Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I Have Not Yet Begun to Fight!

Back to peanut butter and chocolate minus the God stuff.

This entry is going to be devoted to one company because all they do is peanut butter and chocolate:

I first came across Jer's at the Chocolate Show in NYC.

They make four bars (I have three of them) and the same flavors in "balls":

One of the flavors is Cara Mella - creamy caramel blended with fresh organic peanut butter:

This is what you find when you open all the boxes:

Two wrapped bars. Each box and the larger box of "balls" includes a card with a quote like:

I can resist everything except temptation. - Oscar Wilde

Some people are always grumbling because roses have thorns. I am thankful thorns have roses.

- Alphone Karr

Pretty cool, huh?

Okay, back to Cara Mella - autopsy photos of the bar and the balls:

Eh - this is only okay. The caramel overpowers the peanut butter. Reese's Clusters do it WAY, WAY better. And WAY cheaper. The bar is $6.00.

Next is Toffee Break - buttery rich handmade toffee mixed with organic peanut butter.

YUM!!! The toffee chunks work great with the peanut butter - LOVE IT!! I also liked it with the milk and white chocolate, although I think the dark chocolate is by far the best. The dark chocolate is the best foil for the sweetness of the toffee.

Next is the Original Incredibar - decadent organic peanut butter with crunchy rice crisp.

Wow - this one is great too! Not as complicated as the toffee - more peanut buttery. The rice crisp gives it texture. I found the white chocolate to be too sweet. Milk chocolate is really good, but I also liked the dark chocolate. Pretty darn good!!

And finally Pretzo Change-O - crunchy baked pretzel bits & pieces combined with their signature all-natural peanut butter center, then smothered in a selection of premium milk, dark or white chocolate.

White chocolate was too sweet here - I liked milk and dark chocolate better. But I preferred toffee and rice to pretzel. It just seemed like of bland - maybe too little play off the saltiness of the peanut butter? Adding pretzel made it too salty.

Overall - I think the toffee combo is worth trying because I haven't seen it anywhere else, but there are two bars you can get in the grocery store that do the pretzel and crispy combo. We're going to look at them tomorrow!!

You know, the more candy I try, the more I like the good ol' mass produced brands. I guess I'm just not a gourmet. I have yet to find a peanut butter chocolate combo I think beats Reese! But I'm not giving up - as long as there are contenders, I'm up for the fight!!!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Taking Peanut Butter and Chocolate in Vain

There really is nothing new under the sun. I found a book today entitled "Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Life" by Luann Dunnuck. Luann pretty much has the same idea I do - take these simple (but oh so awesome) things and use them to motivate people. I was really looking forward to her book.

Oh - I was sooooo disappointed. I didn't realize it was going to be a big God book. I don't mean a funny, Church of Chocolate kind of book - I mean a quoting a lot of scripture, preachy kind of book. A LOT of scripture. And Luann isn't funny - not even a little funny. Let me give you an excerpt:

"Remember, you are far more valuable than the peanut butter cup. You are created with a purpose and a plan in mind. Lift up your head and know that God has endowed you with good qualities."

Get out! A human is more important than a peanut butter cup? No way! I wasn't sure of my place in the Universe until I read these inspirational lines. (Although I believe peanut butter cups were also created with a purpose and a plan and they have been endowed with some mighty fine qualities.)

There is nothing wrong with religious writing - but this was a true waste of a great, great idea!! The linking of chocolate, peanut butter and scripture was not very well done. Random recipes tossed in at the end of each chapter add to the weirdness. It was like the book was written and it was so boring that someone added catchy chapter titles and recipes so the boringness could ride on the backs of peanut butter and chocolate. Most of the content has absolutely nothing to do with either peanut butter or chocolate. I am so bummed that Luann destroyed a great idea by using it for such a crappy book. And I think peanut butter and chocolate were used - USED, I say!

How about this line:

"Just like the peanut butter cup, you are a delight, but you may be thinking, "How can God delight in me, with all my faults?"

Or how about:

"You matter to God and those around you. If God in His wisdom could help man to create the peanut butter cup, surely God can perfect you."

AAAIIIEEE!!!!! I wanted to stick a fudgesicle stick in my eye when I read that. What a horrible use of the peanut butter chocolate tie-in.

I'm no religious writer, but I don't think anyone can be "perfect" - whatever that is. I think wisdom comes from doing the best with what you have and who you are. That making the most of the unique gifts you have is what's life's journey is all about. That the hardest thing is not to realize that God delights in you, but to delight in yourself. We are so hard on ourselves.

