Friday, January 29, 2010

Espresso Truffles and The Moral Decline of Mr. Goodbar

There's one rule in the House of Yum that everyone knows upon entering: eat any candy you like, but always save a taste for me. That's all I ask. Just a taste so I can inform you, dear Yumsters, of all the good, bad and just plain stupid candy out there. Sometimes it's not so important, with say, for example, a drugstore candy bar that I can go and buy another of. But other times, when it's a candy that's not as accessible, it's the Golden Rule of Yum. For example, this box of Gail Ambrosius dark chocolates I received this week. So imagine, if you will, my surprise at the following conversation I had today with Mr. Goodbar:

Mr. G: "Oh, I ate that truffle with the espresso bean on top."
Me: "What? And you didn't split it with me?"
Mr. G: "It was the verisimilitude of what a perfect chocolate truffle should be."
Me: "And you didn't save me a piece?"
Mr. G: "I ate half and was on my way to give you the other half." (Here he breaks into hysterics. It's so nice that he can amuse himself so easily.) "But then I ate another bite, so then I was bringing you a quarter, but then I ate that and turned around."
Nice, right? Then he had the gall to hand me a "commemorative" calendar from his place of employment.
"Here, have a calendar instead."
So here's Mr. Goodbar's review of Gail Ambrosius Dark Chocolates:
"Some were better than others, but in all of them, the flavors served to highlight the chocolate. I don't know what kind of chocolate she uses, but it's good."

(Very perceptive, Mr. G. The chocolate is single-origin from South and Central America and Hawaii.) I can speak for the Cointreau truffle. I love orange and chocolate, and this was no exception. The description on the enclosed chart says, "The dark boldness of Costa Rican chocolate is the perfect mate for this bright, happy fruit." I couldn't have said it better myself.

I was quite surprised by the Shiitake Mushroom truffle. Yep, you read that right. Here's what the brochure says:

"The warm earthiness of this 65% Peruvian chocolate combines with savory shiitake mushrooms in the ultimate expression of umami, the fifth taste sensation. Dried shiitakes, steeped with cream, create a mild, fragrant ganache. Bits of mushroom add a pleasantly chewy texture-- a deeply satisfying taste experience."

I agree. I was all set to hate it (you know I'm not fond of savory and sweet combinations), but it did in fact give that rich, umami taste which was a nice compliment to the bitter chocolate.

As for the calendar, well, the pictures are boooooorring. But the trivia factoids are actually kind of interesting.
As I was reading them, Mr. Goodbar said, "Did you know that in the 1800's in New York City there was a fire ..."
Yes, I just read it on February's page. While some insurance companies couldn't meet the catastrophic losses, "Eliphalet Terry, president of The Hartford, took every Hartford insurance policy on New York property, hired a sled and team of horses, and set off in a heavy snowstorm for New York where he announced that The Hartford would settle claims in full."

"That makes me feel good," said Mr. Goodbar. "If you've got to work somewhere, it's good to know they stand behind their promises." (Too bad his morals don't extend to truffle-sharing.)

And here's a real whopper:
"Mr. Lincoln, will you share your truffles?"
"Not until the north has won, Mr. Lee!"

"Abraham Lincoln and Robert E. Lee faced each other across the gulf that divided our nation during the Civil War. Despite their allegiance to different flags, both men chose The Hartford to insure their homes against fire damage."

I'm not sure that having this bit of trivia stuck in my head is as good as say, an espresso truffle, but what can you do? Maybe someday I'll go on Jeopardy and one of the categories will be Presidential Insurance Policies and hopefully not Espresso Truffles.

For more info, visit

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Mr. Candy: Good or Evil?

Some kids have imaginary friends. The Sugar Baby has Mr. Candy.
Yep, Mr. Candy has been hanging around the past two days, and I don't know if he's good or evil. I first heard mention of him when I was dropping the Sugar Baby off at school. There was a tiny random Swedish Fish on the ground and the Sugar Baby said, "Uh oh! I think Mr. Candy left that there." Hmmm.
Then today, due to the unexpected freakish snow storm we had, I stopped at the expensive grocery store rather than our normal one. For paying a little extra on everything, you get the benefit of your kid gaining full access to the basket of Dum Dums at the end of the check-out counter. The Sugar Baby picked out a Banana Split one, but was having a serious issue with an unwrapped cherry one in the basket. "You know," he said, "I think Mr. Candy did that. That's very, very bad."
I've also been told that Mr. Candy lives on Saturn (pronounced Sat-ur-in). I'll be keeping my eye out for this mysterious dude and I'll report back if I get any more information.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

And Speaking of Mint and Dark Chocolate...

