Wednesday, April 11, 2007
There’s been some news on the FDA Chocolate Standards change since my last post.
First, Guittard Chocolate Company has issued a press release. Below is a quote from Gary Guittard, the fourth generation chocolatemaker:
But what I thought was especially interesting was this point that the release also brought up:
Go read the whole thing.
There are a few things to remember. The new standards will expand the definition of chocolate, which will still include the current standards. This means that the chocolate that we know and love may continue to exist by those manufacturers that have customers who value their quality product. However, because of the new latitude, the cocoa butter which we know and revere for its unique mouthfeel may be replaced in part or total by other vegetable fats in products on the market that you already purchase.
I know, an oil is an oil right? You use them interchangeably all the time! Making a salad dressing? Olive oil is the same as partially hydrogenated coconut oil, isn’t it? Of course not! If you wouldn’t do it to your salad, why on earth would you do it to your chocolate?
The permission to substitute is a degradation of the already liberal standards for chocolate. It provides no benefit to the consumer. I’ve said this before, it’s perfectly legal for a confectioner to make a coconut oil based mockolate product and sell it right now. Why do they want to call it chocolate? For you? No, it’s for them to be able to sell you a cheaper product under the same name as a well-respected and high quality product. Sure, you’ll know it just by reading the ingredients, but when I buy something called orange juice, I expect the juice of oranges. When I buy chocolate, I expect the whole bean elements to be present.
In the mean time, I’ve also been doing my darndest to get a hold of the actual FDA document that we’re supposed to be commenting on. I know it seems silly, but don’t you think that the FDA has an obligation to post the document for public review within the window for public comment? Keep an eye on this page, perhaps it will be posted soon.
I’ve also contacted the Chocolate Manufacturers Association for their comment on this and I’ll have more to report on that. (I got a response, I just need to go through it completely.)
Jim Bumgardner of KrazyDad put together this completely awesome mosaic of the candy review photos from Candy Blog.
It runs on Flash and shows itty bitty thumbnails of over 1,000 photos I’ve taken over the past two years. Roll over one of them, and a larger one will pop up for closer view (and drool). Then click on the photo and it’ll take you to the Flickr.com page with the photo (and hopefully there will be a link to the review back here if I’ve done my captioning correctly). You can view the photos in a boring static mode here.
The mosaic will be updated periodically with new candy photos, so you’ll always be able to browse the archives in a way more befitting this eye candy.
Note: you’ll have to disable any pop-up blockers on the CoverPop site. Don’t worry, there’s no ads there. Not only that, he’s got a discount coupon code at Old Time Candy if you hafta hafta order something when you’re done. Check out Jim’s other Coverpops while you’re there, too.
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
So last night on the way home from work I stopped at Walgreen’s and CVS to see what was still around. Both had 50% off sales. Now, this may sound like a good deal, but this is off of the “regular” price, which they don’t usually sell stuff for anyway. (At least I don’t buy stuff at regular price.)
Here’s what I got:
1 large package of Peeps Yellow Bunnies (I might do more mashups)
2 Snickers Creme Eggs (I didn’t try these before and didn’t realize they’re different from the Snickers Eggs I tried last year)
2 Bags of (7 ounces) SweeTart Chicks, Ducks & Bunnies
1 Bag of 8.5 ounces) Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Eggs (still PGPR free!)
There isn’t much in online sale land. Godiva hasn’t put their stuff on sale yet, there are a few things at Lake Champlain and See’s never seems to have sales. Pop a note here if you see a great deal though.
Deeper discounts come as more time elapses, but then the selection decreases. The trick, I’ve found, is to shop at a store where people don’t usually stock up on candy. I’m not going to tell you where that is until I’ve plundered their selection yet! (I love you, sweet readers, but not that much!) I’m actually looking for stuff like the Lindt bunnies and Easter truffle assortments I saw a few weeks ago, but no luck yet.
I’m going to do a little deeper digging later this week (I have a bunch of deadlines right now and can’t quite devote as much time to candy acquisitions as I’d like). What have you found so far?
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!).
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.
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.
Monday, April 9, 2007
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
Meg at NotMartha.org
MFred33 at Center of the Universe
Noirbettie at Through the Looking Glass
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):
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!)
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.