Saturday, November 28, 2009

Chocolate is the Best Medicine

Hey Gang! I am back after the surgery and you are not going to believe it! I am already walking up and down my stairs and around my house - WITHOUT CRUTCHES! Oh yeah, baby - my surgeon is a rock star! And all my years of working out have really paid off. The physical therapist came by today to assess my progress and was pretty damn impressed. He doesn't think I'm going to need much in-home work at all.

My mailman had hip replacement surgery recently and when I walked out yesterday to greet him, he said - "I thought you were having hip surgery!" I said "I did, baby!" He said "You're already walking better than I do and I had mine 10 weeks ago!"

I think it was the giant Reese's.

Thanks to all of you for your good wishes and support!! I'll be back to blogging soon!!!

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Okay - I am getting ready for surgery, running like a mad woman, but you, dear readers, are still on my mind. I had to go to about a hundred drugstores to find some scar healing stuff I'm supposed to have, and I wound up in a CVS. The Saints of the Church of Chocolate must have sent me there! Because look what I found:

The World's Largest Reese's Cup!!! That's a regular sized Reese's Cup underneath it. Check out how giant these are:

I'm holding a regular sized one. The regular Reese's (set of two) weighs 1.5 oz, the world's largest weighs 16oz.!! A pound!!! How fantastic is this?

Look at this:

And it tastes just as good as it looks. This is a clear winner!!! A beautiful dream! It's the perfect mix of that salty, sweet Reese's peanut butter and Hershey's milk chocolate. I don't care what the chocolate snobs say, this is nirvana. I have no complaints, no suggestions - I am speechless in the presence of such wonder.

Get thee to CVS for this miracle.

(I'm not sure how I'm going to explain bleeding peanut butter tomorrow.......)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Sorbet Sistahs Go to Florida!

This will be the last post before the big surgery!!! I go in at 5:45 am Monday and Lord knows when I'll be back. But don't go away! I have scored TONS of great holiday chocolate to share with you!! And you know I'll have some great stories from the hospital!

I brought back some treats for my Sistahs from the great state of Florida and we checked them out today. First was a milk chocolate Key Lime:

Ripped off from the chocolate orange, we decided this was way too limey. It took a minute to taste the lime, we gave a slice to our waitress and she said, "I don't taste..." and immediately stopped. Once the lime kicks in, it kicks in.

Let me show you Terry's orange:

This one was too orangey for me. These chocolate fruits just don't do it for me. But the orange is a Christmas tradition. Both have to be broken open:

I was totally cracking up when Tracy had to slam this thing on the table - twice! I was flashing back to my beating the orange with a stapler last year.

Here's what they look like naked:

First the lime from the top and then from the bottom:

I think the orange looks better - there's no extra blob of chocolate holding things together:

It looks like a million times better, right?

The lime is the top image - the orange is a cleaner break. It's just made better. And the chocolate was better too as I recall. Overall, none of us were impressed with the chocolate key lime. Sorbet Sistahs say pass. Better than sorbet, but far from great.

These, however, were a different matter entirely:

These are delicious, moist coconut patties with a base and sides of chocolate. I bought pina colada and almond, but they come in lots of flavors:

Here are the patties:

Pina Colada was not so great. I thought the pineapple was too strong. We all thought it was okay until we had the almond (on the left). Almond was fabulous!!!!! The coconut was really moist, the almond and chocolate enhanced it, the balance of the three was perfect. Bravo!

I knew I had a winner when the Sistahs wanted an almond patty for the road. YAY!

Good thing Nicholas Cage has made the seas safer - I would hate for pirates to stop all the shipments of cacao and coconut. Keep the chocolate faith, and I'll be back with you soon!!!!

And Happy Thanksgiving!! I really am thankful for all of you who take the time to read this!!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Keeping Us Safe on the Seven Seas

In case you've been worrying about those nasty Somali pirates, Nicolas Cage is going to save us. He recently visited a Kenyan Prison to meet with some of the pirates to hear their stories. Apparently some of the inmates danced for him. (That is lovely.)

He feels that by listening to them he will understand what is fueling the piracy.

