The tale of two opposites attracting. When alternate worlds collide. The quintessential adult grocery store cookie meets teenage-girl-fueled food trend. Crunchy sophisticated fun fuses with basic bitch tendencies. Pepperidge Farm Pumpkin Spice Milano’s. Can this unlikely team up yield greatness? Today on the skillet we find out!
The cookies have the classic Milano appearance – tan ovals with a thin layer of chocolate in the middle, but this one also has a fun deep orange oozing out of the sides. It’s a lovely color combination that screams spooky autumn vibes – reading books and playing chess with a roomful of dad’s happily crunching and sippin’ on English breakfast.
The flavor of these iconically crispy cookies is surprisingly balanced and tasty – with neither chocolate or pumpkin being too dominant. The usually thin layer of the cookies’ innards is pivotal in achieving this optimal balance, as the chocolate doesn’t flex too prominently over the fall flavors and both are allowed to breathe without clashing. There are very apparent but not too intense notes of cinnamon and nutmeg flirting with just a hint of dark chocolate, and the crumbly, sweet, buttery body of the cookie smoothes both flavors out as the perfect mediator to these two often bold, potentially clashing flavors.
Pepperidge Farm continues to impress me with their ability to combine elements that I’m not sure will work together, like dark chocolate and lime, and delivering a delicious product with finesse. The spice is subtle but pleasing and makes for a wonderful coffee companion while cozying up with a spooky novel on a dimly lit autumn morning.
Found at: Target ($2.99)
Things I don’t associate with when thinking about winter: beach balls, Corona Light, blockbuster films, daylight until 9 PM, and…banana flavored cookies. Despite the super odd January release date, Pepperidge Farm have chosen the middle of the hypothetical icy tundra to unleash their limited edition Banana Chocolate Milano, so you can get a taste of the tropics while shivering in your mittens.
Opening up the signature tall paper bag I am immediately smacked in the face with that unmistakable artificial banana aroma that will have yellow Runts and Laffy Taffy fans squirming with joy in their long johns. Just barely coming through beneath the banana is the classic Milano semi-sweet chocolate that rounds out the smell of this tropical treat.
The bite mimics the smell in that it starts with a strong banana candy flavor that smooths out and finishes with clean semi-sweet dark chocolate. The crumbly pale cookie is a lovely middle ground between soft and hard, with no notable sugar or shortbread taste. The Milano in general is fairly dry, but the inclusion of banana makes it feel a bit more moist and bright. I’ve gotta give Pepperidge Farm credit for putting out a different flavor than what is expected, and overall the flavors deliver on what the description promises. While the banana flavor is definitely rooted in candy, the cookie as a whole isn’t too sweet and shouldn’t be a turn off unless you hate banana flavor, which I’m sure many people do.
My issue with these cookies is the same one I’ve always had with standard Milano – there simply isn’t enough filling. While the regular Milk Chocolate Milano is fine but pretty basic, the Double Chocolate version is awesome, with extra snap and deep cocoa flavor that allows the outer cookie to be plain but successful. The other flavored Milano I’ve had – orange, mint, and raspberry, are better than the milk chocolate because of the added layer of flavor, and these are no exception, but I still wanted more. Perhaps 25% more banana or a touch more chocolate could have taken these to the next level, but as it stands they still need a little more pop to compete with the best.
Although Milano’s get all the love as the Pepperidge Farm poster child, I am of the opinion that the the lesser loved Brussels are the true GOAT of their cookie lineup. Sure, the Milano is classic and definitely delicious with its fluffy yet crumbly exterior, but nothing can top the crunchy caramelized sugar cookies nuzzling a snappy layer of dark chocolate that is the Brussel. Fortunately for Brussel-lovers like myself, this year they got a holiday makeover with the limited edition Mint Brussels.
In good taste Pepperidge Farm have decided not to mess too much with a winning combo and have simply added a layer of mint on top of the already present dark chocolate. The mint has a nearly identical firm but smooth texture as the dark layer, and comes across like a mint flavored white chocolate, which helps to maintain the already successful and delightful crunch of the original cookie. Biting in you get that wonderful sugar crunch a la the top of a creme brûlée that is sweet but not cloying at all. Pairing perfectly with a cup of coffee or black tea, these cookies live up the the reputation Pepperidge Farm have for delivering the most sophisticated and “adult” tasting treats you can find in the grocery store.
Chocolate and mint are a classic combo that works extremely well but is surprisingly easy to mess up. Oftentimes the mint can be too strong and overpower and other flavors battling for your tastebuds, but these Brussels have managed to hit the balance almost perfectly, with just a touch to be desired. If I can fault these cookies in any way I would want just a hint more mint from them. It feels like splitting hairs because one of my biggest pet peeves is a mint cookie or dessert that leaves my mouth with a toothpaste tingle, but the Pepperidge Farm folks could have put a touch more mint into the mix and they would have really sung flawlessly.
Apparently Mint Brussels used to exist with some form of regularity and were discontinued around 2009, but for me these are brand new and I hope they won’t be disappearing as a limited release anytime soon. Fingers crossed these cookies sell well and 2017 will bring us new limited flavors like the Milano’s get, who have everything from Lemon to Dulce De Leche available year round.