Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Pure Dark Chocolate, Anyone?

Hey Yumsters, here's a deal for you. Pure Dark, a chocolate shop in New York City, just launched its website where you can order some yummy looking slabs, barks, fruits & nuts, discs and nibs. I haven't tried this chocolate yet (I'm celebrating my birthday in a few weeks by going to the city for a chocolate and candy rampage, so perhaps I'll get to the Pure Dark store then), so I can't tell you how it tastes, but if you're so inclined to order some for yourself, use this code for 15% off: PD022009.

Monday, September 28, 2009

It's a Wrap!

Have you met Candy Professor yet? Check out her blog about the culture and history of candy. She made a comment today about my post on the unappetizing packaging of a Seattles Chocolates bar, and shared with me some funky wrappers that her husband found at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, including this awesome monster bar. Turns out they're part of the Artist Bars Collection from Chocolate Bar. I love these! They also have a Graffiti Collection, a Stencil Collection and-- my fave-- a Retro Collection.

Judging a Candy By Its Cover

What does it mean when I really don't have much to say about a candy? I bought this Seattle Chocolates Cappuccino Crunch bar at the grocery store because they were being discontinued. I'd looked at it numerous times, but never had enough desire to actually buy it. Since it was half price, I decided it was time. The description says, "Milk chocolate truffle bar with toffee and almonds." Yep, that about sums it up. It was good, good enough to eat, but not good enough to wow me.
Here's the thing, though. I can't get past the packaging. As a stand-alone design, I love it. But for a chocolate bar, it does nothing for me. It doesn't say creamy or smooth or rich or crunchy. It says funky, but it could just as easily be a bar of soap or a notepad. I wonder if, subliminally, the packaging influenced my experience? Would I have liked it more if the package were say, a dark brown, tan and gold design?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Chocorooms: Possible Contender for This Year's Best Candy Find

Aldi has started appearing in Connecticut. Apparently this chain is more well-known in the Heartland, but until recently, I'd never heard of it. For the official scoop, go here. Now here's my interpretation: it's like Cosco and Trader Joe's got together and had a baby. But, unbeknownst to Trader Joe, Cosco was having an affair with IKEA, so we're not really sure whose baby it is. The stores are small and the products are stacked, like at a warehouse store, but everything comes in normal sizes, so you don't have to buy 300 granola bars at a time. You can get a lot of your groceries there, but not all. Most of the products are under their own label, but are made to look strikingly similar to the name brand.
So let's get to the good stuff. The candy. They had quite a few Hershey options and several Haribo gummies, but they're known for their brand, "Choceur," which is made in Germany. I picked up a bar (a raisin and nut one), but then my attention was diverted to a bag of White Chocolate Almond Clusters (almond and cinnamon biscuit pieces with white chocolate). They also had a milk chocolate version with gingerbread pieces. I had to be selective, because Aldi only accepts cash, which I never carry.
The clusters are little bumpy logs-- more crunchy stuff than chocolate. They're good, but white chocolate isn't my favorite. These were really sweet, but they didn't knock my socks off.
The Chocorooms, however, were a totally different story. These days, the Sugar Baby is obsessed with mushrooms. We've taken many walks in the woods lately, looking for inky caps and puffballs, so the Chocorooms were a no-brainer.The woman at the checkout told me they were "so good!" and that she had bought several boxes because they're not a regular item. I should've followed her lead.
These little cuties are made by Meiji from Japan. According to the package, they are a "chocolaty combination cap and Crispy cracker stem." Okay, so they're "chocolaty," not chocolate. But man, these things are really yummy. A little bite of crispy/sweet/creamy chocolatyness. They are, in fact, very similar to Pocky. I love that the serving size is 11 pieces. You can eat a lot because they're so small. And yes, the Sugar Baby (and his girlfriend, the little Connection) gave them their seal of approval.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Guinness Chocolate Truffle Bar: A Boozy Bomb

