Vegan Halo Top Review

Once upon a time I was asked to write about Vegan Halo Top’s release for Spoon University. Although I have a history of disliking Halo Top’s marketing for a variety of reasons, my curiosity was instantly peaked. I had to know what the hype was about.

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So for those who, like me, find themselves curious about the new non-dairy Halo Top flavors but are a bit hesitant to spend $5-8 on a pint of heavily-marketed frozen dessert, I thought I’d share my review to help you decide if it’s worthy of your time.

What Is Vegan Halo Top?

Halo Top has built a brand on a highly-effective marketing campaign of being the ultimate ‘guilt-free’ ice cream. It was one of the first well-received ‘low-calorie’ ice creams on the market (sorry Arctic Zero..), and has embedded itself into pop food culture alongside avocado toast and matcha lattes.

Halo Top advertises the calorie count of the entire pint right smack dab front and center of the packaging, and flaunts a high-protein content.

Non-dairy Halo Top is a coconut-milk based version of the original (280-360 calories per pint), with similar calorie counts and slightly lower protein contents (12 grams per pint versus 20 grams per pint).

Vegan Halo Top currently comes in 7 flavors: Caramel Macchiato, Chocolate, Chocolate Covered Banana, Peanut Butter Cup, Oatmeal Cookie, Sea Salt Caramel, and Cinnamon Roll.

The base appears to be a mix of coconut cream and water, and the dessert also contains prebiotic fiber (a thickener), organic cane sugar, erythritol (a calorie-free sugar alcohol), rice protein, pea protein, carob gum and guar gum (for thickness, I presume), stevia, and other ingredients that vary by flavor.

My Previous Distaste Of the Brand, Explained:

I have history of expressing irritation at the Halo Top marketing strategy. I don’t like the thought of demonizing or glorifying any foods, let alone my beloved ice cream. I don’t think we should feel guilty for eating regular ice cream, and I don’t think it’s wise, even if a food happens to be low-calorie, to disengage from internal hunger and fullness cues and give yourself permission to eat a whole pint.

Because the reality is, you should always give yourself permission to eat whatever sounds good to you in whatever amount satisfies your tastebuds and your tummy, whether it be a large salad as a snack, a piece of pie for breakfast, or a large scoop of your favorite ice cream whenever a craving hits.

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And you should also give yourself permission to stop if you’re full or things start not tasting so good. I can eat sweet potatoes until next Thursday and not tire of them, but often when I’m eating very rich foods, like ice cream or doughnuts, my taste buds will get over them and my stomach will tell me to stop. And I think it’s best I listen to my body.

This is what I’ve disliked for so long about Halo Top’s marketing: it presents itself as the angel among a devil-like group of foods, when really ‘real’ ice cream is just that: real ice cream. Delicious, rich, and satisfying.

Anyways…

Despite all of this, I still wanted to give Halo Top a try. I had always been curious: Okay, just how good can this stuff be? What could it possibly even taste like?

I had to know.

I pitched the idea of a review to my editors at Spoon, who approved the idea,* I went out into the world that very next weekend, only to find some pints of vegan Halo Top scattered among the original versions at my local Whole Foods. I picked up a single pint, put it in my cart, and went on my way.

*the review never ended up happening because apparently another Spoon writer reached out to HT to do a review and was sent a bunch of samples, but i decided to do my own on my blog

General First Impression

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Let me preface this by saying I love ice cream. Ice cream is probably my favorite dessert, and holds a special sentimental place in my heart as it’s a dessert I cherish many fond memories over enjoying with my dad growing up.

When it comes to ice cream preference, I go two ways: either I want rich, thick, dense hard-packed ice cream, loaded with texture (nuts, chocolate, cookies, candy, etc) or an airy soft serve that begins to melt the second it makes contact with the tongue.

So when I peeled back the golden foil from my Halo Top, I was pretty ready to be disappointment. After all, how could they manage such a low calorie count without making something completely fake-tasting, icy, or overly-artificially-flavored? It seemed like a near mathematical impossibility to me.

Throughout my trial and error with Halo Top, however, I settled upon something: it’s not ice cream. It will never be ice cream. It’s something else. It’s flavored fluff. And it’s delicious. Read on for details…

Texture:

 

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Right off the bat it was obvious that the texture of Halo Top is far different from that of a full-fat ice cream. This frozen dessert (I’m still not calling it ice cream) was almost fluffy when pulled from the carton with a spoon. I can best compare the mouthfeel of vegan Halo Top to that of marshmallow fluff or barely-thawed frozen Cool Whip. It’s aerated, light, and melts in the mouth.

