Friday, December 13, 2013

Cracker Jacks

A while ago I reviewed the latest line from Cracker Jacks, Cracker Jack'd.  You may recall that I thought they were all awful.  But Cracker Jacks seems ubiquitous, I figured their classic offering might still be tasty.  Not bad, but ... meh.

After the fairly disappointing caramel corn from Say Hey! at the ballpark, I wanted some real caramel corn.  Not knowing where to turn, I went for what I knew was a classic: Cracker Jacks.  I'm not really sure that I've ever had Cracker Jacks before.  I see why.  It isn't bad, but it surely isn't very good.

The pieces of popcorn were crunchy, and nicely coated with caramel, but the caramel had a bit of a burnt, not very good, flavor.  There weren't many peanuts.  Overall, very unremarkable at room temperature.

So then I tried freezing some.  I liked it more this way.  A bit crunchier, so more fun to eat.  But I still wasn't a fan of the burnt taste.  I ended up using chopped up Cracker Jacks as a topping for butterscotch pudding, and found that worked well.  I also mixed up a batch of half kettle corn, half cracker jacks, and liked the sweet and salty components together.  But ... overall, I still didn't find myself wanting to just devour it by the handful.  I kept wanting to like it more, since I do like caramel corn, but ... yeah, not my thing.  I did find that I liked the caramel coated peanuts more than the actual popcorn.

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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Silk Shortbread

Silk shortbreads are made in Arizona of all places.  The company was founded by a woman who spent time in England, and missed the amazingness of pure butter shortbreads when she returned to the US.  So, she started a company making shortbreads, with the simple recipe of flour, sugar, and quality butter.  No preservatives, etc.  She makes several varieties.
Classic Shortbread, aka, Butter Cookie.
I tried several varieties.

I started with the Classic Shortbread.  It was a bit boring for me, just a shortbread.  The texture was ok, but a bit chalky.  I don't really know what it would take for a plain shortbread to wow me.  It was fine, but ... just a shortbread.  My favorite shortbreads are chocolate dipped with little chopped nuts, so if I had more of these, I'd need to spruce them up somehow.

I moved on to the Lemon Zest.  I could see bits of lemon zest, but didn't taste it.  It was again kinda chalky, and I didn't like this one.

I saved the best for last: Mango Coconut!  I really liked it.  It had tiny bits of dried mango, which gave it a bit of chew.  It had a strong coconut flavor.  The shortbread base seemed even more buttery.  I enjoyed this very much with a cup of tea.
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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

More Dining Aboard Virgin America

This post has been consolidated in my other Main Cabin Dining on Virgin America post.  Please go read it there!

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Monday, December 09, 2013

Desserts from Munchery

Last Monday, I reviewed the Thanksgiving feast we ordered on Munchery.  But I skipped my favorite subject: the desserts!

Why?  Because one was so spectacular, it deserved its own review.  Since you've read all about Munchery many times by now, I'll let you just browse those past reviews for the general details, and I'll talk only about the desserts here.

I continue to recommend Munchery, and if you want $10 off your first order, I encourage you to sign up with my invite link.
Cranberry Croissant Bread Pudding: White Chocolate, Creamsicle Chantilly Cream.  $4.95.
For our Thanksgiving meal, we obviously needed dessert.  My family is very traditional when it comes to Thanksgiving desserts - we always have pies: pumpkin, pecan, apple, and butterscotch at a minimum.  But I'd already had pumpkin, pecan, and apple pie the week before when we did a Thanksgiving feast at work.  And I'd had a bunch of other pumpkin desserts recently.  So, when I saw a bread pudding offered on the Thanksgiving menu, I jumped on it.  Something different to end my feast!

You may know that I adore bread pudding.  Seriously, one of my absolute favorites.  Sweet or savory. Breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  Anytime.  Love it.

I was a little surprised when I got the package, as it was packed up in a full size meal box, yet occupied a tiny fraction of it.  The portion actually looked pretty small to me, but maybe that was just because of the box size?  I think it was smaller than what you'd get in a restaurant, and was clearly sized for a single person, not for sharing.

