REVIEW: White Pumpkin Pie M&M’s

Pumpkin pie ain’t so poppable, and this year Mars want to change the way we embrace autumn’s most iconic circular treat. Although there are an unbelievable amount of pumpkin spice labeled products, not too many try to actually conquer the true application of said spice mix via the pie, which is a generally softer, creamier, and squash-y-er experience than pure spice overload. As a counterpart to the shriek-inducing double chocolate whammy of Cookies & Screeem, White Pumpkin Pie M&M’s are here to cool us down for short, relaxed, fall evenings.

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The candies present themselves as a lovely autumn array of muted tan, orange, and brown, with the usual bloated circular shape of the flavor-infused limited M&M’s. The typical great crunchy shell begins the bite, followed by a very well balanced and sweater-weather-worthy taste of pumpkin pie.

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The flavor is mellow but very genuine and enjoyable. The leading note is sweet, with the bulk of the candy being white chocolate, followed by some cool subtle cinnamon and nutmeg. They’re creamy and lush with the mixture of spices offsetting the typically hyper-sugary profile of white chocolate. Unlike “real” or bitter chocolate, the spices don’t go to war with the silky white cocoa butter, and all the flavors coexist harmoniously. Being the spice-lover that I am, I would have no problem with a little more tingle, but I also don’t eat pumpkin pie anticipating my tongue to burn, so I’m not let down by these at all.

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I’m the type of person who loves a good dollop of whipped cream on top of my end-of-Thanksgiving slice, and these M&M’s channel that sensation wonderfully. They taste like a big heaping forkful of mellow creamy pumpkin adorned with an ample amount of whip, and are perfectly snackable as well as true to their desired flavor destiny. Perhaps not the most poppin’ poppable candies you’ll ever have, but definitely one worthy of the crystal candy bowl in the middle of Grandma’s holiday dinner spread.

Rating: 8/10
Found at: Target ($3.29)
Quick Nutrition: 1.5 oz – 210 cal – 11g fat – 6g sat fat – 40mg sodium – 29g carb – 28g sugar – 2g protein

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REVIEW: Little G X MdoughW White Chocolate Macadamia Nut

One of my all time favorite creamy sweet treats growing up was a frozen yogurt from TCBY called White Chocolate Mousse.  It was succulent and smooth in a way that vanilla could never be, and sadly, I haven’t had that perfectly swirled soft serve in years, but have always looked for a worthy replacement.  Additionally, one of my favorite cookies has always been white chocolate macadamia nut, and my love for the cookie and ice cream have very rarely come together.  Once again, Little G has come to my rescue.  Combining forces with MdoughW, the two have released a pint that combines white chocolate ice cream with roasted macadamia nuts, and MdoughW’s sugar cookie doughies.

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The white chocolate base is fantastic.  Insanely smooth and creamy, it is decently sweet with a distinct white chocolate finish that’s really hard to describe.  There are no vanilla notes, especially compared to Little G’s vanilla bean, and it is less sweet than a typical sweet cream, with less of a pronounced dairy flavor.  White chocolate is such a difficult taste to pinpoint, but it can generally be distinguished and attributed to the use of cocoa butter, which gives an added layer of richness that just simply works in ice cream and makes it even creamier than your typical super premium base.

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The MdoughW sugar cookie doughies are delicious and taste almost exactly like a more authentic less grainy version of when I eat Pillsbury’s sugar cookie dough before baking them (shhh don’t tell anyone).  They are soft and buttery with a lovely saltiness and don’t really taste like they’ve been cooked at all – and I love it.  The salty flavor really shines through against the perfectly sweetened and creamy base and if this were a sugar cookie dough ice cream this is all that I would need to be immensely satisfied.

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Where this pint suffers is in the execution of the buttery and always unique tasting macadamia nuts.  While they’ve been roasted, they haven’t been salted or seasoned in any way and fall kind of flat, even when submerged in the sugary abyss of white chocolate.  They are also too big.  I appreciate the idea that they should be large enough to give a bold flavor, and they do add a legit crunch, but including whole nuts makes them incredibly hard and almost astringent, at times sucking the life out of my spoon.  Had the macadamia nuts been smaller and/or candied, or even just dusted with some decent salt they could have really helped elevate the flavor to its true cookie ice cream potential.

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I love the base and the sugar cookies in this one a LOT, but the treatment of the nuts and the amount of them really pull away from how awesome this pint could have been.  I would love to see Grace use the white chocolate again in a flavor that doesn’t get weighed down by a hard, mouth-drying component like the macadamia’s, or maybe even just try this one again using half the amount of nuts and throwing in a couple white chips for good measure, because through and through I still really enjoyed eating this.

