Lit’rally the Best Brownies Ever

Brownies_zoesays

Hello, lovely readers!

We’ve been having gorgeous weather lately and last weekend, it was wonderful to throw open all the windows and let in fresh air, sunshine, and the sounds of birds chirping. For some reason, the pacifying gorgeous weather struck a baking chord within me. (I bet you were wondering how I would segue into brownies from pretty weather, huh?)

So, let’s get to the meat of things–or the chocolate of things, as the case may be.

I know there are a gazillion recipes out there for brownies. I mean, if you type in “brownies” on Pinterest, your Pinterest will hang for five minutes while it tries to deliver the search results.

A good friend of mine and I had a discussion about this treat not too long ago, which ended up being the catalyst for my search. I have yet to find a brownie at any bakery in my town that is what I dub a “Zoe brownie.” Frankly, it’s been a long while since I’ve consumed a brownie in a commercial or retail setting that was memorable.

Probably not a shock to those who know me but I am very picky about how brownies should look and taste.

My opinion is that they should be rich, not too sweet, very chocolatey, dense, chewy on the edges, and have nothing to distract from these qualities, e.g. nuts, peanut butter, chips, icing, etc.

When I conducted my aforementioned Pinterest search, the results returned were all brownie recipes that had a whole bunch of stuff on or in them. So I scrapped that, went back to good old Google, and narrowed my findings down to four solid looking recipes. After reading through them, I was able to narrow down the possible winners to two, both of which claimed to be the BEST brownies.

It then came down to ingredients and preparation. Based on that, I decided to go with one posted on Cravings of a Lunatic, entitled, “The Best Brownies in the WORLD!!!” I was ready and willing to prove whether this claim was, in fact, true.

Well.

There’s only one thing I have to say about that. Using the inflection of Chris Traeger’s character from Parks and Rec, I can say with no exaggeration that they were LIT’RALLY? the best brownies I’ve ever had. I have no idea how the original author came up with this outstanding recipe, but it is nothing short of divine.

Here is the ingredients list and also my very minor tweaks in parentheses. (Please note that these amounts will yield a double batch, which fits into one 9×13 pan of brownies. A single batch is meant to go in an 8×8 pan but honestly, do yourself a favor and make the double batch.)

  • Two sticks of butter (I did one stick of unsalted and one stick of salted)
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate (We happened to have Scharffen Berger 99% unsweetened dark chocolate on hand.)
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs, beaten (Really beat the eggs with a fork–get the stress out!)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla salt (you can use regular salt for this–I used fine sea salt)

Here are the easy peasy lemon squeezy preparation instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  • Line your pan with parchment paper. (I used Kim’s tip to wet the parchment paper to get it to stick to the pan.)
  • Melt the butter and unsweetened chocolate together over medium heat in a medium saucepan; I strongly suggest using a double boiler. (Kim suggests a wooden spoon–I recommend a rubber spatula for most of this process.)
  • Remove from heat and add the sugar. Stir well.
  • Now add your eggs and vanilla, stirring until it’s smooth. (Here is where you may want to switch out your rubber spatula for a minute and use a whisk.)
  • Add chocolate chips, flour, and salt. Stir until well blended. (Back to the rubber spatula we go.)
  • Pour into pan and place in oven. (Tapping the pan on the counter to settle the batter works and pops any lingering bubbles.)
  • Bake for 35-45 minutes, toothpick inserted should come out clean (or mostly clean) when done.
  • Remove and cool on a rack.
  • Serve and consume!

These brownies taste unbelievable after cooling a bit but are still warm, with or without a scoop of ice cream. They definitely require milk or coffee to accompany them.

They also keep! Boxed brownies, while they can bake up decently, usually just taste like hardened chemicals the next day, which makes me gag.

Not these babies. Granted, they don’t last very long because you can’t believe how good they smell and taste, and so you and your family eat them pretty quickly, but they DO keep. Breakfast, snacks, dessert, just because, whatever. If you’re a gym goer or don’t indulge often, I promise it’s worth the extra gym session or having a cheat.

