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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Diet Nibbles

PRODUCT: Pistachio Chewy Bites

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A favorite snack: chewy pistachio bites.
Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

 

While several of us tried to determine the name of the company, we all agreed: These Pistachio Chewy Bites are good stuff.

Simple and nutritious, they’re a blend of roasted pistachios and dried cranberries, bound in a honey-like mix of two low-glycemic* sweeteners, agave and brown rice syrup.

The bites are small—2″ x 1-1/2″—but nutrient dense and filling. One is enough, really, although the serving size is two.

We’ve been enjoying them as an on-the-go snack, for breakfast and at tea time. We have afternoon tea at THE NIBBLE, and these snacks can hold their own with biscotti, cookies and other sweets we sample each day.

If you need a quick dessert garnish, you can dice the bars as a topping for cupcakes, ice cream or sorbet.

The only confusion is the name of the company, only visible on the bag in the logo. There’s no URL, no company name in the marketing copy on the bag.

We don’t have room for a photo here, but look at it.

 

Is it Seffon Farms? Selton Farms? Setton Farms.

It’s the latter. We had to Google it.

The line is certified gluten free and certified kosher by OK.

Learn more about Setton Farms, a California pistachio grower,

Buy the bites on Amazon.
 
*The glycemic index of table sugar is 60-65. The glycemic index of agave is 32, and brown rice syrup is 20. Honey is 58 and pure maple syrup is 54. Agave is 1.4 to 1.5 times sweeter than sugar and honey, so you don’t need to use as much.
 
  

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PRODUCT: Pamela’s Figgies & Jammies

It you like Fig Newtons—or wish you liked them more—there’s a better “Newton” in town.

It’s called Figgies & Jammies and the cookies are from Pamela’s Products, maker of delicious gluten-free cookies, bars and mixes. The flavors include:

  • Mission Fig
  • Blueberry & Fig
  • Raspberry & Fig
  • Strawberry & Fig
  •  
    Filled with real Mission figs and complementary fruits, this gluten-free version of the traditional fig cookie is so delicious, even people who don’t prefer gluten-free foods will prefer them.

    The pie-like cookie portion is more tender, the fruit flavors are brighter. The size is a bit larger than Fig Newtons.

    The cookies are not just gluten free, but egg free, low in sodium and all natural. There are no hydrogenated oils or trans fats, no cholesterol, no corn syrup.

    The line is certified gluten-free by GFCO and certified kosher (dairy) by OU (the hechsher is hidden under the fold of the seam).

       

    fig-newtons-pamelasfiggiesjammies-kalviste-230

    Yes, they’re better than Fig Newtons. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     
    You can find a store locator on the company website, or buy them online from Pamela’s.

     

    4-packages-2-230r

    Four figalicious flavors. Photo by Elvira
    Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    WHY A “NEWTON¿”

    The Fig Newton was named after the town of Newton, Massachusetts. It was the custom of the original manufacturer, Kennedy Biscuit Works of Cambridgeport (now Cambridge, Massachusetts), to name cookies after towns in the Boston area.

    Kennedy Biscuit Works was affiliated with the New York Biscuit Company, which became part of the company now known as Nabisco. According to Nabisco, the cookie was invented in 1891 by a Philadelphian, James Henry Mitchell, who created the duplex dough-sheeting machines and funnels that made the jam-filled cookies possible. He thought of the soft dough with fruit filling as cookie “pies.”

    The machine was patented in 1892, and Mitchell approached the Kennedy Biscuit Company to try it out. They were impressed—all that was needed was a name. Newton, Massachusetts got the honor. Just think: We could have Fig Lexingtons or Fig Concords instead.

     

      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Protein Bakery, Delicious Bites With Extra Protein

    “Fitness is my business, baking is my passion,” says Stephen Charles Lincoln, a fitness instructor who enjoys a good brownie and cookie.

    Way back in 1999, he created the Protein Bakery to bake goodies amped up with whey protein, undetectable to the palate.

    We only heard about it recently, but we’re thrilled with the result: delicious cookies, brownies and blondies that deliver six grams of protein per serving. With classic good cookie and brownie flavor, you’d never know you’re getting a nutritional boost.

