Happy Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day! Did you get any sweet treats from/for your sweetie, or from/for yourself? The Serious Eats staff put their V-Day wishlist online.

I’m not expecting anything from my boyfriend because he’s noticed that “the world already sends [me] enough free candy.” I will, however, be dragging him to grocery stores tomorrow to pick through the Valentine’s Day sales candy.

That leopard heart truffle was from Beacon Hill Chocolates, by the way.

JinJu Chocolates – Fleur de Sel caramels

JinJu Chocolates makes hand-crafted chocolates in small batches and, apparently, sells them online and via some classy Las Vegas joints. They sent me free samples of their Fleur de Sel caramels and their Akoya Collection, which I’ll cover on Friday.

The caramels and chocolate arrived in an ingeniously designed two-layer box that swiveled open so that you could access both layers at once. I’d never seen anything like it and was super impressed.

While the top layer of the Akoya Collection was assorted, I’m fairly sure that my bottom layer of caramels were all Fleur de Sel, though JinJu makes several different kinds.

JinJu describes the Fleur de Sel caramels as, “vanilla bean infused buttery caramel, covered in dark chocolate with “flower of salt” from Brittany France.”

I could bite easily through the caramels, but the caramel was stiffy chewy and sticky as I chewed it. When I held it on my tongue, it melted away with a golden amber butteriness that was lightly sweet.

The dark chocolate coating on the caramels was awesome. It was dark and dusky with a nice depth of cocoa flavor and just a hint of sweetness.

The sprinkle of salt that topped the caramels added a nice hit to set off the sweet caramels. I do wish, though, that the saltiness would’ve been more present in the caramel itself.

Still, a super tasty treat, and probably graded on a curve because I love chocolate-covered caramels. An OMG.

Candy Bike

I just saw Wreck It Ralph last weekend (loved it, by the way!) and loved the idea of the Sugar Rush game. If you haven’t seen the movie, Sugar Rush is like Mario Kart, but set in a crazy world made of candy. The cars are made of cake and covered in frosting and zoom around on hard candy wheels.

The Sugar Rush race cars reminded me of this real-life candy bike (h/t Knile). Well, the bike is real-life; I think the candy isn’t real. Still, it looks delicious and would fit right into the Sugar Rush world.

Hedonist Salted Caramels FTW!

If y’all follow me on Twitter (plug plug plug), you already know that I’ve been bragging about Hedonist Chocolates lately. They’re a small business chocolatier in Rochester, NY, where I used to live, and they turn out many delicious confections, including a ZOMG!-worthy set of chocolate-covered salted caramels.

I love those caramels. I bought a box last year when I was back in Rochester for a visit, and they’re my go-to gift when I need to send something nice to someone who lives far away. Considering all the free candy that I get, you know something’s good when I put my money where my mouth wants to be.

Last week, the NY Times named Hedonist’s Salted Caramels one of the 10-best chocolate-covered caramels in the U.S.!! And gave them the first slot in their graphic.

I’m quite excited for Hedonist, as such high praise is certainly well deserved. On the more selfish side, I’m also pleased that some culinary heavy-hitters corroborated my impression of the caramels.

Hedonist was kept busy busy filling all the orders they received after the Times piece ran. It’s now likely too late to get these caramels in time for Valentine’s Day (unless you live in Rochester), but do yourself a favor and get some anyway. You won’t regret it!

Japanese Kit Kats – Kyoto Yatsuhashi

This week’s review items come courtesy of Nana and Justin, a couple of college friends of mine who are living, teaching, and blogging in Japan and who are kind enough to mail me Japanese goodies from time to time. I’m closing out the week with a review of a Japanese Kit Kat that is a Kyoto speciality – it’s Yatsuhashi flavored!

What is Yatsuhashi, you ask? Wikipedia to the rescue! Apparently, it’s a famous regional dessert of Kyoto that’s made of glutinous rice flour, sugar, and cinnamon.

The Yatsuhashi Kit Kat had classic Kit Kat‘s flaky, crisp wafers but was covered with a crumbling white coating. Alas, the coating was falling to pieces by the time the Kit Kats got to me, so I wasn’t able to get a good glamour shot.

