Wednesday, December 30, 2009
I asked The Baron what he thought about them and he said he didn't like them, but then admitted that he was just shoving fistfuls of them in his mouth and not really enjoying the pomegranate experience. I still have no sense of taste, so I can't give my two cents. I have a feeling that, as a novelty for a pom lover, these are fun, but if you're looking for some serious chocolate, these wouldn't satisfy the need.The other thing of interest was this tin of Blueberry Blast yogurt candies. I bought these for the Sugar Baby because a) He's into planets (especially Saturn, but who isn't, really?); b) he loves blueberries; and c) I thought the tin was cute.
I actually thought these were going to be little dried blueberries with a yogurt couverture, but nope, they were so not that. I really think the front of the tin should give some indication that you're getting actual candy, not something yogurt-covered. They were little compressed sugar disks, like miniature Sweettarts. If you like blueberry, you'll love these. The berry taste was right on and the yogurt gave it a nice tang. I don't have the package here next to me, and to be quite honest, I'm just too lazy to go upstairs and get it, but if you're looking for a compressed candy that has no artificial flavors or colors, this is for you. I'd love to see these in other flavors, like orange or lime. In any case, the Sugar Baby chowed them all down in one sitting. Portion control is not his strong suit.
Sunday, December 27, 2009
In other peanut butter and chocolate news, a friend sent me a big bag of homemade peanut butter cups for Christmas. They lasted all of about five minutes on Christmas Eve.
What kind of candy did you have at Christmas?
I'm two days into a course of antibiotics and now I can at least sit up without feeling like my head is going to explode so it's time to start reporting on all the holiday goodies that were sampled around here.
Like these-- a gift from Aunt and Uncle Subtle. Check these babies out. Oh, oops, sorry. They were eaten before I had a chance to take a picture. In any case, these were chocolate creams and toffees from Hughes' Home Maid Chocolates. (One has to wonder about the name. Does that mean the maid made them? Or that there's some old maid stirring chocolate in her spinster kitchen? Or is it simply a case of TYPO?!) I'm typically not a big toffee fan, but oh yeah, these were some good eatin. The thing with toffee is that often it is too sweet. These were perfect. Just the right amount of sweetness coupled with the perfect delicate crunch. I'd like to say that everyone else ate them, but I fear that it was probably all my own evil doing.
Stay tuned. More Christmas candy goodness to follow.
Monday, December 21, 2009
Hey kids! Want a cheap, easy, last-minute gift? Well No-Nuts did, so just follow her lead:
1) Tell Aunt you need to have four gifts by tomorrow
2) Look around and see what Aunt has
3) Assemble stuff gathered from around Aunt's house into coffee mugs and wrap with Aunt's festive cellophane bags while simultaneously texting, talking and baking cookies
Actually, her gifts came out really cute. She filled coffee mugs with candy canes (mine), hot chocolate (mine), Hershey Kisses (hers) and little bottles of my homemade Candy Cane Vodka* (mine). The vodka looked really pretty-- it was a nice pink color, and I even had some peppermint candy labels that were perfect. ("Candy Cane Vodka?" you're saying.) Why yes. Here's the recipe:
Candy Cane Vodka
Crush up five to ten mini candy canes and combine in a container with plain vodka. Note: do not use bottom-shelf vodka, or you'll end up with something that smells like a cross between Christmas trees and divey bars. Let vodka sit until candy canes disintegrate (a couple of days). Strain using a sifter and a coffee filter. Pour into bottles and attach cute labels. Add to hot chocolate, or make a martini rimmed with crushed candy canes.
*Yes, she's 21.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Yes, my friends. A CVS truck Pez dispenser. Who on this great earth would want this? What kid wants to wake up on Christmas morning to find one of these in his stocking?
I think I can safely say that I'm perhaps one of just a handful of people in the world who loves this. Back in high school, I worked at CVS. At one point, I got "promoted" to "3rd key," which means I was the third person, behind the manager and the assistant manager, to have a set of keys to the store. (I promptly lost my keys and the company had to send out a locksmith to change all the locks in the store. Oops. My bad.) In any case, I was on my way to a high-flying career with Consumer Value Stores! But then things started to kind of suck there-- we were robbed at gunpoint at 2 in the afternoon; I had to haul my butt out of bed at 3 a.m. for a truck delivery; and one of the cashiers constantly referred to me as Missy. I quit for a while, then I went back. Then my partner in crime started working there and things got fun again, but then she left to go to college and I was a big loser left to stake out my future in health and beauty aids. Eventually I got my act together and went on to get my degree in the lucrative fields of English and Fine Art. But to this day, whenever I'm feeling stressed or anxious, I have a recurring nightmare: I have to go back to work at CVS and I don't know when I'm on the schedule and I don't really want to work there, but I'm afraid I'll get fired.
I know. I have issues. But I also have a CVS eighteen-wheeler Pez. And I'm all the better for it.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
My writer pal Beth sent this to me. You know those Russian nesting dolls? This is like a chocolate version, but also like a chart. You might call it a chocochart. Or a chartolate. Anyhow, the biggest chocolate dome has the least percentage of cocoa (60 percent) and the cocoa content increases as the domes get smaller, eventually resulting in a pure cacao bean. Oh the irony! Check out more fun stuff here.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
And this year's new recipe from the Betty Crocker Christmas Cookies publication. I bought it at the checkout counter as a gift for the Ice Cube Queen, but the Sugar Baby got a hold of it and you can guess the rest. So I decided to make these, because they sounded so good. Here's the deal: the recipe says "the mixture will be crumbly." Well that's an understatement.You're supposed to essentially take this dry sugar sand and some way, some how transform it into petite little snowballs of deliciousness. This, my friends, was not an easy task. I managed to form them into lumps and somehow got them to hold together-- barely. These little morsels are incredibly rich. So rich, they'll no doubt make their presence known on the scale the next day. But people have been asking me for the recipe, so here it is. Bake at your own risk.
