Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Pineapple Lumps!

OH! I just opened the bag of Pineapple Lumps that the fabulous New Zealand Cupcake Queen sent me and I totally did not expect them to taste the way they do. For some reason, I thought they'd be jellies. I expected to bite into it and it would be soft and sugary, but instead it was nougaty. From the looks of the chocolate coating, these didn't fare as well as the other candies on the trip overseas, so I wonder if the texture is a little off. I'm thinking these are supposed to be a little chewier, not unlike a Charleston Chew, but as they are now, they're sticking to my teeth. In any case, these are very unusual and very yummy. The pineapple flavor is very similar to a pineapple Life Saver, which I totally love.
The package says, "Pineapple Lumps have been available since 1935. They are unique to New Zealand like Jandals, Pavlova and the Haka. Try them from the refrigerator to get that really chewy sensation!"
(I had to look those three things up. Jandals are flip-flops, Pavlova is the meringue cake topped with fruit and the Haka is a traditional Maori dance.)
Thus concludes my New Zealand candy taste test. My conclusion: those Kiwis really know how to make candy!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Snickers Adventure and Twix Java

It was looking like I was going to have some yummy days ahead of me, since I was finally able to get my mitts on both a Snickers Adventure bar and a Twix Java. Never have I been so disappointed. Well, okay, there was that one time when I was eight years old and the Ice Cube Queen took me to the kids' bingo night at church and I was really, really hoping to win the giant roll of insulation that someone had donated as a prize*, but this was a close second.
The Snickers Adventure bar is the latest tie-in for the new Indiana Jones movie (that, despite my better judgement, I'm actually looking forward to). The description on the wrapper says, "Rich chocolate. Crunchy nuts. And a cliffhanger kick of exotic spice and a hint of sweet coconut flavor." Well, boy howdee, that sounds good, doesn't it?
It's not.
Imagine if you will: you take an air-tight Tupperware container and put in a regular Snickers and an open bottle of Coppertone suntan lotion. You seal up the Tupperware and let it bake in the hot sun for a few months, thereby allowing the fake coconut aroma of the lotion to infiltrate the normally delicious Snickers. And voila! You have a Snickers Adventure.
Next, the Twix Java, which I've been sooo looking forward to. In fact, I contacted someone at Mars to find out where I could get one, because I haven't had any luck. The nice lady informed me that they're already being phased out, but I happened to stumble upon one. The caramel is coffee flavored and the cookie is chocolate, not vanilla. It was good. It was perfectly acceptable. But it wasn't the big "OMG!" I was hoping it would be. Frankly, I didn't think it had enough coffee flavor. So there you have it. A disappointing haul, but still better than listening to some other kid shout "BINGO!"

*As I was only eight years old, I had no idea what the insulation was, but it looked amazingly similar to cotton candy and it had a picture of the Pink Panther on the wrapping. You would think, however, that some thoughtful adult might've said, "Hey, I don't think any kids are going to want to win this insulation. Why don't we just donate it to the church and offer them a 25 cent candy bar instead?"

Psst! Want a Hot Stock Tip?

Move over Godzilla. Word has it that there's another monster on the horizon.
The business world was all abuzz today with the likely deal in which Mars (makers of M&Ms, Snickers, etc.) will be buying Wrigley (gum, Altoids, Life Savers) thereby making it one big metropolis of sugary corporate candy love. How I wish I had some extra cash floating around to buy stock.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

We Are Experiencing Technical Difficulties ...

