The 2013 Kolache Olympics: Strawberry Flavors Prevailed

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Dwight Howard has a few more reasons to frequent the Kolache Factory -- well, two, to be exact. For the 13th time, the Kolache Factory held its Kolache Olympics to decide which new flavors would be added to the menu, one sweet and one savory.

I was a little worried when I heard that cheese was an off-limits ingredient due to an ample number of customer requests for kolaches without cheese; however, each chef served up a savory kolache packed with flavor. While some could have used cheese, they were still mighty tasty.

Each kolache was judged based on visual appeal, quality of taste, stability of ingredients (because most of us eat our kolaches on the go), simplicity and name appeal.

This year, we tasted five savory and five sweet kolaches, starting with the savory. Each savory kolache was extremely different from the others, ranging in cuisine flavors, like the Chicken Teriyaki kolache complete with garlic basil coconut rice, Teriyaki sauce and chicken, and the Muffaleta with rolled up slices of ham, turkey and salami encasing an olive salad mix.

While all the judges loved these two kolaches, the Texas BBQ kolache came out on top. Yes, Kolache Factory does have a barbecue kolache, but not like this one. Rather than just BBQ meat inside the sweet dough, this one was filled with just about everything you get on a barbecue plate ‑- white onions, slices of jalapeño sausage, diced potatoes, and a sweet and spicy chipotle BBQ sauce. All you're missing is a pickle. Packing a whole barbecue meal into a kolache is genius, so get excited, barbecue fans, because this kolache should be hitting the shelves later this year.

I thoroughly enjoyed sampling the savory kolaches, but I couldn't wait to dig my fork into the sweet ones, especially the Chocolate Bacon Cream Cheese kolache. I'm a sucker for anything sweet and salty, so the combination of bacon and chocolate got me really excited. One of the judges, fellow Houston Press blogger Sean Pendergast, said it was like mixing your pancake syrup with your bacon for breakfast.

Chocolate, Nutella, almonds and strawberry fruit filling were the most popular ingredients this year. In fact, all but one of the entries featured a combination of these ingredients.

While it was a close race between the Chocolate Bacon Cream Cheese, the Strawberry Shortcake and the Strawberry Cheese Delight, the Strawberry Shortcake kolache came out the winner in the sweet category; it also brought in the most points overall.

The dough for this sweet treat is made in muffin form rather than in the classic flat form for sweet kolaches, and is topped with Jet-Puffed Marshmallow Creme from Kraft, strawberry fruit filling and a cream cheese icing.

Kolache Factory hopes to add these winners to the menu in September, or later this year.

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