Anyone want s’more coffee?

29 08 2011

When it comes to coffee, I’m kind of a snob. Hold that cup o’ Joe; I’ll take a grande iced double-dirty chai-tea latte with whole milk, please and thank you.

But despite my apparently snobbish ways, I’m also an awkward mix of city-meets-country. I love the outdoors. I love camping. And my favorite part of camping is the marshmallows. If I had my way, every camping trip would involve jumbo marshmallows and a lot of extra chocolate. But I never get my way.

Anyway, you’re probably wondering what all this is about. What do coffee and marshmallows have in common? (Aside from the fact that they’re both roastable. Yes, that is now a word.)

It all started with a very nice e-mail titled “Super-caffeinated Marshmallows in 4 Flavors.” I’m pretty sure that wins the award for most intriguing title of any e-mail I’ve ever received. Anyway, it turns out that there’s this company called Caffex, and they specialize in the fusion of coffee and marshmallows. They asked me to review their product, which I think was actually very brave, because I’m not exactly the most tactful person I know.

But I was actually more than a little excited at the prospect of caffeinated marshmallows. (Even more excited than I was about low-fat Spam — imagine!) Not only am I a coffee snob, I’m kind of an addict. OK, I am an addict. And as you already know, I think marshmallows are the best. They help me release my inner five-year-old.

As good as caffeinated, coffee-flavored marshmallows sounded, I was admittedly still a little dubious. I like to drink my coffee. It goes back to that snob thing. I do not eat coffee. If the break-room coffee at work has been sitting in the carafe for a couple of days and has gotten a little squishy and … well, marshmallow-like, I leave it there. Common sense.

My misgivings about eating coffee were alleviated a little when I received the little sample package in the mail, with four individually wrapped, brightly packaged brown marshmallows inside. They didn’t look so bad. They were actually kind of cute. Cute, edible coffee. I could handle that.

CaffeMallows (as they’re called) come in four flavors: MoccaMallows JavaMallows, CoffeeMallows and TeaMallows. Yes, tea. That one, I wasn’t so sure about. Tea for me is kind of like vodka for some people. I don’t do tea unless it’s iced, heavily raspberry flavored and full of enough sugar to make me forget I’m drinking tea.

When I unwrapped each package and laid the little brown mallows out like so (so I could take a picture, just for all of you), I was suddenly not so sure again how I felt about eating these.

They look much more appetizing on the website, like squishy brownies or something. Arizona heat does not do nice things to marshmallows. To be frank, they looked like what would happen about 24 hours after my dog (if I had a dog) ate a bad burrito. To be fair, I don’t think that’s what they looked like originally. Curse you, 112-degree weather.

I tasted the marshmallows individually, starting with the MoccaMallow (the flavor of which was mocha, if you couldn’t guess). It surprised me, though not in a bad way. I thought it would be a lot sweeter. I mean, it’s technically still a marshmallow, right? But it had the bitter taste of a black cup o’ Joe with some (real, non-fake-sugary) chocolate mixed in. Let me remind you that my usual coffee delights are the barista’s equivalent of fruity drinks. This was the real stuff. And it was strong.

That being said, if you’re like most people I know and you drink coffee because you actually like the taste of coffee (by itself or with very little extra stuff thrown in), then you’ll love this. Because it really does taste like coffee. And deep down inside, past all that snobbiness, I love the taste of coffee, too. It just takes some getting past the initial shock.

I moved on to the JavaMallow, which was espresso-flavored. I had high hopes for this one. My big Christmas gift last year from my boyfriend was an espresso maker, if that gives you any idea of my feelings toward espresso.

No disappointment with this mallow — it tastes exactly like espresso. And — even better — it was a little sweeter than the mocha. New favorite.

Time for the CafeMallow (coffee-flavored). Turns out it was really similar to the espresso (even to my coffee-snob taste buds), but after some chewing and contemplating, I could tell the difference. Not as bold, a little sweeter … and a new favorite.

Teatime. I wasn’t so sure about this one.

Maybe it was the fact that I’d just taken three large bites of different types of coffee marshmallows, or maybe it was some sort of mental thing … or maybe it was just that good. But whatever the case, the TeaMallow is officially my favorite. Slightly sweet, only a little bitter, kind of herbal … tea-like, basically, only it made the flavor of tea actually palatable. (Sorry, all you tea drinkers. I really don’t like tea.)

So, there you have it. In a shocking upset, the TeaMallow is, in my opinion, the best out of the four. If you like your coffee strong and bitter, go for the MoccaMallow. Not as bitter and a little sweeter, the JavaMallow. Genuinely coffee-like, the CoffeeMallow. And even if you don’t like tea, you really should try the TeaMallow.

Oh, and also, I’m pretty sure the caffeine worked. Because I haven’t had my daily dose of coffee, and it’s 5 in the afternoon, and I feel just fine. Which is a sort of miracle, really.

The bottom line: Don’t expect CaffeMallows to be as sweet as regular marshmallows, but if you’re looking for a fluffy alternative to a cup of coffee — something that actually tastes like a cup of coffee (or tea) — give these a shot. They’re actually kind of fun to eat.

