Those of you who read The Shameless Consumer likely know about my list of items to avoid purchasing, chief among that list being products that are on clearance or discontinued, that still carry the “new food” label. Nothing says wildly successful like shutting down your operation a year later and going back to the drawing board, but as one fellow shameless consumer pointed out, it’s important to note the distinction in why items are discontinued. A product being discontinued doesn’t necessarily have to mean low quality, often times the cause of the company pulling it from shelves is because of high cost of production leading to a more expensive product or small profit margin, or not enough people buying simply due to the cost or flow of the market.
After trying Bertolli’s Triple Chocolate Strata Cake, I’m willing to bet that the reason leans towards cost than quality. A strata cake for those who are unaware (and I include myself in that group) is a three layer cake from Italy, a little known country that surprisingly is inhabited mostly by Italians. The strata cake contains a layer of chocolate mousse, above a chocolate sponge cake, above a layer of chocolate sauce, covered in chocolate chips. I did hear a rumor that if you collect ten UPC cutouts and mail them to a certain address, that a man named Gino will let you sleep with the fishes. I have no idea how that works, but I’m in the process of googling the correct address and will have a review once I’m done with my exotic nap. It must be like the bacta tank scene from Star Wars.
The triple chocolate strata cake is described on its box as “after dinner, Italians prefer nothing more than conversation with friends shared over a rich dessert and freshly brewed coffee.” I don’t know which Italian families Bertolli is referring to, but generally the ones I’ve sat in on end dinner with a loud argument shared over a rich dessert of someone getting stabbed with a fork and a whole lot of people waving their hands around while they talk. Then grandpa starts belting out opera songs in Italian while the staff does nothing because Olive Garden provides an authentic Italian experience. More pasta pronto, waiter.
Bertolli’s Triple Chocolate Strata Cake costs $2 at Wegmans, 30% off of the regular price of about $3, which isn’t terrible considering this is Italian restaurant quality dessert and I know Italian culture because I’m Croatian and the grocery store stocks Spaghetti O’s and beeferoni. One important piece to note, and I’m going to go off the cuff a bit here and be serious for a second, is that this product contains ethyl alcohol, and has a rather strong liquor flavor. There are sure to be some readers who for one reason or another cannot or will not imbibe alcohol in any form or quantity, and may not expect that a frozen strata cake would have alcohol in it. It’s not enough to get you buzzed, unless you have the tolerance of a fetus, but the presence alone is enough to turn some people away and I have seen posts on the Bertolli Facebook page of people with said fetus-level tolerance complaining of headaches. On the other hand, some of you may actually prefer the variations of these Italian dishes when they are cooked with alcohol, so consider it a notice to you too.
This is honestly one of the strangest foods I have ever tasted, and I mean that in a good way. There are three layers to this dessert, the top of chocolate mousse, the middle layer a chocolate sponge cake, and the bottom a dark chocolate sauce. The mousse is light and fluffy, coated in chocolate chips. The middle layer of sponge cake somehow manages to stay not just dry, but strangely warm in spite of just being taken out of the freezer. The bottom layer of chocolate sauce is dark, thick, and rich, bringing the whole chocolatey quadrant together. As I already said, there’s a strong taste of alcohol in the mix. Not as overpowering as Bertolli’s Tiramisu, but strong nonetheless. Imagine the difference between a vodka cranberry and a straight shot of vodka directly injected into your brain, and you’ve got an idea.
But aside from the ehtyl alcohol, Bertolli’s Triple Chocolate Strata Cake has everything that kids need to grow big and strong. The cup is high in saturated fat, 35% of your daily value, but is rather low on cholesterol, sodium, and carbohydrates. You’ll also find 230mg of potassium, 3g dietary fiber, 20g sugar, and 3g of protein. You’ll even get 15% of your daily iron and 4% calcium, and think of all the sleeping you’ll do once you collect ten box tops. The only regret I have is that while while the box says that this is best shared with friends, there are only two cups, which means you either have to double up on one cup, or have a maximum of one friend. Get a couple of women trying to share this cup and someone is going to wind up “choked to death,” am I right ladies? Was the metaphor too subtle?
One final note about the strata cake is that it can be eaten straight from the freezer or thawed in the fridge/microwave. I at one thawed and one frozen, and honestly preferred the frozen variant. You, on the other hand, will not be able to enjoy it at all because it is no longer available at Wegmans. Aren’t you glad I took the time to describe it to you, though?