Category Archives: Product Reviews

CI tastes tests instant espresso for baking

Instant coffee is a great ingredient to have in the kitchen pantry if you like to bake. Many recipes, especially recipes involving chocolate, call for either a small amount of brewed coffee or simply for a bit of instant coffee to be added to highlight the darker chocolate notes in the recipe. It’s very convenient to be able to whip up a strong cup of ... Read More »

Trader Joe’s Macarons à la Parisienne, reviewed

Trader Joe's Macarons, close-up

French macarons are a little bit more difficult to make than your average chocolate chip cookie. They’re not by any means impossible, but the light meringue cookies take a bit of time and patience to bake and sandwich together. The finished cookies are well-worth the wait because of their lovely texture, with a crisp shell and creamy center, and how flavorful they are. Another thing ... Read More »

Pillsbury Easy Frost Frosting, reviewed

Pillsbury Easy Frost, reviewed

I was pretty skeptical when I tried Pillsbury Easy Frost Frostings because I just don’t care for store-bought frostings too much. They may be easy to use, and it is certainly convenient to have a can in the back of the pantry in case of a cake-frosting emergency, but they tend to be flat and artificial tasting. They don’t compare to the flavor of a quick ... Read More »

Trader Joe’s Buttermilk Biscuits, reviewed (refrigerated)

Trader Joe's Buttermilk Biscuits

The last time I tried biscuits from Trader Joe’s, it was a disaster. Not only were the baking directions on the package terrible, the biscuits looked and tasted bad no matter what you did. Often, TJ’s stocks very good ready-make products, but perhaps bake-from-frozen biscuits were not the way to go. I was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt where biscuits were ... Read More »

Smuckers PlateScapers Vanilla, reviewed

Smuckers PlateScapers, plated

A few years ago, there was a dessert plate-garnishing craze in restaurants. Whipped cream, chocolate swirls, caramel shards, confectioners sugar and coulis in a dozen different flavors were heaped onto plates to the point where they almost obscured the actual dessert! Fortunately, there has been a big scaling back and now plate garnishes tend to be limited to things that actually complement the flavor of ... Read More »

Pepperidge Farms Puff Pastry Shells, reviewed

Pepperidge Farms Puff Pastry Shells

Puff pastry is a very easy product to work with, which is one of the reasons that it is a staple in many bakers’ freezers. It helps that it has a wonderfully light, crispy and flaky texture and a buttery flavor, too. Homemade puff pastry is great when you have a bit of time to make it, but store-bought is the way to go most ... Read More »

CI taste tests ground cinnamon

CI taste tests ground cinnamon

At one time, you could search for cinnamon on the spice aisle at the grocery store and see just a plainly market bottle staring back at you. No country of origin listed, no special variety mentioned. In most stores these days, the selection looks quite a bit different, with various brands and types of cinnamon to choose from.  Is there a difference between the brand ... Read More »

Pillbury Simply Peanut Butter Cookies, reviewed

Pillbury Simply Peanut Butter Cookies

Homemade cookies just about always beat store bought, prepackaged cookie doughs. They’re more fun to make – especially if you’re looking for an activity to do with your kids – they’re tastier and they don’t have any strange ingredients, like preservatives, in them. The only advantage of the prepacked doughs is that they’re quicker and more convenient if you absolutely don’t have time to make ... Read More »

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