Cinnamon-Chocolate Chip Butterballs
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup cold butter
1 cup mini chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Heat oven to 400 degrees. In large bowl, mix flour, 1/2 cup powdered sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon and salt. Cut in butter, using pastry blender or fork, until mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Stir in the chocolate chips and vanilla (mixture will be crumbly).
Using hands, shape dough into 1-inch balls. On ungreased cookie sheet, place balls 1 inch apart.
Bake 6-8 minutes or until set but not brown. Immediately remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks. Cool slightly, about 20 minutes.
In small bowl, combine powdered sugar and cinnamon. Roll cookies in sugar mixture, shaking off excess.
Monday, December 14, 2009
Memaw thought this would be a great gift because, at Thanksgiving, she gave me a nightshirt that said "I deserve chocolate!" with a picture of a whole bunch of chocolates in the shape of a heart. I've never gotten to wear this, however, as the Sugar Baby has claimed it as his own and must wear it over his pajamas every night.
Apparently this is a Pier 1 item, although when I went there the other day, I didn't see any on the shelves. In any case, it would make a very fun and cute gift for the gender neutral child in your life.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
This, ladies and gents, is a monumental occasion. Today, the Sugar Baby came home from school with-- drumroll please-- FUDGE! He and his little classmates apparently made fudge on Tuesday and today they got to cut it up. Now, the thing of it is, the Sugar Baby made no mention of this whatsoever. Not. A. Word.
Consider the fact that back in August he would yell out "Easiest Fudge in the World!" in his sleep. Consider that he has "A Baker's Field Guide to Holiday Candy & Confections" memorized and will correct you if you accidentally refer to the Pecan Penuche Fudge as the Pumpkin Spice Fudge. You'd think he'd be telling me every detail of the fudge-making adventure, but no. All I could get out of him (eight hours later) was, "Robert says marshmallows are dirty."
We split the fudge tonight for dessert, but he then informed that tomorrow he will be back to his regularly scheduled special treat of truffles.
Wednesday, December 09, 2009
I was in Target the other day and saw some interesting candy, but nothing that really piqued my interest enough to buy it. Hershey's has Irish Creme Kisses which I thought sounded good in theory, but the bag was the same color green that made me nauseous when I was pregnant and-- guess what?-- it still does. There were Christmas Dots in red and green, but I'm not a huge Dots fan. I don't know, maybe I'm just being a candy Scrooge right now. Although I did see this, which I thought would make a great gift: candy mega buttons.At $3.95, they're a fun stocking stuffer. You can get them at Off-Beat Treats, which is a supporter of Candy Yum Yum. (They also have lots of other fun candy; check 'em out.)
I promise my next post will be more cheery. Maybe I just need to get going on that candy cane vodka I was going to make.
Monday, December 07, 2009
You've gotta love it when a friend calls and says, "Hey, I left some candy for you at my sister-in-law's house." This was over a month ago, and it took me until just the other day to get over there to pick up the goods. How is it that life with a 3-year-old can be so busy?
My friend Kristina went to England and brought me back this box of lovely truffles made by Cottage Delight. The flavors are: Dark Chocolate Black Forest, Milk Chocolate Marc de Champagne, Milk Chocolate Rum and White Chocolate Vanilla. Yum!
Now the problem is, the Sugar Baby saw them and he's been obsessed with truffles ever since he saw them in "The Book." Sometimes at night he'll call out "Liqueur-enhanced truffles!" in his sleep. I let him have one, and now he's hooked. He followed me around all day today asking where they were. Yes, dear Yumsters, I've created a monster.
Thursday, December 03, 2009
"You know what we have?" The Sugar Baby keeps saying. "Peppermint Chocolates!"
Yep, these are the Special Treats of the Week in the Candy Yum Yum house. They're a layer of dark chocolate and a layer of white chocolate with crushed candy canes. What's not to love? So I suggest you fill a giant candy dish with them for your co-workers.
I do have one bone to pick, however. Inside each wrapper is a holiday hint from none other than Martha Stewart herself. The very first one I opened said, "Parsnips and Brussels sprouts make a hearty side dish."
Okay, I do not need to have my chocolate experience interrupted with visions of parsnips and-- perhaps the world's worst vegetable-- Brussels sprouts. Talk about being a wet blanket. Fortunately, some of the other tips were more palatable, like "A simmering pot of stew will warm up any occasion." Hahaha, that Martha. She's brilliant.
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
After driving home from Thanksgiving with the von Schokolats (which took 7 hours instead of the normal 5 due to traffic-- ugh), I was rewarded at the end of my journey with a box of mixed chocolates.
The box says "Old Time Candies," and that's the feeling you get when you open it. They're very comforting chocolates; they don't have a mass-produced look to them. And each chocolate is at least two-bites big, which is nice.
I'd show you a picture of the box, but they've been keeping me going through NaNoWriMo, so it's almost empty at this point. Instead, here's a pic from the See's website.These chocolates are very yummy. The caramel is very chewy and buttery and the marshmallow is fresh. Both the milk chocolate and the dark are good quality. Not too sweet, not at all grainy. Here's what I really like about them: the price. They're some of the more affordable candies out there. Shipping, of course, will up the ante, but that's the price you pay for on-line shopping. (Literally.)
My only complaint is that there's no diagram, like in a Whitman's Sampler. I really like to know what my options are before making the final chocolate decision. I suppose you could go to the website and look each piece up, but that's a lot of work, especially when you're writing fast and furious.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Every family has their post-Thanksgiving tradition. Some people go shopping on Black Friday; others go get their Christmas tree. In the Haus von Schokolat, our annual ritual is to go to the Apollo Day Spa.
This year, while everyone else was getting massages, I was the guinea pig for the chocolate body polish. Yes indeedy, you heard me right. Chocolate.
When we first walked into the spa, No-Nuts was very skeptical. "What's that smell?" she asked. "I hope that's not your chocolate thing, because it smells like burnt pretzel." I thought it was more like burnt popcorn, but apparently it was a cranberry candle. In any case, it wasn't my chocolate scrub, thankfully.
