Monday, September 28, 2009

The Evil and Dangerous Marshmallow

Remember the cool new Goldfish cookies I reviewed? There were chocolate, cinnamon, and honey graham and they were surprisingly good. Well, check out this smart concoction:

Goldfish S'mores! This bag basically has both the chocolate and honey graham and they added some little marshmallow fish:

I wanted to not like them, to be unimpressed. I tossed a handful into my mouth, then another. Before I could stop myself, I ate the whole bag. They are even harder to stop eating because of the marshmallow. The new texture, the blend of flavors - evil, Pepperidge Farm, evil.

Another attempt at combining flavors involving the marshmallow:

This is an attempt to combine chocolate and vanilla - creating a Swirlmallow. (Oooh - I hope they locked down the copyright on that one!) Quite simply, these are horrific. Look at the picture - they look kind of grey. They don't taste as good as a plain ol' vanilla marshmallow, and they sure don't taste like chocolate. These seem like a good idea - and might be better in a recipe or roasted, but they are God-awful right out of the bag. GLAACK!!

But there was a handy Choking Warning on the package:

Eat one at a time. (What?)

For children under 6, cut marshmallows into bite-sized pieces. Children should always be seated and supervised while eating. (My mother never cut up a marshmallow - apparently she was trying to kill me.)

I never knew marshmallows were so dangerous.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Halloween - The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

I am sooo happy that Fall is here! What a great time of year! All this new candy, all this cool pumpkin and cinnamon and ginger flavored stuff - yahoo!! I can't wait till the leaves start turning and that crisp feeling is in the air.

But not all fall candy is a winner. Check these out:

Great fall colors, interesting shapes - there's an ear of corn, a bat, a cat, both a pumpkin and a jack-o-lantern, a little brown jug, a moon, and some wheat. These would be great on a Thanksgiving cake or to toss around the center of a table.

Now get this - yellow tastes a little like BANANA (not really what I'm looking for for fall), dark brown tastes a little like chocolate (but nowhere near as good as Tootsie Roll - not even close - kind of gross), the light brown was my favorite (tastes like maple). I don't know what flavor the orange ones are - not orange - and not bad. But mysterious. These are all VERY sweet - pretty much all sugar. The good news is that they have zero fat and 6 of them have only 130 calories.

They get even more interesting. I bought two bags (they looked better than they are) and half of them looked like this:

Okay - it's probably just sugar, but it looks gross. This kind of messes up the whole - use them for decorations idea. But hey - they are cheap - if you had to pitch some of them it wouldn't be the end of the world.

Good for decoration (gotta love all those crazy shapes - I mean, a little brown jug? Who woulda thought!), not so great to eat. About ten million times better - Brach's Maple Nut Goodies and/or Tootsie Rolls.

I reviewed these last year and I'm just mentioning them again in case you guys forgot:

I bought these Pumpkin Spice Kisses at Target and was surprised at just how damn good they are. They were even better than I remembered! Now you will see there is no chocolate here. But I figure if Hershey's can make Kisses with no chocolate, I can review Kisses with no chocolate. : ) These are all about the pumpkin and the spices and they are so creamy and so good - WOW! A+++ There is even a recipe for Pumpkin Spice Swirl Cheesecake Pie on the wrapper (Holy God).

This is a clever update from Reese's:

It's a bag of their miniatures, but with half milk chocolate and half the new dark chocolate. I love the orange and black foil wrappers - VERY festive! These look terrific in a bowl on your fall table.

What can I say? Reese's Miniatures never let me down. The perfect bite size peanut butter and chocolate combo. But I have to confess - I still like the milk chocolate best.

Now here's something you probably haven't heard of - spiced pumpkin seed brittle. I tried to buy this at Williams-Sonoma last year, but they were sold out. I wasn't about to miss out this year:

Okay - I know it's kind of ugly. But man, it tastes GREAT!!! It's made by Anette's Chocolates in Napa Valley.

It's about half the price I paid on their website, so you might want to go there first, although I didn't see this exact brittle. I really like peanut brittle, and you know how I feel about pumpkin, so I thought this might be good. Oh yeah - I can see why it sells out every year. YUM!! Try it before it's gone!