When I named Q.bel as the best candy of 2009, I had no idea that they were releasing two new flavors this month. I was psyched when I found out that one of the flavors was mint. When a box of samples arrived, I put on a Curious George video to distract the Sugar Baby and I tore into the mint.
Like all the other Q.bel products, these are all natural with no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives, no high fructose corn syrup and no hydrogenated oils.
The mint wafer bars are covered in dark chocolate, and as far as I can tell, the mint flavor is infused into the chocolate, not the cream as I would have guessed. The wafers have a sort of slight coffee-ish taste to them. I liked these, but I didn't love them. I would've liked more of a mint zing. But I had some friends try the mint bars and they all gave them a big YUM. The other new flavor is 70% Cacao Double Dark wafer bars. Mr. Goodbar went straight for these. The bars are vegan and have a rich, cocoa aroma. Instead of a white cream filling, these are filled with chocolate. Now these, I totally dig. Who knew something vegan could taste so good? Mr. Goodbar said he wanted the whole box to bring to work with him for his afternoon snack. I don't think so.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Let's Talk About Mint, Baby

I love mint and chocolate. Doesn't matter about the mint or the chocolate. It's the perfect combination. Well, maybe it's a tie with peanut butter but wait-- I just had a revelation. Mint goes best with dark chocolate and peanut butter goes best with milk. So they can both be my favorites, right?
I thought I'd share this experience with mint from last weekend.
When we got to Vermont and stopped for gas at the local grocery store, Mr. Goodbar wanted a bottle of water. Having only .26 cents on me, I had to use my credit card, which meant candy aisle, here I come!
So this is what I got. A Divine Mint Dark Chocolate bar and a Haviland Chocolate Covered Wintergreen Patty, which had a tag in front of it that said "Item Being Discontinued."
First, the Divine. Obviously, if I found this in a backwoods grocery store in Vermont, you know it's Fair Trade, non-GMO and over $3.00. The aroma is driving me crazy; I can't place what it compares to except to say that its fresh mint.* The chocolate is just the perfect percentage. The package doesn't say what it is, but it's right on that fine line between bittersweet and just plain bitter. The mint part is actually a mint crunch-- little bits of hard, crunchy candy cane-like nibblets. This is good chocolate, perfect for a special treat with a glass of Malbec. (Oh wait, here's one right here!)
And then there's the wintergreen patty. I bought one of these during one of the summer trips to Vermont, but I put it in my pocket and it melted into an irretrievable mess. This time I made sure that I tried it before it had a chance to melt (although there was hardly a chance of that considering we had 2 feet of snow). Let me say for the record, I had high hopes for this, considering 1) I really liked the Haviland Orange Thin Mints and 2) I really like wintergreen. But my goodness. Gracious.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have a contender for next year's Worst of 2010.
I'm actually going to try this again right now, so I can give you a live report. The patty looks just like a York, maybe a little thinner. The scent is medicinal. The inside cream is smoother than a York and it is BRIGHT PINK (my camera couldn't do it justice). Here goes the nibble: OMG. Seriously, this brings me back to high school when I'd chomp on Pepto-Bismol tablets for my stomach aches. Vile. I need to know: who eats these things? Have you ever had one? Is there anyone, ANYONE out there who likes these? Probably not, considering they're being discontinued. But if you're out there, send me a note. We need to talk.

*It just came to me. The aroma is that of peppermint tea.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Sweet Treat of the Week: Bluebird Candy Dish Co.

These days, it’s a rare treat when you find something that’s unique. Do you ever feel that way? As much as I love the Internet, it sometimes feels like there’s nothing new under the sun. But then I found this: Bluebird Candy Dish Co.

What a great idea for a gift—a candy dish filled with candy! I contacted the owner Maggie Wickes, a former attorney, because I wanted to learn more about her business.

“The company is named for the bluebird skies of Colorado,” she said. “I moved here in the fall of 2008 from the East Coast and instantly fell in love with the clear, bright blue Colorado skies and the beautiful sunshine. I wanted the company name tied to Colorado since it was here that I first contemplated the near extinction of the candy dish and decided that I wanted to bring it back.”

The website features all kinds of candy dishes, from whimsical to stately. You can choose your dish by style or by color. Then you can also pick which kind of candy you want to fill it with, everything from pink gumballs to white champagne jellies. “I love the old fashioned ribbon candy,” said Wickes. “We will be selling ribbon candy in pink, blue, lime green and yellow for spring which I am really excited about.”

