Thursday, December 28, 2006
Alas, I didn't get anything off my wishlist, but I did get a great reference guide/cookbook on chocolate. I'll report back on that later.
In the meantime, I've started a new blog with my friend Alex dedicated entirely to peanut butter and chocolate. Come on over and visit us there!
Monday, December 25, 2006
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
I've been really good all year, so I've put together a list to help you with your gift selections for me. I don't think some of these things really exist, but hey, you're Santa, you can make anything, right?
My Wish List
1. A lifetime supply of Belgique chocolates. Or at least a pound of assorted dark chocolates.
2. A bracelet and necklace that looks like candy but isn't.
3. One of Frank's perfect chocolate cakes. Or enough free time to make one myself.
4. A giant box of Munson's dark chocolate-covered orange jellies, which they no longer make.
5. A permanent chocolate fountain that's continuously flowing.
6. A case of Tim Tams, the very delicious cookies from Australia.
7. A metabolism that will allow me to eat with abandon and not gain an ounce.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Despite my grumpiness about Limited Edition candies, I had to try the new dark chocolate Hershey Kisses with macadamia nuts. I'm not one of those people who obsesses about macadamia nuts; I tend to save my passion for cashews, but I will admit, these kisses were pretty darn good.
The dark chocolate was the right choice. Milk would've been too cloying.
I found these at Walgreens. I typically don't shop there because I find most Walgreens to be creepy and dirty. But I had a coupon for baby formula, so I relented. The thing is, they had a pretty good selection of candy. Better than Brook's, where I usually shop. And while I was there, something interesting happened. A rather non-descript, frumpy middle-aged woman with a cart full of stuff came up to the counter and told the check-out girl, "Red three." From my days at CVS, I knew they were about to snag a shoplifter. I was all psyched, but then I saw it was a little old man and that made me sad. But let that be a lesson to all potential shoplifters: beware of the lady in sweatpants. She's really an undercover cop.
Monday, December 04, 2006
My in-laws K.C. and Judy were here a couple of weekends ago and they were commenting on how, in a recent picture, Henri looks like Urkel because his pants are up to his chin. Only Judy said "Snirkle" by accident and said, "Oh yeah, Snirkles are those candies." My ears perked up. Snirkles? Never heard of 'em. So I did a quick search and, sure enough, they were a caramel candy popular in the Midwest. Apparently they're like those caramel bulls-eyes, only in a spiral. Or perhaps that shaped is called a snirkle. In any event, it's always exciting to learn about a new candy. I guess they're not made anymore, but Judy remembered them fondly. I'm not so much for caramel in that form. I hate those bulls-eye things but some people really love them. They also make the licorice version, too, which is probably the only licorice thing I don't like. Too much like shoe leather.
Saturday, December 02, 2006
When I was little there were three different types. First, the skinny, chalky sticks with the red "ash" on the end. They tasted terrible and didn't even look like cigarettes. Then there were the gum ones. They were the size of a real cig and wrapped in paper. The gum was usually hard as a rock and flavorless. And then there was the granddaddy of them all: the chocolate cigarette. It looked like a real one and tasted pretty good. I think I only had these once, in fourth grade after school with my friend Jennifer. Of course, she was already smoking actual cigarettes so the chocolate ones were just pure candy to her, no novelty at all. Do they still make candy cigarettes? If so, how much longer will they do that?
Friday, December 01, 2006
But I have found a new yummy treat: Dunkin' Donuts' peanut butter cup cookies. I was always pretty safe around Dunkin' Donuts; I can take 'em or leave 'em. But now I've found these cookies...watch out!
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
I visited with my in-laws over Thanksgiving and had hoped they'd be able to find me a limited edition Elvis Reese's, because they live near Memphis. But no such luck.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
"I know that this Thursday as I give thanks for so much and so many in my life, you are at the top of the list... (and thankful, too, for the 107 kids who showed up trick-or-treating Halloween night, breaking the record and raising the bar! Add the adults who rang the bell in costume, and we're up to 122!.... and I always thank God for the young at heart!)
