Archive for December, 2011

Homemade Truffle Recipe Round-up

December 23rd, 2011 by Rosa

If yesterday’s homemade chocolate-covered cherry cordial post wasn’t your thing, I have another homemade holiday/hostess gift idea for you. Actually, I have 10, thanks to The Kitchn’s round-up of 10 homemade chocolate truffle recipes.

Above photo is of XOX Truffles from San Fran.

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Homemade Chocolate-Covered Cherry Cordials

December 22nd, 2011 by Rosa

I’ve never been one for chocolate-covered cherry cordials. I just don’t find their syrupy sweetness appealing (though I do find Maraschino cherries delightful on their own).

If you have a loved one who loves chocolate-covered cherry cordials, however, consider whipping up a homemade bunch via this Serious Eats recipe. The Russell Stover box may be a classic, but homemade chocolates are a great way to show how extra thoughtful you are.

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Holiday Reviewing Break

December 21st, 2011 by Rosa

I’m home in Texas for the holidays and taking a reviewing break until the new year. I’ll have a few more news posts to close out the year, and I’ll be back with reviews in 2012.

Hope your holidays are sweet and joyful!

Category: news | 1 Comment »

No such thing as sugar rushes; only sugar crashes

December 20th, 2011 by Rosa

Via Lifehacker, a Wired piece by Jonah Lehrer that explains why sugar makes you tired. I swear I do get sugar rushes after extensive candy tasting sessions though…

By the way, I have a brain crush on Jonah Lehrer. If you don’t have the time/patience to read through his pop science books, How We Decide and Proust Was a Neuroscientist, you can occasionally find him on RadioLab (which I love even more!). When I have to quit the candy blogging business, I may try my hand at pop neuroscience blogging instead. The key, though, is that I have to first master real neuroscience…

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Choward’s Guava

December 19th, 2011 by Rosa

I once had the terrible misfortune of once trying a Choward’s Violet Mint. Do you like eating soap? I don’t either. The violet mint was like eating a mouthful of crumbly, flower-scented soap.

When I saw a guava version, however, I decided to give Choward’s another try. After all, the little pack was just $0.99 at Cost Plus World Market.

To start off with the most positive aspect, they were much more palatable than the violet version. As in, they were palatable, period.

The candies came in small pink tiles. They were made of compressed sugar but felt moist and crumbled instead of disintegrating.

I actually don’t know what guavas are supposed to taste like. These tasted like peach with a mango seediness to the finish. They had a bright flash of tartness at the end that was quite nice.

While I really enjoyed the flavor, the texture was meh at best. I’d prefer them in hard candy form. An O.

Category: compressed sugar, O, review | Comments Off on Choward’s Guava

Harbor Sweets Perennial Sweets

December 16th, 2011 by Rosa

On Wednesday, I reviewed my free sample Harbor Sweets‘s Sand Castle Dark Chocolate and Caramel Bar. Today, I’m reviewing their Perennial Sweets, another free sample that I received.

The Perennial Sweets was a box of “dark chocolates inspired by the garden.” My box of 16 contained 4 Nantucket Baskets, 4 Topiary Toffees, and 8 Sweet Irises, each individually wrapped in gold foil.

The chocolates themselves reminded me of cameo jewelry due to their oval shapes and raised (really molded) decorations. As with the Sand Castle bar, I was impressed by the detail captured by the molding, as well as the lack of air bubbles in the chocolate.

The Nantucket Basket was a “rich, dark chocolate with dry roasted almonds” with a pretty basket of plants as its molding. The thick oval of chocolate was snappy with a smooth melt.

The chocolate carried a hint of cherry sweetness and was studded with whole almonds. While the almonds were nutty with a nice roasted flavor, they got bitter at their gritty end. I thought they were a tad too tannic.

Topiary Toffee had a potted tree decoration and was described as “rich, dark chocolate with almond butter crunch.”

It was also thick with a solid snap, and though the dark chocolate looked identical to that of the Nantucket Basket, I thought it tasted just a hair sweeter and had a thicker melt.

I expected the almond butter crunch to be dispersed throughout the treat as little nuggets. Instead, there was a big triangular slab of almond butter toffee hidden inside.

The toffee was simply lovely and paired well with the dusky, thick chocolate. It had the just-shy-of-burnt sugar taste that I love with just a hint of nuttiness. It cleaved cleanly, shattering into shards of deliciousness when bitten into.

Sweet Iris, “rich, dark chocolate with raspberry crunch,” was markedly thinner than the other two. Each Sweet Iris well held two chocolates while the Nantucket Basket and Topiary Toffee were one per well.

The Sweet Iris smelled extremely fruity. There was a light grit to the chocolate that I thought maybe came from raspberry seeds or bits of dehydrated raspberry but actually were bits of “lemon crunch,” according to the ingredients list.

The dark chocolate had a nice cocoa duskiness from the chocolate and a brightly sweet fruitiness. It was nice but a bit too artificially fruity sweet for my taste.