As for the dishes, Wickes said the Margaux-Louise candy dish is the top choice. Wickes describes it as a covered candy dish, shaped like a carousel with a bubbly design, and reflects the color of its candy contents. It comes in Stem Green, White, Aquamarine and Canary Yellow. “The White has been especially popular, particularly for engagement gifts,” said Wickes. “The Anouk is also a customer favorite. This candy dish is reminiscent of a plastic zipper bag -- so clever!”

Wickes herself collects antique candy dishes. “I have always loved their intricate details and bright colors, plus they remind me of visiting my grandparents in Bedford, Indiana, as a child.” With friends and family scattered throughout the country, Wickes thought a candy dish would make a great gift for any occasion. “Everyone seemed to either be buying their first place, getting engaged or having a baby. A candy dish paired with treats was the perfect gift for all of these occasions. I love giving this gift because while the sweets can be enjoyed now, the candy dish is a lovely, lasting gift that adds a fun element to any decor and will always remind the recipient of this happy event in their lives.”

While the company is still in its honeymoon stage (Wickes started it in 2009), things seem to be going well. “Bluebird perfectly combines my love of glassware and its history with my over-active sweet tooth,” she said. “While I always enjoyed practicing law, I was thrilled to embark down this entrepreneur avenue. The hours are essentially the same (around the clock!) but I love every minute that I devote to Bluebird Candy Dish Co. and that has made the switch simple.”

Certainly it’s only a matter of time before word spreads about Bluebird Candy Dish Co. No doubt Martha will be ringing up Wickes soon enough.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Read Any Good Books Lately? The Sugar Baby Has.

This weekend we went up to Vermont. Here's what I packed to entertain the Sugar Baby:
  • Travel lap desk with markers, crayons and pencils
  • Stamps and stamp pads
  • An assortment of books
  • Stuffed animals
  • Matchbox cars
  • Stickers
  • Toy magnets
Here's what he occupied himself with the entire time:

Click here for visual

I kid you not. He spent the entire three hour drive staring at the See's Chocolates catalog I had left over from Christmas. He carried it up to the check-in desk and proudly showed the inn-keepers his "book." Later, that night, as bedtime reading, I had to tell him what each and every chocolate was.
I swear to you, I have not tried to encourage a love of chocolate in this kid. Apparently he comes by it naturally. (He does also love grapefruit, so maybe there is something genetic about taste.)
On the ride home, he slept the entire way, making me wonder what he was going to be like when he woke up. Certainly he'd demand all of my attention, when all I really wanted to do was take a nap.
By some miraculous intervention, this was waiting on my doorstep:
"Chocolates and Confections at Home with The Culinary Institute of America," written by Peter P. Greweling (John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2010).
"Whoa! Look at this!" I said to the Sugar Baby.
He swiftly grabbed it from me (it weighs about as much as he does) and he hauled it over to the couch. Three hundred pages later, we had looked at each and every picture. Then he took the book and ran downstairs with it where he had his own quiet reading time.
Here's where my official review comes in. This is a beautiful book. The pictures are gorgeous and the recipes are easy to read. I particularly like the third chapter on Master Techniques. This section takes you step-by-step through tempering, dipping and garnishing-- all things that make me quake in fear whenever I consider making my own chocolates. This book makes me feel like I could actually do it.
I had the thought of doing a sort of "Julie & Julia" kind of thing-- dedicating myself to creating every recipe in the book over the next year. I'd love to do it, but I'm not sure I have the stamina. This is something I'll have to give a little more thought to.
In any case, I've only gotten to look at the recipes briefly because the Sugar Baby has pretty much had it under lock and key since its arrival. (He went so far as to take it to school with him.) When I went to the library last night to return some books, he shouted after me, "Look for another chocolate book, Mom!"
I'm telling you, it's got to be in the genes.
(Mr. Goodbar indulges the Sugar Baby with some pre-dinner reading)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Mommy's Chocolate Drink

