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Thursday, February 7, 2008

Chocolate Bars are Better Than Greeting Cards

To You ChocolateI like papergoods and I love looking at wrapping paper, ribbon and greeting cards. But those things are expensive!

Simple Hallmark Cards cost $3 these days ... the fancy handspun ones at places like Papyrus can cost $5 or $6 now.

It’s silly. Or at least for me it is. I don’t keep greeting cards, they’re pretty and the sentiment is nice, but I simply don’t live the kind of life where I keep things like that (every once in a while I will, but as a rule after a period of time they get recycled).

Candy Bars ... lotsa candy bars

So that’s why I advocate fine chocolate bars as a replacement for greeting cards (heck, they don’t even have to be “fine chocolate” as long as you know it’s a welcome bar).

Lake Champlain Organic Dark BarsAt present there are hundreds to chose from, they come in sassy wrappings the rival the pretty cards and you can eat it (even share it)!

So instead of going to the papergoods aisle at the drug store to find something that says that you were thinking of someone, consider presenting them with a bar of Lindt, Ghirardelli, Guittard, Charles Chocolates, Ritter Sport, Endangered Species, Chuao, Equal Exchange, Cadbury, Elite, Lotte, Marabou, Dove, Michel Cluizel, Hershey’s, Scharffen Berger, Dagoba, Nestle, Theo Chocolates, Green & Black’s, Dolfin, Amano, Askinosie, Villar’s, Feodora, Lake Champlain, KChocolade, Meiji, Morinaga, Russell Stover, El Rey, Santander, Chocolat Bonnat, Choxie, Terra Nostra, Amadei, Felchin, Valrhona, Hachez, Gallery, Cafe Tasse, Vosges, Slitti, Toblerone, Chocovic, Pralus, Domori or Caffarel.

Chuao Chocolatier

  • Pick one based on what you think they’ll like.
  • Pick one that you like because of the package design.
  • Pick one that donates money to a cause you support.
  • Pick one because the % of cacao is the same as the recipient’s age.
  • Pick one because it was made in your hometown.
  • Make up a story about why this bar made you think of them.
  • Sign it if you want, put it in an envelope if you need to, but let’s get back to what’s important with greetings ... you were thinking about someone and wanted to tell them. So say it with chocolate.
  • If they need to have a keepsake, there’s always the wrapper.

    (Please note that this works with any consumable ... give someone a pretty apple or pomegranate if that’s what moves you or you think that’s what will move them. Wouldn’t you like someone to answer the door and say, “Is that a banana in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?” and you can say “Both!”)

    POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:39 am     CandyFeatured NewsComments (2)

    Tuesday, February 5, 2008

    Valentines Product Roundup

    Since this is my third Valentines since starting the Candy Blog, I figured I should point newer readers to some almost-fresh reviews of Valentines products that can be found in stores today. (Lest you think that I haven’t been there, done that.) Just click on the teensy photo to be transported back in time to relive the glory.

    imageName: 3 Musketeers Cherry with Dark Chocolate
    Brand: Mars
    Place Purchased: samples from Mars reps
    Price: unknown
    Size: 9 ounces
    Calories per ounce: 124
    Type: Chocolate/Nougat
    Rating: 6 out of 10

    imageName: Be My Love Edible Jewelry Kit
    Brand: Au’some
    Place Purchased: Walgreen’s (Echo Park)
    Price: $.99
    Size: unknown
    Calories per ounce: unknown
    Type: Chalk (Dextrose)
    Rating: 6 out of 10

    imageName: Strong Dark (70% Dark Chocolate)
    Brand: Chocolove
    Place Purchased: gift (thanks Monica)
    Price: unknown
    Size: 3.2 ounces
    Calories per ounce: 157
    Type: Chocolate
    Rating: 8 out of 10

    imageName: Chocolate Heaven
    Brand: Cocoa Deli
    Place Purchased: Walgreen’s (Echo Park)
    Price: $3.50 (on sale)
    Size: 5.1 ounces
    Calories per ounce: 141
    Type: Chocolate/Caramel/Mint
    Rating: 6 out of 10

