Friday, October 30, 2009

The Grand 2009 Halloween Finale!!!

The Sorbet Sistahs hit the mall today and poor Tracy let me drag her through Lindt and World Market so I could score some last minute Halloween deals. We were thrilled to be offered a sample of the pumpkin cheesecake at Cheesecake Factory - OMG! That is the best pumpkin treat I've had this year - hands down. If you get a chance - get some, get some, get some!!!!!

I found these cute little ghosts at Lindt:

They are cute - just good, solid, delicious milk chocolate. But I have a feeling these will soon be Christmas bells. Remind you of anyone? Russ Stover?

All the Halloween candy at World Market was half price and I've had my eyes on these:

This bag is huge - look at everything that was inside:

It takes a village. Let's look a little closer:

There was only one of this guy - the village idiot?

There were several of each of these - a witch, a Frankenstein, and a ghost with a pumpkin head. The village council? Congress?

And a darn army of these three - a witch pumpkin with three teeth, a leafy pumpkin with two teeth, and a country pumpkin with only one tooth. At least they are all smiling.

Now, here's the secret - look at them naked:

Do you see what this really is? It is chocolate bowling! How fun are these??? Also - I saw this company's Christmas bag and I suspect - like the ghosts are going to be bells - these are future Santas and Christmas balls.

They are hollow, by the way:

The company that makes them is Riegelein, a German company, The chocolate is good, but very, very sweet (rich, not waxy like Palmer but only 30% cocoa) and who really wants hollow chocolate bowling pins? These are festive - would be great for a party - but I get bored with this much plain milk chocolate. But bowling, now THAT might be fun!

Speaking of having my eyes on something, Riegelien also makes these:

I think the skulls are way cooler than the eyeballs, but maybe that's because I already saw eyeballs with Palmer. These are creepily bloodshot, however. Ewwww. Leave it to the Germans to crank things up a notch.

The wrapper says these are cream filled chocolate. Let's slice one open:

They look a little like the Lindt Lindor truffles, right? But they aren't!!!! The Lindor truffles were filled with creamy white chocolate. This is milk cream and it tastes a little like spoiled milk. Yuck - I didn't like it. I've had some Belgian chocolates filled with this type of cream and it just doesn't work for me. Regional preferences, remember?

Now let's talk about Godiva.

They have some festive Halloween chocolate pops:

The adorable ghost and the bat went to my good buddy and loyal blog reader, Diane. I kept the leaf because I wanted to compare it to a leaf I found at World Market:

They really both are gorgeous. The one I got at World Market is on the left (by Splendid Chocolates, both larger and cheaper than the Godiva leaf). Splendid Chocolates is a Canadian Company and their leaf has maple flavor. They should OWN the maple leaf, right? And you know what? They do! I really prefer the Splendid leaf. The subtle maple flavor is a great touch. The more Godiva I try, the more overrated (and overpriced) I think it is.

Godiva had 4 special Halloween treats - two of which were sold out when I tried to get them. There was a blood orange bat and a caramel apple tombstone - and dammit, I missed them! I did manage to score two Death by Chocolate Skulls:

This is a rich dark chocolate ganache in a bitter sweet dark chocolate shell. The top has a black and white coating to make it look like a scary skull - which it does. This one, I have to admit, was pretty damn good. The dark chocolate ganache was very, very good. A+ - very artistic and very good.

I also got a Candy Corn Ghost:

This is a white chocolate candy corn ganache in a white chocolate shell. This one did nothing for me. Too sweet and too weird looking. It looks more like an amoeba or a flu germ than a ghost. Why does it have weird flipper arms? Why is it orange? F It gets an F because it is ridiculously expensive ($2.25 each) and it's just no good.

