Monday, December 27, 2010
My P.I.C. and I decided that, this year, instead of getting gifts for each others' kids, we'd splurge and give presents to each other. Nothing big, just something fun. Well, howdy doo, guess what I got? A veritable candy feast of Trader Joe's goodies. There's Fleur de Sel caramels, chocolate-covered edamame, chocolate-covered peppermint Joe Joe's and-- hold onto your hats-- dark chocolate-covered shortbread stars.
Back in November, there was a woman behind me in line at TJ's who was buying a whole bunch of boxes of the stars. She said she learned her lesson last year when they sold out. I didn't think much of it, because I'm not a huge shortbread fan. But these are beyond compare. They really don't taste like shortbread. They don't have that huge butter taste and are more thin and crunchy than thick and crumbly. The chocolate is delicious. If these were a candy, they just might be voted the best of 2010. Now I know. Next year I will hoard them.
What about you? What treats did you get for Christmas?
(And please be patient while I work through some design issues. Never a dull moment.)
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Monday, December 20, 2010
I think 2011 is going to be a good year for chocolate. I have a feeling there will be a lot of new, fun candies out there for us to try. Dove has announced that in January, they'll be launching a new product: Dove Silky Smooth White & Milk Chocolate Swirl and Raspberry & Dark Chocolate Swirl. I tried the raspberry and was very happy with it. Raspberry is one of those flavors that can easily go wrong, but here the sweetness of the berry is nicely balanced with the tannin of the dark chocolate. Like most of the Dove products, I could eat a bag of these in one sitting. But just for the record, I did maintain self-control and only had a few. That's today's story, anyhow. Tomorrow could be completely different.
Saturday, December 18, 2010
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Friday, December 10, 2010
It's time for another giveaway, don't you think? How about some Limited Edition Ghirardelli Peppermint Bark? I love this stuff. It's so festive and you can do so much with it... eat it right out of the bag or bake with it. So, if you'd like a chance to win some bars and bags, leave a comment here telling me what your favorite Christmas cookie is. Could be anything, from your grandma's famous prune cookies to your BFF's whiskey balls. I'll pick one lucky person at random on December 14 at approximately 1:45 p.m., give or take a few minutes. Remember to leave a way for me to contact you. You can't win if you're anonymous!
Wednesday, December 08, 2010
A few more Trader Joe's updates. First, they have "Coins of the World" which are much cooler than the regular old drugstore bag of geld. Here, the Sugar Baby has made a Christmas tree out of his (after he won all of my coins in a rousing game of dreidel).Second, check this out. Trader Joe's Sipping Chocolate. Sounds delish, right? Well check out the nutritional info, too: 6 grams of fiber, baby! I'm not sure how that's even possible, given that the ingredients are cocoa powder, cane sugar, chocolate liquor and cocoa butter. Any nutritionists want to give us some insight on that? Because I'm all about six grams of fiber.
Saturday, December 04, 2010
It's that time of year again ... the time when I can't go to Trader Joe's with an empty sugar tooth because they have all their holiday yummy things out. They have cute snowflakes made out of milk, white and dark chocolate; holiday jelly beans in red, green and white (with no artifical colors or flavors); lots of truffles and fleur de sel caramels, chocolate-covered Joe-Joe's ... it goes on and on. I decided to go for the Dark Chocolate Minty Mallows. Want to know more? You know you do! Check out my new food blog, EatDrinkShopCook! I've accepted a gig as the food writer for a group of local papers, which means my postings here may be a bit sparse for a while, until I get my bearings over there.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Here's something fun for the chocolate snob who thinks he's tried everything. MARS created a Historic Division through which they re-create old tyme-y chocolates. The American Heritage Chocolate line includes chocolate sticks, blocks and finely grated chocolate drink. The packaging is fun and is likely to impress the chocoholic in your life. The American Heritage Chocolate website says you can buy the products there, although I couldn't figure out exactly where. They do, however, list gift shops at historic sites that will ship the products.