    imageName: Dove Jewels
    Brand: Mars
    Place Purchased: Rite Aid (Echo Park)
    Price: $3.99
    Size: 5 ounces
    Calories per ounce: 144
    Type: Chocolate/Nuts
    Rating: 6 out of 10

    imageName: Elmer’s Four Piece Box
    Brand: Elmer’s Chocolate
    Place Purchased: Von’s (Hollywood)
    Price: $.99
    Size: 2.4 ounces
    Calories per ounce: 121
    Type: Chocolate/Caramel
    Rating: 5 out of 10

    imageName: Ferrero Rocher
    Brand: Ferrero
    Place Purchased: Walgreen’s (Echo Park)
    Price: $1.39
    Size: 1.3 ounces
    Calories per ounce: 169
    Type: Chocolate/Nuts/Cookie
    Rating: 8 out of 10

    imageName: Mon Cheri
    Brand: Ferrero
    Place Purchased: Walgreen’s (Echo Park)
    Price: $1.39
    Size: 1.5 ounces
    Calories per ounce: 173
    Type: Chocolate/Nuts
    Rating: 7 out of 10

    imageName: Raffaello & Rondnoir
    Brand: Ferrero
    Place Purchased: RiteAid (Vermonica)
    Price: $.69
    Size: 1 ounce
    Calories per ounce: 180 & 160
    Type: Chocolate/Cookie/Nuts/Coconut
    Rating: 6 out of 10 & 8 out of 10

    imageName: Heart Shaped Junior Mints
    Brand: Tootsie
    Place Purchased: Von’s (Hollywood)
    Price: $.99
    Size: 4.75 ounces
    Calories per ounce: 116
    Type: Chocolate/Mint
    Rating: 7 out of 10

    imageName: Marshmallow Hearts
    Brand: Frankford Candy
    Place Purchased: Rite Aid
    Price: $.79 (on sale)
    Size: 5 ounces
    Calories per ounce: 95
    Type: Marshmallow
    Rating: 6 out of 10

    imageName: Assorted Chocolates (Heart Box)
    Brand: Russell Stover
    Place Purchased: Walgreen’s (Echo Park)
    Price: $.99
    Size: 1.75 ounces
    Calories per ounce: 137
    Type: Chocolate/Coconut/Caramel
    Rating: 6 out of 10

    imageName: SpongeBob Squarepants Plastic Heart
    Brand: Frankford Candy
    Place Purchased: Walgreen’s (Echo Park)
    Price: $1.50 (on sale)
    Size: .71 ounces
    Calories per ounce: 140
    Rating: 2 out of 10

    imageName: SweeTart Hearts
    Brand: Nestle
    Place Purchased: Walgreen’s (Echo Park)
    Price: $.79
    Size: 1.5 ounces
    Calories per ounce: 113
    Type: Dextrose/Sour
    Rating: 7 out of 10

    imageName: Turtles
    Brand: Nestle
    Place Purchased: Walgreen’s (Echo Park)
    Price: $1.98 (75% off!)
    Size: 3.5 ounces
    Calories per ounce: 139
    Type: Chocolate/Nuts/Caramel/Kosher
    Rating: 4 out of 10

    imageTechnically I never reviewed the Coconut Heart, but here’s the specs on the Egg version:
    Name: Cream Eggs: Strawberry, Coconut and Maple
    Brand: Russell Stover
    Place Purchased: Rite Aid
    Price: $.39 each
    Size: 1.25 ounces
    Calories per ounce: 104-120
    Type: Chocolate
    Rating: 8 out of 10

    imageTechnically I never reviewed the Nestle Cruch Dark Heart but here’s the review from oh-so-long-ago on the Limited Edition Bar:
    Name: Nestle Crunch Dark
    Brand: Nestle
    Place Purchased: Convenience Store
    Price: $.75
    Size:1.4 oz
    Calories per ounce: 135
    Type: Chocolate (crisped)

    I also have on hand for review this week: Brach's Heart Shaped Cinnamon Imperials, Brach's Cherry JuJu Hearts, Confectionery Lane Mixed Fruit Marshmallow Lollipop & Hershey's Heart's Desire Assortment.