And I think that peanut butter and chocolate are here to add to our joy and fun - whether you worship God, Buddha, Jesus, a tree or the cacao bean.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Peanut Butter Cups - YAY!!!!

I'm going on a peanut butter roll, gang, so hang on!! The new Reese's Dark is out in stores now, so if you are a fan of dark chocolate, you'll want to grab one. But you know me, I have to compare to really know how I feel about a new candy. So here we go!!

OMG - we are the world! Can you say peanut butter cup diversity???

Above is a autopsy photo of the new Reese's Dark with a mysterious fingerprint clearly captured. I think it will be easy to catch the murderer.
While it's not bad, I don't like it as much as the original Reese's.

Reese's Crunchy (below) is good, but again, I prefer the original.

White Reese's is just too sweet. I also have a random brand I found in Mast General Store - the miniature pictured here. The white chocolate was waxier than the Reese's white chocolate. But I like the white chocolate better as a miniature. In VERY small doses this combo works.

Boyer makes these butterscotch peanut butter cups (this one came from Candy Expo - it got a bit crushed in transit - so forgive its appearance). I'm on the fence with these - they are good, but I'd rather have the Reese's original. These are a little too sweet - not as sweet as white chocolate, but sweeter than milk chocolate. They don't taste really like butterscotch to me, but are worth trying because they're different.

Boyer http://www.boyercandies.com/history.html is another one of those good old American candy companies, and I like to help the little guys!! And who the heck even KNEW there was a butterscotch peanut butter cup?

You know I LOVE the Big Cup!! Even better than the original - because there is more peanut butter!! (Like the peanut butter egg - or Christmas tree or Valentine's Day heart - the more Reese's peanut butter the better!)

THAT's the way peanut butter cups should be!! Yahoo!!

I also tried this peanut butter and almond cup by Colts:

Eh - not so great. The chocolate was too thick and the peanut butter wasn't creamy enough. But the inventor has her picture on the wrapper - wheee! Apparently she was a "Hee Haw Honey." This must be an old picture - that show was popular when I was a kid and that was a LONG time ago.

So what does it all mean?

Variety is the spice of life! I am so glad we have all these different peanut butter cups to choose from.

Sometimes new and different isn't better.

Live now or you might regret it. (I really wish I had tried that peanut better and banana creme Reese's cup Hershey made in July of 2007 - thirty years after Elvis' death.) I missed it and now I'll never be able to try it. Sometimes opportunity only knocks once.

And you gotta love this "wrapper":

Don't be sad, there are Reese's cups in the world. This might be the best motivational message ever!!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Soul Mates - Peanut Butter and Chocolate

God, I love peanut butter. The pairing of it with chocolate is a true act of genius. In fact, in the Church of Chocolate this is the equivalent of building the ark. Splitting the atom has nothing on buttering the peanut. I'm making George Washington Carver a saint right now. (Just pretend I'm wearing my Hershey kiss miter and burning some chocolate scented incense). Is the spirit moving you?

Just saw a Reese's commercial (clearly a sign we are on the right path) - hilarious!! Said Sharing is a nice thought. (Pause) Stupid, but nice. LOVE IT!!!!!

At Candy Expo, Dove was premiering their Peanut Butter chocolates. Susan at http://www.candydishblog/ has some great pics of their gorgeous booth here:


Love that silk!! We needs lots of that at the C of C - and love the chocolate fountain! Can you say "Baptismal Pool?" Oh yeah, baby!!

Here are the Dove chocolates:

I thought several of the individually wrapped ones would be in the package, but I was wrong - this is what was in there:

A chocolate centipede. Let's autopsy:

These aren't bad, they just don't rock my world. I like Dove chocolate, I love peanut butter, but this is just average to me. I REALLY did the salty peanut butter of the Reese's.

These weren't at Candy Expo, but I found them at the Hershey's store in Chicago:

I can't believe I haven't seen these before, but I was thrilled!! And they are good! I really like the red paper tabs - nice touch!!! And check out the autopsy:

I don't; think they could have packed any more peanut butter in there. And I swear it's that salty Reese's peanut butter!! I like the Kisses better than the Dove Promises? Centipede? Whatever. Like the silk though.

Reese's has something along these lines - Reese's Select cremes:

They look great, right? I was so excited - ready for Reese's to rock the house!! Eh - not so good. Kind of like the Dove things. Maybe too much chocolate. I dunno. I was not impressed. The Kisses were better.

