. What sets this apart is its topping and filling.

Dunkin’ describes the thorough coating of little golden flecks as “butternut topping.” But I’ve got to be honest — I’ve never seen that word used to describe anything other than squash, so, while accurate (the topping is indeed buttery and nutty), the label left me with more questions than it answered. To shed some more light on this vague, vegetal moniker, I did some digging into Dunkin’s “Allergen and Ingredient Guide” and triumphantly discovered the topping goes by another name, “Buttercrunch Topping,” which is comprised of “Sugar, Coconut, Yellow Corn Flour, Caramel Color.” To my relief, there is no squash involved! Regardless of what you call it, this topping is toasty with a pleasing crunch, calling to mind a combination of crushed graham crackers and toasted coconut flakes. But it’s ultimately more of a nice garnish than a central focus.

There was also confusion involved in my encounter with the buttercreme filling; rather than the traditional glob in the center, in my first bite, mine appeared in a thin layer towards the very bottom of the donut (though fortunately, the next bites were better saturated). The buttercreme was sweet and silky, rich and milky, and apparently it’s butter pecan flavored as well, though I definitely got much more “butter” than “pecan” flavoring. It was more nuanced than I expected; my first comparison was Dunkaroos frosting, which I guess doesn’t actually sound very nuanced at all, but it’s seriously delicious and was my favorite part of the donut by far, elevating the unremarkable cremeless bites significantly.

Oh yeah, I should also mention that there aren’t any pecans inside or on top of this donut, which is probably for the best since that sounds like a choking hazard!

If you’re keen to teach an old ice cream flavor some new tricks, I think you’ll like this one; you might not exactly go nuts for it, but you’d be nuts if you didn’t at least check it out.

Purchased Price: $2.28
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 360 calories, 16 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 300 milligrams of sodium, 50 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 29 grams of sugar, and 5 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Dunkin’ Turtle Signature Latte

A wise man once said, “I like turtles.”

Who could argue with that?

Not I. Whether it be the living, breathing reptiles or those of the Teenage Mutant Ninja persuasion, they’re all cool with me. Perhaps my favorite turtles though are those little chocolate, pecan, and caramel cluster candies. I really like those turtles, so when I noticed Dunkin’ added a Turtle Signature Latte to the app, I acted in the complete opposite way of a turtle… ya know, fast. I ordered one quickly.

The new Turtle Signature Iced Latte features mocha and butter pecan syrup swirls, espresso, and whole milk topped with whipped cream, caramel drizzle, and crunchy cocoa caramel crumbles.

On the surface, this might just seem like a rejiggering of flavors Dunkin’ has always featured, but I gotta say, it found the right balance with this one.

The mocha-heavy espresso packs a dark and rich wallop, while the butter pecan swirl adds a smooth caramel-y flourish. Just that coffee portion is great on its own, but the topping was my favorite part. Whipped cream and caramel drizzle are all fine and good, but that’s standard fare. It was the cocoa caramel crumbles that really took this to the next level.

They tasted like little cookie crumbs and the crystalized sugar coating on candied nuts. Not only that, they might be the first Dunkin’ topping I’ve ever had that didn’t just melt away. They held their crunch and lasted the entire drink, and I got bits in almost every sip.

It might seem weird or even unappetizing at first to think of sipping up crispy bits in a watery iced coffee and not something with a milkshake-type consistency, but trust me, they’re good. I’d buy a bottle of these as a garnish tomorrow.

Yeah, not much to complain about here. My only small gripe is one that I’ve always had with Dunkin’s mocha flavor – it leaves a dry, almost gritty film in my mouth when I’m done. I usually have to chase it with a bottle of water. At least I’m staying hydrated, right?

I should also note I couldn’t make any dairy substitutions in the app. It’s whole milk or nothing, but I imagine you can finagle something different if you talk to an employee.

I think turtles represent good vibes, and this drink lives up to the namesake. Dunkin’ is doing a big Butter Pecan push for the summer, so this latte will probably hang around for a while. It’s not an everyday coffee because it’s way too indulgent to start every morning with, but you should definitely try it at least once. I’m kinda bummed Dunkin’ is not pairing this new drink with turtle-flavored donuts. They coulda iced ’em like little turtle shells!

Whatever, I’m sure the butter pecan donut is good, and Dunkin’ will do a chocolate caramel hybrid donut at some point. For now, I’ll probably just enjoy this latte a few more times over the coming months. Cowabunga, dudes!

Purchased Price: $4.49
Size: Small
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 270 calories, 5 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 20 milligrams of cholesterol, 190 milligrams of sodium, 48 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 43 grams of sugar, and 8 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Dunkin’ Bakery Series Canned Iced Coffee

Dunkin’ has released three new canned iced coffees inspired by its bakery offerings to excite pastry and coffee aficionados alike. The Bakery Series includes the Brownie Batter Donut, Cake Batter Donut, and Coffee Cake Muffin iced coffees. Will they be able to capture the essence of their namesake baked good and turn it into a caffeinated treat?