So, what do we have?

The ever popular - don't judge a candy by its appearance. Brach's looked great - awesome shapes and colors, but it was pretty bad. The spiced pumpkin seed brittle looks pretty ugly, but it is excellent. Unfortunately we too often think that the attractive person is better than the unattractive one, and we are so very often wrong. I'd like to give a shout out to O.J., Ted Bundy, and Britney Spears.

In our constant search for the new, the novel, the different, we sometimes forget the tried and true. It's pretty damn hard to beat a Reese's. You all know I love the new as mush as anyone, but I think we often overlook what we already have in search of the next new thing. Look how many marriages end in divorce, how much stuff we buy when we already have perfectly good stuff, etc. etc. etc. We take the old stuff (which often is the best stuff) for granted.

And finally - celebrate the season!! All this stuff won't be around forever. (And neither will we.)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Chocolate Catfight

Ha, ha - not really, but it's all about the headline, isn't it? My favorite recent newspaper headline was "Deranged Killer on the Loose." Now there's something you don't see every day! Apparently some mental patient who killed an old lady back in the 80's gave his keepers the slip when they took him to a local county fair. Okay - I'm thinking when you say "Deranged Killer" people are dying, like, NOW. He was caught a couple days later trying to turn himself in. Can you say - "Overreaction?" Poor guy missed the county fair for nothing.

Back to the catfight.

The Sorbet Sistahs - continuing our fight for truth, justice, and the death of sorbet, made a trip to 518 West, the restaurant where my Williams-Sonoma chef presents his Millionaire Pie - described as: chocolate glazed peanut butter mousse on a graham cracker crust served with whipped cream and chocolate sauce...

Here's a picture:

Now this looks freakin' amazing, yes? Well, Tracy and I thought, "Not so much." Here's the deal - there are two slabs of fudge-like chocolate surrounding the peanut butter mousse. These are NOT mentioned in the description, I might add. Now, I love chocolate as much, if not more, than the next person. Hell, I'm writing this insane blog about it, for Church of Chocolate's sake! But this was too much - the slabs were too thick and too rich. This is what I did to my pie:

I scraped off the chocolate to get to the graham cracker crust and the peanut butter. Let me say that again - I scraped off the chocolate. If it were lighter - more like frosting - or thinner, I would have been all over it! But this was too much. It overpowered the peanut butter. Tracy and I were disappointed. We MUCH preferred the peanut butter mousse we had at our last gathering of the Sistahs.

However, Beth - who had wanted to split desserts - which Tracy and I IMMEDIATELY rejected (we had been dreaming of our own plates of Millionaire Pie all day) loved this thing. She thought it was great and ate every bit of hers. In true Sorbet Sistah's spirit she mocked me for leaving so much chocolate on my plate. I do agree it was a waste, but hey, sometimes a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.

So - the lesson? Even the Sorbet Sistahs - united in their hatred of sorbet, don't always agree. One size does not fit all. That's why you have to find your own way through life - trying things until you find what works for you. You can ask for and receive advice, but your own experience is always the best teacher.

That's me, Tracy and Beth - after the catfight. In October we're planning to go to the State Fair and look for deranged killers.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


I stopped in Walgreen's today, just to check out the Halloween candy. They know me there, probably calling me the Crazy Candy Lady behind my back. I don't care - it's worth it. Look at what I found in the regular candy aisle:

Do you see this?? Who would have thought life could get any better??? Reese's has made a peanut butter lovers peanut butter cup!!!!

Look at that! Isn't it beautiful? There's still some chocolate on the base, but this baby is all about peanut butter. And it ROCKS!!!!! It really is for peanut butter lovers - definitely more peanut buttery than regular Reese's. I don't think it is actually better than the regular Reese's - you just can't beat that chocolate/ PB combo, but this is oh so good! The wrapper says it's a limited edition, so you might want to try and find one. (I'm still bitter I missed the peanut butter/banana creme Reese's cup in released in honor of Elvis back in 2007. What the hell was I thinking?)

