Sunday, February 28, 2010
I'm wondering if you recall a gum that came in a little rectangular box, that was citrus flavored tabs of gum (like Chiclet tabs). As I recall, they were white (maybe light yellow?) in color. It seems like the name of the gum was something like ABC (not already been chewed!) gum.
This doesn't ring a bell to me. Anyone out there familiar with it?
Saturday, February 27, 2010
There was a time when I wouldn't touch a candy bar (or anything else for that matter) with raisins in it, but in my old age, I've come to believe that the raisin/nut/chocolate combination is quite possibly the most perfect blend of ingredients a candy bar can have.
It started with Cadbury Fruit & Nut bar. I don't remember when I first had one, but it changed my thinking on the whole raisin situation. (This was back when Cadbury chocolate actually tasted good. These days, I find it to be too grainy to enjoy.) And of course there are Chunkys, which I haven't had in forever, but I'm thinking I need to re-try soon. So when I saw that Toblerone came out with a raisin nut bar, I was ecstatic.
Like the other Toblerone bars, this one is composed of little triangular pieces that are easy to break off. I'm guessing the theory is that you would eat one triangle at a time. I, however, have yet to experience an occasion when I could eat just one. I love the rich creaminess of the classic Toblerone, and this bar continues that tradition. The chocolate is smooth and flecked with bits of honey almond nougat and raisins. I dare you to eat just one piece.
Thursday, February 25, 2010
I hate to give any candy a bad review-- I really do-- particularly if a) it was given to me as a sample and b) it's from a small company. But I've got a job to do and that job is to be honest with my opinions. (Which, of course, are just my opinions. Take 'em or leave 'em.)
I was excited at the prospect of Bubble Chocolate. After all, I like Aero bars and I was a fan of the now extinct Nestle Choco'Lite. I expected these bars (in both milk and dark) to taste pretty much like the other "bubble" chocolates out there.
Unfortunately, they didn't. The bars came with instructions on how to best savor them: "Pop it into your mouth, let it melt for 5 to 10 seconds. As you begin to feel the bubbles soften, begin to chew gently. The mouth-feel will develop from slightly dry to moist and creamy." Well, yes, that's true. The problem is, the flavor. It doesn't taste like chocolate. If anything, it tastes like some sort of cheap coconut product, which is odd because the ingredients are all-natural and there's nary a coconut product to be found. I thought it might just be me, so I gave Mr. Goodbar a piece to try (without telling him my opinion). "Oooh, not good," he said.
My advice? Change the chocolate and hire some taste testers, because there is a market for Bubble Chocolate. Just not this kind.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
I almost forgot to mention-- I saw Chocolate Covered Peeps the other day! Holy moly, I can't wait to try them. (I wasn't able to coordinate wrangling the Sugar Baby with purchasing the Peeps, so it had to wait.)
Also, Just Born has teamed up with Rita's (the frozen custard/Italian ice place) to create some Peeps products! Here are some dates to stick on your calendar:March 20th - Rita’s will celebrate the First Day of Spring by giving away a free, regular size Italian Ice to each guest in the available flavor of their choice.
March 27th – The first 500 guests to visit a Rita’s location will receive a FREE PEEPS® Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Chick while supplies last.
The Sugar Baby got a little Russell Stover heart from his grandma for Valentine's Day. Inside was a chocolate fudge, caramel and a coconut cup. This led me to think: why doesn't Russell Stover make a box of just coconut cups? Everyone always goes for those first. So then I went to the Russell Stover website and voila!
They also had other cool things, like boxes that you can personalize with a photo and bags of candy-covered chocolate pieces in custom colors. Who knew?
We have a missive from the field. Alexandra has found a new fave candy bar. Here's what she had to say:
"Walgreens has them for 3/$1 - so I thought, why not? OMG! They are about the size of Twix bars, the chocolate is pretty - it's almost as if there's a design in it on the bottom of the bars. The inside of the bars is like merengue or freeze dried texture. It's not a messy candy bar. It's described as "Whipped-up truffle on a crisp layer enrobed in real milk chocolate. Each bar is 85 calories and every time, I say just have one, but they're like potato chips - you can't eat just one! But you really should, because halfway through the second one, it gets to be a little sicky sweet. I'm thinking of freezing one to see what happens... (I have a liitle supply of these).
