Like Leandra Palermo, Serious Eats' resident cereal obsessive, Hershey's Cookies 'n' Creme is one of my favorite chocolate bars. When I saw a box of Hershey's Cookies 'n' Cream Cookie Mix ($2.99), it was as if the supermarket's harsh fluorescents transformed to a soft white light, and the muzak pumped over the sound-system momentarily changed to a chorus of sweetly singing angels. Clearly, I had to try it.
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Whether you were a kid bringing in a sweet for a bakesale, or a college kid making a late-night study break, we've probably all had brownies made from a boxed mix. They're easy to make, most requiring just vegetable oil, eggs, and water, and typically take less than 30 minutes to bake. So when the moment comes that you too want a dump-and-bake treat to satisfy your chocolate craving, to which mix should you turn?
The good: these muffins are a mildly sweet, surprisingly balanced boxed treat. The bad: that means they don't taste like Cinnamon Toast Crunch.
There are a number of quick and simple sugar cookie baking mixes on the market. But which one is best? Are any even worth using? We conducted a blind taste test to find out which mix yielded cookies worthy of Jolly Old Saint Nick.
If you've ever set foot in a shopping mall or an airport, then you know what a Cinnabon smells like. Chances are you know what one tastes like too. The behemoth of all sticky buns, Cinnabons are massive spirals of dough oozing with cinnamon goo and slicked with cream cheese frosting. Betty Crocker has teamed up with Cinnabon to create a Decadent Supreme Cinnamon Swirl Cake Mix. Did it taste like a Cinnabon? Did it make my kitchen smell like a food court? Most importantly, was it delicious?
Sometimes I just can't decide if I want a rich, fudgy brownie or a buttery chocolate chip cookie. So why not combine the two in one? This week I tried out Betty Crocker's Cookie Brownie Mix, and for a mere $2.50, baked up a batch of gooey brownies topped with a layer of moist, tender chocolate chip cookie dough.
Betty Crocker recently upped the ante on supermarket baking mixes by introducing a line of "Supreme Bars," including a cookie-brownie bar, a lemon bar, and a Mississippi mud bar. Of the three versions, the Mississippi mud struck me as the most enticing: a chocolate cookie crust topped with a gooey brownie layer studded with mini-marshmallows. But would the bars really be supremely delicious, or would they retain that from-a-box flavor? I put them to the test for this week's Mixed Review.
While my search for a black and white mix proved unsuccessful, I did find a recipe on Betty Crocker's website for black and whites using a sugar cookie mix as the base. One review commented: "This recipe was fantastic. I made it for my dad who misses the old fashioned NY cookies and these taste EXACTLY like the originals." I was sold. I ran to the store to buy all the ingredients.
Betty Crocker's Pound Cake Mix ($2.89) calls for nothing more than 3/4 cup of water or milk and two eggs. Simply beat everything together with an electric mixer (or by hand) and bake in a 9x5-inch loaf pan for approximately 50 minutes. My cake emerged from the oven with a perfect golden-brown crust and buttery yellow interior. It had a heavy, crumbly texture and a simple, sweet flavor—the perfect foundation for a show-stopping summer dessert.
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