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Thursday, January 4, 2007

Whitman’s Sampler Tin

This was a super-cute stocking stuffer that Santa gave me this year. I have to say that Whitman’s has never been of much interest to me. Perhaps it’s that I’ve found them a bit stale tasting. But it also might be the package, sure Whitman’s Samplers are retro looking, but that not-so-fresh appearance may have been affecting my taste.


But without the regular packaging, I have to say these looked pretty good. The tin has a Tiffany blue background and gold printing. It’s about the same size as a Sucrets lozenge tin, but a little deeper. Each piece of candy is nestled in a little perfect-shaped spot in the plastic tray.

The long milk chocolate rectangle was called Milk Chocolate Butter Cream, which was a kind of chewy sweet fudge. Very sweet, but a pleasant flavor combination.

The round dark chocolate piece was called Dark Chocolate Coconut and unsurprisingly had a coconut center like a Mounds bar. Fresh tasting and not too sweet, the real winner in the box.

The Messenger Boy was cute, with it’s little cross-stitch look. It was a small tablet of milk chocolate. Sweet and unremarkable.

The last one was the Milk Chocolate Caramel which was just the right consistency. Easy to bite but chewy with nice long strands of caramelized sugar and butter. It could have used some more salt to balance the very sweet milk chocolate.

Do they beat See’s (my touchstone for inexpensive boxed chocolates)? No, not even close. These were fresh tasting but a little too “middle of the road” for me. I wanted more zing, more flavor and less sweet. But I do love the tin.

I am curious to try their new Organic Sampler at some point.

Name: Whitman's Sampler Replica Tin
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Whitman's (Russell Stover)
Place Purchased: Santa Claus
Price: $1.49 retail
Size: 1.75 ounces
Calories per ounce: unknown
Categories: Chocolate, Caramel, Coconut, United States, Russell Stover, Limited Edition

POSTED BY Cybele AT 1:00 pm     Comments (5)

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

December Search Strings

How did new visitors find Candy Blog in December?

1. merry christmas
2. christmas candy
3. choxie
4. reeses
5. kissables
6. butterfinger
7. razzles
8. lemonheads
9. max brenner
10. rockaleta

Nothing suprising there, Christmas was higher on people’s minds in December than in November.

The continued appearance of Rockaleta does suprise me though, not that people come here (I’m the first result) but that the candy company (Sonric) that makes them doesn’t make more of an effort to get their web page higher.

M&Ms did not even make the list this time (that doesn’t mean people aren’t looking online for M&Ms, they’re just not coming to Candy Blog for their M&M content).

POSTED BY Cybele AT 4:35 pm     CandySearch StringsFun StuffNews

Recipe: Candy Cane Sugar

One of the most flexible things you can make out of old candy canes (or any hard candy) is candy cane sugar which can be used just like regular sugar in a variety of ways.


I made mine from a couple of humongo peppermint sticks by Spangler (each weighs 4 ounces). Two of these sticks will make 1 Cup of candy cane sugar.

image      image      image

There are a couple of ways to make it, I use the old fashioned method.

1 cutting board
1 kitchen mallet or hammer (with a flat surface to it)
2 heavy duty (freezer) plastic bags

Put the candies into one of the ziploc bags and then into the other. Once you start pounding away the sharp pieces will cut the bag a bit and if you don’t want a powdery-sticky mess, it’s best to double bag.

Whack away. Break up the big pieces first, hitting them as best you can with the flat side of your mallet or hammer.

After breaking up the candy, dump it into a bowl. Shake the bowl gently to get the larger pieces to the top, scoop them off and return them to the plastic bag for further pulverization. Repeat until you get your candy sugar to the grind that you desire.

Alternate Method:

Break up candy canes into small pieces by hand.

Put into clean Coffee Grinder (or food processor).

Pulse grind to break up big chunks. Continue until you reach the desired consistency.