    The products are baked without wheat flour and include better-for-you ingredients like rolled oats, light brown sugar, peanut butter, cranberries, toasted walnuts and unsweetened coconut. Baked daily in small batches, the sweet treats are all natural, trans-fat free and preservative free.

    The recipes are gluten free, but the brownies and cookies are baked in a facility that uses gluten in other products. The line is certified kosher by KOF-K.

    There is sugar, of course; and the calorie count is the same as most products from artisan bakeries. The differentiation is that instead of empty calories, you get a nice hit of protein with each bite.

    Everything is available shrink-wrapped for home purchase and in tins for gifting. There’s an assortment for everybody.

    And there’s no need to tell kids that the extra protein is good for them.

       

    chocolate-chocolate-chip-stack-230

    Chocolate chocolate chip cookies, packed with protein. Photo courtesy Protein Bakery.

     

     

    pb-brownie-230

    The Peanut Butter Lover’s Gift Set combines
    PB blondies, brownies (shown) and cookies.
    Photo courtesy Protein Bakery.

     

    Blondies: Mini & Full Size

  • Black & White Blondie
  • Coconut Walnut Dark Chocolate Chip Blondie
  • Lemon White Chocolate Chip Blondie
  • Peanut Butter Blondie
  •  
    Brownies: Mini & Full Size

  • Black & White Brownie
  • Chocolate Chip Brownie
  • Peanut Butter Brownie
  •  
    Brownies: Mini & Full Size

  • Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookie
  • Chocolate Chocolate White Chip Cookie
  • Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie
  • Oatmeal Cranberry Cookie
  • Peanut Butter Cookie
  • Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip
  •  

    Order yours at ProteinBakery.com.

      

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    PRODUCT: Vegan Pesto From Sauces ‘n Love

    Sauces-n-Love_Vegan-Pesto-230

    Vegan, lactose free and cholesterol free
    pesto. Photo courtesy Sauces ‘n Love.

     

    Keeping a good jar of pre-made pesto at hand can make any dish extraordinary in only a matter of minutes.

    Pesto sauce, traditionally consists of basil, garlic, olive oil, pine nuts, Parmesan and Pecorino cheeses and salt for seasoning. Add a dollop to dinner and suddenly you’re a fancy cook who understands how to dazzle with delicate herbs. Pesto is vegetarian, low in carbs and packed with fresh ingredients: a bright, healthy addition to your meals.

    Pesto originated in the Italian province of Liguria, 220 miles of crescent-shaped Mediterranean coastline that is sometimes called the Italian Riviera. Liguria, the capital of which is Genoa, is home to superb produce, most notably the sweetest, mildest basil. Its people enjoy one of the freshest, healthiest cuisines in all of Italy.

    Just as pesto can be made with different nuts (hazelnuts, pistachios, walnuts) and greens (arugula, spinach)—or even non-greens, like red pepper pesto—it can be made vegan instead of vegetarian. One way to do this is to substitute vegan Parmesan.

     

    But Sauces ‘n Love has creating a pesto condiment, dip and sauce that eliminates the cheese or cheese substitute. Using only extra virgin olive oil, sunflower oil, basil, pine nuts, garlic, salt and black pepper still creates a delicious pesto.

     

    Why vegan pesto? Aside from accommodating the growing number of vegans, it’s a boon for non-vegans who are lactose intolerant, those cutting back on cholesterol, and kosher consumers who want to serve pesto with meat-based meals.

    Sauces ‘n Love, a NIBBLE Top Pick of The Week is one of our favorite lines of Italian-style sauces, sold fresh in the refrigerator case. A sister line, Scarpetta, is shelf-stable and will stay fresh without refrigeration for nine months. Learn more at SaucesNLove.com.
     
    MORE ABOUT PESTO

  • Pesto Overview
  • The History Of Pesto
  • Pesto Serving Suggestions
  • Homemade Pesto Recipe and Pesto Prep Tips
  • More Favorite Pestos
  •  

    Pesto-SalmonCakes-230

    Beyond pasta: Pesto can be used to enhance most savory dishes. Photo by Guyer Wood | IST.

