Each week I grow more and more excited walking into a store and seeing the Back-to-School displays coming down and the Halloween/Fall decorations coming up. With great hope, soon the temperatures will cool and the leaves will change color and begin to fall after being safely nestled on the branches of the trees since Spring.
Until then, I will find comfort in trying all the newest (and even returning) Fall treats. So, this brings us to Week 3 of the Pumpkin Spice Chronicles. This week I have three foods to share with you all. As I mentioned in my previous post, if there are any specific Fall-edition foods you would like me to try and present, please let me know!
Hostess Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes
Price: $2.50 for a box of 8
My thoughts: I am a fan of Hostess. I was so excited for the return of a lot of my favorites like Twinkies and Chocolate Cup Cakes. And I’m quite glad they are constantly coming out with Limited Edition flavors for each season/holiday. I snagged the last box of the Pumpkin Spice Cup Cakes from my local store, which leads me to believe these are quite popular.
All eight cupcakes come individually wrapped which makes them perfect for school or work lunches or to grab & go to enjoy with your cup of [Pumpkin Spice] coffee in the morning. Also, they stay fresher that way for longer storage.
Upon opening the wrapper, I could smell the sweet pumpkin spice goodness that lay within. There was a definite hint of cinnamon and not too much pumpkin scent but incredibly pleasing to the point where my mouth was watering in anticipation. The cake itself was soft and spongy. It was fluffy enough to where I could pinch an edge a bit between my fingers and it bounced right back. Basically, this is a cake that holds up! The frosting was not as smooth looking as with the chocolate cupcakes. It was matte and had a sort of rough feel as I ran my fingers across the top. To clarify, this was not an awful feeling. It made me feel like the frosting was made to be just strong enough to hold up to being packed into a bag or lunch box or to protect the cupcake’s structure while being moved about in the box during shipping and stocking in stores.
Breaking the cupcake open was somewhat satisfying. It’s difficult to explain the pleasure in feeling the frosting sort of “snap” between my fingers and watching the cake split as the gooey filling presented itself. It was this same pleasure I felt biting into the cupcake and having these similar reactions from the cupcake: the snap of the frosting between my teeth and then feeling the cake smoosh down pushing the filling into my mouth into a joyous explosion.
That being said, I was slightly disappointed in the flavor. There was very minimal pumpkin flavor. This cupcake was more reminiscent of a spice cake, or add some shredded carrot and it would be a great carrot cake for Spring time. Its not that I didn’t enjoy this treat, its that I wish it had more pumpkin flavor as billed on the box. It lost points for this lack of pumpkin. One redeeming quality is that it was not overly sweet. There’s nothing worse than a sweet so sugary you’re paying for it later with a tooth or tummy ache. The goal would be to keep people coming back for more, not a one-was-enough kind of reaction. Remember: less is more! So, thank you, Hostess, for keeping this in mind while making this cupcake! Its also worth noting that even with the gooey filling there was no part of this cake that stuck to or left a greasy feel on the roof of my mouth. I would buy these again and NOT feel guilty for having one for breakfast.
Archer Farms Pumpkin Spice Glazed Pecans
Price: $2.99 for a 3.5 oz bag
My thoughts: I loved these. There’s not much to say here. To me, nothing says “Autumn” like pecans and pumpkin. Having these two flavors come together in one glorious snack is genius. I’ve said this before, but in Texas, we’re all about the pecans, y’all! That’s growing them, cooking with them, and snacking on them. They’re delicious raw or roasted…and yes, even glazed. Side note: look for more Archer Farms products in upcoming Pumpkin Spice Chronicles posts as this brand from Target seems to have exploded with Autumn goodness!
Ok, so these pecans were perfectly toasted — there was no hint of a burnt flavor that some nuts may have when roasted/baked/glazed/candied. They had a delightful pumpkin profile without being over-spiced or even too sweet. The balance was spot on. And, oh my, that freshness was all too real. It reminded me of going to Fall festivals or Market Days and buying a bag of hot, fresh roasted pecans. Here’s a tip: place these nuts into a microwave-safe bowl and pop them into the microwave for about 15 seconds. They will be slightly warm and the flavor will pop making these ideal for serving along with your holiday appetizer/dessert spread or for whenever you have guests to your home.
These Archer Farms Pumpkin Spice Glazed Pecans lose points for not being available in a larger bag. Oh, the humanity! I would gladly pay for at least an 8 oz bag of these. I seriously had to hide this bag to avoid them being eaten before I had a chance to photograph and taste them! But even in a 2 oz bag, I would purchase these several times during the season. Don’t judge.
Quaker Oats Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal
Price: $2.99 for a box with 8 packets
My thoughts: I had high hopes for this oatmeal. Quaker has been a brand that I’ve turned to many times for a quick, filling breakfast. I could easily store packets of instant oatmeal in my desks at a just about every job I’ve held over the years. I appreciated that the instructions for making the oatmeal were on the packets, in addition to being printed on the box. They also usually had a fill line so that you know how much water/milk to add to the oatmeal before microwaving. This was such an awesome convenience and encouraging for people who would rather have a “healthier” choice for their morning meal. Or even for lunch. Or dinner if there was ever a time to have a late night at the office. And don’t get me started on the varieties available! Peaches n Cream, Strawberry, Apple Cinnamon…etc.
I went into this thinking that since the other varieties were so flavorful this Pumpkin Spice variety would be no different. I made the oatmeal twice (both according to package directions): once with water and once with milk.
When I opened the packet of oatmeal, there was such a wonderful aroma that greeted my nose. It reminded me of the way my home smells when I roast sweet potatoes in the oven. I was in heaven just smelling the dry oatmeal mix. This definitely added to my excitement to try this product. My first try with this Pumpkin Spice oatmeal was with the called for amount of water. It came out pretty ‘dry’ looking and didn’t have much flavor to it at all. It was pretty much like making any regular old oatmeal. Not a happy camper. I’m glad it didn’t taste/feel as dry as it looked. The oatmeal was pretty fluffy and moist even if lacking in flavor. Not even a hint of the initial aroma I smelled when the package was opened remained in the cooked aftermath.
My next trial was to make the Pumpkin Spice Instant Oatmeal with the called for amount of milk. Again, the same scent hit me as I opened the packet. This time, I did not get as excited for fear of further disappointment. When I pulled the bowl out of the microwave, I found the oatmeal didn’t appear to have that same dry look as when I made it with water — it had some remnants of milk in the bowl. It was also fluffy in texture but still just not as flavorful as I would have hoped. However, with the milk, I was able to taste a bit of spice and even a hint of pumpkin. Overall, it still wasn’t what I would have hoped or expected from this product.
The only thing that helped was adding some of the Archer Farms Pumpkin Spice Glazed Pecans. Otherwise, this is just plain, regular, everyday oatmeal. I absolutely will not be purchasing this oatmeal again. I will probably finish this box off by adding some pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, and brown sugar just to have the Pumpkin Spice oatmeal I expected.
Have you tried any new Fall items yet? Anything you are curious about that I can try for you? Leave me a comment below! 🙂