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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Das French Salted Caramels

Das Foods is a curious little company that carries the two essential products for human life: Salt and Caramels. (I keeeed ... everyone knows that chocolate is also essential.) Aside from the heaps of Hawaiian sea salts in a rainbow of colors you’ll find that the Fleur de Sal Caramels are priced about the same (well, a smidge more expensive, but then again they’re individually wrapped ... try that with salt!).

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The little boxes are deceptively small. But pick one up and it’s a dense, quarter-pounder with caramels. Each caramel is wrapped tightly in wax paper (folded, not twisted, space is at a premium here). As an artisan product they’re hand cut and vary in shape and size but most are about an inch long and a half an inch square. The flavors lean on the classic side with a few surprises.

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These are very soft caramels, smooth, buttery and creamy with a big zap of salt crystals. (I had to re-form the unwrapped one in the picture because it kind of pulled and elongated when I unwrapped it.)

Classic - a smooth and creamy caramel with the lightest touch of honey and lavender.

Chai Latte - a lovely and mild combination of cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom with just a hint of cloves. The creamy buttery flavors blend well with the light spices.

Orange & Honey - these smelled juicy and zesty. The orange was a great addition to a traditional caramel, but the salt here was just too much. I’m not sure if the proportion is different of I just got a batch that had a little too much tipped into it. I didn’t finish these.

Ginger & Pistachio - oh, this was a lovely combo. The green nuttiness of the pistachios went so well with the buttery background of the caramels, and far into the chew the rooty-spicy flavor of the ginger came out (but no burn). Not as salty as the other, just the right hit to make the other flavors noticeable. These were the first to be consumed.

Though Das Foods carries a wide variety of salts, all of these caramels featured Fleur de Sel (Hand Harvested French Sea Salt).

They make two other varieties I didn’t try: Chocolate Walnut and Lemon & Honey. The website says that they source their ingredients locally (except that sea salt) to their Highwood, IL kitchen. My only complaint was how devilishly hard it was to get the waxed wrapper off some of them. It was easier if they were chilled slightly, but then that made them firmer in the mouth. Somewhere in the cool of the morning there was a compromise of a low room temperature that meant I could take the wrapper off but still chew the caramel. (I have to say that as wrappers go, if I end up eating waxed paper it’s not nearly as bad as eating cellophane or, the worst, foil.)

I don’t think these are available in stores, but Das has a webstore.

Name: Das Caramelini: French Salted Caramels
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Das Foods
Place Purchased: samples from Das Foods
Price: $5.99
Size: 4 ounces
Calories per ounce: 114
Categories: Caramel, Nuts, Ginger, United States

POSTED BY Cybele AT 6:37 am     Comments (6)

Monday, April 9, 2007

Who’s Speaking up for Real Chocolate?

I thought I’d put together a list of the conversations I’ve seen out there about the FDA’s proposed shift in the definition of chocolate to include products without cocoa butter. Thanks to everyone for the linky love on the issue!

  • David at DavidLebovitz.com

  • Nic at BakingBites

  • Coasting Granny at Grannie’s Tasties

  • jsu at Topix.net
  • Kate at AccidentalHedonist.com
  • Food Chronicles
  • Meg at NotMartha.org
  • Buddha Canvas
  • YumSugar.com
  • MFred33 at Center of the Universe
  • Rage Diaries
  • Daily Ping
  • Enslaved to Supermuse
  • I’m gonna write down whatever ...
  • Baking & Books
  • Noirbettie at Through the Looking Glass
  • Well Seasoned Cook
  • Mirthfairy
  • Dethboy
  • K9Pincushion
  • Breezeek
  • LA.Eater
  • For those random little things…
  • Teddy
  • Aleat?rio - O lado rand?mico ...
  • Our Adventures in Japan
  • MsBooch
  • Celebrate Life Daily (tm)
  • Spin or Dye
  • Laura Rebecca’s Kitchen
  • YouNever
  • As the Worm Turns
  • Couteau Bonswan
  • TNTFamily
  • The Wandering Eater
  • The Boulder Belt Blog
  • Llama Pyjamas
  • Quod Me Nutrit
  • Yukino
  • Pass the Sky
  • Bean Mom
  • The 1st Daughter
  • Book Nut
  • MikeM
  • Slinkster Feline
  • Escapades: The Secret Plans
  • Krista Says
  • Yayo’s
  • KQED - Bay Area Bites
  • My Chocolate Journal
  • BlogHer
  • CyberChocolate
  • KandyExchange
  • Can I just say Wow! It makes me feel like we’re mobilizing ... that we might actually be heard on the issue. (Those were in no particular order and I may have some blog names wrong.)

