Monthly Archives: July 2013

Cookies (Not the High-Tech Kind)

Cookies from the Union Square Cafe restaurant

Cookies from the Union Square Cafe restaurant

Who doesn’t like a good cookie?  Cookies are fun to eat, tasty, and sometimes even delicious.  And snacking on a few cookies doesn’t seem nearly as decadent as wolfing down an entire slice of cake.

But what about encountering thousands of homemade cookies?  Well, if you’re lucky enough to be invited to a wedding reception in western Pennsylvania, or parts of Ohio, or West Virginia, you might be tempted by cookie tables.  The bride’s relatives start the cookie baking weeks or even months in advance.   To make sure guests don’t go through sugar deprivation the next day, they may be provided with take-out containers so they can enjoy left-over cookies.

Chocolate Chunk Cookie from Insomnia Cookies

Insomnia Cookies’ Chocolate Chunk Cookie

What if you’re struck with a cookie craving later at night and you don’t feel like baking?  If you live near one of the thirty-two locations of Insomnia Cookies, order online and get your cookies delivered.  Of the many cookie varieties offered by Insomnia Cookies, chocolate chunk is the best-selling standard-size cookie and S’mores is the most popular large-size cookie.  Seth Berkowitz founded Insomnia Cookies from his dorm room at the University of Pennsylvania.  He wanted more late night food options than what was available so he began baking and delivering warm cookies while still a student.

Margarita Sandwich Cookies from Vanilla Bean Unique Cookies

Margarita Sandwich Cookies from Vanilla Bean Unique Cookies

I first tasted Margarita Sandwich Cookies from Vanilla Bean Unique Cookies at the Fancy Food Show.  (See the Day 2 of the Summer Fancy Food Show Posting.)  Since I’m not a fan of Tequila, I didn’t think I would like these cookies.  Boy was I wrong!  These shortbread sandwich cookies are sweet, slightly tart, and slightly salty.  The founders, Debbie Smith and Sandra Wharton, said Margarita Sandwich Cookies were developed as a result of a slight mistake.  They were in the process of creating Cherry Chip Cordial cookies and realized they did not like the Cherry Chip Cordial Cookie in a shortbread form.  Debbie and Sandra then thought about other unique shortbread flavor combinations that would work and the Margarita Sandwich Cookie was born.

Let’s hear it for cookies!


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Happy National Ice Cream Month!

a trio of ice cream cones

July is National Ice Cream Month and the third Sunday in July (this year it’s July 21) is National Ice Cream Day.  In 1984 President Reagan designated these holidays.  I’m still smarting over forgetting National Doughnut Day, but I digress.

We sure like our ice cream.  Better Homes & Gardens reports that 24 pounds is the amount of ice cream an average American eats each year. And according to research conducted by MarketLine and reported by the International Dairy Association, the U.S. ice cream industry generated revenue of $10 billion in 2010. 

What flavors are we enjoying?  These are the top five:

● Vanilla

● Chocolate

● Cookies & Cream

● Strawberry

●Chocolate Chip Mint

Peanut butter ice cream is becoming more popular.  A “Death by Peanut Butter” ice cream was voted best new flavor at the National Ice Cream Retailers Association Annual Meeting.  In a list of fast growing ice cream flavors, compiled by Dataessential MenuTrends and reported by Nation’s Restaurant News, peanut butter was number one.  While I haven’t noticed peanut butter ice cream, a number of ice cream producers are offering peanut butter flavors:

● Graeter’s: Peanut Butter Chip

● Haagen-Dazs: Peanut Butter Pie; Chocolate Peanut Butter

● Three Twins Ice Cream: Chocolate Peanut Butter

● Edy’s: Slow Churned Peanut Butter Cup; Grand Triple Chocolate Peanut Butter Sundae

Trivia Note: Edy’s Ice Cream is marketed as Dreyer’s Ice Cream west of the Rockies and in Texas.  The two brand names honor both founders, William Dreyer and Joseph Edy.

● Talenti: Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup (this is gelato, not ice cream)

And since we brought up gelato, this might be a good time to define “ice cream” and “gelato.”

Ice Cream: A mixture of dairy ingredients and ingredients for sweetening and flavoring.  By federal law, ice cream must contain at least 10% milkfat.

Gelato:  An Italian­-style ice cream that typically uses milk instead of cream and has less air and milkfat than traditional ice cream.  That’s why gelato is dense and intensely flavored.

One of my favorite ice cream flavors was Carob (manufactured by Haagen-Dazs).   Sadly, Carob was retired, but I’m consoled by the incredible variety of high-quality ice cream available now.

Hope everyone enjoys ice cream in July (and throughout the year for that matter)!ice cream cone with nuts and chocolate

Day 2 of the Summer Fancy Food Show

Summer Fancy Food Show Logo
On the second day of the Specialty Food Association’s Fancy Food Show, I realize there are a lot of products based on ginger:
● Lark Fine Foods’ Mighty Gingers – part of its Cookies for Grownups Line
● Theo Chocolate’s Gingerbread Spice Chocolate Bars
● Molasses Spice Cookies (with Ginger) offered by Grey Ghost Bakery
● Stonewall Kitchen’s Gingerbread Syrup

The other thing I notice are brownies – not just traditional brownies – but crunchy brownie products: Sheila G’s Brownie Brittle and Seth Greenberg’s Authentic Brownie Crunch.

Of the (many!) products I sampled on Day 2, these are real standouts:
● Somebody’s Mother’s White Chocolate Sauce (with Pear William)

Somebody's Mother's White Chocolate Sauce - with Pear William

Somebody’s Mother’s White Chocolate Sauce – with Pear William

● Margarita Sandwich Cookies from Vanilla Bean Unique Cookies – a shortbread sandwich cookie with a lime buttercream filling (with Tequila)
● Jeni’s Roasted Strawberry Buttermilk Ice Cream – this is a limited edition flavor offered once a year – the strawberries are hand cut

Jeni's Roasted Strawberry Buttermilk Ice Cream

Jeni’s Roasted Strawberry Buttermilk Ice Cream

I look forward to next year’s Fancy Food Show!