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Posts Tagged ‘cookies’

A birthday

This year marked the first time I’d ever been in Estonia for my birthday, August 17. Despite having lived here for a combined 5 years now, my two moves here (to Tartu in 2005 and Tallinn in 2007) both  took place in September, right after my birthday, and for the last few years I’ve managed to be on vacation in either the States or Finland on my birthday. So my 28th birthday was my first Estonia birthday, as well as my first birthday that I had to go to work… but that actually wasn’t even so bad!

My birthday started off on the right foot with balloons, cake and birthday gifts from J first thing in the morning at home (cake for breakfast is totally allowed on one’s birthday!). His gifts were great too– an adorable Muumi mug and some other stuff I’ll talk about later!

At work my day was filled with hugs and flowers from colleagues– it was fun to feel special and loved all day long, and to receive birthday greetings every time a colleague called to ask me to do something! As is the custom here, I brought in treats to share with my colleagues– wine, coffee-chocolate chip cookies, watermelon with feta, and a vanilla cake (from a mix) doctored up with mango puree and a coconut crumb topping. Ordinarily I never would have used a mix but it was just days before we left for vacation so I was short on time– forgive me? :). Luckily the cake turned out pretty good and the rich chocolate cookies (which were flavored with packets of Starbucks Via instant coffee) were a hit.

The rest of my birthday included a group run with my colleagues, after which I went home and ate more cake :). That was followed by dinner with J at African Kitchen, and then home to pack and watch TV together. It would’ve been nice to go out for drinks with friends, but unfortunately that didn’t fit into our pre-trip schedule– we were leaving for 5 weeks in the States two days later! It was a lovely way to start my 28th year (but yikes… why does 28 have to be so close to 30??).

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Minty Oreos

Pretty much the first thing we broke into from the massive bag of goodies Siret brought me when she came to visit in November was these holiday-themed Peppermint Oreos.

I have to admit I wasn’t super-excited about them. I mean, I will eat Oreos if they’re around but don’t think I’ve ever really craved them*, and the mint/chocolate pairing, while somewhat tasty, is not my favorite. But cookies are cookies, and I do love cookies, so I tried one and was pleasantly surprised. The minty flavor isn’t overwhelming and it lightens up the Oreos’ distinct almost-burnt chocolate taste. The combination was quite addictive. J absolutely loved them and would paw through the trays looking for the ones that seemed to have the most filling :-).

Pink and minty.

To me it seemed like these special edition Oreos contained more filling than traditional Oreos but less than Double Stuf. Or maybe all Oreos have slightly more creme these days? (Ah, good old-fashioned American excess! ;-)). Hard for me to say since I don’t have regular Oreos here to do a side-by-side comparison. Either way, I think Oreo filling is softer and creamier than the filling in their Finnish counterpart Dominos, which may have added to their appeal. Thank you, Siret, for the yummy gift (one of many)!

 

* Actually, that’s not true. I was reminded of the product that started out as Uh-Oh Oreos, now called Golden Oreos– vanilla cookies sandwiching a rich chocolate creme. Man, I used to looove those things and have definitely craved them at some point or another :-).

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Grancereale Classico

A few weeks ago I was reading the monthly ad for Prisma that came in the mail. Prisma is a large general purpose store (groceries, household goods, clothes, etc.) that isn’t in our neighborhood but we walk there once every two weeks or so because the prices are good and they carry some products that other stores don’t. My eyes nearly popped out of my head when I saw that they now carry a product that I once loved but hadn’t thought about in ages– Mulino Bianco Grancereale biscuits.

When I studied abroad in Italy in the fall of 2003, these things were my favorite. I probably bought a pack every few weeks and snacked on them in evenings while reading in my shared room. When I left Italy I took two packs with me and of course tried to make them last as long as possible, but soon those were gone and I haven’t seen them since. Nobody in America sold them. I may have missed them for a while, but they were replaced with other, more accessible favorites and I haven’t thought about them in years, until now. I had to get a pack.

My mother generously took me shopping in Prisma and bought me my Grancereale biscuits, among other things. I was so excited to taste them again! Just as crunchy and delicious as I remember– sort of like digestive biscuits but less sweet. The toasty grain flavor is reminiscent of granola. Yeah, they’re sort of like granola biscuits. I seem to remember that my absolute favorite was actually the Croccante variety, which had crispy rice things in it and was therefore crispier and lower in fat than the Classico, which is what Prisma carries. Maybe eventually they’ll carry other varieties here, but for now I’m content to have the Grancereale Classico back in my life. It’s fun to revisit an old favorite.

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Animal crackers

Last month we visited the Tallinn Zoo. It was a beautiful sunny day, just perfect for strolling around and checking out the animals. Some of the enclosures at the zoo are rather old and uninspiring, but they’re renovating the place one area at a time and seem to be doing a pretty good job.

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The zoo has plenty of benches and picnic tables where we were able to enjoy the snacks we’d brought. We felt these were appropriate for the outing, although we hope it’s OK that we bought them for adults, since the package clearly states that they’re “Biscuits for Children”.

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These Leibniz Zoo biscuits weren’t similar to the old Barnum’s animal crackers, which, if I remember correctly, were somewhat graham cracker-like. (Honestly, I don’t know if I remember very well what they taste like… it must be years since I had them.) These Leibniz ones have a layered crunch, but the taste is mildly vanilla, not too sweet but no salty element either.

These cookies also had some weird little faces. Is this cat drunk?

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And is it just me, or is this monkey a little too human?

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Cookies with cashew butter

I promised quite some time ago that I would bake cookies with cashew butter to test its chewiness-creating abilities. I also promised J’s parents that I would send them some cookies after Christmas (since of course I didn’t get my act together in time to actually send them cookies FOR Christmas. Maybe next year). I sent some of the cookies along with J and hoped his parents wouldn’t mind participating in this cashew butter experiment.

I used this recipe almost exactly. Since I was towards the end of my jar of cashew butter, I didn’t quite have a full 1/2 cup left, and I filled in the rest (about one tablespoon) with the only other nut butter I had– peanut butter. The recipe’s author says that the cashew butter is so subtle that you can’t taste it in the completed cookies, but even that small amount of peanut butter did give the cookies a slight peanut buttery taste. That was OK with me, though. For mix-ins I used about 1/4 cup of lightly chopped dried cherries and 1/4 cup chocolate chips (real ones– I got a bag of Ghirardelli semi-sweet chips delivered from the States at Christmastime). I probably shouldn’t have chopped the cherries– the taste of the pieces got lost in the cookies and only the chocolate bits really stood out.

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So were they chewy? Most definitely. Not in an intense caramel-chewy way, like these cookies; it was more of a lovely density and softness that really did last for days. I liked them a lot (but of course now I’m out of cashew butter :-(), and they received a mark of approval from J’s parents as well. I must admit, it’s always great when that happens. :-)

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