Everyone was wondering what this was going to be like. They had visions of me sitting in a bathtub full of melted chocolate or slathered with it and wrapped up in a warm cocoon. Nope. Here's the deal: I laid down on my stomach and got all relaxed and then the woman doing my treatment (the owner) spread some exfoliating stuff on my back. I instantly smelled like brownie mix. It was wonderful. She said they use a neutral exfoliant base and then add cocoa powder and cocoa butter. She rubbed it into my skin, then
They say cocoa is good for the skin, and I have to say, it made me feel like a new person. If you feel like trying it at home, here were some suggestions from my chocolate spa goddess: make a paste of FINE sea salt (that's key, to use fine versus coarse sea salt), cocoa, cocoa butter and some oil. If you want, (and you're not allergic!) you can use a fancy nut oil. I'm thinking some coconut and almond oil would be really cool: an Almond Joy exfoliant. She also said you can make it edible by using sugar instead of salt. Oooh la la. Does it get any more decadent than that?
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Then I strained the vodka using a mesh strainer lined with a coffee filter, just to get all the marshmallows and floaty stuff out.
The recipe for one Marshmallow Cocoa Martini:
1 shot Marshmallow vodka
1 shot Godiva Chocolate Liqueur or Bailey's
2 tablespoons half-and-half
1 tablespoon chocolate syrup
Shake it all up in a martini shaker, strain, and garnish with a marshmallow and chocolate syrup. Voila! A yummy chocolatey martini perfect for sipping in front of a fire.
(Sidenote: I tried to re-create the martini this week while we were at the von Schokolat's. I made it much too strong, however, as I didn't realize the shot glass I was using was a joke one. So a word to the wise: make sure you use a standard regulation-sized shot!)
Next experiment: Candy Cane Vodka! Ribbon Candy Vodka! Anyone want to be a taste tester? Come on over!
Monday, November 23, 2009
I figured it was time to get into the Christmas spirit, since, you know, Thanksgiving is almost here. I wouldn't want to get behind the trends and all. I decided my Christmas cheer would take the form of a Russell Stover Coconut Cream Santa. I can't say as I've ever seen these before, but it may be just because my affection for coconut is a relatively new thing.
Here it is. One chocolate-covered "Santa." Methinks this is akin to a Fudgey the Whale cake-- they've got to use this mold for other holidays. It could be a mummy for Halloween or a leprechaun for St. Patrick's Day. You can't really claim it's a rabbit, but maybe a chick for Easter. Maybe I'll buy a bunch of these and add some details for the annual Wombat Day celebration.**
What would you re-package this as?
**OMG. I just realized I forgot to celebrate Wombat Day this year! For some reason, I always think it's in February. Darn!
Saturday, November 21, 2009
My friend Marisa recently went to Japan with her acupuncture class to study with The Master and learn the ancient Chinese secrets of the Order of the Great Tiger. Well, I don't know if the Master part is true, but she did go there to hone her needling skills and, in the process, found some fun Japanese candy for me. I've been just kind of staring at these beauties for a few weeks now, gathering excitement of the fun that awaits.
The first thing I busted into was, of course, the Choco Banana Pocky. It had the classic Pocky crunchy stick, dipped in an incredibly artificial-tasting banana coating and drizzled with chocolate. They were delicious.
The other things I'll be trying over the next few weeks. Apparently Marisa was on a banana kick, because, as you can see in the bottom of the photo, there is a banana candy bar. XL no less. The middle thing is a bunch of little packages of different candies and I have no idea what the thing on the right is. Up top, there are some candy blox. Very cute. I will keep you posted on the mysterious candies. In the meantime, the flu has hit the house of Yum, so please be patient. There really is a lot to report!
Monday, November 16, 2009
Enter Chocri, a German company that allows you to pick your chocolate (milk, dark or white) and select your toppings-- everything from nuts and dried fruits to spices and cereals. In January, they'll be offering this service in the U.S.; in the meantime, they've been inviting some bloggers and journalists to try out their goods. What fun! And such decisions to make.
Some things were easy for me to rule out, like rosemary, hemp seeds, flower mix and basil. I have no interest in mixing these things with my chocolate. Others, however, presented quite a challenge. Should I do a really nutty bar with almonds, cashews, pine nuts and pecans? Or maybe a "fun" candy bar with gummy bears, colorful chocolate lentils and mini sugar bananas? It was tough coming up with some final products, but here's what I went with.
Pictured from left: "I Wish I Was Somewhere Tropical" (dark chocolate with coconut flakes, banana chips, pineapple and sea salt); "Candy Yum Yum Fruit Crunch" (milk chocolate with raisins, cranberries, cinnamon cornflakes and roasted almonds); and "The Whole Shebang" (milk chocolate with pretzels, cornflakes, candy lentils, rice crispies and ground coffee beans). I probably should've ordered a white chocolate bar just to cover all the bases, but since I really don't prefer white, I passed on it. Now I wish I had ordered one, because I loved all of these.
They were actually sitting on the "candy shelf" for a while, because we had all the Halloween candy to slog through. So the other night, when I finally decided it was time to break into one of the bars, I went into a panic. The Whole Shebang was open and it appeared as if the label had been nibbled on. I ran downstairs to tell Mr. Goodbar the unfortunate news that we once again had mice in the house.
"Uh, no," he said. "That was me. I opened that."
Oh. Well, he sure did a job on the label.
The milk chocolate was smooth and creamy and the combination of the pretzel and cornflake crunch with the chocolately lentils was perfect. The ground coffee beans gave it a really delicious, complex flavor, although I think the coffee would've been better with simpler ingredients, maybe plain cashews or a dried fruit.
The Candy Yum Yum Fruit Crunch was reminiscent of a Cadbury Fruit and Nut bar, back when they were actually good. The sweet almonds and tart fruit played off each other and the cinnamon cornflakes gave it a fun twist.