    On the other side of the fence we have some interesting commentary (and I totally understand some of their points):
    John Wright at Libertarian Reason (this is an older post about the “vegelate” moniker for UK chocolate)
    Joe at JoePastry.com - makes the argument that non-cocoabutter confections are valid and deserve to be explored, like spreadable chocolate.  (My feeling is those are totally cool things, which can be sold now and don’t need to be sold as “chocolate”.)

    Hopefully I’ll be updating this list or posting a new one as the word spreads. Remember, April 25th is the deadline for comments. (Anyone who’s posted about it is eligible for a raffle ticket for my Keep it Real Raffle, too!)

    POSTED BY Cybele AT 1:38 pm     CandyFDAChocolateNewsComments (2)

    Kisses Coconut Creme

    Coconut Kisses PackageI saved this review for after Easter. They package makes them look like an Easter product, but after having those Godiva eggs (even if they were freaktacularlly expensive), there was just no way that they were going to compare well. Now that they’re a distant memory, I feel that I can give the Hershey’s Coconut Creme Kisses my undivided attention.

    I have to say that I loved the blue wave design on the foil. It was tropical and also different enough from the other foils out there that I could guess that this was coconut.

    imageInside the foil was a molded Kiss with a soft creme filling of coconut.

    The shell of the Kisses were rather greasy. This wasn’t as noticeable when I chilled the Kisses (thanks for the suggestion!), but the chocolate outside still felt a little weird on the tongue, no matter the temperature. A little cool, a little less crumbly that the regular Kiss chocolate and of course it tasted like coconut before you got to the center.

    The filling was interesting. The creme part was actually more like creme and less like fondant than the Cherry Cordial Creme I tried before. This actually seemed a bit buttery. There were also crisp little flecks of coconut in there.

    It’s not at all like an Almond Joy center.

    I enjoyed them, but I don’t think I’m a fan. The greasiness is just offputting. It makes the little flags translucent and of course makes my fingers oily if I linger too long while unwrapping. I enjoyed the nutty taste, but I know some other people didn’t like them. I found the lighter flavor of coconut like munching on some chocolate and suntan lotion. Like a summer at the pool. (Okay, maybe that’s not an appealing image, but it’s been so gloomy and overcast here in Los Angeles lately, maybe I’m just looking for something ‘sunny’.)

    Previous Kiss Reviews: Cherry Cordial Creme, Orange Creme Kisses, Caramel Kisses, Peanut Butter Kisses, Candy Cane Kisses & Mint Kisses and Chocolate Truffle Kisses.

    Note: These are limited edition, but it’s unclear if they are an Easter item. Some stores will put all the Limited Edition stuff on sale with the Easter goodies (that’s how I got my KitKat Mini Dark Mint), so keep a look out ... when in doubt just ask!

    UPDATE April 12, 2009: Coconut Kisses returned again for srping 2009. Since some folks have noted it in the comments, I did taste this years version and agree, they’re not greasy. Perhaps Hershey’s rectified the ingredient/production issue that was making them that way.

