Like loose change lurking in couch cushions, half eaten boxes of Nilla Wafers populate our cupboards; buried treasure lost amid the Seven Cs (cookies, crackers, chocolate, cereal, candy, chips, and cola). No Pantry Pirate ever sets out to find Nilla Wafers, instead, Nilla Wafers reveal themselves with the time is right. Just as despair sets in, the weary snacker sets eyes on their golden shores.
When did I buy that box? Can I even remember? No matter. Like fine wine, Nilla Wafers don't spoil, they mature. They don't go stale, they acquire exquisite tenderness. They don't lose their flavor, they become more nuanced.
To the uninitiated, Nilla Wafers may seem nothing more than sweet Legos; building blocks for banana pudding and other sundry semi-homemade desserts. Indeed Nilla soars to new heights when sandwiching chocolate frosting, marshmallow fluff, peanut butter or Nutella. Each wafer has a certain heft, a sturdiness making it the perfect scoop for ice cream, pudding, Cool Whip....they're the original eco-friendly spoon.
But as naturally as they play the canvas, Nilla Wafers stand on their own. Or alongside a glass of milk, or possibly apple juice. You might call their enigmatic texture softly crisp. Part cake, part cookie, part mystery. They have a bit of a toasty flavor, a vague sweetness, just a hint of vanilla. (Well, vanillin. Ever wonder why they're called Nilla Wafers? Let's put it this way, using the word "vanilla" to describe their product would prompt a series of truth-in-advertising law suits.)
These Nilla Knockoffs will hold up in banana pudding or tiramisu much like the original, transforming into a sodden yet toothsome puddin' sponge. They last forever (I've got a bag two months old still aging at the restaurant as I search for the upper limit of their shelf life...), get better with time, and have a simple flavor and light texture that makes eating them by the handful all to easy.
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About the Author: Stella Parks suffers from an unhealthy obsession with recreating the mass produced snacks of her childhood, but ironically is employed by a Frenchman to make the high brow desserts of his childhood. She blogs that dichotomy at bravetart.com and can be followed on Twitter at @thebravetart.