Wow - we covered a lot of ground this year! From the cheap (Palmer) to the expensive (Godiva) from the local (kind of) (Hershey) to the distant (Riegelien) - we have had some fun! We tried new things, celebrated creativity, and had a blast! Tomorrow night make sure you have some fun - and if you can, give some candy to some Trick or Treaters. Halloween gave me some of my greatest childhood memories - let's pass them on.

Happy Halloween!!!!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Harry, David, and Russ - The Boys of Chocolate

The Great Pumpkin is almost here! But first let's hear from the Boys of Chocolate. Let's start with two I'm becoming increasingly fond of - Harry & David. Remember the kickin' pumpkin malt balls and the pumpkin caramel balls? H & D are producing some stellar treats. And these are no exception:

These are Halloween Scream Balls - caramel, milk chocolate and peanut butter covered in a candy shell. Can you say, "Addictive"? These are really, really good - the combo of the textures - chewy and crunchy and peanut buttery - BAM! I think they could use a little more peanut butter, but then I think everything can use a little more peanut butter.

I had a bag of these on my desk and I couldn't stop eating them - maybe that's why they call them scream balls - you realize you have eaten them all and you start to scream. These alone are worth a trip to a Harry & David store near you. (I'm betting they'll be on sale soon - I don't think most shoppers realize what they are - so you might score a deal. I thought they were just those foil wrapped chocolate balls until I looked a little closer.) I'm falling in love with Harry & David - both of them - what a dilemma.

Russ Stover, however, does not have a piece of my heart. But he's about to get a piece of my mind! Love York for making their Peppermint Pattie Pumpkins both orange and a pumpkin shape. Love Palmer for their complete creativity and artistic genius. Hate Russ Stover's laziness. See the proof below.

Behold the Christmas Coconut Wreath:

No red, no green, no bow, no hole in the middle. More like the Christmas blob.

But wait, behold the Coconut Nest (for Easter):

That would be the Christmas blob with some jelly bean eggs.

And now, the Buzzard Nest:

The Christmas blob reworked for Halloween with some different color jelly beans. They could have at least used candy corn. Come on!!

This is the only Russell Stover candy I actually like, but I sure would like to see a little more creativity. It's not like it's THAT great - I like Almond Joy better - more coconutty. So at least they could get a little more creative. It wouldn't take much - have red and green sprinkles on the wreath. Go crazy - make it an actual wreath. Call the Easter thing a basket and put some green candy in there that looks like grass. Have fun! Come on, Russ - show us something!!!

How about you - is there some way you can use that powerful creativity of yours? I think we get in a rut and do the same things over and over - and there is so much more in us! In the candy shop of life - who to you want to be? Boring Russ? Dynamic and delicious Harry & David? Wild and crazy Palmer? You get to pick - every day. Just make sure you do. You don't want to be on your deathbed as a Christmas blob when you know you were really a Halloween Scream Ball.

OMG - only one more post before Halloween!!!!!! And stay tuned - it's going to feature Godiva!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Back to the Chocolate Pumpkin Patch 2009

Last year we had a face-off between Hershey's Marshmallow Pumpkin and Russell Stover's Marshmallow Pumpkin. Hershey crushed Russell Stover in my opinion. But there's a new kid in town this year. I found this contender hanging out in Cracker Barrel:

Made by the never heard of Chocolate House, aka the Georgia Nut Company The wrapper seems mysteriously similar to the Hershey wrapper:

The Hershey one is better, but both feature purple foil and giant orange pumpkins. Maybe just a coincidence, but in Chocolate CSI we know there are no coincidences.

Here they are naked:

Hershey is on the left, looking more like a pumpkin. Georgia Nut's version is a little flatter, but actually weighs a tiny bit less.


Hershey has marshmallow, whereas Georgia Nut (GN) has marshmallow creme. It's like that Fluff stuff you can put on sandwiches - very sticky, kind of yucky. So sticky it gets all over your fingers, and lips, and elbows and maybe even on your eyelashes.