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
1) Why is it that a regular size Reese's Peanut Butter Cup tastes much better than any other size Reese's PB Cup (i.e. the mini ones?)
2) White Chocolate AND Peanut Butter? What were they thinking?
I'll add my own:
1) Why does Reese's peanut butter taste so different than every other type of peanut butter and chocolate candy? When I worked at the chocolate shop, the chocolate peanut butter squares we sold weren't nearly as tasty. They were blander, less salty, less peanutty.
2) Why don't they make a candy bar with almond butter? Or cashew butter?
3) Why, oh why, do I love chocolate and peanut butter so much? The best ice cream ever is Baskin Robbins' chocolate and peanut butter. Oh.My.God. I love the way the peanut butter is smooth and in big chunks throughout the ice cream. Curse you Alex for taunting me so early in the morning!
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
The other day I received an envelope in the mail from a fellow writer. Her name is Kris and she lives in Hawaii with her husband and sons. How cool is that? Anyhow, she sent a note saying, "Thought you could use a little good news," and in the package was a candy bar. It has the shiniest wrapper I've ever seen-- it practically blinded me when I opened it. In fact, it's so shiny that I couldn't even photograph it. It just came out as a white blur. It says "Hawaii's Favorite," which makes you think that it must contain coconut or macadamia nuts or something. But in fact, it's chocolate, peanuts and caramel, which gets one wondering how many ways can you do those three ingredients? Well, this was different than a Snickers or Baby Ruth or Reggie bar or any of those other bars with similar ingredients. It's pretty flat and mostly caramel with chopped peanuts. The thing is, it has a weird aftertaste, almost like a cherry cough medicine flavor. I checked the ingredients to see if there were any clues as to where the flavor came from, but the only unusual things were sweetened condensed milk and brown sugar. Although now that I think about it, it is a little surprising that there are no artificial colors or flavors other than artificial vanilla. The other ingredient that perplexed me was crisped rice. You can definitely taste it, although it's not like a Nestle Crunch or 100 Grand. It's very subtle. Just enough to give the bar some texture.
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Monday, October 30, 2006
Help me with something: Every year some friends of mine and I gather at the rectory to celebrate the holiday and hand out some candy. The first year I was here, there were only four trick-or-treaters and I was so disappointed! Almost every year, the count has gone up, but we've never made it into triple digits. (One year was achingly close at ninety-nine!)
So let's break 100 this year. I've done my part: we're talking Snickers, Hershey's, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Nestle Crunch, Butterfingers, just to drop a few names-- and all in regular size bars. Because I am a man of hope, I have 167 of them waiting in the pantry.
I dare you: on Halloween, make me run out to the gas station for more!
Yeehah! We'll be there Father John!
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
So, a couple of years ago I made it my goal to attend the All-Candy Expo in Chicago. You know it-- that big trade show that's always featured on the Food Network. I used my press connections to get a press pass and used my frequent flier miles for the plane ticket and hotel. It was the highlight of my year but I never got to write about it because all sorts of stuff happened that prevented me from doing it justice. Anyhow, the most interesting person I met there was this dude Dr. Wolpa who is a podiatrist by day, but a candy entrepreneur by night. Specifically, he makes candy with foot and toe themes. His website? www.toefood.com. I kid you not. Talk about the ultimate foot fetish. His company makes chocolate feet, gummy feet, all sorts of ped treats. Weird? Yeah, a little. But hey, you've gotta love a doctor that loves candy.
Monday, October 23, 2006
Why corn, though? It doesn't really look like corn. But it is fun to eat. Oh sure, you can just slam a handful in your mouth. But if you're a true aficianado, there are other methods, such as nibbling off one layer at a time. (If you're a layer-nibbler, then there's the question of which kind of candy corn you prefer: the orange, yellow and white or orange, brown and white.) Then there's the type of person who just can't resist jamming two corns into their teeth and making like Dracula or a walrus.
I think the best way to eat candy corn, though, is on a cupcake from a grade-school bakesale. A yellow cupcake with chocolate frosting and a single candy corn on top. Huzzah!
Friday, October 20, 2006
Bottom of the barrel: If you want your house to get egged, there's no better way than to give out apples or raisins. Does anyone seriously give this stuff out anymore?