Nana and Justin and others have sent me Japanese Kit Kats for review that all arrived in pristine shape, so I think the disintegration was due to the fact that the coating was frosting-like, whereas other coatings have been chocolate-based. Still, though it didn’t look that great, it tasted awesome!

The white coating melted mostly smoothly on my tongue and tasted like vanilla frosting made from fresh cream. Every once in a while, I hit a crunch from a grain of granulated sugar. The whole thing was topped off by a sweet cinnamon kiss that floated above the sweet and crunchy confection.

It sorted of reminded me of Cinnamon Toast Crunch or a crunchy Snickerdoodle, except that the vanilla frosting coating had a dairy freshness to it that made it even better. Yet again, I must lament that the Kit Kat flavors available to us in the U.S. are pretty lamely tame in comparison to what’s available in Japan. An OM.

For alternative takes, check out Eataku’s review (which clued me in on the proper name for this treat) or Jim’s Chocolate Mission (which helped confirm that I had the right name for these guys).

Creative Homemade Chocolate Bars

Customized chocolate bars were a flashy fad about a year or so ago. David Lebovitz recently posted a smart way to make your own customized bars without needing fancy, professional molds. You can just use leftover (and cleaned!) plastic food containers!

I’m definitely going to try this after my next bulk bin shopping trip for dried fruit and nuts. And don’t be scared by David’s suggestion to temper the chocolate. Tempering is optional anyway, and if you do it with a microwave, it’s way simple.

I bet these would also make for a sweet and special Valentine’s Day treat for your sweet and special Valentine…

Coupon for Truffles by Coquette

About a month ago, I wrote (and raved) about Truffles by Coquette. Just in time for Valentine’s Day, they’ve created a special coupon for readers of ZOMG, Candy! The coupon code ZOMGCANDY will save you 20% off your order at their online store.

Go forth, and buy your sweethearts some delicious artisanal truffles! If you end up picking up some Godivas at the last minute, I will so judge you.

Kabosu Caramels

This week’s review items come courtesy of Nana and Justin, a couple of college friends of mine who are living, teaching, and blogging in Japan and who are kind enough to mail me Japanese goodies from time to time.

According to Nana, limes are a Kyushu specialty, so it makes sense that they’d have a candy to highlight it. My box of these Kabosu Caramels was generously stuffed with little parchment paper-wrapped squares of caramel.

It was great that there were so many caramels, but when they all spilled out of my box, it was impossible to get them back in.

The pale green caramels felt rock hard to the touch and were initially quite hard to bite into. With a little determination and trust that they wouldn’t break my teeth, I eventually got them to break off with a slight grain.

Once I got to chewing, the stiff chew softened as it melted. The caramel had a sort of grainy texture. It reminded me of a Tootsie Roll, except that it melted more readily.

The candies started off with a creamy undertone, then became brightly sweet with a yogurty lime flavor and a hint of zest to the finish. They reminded me of key lime pie or lime flavored yogurt because of the added dairy feel to the flavor.

I would’ve preferred a more fully fruity candy, as I felt the dairy creaminess diluted the great lime flavor. Still, they were enjoyable and definitely a unique treat. An O.

Japanese Candied Yuzu Peel

This week’s review items come courtesy of Nana and Justin, a couple of college friends of mine who are living, teaching, and blogging in Japan and who are kind enough to mail me Japanese goodies from time to time.

Yuzu is a Japanese citrus fruit that I know about only because I used to be a Top Chef junkie. As Nana explains, it has a “sour lemony/orange flavor, [is] very popular on Kyushu, [and is] used often for a spicy paste to add to soups and noodles.”

This bag of candied Yuzu peel was decorated with a crazy cartoon that reminded me of a WarioWare: Smooth Moves mini-game. The candied peels smelled orangey and zesty with a floral undertone.

The pieces of peel varied in length but were mostly about an inch long and just under a quarter inch wide. They had a stiff bite and required a bit of chewing.

These simple treats tasted delicious. They were lightly sweet with a tangy orange/lemon citrus zestiness and just a hint of pithy bitterness to the end in some pieces.

I’ve tried making my own candied citrus peels before, but they’ve never turned out as tastily as this bag. Mine get sticky and sugar caramelized, while these were just lightly kissed with sugar sweetness, which really let the flavor of the original peel shine through. An OM.