Then I had to check out the Halloween candy, which you'll be hearing more about. But look at this:

As you all know, I love the Tootsie Roll. I know chocolate snobs are horrified, but I don't care. And this bag is GIGANTIC!!!! Here it is with my Blackberry for scale:

Whoohoo!! It was carrying a baby to the check out counter!! That's my kind of candy bag! Today was a gooood day! Here's what's inside:

Those mini midgees are just a waste of time in my book - too much trouble to unwrap for that tiny tease of Tootsie Roll (only about 10 calories, BTW). Those are what I'll give to the Trick or Treaters. Hey - they have smaller mouths!

Now many of you have asked how the hell I can eat all this candy and not be hugely fat. Well, one weapon in my arsenal has always been diet soda. Anyone who knows me, knows I'm pretty much addicted to the stuff. And, as far as I'm concerned, there hasn't been a really great diet soda innovation in years.

Until now!

I present to you Ultra Violet Diet Mountain Dew. It says it's a mixed berry flavor. All I know is that it is really, really good. I just refuse to drink my calories - I want to save them all for food!

What a great day!! Reese's with MORE peanut butter, bags of candy bigger than small children, and a diet soda that tastes great! I LOVE AMERICA!!!!!!! It's a great life. Focus on the good stuff and let the other stuff go.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

My Love Affair with Pumpkin

Well, my love life continues to suck. Been on another couple of dates - one guy WAY too young, but he was a hottie, so I couldn't help myself. And he was the persistent one - I blew him off at first, saying he was too young. The date actually went well. He asked for a second one, but bailed out at the 11th hour. I'm sure my decrepitness panicked him. The other date was fine - nothing to complain about - we just didn't "click" - it was like we were just out of sync with each other. Bummer.

But, here's one love of my life that never fails me.....PUMPKIN!!!!!!! I know I've waxed poetic about pumpkin before - I mean I love this stuff. I'll eat pumpkin with some Splenda tossed in, right out of the can! (We've also discussed my idiosyncrasies.)

Anyway, I was in Harry and David a couple of weeks ago - I have some of their chocolate, which is actually really, really good and I'll review at some point. But today I want to talk about these:

Pumpkin Spice Milk Chocolate Malted Milk Balls - their description:

"Two autumn flavors combine in this limited-edition treat, made here in our own Candy Kitchen. Outside, a coating of traditional pumpkin pie spices. Next a layer of milk chocolate. And at the center, our crisp malted milk. Yum!"

Well, I don't think that milk chocolate is a autumn flavor, so I don't know exactly what the writer was thinking. I also have no idea why Candy Kitchen is capitalized. Maybe to give it the reverence it deserves. The important thing is that these are freaking AWESOME!!!! and they are a limited edition - so you need to get some NOW!!

You you are going to think that I am insane when I say this, but I'm going to say it anyway. These are better than Godiva's pumpkin truffles. There is is - I said it. I reviewed the truffles last year and thought they had a funky weird aftertaste. These just rock - the pumpkin spice flavor is terrific. And I'm not a big malted milk ball fan. But I'm telling you, these are GOOD!! (And WAY less expensive - $7.95 for the whole bag vs. like $1.50+ per truffle.)

They aren't on the Harry and David website, so you have to go to one of their stores. But it just might be worth the trip! Check out these:

Could life be any better?? Pumpkin Spice Caramel Balls!!! I really do love the fall!

What can I say? These are great! Richer in flavor than the malted milk balls and just as delish, add these to your fall shopping basket. They are about the size of a peanut M & M - perfect for popping! I am crazy about the Harry and David stores and have found some really great treats there. But these are super, super good - especially if you adore pumpkin.