The texture allows the flavor hits your palate in layers; first you just taste sticky cold and a hint of sweet. As it quickly melts on your tongue, you’re hit with a flood of de-fattened peanut butter, or cinnamon, it whatever flavor it is you happen to be eating. It’s almost soft-serve like, but with a quicker dissemination on the tongue.

Sweetness:

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Halo Top is a sweet treat but not overly so. I was quite worried the stuff would reek of nauseating over-artificial sweetness or leave your mouth feeling glowy as artificial sugar alcohols so often do.

The actual level of sweetness, however, is decently balanced. It’s certainly sweet, but not so sweet it’s inedible (as I find the non-dairy flavors of Ben & Jerry’s to be…sorry Ben & Jerry I so badly wanted to like you…).

As you swallow, you get a subtle lingering taste of artificial sugar alcohols, just slightly drying yet peaking your palate for more. The artificial taste is oddly not off-putting, but rather comforting and reminiscent of something semi-artificial you ate at sleepovers during childhood.

Chunks:

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As a texture junky, particularly when it comes to ice cream, this was the element of Halo Top I found most disappointing.

To me, when you a flavor has the word cookie in the title, I anticipate there will be chunks of cookie in the tub. This is not really the case with Halo Top. At first I was upset, but realized perhaps I misunderstood their concept. Maybe, after all, it was cookie-flavored-fluff, not ice-cream-filled-with-cookies. More on this is the flavor-by-flavor review below.

Slight misbranding aside, once I accepted this was not what Halo Top brought to the table, I was able to go back to enjoying it, reasoning I had the power (albeit less convenient) to add my own cookie pieces, chocolate chunks, candies, and whole nuts, especially since I am not concerned with keeping the calorie count of my desserts low as I’m not trying to lose weight or micromanage my body size.

By the Flavor:

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Since their launch, I’ve tried 4 flavors of non-dairy Halo Top. Below you can find my take on each I’ve had so far. I’d like to try more, but haven’t been able to find several of them. I’m also hoping they develop some of their other flavors (like cake batter or candy pieces) into non-dairy versions.

Oatmeal Cookie

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This was my first Halo Top experience, and my first dance with disappoint. Allow me to explain: I love oatmela cookies. the chewiness and moistness and soft crumb are what I dream of in a cookie, and I envisioned how wonderfully chunks of such a thing would taste dropped into ice cream.

To my sadness, there were no chunks in this flavor. Not a one. Rather, there were seemingly random oats floating within the fluff; oats which were dry and distracting rather than plush, scrumptious and experience-enhancing cookie chunks I had envisioned. Sigh.

The cloud-like texture and light sweet cinnamon flavor, however, brought my Spoon back into the point, digging for chunks, then cycling from anger, denial (no, there HAS to be chunks in here), to eventual acceptance of Halo Top as it was.

This flavor was just okay. It tasted nice on top of a German chocolate cake I made. I used it in place of whipped topping and for that, it served it’s purpose. Probably wouldn’t buy this flavor again.

Peanut Butter Cup

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Peanut Butter Cup was the second flavor I tried; I was hoping for redemption after my original cookie-less-Oatmeal Cookie letdown. Peanut Butter Cup had promises of two things I adore: peanut butter and chocolate. It certainly had to be good, right?

When I opened my second tub, I feel as if my expectations were more realistic. While I had a glimmer of hope that perhaps there were, in fact, real pieces of crushed candy in the frozen fluff, I knew there was a decent chance that would not be the case.

It was not the case. After emitting a sigh over the matter, I dug in with my spoon, ready to explore exactly what this had to offer instead.

It was at this point that I came to terms with the fact that Halo Top is not the texture-ridden, chocolate-and-nut-candy-packed ice cream I typically enjoy. It’s different. It’s fluff. That said, it’s weirdly enjoyable flavored fluff with miscellaneous swirly streaks and mysterious flecks of goo, and the occasional chunk if you picked up the right variety.

And that’s okay. It was halfway deep through the Peanut Butter Cup exploration that I mentally classified Halo Top as a separate food. It’s not ice cream, that was for certain. It’s not really even froyo or soft serve. It’s frozen flavored fluff. And oddly, I dig it.