Because the chocolate is made using 17th- and 18th-century recipes, there's definitely a heavy spice aspect to it. You're not just getting chocolate; you're also getting cinnamon, nutmeg, anise, annatto, red pepper, orange, salt and vanilla. It's a fun gift and would make a great stocking stuffer.
Sunday, November 28, 2010
I was very excited to see these limited edition Paul Frank Nestle Crunch bars. Who doesn't love a monkey with their chocolate? The package is actually a cardboard box/card. The only disappointing thing is that I expected the actual chocolate to have a monkey on it, but it was just a regular King Size Crunch. Still fun though. Love the packaging. The Paul Frank bars are only available at Target, by the way.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Idea #1: These cute Lindt ornament boxes. Hang the little ones on the tree and they're at-hand when your father's second cousin twice-removed shows up on Christmas Eve. The bigger ones are perfect for someone you'll actually see again.
Monday, November 22, 2010
I will be honest and say this is a book that I will look at year after year, and live vicariously through, but I will be shocked if I ever attempt to make one of these. Not that it looks difficult. In fact, she explains everything so well that I *almost* contemplated making one. But the fact of the matter is, I just don't "do" three-dimensional creations. It's not my thing, as evidenced by the 3-D Design class I had to take in college. One of the first assignments (and supposedly easiest) was to create a monolith out of soapstone. The teacher held mine up, in all its hideous glory and said, "This, class, this you could find walking along the beach." He didn't mean it as a compliment.
Saturday, November 20, 2010
To order, or if you have any questions, contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
In any case, this is what he gave me this year:
John & Kira's chocolates.
The box contained an assortment of beautifully glossy, thin squares. An accompanying taste guide tells you which piece is which flavor by the design on top. Of course, I didn't realize that until after I had my first piece.
For my second piece, I chose the Drew Elementary Garden Mint. The description: "fresh cream infused with just-picked garden mint from Urban School Garden programs."
Very cool. It turns out these chocolates are made with ingredients from small farms, fair-trade cooperatives and, like the mint, school gardens.
I expected to bite into this and get a big bang of mint, like every other mint chocolate out there. When you have a mint chocolate, you know it.
But this was different. My first thought was, "Oh, I took the wrong chocolate." But then I double-checked and yes, the # on top of the chocolate denoted the mint. So I took another nibble and aha! The mint was there, it was just--get this--subtle! It wasn't "MINT!!!!!" It was *mint*. The main flavor was dark chocolate, but lingering beneath the surface was the taste of real mint, like peppermint tea. Then I tried the raspberry, expecting it to be a big sour burst of fruit. Instead it was just a light, fresh berry taste. These chocolates are a great example of artificial vs. natural flavor. We're so used to artificial "BIG" flavor that it's surprising when we actually experience the real thing.
I used these chocolates as incentive to write my daily 1,667 words for NaNoWriMo. Of course, Mr. Goodbar sniffed them out and had to try them, too. I hate sharing my chocolate, but in the spirit of all this good will, I figured I should just bite my tongue and let him have a taste.
Sunday, November 14, 2010
American Licorice Company, famous for Red Vines, has come out with a new product: Natural Vines. They come in black and strawberry and here's what you get:
Black Licorice twists: Molasses, wheat flour, sugar, brown rice syrup, cane syrup, caramel color, licorice extract, palm oil, natural anise flavor, salt.
Strawberry Licorice twists: Wheat flour, cane syrup, sugar, brown rice syrup, palm oil, malic acid, natural strawberry flavor, beet juice (a natural color), glycerin, licorice extract.Pretty cool, huh? I received some samples from the company, but it was right before Halloween and I was inundated with candy. (As you might recall, I had candy stuffed into every nook and cranny in the house. Funny, most of it seems to have disappeared.) So I thought I'd have some fun and have the licorice experts-- my parents-- do the tasting.
They loved the packaging. Whoever designed it should get an award, because it truly is outstanding. As for the candy, they liked it, but said it didn't really taste like "licorice," which is surprising since, unlike many other licorices, these actually contain licorice extract.
