Thursday, August 26, 2010

Kraft Jet-Puffed SwirlMallows: Caramel & Vanilla Marshmallows

I think we all know by now that if there is a marshmallow type product out there, I will try it. I like them plain, I like them flavored. I liked them chocolate covered. Heck, in a move that surprises everyone, including me, I even like them coconut covered.

So when I saw the new Jet-Puffed SwirlMallows, I had to try them. I picked up a bag of Caramel & Vanilla flavor. (Research showed me that there is also a Chocolate & Vanilla option out there -- and I would have gotten those as well, had I seen them.)

I warn you up front: you will smell the fake caramel aroma right through the plastic bag. In fact, the aroma is so strong that if you are within about three feet of them you will smell them. It's that too-sweet smell that caramel flavored items tend to have, rather than the nice burnt sugar smell of real caramel. Naturally, this was kind of off-putting. I am not exactly expecting hand made artisan caramel here, but the smell is just cloying. It reminded me of cheap air freshener.

They are cute enough, however, with the light brown striping on the outside and tan splotches on the inside.

So, how does it taste? As always with marshmallow products, I tried them both "raw" and "toasted."

RAW: It tastes remarkably like a regular old marshmallow -- except that it does have that "caramel flavor" added to it. It's sort of as if the marshmallows had been lightly soaked in the type of commercial syrup used to flavor coffee. It's not a bad taste, but it's a little stronger than I would like. Kinda forgettable, really.

TOASTED: OK, let me be honest here -- I do not merely "toast" my marshmallows. I incinerate them! I do this to all marshmallows that I eat cooked. I happen to like the crunch and the charred taste that setting them afire and letting them burn beyond recognition brings. And of course that also makes for a really cool flaming marshmallow photo. (Do not try this at home, kids -- I am a somewhat skilled professional.)

(In retrospect, using a real flame on them may have been overkill. The temperature here in my cheerful Southern California town reached 113 degrees F yesterday -- which is 45 degrees Celsius, for my overseas readers -- so I probably could have just left them on the balcony and waited for them to spontaneously combust in the sunlight. Or at least melt into a puddle of disgusting goo. Or both. But let's be honest...playing with fire is just more fun, isn't it?)

Anyway, the flavor rounds out much better when they're toasted. The caramel taste is still present, but it seems more toned down and more like "real" caramel...which it might indeed be, given the carbonized sugar that results. In either case, toasted is definitely the better way to eat them.

I'd be lying to you if I didn't admit that the bag has been snacked out of on a pretty steady clip since I got them. Are they my favorite marshmallows ever? No -- that honor still goes to Vosges for their Caramel Marshmallows -- but I certainly would not complain if a bag "magically" made its way into my shopping basket again.

Be sure to check out Jess's review of the Chocolate & Vanilla variety here.






100 Calories per 4 pieces


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