Now. I’m not entirely sure what the base flavor was trying to taste like in this pint. There was a clearly defined peanut butter swirl which tasted like someone thinned out the insides of a Reece’s cup and rolled it into a thin strip that they decided would taste great in frozen fluff. But the fluff, itself, was confusing to me. Was it chocolate flavored? Was it peanut butter flavored? Was it somewhere in the middle?

I never reached a conclusion. I did, however, draw 3 conclusions during the consumption of Peanut Butter Cup: 1) I really liked the hard sweet peanut butter frozen-frosting-like swirl, 2)The flavored fluff in this pint is meh, and 3) I would maybe buy this flavor again and 4) This tastes way better with actual chopped up peanut butter cups added to it (obviously).

Chocolate Covered Banana

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I was wary about this one. While I an bonkers for bananas, I vehemently oppose artificial banana-flavored things.

Originally, I wasn’t even going to try it, but when Halo Top went on sale for $2.88 per pint at my local grocery store, this was the only vegan flavor I find in the bin besides Caramel Machiato. I went with Chocolate Covered Banana because for a fleeting moment I forgot it was likely banana-flavored and envisioned chocolate-dipped banana pieces in ice cream (back to my rookie-Halo Top-misunderstanding-ways) and I tend to dislike coffee ice-cream.

The verdict: it does have that artificial banana taste, reminiscent of banana-flavored Laffy Taffy. If you’re into that kind of thing, this flavor is for you. If you’re like me and a banana purist, I’d pick another flavor.

One clear strength of this point was the chocolate fudge swirl. This swirl Halo Top did not skimp upon, at least in my pint. There was ample chocolate fudge, albeit it syrupy, throughout the fluff.

I ended up hating the artificial flavor less than I normally do, perhaps as means to justify the money spent, adding chocolate chips and coconut whipped cream to temper the strong fake banana flavor.

This variety I wouldn’t buy again. Texture still on point, but not a flavor my tastebuds care for.

Cinnamon Roll

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This is by far my favorite of the four flavors I have tried. Unlike oatmeal cookie and peanut butter cups, Cinnamon Roll actually contains little chunks of….something. No, it’s not quite cinnamon roll pieces; rather, tiny balls of chewy cinnamon sweetness with a doughy texture float throughout the pint alongside a cinnamon sugary swirl.

It’s just enough textural contrast to keep you committed. I don’t need to add anything to this flavor (though it does taste good with crushed vanilla Joe Joe’s/Oreo’s). The base flavor itself, a sweet vanilla cinnamon, is superior in taste to Oatmeal Cookie, Peanut Butter Cups, and Chocolate Covered Banana in terms of palatability. Of the flavors, it also has the least ‘fake’ aftertaste.

I would buy this one again and again. Fluffy, cloudy, dreamy cinnamon sweet goodness. Excellent topper for pie or ice cream or on top of an iced coffee (yes, I went there).

Overall Thoughts:

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I went into this experiment curious but cautious, with my guard up high. I desperately wanted to write off Halo Top as a literal and figurative nasty marketing scam, but I emerge with a nuanced understanding of the obsession, and would like to make a public profession: I am a fan.

I want to try them all, especially the salted caramel if I ever come across it. I am even going so far to say I have stalked their flavors site and am hoping and praying they veganize other flavors, especially vanilla bean, lemon cake, birthday cake, pistachio, chocolate almond crunch, candy bar, and particularly pancakes and waffles.

And here I stand, a changed woman, humbled by Halo Top. I shouldn’t have judged you by your cover. And while I still dislike your anti-intuitive eating, diet-culture-contributing marketing style, I want to eat all the fluff I can get my sticky little paws on. Spoons up.

Quick and Easy Vegan Fruit Crisp

Yummy yummy yummy I have Fruit Crisp in my tummy!


….apparently I’m 5 years old. Anyways I thought I’d share the recipe for this easy vegan Fruit Crisp that I made on Vegan Bites this week, because it’s so incredibly simple. I usually eyeball these crisps because I’m lazy and because they are quite forgiving, but below you’ll find a general guideline for making your very own Fruit Crisp.

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This recipe serves 2. You can easily double, triple, or quadrupole it, depending on how many people you’re feeding or how hungry you are.

I used peaches, but you can use whatever tickles your pickle or whatever fruit happens to be spoiling around your house. Frozen fruit works well, too.