Have you tried Natural Vines? Let me know what you think.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
One of the biggest reasons I love writing this blog is because I get to "meet" so many interesting people. Look what loyal Yumster Philly created for a friend's birthday. Is that an awesome cupcake or what? I love the little mini cake on top. How about you? What fun things do you do? (It doesn't have to be candy related, although if it is, all the better!)
Thursday, November 04, 2010
So let's consider the questions these two candy hauls bring up.
1) Where in the heck is Alexandra trick-or-treating? (I asked her and strangely enough, it was in her parents' neighborhood which is quite lovely and not at all the type of of place you'd expect to find anything worse than a roll of Necco wafers.)
2) Where are people getting this stuff? Do they save all their kids' meal toys and plastic crap all year just to give out at Halloween?
3) Do they think kids are going to be excited to find an empty bubble bath bottle in their bags?
4) How can *I* lock in a Spooktacular rate on my mortgage?
So dear Yumsters, you know I want to hear from you now. What special goodies did your kids get in their bags this year? Don't be shy. We want to know! And if anyone can beat the Scooby Doo bottle, I'll send you a special surprise.
Wednesday, November 03, 2010
Tuesday, November 02, 2010
The folks over at Ghirardelli apparently have been pretty busy. As you may recall, here at Candy Yum Yum we recently gave away four beautiful baskets of Ghirardelli Intense Dark Chocolate, and now the company has released their new line of 100% All Natural Luxe Milk Chocolate. The four flavors are plain milk, almond, hazelnut and toffee.
To me, Ghirardelli has a distinct taste to it. I find that the dark chocolate is less fruity than some other dark chocolate brands, and the milk is more cocoa-y and less creamy. What do you think?
In the past, I've had issues with the size of the almond pieces in chocolate, but I was okay with these. The pieces, while still chopped up and not whole or even halved, seemed substantial enough to me, making for a satisfying little treat.
Now is a great time to try Ghirardelli if you haven't before, because for every package marked with a special pink ribbon, they'll donate $1 to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. (All you have to do is enter your package code on their website.) The company is donating $50,000 and will donate up to another $50,000 from the package codes. That's pretty cool and a great way to treat yourself and feel good doing it.
Monday, November 01, 2010
Here's how it went down for us. In the afternoon, I took the Sugar Baby to the local farm where they were supposedly having some sort of Halloween celebration. "Bring a canned good for the local food bank!" it said in the paper. I went into my pantry and oddly, had nary a canned good, so I packed up the ten thousand individual packets of Annie's Cheddar Bunny crackers I had that the Sugar Baby won't eat. It was the best I could. We got to the farm and basically it was a "buy a raffle ticket to win a pumpkin" and "listen to loud, annoying spooky music" festival. Boo.
We started off trick-or-treating in my parents' neighborhood. It was oddly quiet. It seemed as if more people had their lights off than on. And, a new thing this year, quite a few houses actually left out buckets of candy. This was my dream when I was little. I'd heard of people doing it, but never experienced it. Well, this year, the Sugar Baby got plenty of opportunities to paw through bowls of candy.
After doing that circuit, we went to see Fr. John who was rocking Halloween. Then, onto our neighborhood. Again, fewer houses were giving out candy. What gives?
In any case, here's the haul: one full-sized Snickers and Skittles. Lots of mini Milky Ways, Snickers, Twizzlers, Sweettarts, etc. But enough of that. Let's look at the freaks.
Example one: a mini candy cane. You cannot fool me, Candy Cane person. I know this is leftover from last year's Christmas.
Example two: A Clark Teaberry Gum Ball. Where did this even come from? I've never seen these and who on earth would buy them. (I mean, I totally would, but that's just me.)
Example three: Butterfinger Snackerz. I couldn't wait to try these bad boys. They were strange. The first taste was really good. They're just like Butterfingers, except they're small squares and the center is hollow so they're not as dense. But then they got this weird butteriness to them that I wasn't sure I liked. Although to be fair, my teeth are not in great shape these days and I found crunching to be difficult.