Apparently Nicolas Cage is not very smart. The pirates have guns and little, fast boats, but no money. Big, slow boats loaded with money and cargo come by. The pirates use their guns and fast boats to get the money. It's thrilling, can be lucrative, and you even get idiots from Hollywood visiting you in prison.

Here's Cage's brilliant quote,"Then I'm in a position where I can actually make some sense and talk about it when I go back to the States where I go talk to different U.N. Councils and discuss the matter." Huh? Good thing he's a U.N. goodwill ambassador on drugs and crime and not literacy.

Send in the Naked Cowboy!! Haven't heard much about his lawsuit against Mars. Hopefully their lawyers squashed him. He should have been thrilled to have an M & M in his image. Ingrate.

I don't have any chocolate updates - I've been too busy! But I'll have some soon! I'm taking the Florida goodies to the Sorbet Sistahs on Saturday, so you'll get pics and a group review! Stay tuned! (And sleep well, Nicolas Cage is looking out for us.)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Of Oranges and Turkeys

Hey Gang! I'm down in the metropolis of Wauchula, Florida doing some training - we had a blast today - customer service training. I was thrilled to look across the road from my hotel and see orange trees with oranges in them! Very cool. So common here, but not in North Carolina. We take all the fabulous things around us everyday for granted, but we love the new and different. Not a lot of fall leaves down here in the sunbelt.

It can be the same with chocolate. I was in a Hallmark store a few weeks ago and they were putting all the Halloween candy on sale. One of the women said they can mark the Halloween candy down, but the minute the Christmas candy comes in, that's the only thing people will buy. It can be exactly the same candy, but it's in the Christmas wrapper and that's what they want. Well, for the most part - yeah! After Halloween, I'm ready for the next holiday. Bring on the red and green! Out with the orange! Woohoo!

I did manage to go into the biggest retail establishment in Wauchula today. That would be Walmart - and a SuperWalmart at that. My only regret is that I couldn't buy anything because it would either melt (it's pretty warm down here) or get crushed in my suitcase. They had some kickin' holiday Little Debbies and a whole Wall of Candy for Christmas. It was beautiful. I stood before it for a long time admiring it. Good thing I was in a business suit or they probably would have called the cops.

I am on the road all week so this weekend will be my last shopping opportunity before the surgery which means I've got a lot of shopping to do! Not for any presents for anyone else, mind you, for candy and Little Debbies to blog about! Ah - the simple pleasures. : ) Presents for me.

I was thinking today how this surgery is giving me empathy. I see slow moving people in the airport and I think, "Don't be so judgemental, Denise. They might have arthritis too." Then the other part of me thinks, "Yeah, well I'm going be on the table next week and I'm managing to hustle!" So apparently I still need more work. I do feel a new kinship with the Thanksgiving turkey, however.

Gobble, gobble!!!!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Good Ol' Peanut Butter

Since I'm starting to get a little nervous about my surgery, I had to turn to peanut butter for comfort. We'll get back to HD soon.

First I must say that if you are going to put peanut butter in a chocolate bar, you should go big. Let's check out some combos:

This one from Ethel M had okay chocolate, but not enough peanut butter. I need more peanut butter!!

The story is the same from Old Kentucky Chocolates, only the chocolate isn't as good:

Ghirardelli has an entry:

The best chocolate of the three and even has peanut chunks - a nice touch. But still - not enough peanut butter!! Of course, you don't have a lot of room to work with in a Ghirardelli Square.

Lindt does a much better job:

Oh my - that awesome, smooth, creamy Lindt chocolate and look at all that peanut butter! These are very, very good.

Now here's something different from Moonstruck Chocolatier:

Love, love, love the logo!! And this bar actually has peanut butter brittle throughout the chocolate - and the chocolate is wonderful. Blows the other bars away. Very, very good!!

But, I still love Reese's best. I know - I keep thinking that there will be some expensive, mind lowing entry that changes my life forever, but time after time, I go back to Reese's. I guess if J Lo can still be Jenny from the Hood, I would be Denise from the Drug Store. I've savored the interesting combinations from some of the world's best chocolatiers, but at the end of the day, if I want comfort, it's Reese's Peanut Butter cups for me. Apparently you can take the girl out of the candy aisle, but you can't take the candy aisle out of the girl.