Oh a sad note, apparently due to the cooler weather we've had this year, some of the pumpkin crops were damaged and in some areas the harvest was terrible. I hope all the pumpkin farmers out there know I love them and I have never appreciated their efforts. I have taken them and their pumpkins for granted. So this year, if you go to buy a pumpkin - thank a farmer - we are damn lucky to have them!! And if you have to pay a little more - don't complain - pumpkin is worth it!! (And the Great Pumpkin may be watching.)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Flavors of Fall

I love the fall - pumpkin, caramel, apples, spices - yay, yay, yay!!! This first caramel I had at Candy Expo and I've been addicted to them ever since:

If you like caramels, you have got to try these. I couldn't stop going by the Werther's booth to get them. They actually had some guy dressed up like a chef handing them out. When I tried to interrogate him about them, he was clueless. Turns out he was just an actor! What a gig THAT was! (I bet he's addicted to them too.)

The center is really creamy and chewy and the hard outer shell melts in your mouth. Try these - I guarantee you'll become as addicted as I am. Try them before you judge - I swear you'll be surprised.

You might also check out Werther's cool website - they have some awesome looking recipes on there:

Things like chewy caramel cookies, chewy caramel bars, caramel pear crumble, and caramel spiced bread. (And I don't see a blow torch mentioned in any of the recipes.)

Now these might be okay to put in the recipes, but just to eat - not so hot:

These remind me of the Sugar Daddy - which, honestly, I could live without. (And apparently the rest of the world can too.) There are so many better caramel options out there, that I can't recommend these. Get the first ones instead - really, I promise.

These are all new:

These are pretty good - the chocolate is smooth and creamy and the caramel is, well, fluffy. It's a caramel mousse. It's very sweet. Maybe too sweet. You'll have to try these for yourself, but the shiny gold wrappers are very attractive and you may find yourself unable to stop eating them.

These are different in that the caramel is creamy, very creamy. A little less sweet than the caramel mousse. But see above with the gold foil and the addictive quality. I can't be responsible for what happens to you.

These were my least favorite - too sweet. I really prefer them with the milk chocolate to help offset the sweetness of the caramel.

Try something to celebrate this time of year - even if candy isn't your thing - Bath and Body Works has some awesome new fall fragrances this year. And the fair is coming!! I am SO going this year - even if I have to go by myself. There are too may cool foods there I feel compelled to try. Celebrate life - it is way too short!!

More fall to come!!!! Yahoo!!!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

What Would Don Draper Do?

I secretly (or maybe not so secretly if I am blogging about it) hate Facebook. I hate stupid quizzes, I don't want to keep in touch with everyone I went to high school with, and I don't give a damn that you just went to the gym. But I feel that if I'm not on Facebook I'm a nobody. Or too old to be hip. I'm afraid Facebook is the new phonebook and I want to be found.

Which brings me to Don Draper. This is one of the only Facebook quizzes I have ever participated in. The question was "What makes Mad Men’s Don Draper so cool?" I'm a huge Mad Men fan and Don Draper is fascinating, so I took the quiz. Here are the choices and the results (at least at the time I took it):

confidence 61% (my choice)
style 28%
womanizing 5% (please - these responses have been from men)
smoking 1% (these people clearly are insane)
drinking 1 % (ditto for these drunks)

This poll actually got me thinking about Don Draper and what really does make him cool. If you watch the show, you realize that Don Draper has style and confidence. He is also a womanizer and he does drink and smoke (as does every other character on the show). And he is undoubtedly perceived as one cool cat. But I would argue that what makes Don so cool is not one of these things. It is his complete unattachment to any outcome.

Don doesn't care if a woman wants him or not - and as a result, they all do. He doesn't care if a client likes his idea or not. He doesn't care if a client works with him or not. He can walk away from any deal. And, of course, everyone wants to work with him.

He's not a robot or perfect - there are times when we wonder what's going on in that handsome head of his, but you would never describe him as weak, emotional, or uncool. In the last episode he simply walked out of a meeting that was nonproductive (the use of office supplies was being discussed). He is unattached and is wildly independent and free. Being free is cool. But this is scary to many of the other characters.

It scares his wife to death who is trying to hang on to him by having another child. It scares his new bosses who don't know how to control him. It should teach us all some lessons:

1.) You can't control other people. And if you try to, you give all your freedom to them. (Don's wife still feels she doesn't have him and now she feels trapped by a third child.) Instead of just letting Don go to make a ton of money for the firm, the boss is trying to micromanage him. He's putting his sense of control before profits.