These brownies are super rich and chocolatey, moist, fudgey, smell like a chocolate shop and everything good in the world, and come out of the oven with a delicious glossy crust. The edges are perfectly chewy and add a lovely bit of texture.

Make some for your office mates and share if you don’t want to end up eating half a pan of these sinful things.

What’s a blog post about brownies without photos? Here are a handful. I honestly didn’t get a lot because we pounced on them like rabid hyenas.

It goes without saying but here it is anyway: this is totally a Zoe Recommends!

 

Dark ChocolateChopped Chocolate Brownie pan

 

Brownies 2_zoesays

 

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Zoe Recommends: Dash and Bella Chocolate Chip Cookies

I know it’s a new year and some of us are three weeks into a new health regime. If you’re on any kind of kick where a delicious cookie would “ruin” anything, just pass this post right on by. However, if you’re like me and still try the occasional “best ever” chocolate chip cookie recipe, read on.

I skipped making Christmas cookies this year. To atone for that, coupled with several weekends of unsubtle nudging from my better half, I made this chocolate chip cookie recipe, courtesy of Dash and Bella.

What makes them different?

Less flour, a ratio of double the brown sugar to white sugar, and lots of STUFF in the cookies, namely extra chocolate chips and nuts.

I usually don’t like my cookies with nuts, but since I was trying something new, I decided to go all in. I used chopped pecans instead of walnuts, and instead of using 1.5C of them, as the recipe calls for, I only put in 3/4C. For my taste preferences, that seemed to be the right amount of crunch and texture to add to a cookie. We only had semi-sweet chips so I wasn’t able to try the large bittersweet chips, but that’s for next time.

Otherwise, I followed the recipe to a T and they really came out…..well, indescribably good.

One of the more unique tips is making larger cookies that brown on the edges and you pull them out whilst still raw in the center. The idea is you let them cook on the sheet outside of the oven for two to three more minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.

It’s HARD not to want to eat these when they’re still gooey, but they do require a little extra time to firm up. Then you get that delicious light crunch from the browned edge and the soft, oozing-chocolate middle. I need a glass of milk just describing them.

Speaking of milk, we managed to kill half a gallon of it as we ate the cookies over the next few days day and a half. (It’s hard to keep cookies around with my fiance.)

My results yielded fewer than two dozen large cookies, courtesy of a quarter-cup measure.

The parchment paper is a must and makes cleanup a breeze.

The recipe/author encourages tweaking this to make it your own, so you, too, also, as well have the Best Chocolate Chip Cookies Evar.

Now away with thee so you can try them!

Cookies 1

cookies 2

cookies 3

Moth to a (Pink) Flame

When I was a child, I had a raging sweet tooth. It required a lot of ’round the clock feeding and was rarely satisfied.

I had the cavities–and now have the fillings–to prove it.

As a girl who has always been a sucker for anything in pretty colors, especially pastels and especially things in the pink family, I have always been drawn to food items that came in pink. Cakes and candies swathed in this color trumped all. (I believe the British call these “sweeties.”)

Pink + cake = Zoe craves to eat it.

That is the formula of my life, best illustrated by this food pyramid by a delightful artist out of Seattle. Thank you, Cakespy.

Definitely my version of the food pyramid from the ages of 2-16.

Definitely my version of the food pyramid from the ages of 2-14.

I’m happy to say that as I matured, I grew out of my insatiable need to have pure sweets in my belly for the better part of my existence. Over the years, I have thought about some of the the “foods” I used to eat on a regular basis, and I cringe (and so do my teeth).

I possessed a much higher tolerance for crazily sweet and/or tart candy growing up. SweetTarts, Starburst, Skittles, Warheads, Smarties, Jolly Ranchers, Fun Dip, Now ‘n Laters, Fruit Rollups, candy necklaces…anything and everything in that spectrum and I consumed it like it was my job. (If only!)

