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Monday, June 10, 2013

KitKat Minis

KitKat MinisIn the ever-expanding trend of Morselization (tm), Hershey’s has created KitKat Minis.

KitKat Minis are unwrapped versions that are only 1 inch long. They’re also solo. Instead of “fingers” of KitKats served up in quads, these are like “pinky toes,” if you have those kind of pinkies that never quite fit in regular sandals and just hang out by themselves.

This isn’t the first time KitKat has attempted a bite sized version, there were KitKat Bites on the market about eight years ago. Those were smaller and more spherical as they were a panned chocolate (the centers were tumbled in a pan and then sealed with a little glaze).

KitKat Minis

The issue I found with the earlier KitKat Bites violating the interactivity I’d come to love about the KitKat bar is not an issue here. The miniature bars do have all the layers. This means that my process of eating them is the same. I cleave off the chocolate on each, making a melt-free spot to hold the bar while I peel off each layer of the cookie wafers with my teeth.

KitKat Minis

I enjoyed these, but not quite as much as I would have liked. The ratio of chocolate to wafers is higher now. I wouldn’t mind if it was good chocolate, but it’s not. It’s overly sweet, a little grainy and because it contains PGPR, I always think it has a rancid note to it.

I’m hoping these will come in the dark variety at some point. But the reality is that the Japanese Adult Taste Dark Chocolate KitKat (called Otonano Amaso) version is so untouchably superior, and actually comes in a nugget version, I don’t plan on buying Hershey’s again after this bag is gone.

The price is okay, I got mine on sale for $3.50 for the bag, which is a half of a pound. The wrapped candies can often be less expensive, but these may come down in price over the coming months as the economies of scale kick in. The stand up bag does have a zipper on it so they do store well. I can also see these being a good addition to ice cream or used as an ingredient in baking projects.

Though KitKat bars in the rest of the world, made by Nestle, are becoming fair trade certified, the American made KitKats from Hershey’s are not quite there yet. (Even when they do make it, that doesn’t mean they’ll taste better.)

Related Candies

  1. Milky Way Unwrapped Bites
  2. Clark Bites
  3. Rolo Minis
  4. KitKat Otonano Amasa (Adult Taste)
  5. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups Minis
  6. KitKat Dark
  7. KitKat Bitter & White
  8. KitKat Mint Dark Chocolate Minis


Name: KitKat Minis
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Hershey’s
Place Purchased: CVS (Park LaBrea)
Price: $3.49
Size: 8 ounces
Calories per ounce: 142
Categories: Candy, Hershey's, Chocolate, Cookie, Kosher, 7-Worth It, United States, Sav-On/CVS

POSTED BY Cybele AT 2:31 pm     CandyMorselizationRecipesHershey'sChocolateCookieKosher7-Worth ItUnited StatesSav-On/CVSComments (3)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Peeps Mash Ups - Savory

Peeps Mash Ups IngredientsI will preface this post with the following: I may have gone off the deep end.

In my joy of experimentation with Peeps and mashing their sticky innards into other foodstuffs, I’ve jumped from fun & tasty to the illogical conclusion of savory & disgusting.

(Okay, well, they’re not all disgusting.)

I like marshmallow Peeps as an idea, but not much as a confection. They’re fun to look at, pose & contemplate. But I don’t get much pleasure out of eating them. Pairing them with savory items was supposed to be a way to moderate their grainy over-sweetness.

I picked up a few things to try with my Peeps for 2009: Goldfish Crackers, Cheetos, Pepperoni (turkey for me) and Nacho Cheese Sauce.

Scroll slowly, otherwise you’ll overwhelm yourself.

Peeps + Goldfish CrackersPepperidge Farms has come out with some new flavors & variations of the classic Goldfish Crackers. As a kid the Pizza flavored ones were my favorite but now I prefer the Cheddar. (Though given a choice I’d probably still opt for Cheezits.)

The new variation that I picked up is in their whole grains line. This one is Toasted Corn.

After reading over the ingredients, corn is pretty far down on the list. And they’re not really corn flavored, they taste more like those Chik’n Biskit crackers I used to like to drink with flat 7-UP in a friend’s basement as a pre-teen while we played with Troll Dolls.