    POSTED BY Cybele AT 6:59 am     Comments (15)

    Monday, January 21, 2008

    Fancy Food Show 2008 Notes - Part Two

    Here’s the second half of my notes on the Fancy Food Show in San Diego last week.

    FFS-46Malie Kai chocolate bars are made from cocoa beans grown on Oahu. Wow, an All American Chocolate Bar!

    The cool thing about Malie Kai is that they do more than just plain chocolate, they have some combination bars as well ... and as you might expect they include Hawaiian items like Kona coffee and macadamia nuts as well as citrus and almonds. Lovely two ounce bars and wonderful hospitality at their booth. I’m looking forward to tasting the full bar I picked up.

    FFS-49Jeff Shepherd is always a delight when I visit at his booth displaying his goodies from Lillie Belle Farms. I got to try the Smokey Blue Truffle again ... it’s growing on me. I like the crunchy almonds and the smooth creaminess of the chocolate ganache. The bite of the Rogue Creamery Smokey Blue Cheese is pretty interesting, it creates a little buzz on the tongue. It feels more like food than candy, but that’s not a bad thing either.

    FFS-48The other fascinating item he had that was brand new was a wild chocolate bar ... that is, chocolate made from cocoa beans harvested in the wild, not from plantation-raised trees. I wish I had a photo of it, it’s not on the website yet. As you can imagine, there can’t be a lot of these since wild cacao is exceptionally rare and hard to harvest. Of course it’s also a very limited edition.

    Haribo was also there with a their same booth. I don’t really have anything to report on their product line. I know they have their new Root Beer Gummis and as much as I’m a fan of root beer as a flavor, these just don’t do it for me (they might be too citrusy). I did have a few of their spectacular Pink Grapefruit Slices though. You can just enjoy these close ups of their lightbox display:

     FFS-34   FFS-32   FFS-35   FFS-31   FFS-33   

    Jo’s Candies based here on the Los Angeles area will have some new Vanilla Caramels available at all their usual outlets. They were soft and tasty, perhaps a bit more milky than buttery than I’m used to, but super-traditional in plain wax paper and sold in clear bags.

    I also enjoy Elegant Gourmet’s booth every year. They have stunning handmade lollipops and hard candies that look like painted ponies on a carousel.

    FFS-27

    I’ve never pictured their candies as an everyday sort of sweet, but for special occasions like baby showers, weddings and gifts, they’re something to consider.

    Acapella Gourmet has an awesome new line of “coffeelatte” called Caffe Acapella ... basically, it’s cocoa butter mixed with coffee solids (coffee beans) instead of cocoa solids. So it’s not coffee flavored, it’s coffee! I have a few samples of those for a full review later.

    FFS-42Vosges made their first appearance at a trade show I’ve attended. They had everything in their repertoir out for tasting. I had a little sip of their white chocolate/vanilla/lavender/lemon myrtle drink (even though I’ve had it before) and had a few tastes of some other their items I haven’t tried. (No, they wouldn’t send me home with any samples for later.)

    I tried a few of the caramels, being especially careful to stay away from anything with walnuts and was definitely pleased. It’s a stiff caramel, not too chewy but soft and with good buttery notes. I think the next thing of theirs I’m going to plunk down some money for is their Volcano Island Honey Truffle collection.

    FFS-39The Fancy Food Show always has a good showing of companies with honey and maple syrup. I picked up a few samples from Canadian company, mopure. They’re just little transparent maple leaves made from maple syrup. (I’m sure their maple syrup is awesome too, but I’m not much of a syrup user ... but if they offered me that bottle as a sample, I’d be all over it.)

    Other items I picked up samples of:

  • Colts Bolts - gourmet peanut butter cups
  • Santander Chocolate - three different varieties of dark
  • Domori Cru - single origin tasting squares
  • Lake Champlain - various tasting squares
  • Repubica del Cacao - Ecuadoran chocolate
  • BruCo - olive oil chocolates and salt tasting chocolate
  • Black Opal - chocolate covered licorice stick
  • Bali’s Best Tea Candy (like their coffee candies
  • Honey Mints - chocolate covered creamed honey with a touch of mint
  • For the most part I zoomed through the show this year. I usually take all three days and spend a lot of time with each company. This year I had my priority hit list and made it to most of them. A few I didn’t get to I know I can probably visit with at ExpoWest in March down in Anaheim (like Theo’s new Phinney bars). Of course my speed meant a lot fewer take home samples (usually I have conversations to discuss what I might be interested in taking home for a full review) but the money I saved on not having to get a hotel room in San Diego can now go to buying that candy instead.

