REVIEW: Dreyers Cake and Cookie Fantasy Frozen Yogurt

Going and getting a giant cup of build your own frozen yogurt topped with candy, fruit, cereal, cheesecake, and whatever else I could fit into my bowl used to be one of my favorite weekend activities before I became a full blown ice cream addict.  While I still venture to the froyo shop from time to time, one thing I have never done is buy a container of frozen yogurt from the grocery store – until now.  As I was pursuing the frozen aisle, which lights itself up as I gradually strut by its fine offerings, I was caught off guard by a glowing purple and pink container right near the Dreyers Slow Churned section.  In tandem with the Dreyers’ cookie dough line, the company also launched three new frozen yogurts, including this eye grabbing beauty.  Cake and Cookie Fantasy combines red velvet cake and sugar cookie frozen yogurt swirled together with decadent cookie dough pieces and chocolate cookie crumbles.

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This flavor is a lot of fun.  There’s a nice yogurt tang to the base of the ice cream, er, yogurt, which gives it a genuine and light frozen yogurt flavor that is different for a a tub full of cookies and cookie dough, but overall pretty pleasant.  The red velvet flavor is noticeable immediately with the subtle light cocoa working well with the yogurt tang to emulate the classic cake garnished with cream cheese frosting.  The white colored sugar cookie yogurt’s flavor is hard to isolate among all of the swirls, but it tastes less tangy and has an overall smoother consistency than the red velvet that could be channeling the cookie’s iconic butteriness; but it definitely registers more vanilla than an actual baked good.

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The mix ins are pretty solid too, the chocolate wafer cookies bring that classic cookies n cream slightly bitter cocoa note and the cookie dough adds nice pops of saltiness to go along with the typical gritty chew you know and love in dough.  Although the description doesn’t specify, I would think the dough is sugar cookie dough and the chocolate-less buttery flavor definitely gets the job done.  The pieces of both are pretty small, but there’s a good amount of them, and between the two mix ins and two flavors of yogurt each bite brings something slightly different to the ever-evolving scoop experience.  It definitely doesn’t eat as decadently as a scoop of premium cookie dough ice cream but this flavor is well executed and deserving of your dollars and freezer space if you get down with the cookies and the dough.

Rating: 8/10

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REVIEW: Little Debbie “Be My Valentine” Red Velvet Cakes

Shockingly, in all my youthful formative years of eating cellophane-wrapped cakes in Nebraska, and making crazy late night stoned liquor store runs as a teenager in California, I have never had a Little Debbie Red Velvet cake. While there’s no debate that a real homemade, or purchased gourmet cake is far and away better, there’s always been something alluring and delicious to me about all types of snack cakes, and Debbie has a pretty decent record in my book.  Little Debbie Red Velvet cakes can be found year round in square shape, but these are hearts, so they’re festive and full of extra love.

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The outer white coating is initially very similar to the one you’ll find on the Zebra or white cake varieties – thin and slightly greasy with a nondescript sweet flavor. At first I didn’t get a tangy cream cheese or whipped butter cream flavor, but on my second cake I started to notice a more unique Red Velvety tang than the usual outer layer.  Maybe it’s my mind playing tricks on me but I am definitely being immersed into a different, more unique flavor experience than your typical white or chocolate bite.

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The creme on the inside is the same classic Debbie filling with no added qualities you would associate with red velvet; it embraces pure sweetness with a smooth texture – no vanilla or other distinct flavors. I can’t say that I’m disappointed because it’s kind of what I expected, and secretly the low caliber cake bad boy in me loves this weird trashy oil cream stuff.

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The cake on the inside is something new, and not just in its glorious red color. The cake is true to the red velvet flavor, with a light cocoa finish that is far from vanilla but also a much less deep flavor than what you will find in Debbie’s Chocolate Cupcakes or Swiss Rolls. The chocolatey cake is airy and light and relatively complex, and when paired with the coating really does taste like a slice of red velvet cake, albeit a pretty cheap one.

Although the flavor is not exclusively for Valentine’s Day, these little heart cakes are a fun switch up to Debbie’s deliciously trashy lineup. While they may not have the same romantic impact as a dozen roses, they’re certainly good enough to keep you from crashing on the couch, and may buy you enough time to run to the store and get something worthy for your one true love, like a giant Reese’s heart.

Rating: 8/10

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REVIEW: Optimum Nutrition Cake Bites (All four flavors!)

