Winter Break Trip Roundup

Happy New Year’s Eve! I get to fly home to Austin today. Hooray! I shall be traveling with a wheeled carry-on suitcase literally half-full of candy. Hooray! And that’s not even counting my bag of Jelly Belly Flops. Hooray!

Many thanks go out to my parents, who decided we were past due for a family vacation and then proceeded to let me drag them from candy store to candy store. And for buying me the Vosges stuff, the See’s box, and the Jelly Belly Flops. And for offering to buy me an assortment of Scharffen Berger mini-squares, which I passed on mostly out of guilt, as they’re quite pricey, and my parents would never buy them for themselves.

Here’s a rather lengthy round-up of all the places I visited and what I bought, to be expanded upon in the coming days, weeks, months, etc. Continue reading “Winter Break Trip Roundup”

What I got for Christmas…

Was exactly what I wanted because my mother had me pick things out. A wonderful gift of an assortment of mini-Vosges bars and two truffles, both of which are too expensive for me to indulge in myself ($24 for the assorted mini-bars and $5.25 for the two truffles).


I misremembered the Strip hotel where the Vosges boutique was as MGM Grand when it was, in fact, Caesar’s Palace, which was about a half hour’s walk away. Also, if you’ve never been there, Caesar’s Palace is huge, and the Vosges boutique turned out to be in the Forum Shops area, which was, of course, in the building furthest from where we came from. And it’s location in the Forum Shops was also as far away from where we came from as possible.

But my wonderful mother let me drag her all the way down the strip and back up again, powerwalking the whole time (we had a show to catch at NY/NY, which happened to be across from the MGM Grand), just so I could visit a little chocolate shop. And then she bought me expensive chocolate from that chocolate shop. Aren’t mothers wonderful?

I can’t wait to taste these!

Greetings from Las Vegas


By the way, M&M’s World in Vegas is way cooler than the one in Times Square. There’s a cute (though cheaply made) 4D mini-movie (free) and various other things to poke around in M&M’s World in Vegas, whereas the one in NYC is just M&M candies and merchandise.

Tomorrow, I shall show you what I got for Christmas! I hope your Christmases and holidays went well!

The Minimalist makes ganache and truffles + Houston Chronicle Recipes

This week, the Minimalist makes chocolate ganache and then turns his ganache into truffles.

I’ve made truffles before. It’s pretty easy, if messy. And delicious delicious delicious.

The Houston Chronicle also recently did a feature on candy-making. It’s not nearly as well laid out or photographed as the Times, and the pop-up ads are obnoxious. But there are several recipes that sound tasty.

Merry Christmas!

Happy holidays, my dear readers. I hope this Christmas Eve finds you joyously amongst loved ones.

I shall be squashed on a plane with strangers en route to being with loved ones, for today I fly to Vegas, where I will be meeting my parents. We’ll spend a week together trying not to drive each other crazy, I’m sure, and I’m taking a week off of my reviewing duties. Tomorrow’s post will be a fun, easy Christmas day chocolate cooking project, and I may show up to post photos from my candy tour of whatever candy factories I hit up, depending on how available/cheap wireless access is where I’ll be.

Otherwise, I’ll see ya in 2008!

Hebert’s Fully Loaded Dark Chocolate Bars

I picked up these the Hebert’s Fully Loaded Dark Chocolate with Margarita Lime Filling and with Apple Cider filling after my chocolate party, thinking, oh, Hebert’s! They were a hit at the chocolate party. I bet these will be tasty. I was quite wrong, and painfully so.

The Dark Margarita Lime bar was quite attractively packaged. A well-designed outer wrapping, with a pretty, striped gold foil around the bar itself, which was also pretty, dark, and glossy. Doesn’t it just look delectable in this photo?

But biting into the bar. Ugh! The dark chocolate was way to sweet and cloying. The texture was creamy but had a poor snap. And it was brittle! When I picked it up from one end, the other snapped right off. The filling had no taste whatsoever; it was just generically sweet, sugary, and syrupy. There was no lime, no orange liqueur, no tequila, and no flavor. If you’re going to call your bar Margarita Lime flavored, it should at least have some citrus notes. All I could taste was too-sweet chocolate and too-sweet filling. A .