One of my lasting all-time favorites, though? Nerds. There was just something about those teeny little candies that got me every time. They even put my two favorite flavor-colors together, pink and purple, into one box, so I could just ingest pink and purple to my heart’s delight.

On a recent road trip, I purchased a box of Nerds for when I would be driving and I needed something sweet to crunch on. It helps keep me more alert when I’ve been driving for long periods of time.

I saw the box of Rainbow Nerds at the store and knew it would do the trick.

Nerds Box

As expected, it lasted me the entire trip home. I even had some leftover. When you’re on the road for hours upon hours, you have a lot of time for reflection. One’s mind wanders. As I was nostalgically eating my rainbow candy and wondering why the hell it was SO freaking tasty, even to my thirty-three year old tongue, it hit me that this particular blend of flavors made me think, “This is what pink tastes like.”

Which sounds ridiculous, I know. But that is exactly what the mixture of flavors in this box makes me think of–pink!

And when you look at them, there are supposedly a varied amount of flavors here; it seems like there’s lemon, orange, apple or watermelon, grape, strawberry.

Nerds Hand 1

If you’re wondering what I did after taking this picture, I had to shove all of them in my face, lest a tiny morsel fall and start a nerd avalanche. It was awesomesauce.

Put them all together, though, and you get this pink tasting flavor (YUM) that explodes in tang once you get to start crunching on them. Talk about addicting.

The thing is, I really don’t buy candy anymore, save for something chocolate on occasion, but colorful, pure sugar candy? No way. I’ve just plain moved on from it.

And yet Wonka, that crafty bastard, has managed to keep my interest in this one particular candy, a relationship now spanning twenty-five years. These teensy, delicate, food-colored bits that are nothing more than hardened syrups and sugars still do it for me. And now that I’ve declared this “the taste of pink,” I foresee myself buying another box as a treat sometime down the road.

On the one hand, I want to embrace my quirky passion for this Zoe-tailored treat. On the other, I feel like a sucker to Mass Marketing, who knows exactly what they’re doing when they target kids at the earliest of ages with their extreme flavors and bright colors.

I have SOME self-control. I won’t be stocking up on Rainbow Nerds as if they’re going to disappear from shelves like Twinkies did (for all of what, a week?). But I know I’ll be back.

Being an 80s child means I have some majorly strong attachments to the things I grew up with. Nerds have withstood the test of time. They’re just as fun to eat as they were when I was a kid and now they embody the flavor of pink in my adult mind.

Wonka: 1 | Zoe: 0

A Sebastian Amongst Wo/Men

You’re all familiar with the song “Les Poissons” from The Little Mermaid, right? Let’s go with that assumption, since most of humanity has seen that movie.

Well, I am what you would call a Sebastian. I can not tolerate being around most fish flesh without getting queasy. It sounds hyper dramatic but it’s totally true.

Crab legs? Lobster? Mussels? Cold dead fish with the eyeballs still intact, staring vacantly back at me?

My issues with creatures from the ocean center largely around two aspects: how does it smell and does it have a shell?

I can’t say that I have never consumed seafood or that I never will again. About once a year I can tolerate a few ice cold shrimp cocktail with cocktail sauce. Caveat: no sauce, no shrimp. If I think about eating a shrimp on its own, ice cold or otherwise, my knee-jerk response is to hold my breath. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I have texture issues.

Cooked shrimp should not come near me. (Smell.) I enjoy a delicious “crab” rangoon but I have been told that my taste for it is more about the cream cheese and seasonings more than any “crab” that may be in it. (No smell, no shell.)

Other things I have tried over the years, whether by force or by choice, are fried calamari (only if the smell isn’t fishy, also no shell) and crab cakes (smell/hint of fishiness will get a thumbs down and with crab cakes, I didn’t have to witness the crab being mutilated).