We had to go to a funeral this past Saturday, so afterward we did what probably everyone else did: stopped at the liquor store. This particular store is a boozehound's connoisseur's delight. It's huge.
I quickly ran down the beer aisle and scooped up a six pack of Dogfish Head IPA, but then I got mesmerized by all the crazy specialty beers. As I was looking, I heard an older gentlemen talking to two 20-something guys about beer. He looked over at me and he said to them, "You want to make sure that you find a wife who knows about beer." I suppose that was a compliment of sorts. In any case, the reason for this post: Southern Tier Imperial Choklat Stout. I've reported on chocolate beer before, so I was a bit hesitant to try this. But the ingredients called out to me: chocolate malt and actual bittersweet Belgian chocolate. I decided to go for it. As I walked around perusing the other potent potables, another employee came up to me. "Have you tried that yet?" he asked. He said he was anxious to try it, although he didn't care for Young's Double Chocolate Stout. (I agreed with him.)
So what did I think? The aroma is definitely a beautiful, rich dark chocolate with creamy malt. The taste-- very chocolatey with just enough hoppy bitterness to give it an edge. It was yummy, but it's definitely not a beer to drink with food. It's got to be drunk on its own, or with some sort of complimentary dessert. I'm thinking creme brulee or, even better, pour it in a glass with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Beer float, anyone?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Little Boxes, Little Boxes

One of the things Marisa brought back for me from Japan was this long cello-wrapped package containing a bunch of little boxes of candies. It was so fun and cute that I hated to spoil it by opening it. Kind of like the fancy little soaps shaped like acorns that have been sitting in my bathroom for about three years except now the Sugar Baby has discovered them and has been carrying them around all day.
The first two I decided to try were Meiji "Marble" and "Choco Baby." The Marbles (if that's what they're called; it's the only English word on the label) tasted just like British Smarties. The Choco Babies looked like they had survived a rough night or two. (No doubt they did, traveling with Marisa.) These were little candy pellets that, well, I really don't know what to say about them. They were too small to really get a taste out of, but the Sugar Baby loved carrying the two boxes around and shaking them. He did make sure to tell me that each made a different sound. Apparently he's learning something in school or on Sesame Street.
Next up will be something pink. I'm very excited.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

M&M Color Distribution: A Non-Peer Reviewed Study

I got this memo from Mr. Goodbar. Please remember, he is NOT an accountant, nor is he a scientist. This information is provided for entertainment purposes only and is not admissible in a court of law.

I was cleaning up my files and I ran across the Peanut M&M tally sheet. It ran from March through December, and included 51 bags from the vending machine. The final spread for the average bag is as follows:

Orange - 4.98 pieces - 23%
Blue - 4.27 pieces - 20%
Green - 3.93 pieces - 18%
Yellow - 3.75 pieces - 17%
Red - 2.66 pieces - 12%
Brown - 2 pieces - 9%

Isn't it interesting that brown -- boring as it is -- is the least representative, presumably because it is the most expensive to produce. Does anyone really crave brown? Why not spend the money on additional red pieces to bring their total up to about 20% like all the others?

Well, Mr. Goodbar, you raise a lot of good questions there. Some I'm sure one or two many other people have had.

You assume several things in your assessment. First, you state that brown is "boring." Some may agree, but others, such as myself, enjoy the brown ones. In fact, I mourn the loss of tan M&Ms, which were replaced by-- ick!-- blue. Is brown more expensive to produce? I have no idea. But brown was one of the original M&M colors (along with red, orange, yellow, green and VIOLET! in 1941). So, in fact, brown has rightly earned its place in today's M&M packets. You suggest ditching the traditional brown in favor of more red. I'd like to bring your attention to this nugget of information, straight from The Lord God Himself , Encyclopedia Brittanica , Oprah Herself Wikipedia:
"Red candies were eliminated in 1976 due to health concerns over the dye amaranth (FD&C Red #2), which was a suspected carcinogen were replaced with orange-colored candies (this despite the fact that M&M's did not contain the dye; the action was purely to satisfy worried consumers). By 1987, the public had forgotten the scare, and the red candies were reintroduced, but they also kept the orange colored M&M's. They currently contain Allura Red AC (FD&C Red #40, E129). In Europe, Allura Red AC (E129) is not recommended for consumption by children. It is banned in Denmark, Belgium, France, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Austria, and Norway."

I hope this answers some of your questions, although I know that the only thing I've managed to do is to assure that you'll never eat a red M&M again.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Waste Not, Want Not, I Suppose

I've become addicted to In case you haven't heard of it, it's a website where people offer up stuff they have for free, in the spirit of recycling. There's usually a lot of couches and baby stuff, but every now and then you find a gem like this one:

We have in unopened packages:
1 candy necklace
1 soft polar bear Pez with 2 refils
1 jumbo all natural candy cane from Whole Foods (candy cane is broken at bottom, but package is unopened)
2 laser pops that light up and look like little flashlights

I can't wait to see how long it takes for these to get snatched up.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Christmas is Saved! Creme Drops to the Rescue!