I thought I was being clever by putting banana chips in the Tropical bar. Mr. Goodbar hates bananas and I thought they would keep him away. Wrong. This morning I saw that he broke into the bar last night. The dark chocolate is wonderfully balanced-- not too sweet, not too bitter or tannic. The sea salt goes wonderfully with the chocolate and the fruits give it a nice texture combination.
I'm being 100 percent honest in my review when I say I. Love. Chocri. I love the concept and I love the product. My one bone of contention is the label. Since you get to name your own bar, it would be fun to have a fancier, more professional looking label, but the package itself is great, since you get to see what the bar looks like.
Let's get down to business now. The company won't start selling in the U.S. until January, which is too bad, because they'd make great Christmas gifts. The bars start at $8 and the toppings range from 10 cents to over $2. It looks like an average bar would cost somewhere around $10. Pricey, yes. These aren't the type of bars you'd order for your everyday consumption. However, I think a gift certificate for one or two bars would be a fun present or grab bag gift.
The Chocri website in the U.S. isn't up yet, but you can visit their blog for a preview: www.createmychocolate.com/blog. Check it out. What do you think you'd create?
You can check out some of the other bars that bloggers have created at Candy Addict and The Chocolate Review.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
I got kind of sugared out after Halloween, but I think I've got my appetite back, so let's catch up, shall we? I was very excited to come across these Tropical Chewy Lemon-Head & Friends at the Christmas Tree Shop. You may recall that it was only recently when I tried the traditional Lemonhead & Friends and loved them. Good texture and perfect sour taste.
These, however, were a disappointment. The box says, "Two Flavors in Every Piece!" and they are: Kiwi-Strawberry, Peach-Mango, Berry-Banana, Cherry-Watermelon and Pink Lemonade-Lemonade. (That last one is a cheat, if you ask me.)
The Kiwi-Strawberry was way too sweet; it lacked a sour punch. The Berry-Banana was just weird and fake tasting. Cherry-Watermelon was actually pretty good. The initial taste was cherry and the finish was watermelon. I hate peach-flavored candies, and these were no exception. The best out of the lot were the redundant Pink Lemonade-Lemonade.
Next up, we have this oddity: Walgreens Candy Classics Australian Traditional Black Liquorice Smothered in real milk chocolate. Now that's a mouthful, eh? This is a thick stick of solid licorice. It has a nice aroma to it. The same spicy, piquant smell you get when you first open a bag of black licorice. But the thing is, chocolate just doesn't go well with licorice. I found the combination to be just plain odd. Kind of like when Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley were together. They just don't do anything for each other.
Sunday, November 08, 2009
Friday, November 06, 2009
But here's a few tidbits of what's been going on at the House of Yum:
1) The Sugar Baby has this thing where, when he's eating a group of candies, say a handful of M&M's or a box of Dots, he holds onto the last piece and calls it "the secret candy."
2) Despite the fact that he has (had) about 20 pounds of delicious Halloween candy, he discovered a bowl of nasty old candy up in my painting studio. This is the candy that I use as still lifes for my art work. He became fixated with this candy and 1) ate a bunch of the old Necco Conversation Hearts even though I told him they were gross and old and not to do that and 2) decided he wanted to "Paint candy" like his mommy, only he didn't want to paint pictures of candy, he wanted to paint the actual candy. You know what they say: pick your battles. So I let him paint the Dum Dums and Red Hot Dollars with stinky tempera paint and then we did "candy prints" on paper. The results were less than dramatic, so they won't be shown here.
As far as I'm concerned, I felt like I needed to start working on some of the candy I got during the Great New York Candy Extravaganza, so I opened up the little chocolate square I got at Masthiashop. Here's what I'll say about it: if it was the only candy in the house, I'd eat it. But with the box of truffles from Father John just sitting on my desk, waiting to be devoured, I couldn't bring myself to waste the calories on the Masthia chocolate. I threw out half of it and instead had a dark chocolate orange truffle which was fantastic.
Tuesday, November 03, 2009
I let the candy corn soak in vodka in the fridge for about five hours. The candy corn disintegrated, thus turning the vodka a lovely bright orange. I strained out the solids using a coffee filter, then added the Grand Marnier, lemon juice and egg whites. (I'd read a review that said the egg whites were essential for the frothy nature of the drink, but frankly they just grossed us out.) How did they taste? Actually really good, but nothing at all like candy corn. They tasted like an orange/lemon martini. I'm going to experiment with some ideas for Christmas. Chopped up candy canes seem like an obvious winner. Maybe, though, I'll try ribbon candy. Any other ideas?
Monday, November 02, 2009
Actually, the Sugar Baby had no trouble deciding. He went straight for the Almond Joy, which was the same one he picked last year, despite the fact that he has no idea what it is.
I brought Father John a box of Chocorooms; I felt like he needed to experience the sheer bliss of these little delights. I hope he likes them as much as everyone else did.
But check out what he gave me: a box of melt-in-your-mouth truffles from Hauser Chocolatier in Bethel, CT. I mean, seriously, it gets no better than this.
We trick-or-treated around my parents' neighborhood for about an hour (Bazooka Betsy and Uncle Crabby joined us in the fun). I was surprised at how many people offered full-sized bars this year. At first the Sugar Baby was all hesitant to pick a piece of candy, but by the end of the night he was going for the one-two grab.
We've spent the past two days sorting through all the candy, lining them up, mixing and matching. So far he's loved everything he's had. But the most exciting piece to him was the Starlight Mint. "I got a peppermint!" he yelled. This most precious of candies remains uneaten. He simply looks at it.
More details to follow.
Friday, October 30, 2009
I've forgotten how exhausting trick-or-treating can be. Today was the downtown trick-or-treat where all the local stores and politicians hand out candy to the kids and coupons to the parents. Basically about five million people descend upon the town all at the same time, so there's a crush of crowds and everyone is all hot and sweaty in their costumes and tired kids are screaming and teenagers are pushing their way through ... yeah, good times. Fortunately we got there early enough to do some power trick-or-treating before things got too crazy.