2.) If someone is causing you a great deal of pain, let them go. Don's wife should just let Don go - he's breaking her. Or she's going to have to make peace with who he is. This could be tricky because I'm not sure even Don knows who he is.

3.) He who is least attached to the outcome keeps his power. If a client leaves the agency, Don's response is complete coolness. He knows they'll get a better client. Coolness is a lot like a sense of peace. You know that although this relationship ends, you'll find another. And if you don't, that will be okay too.

4.) Know when to go with the flow. Sometimes Don just goes with the flow. He lets events play out, lets others speak. He remains still and quiet. He knows when a battle is worth fighting.

5.) Know when to walk away. Sometimes he just bails. The agency might be giving a presentation and the client is reacting badly. If Don knows the day is not winnable, he'll simply exit and let go. Don Draper would never beg - he knows when to walk away.

6.) Know when to fight. But when the cause is worthy, when the day can be won, Draper will win. He chooses his battles wisely, but even if he were to lose, he would calmly exit the arena. Don Draper will always live to fight another day.

My new mantra? WWDDD - What Would Don Draper Do?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate

I always scan the listing of cooking classes and events in the Raleigh paper and sometimes I get lucky. When I saw the headline Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate, I knew I had struck cacao. I called the Williams-Sonoma store to see what they were doing and they told me Chef Mark Tachman was going to be making chocolate creme brulee, dark chocolate ale cake with sugared peanuts, chocolate biscotti, and white chocolate mousse in puff pastry. I asked if attendees would get samples. When the answer was yes, I couldn't get my credit card out fast enough. Woowee!!

Now, let me clarify - I have no intention of making any of these desserts. I just wanted to see them made and eat them. And guess what? This is the Chef that made the peanut butter mousse!! I didn't even know that when I signed up! He is a dessert god.

Here are all the goodies:

Here are some things I learned:

1.) Once again, the thing I thought I wouldn't like, I loved.

I hate beer - I know, I'm a freak. So the idea of chocolate ale cake wasn't really rocking my world. But the beer taste wasn't strong at all - it just made the cake really, really moist. YUM!!!

2.) I don't understand biscotti.

Biscotti gets baked twice which is why it is so dry and hard. After one baking it's pretty good. Why, biscotti, why?

3.) If you have to buy a blowtorch to make it, I'm not doing it.

They used a little blowtorch to caramelize the sugar on the creme brulee. I mean, who needs a little blowtorch? That is WAY too complicated. It's not like you're using fire to make desserts every night.

4.) Chefs aren't as perfect as you think they are.

The puff pastry (which had the white chocolate mousse in it) was delish. And Chef Tachman said you could use Pepperidge Farm or any other refrigerated pastry. Saves you a lot of trouble and tastes great! You don't have to be perfect or do everything yourself - smart!! A lesson we can all learn from.

5.) A squeeze bottle of caramel (or raspberry sauce) can make anything look fancy.

When Chef Tachman showed us how he would plate these desserts at the restaurant, you could see how a little sauce swirl and a sprig of mint could add a lot of glamour. And he made some spoon-shaped sugar cookies that he would stick in the creme brulee. Cool!!

6.) Live is better than video.

Webinars are all the rage. Why leave the house when you have the Food Network? Because part of the fun was joking with the other attendees. We cheered the front row when they realized one of the burners was on and was cooking a cutting board. We got to pass around a piece of once baked biscotti. And we got to EAT! All the fun was getting to meet the Chef and the other attendees and the terrific staff at Williams-Sonoma.

So keep your eyes peeled for classes and opportunities in your area. Get out and really experience things - don't just roll the video. And if you figure out biscotti, let me know.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

You Say Bark, I Say Slab - Some Like it Ruff

After reading my post on bark (releasing the hounds of habit), my good buddy Don sent me the following:

Man Charged With Striking Girlfriend, Forcing Her To Bark

A Dunn man was arrested after he allegedly hit his girlfriend with a whip and made her bark like a dog on all fours. Brian William Cook, 35, was arrested at his home after his live-in girlfriend reported he began arguing with her and slapped her when she would not call him “sir.” He then allegedly grabbed her by the hair and hit her with a “bondage stick.” The woman told police he made her get on her knees and ordered her to bark like a dog. Cooke was charged with assault on a female. He was held at the Harnett County Jail without bond.