Lookee what showed up on my doorstep today! The good folks at Zachary heard my desperate call for some of their Creme Drops. (As you may recall, we've looked high and low for these Christmas favorites.) I've never had them myself, but they were exactly what I thought. The center is an odd texture; definitely not creamy, but not chewy, either. Kind of like the filling in a York Peppermint Pattie, except that it's thicker and crumblier and, of course, vanilla-flavored, not mint.
Needless to say, the Sugar Baby heard the doorbell when the UPS man rang it, so there was no hiding these from him. I went the bribe route: if he took a nap, he could have one when he woke up. Guess what? It worked.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Coconut-Chocolate Bread

Look, I'm sorry. I know you're on a diet. I'm on one, too. But it's been snowing here and I love to bake and I just happened to find Jim Lahey's book "My Bread" at the library. When I saw this recipe for Coconut-Chocolate Bread, well, there went all my will power. I had to try this to see what it was like.
This isn't a quick bread, so it isn't cake-like at all. Actually, it's based on the No-Knead Bread recipe that took the foodie world by storm a while ago. So what you end up with is a loaf of seriously crusty, chewy bread with bits of sweet chocolate and coconut throughout.
I followed the recipe to the T, and sadly, I overcooked it. (My oven is playing tricks with me lately; it knows I have no respect for it.) Luckily I was able to salvage much of it, though.
My comments: I used sweetened coconut, because I had that on hand. I thought it might give the bread a more sweet flavor, but in fact, you really can't taste the coconut at all. You just get the texture. Next time, I'd just leave it out.
I used Ghiradelli chips because they're bigger than normal chips; that was a good idea. Next time I might just chop up some chocolate.
And of course, the baking time. I'd cut it down to 30 minutes initially and then go from there.
This is definitely a unique taste. Not too sweet, but not savory, either. It actually reminds me of the Eszet chocolate sandwiches we had when the von Schokolats came back from Germany.

Chocolate-Coconut Bread

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons bread flour
2 cups loosely packed unsweetened large-flake coconut
1 cup semisweet chocolate chunks
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon instant or other active dry yeast
11/4 cups cool water

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, half of the coconut, the chocolate, salt, and yeast. Add the water and, using a wooden spoon or your hands, mix until you have a wet, sticky dough, about 30 seconds. Cover the bowl and let sit at room temperature until the surface is puffy and the dough is more than doubled in size, 12 to 18 hours.

When the first rise is complete, generously dust a work surface with bran or flour. Use a bowl scraper or rubber spatula to scrape the dough out of the bowl in one piece. Using lightly floured hands or a bowl scraper or spatula, lift the edges of the dough in toward the center. Nudge and tuck in the edges of the dough to make it round.

Place a tea towel on your work surface, generously dust it with wheat bran or flour, and sprinkle it with 1/2 cup of the remaining coconut. Gently place the dough on the towel, seam side down. Lightly sprinkle the surface with the remaining 1/2 cup coconut. Fold the ends of the tea towel loosely over the dough to cover it and place it in a warm, draft-free spot to rise for 1 to 2 hours. The dough is ready when it is almost doubled. If you gently poke it with your finger, it should hold the impression. If it springs back, let it rise for another 15 minutes.

Half an hour before the end of the second rise, preheat the oven to 475 degrees F, with a rack in the lower third, and place a covered 41/2 - to 51/2 -quart heavy pot in the center of the rack.

Using pot holders, carefully remove the preheated pot from the oven and uncover it. Unfold the tea towel and quickly but gently invert the dough into the pot, seam side up. (Use caution—the pot will be very hot.) Cover the pot and bake for 40 minutes.

Remove the lid and continue baking until the bread is a deep chestnut color but not burnt, 20 to 25 minutes more.

Use a heatproof spatula or pot holders to carefully lift the bread out of the pot and place it on a rack to cool thoroughly.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Roger Ebert and Candy

This week, film critic Roger Ebert wrote an entry in his blog about how he can no longer eat or drink after four unsuccessful surgeries for his thyroid cancer. "That sounds sad," a reader wrote to him. "Do you miss it?" The piece was wonderfully written. Of course, I wondered if he'd mention candy in his entry, and yes, he did:

