On November 3, Christmas (and those coveted planners!) come to Starbucks.
Valentine’s Day and Christmas are the two occasions that I get most excited about at Starbucks. Everything from the food to the merchandise and the drinks are aimed to tease and tantalize and this year’s selection succeeds tremendously. Below, my favorites.
Let’s talk about those planners. On the 9th year of this offering, the Limited Edition Starbucks Coffee 2012 Planner is all about being good to the earth. This year’s planner comes in five covers evocative of the earth and its resources: Poplar, Bamboo, Cherry, Spruce, and Oak. Produced in a facility that ensures that the world’s forests are responsibly managed, the planner’s pages are made from 70% recycled paper, plus every planner comes with a pouch, a bookmark and nine different coupons that can be redeemed at all Starbucks stores. Every planner redeemed is a donation made to SparkHope, Starbucks Philippines’ flagship program in partnership with UNICEF for early childhood care and development.
Visit your favorite Starbucks store to learn more about the two options available this year to redeem a Limited Edition Starbucks Coffee 2012 Planner.
(From left and clockwise): Glazed Ham with Apricot Spread on Multi-grain Bread, Sun-dried Tomato & Basil Roll (I like this with cream cheese but butter and jam is okay too), Turkey & Chicken with Apple Stuffing on Whole Wheat Walnut Bread, Texas Chicken BBQ Wrap (I like this one).
Starbucks serves some of the better sandwiches and I especially appreciate the creativity of their fillings. For me, Christmas is all about ham so it comes as no surprise that my favorite among their holiday sandwich selection is the Glazed Ham with Apricot Spread on Multi-grain Bread (P140). The ham is an interplay of sweet and salty embraced by mozzarella and an apricot dressing. The bread provides a delightful rusticity with its multi-grain topping and crunch. Ask for this to be toasted.
(From bottom and clockwise): Pecan Butterscotch Twirl, S’mores (graham cracker cookie hiding a cache of marshmallow cream and chocolate ganache), Hazelnut Stollen.
Breakfast is best with a coffee and a pastry and this Christmas, Starbucks gives me two reasons to make my mornings more enjoyable. The Pecan Butterscotch Twirl (P85) reminds me of a babka I once baked. Thin and flaky like a croissant but bathed in butter and butterscotch, it’s pocked with pecans, and laced with white chocolate. Ahh, excess – I love it!
Starbucks delves into other countries’ Christmas traditions by offering their version of Stollen. A Christmas bread from Germany studded with glazed fruits, Starbucks’ Hazelnut Stollen Bread (P65) is a slightly sweet white dough with a whisper of butter. Within its folds is a spiral of hazelnut paste, a fanciful and classy touch. It has no chocolate, hazelnut’s frequent partner, so I feel that this is a bread you’ll definitively like. Or not. But do try it.
I get weak around anything with peanut butter so you can imagine my exhilaration upon first taste of this cake. The Triple Decker Cheesecake with Snickers® (? 130 slice / ? 1250 whole) is a marvel with its three distinct layers. From bottom to top, a chocolate cookie crust heaves with a cheesecake layer plied with blocks of Snickers; another layer, this time that of a peanut butter cheesecake leveled with chocolate fudge icing, is embedded with peanut brittle. Aggressive and peanutty, this cake is a vision to gaze upon, its separate textures an exploration for the tongue. I like pairing a slice with a cup of very strong black coffee.
The thing about this Warm Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake (? 110 slice / ? 950 whole) is that I don’t know if I should eat the two layers separately or together. The bottom level, which is easy enough to pry apart from its partner, is an enormous, chewy chocolate chip cookie. It’s lavished with a dark chocolate mousse that clutches even more cookie chunks. The top is a spiral maze of mini chocolate chip cookies, edible bulls-eyes. This cake is already pleasure exemplified but I’ve seen people multiply their ecstasy by topping this with whipped cream or dribbled with Starbucks’ own caramel drizzle. Ohhh…
And what is Christmas without chocolate? A riff of last year’s Molten Chocolate Cake (? 120), this year’s version hides a heart of caramel. A truffle that oozes a golden flow once pierced, it’s ensconced in an almost unreasonably moist but entirely elating chocolate sponge cake. I especially love it when my teeth hit some of those golden sugar grains. The people at Starbucks tell me that for maximum bliss, this should be served when it’s warm (make that HOT) and laced with their caramel sauce.
Good lord, Christmas has truly arrived.
Starbucks Holiday 2011 Collection
Available beginning November 3, 2011 at all Starbucks stores.