Always popular for readers when I review them, backpacking desserts can be a hit or miss. If you have read any of our past reviews, the desserts can be so good, or sooooo bad. A great one will make your trip that much better, especially if all it needs is cold water and a few minutes to sit to rehydrate.
Both choices reviewed today use low amounts of water (under a cup), so are great for dry camps. With no cooking needed, there is no fuel needed and cleanup is nothing more than the spoons used.
Both desserts reviewed today had a best use date of 2033, so 10 years out fully. They were made very recently in August, so very fresh. Always check the dates when you buy commercial meals!
I picked up two desserts we hadn’t tried before, from Backpacker’s Pantry. These desserts are not exactly the healthiest ingredient wise, but most desserts are not either.
As noted in the reviews below, both desserts have multiple artificial coloring added (Yellow 5, Yellow 6). Both desserts also carry the “contains a bioengineered food ingredient” label at the bottom.
Both of these desserts use a “cheesecake mix base” and this is why both desserts have these above issues. More troubling is they both contain hydrogenated palm kernel oil. This is how the cheesecake base sets up though – without refrigeration needed.
As a rare treat it’s OK, but not something you should be eating daily for sure. It’s slightly jarring though, because Backpacker’s Pantry overall is known for shorter ingredient lists and avoiding a lot of questionable ingredients. But…you can’t get desserts like these without food science and chemistry for sure. So we will overlook it all, and talk about taste/texture and smell. That’s more fun.
However, as a dark warning….The Talent wasn’t overly impressed this round.
Up first was Dark Chocolate Cheesecake Mix:
Each serving has 300 calories, 15 grams fat, 21 grams total sugar, and 6 grams protein.
The ingredient list is very long on this dessert. It also carries a “contains a bioengineered food ingredient” label at the bottom. Guessing where this comes from can be fun, it is usually soy or corn. This has corn multiple times, so who knows. If it is an issue to you, keep it mind. It also has multiple artificial coloring added (Yellow 5, Yellow 6).
You will need to beat the mix very well to get the water mixed in, and it will be lumpy at first. After sitting for 10 minutes, you can stir the lumps out.
Oddly I didn’t find this dark chocolate flavored to me. It was more like milk chocolate flavor. And it needed quadruple the amount of cookies. But maybe that is me talking.
Overall it was OK. It wasn’t too sweet. The boys did finish it off.
Downside was I felt it was too soft in texture. It needed to be colder (see below on how to achieve this).
Second dessert was Crème Brûlée:
Each serving has 310 calories, 15 grams fat, 21 grams total sugar, and 6 grams protein.
It carries a “contains a bioengineered food ingredient” label at the bottom. Guessing where this comes from can be fun, it is usually soy or corn. This has corn in it. It also has multiple artificial coloring added (Yellow 5, Yellow 6).
This dessert a fork would have mixed it far better than a spoon. It was super lumpy. After beating the water in for a minute I set it aside for the 10 minutes. When I came back it was really soft/runny. I beat it again and the lumps mostly finally came out. I served it up and sprinkled the candy topping on.
And lord, I try to find a positive and here it is: The candy was great.
It reminded me of the German sugar I brought back from Antarctica this year. Of which I should have offered freedom to more packages of it to come live in North America.
The pudding part? All I could taste and smell was dry milk powder which I really do not like the taste of plain. It is a sour smell/flavor to me. There was no other flavor. (And this is something that happens across the companies making desserts, where the milk smell is so strong.)
Neither boy would take more than one bite.
This dessert was a complete flop. Outside of the sugar topping.
Notes and Thoughts:
The biggest issue I had with these two desserts was the soft texture. It was like really soft pudding. I have had other cheesecake desserts which were far thicker.
Now then, this could be due to water temperature. My water was most likely around 57°, the temperature outside. If one were to use far colder water, straight out of a stream in alpine, it would be far cooler. This would lead to better setup.
When we make cheesecake and pudding recipes for the trail, I call for putting the freezer bag into a cold stream or snow bank to help chill it. The mylar bags here would pose an issue – it wouldn’t let the cold in, just as it doesn’t let the warmth out quickly. The other issue is that desserts like these don’t do well in hot/humid areas. Colder weather, the better.
So unless you were to prepare the desserts in a separate quart freezer bag, you couldn’t chill it. And for me, cold is key for enjoying puddings/cheesecake. My mind expects it, and tepid isn’t good.
Another issue is the mix didn’t well…mix in well at first. And if you stirred too hard, it splashed everywhere. The lumps were not OK. Yes, I could work them out by stirring after 10 minutes, but it shouldn’t be that bad. Use a fork! It’ll blend the mix better.
Disclaimer: All items were bought by us to review. All thoughts are ours.