Peeps + Goldfish Crackers

The crunch and salt actually goes well with the sweet fluffy marshmallow and grainy sugar coating. It’s the dusting of garlic that the crackers seem to have that ruins it for me. A plainer cracker, like Saltines or Oyster Crackers is probably a much better and actually realistic Mash Up idea.

Peeps NachosI could have gone decadent and upscale:
Peeps & Figs with Brie
Peeps on Sliced Pears with Crumbled Blue Cheese
Peeps on Toast Points with Salmon Roe

Nope, I went the other way:
Peeps with Nacho Cheese sauce.

I had trouble finding my favorite brand of plastic cheese. I usually buy Frito Lay, the stuff that comes in a squat can and probably has a shelf life of three years. All I could find is this Mission Cheddar Cheese Dip.

Peeps Nachos

I’m sorry friends, I wussed out. I didn’t eat this. I thought it was fun to construct. In the future I think I might use different color Peeps than the traditional yellow. I think the green to simulate jalape?os and maybe the purple & pink to really make it jarring would have the best impact.

I did try Peeps on corn chips ... which is actually rather nice. The salty grains of the chips and the sweet sugar granules played nicely.

There’s probably a great idea in there somewhere for S’Mores Nachos using chocolate tortilla chips, chocolate chips, caramel sauce & Peeps. (All toasted under the broiler, natch.)

Peeps + Nacho Cheese SauceTo be fair to my readers, I did eat this.

This is a Peep in that Mission Cheddar Cheese Dip.

The Mission Cheddar Cheese Dip is a bit too soupy and watery for me. I like a thicker, more gelatinous cheese sauce (or just real gooey, stringy cheese).

The cheese was tangy and salty and had a cheddar “flavor” to it. The combination with the Peeps wasn’t so much bad, but the tangy yogurt quality of the dip didn’t go well with the fake vanilla flavor of the Peeps. I don’t recommend you try this at home.

Peeps + CheetosOne of the original items I was interested in smashing into my Peeps was Cheetos. And why not, they’re both some ghastly colors.

Cheetos now come in some insane flavors and textures. I like both the Crunchy Cheetos and the classic Cheese Puffs. (And some crazy sweet versions in other lands.)

Peeps have a definite advantage over Cheetos in several ways. Though Peeps are brightly colored, they don’t make a mess on your hands. And Peeps may actually be better when they’re stale.

Peeps + Cheetos

It was funny how much more I tasted the corn when combined with the sweetness of the marshmallow. Corn (Grits) is a great breakfast cereal so this was like mixing my savory grits with my sweet grits. The crunchy texture was a good offset to the silky smooth marshmallow and the micro crunch of the granulated sugar.

The Flaming Hot Cheetos might be a fun experiment.

Peeps + PepperoniAnd here it is, the pi?ce de r?sistance is futile. A while back someone suggested bacon or jerky with Peeps.

But really, when it comes to preserved meats and mashing names together, there’s nothing that can come close to Peeperoni. (It’s hilarious, I know!)

It took me a while to find turkey-based Pepperoni (as I don’t eat mammals, except for gelatin because I can’t possibly give up gummis), which I know is nothing like real pepperoni except that it comes in little disks and contains insane amounts of salt.

This Hormel Turkey Pepperoni smells like feet. I didn’t know if that was normal or not.

Peepperoni

First, like the cheese sauce experiment, there is no “mashing the sticky Peeps into the pepperoni” action. Peeps don’t stick to pepperoni. It’s like pushing to north ends of magnets together.

So I broke out the toothpicks.

The salty and chewy texture of the pepperoni was a nice complement to the sweet fluffy chew of the marshmallow. I think part of the failure of this is the abject lack of fat in this turkey version.

As an alternative to this, I think a sweet Lebanon Bologna might actually be interesting, especially if fried and put together on some slices of sweet egg bread.

Peeps + Chocolate Sunflower Seeds

As a bit of a palate cleanser, I did mix up something tasty. I had some Chocolate Mousse Peeps which went fantastically well with the crunchy, sweet and nutty All Natural Sunbursts.

For even more Peepitude, here’s a list of some other Peep occurrences on the internet ... some you’ve probably already seen, but some you might not have. Serious Eats is also devoting this week to Peeps Week.

Here are my previous Mash Ups.

Related Candies

  1. Peeps inside a Milk Chocolate Egg
  2. Palmer Hollow Chocolate Flavored Bunny
  3. Marshmallow Pig
  4. GudFud Stuffed Marshmallows
  5. Peeps

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:00 am     CandyMash UpPeepsRecipesReview5-PleasantComments (34)

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Slice of Orange Hot Chocolate

Terry's Dark Chocolate OrangeI thought I got a huge score at the 99 Cent Only Store a few weeks before Christmas when I found Terry’s Dark Chocolate Oranges for only 99 Cents. They even said they were good until February 2009.

I was still dubious and bought only one to try it out.

Sadly it was bloomed, though only slightly. Blooming is when the cocoa butter in chocolate migrates to the surface. As this was only the slightest haze, I figured a recipe where it was melted would at least mean I didn’t waste that buck. There are 20 orange slices in a Terry’s Chocolate Orange.

So after a few tries at proportions, I made some quite passable hot chocolate with it.

Terry's Dark Chocolate Orange

Recipe for One 12 ounce Cup of Hot Orange Chocolate (double or triple as necessary)

  • 10 ounces of milk
  • 3 Terry’s “Orange Slices” chopped finely (nothing larger than a chocolate chip)
  • 1/2 tablespoon of cocoa (I like mine a little less sweet)
  • Pour milk into a saucepan and add chopped chocolate. Whisk over medium heat then add cocoa and continue to whisk until hot. Don’t boil.

    It’s sweet, creamy and with a slight hint of orange, it’s a nice change from overly sweet pre-made mixes. Add another slice if you want really rich hot chocolate.

    Next I might try making some chocolate pudding.

    Related Candies

    1. The Easiest Chocolate Pudding (not quite from scratch)
    2. Grandma’s Caramels
    3. Chocolate Hellfire Chip Cookies
    4. Terry’s Chocolate Orange Confection
    5. 33 Uses for Leftover Candy Canes
    6. Malted Crisped Rice Squares
    7. Terry’s Chocolate Orange

    POSTED BY Cybele AT 1:39 pm     CandyRecipesFeatured NewsComments (7)

    Tuesday, April 15, 2008

    The Easiest Chocolate Pudding (not quite from scratch)

    imageI love pudding. I don’t care much for pastries, I’ve never gone for cupcakes (or any cakes for that matter) but I cannot resist pudding. I don’t care what kind of pudding it is: tapioca, rice, custard, flan, creme brulee, butterscotch or bread pudding, it’s all good to me. You can put it in a crust and call it pie, but it’s all pudding to me.  (Yes, custard has eggs in it, true pudding is just starch thickened milk & sugar. Instant pudding is like mockolate and does not deserve the pudding name.)

    I usually make Jell-O Cook & Serve pudding. I’ve tried some organic stuff from Whole Foods but found it had far more sugar in it and less flavor, so I went back to Jell-O (I actually preferred Royal, but I can’t find that any longer).  I usually make mine with Lactaid milk, as I’m not that good at digesting larger quantities of milk products and this is a good alternative to ice cream.

    Here’s what you get from Jell-O for $1.50:

    Sugar, Dextrose, Cornstarch, Cocoa Processed with Alkali, Modified Cornstarch, Contains Less than 2% of Natural and Artificial Flavor, Salt, Calcium Carrageenan (Thickener), Polysorbate 60 (Prevents Scorching), Fumaric Acid (for Thickening).

    image
    It occurred to me the other day that I could just make my own. “Oh,” I thought, “That’s a lot of work, measuring different things.” But really, is it? The thing is, I have a lot of hot chocolate mixes sitting around. I get samples but because this is a candy blog, not a drink blog, I don’t review them. And I don’t really drink that much hot chocolate. But I do eat pudding ... so why not make all that hot chocolate, that really, really good hot chocolate into really good pudding?

    It turns out that it’s so freakishly easy, I’m kicking myself for not doing it for years.

    (For the record, I did a search on the internet to see if I could find a recipe for just this and I had absolutely no luck ... so I worked it out on my own.)

    Easy Organic Chocolate Pudding

    What started this was that I got two cans from Equal Exchange last week ... when it was 90 degrees out. Not really hot chocolate season any longer, but pudding is always in season. One can is of their Organic & Fairly Traded Spiced Cocoa (shown) and one is of their Organic & Fairly Traded Drinking Chocolate. The difference between the two: hot cocoa is just that, cocoa and sugar (this one with spices as well) to be mixed with milk. Hot Chocolate or Drinking Chocolate has cocoa liquor in it and therefor a bit of cocoa butter.

    Here are the ingredients of the Drinking Chocolate:

    Organic Evaporated Sugar Cane Juice, Organic Cocoa Powder - Processed with Alkali, Organic Chocolate Liquor, Organic Cocoa Powder

    (The ingredients list would look shorter if they didn’t have to throw the word organic in front of everything because it’s two things: sugar and some sort of chocolate or cocoa.)

    It took me two tries, the first one I did only 2/3 of a cup of cocoa mix and 2% milk. The second was best and is what I’ve listed below.

    Deluxe & Politically Correct Lactose-Free Chocolate Pudding That’s Super Easy to Make from Near-Scratch

    Have your destination cups ready. I usually use the little cups that came with my china pattern, they hold 8 ounces, so that’s what I put in them. But you can use ramekins or other dessert cups that hold the recommended dosage of a half a cup if you have self control (or if you have no self control and just like to do a lot of dishes).

    - 3 cups of milk (don’t use anything less than 2% or you’ll end up with a disappointing slurry - I use Lactaid Whole Milk)
    - 1/4 cup of corn starch
    - 3/4 cup of hot cocoa mix or hot chocolate mix
    - optional: vanilla extract, orange extract or a little dash of spice of your choice

    imagePut 3 cups of milk into a large, heavy saucepan. Sift the 1/4 cup of corn starch into the milk while stirring (I use a mesh tea strainer to do this, a fine screen colander works, too). This should avoid any of the dreaded lumps. When done, turn on burner to medium.

    Put in 3/4 cup of cocoa mix, stirring constantly, scraping bottom and sides. This process takes about five minutes. Just be patient, work out any lumps or clumps in the cocoa while stirring, they get easier to integrate as the milk warms. The drinking chocolate didn’t look like it was completely melted until the very end, so have confidence.

    Continue heating until mixture thickens. Do not allow to come to a full boil, but if you get a few blurples as it comes up to that temperature, it’s not the end of the world.

    Pour into cups. Allow to cool. If you don’t like skin on your pudding, cover immediately with wax paper or plastic wrap touching the surface of the pudding.

    I don’t mind skin, so I don’t cover mine at all, even when I stick it in the fridge (partly because I’m lazy and partly because it seems like such a waste of plastic).

    I also like hot pudding. Yes, I’ll rinse out the pan and clean up my mess and then dig in with a spoon to my chocolate soup while it’s still steamy and a little runny.

    In order to customize this, in both instances I followed the ratio of milk to hot cocoa mix on the package, so give it a try with whatever you may have around, but I’d err on the upper side of 1/4 cup per cup of milk.

    The Equal Exchange Spiced Cocoa was a bit too spicy for me, but a really good, rich flavor (I might try it with half unspiced at some point). Not quite as fatty smooth as I would have preferred but this allowed me to sense the difference between that and the Drinking Chocolate (57%) was amazing. So deeply chocolatey, but silky smooth. It was like a freshly waxed floor and stocking feet ... my tongue was sliding around with that pudding going, “Whee!”

    Yes, truly from scratch is probably best of all, but this is so elegantly easy and means that I can have hot cocoa on hand for guests and just need to have corn starch around for a scalable chocolate pudding mix at the drop of hat.

    Pudding is a great year round dessert, easy to make larger batches for bigger crowds or use as a pie or tart filling.

    I also tried Guittard Grand Cacao Drinking Chocolate late last year, which is absolutely divine as a hot chocolate ... next time I’ll try it as pudding, too. It’s the perfect ratio of chocolate to sugar (milk adds its own sweetness).

    I haven’t (and won’t) tried this with an actual instant cocoa mix that you’d use water with ... that has powdered milk or “coffee creamer” type products in it. I don’t think it would work with soy, rice or almond milk products, part of the reaction that thickens pudding is the starch with the calcium in milk, if I’m not mistaken. But if it does work, it’d make this vegan.

    (Jell-O Pudding box image swiped from Von’s website, Equal Exchange Drinking Chocolate image from EqualExchange.org & Guittard Grand Cacao from Guittard webstore.)

    Related Candies

    1. Guittard Akoma Fair Trade Chocolate Chips
    2. Mary Jane’s Bread Pudding
    3. Chocolate Hellfire Chip Cookies
    4. Equal Exchange Miniatures
    5. Malted Crisped Rice Squares

    POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:00 am     CandyRecipesEqual ExchangeChocolateFeatured NewsComments (8)

    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)

    Tuesday, December 25, 2007

    Grandma’s Caramels

    CaramelsWhen I was a kid my grandmother made caramels every year for Christmas. We’d get a huge tin from her to take home, each piece wrapped in twisted plain wax paper. They were bigger than an adult’s thumb, at least two bites. Soft and chewy, stringy and long-lasting. Buttery, milky and not too sweet, they were usually made with some sort of nut. Sometimes hickory nuts but usually walnuts or pecans.

    When I was 16 years old my grandmother gave me the recipe (I’d been begging for it since I was twelve) along with a candy thermometer (which I broke some years later after my third move).

    They’re not easy to make. The ingredients and technique is simple, but it’s time consuming. It also helps for it to be a dry day. Humidity is the enemy of caramels.

    Grandma’s Caramels

  • 2 cups of white sugar

  • 2 cups of light corn syrup

  • 1 can (8 ounces) of evaporated whole milk

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) of butter

  • a pinch of salt

  • 1 to 2 cup(s) of nuts of your choice

  • The sugar and corn syrup are boiled over medium high heat until they become clear. Stir constantly but not vigorously, scraping down the sides to incorporate any sugar crystals.You shouldn’t be able to see any undissolved sugar crystals.  Make sure your pot is heavy and sturdy.

    Then add, bit by bit, small pieces of the butter and little tips of the milk. If the mixture boils up a lot when you’ve added it, you’ve added it too quickly. Keep stirring and adding. This process can take at least five minutes.

    Once they’re added in, add the candy thermometer and stir constantly until the mixture reaches soft ball stage (235 F). Be sure to move the candy thermometer to mix behind it or else you’ll be little burned bits.

    Once at soft ball, turn off the heat and add nuts. Pour out into either a greased large pan (9 x 14) or onto a piece of buttered marble. (Parchment works well, too.)

    Allow to cool completely (overnight), then cut into small bites and wrap in waxed paper. Cellophane is okay, but tends to stick more (but is obviously prettier). You can put a little sprinkle of artisan salt on them if you like.

    Caramels

    Now, this year was the first time I’ve made the caramels in about four years. The vexing part was that I didn’t want to use Karo because it contains high fructose corn sweetener. So I went on the hunt of some sort of real corn syrup. I finally found it at Whole Foods, but instead of coming in a 16 ounce bottle (the amount I needed) it came in an 11.5 ounce bottle. And it was the last one. So I bought the closest thing I could find to a corn syrup, which was a rice syrup. This happened to be brown rice syrup. Now, looking back at this, it may not have been a good idea. Corn syrup is made of glucose, primarily. Rice syrup is maltose and a little glucose. So it has a different flavor profile and likely a different chemical behavior when boiled. Glucose is a monosaccharide and maltose is a disaccharide.

    In addition, my mother was helping me out and reflexively picked up skimmed evaporated milk instead of the whole variety. We decided to use it anyway, instead of going back into the store. (Nothin’ more fun than a grocery store on the weekend before Christmas, eh?)

    So, here’s the new recipe and outcome:

  • 2 cups of white sugar

  • 1 cup of light corn syrup

  • 1 cup of brown rice syrup

  • 1 can (8 ounces) of evaporated skimmed milk

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) of butter

  • a pinch of salt

  • 1 1/2 cups of pecans

  • Box of CaramelsAs with above, I boiled the sugar and syrups. However, it never became clear. It was always a little cloudy, but eventually became transparent. The important thing is to be sure that the sugar crystals have completely dissolved.

    The rest goes as above as well, just added the butter and milk. The color, however, was darker and smelled more malty than buttery during the whole process.

    I was a little nervous that it wasn’t going to caramelize properly because of the different sugar balance and lack of milk fats from the evaporated milk, so I went slightly over the soft ball stage because the water drop test seemed a little soft. (You take a spoon of caramel and drop it into a glass of cold water and then pull it out and feel the texture.)

    The color is much darker, but the flavor is absolutely wonderful. I don’t miss the slightly less fat in it (it probably has less water when it boils so long, so the concentration of fat is probably similar).

    I’m not at all scared to use the brown rice syrup again, but I’ll probably still keep it at a half & half balance instead of completely replacing the corn syrup. But I’m leaning towards using the full fat evaporated milk (do not use sweetened condensed milk, that’s way too much sugar). Of course one of the big sticking points to this is that Karo is super-cheap at about $2.75 to $3 a bottle. However, that organic, non-gmo brown rice syrup cost a whopping $5.39 for 16 ounces and the diminutive organic corn syrup was $4.99 for 11.5 ounces.

    There’s nothing quite like homemade caramels, and if you’ve never had them or have been paying silly high prices for them at candy shops, it might be time to make your own. You can also vary the recipe by adding flavors at the same time as the nuts. Perhaps some spicy hot? Maybe a little chai spice? How about a touch of matcha?

    Related Candies

    1. Caramel Previews: Mitchell Sweets & Caramoos
    2. Trader Joe’s Fleur de Sel Caramels
    3. Texas Chewy Pralines
    4. Miette Patisserie
    5. Littlejohn Caramel Marshmallows

    POSTED BY Cybele AT 6:45 am     All NaturalCandyRecipesCaramelNuts9-YummyFeatured NewsComments (5)

    Sunday, November 25, 2007

    Guittard Akoma Fair Trade Chocolate Chips

    Guittard Fair Trade ChipsOne of the great new products I picked up in San Francisco last weekend was the new Akoma Extra Semisweet Chocolate Chips from Guittard. They’re Fair Trade certified from beans sourced from West Africa (one of the hotspots of poor working and wage conditions for plantation workers).

    Unlike the standard Guittard semisweet chips, these are 55% cacao ... just a smidge darker than the usual chips. They come in a sassy metallic pink package instead of the also-easy-to-spot gold package for regular Guittard Dark Chocolate Chips.

    image

    The chips have a nice rounded chocolate flavor. Some strong berry notes, a little light smokiness and a good creamy melt. They maintain their shape when baked, as all good chips do. The ingredients are pretty simple as well: cacao beans (fair trade certified), sugar, soy lecithin and real vanilla.

    I haven’t seen them in stores in Southern California yet, but you can definitely buy them at Chocosphere for the same price as their regular chips. So good fuzzy feelings for Fair Trade and still a decent price.

    orangebreadpuddingMy choice to make something with these for Thanksgiving was a Cardamom, Orange & Chocolate Bread Pudding.

  • Peel of 1 large orange (about 1/4 cup)

  • 10 cardamom pods

  • 1 Loaf (16 ounces) of dried Bread (Brioche works best)

  • 4 cups of milk

  • 4 eggs

  • 1/3 cup of Cointreau or similar orange liqueur

  • 2/3 cup of sugar

  • Dice the peel of the orange and place in a microwave safe cup with 1 cup of milk with five crushed cardamom pods. Microwave until warm, stir and let sit for 30 minutes, then stir again and heat again. This can be done a day ahead of time and refrigerated (this will make the orange peel especially soft).

    In a sauce pan put the 1 cup of pre-made milk mix (dig out the cardamom pods) along with the other 3 cups of milk, sugar and the loosely beaten eggs. Clean and crush the cardamom in a mortar & pestle. Add to the mix, warm over low heat.

    Put half of the bread into the bottom of the baking pan. Add half of the milk/egg mixture to the pan. Stir to combine and get the bread soaked. Take half of the chips and cover the egg/bread mixture. Then put the rest of the bread into the saucepan to get it completely wet. Add that to the top of the baking pan. Sprinkle more chips on top.

    Bake at 350 degrees F for 40 minutes. The pudding will pull away from the sides when done and the center won’t move. It’s a pretty dry bread pudding, so try it warm with a little milk or perhaps some ice cream or whipped cream.

    Related Candies

    1. Mary Jane’s Bread Pudding
    2. Elvis Reese’s Peanut Butter and Banana Cup
    3. Chocolate Hellfire Chip Cookies
    4. Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews
    5. Panda Bars

    POSTED BY Cybele AT 7:55 pm     CandyRecipesReviewGuittardChocolateUnited StatesFeatured NewsComments (15)

    Wednesday, October 17, 2007

    Peeps Monster Mash Ups

    Peeps & SixletsI’ve been planning another Peeps Mash Up for a while and thought that Halloween was the perfect opportunity for a Monster Mash Up.

    I even went out and bought the new Peeps Spooky Friends, thinking it’d be so fun to have the variety of the different shapes. Alas, Peeps Spooky Friends are not terribly mashable. However, the Candy Blog Candy Archives is always prepared, and I was able to pull out my trusty Peeps Yellow Bunnies as a stand in. (They also photograph better than the conjoined Peeps Ghosts.)

    If you’ve never done a Peeps Mash Up, the recipe is simple. Pull a Peep apart to reveal the sticky innards. Then press that sticky puff into a dish or package of something ... consume.

    image

    First up is Oreos & Peeps which was a combo I wanted to try for a while. Cookies and Cream is a nice combo that seems to go so well with ice cream, how could it be bad with Peeps? I tried it two different ways, the first was crumbling Oreos, as shown and mashing them into the crumbs. What I found is that I didn’t care for the cream part in there ... the closeness of the texture and graininess to the Peep itself wasn’t distinctive enough. Instead, the way to do a Peep & Oreo Mash is to open your Oreo, scrape the cream off with your teeth, then place the whole Peep on one side, replace the cookie topper, mash down and consume.

    The darkness of the cookie, the little hit of salt and of course the sandy crunch of the Peep makes an excellent combination. (And completely redeems my opinion of Oreos after last month’s tasting of the new Cakesters.)

    I give them an 8 out of 10.

    Cocoa KrispiesHow about more crunchy cocoa for Peeps? I hit upon the idea of breakfast cereals and Peeps. After all, some breakfast cereals already have marbits (marshmallow+bits) in them.

    I picked up a mini-mix pack from Kellogg’s (as they seem to be the only company that still makes them). First up, Cocoa Krispies & Peeps.

    Cocoa Krispies are ideal for this snack, as they’re small and adhere easily to the exposed sticky marshmallow. They’re lightly crunchy, though a little sweet without enough cocoa contribution. I give them a 6 out of 10.

    Peeps & Apple JacksI was never a big fan of Apple Jacks as a cereal as a kid. I so rarely got to eat sweetened cereals, this was pretty far down on my list. (Cap’n Crunch was my favorite, followed by Froot Loops.) Would Apple Jacks & Peeps change my mind?

    The simplicity of the flavors Apple Jacks, a little apple, a little cinnamon, actually sets off the flavorless Peep really well. They larger loops though, don’t hang onto the Peep quite as well, so smashing them a little to break the Os is a big help.

    It helps that Apple Jacks had a pretty good jingle. (A is for apple, J is for Jacks, Cinnamon-toasty Apple Jacks! You need a complete breakfast, that’s a fact. Start it off with Apple Jacks. Apple Jacks! Apple Jacks! Ten vitamins and minerals-that’s what it packs. Apple-tasty, crunchy, too! Kellogg’s Apple Jacks! Apple Jacks, Apple Jacks ...)

    I give them a 5 out of 10.

    Peeps & Frosted FlakesWhile Frosted Flakes & Peeps may sound like a pretty mundane treat, I have to say ... they’re great!

    Even though the large flakes don’t stick well, the little bits do cling and still provide a good crunch. The thing I like best about this combo is that Corn Flakes have a wonderful dark, malty taste to them, and that sets off the lightly toasted sugar flavors of the marshmallow.

    There’s also a little hit of salt in there, which mellows the more overt sugar. I think I might prefer an unfrosted Corn Flake in this case. But plain Rice Krispies are probably a good bet as well.

    I give them a 7 out of 10.

    It’s not illustrated here with a photo, but I also tried Corn Pops & Peeps. Once Corn Pops are removed from their packaging, even in a desert they immediately become sticky and tacky, so they’re an ideal item to Mash. Though they’re very sweet, their flavor profile matches Peeps really well. They have that lightly toasted flavor, but none of the malty, salty tones of the Corn Flakes. I give them a 7 out of 10.

    They make a nice combo, though they don’t really have much of a visual appeal (but then again, neither to the Corn Flakes).

    Peeps & Froot LoopsFroot Loops & Peeps has to be the Mash Up I was most looking forward to. Like the Apple Jacks, these loops are a little too big for good stickage, but a little crunching in the bowl helped.

    The one thing that disappointed me though, was that Froot Loops have changed so much since I was a kid. Back then we only had three flavors ... Orange, Lemon and Cherry. They went together really well and looked like food. The modern Froot Loops, well, I just can’t get behind blue food. And I don’t like all my flavors mixed up, I just wanted some light citrus fruit flavors, not a whole jumble of a world-traveled fruit stand.

    The fruity flavors, though, stood up very well to the sugary sweetness of the Peep.

    In the future I’ll probably go with the generic brand of fruity loops that have more limited flavors ... because I’m a fuddy duddy.

    I give them a 5 out of 10.

    Peeps & Reese's PiecesI couldn’t ignore the wonderful advice on the last Mash Up post when I went looking for other mashable items.

    The idea of wiping peanut butter on my Peeps wasn’t quite in the cards, but Reese’s Pieces & Peeps sounded like the perfect Mash Up. I heard that Reese’s has put out minis, but I can’t seem to find them. The larger Reese’s Pieces didn’t stick well to the Peeps, but the flavor combo of the lightly sweet peanut butter, the crunch of the shell and grainy sugar was a solid combo.

    The colors also went really well. You’ve gotta give props when it comes to the appearance.

    I give them a 8 out of 10.

    The photo there at the top of this page is Sixlets, which are mockolate spheres covered in chocolate. Sixlets and Peeps also had a great deal of visual appeal with the muted fall colors and shiny shells. Sixlets have a natural coolness on the tongue, but not a very strong chocolate flavor. They stuck well to the marshmallow, but the overall effect was too sweet and not flavorful enough. I think I’ll stick to the original idea of M&Ms Minis.

    I give them a 4 out of 10.

    Peeps & Boston Baked BeansSince the nuttyness of the Reese’s Pieces went well, I thought maybe some Boston Baked Beans & Peeps would be a fun change of pace.

    It’s been years since I’ve had BBB, and if you aren’t familiar with them, they’re candy coated peanuts. The candy coating is pretty thick, so some of them at first seem like jawbreakers. So the mixing of two vastly different densities has an odd and scary feeling to it. I’m afraid of chomping down too hard, lest the hardness of the BBB be too unyielding, but I also felt like I was practically gumming away the marshmallow and losing the texture and flavor combo.

    I give them a 4 out of 10.

    Peeps & Candy Cane Pop RocksFinally, even though this is a Christmas item, I was too tickled to contain myself when Pop Rocks sent me some new flavors to try.

    Candy Cane Pop Rocks & Peeps seemed like the perfect Mash Up. Peeps is coming out with Peppermint Star Peeps later this year, but I so loved my Pop Rocks and Peeps earlier this year, I thought, what could be better than peppermint Pop Rocks and a nice mellow Peep.

    Well, the main problem with this idea is that the Candy Cane Flavor Pop Rocks aren’t actually peppermint!

    Say what? Seriously, what would you think if someone handed you this package? If you opened it and dumped out the contents and saw the above pile of pink and white Pop Rocks ... what flavor would you expect?

    imageWould you expect Strawberry?

    Yeah ... they’re strawberry. I have nothing against strawberry Pop Rocks and thought they rocked my Peep ... but I wanted Peppermint Pop Rocks and I’m completely annoyed that someone out there not only thinks that any pink flavor can be considered candy cane flavored, but that they wouldn’t actually SAY that on the package if it was so.

    I give them a 3 out of 10 ... not because it was bad, but because I’m irritated.

    The next Mash Up Round Up will focus on Savory & Spicy!

    Related Candies

    1. Peeps Mash Ups - Savory
    2. GudFud Stuffed Marshmallows
    3. 2006 Independent Food Awards
    4. Candy Mash Ups - Marshmallows & Chocolate

    POSTED BY Cybele AT 7:46 am     CandyMash UpPeepsRecipesReviewHalloweenCarbonatedChocolateCookieMarshmallowMockolatePeanutsComments (20)

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