More news on the Mr. Candy front: The Sugar Baby and I were driving along and he just randomly said, "There was a gummy fish on the ground. It was in the dirt." It took me a few minutes to realize that he was talking about the Swedish Fish he saw at his school a gajillion weeks ago. So I said, "Oh yeah! The Swedish Fish that Mr. Candy put there." But then he corrected me. "No," he said. "I don't think it was Mr. Candy. It was Miss Gail." So the mystery continues. Is Mr. Candy somehow related to his teacher Miss Gail? Are they partners in crime? Or is Mr. Candy Miss Gail's alter ego? Stay tuned. I'm sure there will be more adventures. I'm not sure when I had my first chocolate-covered pretzel, but I'm pretty sure it was a life-changing experience. When done properly, with the perfect ratio of chocolate to pretzel, there's nothing better. Except maybe adding some peanut butter to it. That's what Snyder's of Hanover figured out. They make a whole line of chocolate-covered pretzels and peanut butter-filled pretzel sandwiches. I had no idea! When they offered to send me some samples, I said, "Heck yeah!" They use Hershey's chocolate and these babies are sweet... sweet enough so that one or two fulfills a chocolate craving.I took the Sugar Baby to the Yale Peabody Museum last week to see the dinosaurs. I think the concept is still a little lost on him, although his friend (who shares the same name as the Sugar Baby) loves dinos as much as *someone* loves candy and mushrooms. We stopped in the gift shop afterwards and I found these:
KSCHOKOLAT Dark Chocolate Mintettes. I thought these were going to be flat mint squares, so I was quite surprised to see they were little balls. (I would've known that had I read the package which says, "Mini nuggets of natural mint fondant encased in rich dark chocolate.") Here's the thing with these: they're really tasty, but at $2.95 for 1.23 ounces, you have to really savor them. These are the type of candies that should come in a big bag so you can eat them by the fistful.
Aren't these beautiful? I sat and stared at these Oliver Kita chocolates for a long time before trying them. They taste as good as they look.
Sunday, February 21, 2010
Isn't it amazing how quickly all the Valentine's candy was cleared away and replaced by Easter candy? There was barely any time for the shelves to be empty before they were loaded up with jelly beans and chocolate bunnies.
My first official Easter purchase was a bag of Sour Patch Bunnies. It was a difficult choice between those or Swedish Fish Eggs.
If you didn't tell me these were bunnies, I'm not sure what I'd think they were. They sort of resemble a bottle of Aunt Jemima pancake syrup. I hadn't had any Sour Patch candies in a long time, so I'd forgotten how much I like them. These are one of the few sour candies that start off and stay sour. The flavors are bright, fresh and citrusy-- a nice juxtaposition to the usual super sweet Easter basket offerings.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
It used to be that, on Valentine's Day, you'd go to school and the teacher would collect everyone's cards and have the class pet pass them out. Some kids got a huge pile of cards, while other kids, sadly, got fewer. (These were the days before class lists and social equality.) You'd take your pile of little cards home, stuff them in a drawer and call it a day.
But that was so yesterday. Today's kids have taken Valentine's Day to new heights. Anything that can be glued, taped or stuffed into a cello bag is fair game. We're talking pencils, stickers, snack bags of chips, lollipops, chocolates, tickets to Broadway.
The Sugar Baby's haul included four pencils, three cards that did some crazy 3-D stuff, a bag of Goldfish, a tattoo, sunglasses that made him look disturbingly like Elton John and-- the Holy Grail-- a rootbeer-flavored Dum Dum from a little girl he's never even said boo to but now considers his one true love.
My sister-in-law said the post-Valentine's crash in their house was so bad that they've given up sugar for Lent. (I'm sure this is an unwilling sacrifice on the part of my nephews.)
In the house of Yum, I finally had to tell the Sugar Baby that we were going to play the "Quiet Game." He said, "You play the Quiet Game, I'll play the Talking Game."
Thank goodness it's all over with. And now there's just 39 days 'til the Easter Bunny comes.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
This recipe is from "125 Best Chocolate Recipes" by Julie Hasson. I give her props; I've tried many of her recipes and they're almost always flawless.
Almond Chocolate Coconut Torte
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease bottom and sides of 9-inch springform pan, then line bottom with parchment paper.
7 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped (I used Ghiradelli chips)
1 cup unsalted butter
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup almond meal
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
5 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup whipping (35%) cream
In a large microwave safe bowl, combine chocolate and butter. Microwave, uncovered on medium (50%) for 1-2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds until soft and almost melted. Stir until melted and smooth. (Let Sugarbaby lick the spoon.) With a clean spoon, stir in brown sugar until smooth. Let cool slightly. Add eggs, one at a time, whisking after each addition. Stir in vanilla and almond extract.
