This One Weird Trend is Baffling KitKat Bloggers Everywhere…
Oh, hi! Yes, I’m still alive. Anne reminded me that I have a lot of KitKats on the backlog, so it was way past time. I figured I’d start with the new sales gimmick that Nestle Japan seems to be pushing. We’ve already talked about the Adult Sweetness line, and the “ice cream” bars you’re supposed to freeze before eating. Now, it seems that the new hotness is… heat.
I’m not sure if these flavors are based off previous ones; somehow I’ve had many cheesecake flavors with specific fruits, but never a “plain” one. And I’ve had at least two sweet potato varieties but they were very specific regional varieties.
(Oh, and the cheesecake ones were a gift from my friend Sammy. Thanks, Sammy!)
The trick with these is that you’re supposed to bake them in the oven until they get brown. Despite the optimistic photographs on the packaging, I had a hard time imagining how that could go well, so the first task was to taste them as if they were normal KitKat bars.
I immediately liked the sweet potato! Opening the foil wrapper, you get an instant hit of vegetal, yammy aromas. The flavor’s a bit on the sweet side, as usual, but there’s no mistaking what this is supposed to be.
(“This is weird,” says a coworker. “I don’t know how I’m supposed to feel about this.”)
“Cheesecake” didn’t really do it for me, though. There’s a bit of a lactic tartness to it, but also a weirdly lime-like quality to the acidity. I didn’t think cheesecake so much as I thought of flavored Calpico. On the other hand, I think Nestle is really timid on the cheese aspect of their cheesecake flavors, preferring to opt for straight sweetness rather than a good New York-style tang. The only flavor I’ve ever thought was really cheesecake-like was the one that was supposed to just taste like cheese.
That’s not what you’re here for, though. Let’s get them into the oven!
So the packaging itself is not very descriptive about what you’re supposed to do, other than put them in the oven. I decided to try as hot as my kitchen’s would go, which was 500 degrees. I also set it to broil so that the heat would only come from the coils above.
Things didn’t go well. All the chocolate sloughed off before any browning happened at all, leaving slightly soggy but still crisp wafers sitting in a viscous goo of sugar.
I tasted them anyway. They tasted exactly like they did before baking, only somehow more gross.
Oh! Did I mention that I also found an old, unopened bag of Baked Custard Pudding KitKats in the meantime? Trifecta! I guess it’s time for a slight detour.
Back in 2011, I wrote about Custard Pudding KitKats. There’s no way I’m going to remember exactly how they tasted, but the writeup I did then seems about accurate. Generally, think flan, and you’ll have the idea.
Anyway, I waited a couple weeks before making my second attempt. I honestly hadn’t recovered from the horror yet, but I did want to give this an honest try. This time, I went for my toaster oven — smaller space, much closer heat source. Also, it’s an off-brand thing I bought for $10 one Black Friday, so if anything’s going to try to burn something beyond all expectation, this was the thing.
Fire extinguisher at the ready, I turned the thing to broil and let it heat up. Just kidding. I don’t have a fire extinguisher.
I set the timer for two minutes. About thirty seconds in, things were starting to look bad. The chocolate was oozing, like last time, and you could see the wafer texture start to appear. Fast forward to a minute-thirty, though, and…
I took the foil off and put it on the counter to help it cool, but I honestly wanted to eat them warm. That meant they were still gooey on the sides when I picked them up. This is a great way to lose some money value in chocolate, unless you’re the kind of gal that likes to lick chocolate right off the foil. Ummmmm, yes. I am.
The cheesecake ones browned the fastest and I pulled out the tray when I started to get worried, even though the other two were a little behind — though in the end, I’d say they ended up perfect and the cheesecakes were just a bit overdone. The first thing that wafted out was just the most beautiful baked sweet potato fragrance. Swoon! As before, the wafers were still crisp, but now there was a really wonderful caramelized crunch on top.
In general, the flavors ended up less sweet (although this could be from having less chocolate still attached) and with a definite toasted quality. Sweet potato fared the best, with the warm, root veggie flavors really coming out with the heat. I’d liked it most of the unbaked versions, though, so that wasn’t surprising! Cheesecake was still weirdly over-limey, and maybe a touch burnt. Custard pudding had a really beautiful, caramelized molasses flavor from the browning process. If you wanted a crème brulee KitKat, this is the closest thing.
Anyway, this is hardly going to become my standard way of eating KitKats, but it was a fun experience. Even if it was literally a bit of a hot mess! I’m not sure if the chocolate was formulated to brown this way, but I’m tempted to try it out with some of the other extra bars I have. Since the process seems to bring out subtle flavors in sweeter bars, maybe… wasabi? I’ll report back if I do.
Two years, right? I’ve got a bunch more on the backlog, so hopefully there’s more to come, and soon.
Although this site could really use a redesign…
P.S. - I found a video on YouTube that explains how you’re supposed to bake these. You’re not supposed to preheat the oven, which makes sense — keep to direct heat rather than having the ambient temperature in the oven melt your chocolate. So I gave it a try:
Those sure look better, but I think the texture was worse, somehow. The wafers were soggy and I didn’t get quite the sugary crunch on top. But! They do come out pretty.