Crikey! I left my camera pluggy-transfer-cord at the von Schokolats, which means I can't show you the fabulous pictures of our candy art work. Oh well. In the meantime, let's talk about this: a Nestle Black Magic bar ("Mellow dark chocolate with raisins & almonds.")
I found it at the dreaded Christmas Tree Shoppe. When I saw it I thought, "Oh ho, what have we here? Something I've totally missed!" I felt kind of bad, like I've been shirking my candy duties and not keeping up on the latest yumminess.
It wasn't until I got it home and read the label that I saw it said, "Made in the Czech Republic for Nestle UK." Ah, so it's not something I necessarily should've known about! Whew!
The package is pretty hideous, so I probably wouldn't have bought it except for the fact that it contained raisins and almonds, quite possibly my favorite candy bar combination. So how was it? Mmmmm! It was really quite good. When they say "mellow" dark chocolate, they mean it. It didn't have that same aggressive snap that many dark chocolates have. This was more like a "Hey, I'm a bit older and wiser than milk chocolate, without the attitude." Deelish.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Getting Exotic With the Baron

What do you get the guy who has everything (including the world's best sister-in-law)? Why, fancy-schmancy chocolate, of course! Since the Baron already belongs to the wino-of-the-month club, I thought he'd enjoy trying some unusual candy bars from Vosges. So I ordered him the "library of mini exotic candy bars," even though I knew I'd have to explain to him what a library is. I figured at the very least he'd feel the love from the Red Fire Bar: Mexican ancho & chipotle chilies, Ceylon cinnamon and dark chocolate.
The Baroness, being the ever-thoughtful Aries that she is, told him to wait until I came to visit before he shoved them all into his gaping maw so I could at least try a little nibble. So last night, we put on our tasting hats and went to town.
Now, as I've said before, I'm not much for combining chocolate with savory flavors. I wasn't thrilled with the Red Fire Bar and the Oaxaca Bar (guajillo & pastilla chillies with Tanzanian bittersweet chocolate) made my mouth burn and my stomach hurt. But I did quite like the Woolloomooloo Bar (roasted and salted macadamia nuts, Indonesian coconut, hemp seeds and deep milk chocolate) and I really, really liked the Barcelona Bar (hickory smoked almonds, grey sea salt and deep milk chocolate).
But the funny thing is, after we compared notes on all the various bars, the Baroness pulled out the remains of a Lindt Excellence Intense Mint Dark bar that she bought at Target ($3 for a 3.5 oz bar)-- and I liked it more than any of the mini exotic bars ($2.50 per .5 oz bar). I'm not sure if that means that I simply have plebian tastes, but who cares. Next year, I'm going to take the Baron to Target and let him go hog wild in the candy aisle.

Just Checking In

I've arrived at the Haus von Schokolat and I have lots to report on, including a Twizzler's art project, the Baron's birthday chocolates and a Maine specialty candy. Stay tuned ... lots of excitement coming up!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

There's No Such Thing As A Coincidence

Sue MKAFFGGF and the Golden Nose came over this weekend for a little garden chat/steak eating contest, so for dessert, I decided to try something new from the 125 Best Chocolate Chip Recipes cookbook which, as you may recall, was the source of the Best. Dessert. Ever.

This time, I opted for Chocolate Chip Coconut Pie, because the description made it sound so good:

"This dessert-- a chewy, ooey-gooey chocolate chip cookie baked in a flaky pastry crust-- acts like a party in your mouth."

Well heck, who doesn't love a good party? It was by far the easiest dessert I've made in a long, long time. Here it is:

Preheat oven to 350.

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut (note: next time I'd use a whole cup)

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla (note: next time I might use almond extract to give it an Almond Joy flavor)

1 unbaked pie shell

Confectioner's sugar for garnish

In a large bowl, combine sugar, chocolate chips, flour, coconut and salt. Add melted butter, eggs and vanilla, stirring well.

Pour mixture into a pie shell. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center comes out almost clean. Let cool completely on rack.

Lightly dust top with confectioner's sugar. (I didn't do this. I served it warm with vanilla ice cream.)

There you have it. Easy as, well, pie. But here's the thing. Check this out.