Also, anything that can't be eaten because of the likelihood of poisoning, such as loose candy corn, Smarties, Dum Dums or Hershey's Kisses.
That nasty peanut butter taffy wrapped in orange and black wax paper.
Any of that Boyer pseudo-chocolate crap.
Necco wafers. I will say, though, that these have great value for playing First Communion and a good trade with kids who've never had them before. I remember babysitting when I was in high school and the brother and sister were fighting over the Necco wafers in their Trick or Treat bags. I asked them if they had even tried them before and they hadn't. This was obvious, as the boy was willing to trade his Mr. Goodbars for the wafers. Bad trade.
Any predominately caramel candies, like Milk Duds or Sugar Babies
This is where it starts to get tricky. This category is reserved for those things that are pretty yummy, but are of lesser value than other goodies, such as:
Cream of the Crop:
Big-time bonus points for:
Full-sized candy bars (any type)
Little bags of assorted goodies
Quarters or dollars
How does your Halloween Hierarchy measure up?
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Here are my favorite halloween memories...
... almost as fun as halloween itself... the night before where we rang the neighbor's doorbell at least a dozen times, called out derogatory remarks about the kid down the street and tried to scare Mrs. Worth as she walked her dog Cobber around the block.
... the excitement of rushing through dinner cause you knew you could get dressed right after and your friends would be waiting to run door-to-door around the neighborhood and up to the rich people's houses near the sheep field.
... one year, dressing as a mouse and collecting candy for my brothers and older sister who all had the chicken pox
... waiting at the back of a pack of kids while they received quarters, only to get to the front in time for the wife to rush up with ham & cheese sandwiches that she threw together since they ran out of candy and were quickly running out of quarters!!
And just to whet your appetite: lots of fun stuff coming up! More Halloween stories and a review of a special candy bar sent to me by my friend Kris in Hawaii.
Monday, October 16, 2006
When I was maybe 10 or 11 and nearing the end of my trick-or-treating lifespan, I decided to upgrade my candy-holding vessel. Screw the plastic pumpkin -- my 8-year-old brother and I got pillowcases. We'd seen other (bigger, brawnier) kids use pillowcases, and we figured we'd get more candy this way. We mapped out our strategy, started knocking early, and by 7:30 or so, we both had pillowcases heavy with Reeses, snack bags of candy corn, Baby Ruths, mini Marathon bars (remember those?) and lollypops that would last us till December. Then, the unthinkable happened. My brother got candyjacked. Yep, some little turkeys came blowing by on his bike and ripped my brother's pillowcase out of his hand. We both stood there, our mouths gaping, the sound of the kids' gleeful laughter bouncing off parked cars as he careened down the street. Then God interceded. The kid lost his balance and fell off the bike. Now, I was a total candy addict, as well as a quick thinker. As my brother stood next to me, starting to whimper, I realized that a. I'd have to share my haul with him now and b. I was pissed. The anger and indignation rose in my chest as I thought about how much hard work had gone into collecting all that candy. And now some little punk would be snacking on my brother's blood, sweat, and sucrose at my expense? I don't think so. I was something of a little track star as a kid, all legs and energy. Before the punk could get off the ground, I was on him, alternately scratching his face up and pulling his hair (such a girl fighter!) and grabbing the pillowcase away from him. I was also screaming every horrible obscenity my 10-year-old self could muster, stuff like, "You wimp! You're so GAY for stealing candy from a little kid, you RETARD!" The fear coming off the downed candysnatcher was nearly palpable. He released his claim on my brother's candy, pushed me off him, and jumped on his bike. My brother ran over, crying and screaming, "You got it? You got my candy?" That night was a shining moment in sister/brother relations. My brother wrapped the top of his bag around one wrist, held onto my arm with his other hand, and every few minutes or so would say, "I think he was crying," or "I bet he never had a girl beat him up." We got home and my brother, admiringly, relayed the story to my parents. Best of all, he gave me all his Reeses that year.