In a small bowl, mix together almond meal, flour, coconut and salt. Add to chocolate mixture, stirring until smooth.
Spread batter in prepared pan, smoothing top. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. (I used a smaller pan, so cooking time was about 10 minutes more.) Top of cake will be puffed (do not overbake). Let cool completely in pan on rack.
Chocolate Glaze: In a microwave safe bowl, combine chocolate and cream. Microwave uncovered on medium (50%) for 1 minute, stirring every 30 seconds, or until cream is hot and chocolate is starting to melt. Stir well until chocolate is melted and mixture is thick and smooth. If chocolate is not completely melted, return to microwave for another 10 to 20 seconds or until chocolate is soft and melted. Stir well. If glaze is very thin, let stand for a few minutes to thicken slightly.
Invert cake onto a platter and remove parchment paper. Pour glaze over top and spread with spatula, letting glaze drip down sides. Refrigerate until glaze is firm.
Monday, February 15, 2010
I just couldn't get myself to try the tequila ones back then and, to be perfectly honest, I still can't. As they say, once bitten, twice shy: one bad night with some cheap tequila will remain forever etched in my brain. I was able to try the Cafe ones, though, and I likened them to happy hour in a candy.
Fast forward to 2010, when I was asked if I'd like to try their new flavor Whiskey. I hesitated at first. Whiskey isn't my drink of choice, either, but at least I can say the word without gagging.
The first big change was obvious. The packaging is a hundred, thousand, million times better. The photo on the package shows some darn yummy looking candies and identifies them as "Creme & Liquor Filled Caramels." I noted before that they almost look like little pastries or cruellers. What I totally forgot about was the texture. It completely surprises me every time. Rather than a dense chew or a crumbly, almost doughy texture, these have a gelatinous feel to them, almost more marshmallowy than caramel. (The website refers to them as "pillow soft.") The alcohol-- up to 4%-- gives them a very definite kick. The whiskey ones taste just like the highballs* my parents used to make on Saturday nights. If whiskey is your poison, then these candies are your treats.
Mr. Goodbar loves these. I've watched as the package has slowly disappeared throughout the week. If you're the type who devours rum balls at Christmas, these are most certainly for you. They aren't really my thing, but I can say they're unique. If, however, they come out with a champagne-flavored version, watch out. Then it will be happy hour for me all the time. You can order these at www.crowncandies.com.
*It wasn't until just this very moment, when I looked up the definition of highball, that I realized that a highball is actually a generic name for a family of mixed drinks. According to everyone's favorite sketchy source Wikipedia, highballs are "composed of an alcoholic base spirit and a larger proportion of a non-alcoholic mixer." So technically, a gin and tonic or rum and Coke are also considered highballs. Huh. Who knew?
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Saturday, February 13, 2010
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Appropriately enough, it said "I love you." (Note the following items in the picture: Necco Sweethearts, plastic chocolate truffle, and a book called "Sweet!")
This year, the new phrases on Sweethearts are "Tweet Me," "Text Me," "You Rock," "Soul Mate," "Love Bug," and "Me + You." Alas, the obsolete "Fax Me" has been discontinued. Maybe next year they'll add "Super Poke!" or "Friend Request."
And, if you just can't get enough of that sweet Valentine's aroma, check this out. Demeter Fragrance Library has introduced three new scents to their collection: Be My Valentine, Love Me and Call Me. You can get them at Sephora.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Here's the recipe, in an unedited, translated from Portuguese kind of way.
Tuesday, February 09, 2010
But it's not too late! Here are some of my last-minute picks for the day when you'd better say "I love you."
Membership in the Chocolate Seduction Club: Each month, your cuddle bunny can receive a mystery package of confections from an artisan chocolatier. www.chocolateseductionclub.com
Chocolate-covered wine or champagne: Yep, a real bottle of booze dipped in chocolate! Fun!
Training Treats: Gotta love these: boxes of hard butter toffee candies in a specially-designed box. Check out the different types:
Training Treats For Husbands® - For the guy with just one or two flaws.
Training Treats® For New Husbands™ - A trained husband = a happy husband!
Training Treats® For Retired Husbands™ - A whole new phase of training.
Training Treats® For Golfers™ - What took us so long!
