Sunday, June 30, 2013

Diff Kinda Choco-chip Cake Mix Cookies

Last month, I published the PC cake mix cookies recipe—featuring pecans and coconut, and using French Vanilla cake mix as the dry ingredient base. This time, I thought about a familiar, yet different cooky recipe, using my standard cake mix recipe. One variation of chocolate chip cookies is using half white cake mix and half fudge or chocolate cake mix.

In the distant past, I used to buy Jiffy Cake Mix, one white and one chocolate, and mix them together. (Each Jiffy box holds 9 ounces of powder, about half the amount of regular cake mix.) The Jiffy website alludes to less availability of their products in stores than the company prefers, although it does have a webpage for online shopping.

Hmm, the cartoon carton reminds me of Justin Timberlake in the SNL Veganville skit, looking like a pink brick of tofu. Anyway, as my supermarket did not carry Jiffy cake mixes, I thought I might buy one of each full-size mixes, weigh, mix half and half, and save the other halves for something in the future.

I spotted Duncan Hines' marble cake mix and decided to buy that powder instead—one box of mix instead of two. The box contains one main sack of white cake mix and a small pouch of chocolate powder mixture.

My pixstrip shows the ingredients on the left (powder mixes, coconut, chocolate chips, eggs, oil), baked cookies in the middle, and cooled and stacked cookies on the right.

Implements
  • cooky pan(s)
  • pastry blender
  • medium-large mixing bowl
  • small mixing bowl or large cup or jar (for eggs and oil)
  • measuring cup
  • measuring spoons
  • cooky spatula to lift and transfer baked cookies
  • cooling rack for done cookies

Ingredients
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 C cooking oil (I replaced 1 T with sesame oil.)
  • 1 18ish oz. marble cake mix (I used Duncan HInes brand.)
  • 1 C flaked coconut (I broke up the bigger, stuck clumps.)
  • 1 C chocolate chips

Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Pour the coconut into a medium-large mixing bowl, breaking up the lumps.
  3. Pour the cake mix white cake and chocolate powders into the coconut, using the pastry blender to blend together.
  4. In a bowl or large cup, combine the oil and eggs. For a more aromatic flavor, exchange 1 T of the oil with 1 T sesame oil.
  5. Pour the wet ingredients into the larger bowl and use a pastry blender to stir the ingredients together.
  6. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  7. Use a round tablespoon to scoop the dough. Shape to rounded, level, or concave height.
  8. Drop the spoon's dough onto the cooky sheet. Slightly press the lumps with the bottom of the measuring cup for flatter cookies. OK, be lazier and press down with palm or fingers together.
  9. Bake for about 10 to 11 minutes until the edges are lightly browned.
  10. Use the cooky spatula to lift and transfer the done cookies onto cooling rack. These cookies don't actually require much coaxing to loosen them from the pan.

Shaping the dough slightly concave yielded 52 cookies, same number as the pecan coconut cookies. The calories amount is a bit more—78 for these, 82 for the PCs. However, 4 calories per cooky difference isn't a lot to fuss about.

The following table shows the effect of including or excluding chips, coconut, or both. Note that omitting both chips and coconut result in the grand calorie savings of 25 per cookie. Can you stop at one?

Ingredient, calories
Version
A
B
C
D
cake mix powders, 2040
2 eggs, 140
1/3 C oil, 533
1 C coconut, 560
1 C chocolate chips, 800
batch (52), total calories
4073
3273
3513
2713
calories per cookie
~78
~62
~68
~52

One closing remark about this cooky recipe—the coconut didn't come through as prominently as I expected. A redo with adding coconut extract might enhance it more. Maybe fuggetabout coconut altogether.

Additional Past Cooky Recipes

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Escaling and Coupons

Escaling/e-scaling is not electronic scaling, despite the implicitness of my term. Some of you who are familiar with typography would know about E scales, plastic rulers used for measuring printed letters (using capital E as standard), line spacings, and line thicknesses. I bought and used two when I took desktop publishing, um, way back. Looking at them recently provided a trip down memory lane for uses. Those of you who used E scale(s), what features did yours have?