For best results:

When finished put into an airtight container. If you live in a particularly humid area keep it in the fridge to prevent it from reforming into a sticky pile.

Use single-colored candy. Multicolored candy canes (such as red and green stripes) will make for a rather muddy colored sugar once it’s pulverized.

Do not use plastic produce bags, they’re just too thin and you’ll end up with bits of plastic in your sugar.

See the grand list of 33 Things to do with Candy Canes for ideas on how to use your Candy Cane Sugar. I made the Peppermint Stick Layer Cake!

POSTED BY Cybele AT 7:54 am     CandyRecipesChristmasHard Candy & LollipopsMintsNewsComments (2)

33 Uses for Leftover Candy Canes

Here you go, oodles of things to do with those leftover candy canes. (Or maybe you want to pick some up on sale.)


Use them whole:
1. Stir your hot cocoa
2. Stir your hot tea
3. Stir your coffee (works for lattes & cappuccinos, too)
4. Stir your cocktail
5. Stir your milkshake
6. Snap off the hooked end and dip the straight piece in the chocolate of your choice for homemade “reception sticks
7. Candy Kebabs (spear marshmallows and roll them in sprinkles or other crushed candies)
8. Valentine’s Heart (I’ll try to kitchen test this over the weekend)
9. Edible Fondue Sticks (best for marshmallows)

Crush them lightly:
10. Ice Cream Sprinkles
11. Cake Sprinkles
12. Cupcake Sprinkle
13. Frosted Cookie Sprinkles
14. On top of Whipped Cream in your Hot Cocoa
15. Roll marshmallows in them and eat them whole, toast them in the microwave or drop them in hot cocoa

Make Candy Cane Sugar:
16. Sweeten your Hot Tea
17. Sweeten your Iced Tea
18. Sweeten your Hot Cocoa
19. Sweeten your Coffee or Mocha
20. Use to rim your Cocktails (or this one)

Use them in recipes:
21. White Chocolate Candy Cane Fudge
22. Peppermint Four Layer Cake
23. Chocolate Mint Layer Cake
24. Chocolate Peppermint Bark (I like to pour mine into candy cups instead of making a bark.)
25. Make vanilla ice cream into Peppermint Ice Cream
26. Make your own Peppermint Ice Cream Sandwiches
27. Chocolate Candy Cane Sandwich Cookies
28. Candy Cane Chocolate Chunk Cookies
29. Candy Cane Brownies (these are vegan!)
30. Chocolate Peppermint Pinwheels
31. Peppermint Meringues
32. Add to Rice Krispies Treats
33. Candy Cane Cheesecake

So, what can you add to the list?

POSTED BY Cybele AT 7:53 am     CandyRecipesChristmasHard Candy & LollipopsMintsFun StuffComments (17)

Recipe: Peppermint Stick Layer Cake

This was my traditional birthday cake throughout my teen years: The Peppermint Stick Layer Cake. My mother came up with it as a way to use up the remaining candy canes from Christmas but it’s a great cake to make any time of year. The whipped cream is lighter tasting and less sweet than a buttercream or sugar frosting, but you’re free to create your own adaptation with your favorite frosting recipe. When the cake is well chilled it’s almost like an ice cream cake.


I like mine as a four layer cake because it means that the ratio of whipped cream to cake is about equal.


2 8” Round Chocolate Layers (I make mine from Devil’s Food cake mix - use any recipe or mix you like)
1 pint of heavy whipping cream (well chilled)
1/2 cup of crushed peppermint candy canes (or starlight mints)

Allow your cake layers to cool completely before assembly.

Whipped Cream

Chilling is essential to great whipped cream. I make mine using a two bowl method.

Take a large pasta pot and fill the bottom with ice and then a bit of water. Fit a mixing bowl over it (I have a lipped bowl that fits inside my pasta pot well). Make sure the ice water mixture comes up to at least 1/3 of the side of the mixing bowl.