    (All above photos by Emanuel Treeson.)

    POSTED BY Cybele AT 8:29 am     CandyFancy Food ShowFeatured NewsComments (3)

    Monday, January 14, 2008

    Fancy Food Show 2008 Notes - Part One

    Yesterday I had the great fortune of attending the Fancy Food Show in San Diego and then sleeping in my own bed.

    As with my usual style when attending a trade show with a lot of food, I rarely eat any of it on the floor, I take it home for sampling later. But here are some brief thoughts of what I did see (and wasn’t able to bring home for a full review). I also brought along a photographer! (My husband was so kind to record some important football game and come with me instead of sitting around the house all day.)

    FFS-4K. L. Keller Imports was showing a lot of stuff that I’ve already had before, like lavender honey from Spain and Suprem’ Nougat by G. Savin from France. They also had some new nougats from South Africa from Walters that are a little lighter and fluffier and feature pecans and macadamia nuts instead of the traditional almonds, hazelnuts and pistachios. They also had some great chocolate covered candied nuts called Cude Catanies from Spain. Fantastic. Crunchy, sweet, chocolaty, nutty ... everything you would want from those ingredients.

    FFS-5I spent a few minutes at Coco-Luxe which makes truffles and the candied almonds covered in chocolate and cocoa shown here called Block Party Almonds. Like so many chocolatiers that show off at the Fancy Food Show, Coco-Luxe is based in San Francisco and was founded by Stephanie Marcon.

    FFS-7The bulk of their products are truffles, made in the tile-style. In the case of Marcon’s, they little transfer design on top is usually a good indication of what’s inside. Her flavors are usually based on popular desserts such as Banana Split, Devil’s Food, Gingerbread and Mocha. However, I asked for something that was not out on display that I’d read about, which was their Rose for Valentine’s Day. It has a touch of honey and is made with rose water (instead of rose flavoring). It was fresh and light and not the slightest bit like eating soap. Their other two flavors for the Valentine’s box are Champagne and a plain dark chocolate they call Pure Devotion. Awwwww.

    FFS-18I was happy to see another west coast confectioner there called Cary’s of Oregon. They make excellent toffee and are featured at CocoaBella in San Francisco. I wanted to try more of their items though, so they were on my list as a must-stop.

    Most of all I wanted to try their Milk Chocolate with Chai Tea Toffee. It’s a nice fluffy crunch that doesn’t become a tacky lump in your teeth. The flavor is buttery and of course the milk chocolate goes really well with the spice of chai. (They have another with Mango Tea and dark chocolate, but that wasn’t really up my alley)

    FFS-14Sweetfields isn’t quite a candy company, but I thought I should at least put them in my notes. They make candied flowers. They had a beautiful display right on a corner at the show that did stop me dead my tracks. They had piles and piles of sparkly, preserved violas.

    They’re stiff but look velvety soft in their “crystal glaze”. They don’t taste like much, a little bit of raspberry essence is thrown in, which is a nice floral flavor. The sugar melts away and of course there’s a teensy bit of the flower petals left. They had larger displays of pansies with their dark throats and primary-bright petals. They’d be wonderful on desserts like petit fours or of course wedding cakes. I could also see them as a lovely garnish for a dessert plate or on top of a truffle.

    FFS-16Also in the “not candy” category were the vanilla vendors. But they smelled fantastic. This one Aust & Hachmann had bundles and bundles of vanilla. It just smelled so good!

    They also had some lovely little kits for true vanilla obsessionalists that have beans from all over the world so you can do your own taste test. See their site for more.

    FFS-26One of the people at the top of my list (but who wasn’t on the official list of exhibitors) was Larry Slotnick, who was showing off his new stone ground chocolate from his company, Taza Chocolate. Stone ground, you say?