A couple of weeks ago, I started my usual pre-grocery store ritual of reviewing print coupons to consider using. OK. Tossed out expired ones that I wasn't all that committed to using. Re-stuffed ones into my later-packet that I can wait another couple of weeks. I put the will-use coupons into will-use packet and scribbled the item onto the grocery list with a circumscribed C—"©".

Coupons inspired me think about typography in coupons in addition to usage for buying products and savings or not. Most of my comments pertain to printed grocery store and eatery coupons. The pixstrip includes scans of my Escales and some sample coupons that have characteristics I've listed.

If anyone is in marketing, it'd be great if you would pass this article to your group. If you or your group have anything to do with coupons, my article has the most to say about those incentives. (I'm excluding looking at Groupon here.)

Like for the following types of coupons, applicable mostly for eateries
  • Bundling purchase of buying main item and getting side and beverage for free
  • Bundling purchase of buying side and beverage and getting main item for free
  • Buying one item and getting one free
  • Deep discount, such as half off
  • Bundling purchase of buying one meal and getting kid version for free
Like for practices by companies for the following features in grocery coupons
  • Picture(s) of product
  • Legible flavors and names of options, related to typography regarding font size and foreground/background
  • Flexibility for sizes applied to and available (really good—applicable to any size)
  • For meal-type coupons, adding the store area to seek the items, particularly TV dinners or pre=prepared that are room-temperature, refrigerated, or not obviously frozen-types
  • For salad dressing coupons for refrigeration-required dressings, mentioning that they're in refrigerated areas. Same goes for salsas.
  • Minimizing ALLCAPS for helping readability (mixed case for visual reading cues) saving physical space
  • "Save [coupon value]" rather than "[coupon value]" off
  • Savings value in eye-catching 24-point typeface size or larger
Like (preferences) for expiration information, tilted slightly more about coupons for groceries than eateries
  • At least a month duration
  • The last day of the month
  • Sunday preference over Saturday
  • At least 8-point font
  • Black text on white background (red on yellow common and reasonable)
  • Location at the top of the coupon
Forehead furrows—imho, questionable strategies in grocery coupons
  • Tear-off coupons on products
    • Some customers might forget to tear them off while in the checkout line.
    • Some customers might tear them off the packages for use in the future.
  • Lack of expiration dates
Thumbs down for various practices on coupons
  • Requirement to buy more than one item for obtaining the savings, particularly if rolling out a new product
  • Requirement to buy multiple different items for obtaining the savings, requiring navigation to different parts of the store
  • Inverse colors (e.g., white text on black) for coupon expirations and flavor options
  • Even worse, grays for either foreground, background, or both
  • "$.nn¢"—indicates ignorance or inattention to detail
  • Puny-value coupons—25 or 35¢, buy 2 and save ¢. Really? YMMV for what you consider puny.
  • Oversize or overwide coupons that require folding for fitting into a coupon pouch, often obscuring info, requiring that I choose between image/conditions or expiration
Related irritation: Major drugstore chains with overpriced items even with half-off or buy one-get-one-free alleged savings, in addition to requiring loyalty cards for discounts

Other coupon shape considerations
Landscape orientation provides more room for wordwrap than portrait. Also, they're easier to file and pull up for viewing the info. Square or almost square coupons seem to not provide obviously visual sectioning between image, size/variety info, and grocer conditions.

Leftover comments about eatery ads and coupons
  • Ads with the following items that can coax the consumer to visit
    • Address and map of eatery, unless the eatery is a well-known chain
    • Website
    • QR code icon
  • Irritation about the following conditions that some coupons have:
    • One-week expirations, particularly time window for start/end
    • Time effectivity, such as usable only after 5pm
What features do you see in the images I've included that appeal to you, intrigue you, or bug you? What do you like or dislike about ads and coupons that you run across?

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