The Topiary Toffee was my favorite of the bunch and gets an OMG, while the other two get Os. They get high marks for prettiness, though. If I owned a bed and breakfast, I’d leave these on the pillows.

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Candy Soaps

December 15th, 2011 by Rosa

For me, Etsy is a black hole of internet shopping. It’s so easy to get lost in the endless parade of homemade goodies. (By the way, there’s a website called Heartsy that sells discounted vouchers for Etsy shops. It has led me to many great Etsy purchases.)

A few months ago, I discovered some amazing soap makers at a crafts fair in Rochester. The make vegan soaps that resemble foods and sell them online at their Etsy store (name N quite SFW).

The soaps were incredibly realistic in person and also look great online. There are lots of candy soaps – Swedish fish, Twizzlers, and lollipops – that look good enough to eat.  Very pretty! But maybe not safe to keep around hungry kiddos or candy bloggers.

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Harbor Sweets Sand Castle Dark Chocolate and Caramel Bar

December 14th, 2011 by Rosa

Harbor Sweets is a Massachusetts based handmade chocolatier that makes cute molded chocolates, sometimes with various add-ins. They claim to “[celebrate] outdoor living [and] embrace the coast, gardening, and equestrian-sports”, hence the existence of a chocolate called the Tallyho!

I got a free sample 16-piece box of their dark chocolate Perennial Sweets, which I’ll review on Friday, and this Sand Castle Dark Chocolate and Caramel Bar.

The hefty bar of dark chocolate was prettily molded into an epic example of a sand castle. I was impressed by the level of detail to the molding. I could make out the castle’s stonework.

The chocolate was snappy with a thick, mouth-coating melt that left a slightly fatty/greasy feel after it melted away. It had a nice duskiness and a nice, light touch of sweetness, which is exactly how I like my dark chocolate.

The caramel was not oozy at all. As you can see, when the bar was broken in half, it stayed right where it was. It was thick and sticky when chewed and gave my jaw a nice workout, but it also had a nice smoothness to its texture.

While the caramel had a light butteriness when I carved out a chunk to taste in isolation, that flavor was so subtle that it was overwhelmed when mixed with the chocolate.

I appreciated the quality of the dark chocolate and caramel, though I wish the caramel had more intensity and complexity to it. Still, it was a tasty treat.

Based on flavor alone, I’d give it an OM. I have to take into account, however, that the bar costs $5.95, which is on the steep side for a 2.3 oz bar, so an O with the expense factor. I don’t think it’s something I would splurge on for myself, but the beautiful visual detail would make it a nice gift.

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Ceramic Candy Necklaces

December 13th, 2011 by Rosa

Did you ever wear and eat candy necklaces or bracelets as a kid? I remember them leaving little artificial coloring stains on my wrists and neck when they got wet from my saliva.

If you miss the look but not the candy itself, there are cutely playful ceramic versions. I think I’ve outgrown the look myself, but I wouldn’t say no to the diamond version

Photo from KanDi World website.

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Trader Joe’s Brandy Beans

December 12th, 2011 by Rosa

For me, Trader Joe’s is a mecca for impulse shopping. These Brandy Beans, or “brandy filled chocolates”,  were the result of my most recent pilgrimage.

The back of the box had the following wordy description: “From master confectioners in Germany, we bring you an aristocratic treat with a bourgeois bent. Here’s a candy that’s sure to delight both chocolate and brandy connoisseurs alike. Our Trader Joe’s Brandy Beans are a harmonious pairing of creamy bittersweet chocolate and the soothing warmth of brandy. Serve slightly chilled for maximum enjoyment.

While I was intrigued by the mix of brandy and chocolate, I somehow doubt that true brandy connoisseurs would be happy with the booze inside these beans. The booze is real, by the way; you have to be of age to buy it.

The long, slim rectangle of a box contained 24 bean-shaped chocolates. Each was about the size of the first two joints of my index finger.

The beans contained a lightly amber colored ooze of booze. I tried them at room temperature, so the smooth liquid was pretty flowy, only slightly more viscous than water.

The chocolate shell had a thick base and thin upper shell. It was slightly grainy when first bitten into, but its melt thickened if I held it on my tongue.

I thought it rather sweet for dark chocolate, but perhaps that was to counter the alcoholic’s slight bitterness. Beyond that, it was hard to get a feel for its flavor profile through the brandy.

That brandy packed a solid hit of alcoholic flavor and feel, but it lacked the throat searing burn of true brandy. Definitely the easiest I’ve ever had brandy go down.

This was a solid cut above the generic bottle-shaped chocolates filled with liquor that have been my previous experience with booze and chocolate, mostly due to the palatable quality of the chocolate and brandy.

While neither would be exceptional in its own category, they stand out from the pack in combination. That being said, I think I prefer my chocolate and brandy in isolation (or sidecars, for the latter). I enjoyed this for the novelty factor, but I wouldn’t buy them again. An O.


Category: chocolate, O, review, Trader Joe's | 1 Comment »