There's no denying it, folks. Like it or not, Facebook (and other social media sites) have changed the way we live. There's no going back now. No anonymity, no wondering about ex-loves or former co-workers. It's all out there for the grabbing.
I've found that, since joining Facebook, my "family" has suddenly got a lot bigger. I've "met" cousins and aunts and uncles that I never knew I had. Like Mr. Goodbar's cousin, Renee. I'm still not exactly sure how they're related, but they are, and she has become a loyal Yumster, which warms my heart.
Last week she sent me this:A Guinness Milk Chocolate Truffle bar.
I have a soft spot in my heart for Guinness, after going on a junket to Ireland where I stayed out until 5 a.m. drinking with the brewmaster himself. (The truth of the matter is, I was ready to crawl into bed at about 11 p.m. but had no idea where the hotel was and I couldn't get a taxi because I didn't have any Euros on me at all. So I stayed out with the rest of the journos in the group and watched an Ireland sunrise through Guinness-clouded eyes.)
In any case, I was quite intrigued by this chocolate bar, especially since Sweet Renee said that her friend said it was the best chocolate she'd ever had.
The bar got a little squashed in transit, but no matter. The ingredients are interesting: milk chocolate 59% (the milk chocolate containing 32% cocoa solids minimum and 20% milk solids minimum); plain chocolate (58% cocoa solids minimum); invert sugar syrup; sweetened condensed milk; alcohol; white chocolate; Guinness beer (0.2%) and flavourings.
So yes, there really is Guinness in there.
How did it taste?
Not so good.
Pretty gross, actually. The alcohol taste was overwhelming. Not the Guinness flavor, but just the boozy burn. I wanted to like it, I really did.
I left it out for Mr. Goodbar to try and he seemed visibly angry at it. "This is terrible!" he said, as if the bar was mocking him.
It's a sad tale, folks. A fun souvenir, perhaps, but definitely not a candy of choice. But hey, at least I've got a new cousin to chat with. And if you're looking for some Guinness tastiness, just grab a pint of the real thing. Now that's some yummy stuff!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

QBZ: Candy With a Q!

This entry is a two-fer: a review and a candy ABC all in one! I was very perplexed about what I was going to do for the letter "Q" in my ABC paintings. If worse came to worse, I was going to do Quince Paste, a British treat. But then-- taa daa! Warheads candy came out with QBZ. These are little gummie squares that are rated as "Sour" on the Warheads Sour Meter.
The texture is more like a gumdrop than a gummie, and they're not as puckery as Sour Patch Kids. The flavors are Green Apple, Strawberry, Blue Raspberry and Watermelon. None of these are big on my list. It seems like these are the flavors of the generation after mine. My crowd was all about grape, orange and cherry. Not very exciting, but we Gen-Xers are into simplification. I'm sending the rest of the package back with No-Nuts. I'm sure they'll be a welcome addition to her communal candy jar.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Hotel Chocolat to Entrance Bostonians

Doesn't this just look fantastic? It's a Caramello from Hotel Chocolat. Jim at Chocolate Mission is often reviewing the most delicious looking confections from them. I've never heard of the brand before, and for good reason: they're not in the U.S. Well, until now. They're opening a store in Boston next week. I think I'll be needing to go visit some friends soon so I can take a gander at their exclusive chocolate tasting room.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Chocolate-Covered Candy Corn: Yay or Nay?

You're either gonna love this idea or hate it: chocolate-covered candy corn. I was in Target a few days ago and was excited to see their vast array of Halloween candy. This year they have a line of products called "Skelanimals." They're cute little skeleton animals (a bat, a cat, a dog and a rabbit) and they're on everything from T-shirts to candy, like candy rings, bracelets, tins, etc. Very cute.
But I was more attracted to the display of funky candy corns. In addition to the good old regular kind, they had tangerine, toffee, caramel apple, cinnamon and a bunch of other flavors. (Cybele did a review of the Toffee ones, which I haven't read yet because I didn't want it to influence my taste buds.) I decided to go for the original chocolate-covered.
As noted in a previous post, Target brand candy corn is actually made by Zachary Confections. It seems that every brand of candy corn has it's own unique little hint of flavor. To me, the Zachary brand seems to have more of a rum flavor as opposed to say Brach's, with its buttery honey popcorn flavor.
So how does candy corn taste when combined with chocolate? Not so great, in my opinion. The first couple of chews feel and almost taste like a chocolate-covered raisin, but then you get a salty, rummy taste of candy corn. They're fine, just not something I'd seek out. Maybe that's partly due to the chocolate. It wasn't very good quality. Kind of grainy and tasteless with a high waxy sheen.
The tangerine ones intrigued me, but I've got to admit, I'm candy corn purist. How about you?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

How To Pick Up Chicks, Sugar Baby-Style

The Sugar Baby started preschool this week and is practicing his social skills. Herewith, a conversation he had with a little girl named Carolyn.

SB (walking up to her in the hallway): "M&Ms!"
Carolyn: "That's silly. There are no M&Ms here!"

I think they're going steady now.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Candy Jewelry and Ornaments

Please stand by while we here at Candy Yum Yum suffer through a bout of pink eye. In the meantime, check out these goodies I found on Etsy. I just love that website; do you think I can do all my Christmas shopping there?