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Monday, October 09, 2006
We went out for sushi and when the waitress gave us our check, she also gave us two little boxes of Marukawa Orange Bubble Gum. Now, I'm not a gum person, but I have to say, this stuff was really good. The orange flavor was bright, juicy and tangy and lasted a long time. The gum itself was soft and good for blowing bubbles. I wonder where I can get some more? It was definitely worth trying, even for a non-gum-chewer.
Now the bad. Tic Tac Limited Edition Big Box Fruit Festival. Ick. This was a big box of Tic Tacs that look so fruitylicious-- red, orange, green and yellow. But the problem is, they're fruit AND mint combined. So gross. I was expecting them to taste like the Tic Tacs of my youth-- the orange ones that had the really fake, but palatable, orange flavor. And does anyone remember the Tic Tac competitor in the horizontal box? I think they were called Dynamints. Am I right?
Friday, October 06, 2006
Two friends recently returned back to the U.S. from their trip to Poland this summer. They brought me back a box of candy which says "marshmallow with strawberry jam" in English. Here we go again with the marshmallow. In these little rectangles, the marshmallow is more of a custardy-type of substance, more moist than fluffy. The strawberry jam part is nice-- it gives them a little zip. There are about 8,000 pieces of candy in the box. I think I'll be eating these forever.
Thursday, October 05, 2006
To celebrate, I'm having the first-ever Candy Yum Yum giveaway. All you have to do is send me an e-mail about Halloween: your favorite candy, your best costume, great memories, whatever. I'll randomly pick three people to receive an assortment of Nestle Crunch, Baby Ruth and Butterfingers. (U.S. residents only please. I'm not made of money.)
And speaking of Nestle, let's talk about Baby Ruths for a moment. I've decided that they're totally undervalued. I usually gravitate toward Snickers when I want a peanut/caramel/chocolate bar, and I often forget about Baby Ruth. That's sad, because Baby Ruths are really good. The peanuts are big and the nougat is a little sweeter. Very yum.
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
I went to the pharmacy the other day to buy an accordion folder in a lame attempt to organize my life. They were all out of them. Apparently other people have the same clutter issues that I do. Anyhow, as I was perusing the Halloween candy aisle, I turned to my left and there, like manna from heaven, was a box of Coffee Crisps! Hallelujah! I enjoyed this one with a glass of wine the other night. I think the beauty of the Coffee Crisp is that it's very subtle. It doesn't scream "JAVA!" Instead, it's like a crispety chocolate bar with a scent, a whiff, an angel's kiss of coffee. Delish.
In the same shopping spree, I also bought a few other bars. Now I know, I know, I recently ranted about how I hate the Special Edition candy bars. But I did give in and buy a Hershey's Special Dark Espresso and a Kit Kat Chocolate Mocha. Also, I bought a big Hershey's Milk Chocolate that contains "Crisp Corn Bits." Huh?? I have no idea what that is. Crumbled up Fritos or Bugles? Chopped up popcorn? I have no idea. I can't wait to report on that one. And last but not least, a Russell Stover Coconut Cream Pumpkin. I've never been a huge fan of coconut, but when I was pregnant I got addicted to the Coconut Cream eggs at Easter. We'll see if it still offers the same appeal.
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Yay! Go New England! My big fear is that trick-or-treating is dying out. Where I live in Connecticut we get about 30 kids every year, but I'd say about half of them don't show up in costume, which is why every year I have a special "treat" just for them. Last year it was rancid granola bars, the year before it was tea bags. This year it'll probably be the box of Weight Watchers chocolate cakes that I just bought. Foolish me-- I thought they might actually be edible instead of tasting like powdered aluminum.
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Finalist in the Outstanding New Product category: Chocolove Chocolatour Tanzania Vintage 2005 chocolate bar.
Finalists in Outstanding Best Seller 2005: Chocolove Toffee and Almonds in Milk Chocolate; Vosges Haut-Chocolat Barcelona Candy Bar.
Outstanding Confection: Miguel & Valentino Rabitos Royale Bombon de Higo (Fig Bonbons)
Finalists in Outstanding Confection: Bequet Gourmet Celtic Sea Salt Caramels; Dufflet Small Indulgences Crunchy Caramel Coated Pistachios Enrobed in Pure Milk Chocolate; Fusion Gourmet, Inc. Bail's Best Coffee Candies- coffee flavor.