Of course, the search must still go on! Who knows what wonders may still be out there? And, after all, the joy is in the journey, the adventure, the tasting of all the variations (of peanut butter and chocolate and everything else) life has to offer. Keep searching and adventuring! And make this week a good one!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Joy to the World

Let's go back to Harry and David (I'm just going to call them HD from here on out). It will be like Harley Davidson, we'll be cool. As you saw, I thought their truffles were good, but they really didn't rock my world. But their pumpkin spice malt balls - woowee!! Let's check out some of their other chocolates.

Okay, I can only eat so many in one sitting so we're just going to do a few of these. Let's start with their HD trademark pear. This one is a creme brulee chocolate pear described as "custard-like vanilla creme, inside our signature chocolate pear.


Okay this one was moving around on the autopsy table, so things got a little messy. This was a good confection, but it had a thick base. It would have been better with a thinner base and more filling. The milk chocolate overpowered the filling, but it is still a great tasting piece. And I like the fact that it mirrors their trademark pears. It would have been really cool if it had a pear flavored filling! YUM!

Above and to the right of the pear is classic caramel - described as "rich, buttery, kettle-cooked caramel, covered in fine milk chocolate":

I love HD caramel - it's the perfect degree of chewiness and softness and has a great flavor. The milk chocolate, however, is only okay. But it looks great (see the first pic? mouthwatering, right?) and the caramel is really delicious.

Right above the pear is cinnamon creme described as "sweet, spicy fondant inside a bittersweet chocolate shell."

See those layers of dark chocolate within the filling? Pretty fancy, huh? The cinnamon was subtle but good and its flavor developed as I ate the chocolate. Pretty good and interesting to eat. But, I'm just not loving their chocolate - I would like it to be a little smoother and creamier.

And last for this post is the piece at the top left (the blob, really). this is a coconut haystack - "moist, fluffy macaroon, drenched in pure dark chocolate."

Okay - this one I didn't like. The coconut wasn't moist enough - there are just too many better alternatives. Heck, I even like Almond Joy better!

So far the vote is mixed - more to come!!!

I can't tell you all how much fun I have checking out all these crazy chocolates and sharing the results with you! Everybody needs to have some fun hobby away from work - it can be something simple (like eating chocolate) or something complicated (like raising children).

We are so hard on ourselves and we work so much that sometimes we forget to have fun. The holidays are coming!! Make some time for fun - remember what Emerson said - we are always getting ready to live, and never living. Live this holiday season - spend time with the people you really love (not those you visit because you feel guilty), do the things you want to do (including eating some Christmas cookies rather than always dieting), and take the time to feel the joy.

And make it Almond Joy while you're at it.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Weird Brand Extension

I was in Belk the other day and saw Godiva candles. I am not kidding. Fragrances like black truffle, raspberry ganache, white chocolate, and holiday peppermint. At first I was pretty excited. Then I smelled them. Not so good.

I mean they really did smell like chocolate, but I really don't want to burn chocolate candles. Christmas tree candles - yes. Harvest spice candles - yes. Even raspberry candles. But these are strong, too sweet. It will be interesting to see if they sell.

I think maybe Godiva should stick to making things you can eat.

If anybody burns one of these, let me know. If you burn one, and then want to eat a truckload of chocolate, let me know.

Hey - maybe THAT'S the plan!!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Chocolate Chaos

Quick update on my impeding bionicness (aka hip surgery). I'm going in on the Monday of Thanksgiving week (hey, business is slow then, right?) and should be released into the wild on Thursday or Friday of that week. If all goes as well as expected, I'll be heading home (and not to evil rehab). Will keep you posted. I'm hoping not to be blogging from the old folk's home - which is basically where rehab is. Apparently my surgeon is a hip surgery god and is on the cutting edge of a new, much less invasive technique. He does about 12 hip replacements a week, so I figure he knows what he's doing.