So they have two very different tastes. I prefer Hershey - it has a more chocolately flavor. In the GN version, the fluff overpowers the chocolate. But for only 120 calories (130 for GN), they are both pretty good Halloween treats. Not much calcium though - don't get your hopes up.

New to the patch this year is Palmer - remember the peanut butter pumpkin I reviewed a few posts ago? I admired its artistry. It had the ugliest wrapper I have ever seen, but the candy itself was very festive. Well, check these out:

The ugly wrapper tradition continues! But look inside:

So cute! Look at the green stem! That's no blob - look at those leaves - admire the detail!! We're talking Chocolate Michelangelo here! As far as taste? Well, this IS Palmer, but again, the chocolate cream filling saves it. These are actually pretty good. We're not talking artisan chocolate, but for 39 cents - it's a winner!

Bad wrapper:

But, look at this!

Look at that orange - yahoo! But as soon as you notice the orange, you are hit with an overpowering, sickly sweet orange creamsicle smell. And WOW these are sweet! Too sweet - unless you really like orange creamsicle - in which case you have just died and gone to heaven. For the rest of us - no. This is not a maybe, this is a no. But it's festive!!

Now after a feast like this, we need an after dinner mint:

These are solid - York Peppermint Pattie Pumpkins are just as you would expect. The dark chocolate is not the richest, best dark chocolate and the mint isn't creamy, but they're good. And so cute and little - about the size of a fifty cent piece. I like cute, little candy - you can tell yourself they have hardly any calories. A slice of fried pecan pie? Not so much.

I'm proud of the York people - they didn't have to bother to but a stem on the PPPs - and they didn't have to put that unholy orange color in there. They could just have put regular ol' peppermint patties in orange wrappers. But no - they made special ones for the holiday. Yay York!!

You never know who out there appreciates what you do. You may have been kind to someone just in passing, but it made their day. You might have helped a customer and not thought twice about it, but it meant the world to them. Heck, right now someone could be blogging about you - making you the unsung hero of the candy world. I bet the York workers have no idea how cool I think their efforts are and how it makes my Halloween! Realize that what you do doesn't go unappreciated. You impact many more people than you know. Never doubt that you make a difference - what you do matters to more people than you will ever know.

And Russell Stover, I'm watching you.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Chocolate, Quakers, and Poe

I am soooo excited that candy season is upon us! I think I'm more excited about Halloween this year than when I was a kid! Okay, maybe not. But the few kids that come to my house are going to be loaded up with candy. I have got to get rid of my surplus or you all are going to see me on the next A & E Hoarders episode. I'll be known forevermore as the Crazy Candy Lady.

Forevermore - how Poe of me! If I only had a raven.....

I'm going to go on one of my famous rants here, so get ready!! I am completely opposed to so called "healthy" Halloween treats. I'm still bitter about that box of raisins I got back in 1975. Who the hell wants raisins for Halloween? I had my Mom giving me crummy raisins in my lunch box all year, I want SUGAR at Halloween!

Which brings us to this:

Quaker Mini Granola Bars. Now let's give this product some thought. How does our friendly Quaker man feel about having his happy, smiling visage plastered on a product celebrating a pagan holiday? There he is smiling like a cherub surrounded by angry looking spirits of the undead. At least Palmer gives us a mad Doctor, not a Quaker! What is the world coming to?

Hell, I'd be angry too if I got one of these in my Trick or Treat bag:

The "sprinkles" are all crushed and look crappy and to call these chocolate chip is right. Chip - as in one. One chip. I kid you not. The chocolate chips are mighty hard to come by. And the Quaker is on every bar. Apparently no one at Quaker Oats thinks twice about the poor Quaker man anymore. He has become completely meaningless. Where's Aunt Jemima when you need her?