Next step for me: Buy a package of TeaMallows and make tea s’mores. Oh, the possibilities …


Ingredients: Each marshmallow is different, and I didn’t want to make your eyes fall out of your face by typing it all up. Suffice it to say they contain sugar and real coffee.
Price: Varies, but a variety four-pack is $7.99 if you order off the website.
Pros: Two words: squishy coffee. I mean, really, can it get much better?
Cons: This is really probably more of a pro, but if you’re expecting sugar, change your expectations. Oh, and also … don’t let them get hot (i.e. be outside for more than two minutes in Arizona). Because then they’ll start looking a bit like dog poop.

Breakfast on a stick

5 08 2011

Well, this is awkward. I really have no idea how to start this, because I feel like “Oh, hello” or “I’m back” would be cliched and also a little obvious. I guess the best thing to do would be to apologize for that little (or not-so-little) unannounced hiatus. Work and classes have entirely devoured my life and probably will continue to do so, but I promise I’ll keep this blog going. It just may not be as often as I’d like.

Today’s featured delicacy is something I’ve had my eye on for at least the past few weeks when I’ve been doing my grocery shopping at Fry’s. You know how you go to the mall and you see that puppy in the pet-store window and you want it so badly it’s all you can do not to think about it and you have dreams at night of playing with the puppy and it drives you crazy until you finally break down and go buy the puppy?

Yeah, this was nothing like that.

Every time I saw Jimmy Dean Pancakes & Sausage on a Stick (artificial-blueberry flavored, no less — note the “artificial”), I wanted to cry or gag or maybe both. How can such an atrocity make it onto the grocery-store shelf? And how on earth can the store keep selling it unless people are actually buying it? What a gruesome mystery.

The other day, it occurred to me that maybe instead of being revolted every time I passed these things, it was time to buy a box of them and try one for myself. And then blog about the experience, because this poor blog desperately needs some sort of jolt to bring it back to life.

So I burned over 7 bucks on a box of frozen treats from hell. I hope you’re happy (all five of you who read this).

I admit I had a slightly (OK, very) negative mindset before trying one of these would-be blueberry corndogs. I’m sorry, but I just don’t understand the concept. I know a lot of people who like to mix their breakfast food. I see family, friends and random people in restaurants (whom I watch eat, yes) do it all the time: They cut up their sausage and mix it into their scrambled eggs, with maybe a bit of maple syrup thrown in for good measure. I call these people Breakfast Multitaskers because the impression I get is that they’re in such a hurry that they can’t enjoy their breakfast foods individually but have to mash them all together.

Of all the things I’ve seen people mix, however, I’ve never, ever seen blueberry pancakes with sausage. I mean, isn’t it just common sense to keep those two things far away from each other?

When I was a kid, I was of the devout belief that food was meant to be eaten separately. My ham could not touch my potatoes or neither was edible anymore — and leave the cheese off my macaroni, please and thank you. As I grew up, I realized some food actually does taste better if you mix it together. But there’s a limit. Sausage wrapped in blueberry pancakes crosses way over that line.

Before I took a bite into the piping-hot corndog-esque breakfast food (the frozen ‘dog has to be heated up for precisely 50 to 55 seconds, by the way), I tried to clear my mind. (I call this breakfast yoga.) No bias, no revulsion (I mostly managed to quell my gag reflex) … just open-mindedness. Maybe it wouldn’t be that bad.

It was that bad.

I took a generous chomp into it and got a mouthful of rubbery blueberry pancake (which I could smell from across the room when it was in the microwave, by the way), and then the sausage made its way to my taste buds and all I could think was, “Why, God, why?” Over and over. “Why, God, why?”

Some things were never, ever meant to be mixed. I stand by that. Colorful packaging and almost-appetizing blueberry smells are not enough to convince me otherwise. Sweet blueberries, rubbery pancake coating, salty, chunky sausage … just no. Something is very wrong with that.

This is another one of those foods where I go, “Who eats this? Someone must, because the store’s still selling it.” I don’t understand. Maybe it’s the perfect to-go snack for Breakfast Multitaskers with dulled taste buds (or wide-open minds). But it’s just not for me.

I love blueberry pancakes. I like sausage if I eat it with (certain) other things. But I will continue to keep my blueberry pancakes far away from my breakfast sausage. And I think I’ll stick with eating them off a plate.

(P.S. I now have a box in my freezer full of 11 pancake-covered sausages on a stick. Any takers?)

Pancake batter: Enriched wheat flour, water, sugar, artificial flavored blueberry bits (invert sugar, sugar, water, wheat flour, algin, potassium sorbate, artificial flavor, FD&C red dye No. 3 and blue dye No. 1); contains 2% or less of: soybean oil, artificial flavor, salt, dextrose, leavening, dried egg yolk soy lecithin, nonfat dry milk, cooked in vegetable oil. Fully cooked maple sausage link made with pork & turkey, BHG & citric acid added to help protect flavor: pork, mechanically separated turkey, water, sugar; contains 2% or less of: soy protein concentrate, sodium lactate, salt, dextrose, sodium phosphates, spices, natural and artificial maple flavor, monosodium glutamate, sodium diacetate, natural flavorings, BHT, citric acid. Contians egg, milk, soy and wheat.
Price: $7.41 at Fry’s.
You know, it didn’t smell half bad when it was cooking in the microwave. You could probably use these as makeshift air fresheners. Or you could just bake blueberry muffins, because those have the same effect and they actually taste good.
Three main points come to mind. One, it’s a crumbly sausage on a stick wrapped in a spongy blueberry pancake. Two, the ingredients list. ‘Nuff said. Three, the package says the sausage is “made with pork and turkey.” Parts is parts, I guess.

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