The Dark Apple Cider bar’s filling (which looked identical to that of the Margarita Lime) did taste like something. I wish it didn’t, as its apple cider flavor has earned this bar the distinction of the worst chocolate bar I have ever tasted. There’s a reason why you don’t see apple-flavored chocolates or chocolate-covered apples around much. The taste combination just does not work.

A , of course. The worst part about this bar was that the flavor lingered in your mouth even when the bar has long been swallowed. And the longer it lingered, the more I hated it. I’d give this a negative score if I could.

I should note that not all of my friends found the Dark Apple Cider as offensive as I did, but no one exactly liked it (if they did, I don’t know if I could be friends with them anymore; my hate for this bar is that intense), so really, don’t waste your money.

Gingerbread houses

Gingerbread house making can be a fun way to flex your creative muscles during the holidays. I’ve made two this season out of kits, and though I’ve finished each session with a stomachache from all the candy I ate in the construction process, I was left with two houses of adorable-ness. The best part was carrying them around campus. I kept getting stopped by people commenting on them and complimenting them. Gingerbread houses just cheer people up!

Lots and lots of photos after the break. The obviously amateur houses are the ones I made. The gorgeous ones are the ones that are currently on display in the 8th floor lobby of the Marriott Marquis in Times Square. Continue reading “Gingerbread houses”

Hebert’s Fully Loaded – Rocky Road

Bar number 2 from the Hebert’s Fully Loaded lineup. The Rocky Road boasts “Rich Milk CHOCOLATE with Walnuts, Dark Chocolate & Marshmallow Pieces.” Thank goodness the wrapper for this one is less frenetic than that of the Dark Turtle.

Walnuts were a much better choice for a Fully Loaded bar than the pecan pralines of the Dark Turtle. While the sugary pralines overpowered the chocolate, the walnuts nicely complemented the sweet milk chocolate with their bland nuttiness and added a good textural mix.

The dark chocolate bits didn’t distinguish themselves in any way, and I didn’t make any note of marshmallow pieces in my blind tasting notes. Alicia tasted this bar and said that the marshmallow pieces were actually white chocolate. The milk chocolate base was pretty good quality, though nothing standout or exceptional. It actually came out of the wrapper looking pretty greasy but didn’t taste that way (thank goodness).

Like the other Hebert’s bar, I can see why this would be appealing, but again, it just doesn’t do anything for me. I just find it too busy, like it’s trying too hard. Another OM from me, another high rating from my friends: second place with a 3.86/5. I have two Hebert’s bars (Dark Apple Cider and Dark Margarita Lime) that I picked up after my chocolate party. I think they may be truffle bars, and I’m excited to taste them.

Hebert’s Fully Loaded – Dark Turtle

After Dagoba Week comes Hebert week, a lower cost chocolate bar week where everything can be purchased at your local Walgreen’s.

I think Hebert’s Fully Loaded bars are a fairly new retail product from an old candy company. The wrappers are colorful and pretty in your face, just like the bars.

The Dark Turtle claims to be “rich DARK chocolate with PECAN pralines & TOFFEE.” I’d just like to pause here and mention how much I hate the disjointed way the words are spaced out on the wrapper. Someone’s trying too hard…

Wrapper design aside, I found this bar to be quite enjoyable. I noted the toffee bits and sugared nuts in my blind tasting, and all those random bits and pieces make for a nice blend of textures. Most of my friends loved this one because of all of the toppings. One wrote, “I feel like there is a party in my mouth!”

Here’s what the back of the bar looks like. See what I mean about in your face? It’s definitely Fully Loaded, and impressively so.

My friends who didn’t like it complained that all the nuts and toffee pieces overpowered the chocolate and made the bar too sweet. I completely agree. While all the Fully Loaded parts are nice, it’s just too much for the chocolate to compete against. Tasty, yes. Subtle, sophisticated, no. An OM from me, though I should note that I agonized about that last G because it’s so appealing. It came in 3rd amongst my friends with an average score of 3.79/5. Little kids would adore this, but if you give it to them, watch out for sugar rush consequences.