"Another surprising area for sharp memory is the taste and texture of cheap candy. Not imported chocolates, but Red Hots, Good and Plenty, Milk Duds, Paydays, Chuckles. I dreamed I got a box of Chuckles with five licorice squares, and in my dream I exalted: "Finally!" With Necco wafers, there again, the licorice were the best. The peculiar off-purple wafers were space-wasters. As a general rule in candy, if anything is black, red or green, in that order, I like it. This got carried so far one day I found myself googling White Hen-style candy with the mad idea of writing an entire blog entry on the subject. During visits to a Cracker Barrel I would buy paper bags filled with licorice, root beer, horehound and cinnamon drops. Searching for Black Jack gum, I found whole web sites devoted licorice in its many forms."I like how he pointed out that his memories are of "cheap" candy, not fancy chocolates. He hit the nail on the head. Think back to some of your favorite candy memories. No doubt you can conjure up something about wax bottles, satellite wafers, Bit-O-Honeys and the like. And consider: when was the last time you really thought about the candy you were eating? Did you really savor a candy cane over Christmas? Did you think about how it just tastes so ... Christmassy? How it has its own particular mint flavor, how it forms a sharp point when you suck on the end or gets stuck in your molars when you chomp down on it? Take some time today to "be one" with a piece of candy. Look at it, smell it, taste it. Appreciate it for what it is, because you never know when you'll get to try another piece again.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Role Call!

Since it's the new year, I've decided to start updating things, starting with my Blogroll. If you're not on it and you'd like to be, send me your link. (Candy-related only, please!)

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Green & Black's Peanut (and a coupon for you!)

Let's start the new year off with some organic chocolate, shall we? Green & Black's sent me one of their new Organic Milk Chocolate Peanut bars to try. I was excited about this, because, other than a Mr. Goodbar, you don't often see just peanuts and chocolate. So that was kind of what I was expecting-- a more sophisticated version of Mr. Goodbar (the candy, not the husband). The thing is, I didn't read the small type on the front of the package, so I was quite surprised when I took a bite.
"Hmmm!" I thought. "That's not what I expected. What is this taste sensation?"
Upon closer examination, these are not just your plain old, everyday, run-of-the-mill peanuts. No, these peanuts are caramelized and have a touch of sea salt. Yummmmmm! This is by far my favorite Green & Black's bar-- not that I got to try much of it, because Mr. Goodbar found it before I could hide it.
Here's the good news for you, dear Yumsters: You can get a coupon for $1 off the new Green & Black's Peanut bar if you click here. Try it and let me know what you think!

Monday, January 04, 2010

That's a Wrap

It's time to totally wrap up 2009, so I thought I'd share some of my Christmas goodies with you. After trying See's Candies, I went to their website and was drooling over the different chocolates they have. I bought a box of Molasses Chips for my mom and a box of Awesome Peanut Brittle Bars for my dad. My parents generously shared. I wasn't so keen on the Molasses Chips (although my mom liked them), but the Peanut Brittle Bar was mighty tasty. A nice combination of salty peanuts, crunchy toffee and chocolate.I tried my hand at making Grandma Judy's Cashew Brittle, but I kind of burned it. It was still edible, though, and the Baron made his way through most of the tin. The Sugar Baby is working on the rest of it.
For the Necco Door Neighbor, who prefers salty snacks, I got some chocolate-covered potato chips. Oh, how I love those. I had to get them out of my house fast, lest I unwrap and eat them myself.
On December 23, I got a message from my father-in-law. "Could you pick up some chocolate drops for Shirley? You know, cream-filled chocolate drops? We can't find any here and I'd like to surprise her, so don't call back."
Yeah, uh, sure, except I had no idea what chocolate drops were.
I listened to the message a couple of times, hoping for more clues. Okay, they're chocolate. They're filled with cream. Maybe he was just talking about an assorted box of chocolate creams? I went to Munson's, where I worked in college, and bought a big box of chocolate-covered soft centers.When the in-laws arrived, I pulled F-I-L aside and said, "What the heck are chocolate drops?"
Turns out, he meant these:Yep. These candies that you see everywhere. Except they aren't everywhere. I checked the Zachary website, and they're supposedly available at all sorts of places, but I have yet to find them. What's up with that? I'm still on the hunt, so if anyone has any clues, let me know!
While I was at Munson's, I couldn't help but get the Sugar Baby a box of his very own truffles: chocolate, orange, raspberry and caramel. He was in heaven. So much so, that it became an issue. He carried them around the house. He lined them up in the box. Yes, he even slept with them. When they were gone, he started having meltdowns. "We need truffles today!" he yelled. This led to the Great Candy Purge. Yes, believe it or not, we cleared the house of all candy. Mr. Goodbar took it all to work (I couldn't watch-- it was too painful), but for the good of the Sugar Baby's diet, we needed to get him back on track. And now I'm starting off 2010 with a (mostly) candy-free house. (Remember, there's always the nightstand.)