Now let's talk about the bold statements on the package - "a good source of calcium." If you eat three of these for 180 calories you get 10% of your recommended calcium. For fewer calories I can get twice as much calcium from my yogurt. I wouldn't really look to these for my daily dose of calcium. (Somebody call the FDA - tell them you're a Quaker.) These do have less fat and sugar than a comparable candy bar, but more calories. (And they taste like crap in comparison.) Let's see - mini Twix or mini granola bar. Any kid that willingly picks the granola bar has obviously been brainwashed by his parents and should be removed from that home immediately. (Call DSS - but don't say anything about being a Quaker, they might think you're a Mormon and try to take YOUR kids away.) just how "healthy"? And will it really make any difference to have 10 less grams of sugar on a night when you might eat 10,000 grams of sugar? I say give me sugar or give me death! It will probably be both, but at least I'll die happy. My ghost will be smiling.

Maybe those of you morally opposed to such candy decadence as the mini-Reese's or mini-Snickers (my all time favorite as a kid - what a score!), could go for these:

Cute little mini Twix! Three different flavors and only 50 calories each.

Starting from the left, we have dark chocolate. These are the perfect bite size and dark chocolate fans should love this. (Parent you can pick all of these out for yourselves.) I've always liked the texture mix in a Twix - chocolate, caramel and the crunchy cookie - delish! Next is triple chocolate which is REALLY good! Milk chocolate, and a chocolate caramel with a chocolate cookie. The last is regular old Twix with milk chocolate, caramel and the cookie. The autopsy photos always reveal the truth. I so want a T-shirt that reads Chocolate CSI. : )

Those damn chocolate chip granola bars are a crime scene, that's for sure. The whole bag has 15 of them - that's 15 chocolate chips who gave their lives. Eat all 15 bars and you could have half your calcium for the day. I'm putting crime scene tape around Quaker headquarters right now, surely this is illegal.

My favorite of the Twix bars was the middle one - the Triple Chocolate. If you're a Twix fan, you might want to check these out. The package (beautifully decorated for fall, I might add) says they are a limited edition. And we know what that means - get them now or you might find them nevermore.

Bwah, ha, ha!!!!! Happy Halloween!!!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Update on Trader Joe's Almond in the Coconut

Quick update! After I reviewed this to die for treat, several people wrote in and said it was discontinued at their Trader Joe's. So I wrote TJ's and asked them about it. I got a generic response, but, hey - it's better than nothing. I guess.

Hi Denise,
Thank you for your interest in our products. We are sorry to hear that we have discontinued a favorite product of yours.

At Trader Joe's our mission is to bring you the best quality products at the best prices. In order to manage our store space well products must meet a certain sales criteria in order to earn their way onto our shelves. If a product does not sell well we take this as a vote from our customers that they would like to see something different.

Although the Almond in the Coconut has been discontinued, at times because of high demand we have seen discontinued items make their way back on our shelves. We will forward your comments and request to bring this product back to our Buying Department and that will be taken into future consideration.

Trader Joe's
Customer Relations

So I guess we can keep e-mailing and asking and maybe they'll bring it back. It makes me sad to think it's gone.

But hey, there are always caramel filled eyeballs!!

From the Sublime to the Hilarious

I may be the only human who gets pulled over, not for texting, but for looking at leaves. (I think that makes me an Eco-Geek.) They finally started to turn here and they are gorgeous. I am already wishing they could stay this way forever. I so love the fall. I spent a few years out west and I missed the fall more than anything. No trees = no leaves. Bummer. Fall is the most glorious season.

I also have to give a shout out to everyone who has offered help or ideas or info about the hip replacement!! Kris in New England posted a whole blog about her hip replacement experience and sent me a link: I have no excuses for not knowing what to expect. The Internet ROCKS!! Remind me what we did before? Wasn't there something called the card catalog?
Okay we have got to get down to business! Halloween is fast approaching and I have way too much candy still to tell you about! Holy Holidays, Batman! Where does the time go?