The very first piece of candy the Sugar Baby picked out was a miniature Tootsie Roll. Uh oh. I'd forgotten to have "the talk" with him. You know, the talk where I explain that you always go for the Reese's and Snickers over the Tootsie Rolls and lollipops. He did better on the second try when he got-- of course!-- a bag of Sugar Babies.
He seemed to be attracted to the silvery wrappers of 3 Musketeers, and when the offering was Dum Dums, he poked around until he found the rootbeer ones.
On the way home, he fell asleep in the car, clutching his bag o' goodies. I think it weighed more than he does.
After dinner tonight, I told him he could pick out one piece to eat. What did he pick? Go ahead, take a guess. Swedish Fish? Nope. Milky Way? No. Tootsie Roll? No. Out of all the candy-- sooo much candy-- he chose a peppermint LifeSaver. A single, solitary LifeSaver. I can't even pretend to understand.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Yesterday I promised you the great unveiling of the treats I made for the Sugar Baby's party at school. Fortunately, I made two different things.
First, ghost Jell-O jigglers. Easy, fun, festive.
And then, trying to be all Martha, I decided to make mini caramel apples that I saw in a magazine. Here's what you're supposed to do: use a melon baller to scoop balls of apple. Put a lollipop stick in the apple, then dip in melted butterscotch chips and roll in sprinkles. Voila! A cute mini "caramel" apple.
The Sugar Baby's school is very strict about peanut products. We can't even use ingredients that were made in a peanut facility, so I couldn't use the butterscotch chips. "Well why not caramel then?" I thought. Brach's caramels are nut-free.
I spent all night cutting apple balls, drying them, dipping them, rolling them. They were adorable. I even had little candy corn paper cups to put them in. I put the tray of apples in the fridge and this morning, woke up to find this:Wah, wah, wah. The caramel slipped right off the apples. I guess that's why the recipe said to use butterscotch chips. Bummer. Apple on a stick anyone?
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
In the meantime, let's talk about this here Trader Joe's PB&J candy bar. I've looked at this numerous times, but it never really sounded very good to me. PB&J just says sandwich, not sweet. But then, on a whim, I decided to get one a few weeks ago, and just yesterday got around to trying it.
Sweet Caesar's Ghost! What a fantastic bar. The chocolate is creamy, the peanut butter rich (with crunchies in it) and the jelly firm and fruity. This was a candy bar that made me say "Wow." It shouldn't have come as a surprise, really, since I loved the Trader Joe's Lumpy Bumpy Bar.
It wasn't until after I ate it that I read the box. Here's the description:
"PB&J are sandwiched between milk and dark chocolate then sprinkled with crushed potato chips. Potato chips? Yes, crisp, delicious potato chips. This means you have it all-- sweet and salty, smooth and crunchy. Lucky you!"
Lucky me, indeed. Potato chips! No wonder it tasted so good. The mention of milk and dark chocolate is perplexing, however. It seemed like it was all dark chocolate to me. Maybe if I'd read the box I would've paid closer attention.
At around $2 a bar, this isn't every day eating. And at a whopping 300 calories, it's more like a once a year treat. But this, my friends, just may be a contender against Chocorooms for the candy of the year. We'll have to see.
Monday, October 26, 2009
Today, while trying unsuccessfully to nap (isn't it amazing how kids can be dripping with snot and phlegm, yet still have the energy to bounce around screaming, "Froggy's on my head!"), I had a deep existential moment. This is the truth that was revealed to me: No one is in charge of Halloween. Here's what I mean. There are some holidays that are dependent upon the weather. Fourth of July, Memorial Day, summer birthdays. If the weather is bad, the celebrations are either moved indoors or to another day. Some holidays, like Christmas and Easter, are held rain or shine. But Halloween is tricky. If it rains, there is no moving the fun indoors. There is no rain date. If the weather is bad on Halloween, all is lost. There is no King of Halloween to decree that trick-or-treating will be held on the next nice evening. Announcements are not broadcast through the streets explaining a contingency plan. Nope, Halloween is free of government and political bondage. There's no controlling it. It either happens or it doesn't. No make-up dates, no rain checks. And people all over the land will be stuck with the one or two kinds of candy they bought to give out and the bountiful harvest that is brought forth on Halloween is but a sugar famine. With Halloween, it's all the luck of the draw.
Yep, that's what happens when you have too little sleep, a generous spoonful of cough syrup and a crazed toddler.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
But the holiday just wouldn't be the same without a visit to Father John. (For an update, here's 2008, and 2007 and more 2007.) So as I was planning this year's schedule, it occurred to me: Halloween is on a Saturday night. But Mass is also said on Saturday night. Panic struck! Would Father John be giving out candy this year? If so, would it only be after Mass (too late for us to stop by)? Would we miss our annual visit to Father John and his basket o' full-sized candy bars?
As fate would have it, my mother told me to go to the church's website and read this week's bulletin. Here you go:
the Eve of All Saint's Day, Halloween! Sometimes
you read an article that condemns this holiday as a
glorification of the darker aspects of the pagan realm.
To be honest, I really don't think most people take
that route. From my side of the trick-or-treat door, I
see a lot of fun family activity as Moms and Dads
prowl the nighttime streets with the kids of their
neighborhood in search of that key element of the
Halloween experience: CANDYBARS!
Candybars---full size, top tier---are what will
given out from the rectory door next Saturday. Last
year we broke a record with over 160 kids (....and
one dog.....or someone in a really good dog costume....).
With Halloween falling on a Saturday, I
hope we can smash that record like an old pumpkin!
Let's try for 200! Spread the word, bring your
friends! A giant basket of candy awaits the ghastly
and ghoulish and masked and marvelous!"