And then, dear Yumsters, I give you our two tricks.
For tonight's after-dinner treat, the Sugar Baby chose the Cow Tail. "Good choice," I said. "You'll like that." I opened it for him and found that it was broken. I gave him the first piece, then the second, then I said, "Wait a minute. These aren't supposed to break. These are supposed to be chewy." I looked at the wrapper. It had expired in 2009! So gross.
I suggested the Sugar Baby take something similar, like perhaps that Chick-o-Stick. I unwrapped it, he took a bite and then this cloud came over his face. I knew that cloud. I had experienced it myself this summer when I bit into a cracker from 2000. I grabbed the Chick-o-Stick wrapper and wouldn't you know it? Expired in 2008. Someone's trying to poison us! Naturally I then put it in my mouth to see if it truly was bad. O.M.G. The Sugar Baby took it all with aplomb (and cleansed his taste buds with Dots), but I can still taste the bitter sawdust in my mouth. A pox upon those who distribute expired candy! Raisins and pennies are one thing, but bad candy is a whole 'nother ball game.
Sunday, October 31, 2010
How much candy do you think "The World" will be able to cull in an evening? Our plan is to start out early and finish late.
In the meantime, on this Halloween morn, you can read my article about Father John and the full-sized candy bars here.
Be safe everyone, and be sure to send me a note with any unusual, exciting or strange candy that you get this year!
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
In this month's Parents, there is a blurb on "Tricks with Leftover Treats." They show how to make a Skittles rainbow by dissolving the candies and then pouring the colored liquid in layers. It's just one of many fun experiments at Loralee Leavitt's website, candyexperiments.com.
And then there's this great article in The New York Times about Dr. Samira Kawash, a.k.a. Candy Professor, intriguingly titled, "Is Candy Evil or Just Misunderstood?"
There will probably be more sweet articles over the next few days (perhaps one by your truly! Hint, hint ...) so keep an eye out. It's one of the few times of the year that candy doesn't get a bad rap.
Monday, October 25, 2010
In any case, I have a lot of stuff to clean off of my desktop in preparation for The Big Day, so here we go.
Last weekend, we took the Sugar Baby into New York City. I planned on it being a simple trip ... take him to Times Square, let him look at the buildings, have lunch and that's that. He, however, had different ideas. We stopped at the hellish Toys R Us that is three or four floors of pure overindulgent child madness. There's a Candy Land area and a Wonka area that, had it not been so crowded, might have interested the Sugar Baby. But, not unlike Dylan's Candy Bar, it was just too much of a scene. He couldn't be bothered with the vats of gummy bears and giant lollipops. We splurged on a ride on the giant Ferris wheel, and, although we got stuck riding in the Barbie car, it was actually well worth the $4. We were on that thing for a long time, and I got to listen to two
We got out of that madness and then headed over to M&M World, which was just as insanely crowded and ridiculous. Two floors of M&M-themed everything, but where were the actual M&M's? Strangely enough, they were hidden on a third floor that you had to take a secret Narnia door to. The M&M's were divided by color, and were $12.95 a pound. (Or, you could just go to your local warehouse store and buy a 4-lb. bag for less than $20.)
After all that insanity, we finally acquiesced to the Sugar Baby's only real desire, and that was to see the Flat Iron Building. Go figure. Then, for some reason, all of the uptown trains weren't working, which meant we had to walk the 20 or so blocks back up to Grand Central Station. The Sugar Baby did great, and so I kind of look at it as training for Halloween. If he can walk 20+ blocks, he can handle a couple of neighborhoods and maybe even a party or two.
Sunday, October 24, 2010
I was in French the other day when the class was asked "Would any one like to try a piece of Strawberry Shortcake or Mint Choclate Chip Ice Cream gum?" I was like woah, woah, woah wait, there is an ice cream flavored gum? That is so cool!! So being the chocoholic that I am, I tried the Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Gum. I thought it was really good. It surprisingly tasted like ice cream. Later that weekend my mum, The Baroness, and I were walking through WalMart and I saw the gum. It is an Extra gum and get this, it is sugar free. Ironic isn't it? None the less, I bought a pack because it was so good, but now my purse smells like .