Saturday, January 02, 2010

The Best, The Worst and the Most Beautiful Candy of 2009

(L.A. Burdick's adorable Chocolate Mice)

In 2009, I tried some candy that was new on the market and some that has been in existence for decades. Some of my taste tests were outstanding, some were terrible, most were average. Here's a list of what I tried, in alphabetical order: (if you want to skip this, scroll down to read the Best Of)

Adam’s Sour Cherry Gum

American Heritage Chocolate

Anette's Chocolates "Winter Cabernet" chocolate truffle bar

Atkinson’s Coconut Longboy

British candy bars: Smart Alecs, Aero, Double Decker Bounty, Milky Bar, Lion, Lee's Chocolate Mint and Galaxy Caramel

Cadbury Picnic

Cherry Lemonade LifeSavers

Chewy Lemonhead & Friends

Choceur White Chocolate Almond Clusters

Chocolate-covered candy corn

Chocri (create-your-own candy bar)

Coconut Pocky

Cottage Delight Truffles

Cranberry Raisinets

Dove Caramel Promises

Dove Peppermint Bark Promises

Economy Candy’s line of candy bars

Fruitips Fruit Pastilles

Funley’s Stix in the Mud

Giant gummi bear

Goetze’s Strawberri Cream Bullseyes

Good & Fruity

Guinness Chocolate Truffle Bar

Gummy Candy Corns

Haribou Alphabet Letters

Hershey’s Thingamajig

Hughe’s Home Maid Chocolates

King Leo Puffs, Sticks and Patties

Kohler Truffles

L.A. Burdick’s

Lindt Excellence Touch of Sea Salt Chocolate

Lindt Raisin & Nuts

Lindt Straccitella

Lollyphile White Russian lollipops

M&Ms Premiums

Meiji Chocorooms

Mike & Ike Italian Ice

Necco Orange Crème Thin Mints

Neuhaus truffles

Now and Later Soft

Orbit gums

Organic Milk Chocolate with Macadamia Nuts and Hawaiian Pink Sea Salt

Pralines By Leon


Q Bel


Raspberry and Cherry 3 Musketeers

Reese’s Dark

Russell Stover Coconut Cream Santa

Seattle Chocolates Cappuccino Crunch

See’s Chocolates

Skittles Crazy Cores

Sweethearts Twilight

Trader Joe’s Blueberry Blast

Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Pomegranate Seeds

Trader Joe’s PB & J bar

Trident Layers

Tropical Chewy Lemonhead & Friends

Tropical Tootsie Roll Pops

Valor Dark Chocolate with Banana

Vanilla Whoppers Milk Shake

Various candies from China

Various Japanese candies, including banana Pocky

Various Mexican candies

Walgreen’s Candy Classics Australian Traditional Black Liquorice smothered in chocolate


Whitney’s Mint Trio

Wonka Puckerooms

Wonka Sluggles

Yummy Earth Organic Gummies and Lollipops

But what did I really think?

2009's Most Memorable Candies

Best Old School Candy: This is a close call. My PIC gave me a box of Chewy Lemonhead & Friends that she bought for four cents at CVS. They were the perfect blend of chewy, tart and sweet. But another delicious surprise was the Atkinson Coconut Longboy. I wouldn't put coconut or caramel at the top of my list of faves, but for some reason, these two work well together.

Biggest Letdown: While the thought of chocolate-covered candy corn was intriguing, the actual product was pretty disappointing. I had high hopes for Cranberry Raisinets, but in the end, they just didn't have enough oomph. But perhaps the biggest sense of sadness I felt, though, was when I finally got to try a Hershey's Thingamajig. Stale Cocoa Pebbles, anyone?

Most Beautiful: Kohler Truffles are almost too beautiful to eat. Almost.

Most Innovative: You've always wanted a white chocolate candy bar with pink peppercorns and banana chips? Search no more! With Chocri, you get to design your very own bar.

Most Surprising: I was all set to hate the Necco Orange Creme Thin Mints, but they were surprisingly good (and addictive). And for a dollar, a great bargain. But Necco, you're still on my #$% list.

Worst: Candy should not have the texture of chewy sawdust, nor should it have an indistinguishable fake chemical fruit flavor. Sorry, Goetze's Strawberri Cream Bullseyes, but you weren't worth the buck I paid.

And now, the moment you've all been waiting for:

I thought I had this all figured out until I went back and looked at my list. Then I realized there were several outstanding contenders.

The aforementioned Chocri is a fun concept and a great-tasting product. It is, however, a pricey indulgence.