    Yes, big plates of stone grind together to create a slurry of ground cocoa beans to make the cocoa liquor that is the basis of this food of the gods. He has an array of three bars so far in his repertoir 60%, 70% and 80% plus the Chocolate Mexicano which is a traditional style Mexican puck. I tasted this and I can say, as you might think, it’s very rustic. It also has a wonderfully different flavor profile and texture. First, it tastes like bananas and caramel, the texture is grainy but still smooth in that it dissolves pretty easily on the tongue (I’m guessing more available cocoa butter to melt and distribute the flavors on the tongue). I’ll have more on this later when I get a hold of an actual full-sized sample.

    FFS-30I had a lovely time visiting with the women at the Belgium’s Best Chocolates booth. First, the packaging and sheer quantity of chocolate bars on display was stunning. Galler has a great package design that always reminds me of art supplies - like they’re boxes of paints or oil pastels. They also carry Dolfin which I’ve reviewed before in their lovely large bars in “tobacco pouches”. The new mini bars I picked up are White Pepper & Cardamom and Lavender & Dark Chocolate. (I also have a super-dark bar sitting around that I need to review as well.)

    FFS-38Poco Dolce knocked my socks off with their Burnt Caramel Bittersweet Tiles. Not quite toffee, there was no butter getting in the way of this intense burnt sugar flavor along with a nice complement of salt and smooth dark chocolate. But the real reason I stopped at their booth was because I saw that Kathy Wiley, the creator of these San Francisco confections, was also introducing a line of nougats. Drat! She didn’t have them with her. Oh well, I get to San Francisco quite often and of course they have a web store.

    Whew! I’m only about a third of the way through my notes, so more tomorrow. (You can peek at all the photos here.)

    POSTED BY Cybele AT 7:33 pm     CandyFancy Food ShowFeatured NewsComments (5)

    Fancy Food 2008

    imageBe prepared ... some fancy candy updates from the Fancy Food Show in San Diego this year.

    I’ll have more later. Here’s a tease ... stone ground chocolate ... all-American chocolate grown on Oahu ... chai tea toffee ... honey and lemon licorice ... new nougats.

    POSTED BY Cybele AT 5:26 am     CandyFancy Food ShowFeatured NewsComments (1)

    Friday, January 11, 2008

    Recipe: Candy Crescents

    Candy in Crescent RollsOn New Year’s Eve we tried something a little different. For the past few years we’d done grown-up things, like have a nice dinner party where my husband makes an excellent feast of something like homemade pot pies or a roast of some kind.

    This year it was bit more low key, but I usually make the dessert so I decided to make it more interactive.

    Specifically, after giving my studio a little purge, I gathered up the errant and orphaned candies into a bowl, bought two tubes of Pillsbury Crescent Roll dough and pre-heated the oven.

    My neighbor Robin and I just took what was lying around and wrapped it in dough and baked it.

    She was very conservative, erring with items that actually sounded good. Things like shaved chocolate with crushed almonds. Orange marmalade. Shaved chocolate with orange marmalade and so on.

    3 Musketeers Mini in crescent roll

    I, on the other hand, was curious to see what would happen with things that didn’t necessarily sound good at first. My experiments included:

  • Lemon Jelly Candies
  • Twix Java Bar
  • 3 Musketeer Cappuccino Mini (shown above)
  • Charles Chocolates Almond Caramel Stick
  • Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup (shown below)
  • M&Ms
  • Smooth ‘n Melty Mints
  • Pecan Pralines
  • Peppermint Pattie
  • Chocolate Covered Peppermint Marshmallows
  • Reese's Peanut Butter Cup in a Crescent RollThe process is pretty simple. Just follow the directions on the package of your Pillsbury (or other brand) Crescent Rolls. My biggest suggestion is to use baking parchment on your baking sheet, as it is extremely likely that something will leak and this prevents sticking and makes cleanup a snap. I baked them for the recommended time and found that the centers generally ended up hot and melted but not burned.