I suggest using almond or oat flour. This makes it gluten-free if you care and delicious regardless of if you care. If you don’t have these flours, you can use all purpose.

This tastes amaze with non-dairy or ice cream or whipped cream. DO IT.

Enjoy!

Easy Vegan Fruit Crisp

Prep Time:  10 minutes
Cook Time: 30-40 minutes, but need at least 1 hour to freeze
Servings: 2, easily doubled

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups fruit (I used peaches today, frozen berries are also fab)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar -1/2 tablespoon lemon juice -3/4 cup oats -1/4 cup flour (I recommend almond or oat, AP is fine too)
  • 1/4 cup brown or coconut sugar (regular will also be okay)
  • 1/4 cup softened non-dairy butter
  • cinnamon
  • dash salt

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Chop fruit into even pieces, add lemon juice, sugar, and toss. Place in well-greased baking pan.
  3. Combine oats, flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl. Mix. Cube softened butter and mix in.
  4. Cover fruit with oat mixture and bake for 30-45 minutes until fruit is tender and top is crispy.
  5. Serve with non-dairy ice cream or coconut whipped cream!

Weekend Eats Recap: November 20-23rd, NYC

So I’ve never done one of these posts before, where I recap what I ate for a few days. A lot of bloggers do it every day, or post weekly updates on every meal they ate that week. Personally I love to read these and I have no idea why. Why is it so darn interesting what someone you don’t even know in real life ate for a week or a day? I don’t know. Maybe because you can get inspired for new ideas based on something they ate? Or inspired to try a new restaurant or cuisine? I do not have the answer to such questions, but I thought I would try out the whole what-I-ate thing once on this blog and see how it went.

my old stomping grounds !

my old stomping grounds ! #nyu

So heres what I ate from the evening of Thursday, November 20th-Sunday November 23rd while I was back home in good old NYC. Per usual, I ate a lot. I eat constantly. This might be why I’ve never done one of these posts before. I snack so often that I forget to take pics of like 80% of what I eat (yes, all my obnoxious food-instagramming is only a tiny portion of my actual overall food consumption). Anyways, here are my eats for those 3 days in photos and words. Honestly everything I had was great. And it made me excited and eager and anxious to return! NYC, I’ll be back soon ;-). In the meantime, here are my EATS:

Thursday, November 20th, 2014:

Breakfast:

  • 2 slices Angelic Bakehouse Sprouted Raisin Bread (THE BEST bread EVER – has replaced my Ezikel habit…seriously try it; it’s softer and more delicious, and it’s local to my hometown, Milwaukee, although it is available at Whole Foods nationwide) + almond butter and a sliced banana. I also had coffee with soy creamer and chamomile tea on my way to work.

Snack:

  • a sliced pear with cinnamon and almond butter

Lunch:

  • Leftover spaghetti squash marinara, small salad, veggie burger on more Angelic Bakery bread with sriracha, and a big old glass of almond-coconut milk (trying to use things up before leaving for the weekend).

Snack on the plane from MKE–> NYC:

  • half a Kashi peanut butter bar, an apple, a banana, half an almond butter sandwich on more Angelic Bakery bread (#addicted)

Dinner:

  • Beyond Sushi takeout. I landed late at night (like 9:00pm) and got dropped off at the 14th street location to pick up sushi for my friend and I. I had the November Roll of the month, which had Sweet Persimmons, Roasted allspice Turnips, grilled Heriocot Verts, and was topped with Seaweed Salad. It wasn’t my favorite roll of the month (that would go to the one they had in August), but it was delicious none-the-less and fun to try Persimmons, which I’ve been meaning to give a whirl for a while. I also had my go-to favorite roll. The Sweet Tree, with Sweet Potatoes, Avocado, Alfafa sprouts, and 6-grain rice. AMAZING AS ALWAYS. I love you so much, Beyond Sushi.
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November Roll of the Month

The Sweet Tree Roll

The Sweet Tree Roll

Snack:

  • Remaining half of Kashi bar + a few bites of chocolate, after which I face-planted into a pillow and slept!

Friday, November 21th, 2014:

I woke up early and although I usually immediately eat and drink coffee, I was sleeping at a friends and didn’t have a kitchen to use. I had a meeting in Brooklyn at 10 and decided to take a train from Union Square and swing by the Farmer’s market on the way. I ended up grabbing stuff at Whole Foods, cause I saw it as a one-stop place for coffee and food and was running short on time.