However, watching/hearing crustaceans being cracked open is like nails on a chalkboard for me. Recently, when watching Top Chef, Paul began ripping open LIVE lobsters and I had to cower under a blanket with my fingers in my ears until the scene was over. I was uncertain for a few moments whether I’d keep my dinner down.

It looked something like this.

I’m pretty sure I must have been a crustacean in a former life because I just lose it when I have to be around any kind of shellfish and people are smashing/cracking/ripping them open. It’s an intensely physical response where I want to curl up in the fetal position, throw up a little, and then die.

I refuse to step foot into a Red Lobster or a Joe’s Crab Shack or anything resembling one of those places. I just don’t “get” having a gigantic crusty thing sitting on a plate in front of you and wanting to rip it open. To me, lobsters are the roaches of the sea. I know–gross imagery. But that’s just how I perceive them.

Despite being a grown woman who is well familiar with my senses of taste and smell, I get some strange looks and/or reactions from people when I tell them that I can’t stand fish or seafood and that even the smell makes me lose my appetite. I don’t know if it’s because most people outgrow it or what but some people’s responses have made me feel as if I should get over it or that I must be faking or overly exaggerating. The truth is, I’m really not. Fish just isn’t for everyone.

In the same way that I flat out do not understand people who don’t enjoy chocolate or popcorn, I get an occasional incredulous stare when I pipe up during a conversation where a group is deciding where to eat dinner and I have to say, “As long as it’s not only a seafood restaurant.” It makes me wish I were allergic, quite honestly. That would probably go over better.

It should go without saying that sushi is included in my general distaste for fish but people have had to clarify that with me. I’ve lost count how many times I have heard, “Taste this, it’s REALLY not fishy.” Correction: it ALWAYS tastes fishy! I don’t know if this is because I’m a supertaster or why I can’t stomach it, but both my brother and I have extremely strong aversions to fish. (My parents, on the other hand, are both avid lovers of seafood and don’t understand how we’re related to them.)

On rare occasions do I wish to be like “everyone else” and enjoy a fresh seafood dish. Visits to coastal cities are wasted opportunities on me when it comes to going to acclaimed seafood restaurants. When I lived in New York, I hated to even walk past a fish shop or seafood restaurant, worried that the smell would follow me, or worse yet, stick to my clothing.

And folks, the smell CAN stick to clothing and hair. Prime example: on Valentine’s Day, Kevin enjoyed a seafood dish for dinner. Later in the week, I went to wear the shirt to work, since I had only worn it to dinner. When I put it on, I immediately smelled the remnants of his dinner all over the shirt. It’s lucky I didn’t put the thing in a bucket with gasoline and set it on fire. The shirt survived after I put it in the wash but my brain was screaming from the olfactory overload.

Before writing this post, I even tested myself and watched “Les Poissons” on YouTube to see if the images OF A CARTOON MAN KILLING CARTOON FISH would still bother me and I confirmed that my stomach muscles still tense up and quiver when I’m watching and listening to the gutting of non-existent seafood. Sad? Probably. But oh so true.

And so, after more than 31 years of detesting even the smell alone of dead/raw/cooked fish, I think it’s safe to say my taste buds aren’t converting anytime soon.

For Serious Hot Chocolate Lovers

Hello friends and countrymen! I’ve been watching and becoming obsessed with Downton Abbey lately so I’m even more keen to write formally these days.

My apologies for my small absence away from the blog. Life has been nutso since the calendar turned to 2012. I’m hoping to be able to set aside more time for blogging very soon. I just gotta get taxes and other Adult Responsibilities taken care of in the meantime.

Today, I am sharing with you my homemade hot chocolate recipe. It’s something I’ve tweaked over the years and it’s one of those recipes that can be tailored to just about anyone’s taste, be it more or less chocolate, more or less sweet, more or less creamy–you get the idea.