First of all, let me say that this was not what I had in mind.

Secondly, both Don and I think that if this was really a live-in girlfriend, she probably saw the "bondage stick" before and might just like it a little ruff.

(Thanks, Don - there just can't be too many bad puns in the world!)

Since we're still talking bark, I've learned that some chocolate makers call it bark, at Hotel Chocolat they call it slabs. I think slabs is more accurate. If it was all bumpy (nuts and fruit on top), I think bark would be better. These thick smooth things look more like slabs to me. But, hey, as long as it's made of chocolate, who even cares what they call it!
This is an assortment of 10 of Hotel Chocolat's mini slabs:

Hotel Chocolat is a UK company. Can you see the subtle British flag in the packaging? (look at all the bars as a whole.) How cool is that?

I just think the packaging is gorgeous. Each bar comes in a different colored envelope/box with a beautiful metallic wrapper.

Here's a little about them from their website:

All good stories need a bad guy, an antagonist who sparks the action. For us that bad guy was the mediocre quality of chocolate available in UK stores. So, 15 years ago, co-founders Angus Thirlwell and Peter Harris embarked on a journey to do something about it.

Starting as a mail order catalog business, we began making our brand of exclusive chocolates available to UK consumers for the first time. An award-winning website soon followed and in 2004 the first of many Hotel Chocolat retail stores appeared across the UK. The company and their chocolate have a loyal following all over the world, and have established a presence in the United States to better serve the American chocolate connoisseur.

The combination of authentic, premium ingredients with plenty of imagination and flair is something we’re passionately committed to. And it’s a position that we have strengthened by growing our own cocoa at our historic plantation, Rabot Estate in St Lucia. This exciting step allows us to extend our expertise all the way from the bean to the bar – making a unique connection between you the consumer and the cocoa plantation.

And guess what? Holy smokes!!!! This is some damn good chocolate!!!

And you can order it at

We're going to review just two of the slabs to start:

As usual, I thought I wouldn't like this one - Chilli & Orange Dark Chocolate with 74% cocoa - and was wrong (again).

Their description - chilli (yeah, that's how they spell it) has been teamed with cocoa since the pre-Aztec era in South America. The addition of zingy orange adds a new dimension which really works.

I agree - this bar rocks! The chili is VERY subtle and the orange balances it out. The chocolate is so good that even at 74% it's smooth and delicious. BAM!! Well done! It makes you see how chili can really work with chocolate.

This next bar is sin in a wrapper. (All the slabs come either one really thick slab or two thinner slabs to a pack.) This one is Smooth Praline Fusion:

Isn't it beautiful? Their description: Mellow milk chocolate praline meets creamy hazelnut praline in a gorgeous swirl that will melt away in the mouth like butter on hot toast.

Damn skippy! That's exactly what happens and it is AWESOME!! Once you start eating this you will never want to stop - so sweet, creamy and delicious - it should be illegal.

The only improvement in my mind would be to mix the two a little more. Maybe to have the whole bar swirled. The hazelnut is so sweet and creaming you need a little of the chocolate to balance it. But, hey - that's minor. This bar is simply amazing.

More slabs to come!! But let's keep the bondage sticks to a minimum.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Ice Cream - It's Not Just for Dessert Anymore

You know how I feel about candy makers making political statements. Remember my rant about organic chocolate? (See September 27, 2008) Well that was nothing! Check this out:

Ben & Jerry's celebrates the beginning of the freedom to marry for gay and lesbian couples in Vermont with the symbolic renaming of its well-known ice cream flavor "Chubby Hubby" to "Hubby Hubby."

Oh please.