Breakfast:

  • Coffee with soy milk, a big-old whole-wheat NYC bagel with peanut butter, and a giant organic Gala apple which was one of the best apples I’ve had in a while. I had to eat this breakfast on the train because I was so low on time, and I felt super obnoxious being that person. I figured it would be no biggie but the train ended up being SUPER packed, but my blood sugar was super low so I wallowed in a corner and ate my apple and half my bagel. Once I could see/think/again, the train was at the Wall Street stop, and like 90% of the people got off. And then I had a whole train car basically to myself to eat the remaining half of my bagel in peace. Lol. #alittlelate

Lunch:

  • After running around Brookyln and back to Manhattan and meeting a friend for coffee quickly, I ended up not eating until around 3 pm, by which time, I happened to be near the Union Square Whole Foods again. I was so hungry and grumpy and indecisive of what to eat, and I remembered I had a $50 Whole Foods giftcard on me so I opted to hit the EPIC Whole Foods hot/cold food bar for lunch. It was perfect because I had no idea what I was in the mood for and the millions of options could all end up in my bowl together. This is my favorite way to eat. Buffet styles are the best, cause I like to try EVERYTHING. I spent $12 on my mixture of salads and grain salads and tofu dishes and falafel chunks and dumplings. I also grabbed a sprouted roll and 3 Mast Brother’s bars and an unsweetened iced tea to use up my $50 giftcard. #freelunch sort of. #winning. I ate upstairs overlooking the park and charged my phone and sat down for a while and people watched. It ended up being perfect.
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this + a million other things at Whole Foods. YUM.

Snack:

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Snack #2:

  • A mini cupcake from Magnolia Bakery (they have minis now !!!)

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Dinner:

  • I met two of my favorite people/friends Joanna and Cassie for dinner at Peacefood, a vegan restaurant in the village. It was late, I had walked 15 miles that day according to my iPhone tracker, and I was HUNGRY. Like, I needed a sandwich hungry. I ordered the Vegan Cheeseburger with Cashew Cheese, Avocado, Caramelized Onions, Sprouts, Tomato, Lettuce, and some drippy delicious sauce. I inhaled it.
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Vegan Cheeseburger at Peacefood NYC. SO GOOD.

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best sandwich of my life. i inhaled it. 

  • We had dessert at Peacefood, too. Strawberry Shortcake and a giant Chocolate Chip Cookie Sandwich exploding with frosting. The 3 of us split these two. SO GOOD.

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Saturday, November 22th, 2014:

Breakfast:

  • Shocking fact (not): I ended up leaving my purse at Peacefood, so I headed back in that direction early the next morning. The nearest subway station is Union Square, so I ended up, once again, grabbing some food there. I had the BEST Vegan Blueberry Muffin like, ever and another organic Gala Apple (it was just too good the day before). I have to recreate those muffins. I think they used spelt flour, and I think that did the trick. I ate that on my way to pick up purse and visited a friend who works at an East Village coffee shop, where I got some free coffee with soy milk and some free granola with soymilk. Yummies.

Snack:

  • banana purchased at a bodega #nyc and half a Kashi peanut butter bar

Lunch:

  • I ended up NEEDING food when I was at Dominque Ansel with friends later that day so I ordered real food there, which I’ve never done before. I had a delicious salad with Endive, Sprouts, Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Pear, Caramelized Pecans, and a Truffle Vinaigrette. The salad was delicious and the Roasted Sweet Potatoes and caramelized nuts were so flavorful that I, thankfully, didn’t need that vinaigrette. Which was nice, because to me, that dressing had a very strong flavor, and was a bit too much for me. I like truffle, but only in small amounts. I found the dressing a bit overpowering, but enjoyed the salad nonetheless.
Salad at Dominque Ansel Bakery

salad at Dominque Ansel Bakery

  • I also had a DKA from Dominique Ansel:
DKA!

DKA!

  • And took a selfie while eating lunch with Dominique in the background. I’m really creepy. Whatever. I idolize him.

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Dinner:

  • I met up with another amazing friend for dinner. We ended up at Peacefood again, which was honestly fine by me. The dinner was early and I’d eaten lunch and a pastry a few hours earlier, so I wanted something lighter. I ordered the Asian Greens Salad with Jicima, Tempeh, Carrots, Greens, and some delicious Peanut Ginger dressing. I’ve ordered this salad many times, and it’s always fresh, flavorful, and light-yet satisfying. It’s still my favorite salad there…minus perhaps when they have the Protein packed Kale Salad on the specials menu.

