Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Starbucks UK Fan Flavour Frappuccinos - Cookie Dough & Cupcake (Part 1)

When I first read about Starbuck's USA releasing the 6 new 'fan-inspired' flavors, I had a conniption. I was both seen and heard raving about how the UK never gets anything fun, and I cursed the good name of the yogurt Frappuccinos. I was like, "Listen. English people like sweets too. It's the only country where I've seen a grown man tuck into a bag of Sour Patch Kids in public, so let them indulge, because they most certainly could understand a cake-flavored drink." The popularity of Frijj should lay testament to that.

Anyway, my raving and sputtering to Mr Starbucks' ears, because we've got four very cool flavours in our midst now. Thank me later.

The most exciting to me? Cookie Dough. See, now if I were in America I'd actually be incredibly annoyed that we didn't get that one - I'd be like, "English people get all the best flavors!" Cookie Dough is comprised of hazelnut syrup &white chocolate mocha sauce, blended with chocolate chips and topped with whipped creme and (clearly not compulsory for all Starbucks) chocolate chips.

Second most exciting (and luckily, most exciting for my husband/tasting partner) is Cupcake. It's a classic move, and the flavor I can see most easily translating into creme blended format. This one is a Vanilla Bean creme base (which surprisingly was not available in the UK before this launch) with almond syrup, topped with whipped creme. Sprinkles? No, but good idea - please note for the future, Starbucks. Use some of the left-overs from those mallow skewers.

Lets start with the Cookie Dough. I was vaguely disappointed that mine didn't have the chocolate chip topping, but I'm not about the ask the people at Starbucks to give me more chocolate chips when I'm already ordering the most whimsical drink on their menu. I mean, I'd prefer I didn't have to ask, you know? It is part of the recipe - then again, eh. Perhaps that is a sign, however, that they're not really paying much attention to what they're supposed to be doing.

The drink was very thin for a Frappaccino, which is my usual experience in London Starbucks. When you get them in America they're always quite thick and 'shake like'. Probably in America a thickening agent is used that is banned in the EU, or something else weird like that. It's not a negative, I actually kind of prefer the more slurpable English style ones. Just a note that this one seemed even thinner than usual though, and I think that has to do with the multiple syrups in play here.

It tasted nice, it reminded me of those Cookie Dough flavored confections that are quite popular in movie theatres, but it was missing the buttery & salty notes of real cookie dough. You can really make out the hazelnut syrup, which is a bit of a shame if you ask me, because cookie dough isn't nutty. I do see what they're going for though, because the white mocha blends quite well and when you put them together it does have some of the richness of cookie dough. Frankly, some of the issues with the taste may come from the poor blending - mine looks like two distinct layers of drink. I can appreciate that since there are multiple syrups it's a more difficult drink to perfect...

The chips were also bit too finely blended to really even count for anything, which was a disappointment. The Java Chip Frappuccino manages to maintain a lot of chip integrity, with big ol' chunks coming down the straw on every two or three sips. This one was just finely sieved chocolate shavings, it seemed like. I'd suggest they go about it more like they do the Java Chip, and maybe even just use the java chips themselves because the slight bitterness of that chocolate is even more reminiscent of classic chocolate chip cookie dough made with semi-sweet morsels.

All in all, not bad & totally worth a try if you're in the mood for something sweet & a bit nutty, but a slight dropped ball that may have just as much to do with my location as it does anything else.

The Cupcake flavor was actually a big improvement. It tasted just like a vanilla cake made with...almond flour. Why almond flour? Well, because they use almond syrup in addition to the Vanilla Bean base. The Vanilla Bean base does really add to this one, making it warmly sweet & fragrant (like vanilla extract), and does a nice job of approximating the taste of 'baking'. I think since there is only one syrup used in this recipe, there is a lot less chance of error. It was also thicker, more like a standard Frappuccino. I used to order plain Vanilla Bean fraps in America, and it was just like a nuttier version of that. 

I think partly this one works better is because cupcakes are a less nuanced flavor than cookie dough, as well. It's just a matter of tasting sweet, vanilla-y, and 'baked'. This one really does pull it off. It comes with a much higher recommendation than the Cookie Dough.

Very interesting to note, I thought, that the Cupcake flavor in the UK is flavored with almond syrup, whereas the American Cupcake flavor is done with hazelnut syrup. Both syrups are available in the UK, but in America the almond syrup has been discontinued for a long time. Wonder which is better?

Check back soon for Part 2, where I'll review Cinnamon Swirl & Summer Pie.

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