    Related Candies

    1. Hershey’s Mint Truffle Kisses
    2. Candy Corn Kisses
    3. Kisses Chocolate Truffles
    4. The Mint Kisses: Chocolate Mint & Candy Cane
    5. Peanut Butter Kisses
    6. Cherry Cordial Creme Kisses
    7. Head to Head: Rolo vs Caramel Kisses
    8. Short & Sweet: Caramello /  Mega M&Ms / Orange Kisses
    Name: Kisses Coconut Creme
      RATING:
    • 10 SUPERB
    • 9 YUMMY
    • 8 TASTY
    • 7 WORTH IT
    • 6 TEMPTING
    • 5 PLEASANT
    • 4 BENIGN
    • 3 UNAPPEALING
    • 2 APPALLING
    • 1 INEDIBLE
    Brand: Hershey's
    Place Purchased: CVS (Torrance)
    Price: $2.50
    Size: 11 ounces
    Calories per ounce: 170
    Categories: Chocolate, Coconut, United States, Hershey's, Limited Edition, Easter

    POSTED BY Cybele AT 7:00 am     Comments (25)

    Sunday, April 8, 2007

    CBS 5 on FDA Mockolate Rules

    Finally there’s some big media coverage of the FDA’s new proposal to replace cocoa butter with other vegatable fats.

    Robert Noel of ChocolateGuild.com & Gary Guittard of Guittard Chocolate on CBS 5 in the Bay Area.

    POSTED BY Cybele AT 6:03 pm     CandyFDANewsComments (0)

    Chocolate Hellfire Chip Cookies

    imageI picked up these Koppers chocolate morsels called Cayenne Pepper Savory. They were powerful strong. Every once in a while I would eat another one and I’d be back to my original assement, “It burns! It burns!” (Review over here.)

    But I really liked them and thought there might be a way to use them in something else that would temper that sizzling aftertaste.

    So I dug out the traditional recipe for Nestle Toll House Cookies and mucked around with it.

    375 F Degree Oven - Bakes 9-11 Minutes - Makes 48 cookies (I make mine big)

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups of whatever chocolate chunks you have around
  • 1 cup chopped nuts
  • Here’s where I diverged from the regular recipe ... I didn’t have the 3/4 of a cup of brown sugar the traditional recipe calls for so I just made up the difference with white sugar. Really, this is a bad compromise. Get yourself some brown sugar - the cookie part was just too bland and didn’t have that good crystalized crunch that brown sugar gives it.

    Second divergence, I only had 1 cup of the Cayenne Chocolate, so I chopped up another cup of a mix of milk and dark chocolate Wilbur Buds. (That probably saved the cookies from being totally noxious.)

    Third divergence, I prefer Pecans in my chocolate chip cookies. But I didn’t have those. So I took some raw whole almonds, chopped them up coarsely and stuck them in the pre-warming oven to toast up.

    I used my new KitchenAide mixer and place the butter and sugar in there and blended on low with the mixing paddle until it seemed pretty smooth. Then I added one egg at a time and let those beat in. Then a dash or two of vanilla.

    In a separate bowl I combined the other dry ingredients: flour, baking soda and salt. Then poured that in, in thirds, to the mixer and let it mix together on one of the lower settings.

    Then I pulled out the beater paddle and mixed in the two cups of chocolate and the nuts (remember to let the nuts cool, I didn’t, and they can make the batter a little runny).

    Scoop small spoonfuls onto a clean, ungreased cookie sheet and place in center of oven to bake.

    Mine ended up going about 13 minutes each. It might have been the change of the brown sugar/white sugar that made the difference, or I might just prefer mine a little crispier.

    If you’re looking for a cookie recipe that you can make and not end up eating all of them at once, well, this might be for you.

    I give these a 4 out of 10. (My husband gave them a 7 out of 10, but he doesn’t have the same issues with overly spicy things that I do.) I don’t like having to pick the chocolate out of my chocolate chip cookies. What was I thinking?

    POSTED BY Cybele AT 1:08 pm     CandyRecipesChocolateNuts4-BenignComments (6)

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