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Taste test: pumpkin cream cheese, ravioli, cupcakes and tea

Many of us would agree that pumpkin tastes great in pies and breads, but food manufacturers might be pushing the envelope a bit when they start adding the flavors to butter, ice cream and doughnuts. Although we found numerous products infused with pumpkin, including bagels, apple cider and cookies, we picked four popular foods that might lend themselves to the added flavor. Our tasters were pleased with some of the options.

Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent

ProductPhiladelphia Limited Edition Cream Cheese With Real Pumpkin & CinnamonTrader Joe's Honey Roasted Pumpkin Ravioli Duncan Hines Pumpkin Spice Cupcake MixTazo Chai Pumpkin Spice Latte

Judges described this spread as Creamsicle colored with a whipped frosting texture. "This has a strong cream cheese taste with a nice touch of pumpkin," said one panelist. "It would be a great spread on nut bread." A couple of tasters said they would serve this on a holiday buffet table. "I might slather it on a bagel — but not an apple- or pumpkin-flavored bagel," said one.Color also played a key role in the pumpkin ravioli from Trader Joe's. One side of each piece was dark orange, while the other half was yellow or butternut colored. "I think these would go great with ham or sausage," said one judge. "They would make a great winter meal — if we had winter!" Another would serve these ravioli with porcini mushroom and garlic sauce. "That would be brilliant," he said. "They have a great chew." Only one taster was disappointed with the offering. "These are a bridge too far — enough with pumpkin mania," he said, adding that the texture of the cooked ravioli was too rubbery for his liking.At first glance, judges said they were not drawn to these cupcakes. But, they all agreed the treats tasted pretty good. The cake was only lightly spicy with a warm kick of fall flavors. The icing was pale orange and sweet enough to satisfy a sugar craving. "The frosting looks like Donald Trump's hair and is oddly bland," said one judge. "But the cupcake is perfectly spiced with the iconic pumpkin spice flavor." Another said the cupcakes tasted better than expected. "They are very buttery flavored, very sweet but with smooth icing," he said. "They are moist and really pretty good."We prepared this tea with milk and served it hot as directed. Judges appreciated the "lovely fall spice aroma" steaming from each cup. "This would appeal to home buyers who love the idea of autumn," said one taster. "It's got rich flavors." Two of the panelists said it was a bit too sweet for their tastes. "My sweet tooth is crying 'uncle,' " said one. "I love the full-bodied flavor," said another, adding, "The flavor is very soothing."

they buy?
Two of the four judges said yes.Two of the four judges said yes.Three of the four judges said yes.Two of the four judges said yes.
Shopping information$2.59 for an 8-ounce tub from Target.$3.49 for a 9-ounce package.$2.50 for a 19.4-ounce box from Walmart.$2.99 for a 32-ounce carton from Target.

Panelists: Bob Devin Jones, artistic director of Studio@620; Wayne Connery, retired restaurant owner; John Bauer, area coordinator for Southeastern Guide Dogs Inc.; and Mary Jane Park, Times staff writer.

Send suggestions for product testing to: Taste section, Tampa Bay Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731 or email them to Please put TEST SUGGESTION in the subject line. To read past Taster's Choice columns, go to

Serving sizeTwo tablespoonsHalf packageOne of 12 cupcakesHalf cup
Fat/Fiber6g / 0g4.5g / 3g15g / 0g0g / 0g
Sugars/Sodium5g / 100mg4g / 65mg30g / 250mg20g / 5mg
Carbs/Protein5g / 1g40g / 9g40g / 2g21g / 0g

Taste test: pumpkin cream cheese, ravioli, cupcakes and tea 10/05/15 [Last modified: Monday, October 5, 2015 9:58am]
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