Let's start off with something delicious, mouthwatering and simply sinful:

Lindt's Lindor Truffles are simply the creamiest, sweetest, most decadent things EVER. They melt in your mouth, they are soooo rich and creamy. No one in their right mind is wasting these babies on Trick or Treaters. This is an adult candy. What I love beside the great taste are those adorable ghosts. So cute!! Yes, I dream in chocolate and I would probably marry for Lindt.

Now you can see in the autopsy photo that these are filled with white chocolate. Dark chocolate lovers will find this way too sweet, but I loved it. (Hey you're dealing with a woman who loves fried Reese's and thinks eating frosting out of the can is a good idea.) Suggestion - buy the heck out of these when the Halloween candy goes on sale if any are left. Keep them all for yourself. And before you say anything about calories, they are so rich one will hold you for a while. Although they might call to you at night. Lindor Truffles really are the thing dreams are made of.

And now for something completely different......

Oh Palmer - such bad chocolate, but such creative candy!! Palmer mockolate is mostly sugar and the dreaded partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, so it has a waxy taste unique to cheap chocolate. But damn, look at those fangs - some have blood on them - how cool is that??? I'm sorry - I have to give Palmer huge points for creativity. Okay - so all the white vampire fangs don't come out perfect - most do and they tried!! Russell Stover has crummy chocolate and we've seem their "artistry." BAH!

Palmer didn't have to make some of the wrappers with bloody fangs, but they did! And I celebrate them for it! That is very, very cool. As far as taste, these have the waxy chocolate outside with a fudge filling and I have to say, for el cheapo chocolate, they weren't half bad. The fudge filling really helps.

I found all of these at Party City for .99 a bag. A whole lotta fun for a few bucks! These were the least creative and my least favorite:

Although Plumpkins is at least a funny name. They did use different foil wrappers, but the waxy chocolate was too much to overcome. And you know I'm no fan of the whole crisp rice thing. Rice Krispy Treats - yes! Waxy chocolate with some crispy air pockets - no.

Next up - the audacity of Boo's:

Now - let's take a moment to appreciate the sheer audacity of this - someone had to say - "Let's make a chocolate Boo!" I know I for one would have crushed that idiotic idea - I can hear myself right now - "You have got to be kidding me! All the material you have to work with on Halloween and you want to make a chocolate Boo! Send in the Ooompa Loompas - you're fired!"

But it works - these are kind of crazy and cool. And look at that - I found eight different foil wrappers! Eight! And these aren't huge bags! I like that scary ghost skeleton thing - that's no Lindt ghost - you don't want no dreams made out of that!

Taste? Waxy chocolate with a fudgey inside. Sugar and fat - kids will love it. If you buy it, you'll find yourself eating them. (That is the really scary part!!)

It gets better - look at these:

You gotta love that! What a great twist! Very creative! Very artistic! Very peanut buttery! And I'm about to scare myself - very good!!! I know, I know - how can it be? But these are good! They're sweeter than a Reese's and God knows what's in them, but I say - hit me again! They taste good, they are creative and festive - Go Palmer! Screw my arteries!

And the grand finale, Creepy Peepers:

Waxy chocolate eyeballs filled with caramel. I can't believe it, but these too are good. Now we ain't talking sea salt sophisticated caramel, we're talking sugar and weird chemical fats caramel. And it's damn good. It's so good, I ate the whole bag and WENT BACK TO FIND MORE. Let me repeat that - I went back to find more PALMER chocolate. I have clearly crossed over to the dark side.

Guess what? The eyeballs were the only one completely sold out! So I have been vindicated! My recommendations are valid! The marketplace agrees with me! And so does this guy:

Lindt - thank you for your quality and your elegance. Palmer thank you for way more than $5.00 worth of fun. There's a place in this world for all of us - make the most of your strengths and the right people will love you. You'll have customers, friends, and associates who value you for the unique things you bring. Celebrate you - don't even try to be anybody else. Rock the world like only you can. Happy Halloween!!!