Food & Swine

Taste Test: AE Dairy Holiday Lineup

AELineupHolidayDrinks Santa Claus has nothing on my friends at AE Dairy. Recently, the FedEx Fairy delivered a cooler box full of their latest and greatest holiday drinks, directly to my front door. Needless to say, I was completely excited to taste each of these holiday offerings.  From AE Horchata, their latest addition, to the ever popular and beloved AE Classic Egg Nog, each taste was loved by all. In my family-wide taste test, non-‘nog-ers were converted and those with little affinity for mint and chocolate were begging for more of the AE After Dinner Mint Chocolate Milk. I was the taste test host, and enjoyed leading my family members through their tasting (imagine a wine tasting complete with rinsing of glasses between each pour).
AETasteTestMintSlamWe had 6 AE Dairy offerings, here’s the basic rundown on each one, and the order we taste-tested them in:
AE Horchata: AE 2% Reduced Fat Milk with vanilla and cinnamon.
Mimi’s Milk Nog: Half Fat Free Milk and Half Classic Egg Nog.
AE Light Egg Nog: One third fewer calories and 80% less fat than the Classic Egg Nog recipe.
AE Classic Egg Nog: This is a 50+ year old Erickson family recipe, boasting all of the finer points of great egg nog: plenty of cream, real vanilla and nutmeg.
AE Dark Chocolate Milk: Reduced fat milk with a boost of classic dark chocolate flavor.
AE After Dinner Mint Chocolate Milk: Reduced fat chocolate milk with a nicely balanced mint flavor.

AETasteTestHorchataHere is the breakdown and some thoughts from my taste testing team on each product. The scores were so close that it is pretty much a draw, but we’ll list the order that they finished in, for fun. The picture to the left is of my super-serious sister and the taste test, she nearly threw a fit when it was over, we had so much fun. (I hate to admit, she may be a better food judge than me!)
Judging out of 10 points on the following points:
We used a simple piece of construction paper to map out everyone’s scores and comments. I tallied them up at the end.
Overall Score of 10 possible points, here is the breakdown:
Overall Flavor Impression: 7 points possible
Overall Texture Impression: 2 points possible
Suitability to a Holiday Gathering: 1 point possible

Grand Prize, 1st Place:

Mimi’s Milk Nog:
“Enjoyed this the most out of all of the egg nogs. I’ve never tried any type of egg nog before because I thought it was made from raw eggs. Now that I learned it wasn’t, I tried each of them tonight and this was my favorite. Lighter in texture.” D.W.
“Great vanilla flavor, nutmeg is perfect, so smooth and creamy without being too heavy.” C.S.
“Not overpowering, a great ‘beginner’s nog’. This was my favorite tonight. I like the light texture with the classic flavor.” T.W.

TIE for 2nd Place

AE After Dinner Mint Chocolate Milk:
“Delicious delicate and well rounded mint flavor. The light chocolate flavor balances the mint out perfectly, neither being too overpowering. Easily my favorite drink of the evening, the perfect ‘drinkable dessert’.” C.C.
“Smooth flavor. I love mint in everything. I love chocolate and mint. This is better than ice cream.” H.C. (she’s 7, and mint obsessed.)
“This milk tastes just like an Andes Mint, and boy do I love those.” D.W.
“Doesn’t anyone think this tastes like an Andes mint? Great flavor, perfect to drink after a heavy meal where you need something to curb your sweet tooth, but can’t do dessert.” T.W.

TIE for 2nd Place

AE Light Egg Nog:
“This tastes more like egg nog to me, thicker but has excellent flavor. Nice nutmeg, not too sweet.” R.S.
“Great custard flavor, without the heavy richness of the Classic Egg Nog.” M.C.
“This is the egg nog I prefer, slightly thick, rich and has all of the great flavor from premium vanilla and the right amount of nutmeg.” C.C.

TIE for 3rd:

AE Horchata:
“This is a new flavor for me. I really like it, but it is new to me. I am not a huge fan of change. I love egg nog, but this could grow on me.” M.C.
“Interesting new flavor.” R.S.
“Santa would like this and the container is pretty.” H.C.
“Taste is reminiscent of Tres Leches Cake, one of my favorite cakes of all times. I could use this in baking and cooking sweet dishes in so many ways. I’m already putting together a killer rice pudding recipe in my head while drinking this. I like it best when it is vigorously shaken before being poured.” C.C.

AE Dark Chocolate Milk:
“Full chocolate flavor, for dark chocolate fanatics. Rich, yet light.” T.W.
“Shake well for best results and best chocolate flavor.” M.C.
“Intensely chocolate!” T.W.
“This is begging to be served at a party of course, but also in my morning smoothie. The added boost of chocolate flavor will make breakfast much more interesting.” C.C.

AE Classic Egg Nog:
“Rich, familiar taste that I’ve known my whole life.” R.S.
“Shake for best flavor. The vanilla and nutmeg and wonderful! The thickness of this recipe sets it apart.” C.S.
“Great anytime, the perfect holiday drink. Festive and classic, just like I want any party to be.” C.C.
“Thickest of the egg nogs, and sweetest. Classic, just like it sounds.” M.C.

The guys even took this quite seriously. All business, even on a Friday night.

There should be another post dedicated to the many things you can do with these products. When sipped alone, they are out of this world, of course and need no enhancements if you are throwing a party. My best advice to enjoy them most: Keep them well chilled.
You know me, and I do love to create things in the kitchen, and these holiday drinks are all great launch-pads for delicious recipes. Here’s what I’d do with each one…
OHHHHHH! And PS: These beverages are all non-alcoholic, but feel free to create amazing cocktails if you wish, then let me know what you made. I’d love to hear.
Products and Recipe Inspiration:
AE Horchata: I’d use this in a Tres Leches Cake of course, and also want to make a rice pudding with it… including rum and raisins.
AE After Dinner Mint Chocolate Milk: I’d love this in a simple chocolate milkshake, or cooked into a pudding, or bread pudding.
AE Dark Chocolate Milk: I did say I’d use this in my smoothies, but also as the base for some of my chocolate cakes that call for buttermilk. I’ll add vinegar to this to thicken it, and substitute it for the buttermilk. The acidity from the chocolate will help with the leavening of the cake, which is an added bonus too.
Mimi’s Milk Nog: Can I pour this over granola? Because I want to. Then I’ll add chopped dried cranberries and pecans to it too.
AE Light and Classic Egg Nog: Bread pudding, I just got a killer recipe from a friend. Also, I was curious if I could make Panna Cotta with this as well, substituting some of the cream or half and half for the egg nog. I’d top it with some type of fruit sauce that has a bit of brightness and acidity to it. Oh, and can we just use this as the base of our French toast from now until forever?

Until next time! Learn more about AE Dairy and connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube for great recipe ideas and news of exciting new products coming down the pipeline! You can find me hoarding AE Buttermilk and Toasted Onion Sour Cream Dip as usual. Show me your recipe creativity this holiday season on the #AEDairy hashtag. I’ll be watching!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of AE Dairy via RhythmOne. The opinions and text are all mine.

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