     

      

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    PRODUCT: Dannon Oikos Greek Frozen Yogurt

    June 4th is National Frozen Yogurt Day. Treat yourself to a pint of Oikos Greek frozen yogurt. You can print a $1.00 coupon online.

    The brand recently launched a frozen yogurt line in:

  • Black Cherry
  • Cafe Latte
  • Chocolate
  • Key Lime
  • Strawberry
  • Vanilla
  •  
    We received pints of chocolate, strawberry and vanilla to taste. The strawberry and vanilla didn’t do much for us. There are other brands with better strawberry and vanilla flavor.

     

    chocolate-frozen-yogurt-230

    Chocolate was our favorite in the Oikos Greek frozen yogurt line. Photo courtesy Dannon.

     

    But the chocolate was most satisfactory, especially given that it’s 150 calories per four-ounce serving—a nice break from, say, Häagen-Dazs chocolate ice cream at 260 calories. It may be an apples-and-oranges comparison, but we’d go for the lower calorie option.

    And the lower fat option: Frozen yogurt also has more than half the fat of regular ice cream: 2.5g versus 7g per half-cup serving, according to Dannon. Since much of that fat is saturated (cholesterol), that’s a good thing.

    Finally, if you’re lactose-sensitive, the Oikos frozen yogurt line is made from lactose-reduced nonfat milk.

    The line is certified kosher by OU.

      

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    PASSOVER: Danny Macaroons

    Passover is around the corner, and macaroons are on the menu. The soft, coconut cookies are a delight year-round, but especially appreciated by Passover observers. Made of shredded coconut, sweetened condensed milk, and egg whites—without the flour or leavening that are verboten during this holiday—they happily replace other baked sweets. (They’re gluten-free, too.)

    Dan Cohen of Danny’s Macaroons and author of The Macaroon Bible, is one of the country’s—and probably the world’s—great macaroon makers. Beyond his grandmother’s plain and chocolate dipped, he’s brought macaroons into the new flavor age.

    The cookies are made with kosher ingredients, but are not kosher for Passover. Still, those who observe the spirit of the law if not the letter of it, will enjoy every bite.

    DANNY MACAROON FLAVORS

    Just take a look at these choices:

     

    the-macaroon-bible-230

    Get the book and bake your own! Photo courtesy Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

  • Amarena Cherry, topped with an semi-candied cherry
  • Baileys McRoons
  • Bourbon
  • Black Chocolate Stout
  • Chocolate Almond
  • Chocolate Banana Nut
  • Chocolate Caramel
  • Chocolate Dipped
  • Chocolate Malted
  • Guava
  • Jamstand Surprise with spicy raspberry jalapeño jam
  • Maple Pecan Pie
  • Peanut Butter & Jelly
  • Plain Coconut
  • Red Velvet
  • Rice Pudding
  • Spiced Pumpkin
  • Stoopid, coconut macaroons are filled with potato chips, pretzels and pieces of Butterfinger, then drizzled with dark chocolate (how this relates to stupid, we can’t say)
  •  
    Get yours at DannyMacaroons.com.

     

    box-danny-macaroons-southportgrocery-230

    How many flavors do we want? All of them!
    Photo courtesy Southport Grocery.

     

    THE HISTORY OF MACAROONS

    “Macaroon” means different things to different people. To some, it’s a big ball of coconut, to others, a delicate, airy meringue. Both are delicious and neither is made with flour, making them options for gluten-free observers and for the Jewish holiday of Passover.

    The first macaroons were almond meringue cookies similar to today’s Amaretti di Saronno, with a crisp crust and a soft interior. They were made from egg whites and almond paste.

    Macaroons traveled to France in 1533 with the pastry chefs of Catherine de Medici, wife of King Henri II. Two Benedictine nuns, Sister Marguerite and Sister Marie-Elisabeth, seeking asylum in the town of Nancy during the French Revolution (1789-1799), paid for their housing by baking and selling the macaroon cookies, and thus became known as the “Macaroon Sisters” (the French word is macaron, pronounced mah-kah-RONE).

