Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Wacky Candies! Chocolate-Covered Pomegranate Seeds and Blueberry Yogurt Discs

One of the good things about Christmas is that I'm more apt to "splurge" on little things that I wouldn't necessarily buy on a normal day. Little Gretl von Schokolat loves pomegranates, so naturally when I saw these chocolate-covered pomegranate seeds at Trader Joe's, I had to get them. She doesn't like dark chocolate, but she said they were really good. "First it tastes like dark chocolate," she said, "but then you get this pomegranate burst."
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

The Perfect Gift for the Reese's Kid

I went onto the Hershey's website in early December and tried ordering the World's Largest Reese's Peanut Butter Cups for the Reese's kid. Suffice it to say that it was a nightmare process (all sorts of pain in the neck issues) and I had all but given up on the idea. But then I gave it one more try and successfully sent two 1-pound packages to the Reese's kid and his big brother. As you can see, he is visibly excited by the thought of 16 ounces of pure chocolatey peanut buttery goodness.
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?

Maid with Love: Chocolates from Wisconsin

Hello? Santa? Anyone? What happened to Christmas? Apparently Christmas came and went here at the House of Yum. I kind of remember some presents being opened, but that's about it. I was attacked head-on by a sinus and ear infection that knocked the Christmas past, present and future out of me. Good times.
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

Last Minute Gifts: Candy Cane Vodka!

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.

Candy Canes & Mistletoe

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Dear Santa, All I Really Want is Something with the CVS Logo on It

Sometimes you see something in a store and you wonder, now who the heck would buy that? Like those ceramic statuettes of cupids and doves you see at the dollar store meant as wedding favors, or $12 "fancy" pasta sauce next to the Ragu. But just as there is someone for everyone, so there is also some*thing* for everyone. When my partner in crime saw this, she knew it was meant for me:
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

Less is More

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

Death by Cinnamon-Chocolate Chip Butterballs

This year certainly isn't like the days of yore when my sisters and nieces and mother and I all got together, cranked up the stove early in the morning, and baked cookies until the sun set. Eight hours and literally hundreds of cookies later, we'd still be thinking about making one more batch. I have no idea how we ever did that. I just finished two batches of cookies and I'm wiped out.First, the cookie I'm sort of known for: iced sugar cookies. For some reason, people seem to really dig these. I don't know-- to me they're no big whoop, but I've gotten enough requests that I guess they really are tasty. (Check out the rogue gingerbread man in the corner; he was a test cookie.)
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

Christmas Idea #4: Wooden Confectionery Set

The Sugar Baby got this surprise in the mail the other day from Memaw: a wooden confectionery set. Pretty darn cute, ain't it? We here at the House of Yum have no gender issues with toys, but apparently the Sugar Baby does. He loves the candies but has poo-pooed the cute pink tray in favor of a salad spinner. He puts all the chocolates in the basket, gives it a spin, and declares he has made truffles. Fun!
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

A Milestone: the Sugar Baby's First Candy Making Adventure

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

Christmas Idea #3: Candy Mega Buttons

I know, I know... I haven't been posting as much as I usually do. It's a busy time around here, what with the Sugar Baby's first "real" Christmas coming up. I always swore I would not be one of those maniac parents who obsesses over making sure that Santa gets the perfect gift, but here I am, trolling Craigslist and Ebay begging Santa to bring the Sugarbaby a junior-sized hi-hat cymbal, which apparently the elves forgot to make enough of this year. Needless to say, I know he would be thrilled with a candy cane and a pack of M&M's, but that's besides the point.
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

Truffles from England!

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

Christmas Idea #2: Dove Peppermint Bark

This review comes to you courtesy of the Sugar Baby. The folks at Dove send me a little red bag filled with their holiday Peppermint Bark and Caramel Promises.
"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

Christmas Idea #1: See's Candies

I've always wanted to try See's chocolates. I'd heard about them all the time, but we don't have them here on the East Coast. So when someone from the company contacted me and asked if I'd like to try a sample, I was psyched. I was particularly excited to try the Scotchmallow, which is honey marshmallow and caramel covered in chocolate.
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.