But, the most awesome are the Reese's Clusters. I've reviewed them before, but now I feel compelled to command you to try them. They are just so damn good!!!!!!

Look at the great Reese's Peanut Butter! See the caramelly center and those crunchy peanuts! Get thee to a store!!! These are just about as good as sex. Not that I've ever had sex or anything, but these are REALLY good!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Making It Big in the Candy Business

Things are still going good on the dating front. I actually met my guy's bother and his wife this weekend. A good sign, yes? Don't worry - I'll upload a pic soon. I'm such a chicken!!

Back to Candy Expo!

Remember I said it was all about the people? Well one woman I really enjoyed meeting was Gia Michaels. She owned an automotive aftermarket business for 13 years, then got married and had kids. She became a full time mom and in her spare time began baking and working with candy. Her treats were so good, she started selling them. She bought 150 pounds of chocolate through her local Costco. To thank the manager for helping her get all the chocolate, she sent some of her goodies. She soon got a call from Costco asking if she's like to sell large quantities through them!! She was launched! You go, girl!

Her website is http://www.giamichaels.com/

Here she is - she's so cute! And look at this great booth:

The great thing about Gia's treats is that they are PACKED with topping. We're not talking one or two sprinkles. This is a toffee covered pretzel. You can barely see the pretzel!!

And look at these Dunks - pieces covered with assorted chips and candy bits:

Don't they look great? They are!
I really love all of her packaging - cute and classy. (Perhaps she should have a sit-down with John Daly.)

But here's the big deal - her Gourmet Garbage:

Gourmet Garbage™ is a premium unique blend of dark, white and milk chocolates, heath crunch, peanut butter morsels, fine candies and chocolate covered pretzel pieces. This gourmet blend can even be eaten right out of the jar!

She also has recipes for this - things as simple as adding it to microwave popcorn or s'mores. What a great idea!! She's working on a deal with the Home Shopping Network. How exciting is that?

Gia took a lot of time to talk with me - she was terrific! I wish I had more pictures of her products - they all look terrific and taste great. She has great ideas and just loves what she does - it really shows. Keep your eyes peeled for her products and snap them up if you see them!! Here's hoping the Home Shopping Network makes her a star!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Mock Chocolate

It's a damn good thing I don't get paid for this - I'd be so fired.

I actually sat in the Mars press conference at Candy Expo where they announced their "Real Chocolate Relief Act" on May 19th. Obviously I am not getting you breaking news. Basically each Friday they are giving away chocolate. Just go to www.realchocolate.com and sign up (no need to go until after 9:00 am Friday). You sign up and they mail you a coupon. You might use your coupon to check out some of their new products:

Strawberried Peanut Butter M & M's are out. (I say bleech, Reese's Pieces are so much better). But, hey if you get them for free, try them!! Live large baby!!

M & M's Coconut is coming out in July - see what you think.

And in August - Snickers Fudge!!! These rock - you should definitely get one of these - free or not.

Why are they doing this? Well they want to promote the fact that their candy is made from real chocolate, not mockolate as some of their competitors' candy is. I'm betting they know that most people will get a free bar and buy more bars, but I'm only guessing. I'm assuming Mars is still a capitalist company and isn't doing this just to redistribute their chocolate. But, hey, these days, who knows?

Here's a detailed explanation of "mockolate," a term I believe was coined by Cybele of Candy Blog. This is from wisegeek.com:

The term “mockolate” is used derisively to describe candy products made with cocoa solids, but no cocoa butter. Legally, such products cannot be labeled as “chocolate,” but instead must be called “chocolate candy,” “chocolate coating,” or some variation thereof, so that consumers understand that cocoa butter is not present. Mockolate is typically produced by companies trying to cut costs, since cocoa butter can be extremely expensive, and many companies feel that keeping the size of familiar candies the same is very important, even if the ingredients must change to keep costs down.

Real chocolate includes both cocoa solids and cocoa butter, the two components extracted from the cacao bean when it is crushed in preparation for making chocolate. Making chocolate is actually a very complicated process, as the components are first separated and then carefully blended back together in varying amounts, along with other ingredients, to produce the desired chocolate product. The cocoa solids contribute much of the flavor, while the cocoa butter adds the rich, creamy mouthfeel which people associate with chocolate.