Husband Treats® - The perfect treat for the perfect guy!
Training Treats® For Boyfriends™ - Turn your frog into a prince!
Training Treats® For New Dads™ - For the brand new dad, in his grand new role!
Monday, February 08, 2010
Mr. Kita has serious credentials, and clearly he's passionate about chocolate. So let's have a chat with him, shall we?
You have a dream job. How did you get there?
I have always been a and worked with chocolate. I have been creating pastry for a long time and this step just seemed like the next thing I wanted to do with my career. I feel excited about chocolate whenever I am working with it. Still do-- even today!
What are some of your favorites that you’ve created?
Palet d’Opium (blood orange, lapsang and spice) was inspired by Pearl S. Buck and her book "Imperial Woman," the story of the last empress of China before the Boxer Rebellion. I have always been influenced by Asian culture.
People are looking for the most dark, dramatic, intense experience imaginable. They equate the percentage with the quality and we know that it’s not always true-- it’s just the amount of cacao content and sugar-- not the quality. One must rely upon the manufacturer of the chocolate. The American palate is improving – I see this as I tour with the chocolate to different festivals in Colorado, Miami and New York. We sample only dark Valrhona chocolate 70% from Venezuela at the shows. I used to be just beside myself with wondering, “Why is everyone asking is there milk in this chocolate- it’s dark French chocolate!” Turns out the American palate is used to Pennsylvania created chocolate that was inspired by Hershey's or Nestle and that always contains milk solids even in the dark chocolate. I finally figured it out after reading the Hershey label.
What’s your comfort chocolate? Hmmmmmmmmmmmm.
Usually a praline or a marzipan enrobed. Sometimes, I love pistachio marzipan.
I like dark milks when I don’t feel well or am fatigued.
Are there any flavors that don’t go well with chocolate?
Well, what do you have in mind? These days they are trying everything possible.
I haven’t seen tofu or seaweed yet-- but just wait-- someone from Japan will try it out for the thrill.
They were dipping pickles at a festival I was attending last month. They sold OUT!
I love your chocolate Buddhas. Why Buddha?
Mind Body Chocolate everyday. I try to help my clients learn to meditate with chocolate by staying present with the taste.
Do you have a favorite candy-related memory?
with trading images, Sour Heads, jaw breakers, and I loved “Spree” when I was in the 5th grade.
What advice do you have for chocolate-lovers?
Follow your dream and stay connected to the passion and it will take you where you need to be in this lifetime.
Where else can one say that they have to go to Paris to taste chocolate at the next salon festival and it’s considered work!
Indeed! I'd love to be able to say that!
Check out Oliver Kita's Valentine chocolates, tasting kits, Buddhas and more at www.oliverkita.com.
Sunday, February 07, 2010
So what's a guy or gal to do for Valentine's Day for their special-needs sweetheart? Fortunately there are major candy options in these enlightened days. Let's look at a few.Any parent of a school-age kid knows the importance of the peanut-free zone. At the Sugar Baby's school, the rules are strict: no products with nuts or made on machinery with nuts. I'm so thankful that he has no nut allergies; it makes life a lot easier. But for his little friends with sensitivities (and, of course, let's not forget No-Nuts) there are companies like Vermont Nut-Free Chocolates. They have chocolates, truffles, granola bars and jelly beans, in addition to holiday goodies, like these heart-shaped sweets.
For some vegan chocolates with a spiritual bent, Wei of Chocolate offers a unique product. Their organic dark chocolates come in cute little flower shapes and are packaged in environmentally-friendly bags packaged by nymphs and wood sprites. (Okay, I made that last part up.) For your crunchy granola, crystals & moonbeams partner, check out their Herbs & Spices chocolates:
Daily Gratitude - 65% cacao with cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and other "chai" spices together with herbs traditionally thought to encourage mental clarity, immune system support and be calming and relaxing, like lemon balm, rhodiola and codonopsis.
Daily Love - 74% cacao with a subtle blend of cinnamon, mace and a chili finish, together with South American maca, eleuthero and astragulus, herbs thought to support the immune and adrenal systems.
Sensual Love - 74% cacao with a smoky, earthy blend of five herbs respected by indigenous cultures worldwide for their gentle aphrodisiac qualities, like maca, shatavari, gingko biloba, epimedium and catuaba bark, together with a two varieties of chilis and some tasty spices.
They also have a line of chocolates with flower essences with names like Inner Clarity, Inner Peace and Inner Delight.