Look - I really don't mind who marries who. As long as both parties are adults and both are free to choose - rock on. But I don't want my ice cream to get into the political fray! Can't there be one safe haven?

I mean, let's try these flavors on for size:

Pro-Choice Pomegranate

Anti-Abortion Almond

Bail-Out Banana

Healthcare Reform Raspberry

I think ice cream should be about ice cream not politics. Can't we just buy a product because we like it, not because we want to embrace a political view? Can't our refrigerators and candy dishes be political free zones where we can all come together - united by our taste buds?

And, at the end of the day, do the decision makers at Ben and Jerry's really think someone is going to change their belief system because of the name of an ice cream flavor? Do I really have to think about two men married to each other when I eat ice cream? (I don't really want to have Hubby Wifey ice cream either.)

I feel like the last safe bastion of summer and goodness and fun and carefree lazy days has been invaded by politics. Here's to taking ice cream back!

Hey - if Ben and Jerry's really wants to do something politically correct - maybe they should stop making ice cream at all. After all, there is an obesity epidemic. Maybe they should just call it "Tubby Chubby" and sell shaved ice.

Ice cream and politics just don't mix.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Who Let the Dogs Out?

Chocolate Bark is basically a flat slab of chocolate into which nuts and dried fruit and other things are placed. I've reviewed Bissenger's awesome pumpkin bark which is a giant slab of chocolate with delicious pumpkin swirled in. I also reviewed berkshire bark's Pretzelogical Bark which I didn't care for. But berkshire makes other barks:

and the big thing is the ingredients are all natural - no preservatives.

Here's Mocha Buzz:

Mocha Buzz has Belgian milk chocolate, roasted almonds, cocoa nibs, crushed coffee beans and caramel. If you like coffee - you'll love this. I don't like coffee and I loved this! The chocolate really is excellent and it's packed with almonds. The caramel must have been really light because I didn't notice it. The bitterness of the nibs and the coffee beans balance it all out. Outstanding!!

Here's another coffee influenced bark - Jumpin' Java:

This one has Belgian dark chocolate, roasted almonds, Espresso toffee, crushed coffee beans and caramelized cocoa nibs. Again coffee lovers would adore this - but so did I! I was shocked!! It must be the toffee and the almonds that offset the bitterness of the coffee beans. This was a damn fine bark!

You don't see much done with white chocolate (really not chocolate at all, but you know I'm no snob!). This one is called White Lightning:

It is made of Callebaut white chocolate, roasted cashews, fresh lemon zest, ginger and sea salt. This is a good bark, but it doesn't have the depth the others do. Cashews are a sweet nut and with the white chocolate - well, it was too bland and sweet for me, especially compared to the others. Not bad in any way, just not as good.

Here's Tropical Heat:

This one is Callebaut semi-sweet chocolate, macadamia nuts, mango, papaya, pineapple, coconut, Ancho chili powder and cayenne pepper. I thought I would really like this bark. I found the chili powder and the cayenne pepper too strong - overpowering the fruits. Maybe a milk chocolate would have helped restored the sweet balance. I am so bummed - I bet I would have worshiped this bark if it didn't have the chili powder and the pepper. Wah!!!! This was my least favorite.

And finally, there is Midnight Harvest:

This one has Belgian dark chocolate, roasted almonds, roasted hazelnuts, dried cranberries, fresh orange zest. Outstanding!! A great fall bark - packed with nuts and fruit.

These are so much better than your average candy bar - you can really taste the quality of the ingredients. And the flavor mixes are creative and interesting without being weird (well, except for Tropical Heat - I just don't like my chocolate to be so peppery). If you're a chocolate lover, you owe it to yourself to try and track these barks down.

Once again - the things I thought I wouldn't like (the coffee barks), I did and the things I thought I would like (the white chocolate and the fruity tropical heat), I didn't. Keep trying new things - you don't really know what you will (or won't) like until you try it!! And this goes for people, music, places, activities etc. etc. etc. - not just chocolate. I keep saying it because it's so true for me - the hardest thing to keep open in this life is your mind.

Release the hounds of habit!! Try a new bark. (Bwah, ha, ha!)