Friday, October 22, 2010
Monday, October 18, 2010
Oh my, we're quickly descending into holiday season, aren't we? Here's something cool that Hershey's is offering. From now until Nov. 15, you can visit www.HersheysCookies.com to apply for a chance to host a Hershey's Cookie Exchange Party. If you're chosen, you'll get a big box of baking goodies, like Kisses, Hershey's Cocoa, Baking Chips, Toffee Bits and more. Even better, when you visit the site you can enter the Bake Share and Win promotion, where one lucky grand prize winner will get a kitchen makeover for themselves and a friend. Man, I'd love that. I think they'd first have to bring in an exorcist to rid my kitchen of its evil karma, though, and I'm not sure that's part of the package.
Sunday, October 17, 2010
In candy news today, the following may be of interest to tourists in New York (because you know that no one catching a cab in Times Square is a New Yorker):
To support the launch of Trident Layers' Cool Mint + Melon Fresco flavor, the brand will run a one-day promotion in which people who grab taxis from a special stand in Manhattan's Times Square can pay for their rides with packs of Trident Layers. Read the full story here at MediaPost.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
I wear my heart on my sleeve when it comes to Ritter Sport. I love, love, love them, particularly the Corn Flake variety. So when I was asked if I'd be interested in sampling their newest flavor, Milk Chocolate with Strawberry Creme, I was like, hell yeah! Not only did they send the new flavor, but some classics, as well.
I was excited to see the Yogurt bar. I've tried the Strawberry Yogurt variety and loved it. This one was just as good. Tangy white yogurt contrasted with creamy milk chocolate. I actually put off trying the Strawberry Creme for a while because strawberry isn't one of my favorite flavors and the package said, "With strawberry pieces from select fruit." That didn't sound particularly appetizing. But man, this is one tasty bar. The chocolate, as usual, is creamy. The filling is tangy and the strawberry pieces are actually little crunchy bits that give the bar an added dimension. It's fantastic. Even better, Ritter is donating $100,000 to the Leslie Simon Breast Cancer and Cytodiagnosis Center.
In keeping consistent with my other Ritter reviews, I say run-- don't walk-- to get yourself one of these bars. And let me know what you think.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
When I heard that Lindt was releasing a new flavor in their Excellence line-- Black Currant-- I was ecstatic. Here is a flavor that we so rarely see in the U.S. I love black currants because they have such a unique flavor profile. Fruity and fragrant and so unlike any other berry or fruit. I did a little hardcore
In any case, since we so rarely see black currant-flavored anything around these parts, I was so excited to try the Excellence Black Currant. Upon opening the wrapper, I was immediately hit with that juicy, perfumey aroma of currant, followed by the bitter edge of the dark chocolate. And that's when I thought, "uh oh." Suddenly I panicked that currant would not be a good match for chocolate, unlike say, raspberry. The flavor is just too overpowering. I took a nibble. Then another. So here's what I think. The first taste is jarring. The second makes you really think about it. By the third, I was good with it, but in a limited way. This is not a chocolate bar for when you're craving chocolate with a capital "C." This is a sophisticated treat that is best eaten with great intention and a glass of wine. (The company suggests pairing it with Cabernet Sauvignon.) Proceed with caution, but definitely give it a shot.
The other new bar they've releases is Excellence Roasted Almond. It didn't seem like there was too much to get excited about there. In fact, I was very suspicious of the almonds because they're slivered and I'm very insistent that almonds be whole (or at the very least, half) in chocolate. Tiny chopped up almond pieces just don't do it for me. But I have to say, this bar surprised me in a very good way. The chocolate is very thin, so the almonds had to be slivered, but the ratio of nut to chocolate was very high, which made for a well-crafted, tasty bar. I would definitely buy this bar when I needed a serious dose of dark chocolate.