    In general simpler, consistently textured items work best. While I enjoyed the less-sweet taste of the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup in a Crescent, it was kind of dry because of the baked peanut butter and smaller proportion of chocolate that seemed to creep into the corners. A similar thing happened with the 3 Musketeers Mini. First, the Mini is too small, I think a Fun Size would work better. Second, the center stays intact but the chocolate goes everywhere. The center also seems to get a bit more grain to it, especially if you left the roll cool completely. The Peppermint Pattie was rather dreadful, as the center became inconsistent ... a little chewy in places and in other places downright chalky. The Pecan Pralines turned out fantastic, just like a Pecan Sticky Bun filling. The M&Ms’ shell seemed to lose its color (that’s the lavender blob in the first picture), which I’ve never had happen before with baking with M&Ms, there must be more moisture in crescent roll dough than cookie dough. The Lemon Jelly was tasty and moist but a little bland. The Java Twix was baffling, we couldn’t figure out what it was, it was just sweet and grainy. A twice baked cookie is probably not a good idea. (Though I’m still curious about what would happen with a KitKat.)

    For the record, Robin’s Shaved Dark Chocolate with Blood Orange Marmalade was good, probably the best of the bunch.

    After tasting about eight of them, we all felt a little sick and the rest remained untouched, so I can’t say whether they were considered successes or not. They’re definitely better right out of the oven, so if you’re making them for a small group, try baking three or four at a time in succession instead of all at once to pace yourself.

    For kids it’s a fun little, “no mess, low stress” thing to do, maybe even for a party. I can also recommend marking them somehow ... we couldn’t figure out what some of them were and it’d only been 20 minutes since we made them! (Okay, it was New Years and we’d already had a bottle of wine.)

    This is definitely an experiment I plan to continue. I saw that Pillsbury makes a jumbo roll, which might be better for larger candy bars, like a Snickers Fun Size. I also want to know what happens when you put taffy, hard candies, marshmallows or caramels in there. You can also just use candy-like ingredients like Nutella, Peanut Butter, Chocolate Chips, Sprinkles, Crushed Candies and so on ...

    So, have you ever tried something like this and how did it turn out?

    I give the results of this project a 6 out of 10.

    Related Candies

    1. Peeps Monster Mash Ups
    2. Chocolate Hellfire Chip Cookies
    3. Peeps Mash Ups
    4. 33 Uses for Leftover Candy Canes
    5. 2006 Independent Food Awards

    POSTED BY Cybele AT 6:47 am     CandyRecipes6-TemptingFeatured NewsComments (18)

    Friday, January 4, 2008

    After Christmas Candy Sales (2008)

    After Christmas Candy SalesI’ve been to my local drug stores and picked up some fantastic deals. Most of the places were still at 50% over the weekend, but they had a lot of non-holiday candy included.

    I think my best score was in the baking aisle at Von’s where they had Smooth & Melty mint chips on sale for $1.24 for 12 ounces. (I also bought two bags of the regular Guittard Chips which were also 66% off, you know, just cuz.)

    imageI have to call ludicrous hooey on this product on the Williams-Sonoma site: Handmade Peppermint Snow (6 ounces). Guess what it is? Yes, you are correct, it’s crushed red and white peppermints. Handmade peppermints. All in this lovely jar and marked down from $10 to $6.99 ... what a deal!

    Crate & Barrel has Mini Mighty Marshmallows (4.5 ounces) marked down from $6.95 to $1.75.

    Dean and Deluca has one fabulous deal to report, these Karmamel Kickbacks (21 ounces) marked down from $48 to $12. They sound really good, “includes chocolate, chocolate nut, kahlua, mint, nougat caramel and pecan nougat center. Individually wrapped in a gift box and adorned with red ribbon.

    Godiva is offering up to 50% off in their post-holiday Chocolate Covered Sale.

    Artisan Sweets has a deal on French Candied Chestnuts marked down from $50 to $25.

    Lake Champlain has had a few interesting items cycle in and out of their sale bin. Check out the current list here.

    Chocosphere always has chocolate on sale in their bargain basement. Right now they have some Domori bars for half off. Always something good to take a chance on in there.

    Have you found anything ridiculously cheap lately?

    POSTED BY Cybele AT 12:00 pm     CandyFeatured NewsShoppingComments (9)

    Thursday, January 3, 2008

    A Bit of Medicine: Cocoa as Cough Suppressant

    I wrote this February 16, 2007 and it’s been sitting in my drafts folder ever since. I opened it up because I was researching some of the info in here because my husband has a bit of a cough right now. I’m not sure why I never posted this.