In college, I made this a lot since it’s relatively easy and when we were feeling a little risqué, we would turn it into Adult Hot Chocolate, which is just adding Bailey’s, Kahlua, or even whiskey, if that is your desire.

I will preface my hot chocolate story by saying that this cocoa will not resemble anything remotely close to the likes of Swiss Miss or anything “instant,” nor does this recipe use a microwave. If that is your idea of what cocoa is supposed to taste like, you’re in for a shock and a treat. This stuff means srs bsns.

Hot chocolate is meant to be made with unsweetened cocoa, milk and/or cream, and your choice of sugar/sweetener. And that is IT. Really! I can’t tell you how many times I go into a restaurant or even coffee shop to find that nobody does it like this – it’s all instant or made with syrups. This is high fructose corn syrup free, people.

All right, let’s do this.

Get yourself some unsweetened cocoa. I used Hershey’s but Nestle and Ghiardelli are also fantastic.

For a single serving, you’ll want to put 2 T. of cocoa powder in a sauce pan. If you’re a cocoa junkie like me, use 3 T. I like mine very rich and chocolatey. For two servings, use 4-5 T. of cocoa powder. For each tablespoon of cocoa powder you put in the pot, put in 1 T. of water.

Now for the sweet stuff. For a single serving, add 2-3 T. of sugar or Splenda. If you like your cocoa REALLY sweet, you can add more. For two servings of hot chocolate, put in 4-6 T. of sugar or sweetener. I would start off with the lesser amount and add more to taste later. You can’t unsweeten it!

Turn your burner on medium or medium/low. This is very important. You can easily burn the chocolate mixture or scald the milk if you have the heat on too high.

Using a wooden or metal spoon, begin stirring the ingredients together. If it seems too dry or thick, add another tablespoon or so of water. The mixture should melt together into creamy, melted chocolate.

The key here is to stir constantly. The chocolate can burn easily or stick to the bottom of the pot. But since you have your heat on medium to medium low, you’ll be just fine. When the chocolate is clearly melted and getting very hot, time to grab your cream/milk!

Because I like my hot chocolate thick and creamy, I use 1/2 C. of cream or half ‘n half and another 1/4 to 1/2 C. milk. You can certainly use 100% milk. If you’re using skim milk, I don’t quite see the point since you may as well be using water, but to each his own. A full cup of 2% milk does quite nicely. For two servings, you may only want to use 1.5 C of cream/milk, but if you want it thinner, use 2 C. of milk.

If you use the cream/milk method, add the cream first, stirring constantly and making sure the chocolate blends in nicely. When that becomes dark and chocolatey, slowly add the milk. Keep up that stirring!

If you use all milk, pour it in slowly, no more than half a cup at one time, stirring and stirring away.

After all the milk/cream has been incorporated and it’s heating up, do a quick taste test. If it’s too bitter, add a a little more sugar or sweetener. If you like it slightly bittersweet, as I do, get it to a nice hot temperature and pour it into your favorite mug.

Optional toppings are marshmallows or whipped cream. If you make your cocoa slightly bittersweet, marshmallows are such a nice option because you’ll get a little burst of sweetness melting in your mouth with the creamy cocoa. But sometimes a naked cup of hot chocolatey goodness really does the trick.

I’d love to hear if you try this out and if you love it as much as I do! This is definitely filed under Zoe Recommends: Homemade Hot Chocolate! Bon appetit!

Hot Chocolate

Photo courtesy of Louish Pixel on Flickr.

Underdog Holiday Favorite

Well hello there.

Are you not much of a “baker?” Are you looking for something completely mind-blowingly easy to make for the holidays to share with friends that will astound them with deliciousness?

Look no more, for I am about to share with you a classic favorite that has wowed many with whom I’ve shared this recipe.

It’s actually not even a recipe from my own family; it comes from one of my mom’s best friends.

But it is a HIT and you would never guess that these little babies would rock your world–but oh, they will.

There are four ingredients and about three easy steps. Sound good? Of course it does.