    Italian Jews adopted the cookie because it has no flour or leavening, the agent that raises and lightens a baked good, such as baking powder and baking soda (instead, macaroons are leavened by egg whites).

     

    The recipe was introduced to other European Jews and became popular for Passover as well as a year-round sweet.Over time, coconut was added to the ground almonds in Jewish macaroons, and, in certain recipes, completely replaced them.

    Coconut macaroons are more prevalent in the U.S. and the U.K.—and they’re a lot easier to make and transport than the fragile almond meringues that became the norm in France.

    Here’s more macaroon history.

      

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    PRODUCT: Crunchmaster Popped Edamame Chips

    bag-bowl-230

    Chips for wasabi lovers. Photo by Elvira
    Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    We love Crunchmaster: The multigrain crackers were a Top Pick Of The Week. They can be used for anything from snacking to garnishing to making a savory crust.

    Crunchmaster crackers are Japanese-inspired, from the rice used to make them to usuyaki, the art of handcrafting, aging and baking rice crackers on open grills. The American versions are made in Illinois and Nevada from California rice.

    Now, in an even more East-meets-West flavor profile, the company has launched Popped Edamame Chips, rice flour combined with edamame (see below) and seasonings. There are two flavors:

  • Wasabi Soy
  • Sea Salt
  •  
    The chips are light in texture and very crunchy. Both are very tasty, but we love wasabi so Wasabi Soy is a slam dunk.

    Ready to try them? The store locator does not come up in the Firefox (Macintosh) browser, but we were able to access it via Safari.

     
    There’s also an online store and a $1 coupon.

    Rice is a gluten-free grain and the line is certified gluten free.

     

    WHAT ARE EDAMAME?

    Edamame, pronounced eh-dah-MAH-may, are baby soybeans, boiled in salted water and served whole as a snack or appetizer. They can be further flavored with rice wine, Szechuan pepper, nanami togarashi or Chinese Five Spice.

    The name is Japanese for “twig bean” (eda = twig” + mame = bean), referring to young soybeans cropped with their twig (i.e., on the stem). You can find them served this way in Japan, but edamame are an imported product. With the exception of a few ultra-premium Japanese restaurants that import them on the twig, you’ll see the “mame” but not the “eda.”

    The green soybeans in the pod are picked prior to ripening (when they turn into the familiar beige soybean color).

     

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    Edamame, baby soybeans. Photo courtesy Burpee.

     

    A popular snack, the boiled soybeans are eaten by pushing them directly from the pods into your mouth; the shell is not eaten. Frozen edamame are available in the pod or shelled.

    Edamame have become a popular addition to recipes as well. Add them to salads, stir-frys, casseroles, soups and almost any savory food. Make a healthy dip. Edamame are attractive garnishes on any food, from baked and mashed potatoes to steaks and chops. They can be served hot, cold or at room temperature.

    And now, turn them into snack chips!

    Edamame are perhaps the healthiest vegetable you can serve. Check out the health benefits of edamame.

      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Dear Coco Toffee Chocolate Bars

    Quite a few artisan chocolatiers are also pastry chefs. Rachel Ferneau makes chocolates as Dear Coco, but was previously the proprietor of Eden Cake, a made-to-order kosher pareve bakery serving metro Washington, D.C.

    While we’ve missed the opportunity to try her desserts, she was kind enough to send us some chocolate.

    Everything from this artisan chocolatier is 100% handcrafted in small batches. The chocolates are completely dairy-free, all natural and certified kosher pareve by Star-K.

    In both her baking and her chocolates, flavors of the world are evoked with coffees and teas, exotic salts, fine herbs, flowers, fruits, roasted nuts and spices.

    Recently, Dear Coco launched a creative line of vegan-friendly artisan chocolate bars: Toffee Chocolate Bars. Eight unique bars are embedded with toffee and the spices that evoke each of the eight globally-inspired locations.

    The toffee is made with vegan butter* in order to be pareve† and lactose free. This substitution, so that the bars can be enjoyed anytime by kosher observers, makes them vegan-friendly as well. Yes, it cuts down on the butteriness of the toffee; but there is so much other layering of flavors that no one will notice.