The Golden Nose took a bite and he said, "Mmmm, this is so good. It's like a party in my mouth!" I kid you not! He really said that. I said, "I bet you say that to all the desserts," but he claims that, no, he never says that. So wow. There you go. Fiesta!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Your Author Name

There's one of these e-mails going around where you create your secret rock star name or your detective name or whatever. It's pretty cool, but the best one is your Author Name. Here's what you do: you take the name of your favorite perfume and your favorite candy bar and taadaa! That's your author name. Mine is White Musk Kit Kat. Some of my friends are:

Drakkar Snickers
Jean Nate Twix
Coconut Twix
Axe Smarties

Who are you?

Kiwi Candy!

We've been having issues with our mail lately. As in: the mailman is too lazy to walk 25 feet down the driveway and up three stairs to our mailbox, so we got a nasty form letter from the post office saying we had to put a box by the side of the road or else our mail would be only be available for viewing on the Internet. (Actually, they said we'd have to pick our mail up in the next town over. Whaaaa???) Fine. So we put up a new mailbox. I give it three days once school is out and teenage boys take a baseball bat to it. Or I run it over. In any case, now what does the mailman do? He walks across the lawn, past the original mailbox and down the steps to the new mailbox. Whatever. All this is to say that I couldn't get out of the house fast enough when I saw a giant envelope sitting on top of the mailbox. (Yes, on top. Whatever.)

Hooray! It was a super-special parcel from the very fabulous City, a.k.a. the New Zealand Cupcake Queen. We "met" when I sent her my cupcake painting for her Cupcake Project blog. I mentioned how, at this here very blog, FIVE YEARS AGO (holy cow!) I wrote about a candy bar called Perky Nana that I would love to try. And voila! She so kindly offered to send me some.
Let me tell you, I tore into that envelope quicker than a kid getting a college acceptance letter. There, in all its glory, was a bag of miniature Perky Nanas ("Banana flavoured chew bar covered with dairy milk chocolate). Here's what they are, in essence: banana Charleston Chews. Yum! I can't imagine why they don't sell these here. I think they'd be a huge hit. I put some in the freezer; I'll try those later. But they've lived up to my expectations. What a joyful thing!
As I sat down to write this entry, I opened up the bag of Jaffas ("orange coated, chocolate filled.") City makes cupcakes out of these and I see why-- they're yumtastic. They're these little balls of chocolate with a coating similar to M&Ms, only thicker, and they have a very subtle orange taste. I've already developed a way to eat them: I suck on the orange candy part, then carefully bite it away until I'm left with just chocolate. These suckers are addictive. On the back of the bag it says, "Shhh! In the days of cinema with wooden floors, fun loving children would giggle uncontrollably as they listened to the sound of their Cadbury Jaffas bouncing down the aisles. With the introduction of carpet and grumpy adults, this leisure activity is now extinct."
The last goodie is called Pineapple Lumps, which I haven't tried yet. (Hey, I've got to pace myself.) But boy, they look good.
City said she likes Reese's, so I sent her a Reese's Whipp, some Hershey Kissables and a Take 5 bar, along with some funky sprinkles for her cupcakes. She recently made Mountain Dew cupcakes and dressed them up with some shark sprinkles! Cute!
Dontcha just love the Internet?!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

I Haven't Spoken to Mikey Since Then

Someone please correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe I've found something that everyone can agree on: the only Jolly Rancher flavors worth having are watermelon and green apple. Am I right? Are you with me on this one? With this information in hand, get a load of this:

Years and years ago my race car-driver brother worked for the Jolly Rancher team, so I was all like, "Hey, where's my Jolly Ranchers?" So he said he had given a huge box of them to Mikey Pietrzak, one of the kids we grew up with, and he was supposed to give it to me. So I was all like, "Hey Mikey, where are the Jolly Ranchers?" so he gave the box. Only it wasn't until I got home and opened it that I realized he had gone through and taken out all the apple and watermelon, leaving me with pineapple, fire, grape and peach. YUCK! Can you even imagine? I mean, there were probably thousands of little individual Jolly Ranchers with nary a watermelon or apple in sight. Come on! It was so disappointing.
I can't remember the last time I had one of the Jolly Rancher flat sticks. (Do they even still make them??) The best part was sucking on them until they got soft enough to mold to the top of your mouth and then you could pretend you had a retainer. Mmmm, a sweet, watermelon retainer.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Shoulda Paid at the Pump