Tootsie Roll Pop broach from Candy Calamity
Starburst bracelet from Butterfly Gem
Reese's Cup Ball Gown ornament from Toomuch

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The 411 on Candy Corn

The Mommy Candy Corn and the Baby Candy Corn were both made in the U.S.
The other day I was zipping through the grocery store, just trying to grab a few things, when I saw a display of Disney-branded fruit crisps. I looked at the ingredients: dried apples and dried pineapple. Hooray! I was excited; something new for the Sugar Baby to try that is pure fruit but in a fun Mickey Mouse bag.
I bought two.
Only after he was scarfing the bag of apple crisps when I noticed on the back: Product Made in China.
Those of you who are regular readers know my feelings about food made in China. (More info here.) I don't particularly care to have my child eat something that comes from a country where there are no food regulations. Anyhow, the reason I'm saying this is because I further investigated a reader's question about Halloween candy. To be precise, she wanted to know if there is candy corn made in the U.S.
Happily, the answer is yes. The most common brand, however, (Brach's) is made in Mexico. (Same with their Melocremes). Mayfair candy corn and Mellowcreme Harvest Mix (pumpkins, corns, skull-and-crossbones and cats) is made in Pakistan.

But if you're jonesing for some Made-in-the-USA candy corn, check out these brands:

Jelly Belly: they have standard candy corn, as well as giant-sized candy corn in vanilla, chocolate and cinnamon. They also have a Fall Festival Mix of mellocremes: lemon corn cobs, orange pumpkins, maple walnuts (which I think look more like brains), and Giant Corn. These are pricier than the big bags of candy corn you see all over the place at Halloween, but you can usually find them cheaper at places like Marshall's and Home Goods.

Zachary Confections: they make candy corn and mellocreme pumpkins. (Note: they sell their products at Christmas Tree Shops). It's also interesting to note that Zachary makes the Target brand candy corn:
see this article.

This is hardly a comprehensive list, but hopefully it will be a good starting point for all you candy corn lovers out there!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

All By Myself

Check this out: when we were in Maine, I spied this lonely Hershey bar sitting on the patio of a coffee shop. Who would leave their candy bar?! Why was it left here in the hot sun, all alone? It's a mystery.
Speaking of mysteries, two readers have come to me with questions:
1) Are there any mints that list peppermint oil as the first ingredient? (Altoids used to, but they've changed the formula)
2) Are there any Halloween candies made in the U.S.?
I'll be investigating these questions, but feel free to chime in!

Friday, September 04, 2009

The Last Big Hurrah

The bad news is that summer is almost over. The good news is that candy season is about to begin! I went to the Evil Wal Mart today and the shelves were being stacked with Halloween candy (including the ever-popular Candy Corn Kisses). Have a great Labor Day weekend and I'll catch up with you next week.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Special Edition Thin Mints and Green Necco Wafers

During my most recent visit to the Von Schokolats', we went to Big Ass Wal Mart where we had to do some shopping as well as hunting for scavenger hunt items. (We had to find a Wal Mart employee with the same name as someone on our team; unfortunately, the only person who had a matching name was fired the day before.)
In any case, as I was cruising through the food aisles, I spotted these: Haviland Thin Mints in special edition flavors of orange and raspberry.
Haviland Mints are made by NECCO (speaking of which, I'm still waiting, Mr. Krause) and they're a staple in my family's house at Thanksgiving. Seriously, I think the regular Thin Mints are as much a part of the holiday as the turkey. No mints, no Thanksgiving.
I bought a package of the orange ones, although I didn't really have any big expectations, considering the box was less than $2. It might've even been $1.
Well surprise, surprise. These mints are really good! They remind me of Munson's orange creams. There's a faint mint taste, but not overwhelming. Mostly it's just sweet and tangy orange with the rather decent dark chocolate. Kudos to you, Haviland mints!
In other news, I went to the NECCO site to grab the photo (I'm too lazy to take a picture of the ones I still have left) and found this weirdness:
Green Necco wafers for weddings. Only green. Not white. Not pink. You can only get green. That's fine if you're the Jolly Green Giant, or your bridesmaids are wearing mint green (not a good idea) or you're having your reception at the Gaelic-American Club (ahem), but otherwise ... Is there some mythological green Necco wafer story I don't know about?

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Candy Corn Cordial

Any recipe that starts with, "Combine the candy corn and vodka in an airtight container" is alright with me! Big thanks to Frau Marzipan for pointing me to the October issue of Food Network Magazine, which has several cool candy corn recipes in it, including this Candy Corn Cordial. I'm thinking a Halloween cocktail party might be in order this year!

How Could You Say No to an Invitation Like These?

Check out these gorgeous invitations. They're by artist Craig Kanarick and are available at www.pingg.com. I wish I was having a party so I could send these out!