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  • I wasn’t going to get dessert cause I had just had some, but then my friend ordered carrot cake and I ended up eating half of it because it was so fucking good. (Sorry Olivia…) Great meal, great conversation, great friend. 🙂
  • In other news, Amanda Seyfried (aka Karen from Mean Girls) was dining near us. I tried snapping one creeper pic as I sat down, but it was blurry and I felt rude attempting again, and was also soon distracted by food.

Bedtime Snack:

  • remaining half of Kashi peanut butter bar, more chocolate

Sunday, November 23rd, 2014:

Breakfast:

  • I grabbed some trendy pour-over coffee (with soy milk) at a hipster-y coffee place with my friend Cassie, and ate a banana and an apple and half another Vegan Blueberry Muffin to fuel me up for the day.

Lunch:

  • I met my friend Minhye for lunch at Chelsea Market. I tried to talk myself into eating something “different” but desperately wanted Beyond Sushi again. So I got it. I got a Mighy Mushroom Wrap and another Sweet Tree Roll. I’m not usually into mushrooms, but this wrap is honestly amazing. I get it without the mushroom-y sauce on top and ask for an extra hot sauce. It’s literally so good I almost cried eating it. It was randomly VERY nice out so we ate outside upstairs on The Highline. It was awesome.
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Beyond Sushi on The Highline

  • And went for a stroll. The Highline Park is now fully open, and totally awesome. WALK IT!

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Snack at the Airport:

  • Plane delays = grumpy/hungry me. I had a Dunkin Donuts iced coffee with soy milk, a whole-wheat bagel with vegan spread, and highly overpriced apple and banana. #airportfood. I also ended up eating an Enjoy Life Caramel Apple Bar and a Cashew Cookie Larabar that I found in my backpack. I love finding food in my backpack. What a win. I also had some tea and a mini bag of mini pretzels on the plane.

Snack at Home:

  • I got home around 11:30 and needed a second dinner before showering and going to bed. I ate a bunch of veggies with dip and crackers and another veggie burger with an Angelic Bakery whole-wheat wrap and hot sauce/ketchup and chopped lettuce. I then downed a couple spoonfuls of peanut butter and some almond coconut milk and called it a night.
my helper.

my helper.

So that’s it. All my eats last weekend. Lots of fruit and granola bars and carbs and veggies. Like 90% vegan. Pretty standard to my typical eating, but also more eating out than usual. In case you care, which you probably don’t. But it was kind of fun to recap it. Maybe I’ll do it again. Maybe not. That’s sort of the fun of having your own blog. You can experiment. I wonder if anyone is still reading. Doubtful. If you are, leave a comment below and I’ll send you a special surprise. Lol. Have a good day!!

xoxo,

K-Bakes

Homemade (healthified) Reese’s Puffs-ish Cereal

The other day I had a ratchet craving for Reese’s Puffs cereal. Maybe it’s because I spent all day hosting kiddie’s birthday parties at a froyo shop, where I watch wee little ones pile on every fluorescent color and artificially flavored goodie onto their mountains of frozen yogurt, but lately I’ve been craving some #tbt nostogolia noms.

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You know what I mean. Things you don’t really eat anymore but still want once in a while. Like Fun-Dips. Frosted animal crackers. Lunchables and fruit snacks and Capri Suns. And dessert-y cereal like Capt’n Crunch and Kix and Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Or in my most recent case, Reese’s Puffs. I don’t generally a lot of eat sugary cereal, though (more of a plain grain girl in the morning), so I didn’t have any Reese’s Puffs chillin in pantry. So instead of going to the store <5 minutes from my house to buy some like a normal human being, I was like “I’ll make my own!”

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…because that’s way less of a hassle. NOT. Whatever. Sometimes I don’t really bake crazy, weird, complicated, or bizarre stuff for any reason other than I enjoy the challenge. Baking has always been my hobby since I could hold a spoon, so I pretty much live to create unnecessary mini-projects for myself, like make homemade marshmallows and graham crackers, and apparently Reese’s Puffs.