There's lots of things you can't do once you have a baby. You can't go to the movies, you can't go to happy hour and you can't stay up til 4 a.m. drinking beer and eating burritos from 7-11. Oh, and you can't just run into the gas station convenience store to check out their candy offerings, because to do so you'd have to unbuckle said child from his car seat, carry him into the place and wrestle with him like he's a wild beast grabbing everything and anything he can get his hands on. Unless, of course, he's with his dad and you're out grocery shopping/picking up dry cleaning/returning library books/making photocopies of important documents, a.k.a. "having free time."

So the other day, between stops at the liquor store and the jewelers (what do these errands say about me?), I had to fill up the car. And suddenly, I realized that for the first time in almost two years, I could walk into the convenience store. Wow! My heart was racing!

Naturally I was in "Ohmygosh, I'vegottobequick,gottogetbackhometotheSugarBaby" mode, so I grabbed the first two things that caught my eye: JuJuBes and Mentos Sours. Now, as far as the JuJuBes are concerned, I've had them in the past and was unimpressed, although I must say they have incredible filling-ripping powers. But I could swear I read somewhere that they had been changed, that they were bigger and softer, so I was excited to see this for myself. Wrong. They're the same. Maybe, just maybe, they were a touch softer, but they're still every dentist's ticket to early retirement.

The Mentos Sours were new to me. I was surprised that they seemed to be in a package rather than the typical Mentos roll; I was even more surprised when I opened it and found that, indeed, they were wrapped in a roll inside! Double wrapping. Hmmm.

I really thought I'd love these, but uh-uh. No ma'am. I think there's a reason for that double wrapper, as in-- they were stale-crunchy. Not soft and chewy like your typical Mentos. So it was like, crunch crunch chew, disappear. Yuck. The thing is, had I not been in such a rush and actually looked at the package, I would've seen that these were watermelon, green apple and lemon. I only like watermelon and green apple in Jolly Ranchers.*

Needless to say, it was quite a disappointing little trip out into the Sugar Baby-free world. The good news is, I'm acquiring quite a stash of uneaten candy that I'll bringing up to the von Schokolats in a few weeks.

*Note to self: do an entry on JollyRanchers and Mikey Pietrzak.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Happy Licorice Day!

Whew, it's been an exhausting day. First we had the licorice hunt, then we opened the licorice presents and then of course there was the great licorice lunch. Well, maybe not, but hopefully you're all enjoying your own version of National Licorice Day. I meant to post the name of the lucky reader who gets the Red Vine box o' deliciousness yesterday, but I was so busy planning today's festivities that I didn't get a chance. Anyhow, the random winner is: Moonlitstorm! Hooray! Thanks to everyone who submitted their comments about red vs. black licorice. Clearly it's a sensitive subject. Just for the record, I like black the best!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

A Present From No Nuts!

Look what I got-- a present from No Nuts! She saw this box of mints when she went away on spring break and thought of me because, as a kid, I had a thing for penguins. So cute!
The mints are supposedly caffeinated chocolate, but they taste more minty than chocolatey. I shall treasure this forever. Maybe I'll use it to hold my business cards. Or maybe I'll put it in my box of secret things, next to the letter I have that D-sword sent me when he was five saying, "Don't buy dog Patti buy Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle." Awww.

Time To Panic!