This came from Chef Matthew Urban, described as "croissant soaked in rich spiced custard and baked with whole cranberries and white chocolate chips. This bread pudding is served with a delish orange scented whipped cream."

Now, I know white chocolate doesn't have the best reputation.  I think that is just because of the name.  No, it isn't chocolate.  But it is sweet and can be tasty.  I expected it to be strewn through the bread pudding, but there were just 2 chips on top.  Sadness.  I wanted more pops of sweet throughout.

I'm not super into cranberries, but this was seasonally appropriate.  I really liked that they were provided whole, as they maintained a lot of moisture, and nicely popped in your mouth, giving a burst of tartness.

The base was croissants, which clearly is a great choice for bread pudding.  It crisped up nicely in the toaster oven, but was fairly standard.  I eat a lot of bread puddings, since I order them whenever I find them, and this was just average.  Nothing wowed me.

The creamsicle chantilly cream was fluffy and flavorful, and Ojan liked it.  I don't love citrus in dessert, but I do think it paired well with the cranberry.  Since I love hot desserts with cold ice cream, so I paired mine with vanilla ice cream.

Overall, good, but not spectacular, and actually a kinda small portion for $4.95.  I appreciated that they provided a flavored whipped cream with it!
Pumpkin Pie Cheeescake with organic roasted pumpkin pie swirls.  $5.50.

Since I'm a serious dessert girl, I couldn't settle for just ordering one dessert.  What if it wasn't good?  What if I needed more?

So, we also went for the pumpkin pie cheesecake from Chef Jennifer Bratko.  Described as "a very traditional creamy cheesecake with Philly cream cheese, organic sugar, cage free eggs and Madagascar vanilla beans, then make pumpkin pie filling using organic pumpkin, spices and cage free eggs, then swirl them together. You get a nice strong bite of cheesecake, then a nice strong bite of perfect pumpkin pie. This is all on a buttery and sweet ginger-nutmeg graham cracker crust."

First, I had to laugh.  Organic sugar, cage free eggs, Madagascar vanilla ... all quality ingredients.  And then, Philly cream cheese?  But, it is a classic for a reason!

I also need to admit that I had a pumpkin pie cheesecake just two days prior, so I was actually not that excited for this.  The one I had a few days earlier was a graham cracker crust, topped with cheesecake, topped with a thin layer of pumpkin pie, topped with whipped cream, finished with a candied pecan.  That one was all out of balance ... there was far too much crust, which overwhelmed everything, the pumpkin layer was too thin to taste, and the whipped cream on top was excessive.  I really didn't care for it, and it left me less than excited about this one.

But, Chef Bratko delivered!  This was nothing like the one I had a few days prior.

The graham cracker crust was thin, just added some texture and was not overwhelming, and I loved the additional flavor from the nutmeg in it.  The cheesecake was super creamy and had that classic Philly cream cheese flavor.  But what I really loved was the pumpkin filling.  Even creamier than the cheesecake, super flavorful, just perfect.  It really was a cheesecake and a pumpkin pie all in one.  Every bite did indeed have a perfect mix of cheesecake and pumpkin pie, just as promised.  Chef Bratko absolutely nailed this.

The only negative things I have to say is that I didn't care for the packaging.  It came in a cardboard takeout-style box.  I know they have all sorts of other packaging available, since all my other meals have arrived in different packaging.  I'm not sure what it was exactly that I didn't like about the box, but it was ugly!  The cheesecake was also fairly small for the $5.50 price.  Again, it was a great size for one person, and I think I'm just used to restaurants serving huge portions of desserts that are sized for two.  Now that I know Munchery dessert sizes, I'm happy to adjust my expectations.  It also didn't have any additional topping; I think I wanted a little whipped cream, or perhaps candied pumpkin seeds or something to top.  Not a big deal, but I wanted that finishing touch.

But I'm just being picky, I loved this, it was not only the highlight of my meal, but the tastiest thing I've gotten from Munchery so far.  I'd totally order another.  Right now!
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