It just doesn't get any groovier than that.
And last, but not least, I'd like to share a recipe I made a couple of weeks ago for a gluten-free flourless chocolate cake. I know, I can see you rolling your eyes. Flourless Chocolate Cake is so '90s, with its ooey-gooey molten chocolate center. But this was totally different. It wasn't molten. It was fudgey like a brownie with a crisp outside and dense inside. We served it with homemade cinnamon whipped cream and strawberries. I don't know how everyone else felt about it, because I was too busy staking out a second piece to care. Let me point out that this was a super easy recipe. I highly recommend it. (Note: I refused to go out and buy chocolate for the recipe, since I have so much candy in the house. I decided to use five dark chocolate Dove hearts and it worked out perfectly.) You can find the recipe here.
Saturday, February 06, 2010
(If you've been paying attention, you'll notice another name amongst the crowd. Let me introduce Manfred, the Von Schokolats' exchange student from Brazil.)
Milky Way Simply Caramel
Wednesday, February 03, 2010
When I worked at the chocolate shop in college, we had one refrigerated case of chocolates that were all sugar-free. When you opened the doors to mix up a pound of vanilla creams, cordial cherries and raspberries jellies, you'd get this whiff of ... something. It's hard to describe. It wasn't a chocolate smell, but it wasn't entirely unpleasant, either. If anything, it was a malty kind of aroma with a coolness to it. The sugar-free candies were a hot commodity and were, if I recall correctly, the most expensive chocolates in the store. We were instructed that these were not low-calorie and weren't meant for weight loss. This was candy made for diabetics. (One day I overheard one of my co-workers quite loudly explaining to a woman that these wouldn't help her lose weight. Needless to say, she didn't last long in the position.)
Anyhow, the deal with sugar-free chocolate is that it is generally made with maltitol, sorbitol and xylitol, all sugar alcohols which provide the sweetness of table sugar, but with a slower absorption time, which makes it safe for some diabetics. The downside of this is that it can cause bloating and diarrhea, so one piece usually has to suffice.
But how does it taste?
I was sent some samples of Sorbee "Fine European Chocolate" in both milk and dark, sweetened with maltitol and sucralose (Splenda). I was pleasantly surprised by the aroma. It actually smelled like decent chocolate. As for the taste ... well, come on, let's be real here. It tastes as much like a big hunk of Belgian chocolate as a Garden Burger tastes like a Big Mac. You can't really compare the two. The sugar-free lacks a certain richness. It's got the sweetness, but not the creamy "fatness." It's cool on the tongue and doesn't have a melty quality. But, God forbid I should ever find myself in the position of not being able to enjoy chocolate on a daily basis, I could certainly come to like this stuff. Is it a substitute? No. But as its own sweet treat for people with health restrictions, it's fine. For further research, I'm going to pass some of this onto to others who have more experience with sugar-free chocolates and get their opinions. I'll keep you posted.
Monday, February 01, 2010
Exactly what is a bon bon? According to the website, the direct translation is "goody goody," but in this case, to be more specific, they're balls of doughy confection-y stuff dipped in chocolate. It's not easy to describe actually. You'd think they'd be like truffles, but the center isn't soft ganache. It's more cakey than creamy.So here's the deal: each bon bon is a decent size. Two bites, maybe even three. They come in the following flavors: Cafe au Lait, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Coconut, Cookies 'n Creme, Peanut Buttah (love that!) and Pistachio.
The first one I tried was coconut and, lawd have mercy! It was one fine piece of candy. The chocolate shell was snappy and the coconut was creamy and chewy. All of the flavors are true to their names, although the Peanut Buttah did stop me in my tracks. It wasn't just peanut butter in the center; it also included cherries, dates and sugar. I'm not so sure how I feel about that. I mean, don't get me wrong, it was good, but I'm a purist. It kind of freaked me out to have other stuff mixed in with the peanut butter.
(Here's an item of note: four of their flavors are gluten-free.)
The factory is located in Wilmington, N.C. and I wish I could go there for one of their Bon Bon Parties. This looks like the coolest thing ever: you get a bunch of friends together, bring some wine or champagne, and you learn the secret art of bon bon making. And-- get this-- it's only $25 per person. How cool would this be for a bachelorette party or, hmmm, maybe a 40th birthday party?
So now that February is here and we're on our way towards Valentine's Day, I highly recommend these as a gift. (Especially the coconut!)