    So I went to the doctor today. Because I’ve lost my voice. Because I’ve been coughing a lot. Because I have asthmatic bronchitis.

    Blah, blah, blah.

    I go round and round with this. I’ve been getting bronchitis rather regularly since I reached adulthood. (However, this is the first case since I started on Singulair two years ago, so cutting my incidence in half is a success in my book.)

    imageNow, my guess is right now you’re saying, “This is a lot more personal post than Cybele regularly writes.” This is true ... don’t worry, it’s candy related.

    While I was waiting for the doctor (who kindly fit me in on a Friday late in the afternoon on a holiday weekend) I was reading a magazine called WebMD. Mostly because all of the other magazines available were either golf related or about parenting. This one had Hugh Laurie on the cover, who is not a doctor but plays one on TV (and plays an American, to boot).

    It was filled with lovely factoid pages, with a special section that advised me to use the first stall in a public bathroom because it’s the least used and least germy and to never, ever touch the handrails on an escalator ... because after all, I don’t want some rhino virus on my fingers when it’s much better to stumble face first into those spiky edges of the moving stairs ... much better to embed those germs into open wounds. But again, I digress. Somewhere there was a page that mentioned that chocolate is a good cough suppressant.

    At that moment I think I hacked up part of my lung and then went and had it X-rayed to be sure. (To clarify, they X-rayed my chest, I discretely disposed of the thing I coughed up.)

    CocoaVinoI made a mental note that I had to research this further, however, I went home with a lovely prescription for a promising cough medicine called Tessalon (you remember him from the Lord of the Rings books, right?), so it was only kind of in the back of my mind at that point.

    After several hours of feeling better (though still unable to speak above a whisper), I recalled my mission:

    In November 2004, the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology published a study that examined the efficacy of using theobromine in chocolate as an anti-tussive (cough suppressant). The study found that 1000 mgs suppressed coughs as well as codeine for four hours with no side effects. (Check this out: Theobromine inhibits sensory nerve activation and cough.)

    Last time I tried to go to the store and buy pure theobromine I was stymied.

    Now, my big question is how much chocolate do you have to eat to get that 1,000 mgs of theobromine?

    Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate Bar (1.45 oz) has 184mg of Theobromine
    Unsweetened (Baker’s) chocolate (1 oz) has 390-450 mg Theobromine
    Milk Chocolate (1.55 ounces) has 75 mgs of Theobromine
    Cocoa powder, unsweetened 1 tbsp, has 111 mgs of Theobromine

    It’s obvious the best bang for the buck is gonna be straight cocoa. So, one tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa has 12 calories and 111 mgs of theobromine. So if I need to consume 1,000 mgs every four hours, I’ll need to eat ... um, a lot of cocoa (9 tablespoons/108 calories per dose and figure I’m awake for 16 hours a day that’d mean 36 tablespoons/432 calories). That’s a lot of calories with very little enjoyment. (I’d figure I would put them in gelatin capsules and swallow them.)

    Cacao Reserve ChocolateNow of course the tastier way to do involves actual chocolate. I don’t think I’d be able to stomach the amount of baker’s chocolate required, so let’s just go with the assumption that an ounce of high quality very dark chocolate (70%+) has about 300 mgs of theobromine. So 3.5 ounces is required, which just so happens to be the normal size for many premium bars. I would figure I would buy them by the box, because I’ll be needing to eat four of those a day. And logging 550 calories on average with each one ... um, yeah, that’s pretty much whole whole day’s caloric intake (on days where I’m particularly active, I might add).

    The average price for a premium super dark bar is about $3.50 ... so it would cost $14 a day. But then again, because it’d be my full day’s worth of calories, I wouldn’t have to cook or eat anything else!

    The thing to take away from all this though is that a strong cup of hot chocolate when you have a serious cough just might be the best thing for you. Try one quarter cup of good quality cocoa, 2 tablespoons of sugar and 8-10 ounces of milk. Heat over the stove in a small saucepan or in the microwave. Be careful not to boil. Drink. Feel better.

    POSTED BY Cybele AT 3:20 pm     CandyFeatured NewsComments (12)

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