When mockolate is produced, cocoa solids are blended with another source of fat, typically vegetable oil. According to producers, mockolate tastes the same as true chocolate in blind taste tests, but some foodies disagree. They claim that mockolate has a flat, greasy flavor and lacks the mouthfeel of true chocolate.

Because many people have a negative perception of mockolate, companies often use misleading labeling so that consumers believe they are buying real chocolate. When companies switch from chocolate to mockolate, for example, their product packaging may remain the same. Indications that a product contains mockolate include the use of very small letters describing “chocolate cream,” “chocolate coating,” or “chocolate candy” in the product, rather than prominent lettering boasting “chocolate” or “milk chocolate.”


Hey - I'm just saying be careful out there. Ultimately I think the taste of the total candy will determine what consumers buy. For me if Reese's is covered with mockolate, I'm still in!

So enjoy the summer! Get some free chocolate!

Monday, June 22, 2009

You CAN Be Too Rich or Too Thin

I promised you guys a motivational posting! Well - this is it!!

You CAN Be Too Rich or Too Thin

I know that to many people this seems like heresy – these are two goals that influence a great deal of human behavior. But we’ve all seen someone who has clearly lost too much weight. Often they think they still need to lose more. And while it would seem that one could not be too rich, there is a point at which increasing one’s wealth no longer increases one’s happiness.

Here’s the human dilemma – once we start to lose weight or earn money, we gauge our success by every pound or every dollar. At some point we start to equate our personal value with dollars and pounds. If we gain weight, we’re fat losers, if we lose weight we’re hot and successful. Same thing with money. I don’t know about you, but as my business falls off with the recession, I feel like a failure.

Here’s how this has worked in my life – over the past couple of years I’ve lost about 20 pounds. I was never fat (although I certainly was starting to get there!) and to be honest, most people haven’t noticed. I’m pretty tall, so it’s not as noticeable on me as it would be on someone shorter, and I’ve lost it gradually. I actually never thought I would weigh this little again – hell, I weigh less now than I did in college.

Am I happy about this? Yes, but I still think I could lose another pound or two. See how crazy we are? We lose weight and we always think we could stand to just lose a little more. We make more money and we think we could just make a little more…. We poor humans are never satisfied.

This is not all bad – it keeps us in the game, keeps us striving. But it also keeps us beating ourselves up. I will not be happy with myself if I gain back 5 pounds even though I’m still significantly lighter than I was and still would weigh less than my original goal! I am unhappy that I’m not going to make more money this year than last year even though the world is in a terrible recession. So what to do?

1.) Check in with what really brings you joy. I love fitting into my new hot jeans, I won’t lie. But I also adore food – ice cream in the summer, chocolate all the time, bread…my mouth is watering just thinking about it! So if I really want something, I’m going to eat it. I’m going to try not to beat myself up if I gain back a pound or two. Hell, if no one noticed I lost 20 pounds are they going to notice I gained three? I don’t think so. If you’ve lost touch with what brings you joy, think back about the times in your life when you were the happiest. What can you do to recreate that happiness?

2.) What REALLY means success to you? If I die skinny, does that mean I had a great life? How about if I die rich? I just want to be happy. I think if most of my life was spent filled with joy, than I had a great life. What does a great life mean to you? What brings you deep happiness? Spending time with people you love? Having adventures? Laughing?

3.) What is enough? I have a home I love (that’s paid for), a nice car, a healthy bank balance. Why do I even need more and more money? Sure I could buy a bigger house, a newer car – but what I have is enough for me. Remind yourself when you really already have enough.

4.) Is it about you? Or about society? Let’s face it, there’s a fashion and beauty industry pushing you to feel inadequate. If we all decide we are perfectly fine just as we are, they are gone. Same with providers of many other types of goods and services. I’m not judging – I love nice things. But each of us needs to know where our desires end and societal pressure begins. The hardest voice to hear in this world is your own.

5.) Are you holding yourself to a ridiculous standard? Think of someone (choose a regular person rather than a celebrity) who you think has a great life. What is it about their life you think is great? I seldom find myself thinking, “Oh I admire so-and-so – she’s so skinny!” I find myself thinking, “Missy has such a great life – she is surrounded by friends and family who love her.” I don’t think, “I wish I could trade places with Fred – he has such a huge home!” I think, “I’m so happy I don’t have to clean that place! Or hire an army to do it for me.” Why hold ourselves to a standard that really doesn’t matter?

