Monday, January 5, 2009

welcome to 2009, kiddies! i was in chicago for a couple weeks and i ate a lot of garbage while i was there, so hopefully i'll be able to catch up a bit and add a few posts to my struggling bloglet.

first up, let's talk about choxie. this is target's "upscale" brand of chocolate, and i gotta say, while it's not bad by any means, it's just not that impressive. the flavors are REALLY subtle (i mean, they always sound awesome, but then when you chomp down on a "brandied cherry truffle" you want a real flavor explosion, ya know? you don't expect it to taste like a hershey's miniature.)

but the holidays bring discounted chocolate, so of course i tried a few new choxie products this year. i was not entirely disappointed. how's that for a ringing endorsement? :)

first up, white chocolate gingerbread balls. these start with a core of nicely spiced, crunchy gingerbread, surrounded by a thick coating of pretty decent white chocolate (no palm oil? i'll have to verify.) to make 'em extra festive, they then receive a final schmear of waxy gingerbread-colored coating, but this doesn't add anything to the texture or taste. i found these to be pretty addictive in the same way that maltballs are, and maybe slightly more satisfying. the ratio of crunchy center and creamy coating seems pretty good, so these get a thumbs up from me.

i also sampled their "signature" line, which is expensive-- $15 for 8 small-ish pieces of chocolate-- and IMO suffers from the same flavor problems as all choxie products do. the texture is nice, with a smooth, buttery melt. the chocolate flavor is ok. but the fillings just don't taste like much. on the other hand, i gotta say that the chocolates themselves are beautifully decorated, looking much more like high-end molded artisan chocolates. and the packaging was adorable, with two little 'shelves' of chocolates and a handy guide to distinguishing between them.

so, more choxie, mostly more of the same: looks beautiful, but the flavor's not quite there. i did not dislike any of this stuff, but i wouldn't buy it again at regular price.

Friday, December 12, 2008

PEPPERMINT!! that's the best thing about holiday junk food. i suppose there's nothing keeping me from eating minty foods all year long, but it just seems so seasonally appropriate. for what it's worth, i also find it somewhat more difficult to find peppermint oil/peppermint extract at other times of the year--and even when i spotted it on the shelf at albertsons the other day, it was absurdly expensive. oh well.

the point of this post is to toot my own horn. :) i made a peppermint bark cheesecake over the weekend and brought it to share. i was initially unsure if peppermint and cheesecake would work together, but i figured it was worth a shot. the crust was made from Trader Joe's Peppermint Joe-Joes. i left the cheesecake base unflavored, but added a swirl of peppermint goo (just water, sugar, peppermint oil and food coloring) and of course chunks of my own homemade peppermint bark.

based on the reaction, i'd say this was a success. everyone at work WOLFED it down, and my bf seemed to like it too. :) definitely one to add to the repertoire... see a pic here:

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

i swear i had no intention of participating in Black friday activities this year. however, i was coerced into a "MIDNIGHT MADNESS" sale by my bf and his roomie. first off, let me just say i was shocked--SHOCKED--at the number of people willing to head out at midnight on Thanksgiving to save a few bucks. but there we were, too, so i can't complain too vociferously (what a word!) ...but this blog is about candy, so candy it shall be.

to be honest, i've never been a huge harry&david fan. i've always thought their products were decent, just way overpriced for what amounts to giftbasket filler. but h&d was offering 25% off their entire inventory on black friday, so i had extra incentive to sample their wares...

first i picked up a box of peppermint moose munch. for those of you who don't know, moose munch is one of h&d's premiere products, a mix of caramel corn and nuts, drizzled (or dipped) in chocolate. fortunately for me, the peppermint moose munch is entirely coated in a thick layer of dark-ish chocolate, then tossed with bits of candy cane and a red "confection" drizzle. IT IS DELICIOUS and seriously addicting. i could easily eat the entire 20oz box in one sitting, even though it would most certainly leave me on my deathbed.

i also perused their new (?) selection of flavored malted milk balls. i know i've seen a review of these somewhere before, but they were not h&d branded at the time. i picked up a box of the "coffee trio," as well as "banana split." both versions feature a rather small malted milk ball core, surrounded by a thick layer of chocolate and/or flavored coating. these are also totally yummy, especially for those of us who grew up on Whoppers (the candy, not the burger). i think they're a bit pricey at about $15/lb, but where else are you going to find banana split-flavored malt balls?

Monday, November 24, 2008

before moving to california, i'd never heard of Trader Joe's. now i live less than 2 miles away from the nearest TJ's, and thank goodness for that. while i'm not a huge fan of a lot of their refrigerated foods (their sandwiches, wraps and sushi are kind of meh, if you ask me...) i think most of their snackfoods are second to none, and almost always reasonably priced.

around the holidays, they bring in a bunch of cool stuff that disappears all too quickly. joe-joe's are the house brand oreo and they come in a few different varieties all year long. around christmas, they bust out the candy cane joe-joe's, which were introduced (i think) last year and they are seriously addictive: just a touch of mellow mintiness, plus some crushed up peppermint candy for a bit of extra crunch... MMM!!!

they also have a surprisingly nice collection of belgian chocolates, at only $7 for a 1/2# box. they come wrapped in luscious purple foil and would make a great hostess gift. i (of course) bought one for myself and was pleasantly surprised by the interesting flavors, including a tantalizing take on lemon meringue (milk chocolate cylinder filled with lemon curd and a white chocolate "meringue")

i'm always disappointed when the seasonal products disappear from the shelves, so i guess i'd better stock up while i can...