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Lately I’ve been intrigued by homemade cereal anyways, so I figured this craving was a convenient excuse to give it a whirl. These babies are yes, tasty, and yes, far more work than purchasing a box of cereal at the store. But they’re healthier. And you can actually eat more than a bowl without feeling a sugar-glaze on your entire mouth/throat. Also, if you make these, you can say you fucking made Reese’s Puffs. Which sounds totally cool and/or like you REALLY need a life depending on who you speak to. I’d also like to publicly acknowledge that these kind of look like turds or weird rabbit food. I’m okay with that. Now let’s move on.

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In summary, these are a bit putsy, but yummy. I really just like them as a dry snack. Zipped in a baggie they’d go great in your backpack for a study boost, and/or in your apron as you work 3 back-to-back birthday parties at your local froyo shop. Not that I speak from experience. They make a great addition to yogurt, too. Puff puff. Crunch crunch. Nom nom.


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Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 10-20 minutes
Level: Easy (but putsy)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup flours of your choice (I used a mix of whole-wheat and oat flour)
  • 1/2 cup almond flour (If you don’t have this, substitute with a higher-protein flour, like oat or bread. If you have none of these, all-purpose will suffice!)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • dash of salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 – 1/3 cup honey and/or maple syrup

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Place flours, cocoa powder, sugar, salt, and baking soda into a bowl and mix.

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3. Place peanut butter into a small bowl and microwave for 30-60 seconds until warm and melty and yummy. Pour honey and/or maple syrup into the microwave and give it a nice stir until you have a gooey, sticky peanut butter mixture.

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4. Place flour mixture into a food processor and pulse ingredients together. Meanwhile, slowly pour the peanut butter mixture throw the funnel-thing and a sticky dough should eventually form. You may need to add more honey and/or maple syrup. And/or melted peanut butter if that’s what you’re more into. You just need to make sure the dough is sticky-ish. The dough should be a little dry, but moist enough to shape and hold together.

5. Transfer to a bowl and mix if necessary. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll dough into tiny Reese’s-Puff sized balls.

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6. Place onto parchment paper. Pop into the oven for 10-14 minutes, until hard and crunchy and slightly lighter in color.

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7. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Pop into your mouth directly, or enjoy with milk of choice in a bowl. Goes well with bananas. And/or mixed into your regular breakfast cereal to #shakeitup. And yes, they do make your milk taste extra gooooood at the end ;-).

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Homemade Twix + Homemade Almond Joy

As long as I’m rolling out candy recipes, (Kit Kats earlier today, Take 5 Bars with Graham Cracker and Sea Salt yesterday,) I thought I’d also post my homemade Twix and homemade Almond Joy bars. These were also part of my DIY Candies piece for NYU Spoon and were featured on The Daily Meal. I gave Kit-Kats their own post because Kit-Kats are a godly food in my eyes so I felt they deserved it. I’m combining Twix and Almond Joy because they’re also in my top 5 favs, but I’m also kind of lazy right now and I think my pup has to poop so I’m anxious to finish this post so we can go on a walk. And you know what? My blog my rules. *whip crack* Anywhoo, I feel like everyone loves Twix. I do too. I also feel like a lot of people think of Almond Joy as “old people” candy. It’s not. It’s great. Don’t judge my love of it and think I’m an old grannie. Even though ever since I turned 22, I’ve been going to bed progressively earlier. It’s fine trust me, I just like my bed a lot.

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I feel like it is my responsibility to clarify, while I categorize all these homemade candies as “easy,” I should also mention that they’re all putsy. (ie: you got to have a bit of patience because it’s a lot of repetitive handling and spreading of chocolate etc). But spreading chocolate and being putsy is fun when you get delicious end results. At least in my eyes. Give these a whirl. And just like the Take 5 Bars, I reccomend Sea Salt. Also that Real Salt brand Sea Salt is dank monies. You should buy it. It’s like $6 for that bag, but so, so, so worth it. Last night I ate some food just so I could have a vessel for the salt. I do that a lot with hot sauce too. And salsa. And then I need a sugary chaser, like these bars. Life is all about balance, people!

Twix:


Baker_Twix_Ingredients

 

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:
1 small box butter shortbread cookies
1 9 ounce bag baking caramels
1 12 ounce bag chocolate chips
sea salt (optional)

Directions:

1. Place parchment paper or aluminum foil onto a large plate or baking sheet, and place it next to your work space.

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2. Unwrap caramels and place in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high in intervals of 30 seconds until melted, stirring between each interval.