Rating: 8.5/10
Found at: http://www.goldbely.com (use code seanpancake0 for $25 off of your first order!)

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REVIEW: Hershey’s Carrot Cake Kisses

When I was a wee boy learning my way around the kitchen I asked my mom what kind of cake she would like for her birthday.  She thought about it briefly and quickly responded “carrot cake, but no raisins, and no nuts, and extra frosting”.  Okay.  The next week I succeeded in making a 100% from scratch two tiered raisin-and-nut-less carrot cake with ample decadent cream cheese frosting.  I always liked carrot cake, but after that little culinary accomplishment it always held a special place in my heart.  Luckily for me, spring time has arrived (in the candy aisle), and the common theme these days is that the Easter Bunny loves carrot cake because bunnies love carrots.  Even luckier for me, I can throw my fork away now, because Hershey’s have blessed us with Carrot Cake Kisses so we can spice-pop all season long.

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The kisses have some of the truest cream cheese flavor I’ve ever experienced in a candy, and I’m blown away by how restrained the sweetness is. There’s that signature cream cheese tang rounded out by a confectioners sugar sparkle, but the sugar lingers at the back behind rich deep creamy flavor and texture. The white inside has a soft give to it that is unmistakably cream cheese, and the spice-play only comes into the equation when the frosting has had its full say. Finishing the flavor is a soft combination of cinnamon and nutmeg that puts the perfect taste-tail on the cream cheese and brings the carrot cake profile full circle.

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Eating one of these kisses is like taking a glorious forkful from the edge piece of a carrot cake slice and diving into a perfectly sweetened frosting-dominated abyss that ends with just the right amount of crumbly spiced moist cake lingering in your mouth. The taste manipulation here is pretty incredible, as the best parts of eating carrot cake have been transformed into a tiny bite sized 25 calorie piece of white chocolate.  The flavor overall is deep, with a whipped frosting feeling and texture that is much different than the other often hyper-sweet White Kisses, like the Cookies and Cream or Birthday Cupcake.

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It’s safe to say that I think these Kisses would make my mother proud.  There are no nuts or raisins to be found, and the most dominant flavor is cream cheese, aka, “extra frosting”.  They’re smooth and creamy and perfectly balanced in a way that is hard to achieve in such a small piece of chocolate.  Easily one of the best seasonal Kisses I’ve had and if you do anything other than hate carrot cake you’ve gotta pick these up.

Rating: 9/10

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REVIEW: Grenade Carb Killa White Chocolate Cookie

Grenade is a United Kingdom based protein supplement company founded in 2010, apparently dominating everyone’s post-workout fix world wide except me.  As someone who does most of his whey protein intake through bars I’m always looking for new flavors and textures to entice my palate.  When the Carb Killa bars popped up at my local GNC the packaging was interesting and I grabbed two of the available flavors.  The first one I tried, Caramel Chaos, had really great texture but was generally lacking in any notable flavors, despite the fact that it was the only protein bar I’ve had to actually have caramel.  The second bar – White Chocolate Cookie – changed everything.

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Carb Killa’s are triple-layered bars combining a whey protein base with gooey caramel and crunchy bits, then dipped in either a white or milk chocolate.  The White Chocolate Cookie bar has a milky white caramel beneath pieces of chocolate cookies and looks almost identical to the Hershey’s Cookies and Cream candy bar.  It is without a doubt one of the most uniquely flavored and well executed protein bars I have ever had.

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The three textures interact with each other to create a seamless snacking experience, leaving almost nothing to be desired.  White chocolate is the first ingredient, and the flavor is strong and pronounced with the use of cocoa butter and whole milk powder.  Many of the issues that plague protein bars – grainy bases, overly sweet fake sugars, or too much fake fiber, are all nonexistent here.  The bar is just sweet enough to emulate the candy bar it looks up to without becoming over the top or artificial.

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This might be one of the rare cases where a protein supplement trying to mimic an established junk food product actually surpasses the real thing.  The addition of the caramel offers a more complex mouth feel than the Hershey’s bar and with 22 grams of protein and only 2 grams of sugar I can’t imagine myself ever choosing the candy over the killa.

In the United States Carb Killa bars are available in four flavors – Caramel Chaos, Chocolate Cream, Chocolate Crunch, and the sensational White Chocolate Cookie.  I plan on trying the two chocolate flavors as soon as possible, and being on the lookout for some of the more obscure UK-available flavors like Banana Armour and White Chocolate Mocha to make a Stateside appearance soon.

Rating: 9.5/10

Quick Nutrition: Calories: 220 – Fat Cal: 70 – Fat: 8g – Sat Fat: 4g – Sodium: 150mg – Total Carb: 21g – Fiber: 6g – Sugars: 2g – Sugar Alcohol: 13g – Protein: 22g