Sunday, October 10, 2010
Like I said a few days ago, I have candy stashed into every corner of my house right now. It needs to get out of sight for a while, until I get back into my pre-birthday rye bread-for-every-meal-and-elliptical machine routine.
But first, I had to try one of the samples I received from My Sweet George Divine Candies. I was sent a bag of assorted candies--Cherry Pecan, Macadamia Nut, Coconut Almond, Lemon Butter, Peanut Butter, and Sea Salt Dark Chocolate caramels. Each piece is handmade and individually wrapped. The presentation is cute and homey. You can definitely tell these aren't machine-made.
Now, as you know, caramel isn't my favorite, but over the past few years, I've developed a taste for it, so I went into this with an open mind. I was particularly excited that it was chocolate caramel, something you don't see very often. I just tried the peanut butter. It was a layer of chewy chocolate caramel atop a layer of salty, crumbly natural peanut butter. It was, I dare say, really, really good. A great combination of sweet/salty/chewy. It was extremely satisfying, and I could've totally been happy with one piece, but I was so intrigued by the lemon butter.
This piece reminded me more of taffy. It had a slick oilyness to it and smelled of fresh lemons. The chew was soft, like taffy, but my teeth are beginning to protest. Apparently I'm pushing my 40-year-old chompers to the limit tonight. As for the taste-- normally I don't like lemon and chocolate together. I love lemon on its own, but I find that it often doesn't pair well with chocolate. In this case, it was surprisingly good. The zestiness was a nice contrast to the dark chocolate, giving it an almost savory appeal.
Here's what I like about these candies: 1) They're homemade. 2) They're satisfying and, according to the website, one non-nut piece is about 70 calories (or two Weight Watchers points). 3) They're different.
A pound of caramels (about 26-28 pieces) is $25. The website is a bit wonky; there isn't an order form directly on the website and the information about the actual candy is buried beneath info on their T-shirts and tote bags. And I'm unclear as to whether or not they actually have a store front.
But so far, so good. The two flavors I've tried are excellent. I'll be trying the others later this week-- after I get over to the gym.
Friday, October 08, 2010
A candy cake! Look at this beautiful thing. It's surrounded by Kit Kats and topped with Reese's Pieces. I mean, really, does it get any better than this? think she does this for a living or something, but no, it was just a little project she took up. Personally, I think she needs to hang out a shingle that says, "Junie's Kandy Kakes."
Thursday, October 07, 2010
At this moment, I have more candy and chocolate in the house than is legally permissible. I'm not quite sure how this happened, but every nook, cranny, drawer and secret hiding spot is stuffed to the gills. I've got lots of reviews coming up, so stay tuned. In the meantime, a few more pictures of my birthday bash. The candy buffet included chocolate-covered Oreos, chocolate-dipped pretzels, Red Hots, Pixy Stix, Swedish Fish, Crows, Ghirardelli Luxe Milk Squares, Runts and gumballs. It did not, however, include the 10 pounds of Hershey Kisses I bought and forgot to give to the decorating committee. Doink!
Tuesday, October 05, 2010
On Saturday, I had a big birthday bash with all my friends from grammar school, middle school, high school, and my one college friend. It was a blast, and of course, there was a candy buffet. So where's the picture? Well, not on my camera. I'm waiting for pictures from the Baroness who, thankfully, was documenting it all. In the meantime, check out Part I of the cute gifts I received. Above, a selection of fun candy from Alexandra. Below, a tray and coaster that say, "There's nothing better than a good friend except a good friend with chocolate." (Missing from photo: mug with same sentiment); an adorable fabric reusable bag with a cupcake theme; a box of candies that were popular in the 1980's; some hand-crafted fun things including a ring and necklace, which I believe are made out of Starburst wrappers; and a package of lip balms in different candy flavors, which the Sugar Baby has had his eye on for days now.
As soon as I get more pictures, I'll fill you in on all the wonderful things from my party, including the candy buffet, the favors and the cakes!