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2. Spread caramel onto shortbread cookies using a knife. Place each caramel covered cookie onto the prepared sheet. Sprinkle with sea salt if you’re fancy.

3. Allow caramel to cool on cookies. This should take about 20 minutes.

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4. Empty the chocolate chips into a large microwave safe bowl. Place in the microwave and microwave in increments of 30 seconds, stirring after each increment, until chocolate is melted. Be careful not to burn chocolate.

5. Use a knife to spread chocolate on all four sides of the caramel coated shortbread cookies and place back onto prepared pan.

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6. Place cookies in the refrigerator until chocolate has set, about 30-60 minutes.

 

Almond Joy

Baker_Almond

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:
4 cups sweetened flaked coconut
7 ounces sweetened condensed milk (half of a small can)
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 12 ounce bag chocolate chips
1/2 cup raw almonds

Directions:

1. Line a 9×9 pan with parchment paper or grease with butter or nonstick spray.

2. Pour sweetened condensed milk into a medium sized bowl and add powdered sugar. Mix until smooth and well combined. Fold in sweetened coconut.

3. Pour coconut mixture into prepared pan. Spread and pat it down evenly with a spatula.

4. Place almonds in rows on top of the coconut mixture. Press each one into the coconut just a lightly, until each nut is about half submerged in coconut.

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5. Place pan in the refrigerator for about an hour until coconut is set and firm.

6. Grease a sharp knife with cooking spray. Cut the coconut mixture in rows following the pattern made by the almonds, and then into individual 2-inch bites.

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7. Place parchment paper or aluminum foil onto a large plate or baking sheet, and place it next to your work space.

8. Empty the chocolate chips into a large microwave safe bowl. Place in the microwave and microwave in increments of 30 seconds, stirring after each increment, until chocolate is melted. Be careful not to burn chocolate.

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9. Using hands, dip each 2-inch bite in chocolate and use a knife to coat chocolate evenly. Place on lined baking sheet.

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10. Place almond joys in fridge for 30-60 minutes until chocolate is firm. Keep cold until serving. Nom it up and defend these beauties as young AND old person candy.

 

 

DIY Cronuts link (a recipe by me) && an explanation of my disappearance

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direct link to recipe here

hey everyone!

sorry i have vanished from my blog for quite a while. like has been crazy. once school got going, i ended up kind of tossing my blog to a backburner on my priority list and quite honestly even forgot about it for a while. but i plan to update it a bunch this winter break, and hopefully not to neglect the poor thing from now on. i’ve been home from school for a few days now and have literally been baking non.stop. cookies. more cookies. even more cookies (can never have too many cookies, right?). italian rainbow cookies (my fav – swoon). cookies for my dogs and my sister’s dogs (damn so many cookies!). cakes. candy. barks. eclairs. and i got a buche de noel on the way. so now i have quite a bit of inspiration for some posts. on top of that, i have a bunch of stuff i did over the semester that i can slap up here over the coming weeks. 

the semester was awesome. busy, but awesome. i finally felt like i’m at a place in my education where i enjoy all of the classes i am taking, and it was such a thrill to find enjoyment in doing my schoolwork, and actually enjoy lectures and reading. 

in case you are wondering, here is what i took:

  • Intro to Food Science
  • Human Anatomy (at a graduate level…it was a bit of a challenge but i ended up doing it anyway!)
  • Diet Planning & Assessment (a nutrition class, part of the DPD sequence) 
  • Lab in Psychopathology
  • Social Psychology

so that was it. five classes (one a graduate science class that met at 8am). i also wrote all semester long for NYU Spoon. it was great. all of it. especially NYU Spoon. i don’t think those kids realize how humbled i feel to be a part of it. they all seem so legit (journalism majors, working at E! and CNN, etc) and here i am, just some premed (although i’ve been having doubts about med school – more in a future post) and nutrition minor like “oh hey, i like food.” but whatever. i’m thrilled to be a part of it.

which brings me to my first post. 

here is a link to my original article on NYU Spoon on how to make cronuts

truly, it’s not as hard as it sounds. sure, it takes a long time and its repetitive. but it’s not, ya know, hard. give it a whirl and impress your family or someone special for christmas or new years breakfast this season. personally, i have a taste aversion to donuts, so even thought i knew these were good, it was hard to enjoy them, but everyone else seemed to go CRAZY for these babies. and i hope you will too!

happy holidays everyone! and hello again blog world!