Those pistachios sound really good. I've tried a few different sea salt caramels, but I haven't really been wowed by them. Surprising, since I usually enjoy the salty/sweet combination.
Monday, September 25, 2006
Let me say from the start that I don't normally dig fudge. Usually it's too sweet or too grainy for my tastes, although I did go through a period where I ate a lot of penuche (brown sugar fudge) during my stint at Munson's Chocolates. Anyhow, I was contacted by Tim at Flippin' Fudge and he asked if I'd like to try some of his products. Well, hell, who am I to say no to candy? I will admit that I was a bit leery, given the typical fudge experience, but I can happily report that Flippin' Fudge is flippin' fantastic!
First off, the goodies come packaged in a fun box filled with multicolored confetti-type paper. Each square of fudge is wrapped in purple foil. Very cute. The fudge itself is super-smooth and sweet without being overwhelming. It occurred to me that they would be great for dessert paired with wines. Here's my impressions of the different flavors along with some wine suggestions.
Dark Secret: basic, yummy dark chocolate fudge. Would be great with a spicy red like Zinfandel or Syrah.
Citrus Shot: this was dark chocolate fudge with a hint of orange-- one of my very favorite flavor combinations. Would be fantastic with a glass of Essencia orange muscat.
Island Retreat: Chocolate and coconut. Very tropical. Maybe a nice glass of dark rum?
Berry Nuts: Essence of raspberry. Nice with Port or maybe champagne.
Toffee Crunch: Perhaps the sweetest of all the flavors. It was good, but not my favorite. (We'll get to that one later.)
Wake-up Call: Lovely espresso-flavored fudge. A nice mid-morning sweet!
Fuzzy Bubble: This was peach-champagne fudge. I'm not a lover of peach anything, except actual peaches, although I will say that this wasn't as cloying as peach "flavored" things usually are. If you like peaches, you'll like this fudge.
And my ultimate favorite--
Skippy's Surprise: peanut butter and chocolate. Oh praise Gannesh! This was the ultimate in PB & chocolate deliciousness. Smooth, creamy peanut butter mixed with heavenly dark chocolate fudge. It really doesn't get any better than this.
In the press release that came with the package, I learned that Flippin' Fudge is made by the husband and wife team of Tim and Liz Young who decided to turn their passion for chocolate into a business. (www.flippinfudge.com) You've gotta love that. And they came up with the name of their company after watching Napoleon Dynamite. (Will they create a Delicious Bass flavor?) I totally recommend their fudge to anyone who's looking for a fun gift. Their prices are very reasonable and the product is excellent. In fact, why not send a box of fudge to someone you love just for the heck of it?! What a wonderful surprise that would be. Okay, I'm off now to hide the last piece of Skippy's Surprise.
Saturday, September 23, 2006
I have a very specific ritual for Kit Kats. Break off a finger and, using my bottom teeth, I take all the chocolate off the sides. Then I separate the top layer from the rest and eat it, then shove the rest of the piece in my mouth. Continue this way with the other three fingers. My favorite part is the sugary stuff in the middle.
Friday, September 22, 2006
Who here likes Circus Peanuts? Anyone? You've just gotta love a candy that's shaped like a peanut but tastes like a banana. I think the only person in the world who eats these things is my mother.
But I guess someone must buy them, because they keep making them!
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Monday, September 18, 2006
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
The stores are starting to put out the Halloween stuff, although I have to say, it's been disappointing the past few years. As a kid, part of the excitement of Halloween was getting home and dumping out your pillowcase full of goodies and going through it all to see what you scored. Back then, the variety was immense. There were all the different types of bars: Snickers, Milky Way, Three Musketeers, Pay Day, Reese's, Charleston Chews. There were little rolls of Life Savers, tiny boxes of Chicklets, waxy rolls of Necco Wafers. And then the true gems: the full-size candy bars, the little paper bags with pumpkins on them stuffed with assorted candies, popcorn balls, McDonald's gift certificates for a small fry, and--from my grandma-- one of those giant Hershey bars. Now it seems the selection is so limited. Reese's or Snickers. Every year I try to find something at least slightly unusual to give out. What will it be this year? Oh wait... I almost forgot. I won't be home. I'll be out trick or treating!
