Serious Eats: Sweets
Sometimes You Need a Microwave, or Lessons Learned From Taco Bell's Latest Desserts
*Note: Anytime I get the chance to work in a Meat Loaf reference, I take it. And good luck with getting that chorus out of your head for the rest of the day.
Now the Bell is back with two add-ons to their after dinner menu. Each is a little head-scratching in its own way. And while one of them is an utter waste of time, money, and calories, the other has me secretly plotting my next run for the border.
The Brownie Sandwich ($1.29) is a clone of the Cookie Sandwich that the chain tried out in late 2012. (I see management once again waited until they were actually filling out the patent office paperwork to come up with a name...) Only now instead of chocolate chip cookies, they're BROWNIES! And instead of vanilla frosting, IT'S CHOCOLATE! (Oh, the months and months of R&D that must have gone into this.)
Just as with the cookie version, this thing is unceremoniously pre-packaged in a cellophane sack with a sticker sealing it shut. Still looks like it came off an end cap at your local Gas-N-Sip. Out of the bag, it's no better. The "creamy fudge frosting filling" (so dry mine was cracked) can't even glue the two wedges of brownie together; the whole room-temperature thing can be picked apart cleanly.
Tastewise, the brownies were chalky and bland and thoroughly uninspired. The frosting wasn't terrible—but is frosting ever terrible? The Brownie Sandwich's only saving grace was the ice-cold glass of milk I used to wash it down with.*
*Thankfully, this was a to-go order and I was at home. No telling what I would have done at the restaurant had my only option been whatever radioactive-rad-dude flavor of Mountain Dew slushee they're pushing these days. Remember when Mountain Dew looked and tasted like Mountain Dew and wasn't also called something ridiculous like Midnight Glacier Avalanche?
I ate the Brownie Sandwich, but I didn't feel good about it. Right about now, you're saying, "But, Todd... It's Taco Bell. That's not where I would go for a dessert I expected to be any good." To which Meat Loaf and I both would reply, "You took the words right out of my mouth."
And then I would add, "I wish you had taken the Brownie Sandwich, too."
Taco Bell's second new dessert is a four-pack ($1.49) of something called Cinnabon Delights. Wait, what?! Yeah, the two brands have teamed up (or, more accurately, one is totally co-opting the other) on donut-hole sized pastry balls.
They're dusted with Cinnabon's "famous" Makara cinnamon sugar and filled with the chain's telltale frosting right from the mall food court. After their recent let's-mix-things-up-and-do-something-wacky menu items, I was admittedly skeptical about liking any Cinnabon item that actually came from Taco Bell.
Dear God, was I wrong. Now to be fair, if you're hoping to bite in and see an overflowing gush of that heavenly white cream cheese, you'll be disappointed. I'd suggest just popping these in your mouth—the trademark Cinnabon flavor is all there. Best of all, they're served warm. And there are four of them per order, making them the perfect guilty-pleasure chaser to that Extreme Steak Nacho Gordita Crunch that seemed like such a good idea at the time.
After posing for photos, my Cinnabon Delights had become less than lukewarm. In what I knew would be a brilliant idea even as it was still formulating in my head, I nuked them for 8 seconds. This is how they were meant to be enjoyed: almost dangerously hot to the touch and with a molten lava middle, mindlessly munched in rapid-fire succession while sprawled on the couch wearing fuzzy bear slippers watching late-night HBO and half-thinking about all the productive things you should be doing instead.
Cinnabon Delights from Taco Bell... for crying out loud, you know I love you.
About the Author: Todd Brock lives the glamorous life of a stay-at-home freelance writer in the suburbs of Atlanta. Besides being paid to eat cheeseburgers for AHT, pizzas for Slice, and desserts for Sweets, he's written and produced over 1,000 hours of television and penned Building Chicken Coops for Dummies. When he grows up, he wants to be either the starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys or the drummer for The Gaslight Anthem. Or both.