Friday, February 12, 2021

Red Velvet Rantings and Aldi Cookies

Benton Red Velvet Cookies 

It's trendy to take chocolate-whatever, add red food dye, top it with white frosting, and promote it as "red velvet." But it's wrong! In case you're new here, "red velvet" is one of my rant-triggering flavors. (That, and "birthday cake.") So, let the ranting commence! 

(You can skip right to the review by clicking the continue reading link below)

I love baking, and I watched The Food Network obsessively in the 90's and 2000's, back when they were more focused on actual baking/cooking and not reality TV. I have seen tons of bakers discuss red velvet, because it's a real, historical, baking-thing. The coloring and texture comes from a reaction in the ingredients, typically cocoa powder, baking soda, vinegar and buttermilk. 

Also, red isn't the only "velvet" in town. Throughout baking history, there have been tons of other flavors, since it's about getting a certain texture in your cake and not a flavor in and of itself. But what most people get hung up on is the dang coloring. Hence all the "pink," "green" or "blue velvet" recipes on Pinterest. The color has next-to-nothing to do with how it tastes! (As long as you're not using beet juice or a distasteful food dyes.)

A "Red Velvet Cake" is a chocolatey cake, with a burgundy-brown coloring, and a velvety mouthfeel. Typically topped with a white frosting, to highlight the coloring of the cake itself, which may or may not be cream cheese based. (These days cream cheese is the go-to, but at one point it was ermine.) Not just a chocolate cake with a ton of red food dyes, or beets, or whatever else you dump in there. 

So, we have established that the coloring doesn't affect the flavor, it's more-so a reaction, AND that the main reason to get "Red Velvet" is the texture of the cake itself. So... how do you make other things like gum, or cookies, "red velvet?" You don't. 

But "cream cheese filling" Doesn't exactly have the same decadence or punchiness as "red velvet." It's all about spin and marketing. (Ever see Thank You for Smoking?

Which brings us here, to this review. Why would I buy cookies that are "red velvet" given that I clearly think it's a marketing scam. Especially after the Benton Hot Cocoa cookie fiasco? 

I took a photo of these for my Instagram stories and went to put them back, but then I realized I had nothing Valentine-y to post for the upcoming holiday and my gut said, "just toss 'em in the cart." I am so glad Idid.

When opened, the cookies inside are red alright, and I find something about their specific shade of red oddly appealing. It's not a bright, happy, red. More of a muted, but still saturated, bloody red. My inner-goth-kid loves it. 

The cookies and their filling smell sweet and tangy like canned cream cheese frosting mixed with the dry filling usually found in knock-off Oreos. It's tanginess is a little off putting, but it's not a bad smell.  

Separating the cookie from the filling isn't as easy as a normal Oreo, due to this filling's texture. It's a drier formula that sticks better to the cookie itself, not the moldable greasy Play-Dough-like filling Oreo fans are used to.

I managed to get a cookie on it's own, and it's light, crispy, and not overly sweet. Honestly, it's like a sweeter, very slightly chocolatey, and much lighter animal cracker. Like, if animal crackers had the texture of Brownie Brittle. I really really like the cookies, way more than I ever expected. If you look carefully at the photos you can see the underside of the cookies, which face the filling, are filled with little pockets and holes. Normal Oreos are much more smooth and solid. These? Light and airy. I love it! 

Then there's the creme filling. The creme is crumbly, with a fine, but still gritty, texture. It's rich, like shortening, but dry as if it were mixed with too much powdered sugar, and although it smells tangy and cream cheese-like, I barely taste it. It's more-so a sweet, sugary, and slightly buttery creme filling. (More in that butter flavored margarine kinda way than real butter. But I don't consider that a negative.) It's good, but the cookie is hands down my favorite part.   

When eaten together, they actually work really nicely! The combination brings out the buttery flavoring in the creme filling, with lots of extra sweetness, and I really love the combination of textures. Light crispy cookie, dry, but still fairly rich icing, and lots of sweetness. Does it taste like eating a bite of red velvet cake? Not at all. The textures are completely off, and there's very little chocolate or cream cheese, BUT they are delicious. 

Milk and cookies are usually the perfect match, but this time around I found that dunking these in an ice cold glass of milk actually took away some of it's appeal. Due to it's lightness, the milk makes the outer portion mushy too quickly and the main flavor that remains is just the icing. I love the textures and milk completely kills that for me. 

Personally, I prefer to eat these dry, right out of the package, and as of writing this review I only have 8 cookies left. Out of the entire package?! When did that happen? I think the only other time I singlehandedly decimated a cookie package like this was with my beloved Pistachio Oreo Thins. (RIP my beloved Oreo cookie. ;_;)  

I think most modern day red velvet fans are in it for the cream cheese frosting, and if that's the case, I think you'll be disappointed in these. I, on the other hand, absolutely love them. They are light, crispy, have a lightly chocolate but more-so vanilla animal cracker-like flavoring, and a dry, but still rich, icing center. If they sold the cookie portions on their own, as a wafer or something, I'd probably love them even more, but as-is, this is still a great cookie, and perfect for Valentine's Day munching.   

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