Friday, November 21, 2008

huh, i lied. it's been another two weeks since i posted anything at all. and this is prime candy-eating season, OMG!!! but i'm bored here at work (read: lots of work to do, no motivation) so i'll post about chocolate instead.

my friend steve brought this back from his most recent trip to vegas. it's a box of "American Pop" chocolates from the semi-famous Ethel M's. Ethel has a bunch of shops and 'chocolate lounges' in vegas and chicago. stop in for a sample, hang out with a cup of hot chocolate, buy a box to take home...

i gotta say, first and foremost, their chocolates are GORGEOUS. they're rather small compared to, say, my dear sweet See's or even Godiva. but they are beautifully tempered, incredibly shiny and lustrous and often colored in bold jewel tones. the chocolate shell offers a nice snap, hiding a smooooooth and rather loose filling. just look at this picture... this is the Ethel M fruit collection, another good choice-- i mean, have you seen lovelier chocolates in this price range?

on some occasions i have been less-than-impressed with Ethel M's chocolates. the flavors can be a little insipid, or maybe it's the cost that is coloring my perspective (they're not even THAT expensive, about $1.50 per piece). but for whatever reason, i found the chocolates in the American Pop collection to be mostly delightful. a few of my favorites:

pb&j: just as the name implies, it's a milk chocolate filled with peanut butter and a little squirt of strawberry jelly.

cinna-swirl: mild cinnamon ganache inside a milk chocolate/white chocolate swirl

say cheesecake: white chocolate shell, white chocolate cheesecake innards (VERY mild, doesn't have much of a cream cheese bite) and topped with a sprinkling of graham cracker crumbs.

i went through the 12pc collection in a weekend, so ... well, i guess either i'm a horrible glutton (true) or these are pretty delicious (also true). if you're not in vegas or chicago any time soon, take a look at their website and order some for yourself!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

well well well... looks like it's been a while since i've updated this thing. fact of the matter is, i haven't had a lot of new or interesting candy in the past few weeks. but the days after halloween are prime for a CHEAP CANDY EXTRAVAGANZA, so let's see if i can't put up at least a half-hearted effort...

the first of my post-halloween acquisitions is Brach's Caramel Apple Candy Corn. this is something i've honestly wanted to try for some time, but just never seemed to get around to it. i found a bag at Long's Drugs for just $.50, so i figured now was as good a time as any...

the candy corn is rather attractive in white, red and brown stripes, and smells quite strongly of caramel apples; much like Hershey's Caramel Apple Kisses, there's a nice tangy twinge of green apple to balance the expected overwhelming sweetness.

the texture is really quite nice: not too firm, not too soft, and NOT TOO MOIST. i hate wet, sticky candy corn and this stuff avoids that pitfall. the taste is surprisingly nuanced for a cheap ol' bag of candy corn. at first, you get the standard hit of sugar/honey that you'd expect from candy corn. this is followed almost immediately by a subtle hint of apples-- not nearly as strong as the Kisses or the Caramel Apple Lollipop, this is more of a faint background flavor. finally, as the candy corn melts away, you're struck by the mellow roundness of caramel. not too sweet (but not salty, either) it's a rather pleasant finish to a pretty good candy.

i don't know if this will fully satisfy my craving for standard candy corn, but it's a pleasant enough variation and i hope it sticks around.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


some time ago, i saw a brief story on Food Network (i think?) about the "lobster tail." not the crustacean, but a pastry item vaguely reminiscent of a lobster tail's shape, made of a sweet cream filling surrounded by crisp, concentric rounds of pastry. hopefully this picture helps clarify my half-assed description:

up until this week, i'd never seen one of these in the wild, and IIRC the point of the Food Network story was that hardly anyone makes 'em anymore, since the recipe is such a pain in the ass...

anyway, i was at Faneuil Hall when one of the bakeries in Quincy Market just put out a fresh tray of lobster tails. they were kinda pricey ($4.65) but i figured, when was i ever going to stumble across one of these babies in San Diego?

well, i'm glad i bought it because it was DELICIOUS. the pastry was exceptionally crisp and buttery, lightly sweetened from a dusting of powdered sugar, and provided brilliant textural contrast to the fluffy innards. recipes i've seen on the web seem to indicate that the filling can vary, from something ricotta-based, like a cannoli, to just whipped cream. this version of the lobster tail was filled with a light vanilla pastry cream (probably cut with whipped cream?) but still dense enough to be extremely satisfying. one of these is more than enough to fill you up for an afteroon, so $5 starts to seem pretty cheap...

if you ever get the chance to try one of these suckers, do yourself a favor... but you might want to share with a hungry (and not diet-conscious) friend!