Anyhow, just to be safe, I e-mailed Father John and asked him when he planned on manning the big basket of candy. He said he was trying to get another priest to fill in for him so he wouldn't miss any trick-or-treaters. (I didn't know priests could switch shifts like that. I suppose it makes sense.) So I am READY for Halloween! Well, almost anyway. My costume isn't quite finished and-- yikes!-- the Sugar Baby appears to be coming down with a cold. He has six days to recover. Cross your fingers and say a prayer because I will not miss out on Halloween.
One of the moms at the Sugar Baby's new school found out I had a blog. Not only does she have a 3-year-old, but she also just gave birth to a brand new baby just a few weeks ago. I figured if anyone needed a special treat, it was her. So I shared some of the candy love that was sent to me from Yummy Earth. I like this company, because it was created by two dads who wanted their kids to have a natural candy that tasted good. All of their products are USDA and EU Certified Organic and are gluten-free, peanut-free and tree-nut free and don't contain any type of corn syrup. And yet amazingly, their candy still tastes really, really good. Honestly!
While the gummy bears and worms may not be as bright and colorful as traditional brands, they taste really good. The other mom commented on how juicy they were. Yep, they have a nice, fresh fruit flavor with a good sweet/sour balance. What I particularly like is that these have the same dense chew as a regular gummy. Oftentimes, gummy products can be too soft or gumdrop-like. These were definitely chewy.
As for their hard candies, I tried the Roadside Root Beer drops which were just as tasty as an old-fashioned root beer barrel, only drop-shaped, which I like better since it didn't slice up my tongue. I plan on giving out their Organic Lollipops for Halloween, so if you're in the neighborhood, stop by!
I tip my hat to this company because I know a lot of parents out there who are concerned about artificial colors and flavors. These prove that you can make a great tasting candy from nature's own delicious sources.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
I try not to use the self-checkout at the grocery store because 1) I want to create jobs for people, not reduce them and 2) Something always goes wrong and I have to wait for the wasteoid stoned teenager with the scraggly goatee to come help. I didn't have much choice the other day though when I was buying the incredibly stereotypical milk, eggs and bread. It was either wait in a ridiculously long line for a human check-out person, or do the self-serve. As I was trying to scan my card, I noticed a box top popping out from the other side of the impulse purchase rack. It was a small box of M&M's Premiums in Triple Chocolate.
I've written about the Premiums before. Here I was shocked at the price. In this post, the Baroness bought some mint ones and I decided they tasted like a peppermint patty. Then the Baron shocked us all with his review, and then Liesl set the record straight and said she really liked them.
Frankly, I couldn't remember what I thought of them, so I grabbed a box. (Very impulsive of me.)
Here it is, my final decision: these are wrong.
To be labeled an M&M, in my book anyway, you must have a hard candy shell. I was taken aback by the waxy soft coating on these. It was shocking, kind of like if you guzzle a glass of water only to find out that it was pure vodka, as a certain guitar store owner's three-year-old daughter did recently.
These are fine as stand-alone candies, but as "M&M's," they just don't work. You need that combination of crunchy slick shell with creamy milk chocolate.
That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
I was sent this big bar because it is a "special Milton Hershey edition." (The only special thing about it is the picture of Milton Hershey on the back.) But apparently Milt and his wife Kitty set up a trust to help children in need and it's still going strong. Every time you buy a Hershey bar, some of the proceeds go toward helping a child break the cycle of poverty. Pretty cool.
I was also sent this info about Halloween:
- This year, for the first time ever, Hershey Kisses will be available in trick-or-treat sized bags
- Reese's will have bags of Snack Size Peanut Butter Cup Pumpkins (Cool! I need to find these.)
- Reese's Fast Break and Cookies 'n Creme will be available in Snack Size packages
- Houses with black shutters are 77 percent more likely to hand out Kit Kat Wafer Bars and trick-or-treaters have a 37 percent greater chance of scaring up a Kit Kat Wafer Bar from a .
- Reese's Peanut Butter Cup lovers should forego ranch houses and opt instead to ring the bell of two-story houses where they'll have a 26 percent greater chance of receiving the perfect combination of chocolate and peanut butter.
- Knock on brown doors if seeking Hershey's Milk Chocolate Bars. Trick-or-treaters have a 32 percent greater chance of receiving a Hershey's Milk Chocolate Bar from homes with brown doors.
- [All statistics found according to the Opinion Research Corporation Omnibus Survey, December 2008, conducted on behalf of The Hershey Company.]
Monday, October 19, 2009
Well, I thought the arrival of the magazine was some sort of karmic message, because it turns out that this month's food article was called, "Dream Sweets" with the sub-head "With Halloween treats on his mind, Jeffrey Steingarten investigates America's enduring appetite for candy."
Let me begin by saying that I have a
(As an aside, let me comment about the art that goes with the article. There is a photograph of three little girls dressed as witches (quite creepy, actually), eating green Frankenstein cake, with the title "dream sweets" in a thin, sans serif font. What?? The title is much too crafty to be of any use. Obviously it's a play on "sweet dreams," but it just doesn't jive with the photograph. I never would've thought this was an article on candy; I would've assumed it was all about cake.) Anyhow.
So what did I learn from Mr. Steingarten's masterpiece this month?
He points out that the U.S. Census Bureau counts candy as well as people. Huh. I didn't know that. According to the article, the Census Bureau divides non-chocolate confections into six categories: hard candy, chewy candy, soft candy, iced or coated candy, panned candy and licorice. That in itself is an interesting fact and something I'll explore at a later date, when I have more time.
Next in the article he goes on to talk about some of New York's candy shops, beginning with Dylan's Candy Bar. He says, and I quote, "Dylans ... is the most perfect American candy store in existence, all three airy floors designed and decorated in the happiest possible manner, each clever colorful detail conveying the deepest candy love imaginable."
Oh, how I disagree.