Cake bites, cake pops, cake truffles, petit fours…whatever you want to call them, they’re hot and the trend is as booming as ever.  So booming, in fact, that they’ve eclipsed the pastry scene, and like most delicious sweet things, have found themselves in the protein imitation universe.  Optimum Nutrition, whose 2016 line of protein bars were pretty lackluster, are kicking off 2017 with three flavors of protein cake bites – Birthday Cake, Chocolate Dipped Cherry, and Red Velvet (UPDATE: in August they added a fourth flavor – mini review added at the bottom).  Each package contains three circular cake bites that equal 20 grams of protein, under 25 grams of carbs, and 230-240 calories.  I’m going to break down each flavor and rate them against each other as well as on a whole.

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Birthday Cake:
The texture is softer than your average protein bar with the whipped aspect bringing a bit more bounciness and squish while still staying firm. It doesn’t particularly remind me of cake but it is different than your typical Quest or Oh Yeah! ONE bar. The vanilla flavor is strong but not overwhelmingly sweet and there is no artificial aftertaste. The strongest element of this bites’ flavor is a really wonderful buttercream finish that leaves your mouth creamy and clean with a whisper of sweetness.

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The round sprinkles on top add a nice crunch and even though there is a bit of protein flavor the whole experience feels more pastry shop authentic than most protein bars.  This is a safe flavor to offer because it tends to be popular, but it’s also competitive as there are already good options out there.

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This is not a better take on cake than MuscleTech’s Nitro bar or the Oh Yeah! One version bit it’s still pretty solid.  Rating: 7.5/10

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Chocolate Dipped Cherry:
The different fluffy texture is really at play and more effective here. It reminds me of a mousse or a marshmallow the way it holds its form yet is soft and pillowy. The cherry flavor, while it doesn’t taste like any cake I’ve ever had, is spot on and very reminiscent of a cherry Tootsie Pop in the best way. Cherry flavored things are either disgusting and medicinal or tasty and sweet like our favorite childhood candies and this cake circle falls into the latter category.  Some people will definitely hate this flavor immediately because of its sweetness but I enjoy it.

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The chocolate coating is a bit thin and could be darker but ultimately works well to counter the cherry candy flavor and make a good balanced bite. I have never had a flavor like this in a protein bar and creativity always wins extra points in my book. Rating: 8/10

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Red Velvet:
The texture on this one most closely resembles its namesake, with that slightly dense cocoa-kissed red base being the star of the show. The initial flavor is all vanilla and not too different from Birthday Cake, but then finishes with the appropriate hint of chocolate. The coating could use more of a cream cheese tang to truly drive the red velvet flavor but it has a touch of tang and is definitely creamy which helps provide the “frosting” contrast.

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This one also gets extra points for being a less predictable flavor for protein bars, with the only other option out there being the solid YUP brands’ BUP bar, which I’ve only had when ordering online due to weird/poor distribution.  Not surprisingly I think this is the least sweet of all three and is a pretty decent version of the sought after Southern cake.  Rating: 7.5/10

While these definitely aren’t a spot on spin on little bites of cake, they are a fresh take on the ever-growing market of portable protein snacks.  One thing I don’t like about this line is the decision to include zero fiber.  I don’t need 15-20 grams of fiber in a bar but throwing in 5-10 grams helps hit the nutritional needs and balance out the impact of the carbs – neither of which you get when choosing these over another supplement.  While the flavors all rated slightly higher, I’m going to give ON Cake Bites a slightly lower rating overall because of the nutritional makeup, but will still purchase these every so often.

Overall rating: 7/10

UPDATE: In August ON added a fourth flavor to the lineup – Chocolate Frosted Donut.

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This one is pretty much in line with the quality of the initial three flavors, although I like it slightly less. The sprinkles on top are just like the ones on Birthday Cake and add a nice crunch to offset the generally soft and squishy whipped interior of the bite. Does it taste like a donut? Barely. As in, it doesn’t taste like a donut for 80% of the chew and then right towards the end I get a little bit of golden egginess that reminds me of a cake donut.  Not a yeast donut like the package would imply, and not very much at all, but there’s a touch. Much like the first three there’s no weird fake sugar aftertaste and the protein vibes are present but subtle. ON’s flavor game isn’t anywhere near the level of Oh Yeah! but this is still a decently tasty product nonetheless, even if slightly below the initial three flavors.  The macros are almost identical except this one has 250 calories instead of the 230-240.

Rating: 7/10

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