Oh my gosh ... I just looked at the calendar and realized I have exactly one month before the Sugar Baby's second birthday!!! I kind of wussed out on his first birthday since we were moving and all, so this year maybe I can actually be a little more prepared. This of course leads me to the most important question of all: what role will candy play in his birthday? Goody bags, a pinata, a lollipop tree, a candy buffet? Help! Give me your ideas!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Candy is the Universal Currency

Sheesh, things are getting expensive.* I shipped out four boxes of candy yesterday and it cost almost $50! But hey, it's a small price to pay to share the candy love. I sent out the Tootsie Pop Drops to the lucky Yumsters, and I also sent a box of American goodies to my new friend City, also known as the New Zealand Cupcake Queen. We're doing a candy exchange. I'm so excited I can hardly stand it. I told her how I've been fascinated by Perky Nanas ever since I heard about them, so she said she'd send me one! Woohoo! Then she also mentioned Jaffas and Pineapple Lumps. Seriously, don't they just sound fantastic?
While I was searching for a picture of the Perky Nanas, I also came across this Canadian product: Chris & Larry's Clodhoppers. I brought a bunch of these back from the All-Candy Expo a few years ago and they were so, so yummy. I had forgotton about them until now. I seem to remember that they were like chocolate-covered Bugles, although the package says graham crunch. Mmmmm. I wish I had some right now, but they're not available in the U.S. So sad.

*And it's not just me that says so. Check out Sue MKAFFGGF's rant at Hops & Chops.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Mr. Goodbar and the Disappearing Candy

Even though Mr. Goodbar continually claims that he doesn't like candy, he does hold a special affection in his heart for Mike & Ike. Go figure. So when I saw these limited edition "Alex's Lemonade Stand" Mike & Ikes, I figured I had to get them. I also figured he'd hate them. He's not much for newfangled-ness.
They sat on the counter all weekend. They taunted me, because I realized, after bestowing this gift upon him, that I really wanted to keep them for myself. I don't especially like Mike & Ike, but I do love lemonade, and the wrapper kept calling to me. Finally, yesterday, after a harrowing trip to the bank in which the Sugar Baby decided it would be a good idea to throw his toy at the teller, I came home wanting a glass of wine but instead settled for a handful of the candies in question.
There are different "lemonade" flavors: lemon, lime and berry. Here's the thing. There's something bitter and icky about them that I didn't like, although I appreciated the attempt to make them really sour. Fortunately that meant there was plenty left for Mr. Goodbar.
And guess what? He liked them. He really liked them. Well, he actually thought a few of the flavors were too sour (I didn't ask him to be more specific; it makes him uncomfortable to discuss candy, feelings and talk radio). Tonight, during our pre-dinner walk, he finished off the bag, saying "The Mike and Ikes have left the building." But remember: he doesn't like candy.

Literary Candy

Let me just say, I love the library. 1) You can take out as many books as you like for free. Free! What else is free these days? Nothing!; 2) The children's library is stocked with toys including a Lego table and giant soft puffy blocks that the Sugar Baby loves to knock down, especially if some super-sensitive little girl spent all afternoon stacking them just-so; and 3) they have a nice assortment of candy-themed books. Here are a few that I took out.
First, The Gumdrop Tree, a story about a girl who plants the gumdrops that her dad gave her. I love the illustrations.
Next-- what the heck? Mr. Goodbar just came home and it's the middle of the day-- sorry, just a little typing out loud. Anyhow, next we have "Yum, Yum," which technically isn't about candy, but how could I ignore it? The Sugar Baby loved that book. And lastly, we have "Owen's Marshmallow Chick," a literary tour-de-force about Owen's Easter stash that he quickly devours, except the marshmallow chick, which he saves on his book shelf.
All this is to say, look around you. There's candy everywhere and the world is better for it!

Monday, April 07, 2008

It's Called Hoarding

A conversation yesterday afternoon:

Mr. Goodbar: "I keep finding candy all over the house."
Me: "Hmm. Yeah." (Thinking, "You don't know the half of it, sucka.")


Later on that evening, we decided to re-arrange the kitchen cabinets in order to vex and confuse the Sugar Baby who has taken to lying down in front of the cupboards screaming and crying saying, "Cookie! Cookie! Cheese! Cheese!"