Pour in your pint of whipping cream. Add a dash of salt.

Whip using an electric mixer or whisk well.

At about the halfway mark (when the whipped cream starts to hold its shape) start adding your crushed peppermint candy.

Continue to whip and taste as needed.

I prefer my whipped cream a little less sweet but your mileage may vary depending on how chunky your candy is and how sweet you want it. Be prepared to add between 1/4 to 1/2 cup of crushed candy. If you want it really minty, add some peppermint extract. If you want it really pink, add some red food coloring.


Once your cake layers have cooled, make sure that they are flat (cut off any mounding).

Either cut carefully or use dental floss to split each of the layers into two. (I’ve found cutting them easier if the cake is frozen.)

Place first layer on cake plate. Mound some whipped cream on layer and spread evenly.

Place next layer on top of that, repeat with as many layers as you have.

Frost top. Depending on how generous you’ve been with your whipped cream, you can also ice the sides, I kind of like being able to see all the layers without it being cut.

Dust the top with some remaining chunks of candy canes or whole starlight mints. Don’t add them until you’re ready to serve, they get a bit runny after about an hour in the whipped cream.

Chill cake if you’re not serving immediately. You can even freeze it and serve it that way.

Other variations:

● Use Cinnamon Candies instead of Peppermint
● Use white cake instead of chocolate
● Use a square cake pan and divide in half both in height and width to create stack
● Sunset magazine featured a Candy Cane Cake too, they used a bundt shaped Angel Food cake, which means no layers. So as a whipped cream delivery device it’s sadly lacking. But if you’re looking for, you know, a balance and perhaps something that’s not quite as fatty as eating a half a pint of whipped cream yourself, then go for it!
● Make cupcakes and use pastry bag to fill them with minty whipped cream and then frost them with it as well

Related: How to make Candy Cane Sugar and 33 Things to do with Leftover Candy Canes

POSTED BY Cybele AT 7:43 am     CandyRecipesReviewChristmasChocolateHard Candy & LollipopsMints9-YummyComments (14)

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Big Island Chocolates

imageThere are three things people bring back from Hawaii: photos, coffee and chocolate covered macadamia nuts(CCMN). These are from Big Island Candies, which is a local chocolatier that does more than the typical Hilo Hattie’s style box (and sells both CCMN and Kona coffee).

Yes, everything Big Island Candies does seems to have macadamia nuts in them, but they’ve got some inventive combos with potato chips (Hawaiian style!) and crisped rice. This box featured a mix of milk & dark chocolate covered macadamia nut cups.


The macadamias are crisp and large, with an even crunch and light coconut taste to them. The milk chocolate was very sweet, a little too sweet for my taste, but still good smooth quality stuff. The dark chocolate set off the macadamias better, with a dark smoky flavor and smooth texture. All that said, there’s nothing wrong with me, but I’ve never been a huge fan of macadamias. They’re okay as an added element to a cookie, but as the feature in a chocolate they’re just not what I want to use my daily allotment of calories on (and boy howdy are macadamias calorie intensive!).

If you’re looking for something a little more interesting to bring back from your next island trip, make an effort to find Big Island Candies. Their flagship store is in Hilo on the big island of Hawaii (with factory tours and free samples!), they also have more than candies, they’re known for their cookies as well.

Name: Milk & Dark Chocolate Hawaiian Macadamia Nuts
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Big Island Candies
Place Purchased: gift
Price: retail $3.75
Size: 2 ounces
Calories per ounce: 166
Categories: Chocolate, Nuts, United States, Kosher

POSTED BY Cybele AT 5:04 am     Comments (9)

Monday, January 1, 2007

2006: In Review

In the previous 365 days:

437 posts (wow, that sounds like a lot of candy)

So what were my favorite things from this year?