     

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    The Oaxaca bar invokes the moles of Oaxaca, Mexico with cinnamon toffee and pepitas. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    group-tablecloth-230

    Five of the eight “destination” toffee
    chocolate bars. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE
    NIBBLE.

     

    NEW & SPECIAL: TOFFEE CHOCOLATE BARS

    All of the bars are made with dark chocolate and a touch of sea salt.

  • Barcelona Toffee Chocolate Bar: Influenced by the flavors of Spain—roasted almond toffee and sea salt.
  • Istanbul Toffee Chocolate Bar: Inspired by the flavors of baklava—cinnamon clove toffee with rosewater, roasted walnuts.
  • Madras Toffee Chocolate Bar: A tribute to the curries of Southeast India—sweet curry toffee with roasted sunflower seeds.
  • Oaxaca Toffee Chocolate Bar: A recognition of the mole dishes of Oaxaca—Mexican cinnamon and smoky hot chile toffee with roasted pepitas.
  • Savannah Toffee Chocolate Bar: A tribute to the pecan pie of “The Hostess City of the South”—pie spice toffee with roasted pecans.
  • Shanghai Toffee Chocolate Bar: Honoring a staple spice of Cantonese cooking, Chinese five spice toffee (here a blend of cassia cinnamon, star anise, anise seed, ginger and cloves) with roasted white sesame seeds.
  • Sidama Toffee Chocolate Bar: For the coffee lover, crunchy caramelized coffee toffee infused with Ethiopian coffee beans.
  • Tokyo Toffee Chocolate Bar: Homage to the sushi bar—ginger toffee with crispy rice.
  •  

    The 3.5-ounce bars are $7.50 each. A gift set of eight (all the flavors) is $54.00.

    Get yours at DearCoco.com.

     
    *Products like Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks are made from expeller-pressed oils that have 0g trans fats. More information.

    †Kosher law prohibits the consumption of dairy and meat products together. Pareve is a classification of foods that contain neither dairy nor meat ingredients, and can be eaten with both groups. Pareve foods include eggs, fish and all foods that are grown—cereals, fruits, nuts, vegetables, etc.

      

    Comments

    TIP: Flavored Water Enhancers For World Water Day

    peach-green-tea-water-bottle-kalviste-230

    Don’t buy flavored water: Make your own
    with this pocket-size squeeze bottle. Photo
    by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    It’s World Water Day, an observance begun in 1993 by a declaration of the United Nations General Assembly, to focus on the challenges of the world’s water supply.

    On previous World Water Days, we advocated buying a permanent water bottle to spare the earth the landfill of billions of plastic bottles a year.

  • More than 80% of empty water bottles end up in the nation’s landfills.
  • Fifty billion water bottles are used every year, about 30 billion of them in the U.S. This equates to 1,500 water bottles consumed per second! Amazingly, we utilize about 60% of the world’s water bottles, even though we represent just 4.5% of the world population and have safe municipal water everywhere.
  • Seventeen million barrels of oil are used each year to produce all of the water bottles—enough to keep one million cars fueled for an entire year.
  • Beyond oil, it takes three times the volume of water to manufacture one empty plastic water bottle. Because of the chemicals used in production, most of that water cannot be reused.*
  •  

    ENHANCE TAP WATER WITH WATER ENHANCERS

    This year, for folks who don’t like plain water from the tap, we’ve advocating portable water enhancers instead of iced tea, Vitamin Water and other options. These small squeeze bottles fit in your pocket and turn your [reusable] bottle of water—or a glass of water—into a zero-calorie flavored beverage.

    The process is simple: Take your water bottle or a glass of water, squeeze in a few drops of water enhancer and shake or stir. No refrigeration is required; the enhancers are caffeine-free and gluten-free.

    As an at-home or on-the-go product, water enhancers are environmentally friendly, leaving one small plastic bottle to recycle instead of up to 32 full size beverage bottles.

    We tried two brands: AriZona, which makes flavored iced tea, and Stur, which creates flavored water.