Mr. Goodbar: "Let's move all the coffee stuff over there."
Me: "Okay, hand it to me."
Mr. Goodbar reaches into the cabinet and pulls out the sugar bowl and creamer, which is filled with Pez. "There's #$*&% candy everywhere!"

Sunday, April 06, 2008

23-month Milestone

Okay folks, hang onto your hats. I have a big announcement. Yesterday, for the first time ever, the Sugar Baby said "Chocolate."
He found my secret stash (well, okay, ONE of my secret stashes) and started saying, "Chaka! Chaka!" Perhaps my proudest moment ever. So I gave him a little square of it (Starbuck's dark chocolate) and he very proudly showed his papa before shoving the whole thing into his mouth.
Then he started saying "Chaka! Chaka!" again and I had to lie and tell him it was all gone. "No more chocolate! Oh well!"
And so, the fun begins.

There Are So Many Nice People Out There in Cyberspace

I forgot to mention ... check out my groovy new banner. Chelsea from 88 words made it just for me! Check out her blog. She and her hubby are both uber-talented artistes.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Toot, Toot, Tootsie Goodbye ...

First of all, a great big yummy thank you! to everyone who participated in the Tootsie Pop Drop Giveaway. It's exciting for me to hear from all of you. I wish I could send candy to everyone who submitted their favorite flavors, but alas, I picked three people at random. The lucky dropsters are:

Candy Queen (even though I take issue with her name ... I think there's only room for one Candy Queen in the Kingdom of Candy)

If you're one of these people, send me your postal address and I'll get the goodies out to you! If you're weren't picked, never fear; there's more candy giveaways to come. (And the Red Vines giveaway will be coming up shortly.)

Some interesting things that I learned from your posts: people have very strong opinions on their favorite flavor Tootsie Pops, although no one flavor stood out. As for flavors you'd like to see, I was surprised that mango was mentioned several times. I'm not a mango fan, but hey, who am I? A few of you suggested pineapple, which I would totally LOVE. Vanilla and peach were also mentioned, and then there was banana and peanut butter which at first I thought "Ick," but then I thought they might be good with the Tootsie roll inside.

Again, thanks everyone! Happy eating!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

What's in a name?

When someone from Hershey's offered to send me some samples of their new Bliss, I said sure, although to be honest, I hadn't even heard about it.
This is their new line of bite-sized chocolates that I'm guessing is their way of competing with Dove. It comes in three varieties: milk, dark and milk chocolate meltaway. To be perfectly frank, I didn't really have any expectations for it. I figured it's Hershey's, it's chocolate, it'll be good. Dependable. End of story.
Let me just say: the chocolate meltaway is so deliciously yummy in a "I'll-just-have-one-more" kind of way. So fabulously addictive that you're like, "Wait a minute. I could NOT have eaten that whole bag." Ladies, this is the ultimate P.M.S. chocolate. Gentlemen, if you know what's good for you, you won't touch the bag of Bliss your girlfriend/wife/roommate/coworker bought at the store.
I couldn't stop eating these so I had to get them out of the house. I gave some to a friend to try, and she wrote me an e-mail later that day. "I had the chocolates with some iced coffee. It was perfect! Who makes Bliss?"
Hmmm. Funny, I didn't realize that it doesn't say Hershey's on the wrappers. I wonder why? Because they really should be proud. This is some yum yummy chocolate.
As for the other flavors, I haven't tried the milk yet, and the dark was very, very good but, oh that chocolate meltaway. Blissful. (And no, I'm not kissing butt. If they weren't good, I'd tell you. But oh man, they're good.)
P.S. In an effort to launch this new product, they're doing this thing called a "House Party." Maybe you all know about these and I'm just hopelessly behind the times, but I'd never heard of it. Anyhow, you go to this website and sign up and if you're chosen, you invite a bunch of your friends over for a chocolate party. They provide the goodies, you give the feedback. At least I think that's how it works. I totally want to do this.