——

Toasted Pecans à la Zoe Says

(This recipe can easily be doubled – and probably should be, since they’ll go fast.)

4 C. pecan halves     1/4 C. unsalted butter (same as 4T. or half a stick)
1 tsp. seasoned salt     1 tsp. aromatic bitters

If you’re wondering what the heck aromatic bitters are, it’s an elixir that can be found in most liquor aisles of a grocery store. Or you can go straight to a large liquor store, where they’ll probably have it. You can search high and low for bitters in the baking aisle but you will not find it – take it from me. It’s usually used in cocktails. And now, it’s also used to enhance toasted pecans.

Oh yeah, and if you have a nut allergy or are like my friend Meg who just thinks pecans look and taste gross (she says the wrinkles creep her out), then yeah, you won’t like these. But EVERYONE ELSE will.

——

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Lay the pecans flat within a jelly roll pan or on a baking sheet that doesn’t have an open end on one side. Toast the pecan halves for 20 minutes. They will look slightly darker and your kitchen will smell awesome.

Gently melt the butter in a bowl in the microwave or over low heat on the stove until it’s liquified.

Mix together the butter, bitters and seasoned salt. Mix well! Drizzle this Magic Potion over the pecans. Toss the pecans to ensure they’re equally coated (using two spatulas is easiest).

Bake for another 15 minutes, tossing every 5-7 minutes until done.

Cool on paper towels. Amaze friends.

Note: If you are going to put these in a festive holiday tin, definitely line the tin with paper towels. It’ll prevent the tin from getting the salt and oil from the butter in it.

——

Did I take illustrative photos? Naturally.

You know what melted butter looks like. I just like my little French bowl.

The festiveness is killing me.

Who Decided Peppermint is the Flavor of Christmas?

The above question is not rhetorical. I would really, really like to know.

So if any of you fine readers out there have a conspiracy theory or an actual fact for me, I’d love to hear it. In lieu of knowing the answer, I’ll pose the question a different way, phrasing it around my own personal unsubstantiated hypothesis:

When the heads of food companies get together to strategize on just how to brainwash the masses with the next food trend, how did they decide that peppermint should be the ubiquitous flavor of the holiday season?

Peppermint is on my “Not a Huge Fan of” taste list. There are exactly five things I can withstand with peppermint/wintergreen/menthol crème de menthe:

  • Breath mints and gum
  • Thin Mints (also known as Grasshoppers, made by those wonderful Keebler Elves; they also make Samoas that aren’t Samoas, in case any of you are still keeping up with my Girl Scout Cookies in Disguise)
  • Andes Mints (pretty much the only chocolate/mint candy I find that balances the chocolate and mint JUST right)
  • Toothpaste

I don’t “do” Mojitos, peppermint candy canes are only for decoration in my mind (though the cherry ones are amaaaaaaziiiiiiing!), I will not deign to eat the round peppermint candy after-dinner-mints, and I’m unsure why peppermint flavored lip gloss is so popular, but it is. (I think it has to do with the lip plumping. Or maybe that it’s the most effective way to make something taste like candy without it being too childish, as is the case with watermelon flavored things.)

Is mint a wintertime thing? Does the cooling sensation remind us of snow? I guess that’s where York Peppermint Patties got their whole shtick.

And also, is it just me or does anyone else have difficulty drinking water after eating anything minty? I never know how long I’m going to have to wait before I can consume liquids again.

Some people jump for joy at the release of Everything Mint come November but I’m finding it more challenging to get to the regular, non-minty holiday candy. Just today, I went to go get a favorite holiday staple of mine: the red, green, and silver Hershey’s Kisses.


Sorry, a little nostalgia break.

In my search for the plain old, delicious, nothing-extra-just-chocolate-Kisses, I came upon a WALL of peppermint candy. At the bottom of this post are just TEN examples of the bags of candy proudly put on display. It’s like the peppermint candy went through some kind of population explosion. It’s seriously crazy. My jaw was slightly slack while I snapped the photos with my phone. (I may have looked a little daft at Walgreen’s.)