    ARIZONA WATER ENHANCERS

    From the folks who make AriZona bottled teas, these water enhancers let you recreate your own diet AriZona in seven of the company’s most popular flavors: Arnold Palmer Half & Half, Arnold Palmer Strawberry Fruit Punch, Golden Bear Strawberry Lemonade, Lemon Tea, Mucho Mango and Peach Green Tea.

    Made with real tea and flavored with real juice and honey without artificial† colors or flavors, there is added sweetness from sucralose (marketed to consumers as Splenda).

    How can the enhancer have zero calories when juice and honey are ingredients? They have just a pinch to add flavor while keeping the calorie count less than 1%. If it’s less than 1%, the FDA allows the claim of calorie-free. (And by the way, it’s the same with any ingredient, including trans fats.)

    As of now, AriZona Water Enhancers are being sold at Walmart and online. They are expected to roll out to other distributors nationwide.

    The line is certified kosher by OU. For more information, visit DrinkArizona.com.

     

    STUR WATER ENHANCERS

    Stur is a water enhancer that adds flavor and vitamins. Instead of making iced tea like AriZona, it turns plain water into vitamin water.

    Flavors include Freshly Fruit Punch, Lemon Tea, Only Orange Mango,Purely Pomegranate Cranberry and Simply Strawberry Watermelon.

    The line is made with kosher ingredients but has not yet been certified kosher.

    Stur is an all-natural† product that supplies 100% DV of Vitamin C per serving, along with a blend of essential vitamins, including A, D, E, B3, B5, B6, B12.

    The company’s goal is to encourage Americans drink more water, by giving those who don’t like to drink a lot of water a “delicious way to hit those 8 glasses of water a day.”

    You can do more than enhance water:

  • Add to seltzer water for a carbonated beverage.
  • Make flavored milk or smoothies.
  • Top yogurt or sugar-free ice cream.
  •  

    strawberry-glass-230

    Just squeeze a drop into a water bottle or glass of water. Photo courtesy Stur.

     

    You can buy a variety pack on Amazon, and individual flavors on SturDrinks.com, where you can buy any five flavors for $19.95 (which make 90 eight-ounce servings).

    Get some for yourself, and put them on your stocking stuffer list.

     
    *Source: Huffington Post.

    †Stevia, the sweetening agent, is a natural product made from the leaf of the stevia plant. While stevia can be a highly processed product like sucralose, sucralose detractors point out that it is created by the addition of chlorine atoms to sucrose molecules. Here’s more information from the anti-sucralose resource.

      

    Comments

    VALENTINE GIFT: Chubby Wubby Cookies

    rasberry_chubby_wubby-damngoodcookies

    Raspberry Chubby Wubby cookies. Photo
    courtesy Cake Chicago.

     

    Gifted cake maker Mary Winslow of Cake Chicago also turns out “Damn Good Cookies” and “Ugly Truffles.” Everything is primo quality and delicious.

    Mary calls her chocolates and cookies “laid back luxury sweets.” The wedding cakes are anything but laid back: both classic and modern designs. If you like looking at wedding cakes, there are dozens in the photo gallery. We picked up a few ideas.

    But before you pop the question (or are the popee), send someone some Chubby Wubby for Valentine’s Day. There’s nothing Valentinesque about them, but anyone who’d rather have chocolate cookies than chocolate candy will be thrilled.

    For gluten sensitive Valentines, there’s a gluten-free version (along with gluten-free brownies and chocolate chip cookies).

     

    Chubby Wubby sandwich cookies are soft, rich, chubby chocolate cookies—about two bites worth—studded with chocolate chips. The sandwich layer flavors are universal favorites:

  • Chubby Wubby Chocolate Cookie—gluten free
  • Chubby Wubby Hazelnut Cream Cookie
  • Chubby Wubby Mint Cookie
  • Chubby Wubby Caramel Cookie
  • Chubby Wubby Peanut Butter Cookie
  • Chubby Wubby Raspberry Cookie
  •  
    A 12-piece box is $25, a 16-piece box $34. Get yours at Cake-Chicago.com.

     

    peanut_butter_chubby_wubby-230

    Peanut butter Chubby Wubbies: a new way to enjoy chocolate and PB. Photo courtesy Cake Chicago.

     

      

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