As a coffee snob who is also an absolute garbage person who will drink any swill if it has enough sugar and cream, I appreciate that Dunkin’ can straddle that line. While my Technivorm Moccamaster demands to be fed Ethiopian Yirgacheffe and gives me the side-eye if I drink it any way but black, I think Dunkin’ offers a good quality brew that can be doctored up without ruining it.

The three pale brown beverages are very sweet with a cream flavor, and the coffee flavor is mild. The dominant taste can be guessed from the names: Chocolate Brownie and Cake Batter Donut taste like chocolate and vanilla, respectively, and Coffee Cake Muffin tastes like cinnamon.

The issue with these three has nothing to do with the flavor, which is good if uninspired, and everything to do with the over-ambitious naming. Dunkin’ has released a Brownie Batter Donut that featured a thick, batter-like filling that was distinct from their run-of-the-mill chocolate crème. But how do food scientists translate chocolate filling, much less chocolate brownie batter filling into an iced coffee that’s not simply chocolate flavored? They mostly don’t.

To the extent that these beverages have a flavor other than plain chocolate, vanilla, and cinnamon, it’s of additives used to replicate the ineffable “batter” and “muffin” essence. The result tastes good when gulped down, but slightly off-putting if you stop to study it, especially with the plainer cake batter flavor. Vanilla lets more weird science-y flavor through.

Vanilla, chocolate, and cinnamon coffee are classics for a reason, and that’s mostly what these are. Dunkin’s reach exceeded its grasp in attempting to capture a pastry in a can, but the result is still an enjoyable coffee experience.

Purchased Price: $2.49 each
Size: 11 oz cans (325 ml)
Purchased at: Woodman’s Market
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 can) 200 calories, 6 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 20 mg milligrams of cholesterol, 220 milligrams of sodium, 32 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 grams of fiber, 30 grams of sugar (including 22 grams added sugar), and 6 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Dunkin’ Breakfast Taco

I think we’ve all gotten a little sloppy with our fast food naming conventions. Put something inside a tortilla shell and we’ll call it a taco. That’s pretty much what I was expecting from Dunkin’s new “Spring” item, the Breakfast Taco. I figured it would just be some eggs, cheese, maybe a little bacon, and…wait, Dunkin’ already makes that. It’s called the Wake-up Wrap, and it’s been on the menu for ages.

I was concerned: Was it possible that Dunkin’ was relaunching almost the exact same product under a different name? Who do they think they are, Taco Bell?

But no, Dunkin’ made something that’s not only different from its other offerings but hard to find anywhere in fast food breakfast land: a taco with a flavor profile that bespeaks its Mexican origins.

First, there are two versions: plain or with a bacon topping. I wanted to actually taste all of the subtle flavors without having to deal with that overbearing bacon flavor, so I went with the first option.

The taco starts with corn. Dunkin’ calls it “fire-roasted corn,” but it didn’t taste particularly roasted to me; it was just a pleasant, sweet flavor. Not overly sweet or syrupy, but just the natural sweetness of the vegetable. At first, the corn was so dominant that it was hard to discern the other flavors, but it’s a dish with surprising depth. I noticed more subtle flavor notes as I ate, which is an experience I don’t often get with breakfast food.

One of those subtle flavors is from the jalapenos. I need to be clear that this is not a very spicy item; the heat is mild and just quietly adds depth. Sometimes, when I make curry for dinner, I make it with only a smidgen of spices so that my spice-timid 7-year-old will eat it. That’s the kind of heat level this is: you know it’s there, and that’s enough.

I also picked out the herbaceous bite of cilantro, which adds a lot of brightness. More prominent is the melted sharp white cheddar cheese, which adds a dairy tang to the proceedings. It isn’t noticeable in every bite but offers a nice, salty contrast when it pops up.

Lastly, there is a “tangy” lime crema, but I only really tasted it at the very end of the taco, when all I had left was crema and a little tortilla. It could have just been my taco, or maybe the crema is another ingredient that is meant to be subtle.

Dunkin’ could have bunted the ball here and just made glorified scrambled eggs in a tortilla shell, but it went the extra mile and is offering customers a novel experience, not just different from other Dunkin’ menu items but different, period. Will it win out over more cheesy, eggy, bready foods in my personal breakfast rotation? Maybe. While I may not order it every time I go to Dunkin’, I’m really glad the option is there. I take my hat off to Dunkin’ for trying something new.

Purchased Price: $2.59
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 180 calories, 9 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 100 milligrams of cholesterol, 500 milligrams of sodium, 17 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 8 grams of protein.