Here's my take on it. Dylan's is the Disney World of candy stores. It's all glitz and glitter. It's larger than life. Everything is candy, candy, candy, from the stairs (embedded with gummies) to the music ("sweet" themed songs, like "Sugar, Sugar," played at full volume). It is an atrocity. You could almost imagine a giant talking candy bar welcoming visitors to the store with an enormous fake smile on its face. Or perhaps a snappy, scary old lady saying, "This is candy! You WILL have fun!"
His description of Economy Candy was more on-target. Here he says, "The shop is clean and happy, well organized (but neither modernized nor gentrified), and packed from floor to ceiling with candy."
He then goes on to ask, "Did you know that a cup of candy corn has fewer calories than a cup of raisins?"
No, I didn't. Very interesting, that.
And he continues. "Standing in Economy Candy, I was immersed in the sweets of my boyhood, a thousand madeleines each triggering a five-volume novel giving way to the involuntary memories released by the next candy bar. It was exhausting. There were Skybars; chocolate Ice Cubes; French Chew Taffy in chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, and banana; Adams Black Jack and Clove chewing gum ..." and so-on and so-forth. Yes, this is exactly what most people seemed to be experiencing when I was at Economy Candy. I stood by the door for a few minutes and listened to the comments from people as they walked in. "It smells so good!" "Remember these?" "I haven't seen these in years!" I watched as a little girl grabbed handfuls of Jelly Bellies while her mother was otherwise entranced by rock candy. I saw a little boy's eyes light up while his mother bought him a swirly lollipop. I listened in as a woman inquired about the different types of licorice behind the counter.
See, that's the thing about candy and the one thing Mr. Steingarten got right in this article: candy involuntarily triggers memories for all of us. That's what makes it so wonderful. You just don't have the same onslaught of nostalgia when you walk into a green grocer or a butcher. There's something particularly wonderful about candy and the way a single wrapper or a whiff of chocolate can bring you back in time to that day on the playground when you fell off the swing and hit your head; or the Christmas Eve you ate so many candy canes that you ended up with a serious tummy ache; or the time you were able to spell your name out from the letters in your vegetable soup and were given a Hershey bar as a prize. That's just the magic of candy.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
After leaving Economy Candy with our haul, we decided to check out the neighborhood and the interesting little shops. One place made me stop and look. It was called Mastihashop, and at first glance, it looked like a place that sold fancy little soaps and beauty products. But then something on the sign caught my eye; it said "candy."
Indeed, the shop did sell things like creams and soaps, but they also had a bunch of samples out of their food products, including chocolate and gum.
"Would you like to hear about Chios Mastiha?" the woman behind the counter asked.
Well, yes, I certainly would, because I had no idea what the heck this place was.
Turns out this was the "Official Shop of the Chios Masthia Growers Association," and all of the products contain, you guessed it, Chios Masthia, a "resinous crystal granule from the Pistacia lentiscus tree." It's more widely known as gum mastic.
Talk about a niche market.
The woman at the shop was very nice and offered us all sorts of different samples. I tried the original, straight-from-the-tree granules, which are sold as a natural gum. They tasted like chopped up wax lips.
In the end, I bought a small square of chocolate, a hunk of Turkish Delight and a Honey Pie with Almonds. The nice lady threw in a free box of Fama Fresh gum.
I haven't tried any of it yet, but I will certainly report back. I wouldn't want you to miss out on this most unusual ingredient. It's very strange to have a shop based entirely on one obscure ingredient, although I suppose it's not unlike some small shops in New England that only sell things made with maple syrup. In the meantime, if you want to check it out for yourself, visit www.mastihashopny.com.
Let me know what you think.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
- two varieties of Pucca: regular shell with chocolate creme filling and chocolate shell with chocolate creme filling. I bought two boxes because these are made by Meiji, the same company that brought us the fantastic Chocorooms. The first thing I did after leaving the store was bust open the box of original flavor. They are little shapes that look like Goldfish and the ghosts from Pacman (or are they octopi?). I was disappointed. The shell is shinier and less crunchy than the Chocoroom stems, which were like a crunchy cookie. But for $1.79 a box, it seemed like a good deal.
- A can of Charms Sour Balls: I'm not particularly big on hard candy, and I seem to have quite a large stash of it right now, but these reminded me of my PopPop. He always had a can of these by his easy chair.
- British Double Decker: I couldn't remember if I had ever tried one of these. I don't think I have. Of course, I threw out the wrapper, so I can't tell you the proper description, but it was nougat and crisped rice in milk chocolate. I wasn't so sure about it at first; the nougat seemed a bit too "fake" to me, but in the end, I decided I really liked it. Here's what the Brits do right: their crisped rice is more sturdy and crunchier than ours.
- A box of Leone Candy Originals in Orange: I have no idea what these are, and at $2.99 for one ounce they were pricey, but the box is so beautiful. They're from Italy and the box says "Breath of Sicily."
- Cadbury Picnic: "Packed with Peanuts and Raisins." I haven't tried it yet.
- Fruitips Fruit Pastilles: These confused me because they have some sort of Asian writing on them. At first I thought they might be a Japanese candy, but I finally saw that it said, "Made in the United Kingdom." The wrapper says 4 times real fruit juices. Four times more than what? Rocks? The first one I sampled was on the Subway when PIC said she was afraid she was going to barf from not eating all day. I gave her one and it seemed to help her, while it did the opposite for me. The two that I've had both had a musky taste to them. Ick.
- Economy Candy's own brand of chocolate in Belgian Milk Chocolate Smores and Belgian Milk Chocolate with Roasted Almonds: First of all, I should've read the ingredients on the almond bar because it clearly says "roasted almond bits." This is my candy bar pet peeve. When you chop nuts up into miniscule pieces, they have an unappetizing texture and no flavor. These were very disappointing. The chocolate was not very good (on par with a stale Hershey bar) and the mix-ins were meager. I'd never know it was a Smores bar if you didn't tell me. I could find nary a marshmallow.
