Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Making Cinnamon Twists 6 different ways - And how not to make Cinnamon Twists

Back when we did Taco Bell at Home, one of the things we made were cinnamon twists. I had never made these before, so it was fascinating seeing how these little wheat pellets in different shapes could expand to be 3-4 times their original size once they were deep fried in oil.
Seeing how they reacted in the oil, I was very curious to try out a few different ways to cook these up.

So, here's 6 different ways to cook Duros. We're going to cook them up Boiled, Baked - covered, Bakes - uncovered, Deep Fried, Microwaved, and with a Magnifying Glass.
These are all unflavored. Once we figure out our favorite way, we'll make a batch and dust them with cinnamon and sugar.

If you happen to remember, when we made those Cinnamon Twists, I said that the only place I could find them was in a 7 pound bag from a seller on eBay. Yes, we bought 7 pounds of them. That's okay, these are going to be a tasty treat for months to come.

Let's eat up!

What order should we have them in? Ian suggested smallest to largest. Sounds good to me!
That means the first one is the one I made with a magnifying glass.
Ian - Are we really going to eat that one?
We'll just nibble it.

It was a sunny southern California day. Making use of the bright sunshine, I used one of the kids' magnifying glasses and held it as steady as I could.

Results were not so good. I could heat up sections at a time, and they did puff up, but it wasn't an even heat. And if I held it in one place for too long, it burned.

I didn't expect much from these. They're harder than normal pasta and you really can't eat them raw.
Lesson learned. Do not use a magnifying glass to cook these Duros.

Next up, boiled Duros. I brought a pot of water to a rolling boil and added a few raw Duros.

After 12 minutes in boiling water, these hard pellets were now as soft as could be. I had to be careful when pulling them out of the water, as the spiral shape seemed delicate.

Time to taste them! They seem a little like noodles, but they're a bit thicker and much chewier. They're not bad by any means. I like them!

For our next batch that I baked, I wasn't sure what to expect. Are they going to puff up at all? Will they just burn? That's why we do these experiments!

I preheated the toaster oven to 350F, making sure I preheated the pan too. And very surprisingly within a few minutes, I started to see some movement! They're actually puffing up!

I was not expecting that! I actually tried this out a few times. I let the first batch go a little long just to see how much they would puff up. I kept a closer eye on the next batch and stopped them after they started getting too brown.

And just because we're experimenting and I'm curious, I covered the pan and kept an eye on them.

It was interesting to see the differences between the covered and uncovered experiments. The uncovered ones puffed up quite a bit compared to the covered ones.

How about the taste? I really wasn't sure what to expect.
It tastes like... cereal. The covered ones are more dense than the uncovered, but both of them are fully cooked with different levels of toastiness. It's not too bad actually.

When I was researching how to cook these the first time around, I saw that using the microwave was an option. I put a few on a plate and microwaved them for 90 seconds.

Viola! This was the result. They puffed up nicely, but they are a little browned. I think the insides are starting to burn.

Since we're experimenting, I ran another batch through for 60 seconds. You can see the difference that 60 and 90 seconds makes. There's a fine line between the two.

And here's one of the problems with microwaving them. They do start puffing up from the middle outward, but the tips of all of them are the last things to puff up. They are still raw on the ends, which means they're super hard. Too much to eat.

The Duros that went for 90 seconds puffed up completely. They've just got a bit of a toasty flavor. Toasting from the inside out. Ian really liked these, saying they tasted like a puffed-rice stick.

Finally it's time to try the standard method. Tossing these in hot oil, they puff up within just a few seconds.

It's still surprising to see how they react.
And tasting them, they're the puffiest and crunchiest of the entire batch. All the others seem to have a smooth skin on the outside, while these have more crags.
The votes are in. This is the winner! Actually the votes for this one were 3 to 1, with Ian being the outlier.

I made up a larger batch of the deep fried kind and dusted them with cinnamon and sugar.

Before and after. Just a small handful makes a very large bowl.


Alli is excited.

Theresa found one she wants. Coated quite a bit with cinnamon and sugar. These are really good, and they make up pretty quickly.

Ian did say his favorite were the ones that had been microwaved for 90 seconds. I went to the kitchen and made up a few more of those, just for him. Enjoy buddy.
And while I was gone, the large bowl of cinnamon twists disappeared! Hey! Where did all mine go?!?

The kids got such a kick out of eating all my cinnamon twists. I would make like I was turning away, and then when I looked back quickly, they had another few in their hands and mouth. Rascals.

So that makes 6 different ways you can cook up the Duros. Some didn't work at all, like the magnifying glass. I would put the one that were microwaved for 60 seconds in the "didn't work" category too. With those crunch bits on the end that you have to spit out, it doesn't make for a pleasant eating experience. All the rest of the ways we tried though were edible, and it really just depends on what kind of mood you're in.

Did I miss any ways to heat them?


  1. Very, very interesting experiment! The toaster ones were it "popped", it reminded me of some growing scientific creation that runs amok in the lab :-) The burn from the magnifying glass method was an interesting sight, too. A 90 sec microwave cooking seems to give it a "pork rind" look! How about a "steam" cooking method (not sure if you'd need to lightly coat the steaming plate with oil to prevent sticking...guess you could try it with and without the oil coating). Really interesting to see how the different cooking methods affected the results. EOM

    1. Ah, good point. Steamed duros might do something different. I guess grilled might be another way, though I'd have to keep it low enough to not burn it.
      Ha, I think those duros in the toaster oven looked like those capsule sponges that grow when you put them in hot water.

  2. I'm a but late to the party but wanted to share that we have been using a popcorn maker. They are a little uneven and some get missed, but it is the easiest, cleanest way we have found.. as long as we hold a screen over the opening to stop them from flying out before they puff.

    1. Late, but still, that's an interesting way to make them that I didn't even think of! Does the cinnamon-sugar still stick to it?

    2. We have never actually tried cinnamon sugar. We have been making them savory with seasonings like cayenne, garlic, ranch powder, a taco seasoning blend, and whatever else my husband grabs from the spice rack. I'm not sure if it makes any difference but we actually have the little ring shaped ones.