Lindt won my affections with two new products: Lindt Raisin & Nuts and Lindt Excellence Touch of Sea Salt Chocolate.

Meiji Chocorooms sent me swooning. And not just me. Everyone I gave them to agreed that they were addicting little buggers. Crispy, creamy and cute. I thought for sure that I was going to name this my number one bar. But in the end, I have to bestow the honors upon:

QBel. With no artificial flavors or colors, no hydrogenated oils and no corn syrup, these piqued my interest from the start. But I certainly wasn't prepared for the extreme yumminess they provided. Creamy chocolate, crispy wafers, salty peanut butter ... every different type (there are six in all) is delicious. At around $1.59 a package, these are not as inexpensive as say, a Snickers, but they're way more satisfying.

(For what it's worth, Mr. Goodbar voted the Lindt Excellence Touch of Sea Salt as his favorite, and No-Nuts went for the Valor 70% with Bananas.)

A big thanks to all the candy companies who sent samples my way. And an even bigger thanks to you, dear Yumsters, for making 2009 a fun-filled candylicious year. Here's to 2010 and even more sweet surprises!

Friday, January 01, 2010

Year in Review: 2009 at Candy Yum Yum

(Gratuitous picture of The Baron eating a mini Drumstick that actually had no cone.)

2009: It was the best of candy, it was the worst of candy. (Actually, it wasn't the worst; it doesn't get any worse than Rainbow Twizzlers.)
We started off the year with the inauguration of Barack Obama, and I fantasized about what a celebratory candy bar might look like. January was also the month when I discovered the giant Necco cardboard heart that said “YUM” on it and I began my obsession with claiming said heart as my own. Alas, my love went unrequited. Thanks a lot, Necco. See if I ever buy your damn wafers again.

In February, THE book arrived on my doorstep, thus becoming the Sugar Baby’s first actual obsession.

In real news, there was a peanut butter/salmonella crisis that made Reese’s lovers quake in their boots.

March came in like a lion with news of the kids today using Smarties as smoking material. Apparently it was a fad that came and went without any great trauma.

In April, I kicked off the popular occasional column called “Sweet Treat of the Week,” wherein I interviewed people of various levels of fame and age about their candy preferences. Thanks to everyone who participated.

Also in April, there was an increase in interest for white Circus Peanuts. Some detective work revealed that there was a cupcake recipe going around that utilized the white candies. In my research, I discovered a recipe for a Circus Peanut Margarita, which began a year-long trend of candy combined with booze. (Fun!)

And again, there was a tainted nut scare. This time it was pistachios.

April was also a sad month, creating yet another candy-associated memory.

In June, Mr. Goodbar revealed that he had been keeping a spread sheet of the statistical breakdown of M&Ms. Candy geeks everywhere rejoiced.

July brought a new look to Candy Yum Yum. The Connection created a new logo for the blog, and the official Candy Yum Yum swag store opened. (The tote bags are particularly nice, if I do say so myself.)

In August, we received the sad news that Kits and B.B. Bats, the well-known filling-ripper-outer candies, were going to be discontinued.

In happier news, passengers on Air Force One get special presidential M&Ms for the flight. Apparently my letter to Barack Obama went unheeded.

Closer to home, the Sugar Baby decided to wedge a Starburst in the lock of Grandpa’s new motorhome. All attempts to recover it were unsuccessful.

In September, something amazing happened. I discovered Chocorooms.

Continuing with the candy/booze theme, I found a recipe for a Candy Corn Cordial.

October: Halloween. Enough said.

Also of import, The Great New York Candy Extravaganza took place, in which I visited Economy Candy. (I still have candy from there to try.)

In cyber news, the FTC announces guidelines for bloggers, saying they must state when they’ve received payment or products in exchange for reviews. Bloggers everywhere are left scratching their heads wondering why magazines and newspapers aren’t made to be held to the same standards.

November saw the ultimate chocolate experience: a chocolate body scrub at the spa.

And once again, spirits were on the mind when I concocted my Marshmallow Cocoa Martini. The first time was pretty good. The second batch was nary so delicious.

As a last ditch attempt, I took some time in December to make Candy Cane Vodka (pretty color, but still reeked of bottom shelf liquor at a cheap nightclub).
And, in earth-shattering news, the Sugar Baby makes his own fudge and doesn’t even bother to tell me.

That was 2009 at Candy Yum Yum. How about you? What were the big candy stories in your life? Did you discover anything exciting? Or something particularly disgusting? Let me know!
Up next: a run-down of the year's new candies and the best, worst and most beautiful of 2009.