Sunday, August 27, 2006
Then there's the test to demonstrate how much a part your sense of smell plays in the whole taste game. Plug your nose and have someone put a Lifesaver on your tongue. Bet you can't tell the flavor. Now release your nose. You'll be able to tell right away if it's peppermint or spear-o-mint, lime or orange. Fun!
Saturday, August 19, 2006
Let's talk marshmallow. I like marshmallow. Summer just isn't summer without at least one perfectly golden, crispy on the outside, gooey on the inside toasted marshmallow. S'mores? Yum. Mallo Cups? Most definitely. Peeps? Well...not so much, but still. Can't celebrate Easter without them. So why, why, why does the Special Edition Reese's with Marshmallow suck so bad? I'll tell you why. Because it's nasty super-artificial flavor marshmallow. Of course this isn't gourmet candy, but c'mon...the thin layer of marshmallow on top of the peanut butter is just too sickly sweet "marshmallow flavor." Very disappointing. Next on the docket is the special edition Reese's with caramel. I'm holding out hope for that one.
Friday, August 18, 2006
Monday, August 14, 2006
While traveling up to Vermont about a year and a half ago, we stopped in the little town of Kent, Connecticut for lunch. While looking for a restaurant, I spied a teeny tiny little shop called Belgique Chocolates. Of course I had to stop.
There were a couple of glass cases, one with desserts, one with ice cream and one with hand-made chocolates for $50 a pound. As I'm not (yet) filthy rich, I bought two pieces for each of us and we went on our merry way. About a mile down the road, I bit into a dark chocolate vanilla cream. Holy. Cow. I was audibly oohing and aaahing over this chocolate. Brian tried his-- dark chocolate raspberry cream. I expected him to say it was good, but he joined me in my animalistic groans of ecstasy over this incredible chocolate. Yes, it was that good. Yes, it is the best chocolate I have ever, ever had. No, they don't have a website. No, they don't ship. The chocolates are all fresh, hand-made, no preservatives, so they won't stand up to shipping. Which means that these are an extra-special treat.
So it was with great sadness that I opened my birthday gift from Brian last October. He had bought me a mega-box of these chocolates, but I couldn't even look at them. I was in the deep throes of morning sickness and, try as I might (and I did try, I really did!) I just couldn't eat them. I got totally gypped. (gipped?) I plan on making the trek up to Kent soon to recoup my loss.
After spending many years trying to find my niche in the art world, after my series of feminist-inspired paintings followed by a wine series, I've finally found something I'm truly passionate about. It was right there all the time. Of course, now when people say, "Oh, you paint? What do you paint pictures of?" I have to reply, "Candy corn." Doesn't have quite the same drama as "Genderless angels swirling in a sea of misogynistic chaos intermingled with text from the feminist canon." But it's more fun, don't you think?
As I mentioned before, I was struck with one of life's not-so-funny moments. When I found out I was pregnant, I thought, "Bring on the chocolate!" But it wasn't meant to be. Nine months of stomach-churning nausea kept me off the stuff. The only things I wanted to eat were grapefruit, Big Red gum and wood. (Don't ask.)
This horrendous time, of course, coincided with Halloween. I managed to get to the store to buy candy, so I bought a few bags of Take 5 candy bars. I haven't even been able to look at them since then. So of course, what did I find at the store the other day? Special Edition Take 5s-- a peanut one and a marshmallow one. I did buy them, but have yet to taste them, but for the good of the people, I'll do it.
I want to give credit, too, to Cybele May, the creator of Candy Blog, http://www.typetive.com/candyblog/about/. She has a beautiful website where you can read all about her ratings of candy. I learned about her website in the recent New York Times Magazine article on special edition candy: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/09/magazine/09wwln_consumed.html?ex=1310097600&en=b2fc1eec37c27000&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss