Monday, November 5, 2007
I love peanuts, though I rarely eat them plain. Peanuts are one of the most perfect nuts for candy. Moderate fat content, mild flavor that combines well with other flavors (especially chocolate) and spices. They’re also inexpensive, so can be found in a wide variety of candies from cheap to upscale.
Ferrara Pan Boston Baked Beans are one of those classic candies that capitalizes on simplicity. Candy covered peanuts. They’re sold in these little boxes, pretty cheap too, 25 cents for .95 ounces.
They’re named for a dish, a mix of beans in a brown sugar or molasses and spice sauce. These don’t taste anything like that, though they do have legumes at their center!
The sugar coating isn’t quite crisp, but has a slight grain. There’s really no flavor to it, just sugar. The peanut inside is a little soft, and tastes a little raw. No dark roasted flavors, just the fresh taste of peanuts. A little earthy, not at all salty and even a little on the sweet side. The nuts are well chosen. Even though all of them are not large, I didn’t run across any rancid or bitter ones.
When I was a kid Boston Baked Beans confused me. I don’t think I ate them until I was a teenager. I think I was afraid they actually were candied beans (and that’s not really that outlandish, as there’s an Indian confection which is candy coated garbanzos). The appeal of candied nuts just wasn’t apparent as a kid ... I don’t think I cared much for Jordan Almonds back then either.
But as an adult, I think these are fun and a nice snack. Not that easy to find though. These are suitable for vegetarians and vegans who eat beeswax, however the package states that the product is processed in a facility that also uses milk, egg and soy products (and wheat for those who are gluten-sensitive).
Just for giggles, I decided to list my favorite nuts for eating plain, in descending order of affection (though I have great affection for all):
Here’s what my favorites lists looks like for my favorite nuts that are included in candy:
So, what are you top nuts, and do you have a different preference when they’re included in candy?
Sunday, November 4, 2007
I’m hard at work these days on a novel that you’ll never, ever read. (I do this every year as November is National Novel Writing Month.)
Last year’s novel was about candy, this year’s is about whale watching, or at least so far. So that’s how I’m spending my spare time these days (not that I have a lot of that ... it’s Candy Season!).
I’m also participating in National Blog Posting Month, which is a challenge to post to your blog at least once a day. Most readers know I pretty much post six times a week. So in November you’ll get 7 for the price of 6!
Let’s see what happened this week besides Halloween and the wonderful Post-Halloween Sales!
Monday: Big Mo’ Bars: Peanut Butter & Creamy Caramel (4 out of 10)
Tuesday: Andes Mints & Dessert Indulgence (6 out of 10 & 4 out of 10)
Wednesday: Mentos Xtrm: Mint & Spearmint (6 out of 10)
Thursday: Bratz Candy Cosmetics (5 out of 10, 3 out of 10 & 4 out of 10)
Friday: Kenny’s Licorice Pastels & Root Beer Twists (4 out of 10 & 7 out of 10)
Weekly average: 4.7 with a total chocolate content of 18% ... hmm, the lower the chocolate content, the lower my weekly average. I may be onto something here.
Saturday, November 3, 2007
Here we go, the top search strings that brought new readers to Candy Blog in October.
1. candy corn
See last years list as a comparison. No one even mentioned Halloween in the top twenty! I wonder if those chico sticks are the same as Chick-o-Sticks?
Friday, November 2, 2007
In the Autumn a candy lover’s fancy turns to Licorice. (Well, if you like licorice.) The cooler air and shorter days seem to beg for the earthy flavors of a good molasses-based licorice. I get that not everyone likes licorice. It’s like mincemeat and cloves ... not everyone gets it.
There are lots of different versions of licorice, but one of my favorites are pastels, which are little nibbles covered in a candy shell. (Just like candy covered chocolate like M&Ms are a great way to eat chocolate!) I’ve had at least a dozen different varieties, from Good & Plenty to Koppers to Jelly Belly. They’re all good ... but after Good & Plenty, they get kind of expensive. (I’m not sure why.)
I was pretty happy to find Kenny’s Licorice Pastels at the All Candy Expo. They do great things with licorice, including using real licorice extract and making their products affordable (you’ve probably seen them repackage and sold under house brands or in bulk bins before).
They’re made from a very thin piece of licorice, think laces chopped into little segments. Nothing wrong with that. But the coatings are irregular. Some are chipped, which may have been me treating the package like a bean bag in my travels. Still, the coating wasn’t complete on some, with little bits of licorice sticking out or appearing just below the thin veneer of sugar shell.