Yes, how much you weigh is important if it is making you miserable. But when you find your mood set by what the scale says, you need to regroup. Skinny does not equal happy. The same goes for money. If you can’t take care of your needs (not your every desire and whim, your NEEDS), money is very important. But after a certain point, more money does not mean more happiness.

You can be too rich or too thin, but you can never be too happy. I wish much happiness for you. (And much chocolate!)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Choco (not I) Pods

Hi Gang! I hope you're all hanging in there with this recession. It took me forever to admit we were in it and now I'm totally over it. Tomorrow I'm going to give some motivation tips because I need a pep talk!

Okay, let's talk Choco Pods:

The first one here is Banana - and after the god-awful banana Tootsie Pop, I was a bit gun shy. This is 41% milk chocolate and banana brown sugar caramel. After my first tenuous bite, I loved it. The milk chocolate was smooth and creamy and I hardly tasted the banana at all. The caramel was awesome. Very decadent and sensuous. A++

Next is Firecracker - a solid. 60% dark chocolate, chipotle, salt and popping candy. I'm biased here - I freakin' HATE Pop Rocks. I don't want anything I eat to fight back and that's how this feels. I would like this much better without the popping, but that's the whole point. If you like interactive candy, you'll like this. I prefer my food go gently into the night.

Passion is the next one - 60% dark chocolate and passion fruit caramel. I've actually reviewed this one before and while not as opposed to it as I was, it's still not my favorite. I must just not like Passion fruit. It has a strong taste I'm just not into.

Modena is the last one - 60% dark chocolate, strawberry and balsamic caramel. Doesn't that just sound AWESOME?? And it is! Love it!

These are all complicated, gourmet offerings - I think they are great for anyone who wants to try some of the the crazy flavor pairings being made with chocolate. I also think there are a good way to develop your palate without going way off the reservation. (For me that was Vosges cheese truffle. I still have nightmares.)

I also think chocolate is a great and relatively cheap way to pamper yourself during these challenging times. You deserve it!! (And remember - there are no bonus points in heaven for those who suffer the most. After all, God made the cacao tree and it was good. Dig in!)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Of Pods and Pants

One of the best things about Candy Expo was the people. One of my favorites was Master Chef Michael Antonorsi of Chuao Chocolatier. He made me a cup of the most fantastic hot chocolate I have ever had and actually took the time to sit down and talk with me while I drank it! You may think this is no big deal, but these guys were there to talk with buyers, not random bloggers. But he was the best!!

Here's their website:

The company's mission is:
To arouse your senses with unusual, unexpected and delicious chocolate confections. Venezuelan born Master Chef and Chocolatier Michael Antonorsi lives and breathes the creative culinary process. I saw that - he is so excited and passionate about food and chocolate - it was awesome! (I have a secret crush on him.)

The samples they had at Candy Expo were their ChocoPods:

These are wafer thin chocolates shaped like cacao pods. Some are filled and some are solid. Each has only 60 calories!! They gave me one of each flavor - there are 8. I'll review 4 tonight (hey, I can only eat so much and keep my girlish figure!).

Picante - 60% dark chocolate and spicy Cabernet caramel. This had a liquid caramel filling and I didn't think I would like it - I usually don't like spicy chocolate. But this one was great - delicious. Subtle spiciness balanced by the sweetness of the chocolate and the Cabernet.

Chinita Nibs - 60% dark chocolate caramelized cacao nibs and nutmeg. This one is a solid. I loved the texture of the nibs - nice and crunchy and the nutmeg really comes through. Very unique taste. I usually think nibs are too bitter, but this balance was perfect. For some the nutmeg might be too strong, but I really enjoyed getting to taste it.

Spicy Maya - 60% dark chocolate, pasilla chile, cayenne pepper and cinnamon. Another solid. Love the cinnamon and the chocolate - the peppers give it heat, but are not overpowering. They kick in a bit after you eat the Pod. This might be my favorite of all the spicy chocolate combos. It's the cinnamon I like so much.

Candela - 60% dark chocolate and spicy macadamia nut. Okay - I am in love with this one!!! It's nutty, but not too nutty. The interior is a crunchy praline filling - YUM!!! I think what makes these so great is the balance of flavors. There is a hint of spice, but not too much. And the flavors kind of hit you in waves. Delish!!

These are fun to eat because they are like chocolate cookies, but with very complicated ingredients and flavors. I think they are perfect when you just want a really great taste of chocolate, but don't want to go crazy. I mean, we all have to keep fitting into our jeans, right?

Well, all of us except John Daly - he's got glue.