Even my friend who was with me was surprised at all the inventive ways that candy companies are making peppermint more enticing. Is there just some huge stash of mint laying around somewhere that needs to be used up? Do the mint farmers have something with which to blackmail the food companies?

Maybe I’m in alone in this and it’s just a popular flavor that everyone else digs but me. I can name a handful of flavors I love to enjoy during the holidays, but peppermint ain’t one.

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Tide-Me-Overs

Today, I had a small epiphany while I was eating a little snack.

And when I had it, I looked something like this:

Same euphoria as, "ME? You want ME to be the director of your Christmas play?"

So there I was, minding my own business and eating a Peanut Butter Twix, when it hit me.

“Why, this tastes EERILY similar to one of the all-time greatest snack cookies that ever existed – Tagalongs!” I thought to myself. If you don’t know what a Tagalong is, I fear for you, unless you hate chocolate and peanut butter, one of the greatest combinations of foods ever to grace our planet. (If you are allergic to peanuts, I am very sorry for your loss.)

Tagalongs are the chocolate enrobed peanut butter patties that the Girl Scouts sell every year, when they finally deign to emerge from the cookie factories with untold number of boxes, ready to be sold in offices of the parents of Girl Scouts nationwide.

A Tagalong looks like this:

I don’t really have a photo of what it tastes like but the one of Charlie Brown above is a pretty accurate representation. They’re just….little miracle cookies, is the best way to put it. Of course, I am decidedly NOT shunning Thin Mints or Samoas, because those also hold a special place in my heart. But I am one of the rare few who outright states that this is my favorite Girl Scout cookie.

According to this blog post, Girl Scouts changed up some of the names of the cookies a few years back. Since I don’t always get a chance to order Girl Scout cookies each year, I had no idea. This woman was pretty incensed about it, however. Apparently Samoas are called Caramel deLites? Pretty lame. And I don’t know who decided to downgrade Tagalongs to “Peanut Butter Cookies,” but are you kidding me?

Here’s my favorite excerpt:

The new names are depressingly literal. I loved that the old names were either bad puns (“Samoas,” like “some mores,” get it?) or filled with obscure Girl Scout references.

“Trefoils” are the insignia scouts wear; “tagalong” is a game they used to play.”All Abouts,” were stamped with Girl Scout values–like “confidence” and “character.”

They’re now called “Thanks-A-Lots,” which sounds sarcastic (“thanks a lot), although the cookies are earnestly printed with the word “thank you” in five languages. (The ad copy on my daughter’s form describes them as “heart-warming shortbread cookies dipped in rich fudge”).

I will forever be delighted to overlay the “Thanks-A-Lots” with a sarcastic tone from this day forward.

If you’re like me, and you are frustrated that Girl Scout cookies can not be available at least one extra time of year (could they not make a killing right before the holidays?), take heart! Peanut Butter Twix tastes pretty much exactly like a Tagalong, with the exception of a chocolate cookie inside instead of a vanilla one. The cookie flavor itself doesn’t make as much of a difference, but perhaps the Twix people have some kind of inside knowledge of the kind of peanut butter filling the Girl Scouts use in the Tagalongs, because the consistency is almost identical.

Basically, Peanut Butter Twix are Tagalongs in disguise (and ‘stick’ form). And! They’ve been around for almost thirty years. Pretty clever, if you ask me. I don’t regularly buy candy bars and the like but I was craving something of this ilk today when I was in the drugstore, and when I passed by the display, I pulled another Charlie Brown:

"THAT'S IT!!!"

My advice? If you haven’t ever experienced a Tagalong and don’t want to wait until February, or whenever the damn cookies are sold, get thee to your nearest drugstore and purchase a Peanut Butter Twix, otherwise known as Tide-Me-Overs. Break your Tagalong virginity. Zoe Recommends!