- Tropical Razzles: Again, I couldn't remember if I've already tried these so I figured I'd get them just in case. Haven't tried them yet, but the flavors are pineapple, strawberry-banana, tropical punch, tangerine and kiwi-lime.
- Chick-O-Stick: I bought this thinking it was a Coconut Longboy. Oops. It proudly sports a "Made in the USA" label.
- Adams Sour Cherry Gum: I remember this from when I was little. So far I've just sniffed it and it has that wonderful cherry Bubble Yum scent to it.
- Doscher's Famous Banana French Chew Taffy: If I had read the ingredients first, I probably wouldn't have bought this. Check it out: Corn syrup, sugar, partially hydrogenated soybean and cottonseed oils, egg albumen, soy albumen, corn starch, sodium bicarbonate, artificial flavor and artificial color. They should call it French Artery Clogger.
- And lastly, Ice Cubes, because I need them to do the "I" painting in my ABC series.
Next update: candy from a freaky deaky Greeky store.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Where do you even begin? It was pretty crowded so there was no way to map out a plan of attack. We had to just go with the flow. (What's up with the tricycle hanging from the ceiling?)
The iconic giant lollipop. Is there anyone out there who's ever actually eaten one of these things? Let me know! I bought the Sugar Baby a miniature version.
After fully perusing the store and making our selections (I maintained some self-control and only spent $30), we headed out in search of lunch. But not before we saw this:
Yeah, thanks for that, New York. We were unfamiliar with this part of town, so we just started wandering, looking for a place to eat. We wandered, and we wandered ... Oh, there were plenty of cute cafes, but for some reason they were all serving brunch. On a Saturday. At 2 p.m. That is just wrong. Eggs are for Sunday. We walked and walked. Seriously, every restaurant, whether it was Mexican, Turkish or American, was serving omelets and pancakes. It's just not what we were in the mood for. After walking for another HOUR, we finally found sustenance at Rolf's, a German restaurant. Below, the first piece of real food we'd had all day.
Stay tuned for Part II, when we get down to business and I reveal my purchases.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
I was going to wait and make a big announcement, but I've decided to go for the "soft opening" instead. So without further ado, I'd like to introduce my new Etsy shop! Yes, now you can have your very own piece of Candy Yum Yum art. My shop is still under construction (I still have to figure out how to make a banner and I have lots more items to list), but I figured I'd share it with you guys. So check it out and let me know what you think: www.sweetstuffart.etsy.com.
Monday, October 12, 2009
I feel the need to take a moment to talk about the recent hullaballoo concerning the Federal Trade Commission and the new blogging rules.
In a nutshell, here’s the deal, with due credit to The New York Times: “Beginning on Dec. 1, bloggers who review products must disclose any connection with advertisers, including, in most cases, the receipt of free products and whether or not they were paid in any way by advertisers, as occurs frequently.” Punishments will range from written warnings to $11,000 fines.
I have mixed feelings on this.
First of all, I’ve always tried to point out when I’ve been given a product for review, as have many other bloggers that I know. Ethically, it seems the right thing to do. But I take offense that suddenly, as a writer for the Internet, I have to be upheld to “stronger” standards than say, magazines and newspapers. Supposedly “traditional media” has been held to these stiff standards all along, but believe me when I tell you-- every publication, every writer, editor and publisher-- has been offered free products, free trips, dinners, presents, etc., all in the name of marketing. If, for one second, you believe that there’s a separation of church and state (or in this case, editorial and sales) in any magazine, you are sadly mistaken.
So why is the FTC suddenly all over the blogosphere?
I’ll tell you why. Because the minority of less-than-ethical “bloggers” have tainted it for us all. Marketing shills, celebrities that endorse products, and fake testimonials have paved the way for government to stick its nose into what for many has, up until this point, been a hobby or, at times, a small income-generating labor of love.
But, like in all relationships, there are two sides to every story. What about the reader/consumer? Shouldn’t he have a responsibility as well to choose what he reads wisely? Whatever happened to Caveat Emptor? “Let the buyer beware” (or in this case, the reader), has suddenly turned into “Let the writer take all responsibility.”
For example, if I say a particular candy is the most delicious, scrumptious, yummalicious sweet out there, must you believe me? If I say I hate Rainbow Twizzlers to the core of my being, can you not disagree? (It all seems very silly to be talking about it in terms of candy. I'm quite certain that the FTC doesn't have it out for us chocoholics. Yet where does one draw the line? Is there a difference between a review of gummy worms versus a review of flat-screen TVs?)
While I agree that it will be good to rein in all those shifty operations out there, I also feel a bit like a mother bear. Back off of the blogosphere, FTC. Leave us little guys out of it. I can suggest plenty of places where you can focus your attention. Somehow I think your attention might be better focused on things like the relationship between doctors and pharmaceutical companies, rather than mommy bloggers and book reviewers. But that’s just my opinion. And no one’s paid me (in cash or candy) to say it.
More feedback on the Lindt Excellence Touch of Sea Salt bar: Mr. Goodbar said, "That is the best chocolate I've ever had." Go Lindt!
And more on the King Leo's candy: I gave some Soft Peppermint Sticks and Soft Pomegranate Puffs to Sue MKAFFGGF and she wrote me an e-mail stating the following:
King Leo's soft peppermint sticks are my new favorite food! They are so delicious and they have a really awesome texture. They are exactly like larger versions of those soft pastel after-dinner mints that restaurants used to put in bowls to take on your way out ... only no one does that anymore because they discovered how terribly unsanitary it was. So now, even if I see that style of mint, I never take one because all I can think of is everybody's unwashed hands all over them. Anyway, those peppermint sticks are awesome. No one seemed to like the Pomegranate Puffs. They were just strange.... The thing I don't get is that on the package it says something like "King Leo's Pomegranate Puffs are soft, right out of the package." Previously did you have to leave them on the counter, or cook them in the microwave until they reached the desired softness? Why would their soft quality be a good thing?
Exactly what I said, Sue MKAFFGGF. (Apparently she missed that post. We'll forgive her.)