The color choice is interesting. White, Green, Mustard Yellow, Black, Purple and Hot Pink.
They were soft and fresh. The sugar shell didn’t have a sharp and crisp crunch like the ones I get in the little bulk tubs at Cost Plus World Market. I like that kind of shell, but this was okay ... more like the Good & Plenty side of things. The licorice inside is nice and chewy and has a good note of roasted molasses and real licorice and anise extracts. (The anise is detectable in the shell.)
The thing that spoiled it for me (and this is just me) was that there was Red #40 in them. It was absolutely detectable in the pink and purple candies. (I even did several blind tests to see if I was just being dramatic.) It made them bitter. I had to separate them out from the rest of the bag ... and not eating a third of them doesn’t really make them cheaper. (4 out of 10)
I love root beer barrel hard candies and the root beer Bottle Caps, which are pretty much the only candies that incorporate root beer well into their pantheon of flavors.
Kenny’s also makes a huge line of flavored Juicy Twists (I’m loathe to use the term “red licorice” which is like saying “unsweetened sugar”.) They come in watermelon, green apple, chocolate and of course, Root Beer.
The twists aren’t really that twisted (only a half twist per length), but have pleasant ridges. They’re shiny and rather firm (but not stale). They don’t have the firmly pinched ends that other brands like Red Vines have. But they are hollow (if you’re a straw person).
The root beer flavor is sweet and has a nice balsam quality, not as intense as some other more spicy candies, but still a good match for the flour-based twist. I’d love it if they were more intense, but this is often my problem with root beer in general. I want lots of flavor. But, as I mentioned before, I take my root beer enjoyment where I can. These are a fun change from hard candies. (7 out of 10)
Thursday, November 1, 2007
Oh, man. It’s that time of year. Now that Halloween is in the bag and kids have brought home all this candy I’m getting a lot of queries about how many calories are in that Fun Sized 3 Musketeers or packet of Skittles. About 50% of the search traffic to candy blog includes the phrase “calories in.” (I’m not kidding!)
It’s great to be calorie conscious, especially when you’re being adventurous and trying some new candy from the Trick-or-Treat bag. You don’t want to over do it, and lets face it, some items are surprisingly “affordable” when it comes to calories (like gummis, marshmallows or SweeTarts).
But then there are the articles and pieces on the morning talk shows. “Healthy Choices” in Halloween candy. And they’ve all got it wrong. They keep talking about caloric density as if it’s low calories that makes a piece of candy healthier? I’m sorry, if there’s one thing worse than a chunk of sweetened partially hydrogenated oils it’s a hunk of pure sugar! (One show said that a 3 Musketeers is a healthier choice than a Snickers Bar ... I suppose if the goal is to have as many empty wrappers for the same caloric cost. The Snickers will be more satisfying as it has a blend of sugars, fat and protein. The 3 Musketeers is mostly sugar and as many folks know, that just leads to a later crash.)
So, yes, you can have a pile of SweeTarts, which have zero nutritional value (no vitamins, no minerals, no essential fatty acids) but hey, no fat! The caloric density (which I’ve added to all reviews here whenever possible) of SweeTarts is 98 calories per ounce. But what have you eaten? Absolutely nothing of value.
Then you sit aghast that the little packet of Peanut M&Ms has 80 calories ... that adds up to 142 calories per ounce. Whoa! That’s almost 50% more! But there’s stuff you actually want in Peanut M&Ms ... things like protein, calcium, traces of iron, even some fiber! And fat, yeah, there’s fat in there from the peanuts and the chocolate. Peanuts have omega 3 fatty acids in them. Stearic acid in chocolate has been shown to be cholesterol neutral and may be beneficial to other inflammatory markers. Is it health food? No ... but it’s not the demon that these morning talk show people make it out to be in moderation. And those little packets, they’re great for portion control!
If you’re going to eat something, if you’re going to set aside your calories, please, for the love of all that’s good and tasty, eat something you like.
Let’s drop the pretension that low calorie makes something healthy. Nutrition makes things healthy and your diet should be balanced. There’s nothing wrong with a pile of peanuts, raisins or some crisped rice with some chocolate thrown in. (Honestly, I think a box of Goobers is more nutritious than a cupcake, but I’m not a registered dietitian.) If I had to be stranded on an island with one candy as my only sustenance for the rest of my life it would not be any of the “healthier” choices devoid of nutrition. I’d probably pick chocolate covered almonds.
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.