Pink Grapefruit Mentos - the most beautiful and tasty Mentos ever, don’t waste them on any soda fountains
The Saga of the Valomilk - my strange journey with a box of Valomilks and my examination of them at the Candy Blog Labs (5 parts).
● My discovery of Junstuyu (which tastes like Barley Sugar Candy)

I also had some amazing experiences, ones I probably wouldn’t have had if not for Candy Blog:

● My visit to the 10th All Candy Expo in Chicago
● CocoaBella - The Night of the Chocolate Hangover

It wasn’t all happiness:

● One of my favorite candies of all time was discontinued: Reed’s Cinnamon, Butter Rum & Root Beer rolls
● I gave out my first 1 out of 10 rating to some old fruit chews that called themselves Bonkers (but weren’t)

I got you talking, too:

Beware of internet stores that take your money and don’t send you candy
● You weighed in with your experiences when I tried my first salted licorices
● You asked me questions for my FAQ and I answered!

I traveled:

● I tried some of the best chocolatiers in New York City and explored some other candy shops as well
● I went to San Francisco a half a dozen times and always had good things to report
● I went on a full week vacation!

If 2005 was the year I was on the radio, 2006 has to be the year of multi-media coverage:

● I was interviewed for The New York Times Magazine
● I had a full page in The National Post (with some of my photos!)
● And of course I made my first appearance on television for CNBC (part 1 + video)

Of course things weren’t just happening here on Candy Blog ... here’s a round up of other candy news from my fellow sweet bloggers:

SugarHog reviewed just about every Hershey’s Kiss on the market ... David Lebovitz had a sweet year and took us behind the scenes of some great chocolatiers and confectioners ... CandyAddict added new writers, making it a group blog ... SugarSavvy.net transitioned leadership and added writers as well ... The Girl Who Ate Everything sampled Max Brenner ... If I were to start making candy again, this is what I’m gonna make: Cocoa Nib Caramel & Almond Butter Nougat Bars from Habeas Brulee ... William at Chocolate Obsession drank a lot of hot chocolate ... Slashfood seems to spend as much time talking about candy as I do ... and the latest breaking news about Noka in Dallas ... finally, you can keep up on everything in one place with Candy.Digesty.com

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:03 am     CandyFun StuffNewsComments (2)

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Munch Bar

Every once in a while I get a hankering for peanut brittle. But aside from buying a tin of it or making it myself, it’s not that easy to find.

Enter the Munch bar. Billed on the label as “Only 6 Simple Ingredients” it’s just a buttery hard candy studded with peanuts. In fact, there’s more peanuts in here than most brittle I’ve had. The ingredients are: peanuts, sugar, butter, corn syrup, salt and soy lecithin.


The bars aren’t that easy to find, which is a shame, because they’re a nice alternative to a chocolate bar. Kind of like a Payday. Mars actually markets it using its wholesomeness as a selling point. I like it because it’s sturdy. You can expose it to higher temperatures without it losing its shape and taste.

The candy part of the bar is sweet and crunchy, not quite toffee and more solid than the usually slightly foamy peanut brittle candy. It’s buttery and has a light salty hit. The peanut flavor is, of course, the attraction. I love peanuts. There are 6 grams of protein in this bar, and at less than 1.5 ounces, that’s a lot of protein which makes it quite filling and satisfying.

They’re an excellent summer bar and worth the work at finding them. There’s another version of this made by Planters, I’ll try to have a review of that soon.

Name: Munch Bar
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Mars
Place Purchased: Long's Drug
Price: $.69
Size: 1.42 ounces
Calories per ounce: 155
Categories: Peanuts, Hard Candy, United States, Mars

POSTED BY Cybele AT 5:10 am     Comments (15)

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Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.





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These candies will be reviewed shortly:

• Trader Joe’s Holiday Roundup 2015

• Flavor Trends: The Slow Extinction of Lime

• Candy Rant: If your Licorice isn’t black, it isn’t Licorice

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• 10 Candies that Shouldn’t Be So Disappointing