Since I'm going to be housebound for most of the month of December, I have been scoping out the Christmas chocolates, so don't worry - I will have plenty of holiday scoop for you. Preview - Palmer has some more surprises. I scored the Godiva seasonal truffles, but will be bed bound when their holiday stars come out. Maybe one of you can snag some for me! ; )

I recently met one of the owners of Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tours. Actually he found me through my crazy newsletter and this blog. Taste Carolina is based in Raleigh and has a chocolate tour!! Actually, they have a couple. I haven't been on them yet, but plan to as soon as I'm back on my feet.

Taste Carolina has a great website:

And how awesome is that logo?? Love it!!!!

Anyway, Joe Philipose is a great guy who knows all about food. He took me to a great restaurant for lunch AND brought me chocolate! It really doesn't get any better than that!

The chocolate he brought me was from Raleigh chocolatier Teresa Wilkerson. Her website is

They are gorgeous - look at this one:

The chocolates were all labeled, but things got mixed up in my journey home. This must be the key lime pie - described as a white chocolate graham cracker crust topped with a lime ganache. Okay - it was the only green one, so I thought it must be the key lime. The flavor was so subtle I honestly couldn't tell.

This one is a gorgeous red - I just couldn't get the light right for the photo. And it's delicious. It's a dark chocolate with fresh anise seeds. (I think.) I really don't know how to describe the taste of anise - the WR website describes is as a hint of licorice. I'm not a big licorice fan, but I really enjoyed this one, so ... Maybe it was anise, maybe not?

The middle front one is vanilla caramel and it was terrific - as far as those liquidy caramels go:

Many of the top chocolatiers like this type of caramel, and it is delicious and sensual, but I like a little chew to my caramel. Not too much (a la Sugar Daddy), but a little like the Harry and David Pumpkin Spice Caramels. Softer than a Tootsie Roll, but not pourable. This caramel is pourable.

That said, there is a good balance with the dark chocolate - a nice light flavor to contrast with the stronger dark chocolate. How do you all like your caramel?

The round dome in the center top is Espresso Cinnamon. It's described as milk chocolate ganache infused with fresh espresso and cinnamon. Very smooth, very creamy and I can taste the espresso and the cinnamon - great combo. Yum!! And I know what it is - wheeee!!!!

Look at the gorgeous heart! It's so pretty and so delicious - 72% dark chocolate without a trace of bitterness. Smooth and delicious. A crowd pleaser.

See the "hat" on the far right? I'm not sure which one this is. The only one left is champagne. I taste the white chocolate, but I'm not getting the champagne. I don't even know if this is the champagne! The description says milk chocolate and champagne - the only description that mentions white chocolate is the key lime pie. But surely that's the green one... This is the only one left, so I guess it must be.... These are VERY subtle, maybe too subtle for me. I'm not sure if I'm matching up the right chocolates to their descriptions!

Milk chocolate ganache on the inside. Champagne? Something else? I can't tell by the flavor.

I can't blame the chocolatier - these were all packaged up and labeled when she sent them. There was someone who insisted we open them at lunch......hey, it wasn't me!! Once the box got opened, all hell broke loose. And you see the results. Anarchy! Chaos! Confusion!

Ah, remember the good old days of the Whitman's Sampler? You really couldn't mess that baby up! (But it still didn't keep my brother and I from squeezing a chocolate to see what was in it. And then putting it back! My poor Mom never got a decent box of chocolates.)

I've learned a lesson about myself - I like the labels. I want to know what each chocolate is. I can't really appreciate all the nuances without a little information. I think many things in life are like that - the more we know about something or someone, the more we can appreciate it (or them).

A few Christmases ago I toured the Biltmore House. I'd been before and didn't get the audio guide, I just wandered through and read the panels. This time I got the audio guide. I learned all kind of cool things I would have never guessed. Information adds depth and excitement.

And it helps you figure out the difference between champagne and key lime pie.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Pavlov's Coupons

I'm happy to announce that my brother took his boys out Trick or Treating - dressed as a very cool Darth Vader and Boba Fett, I might add. And there were loads of Trick or Treaters where they lived. Yahoo!! The tradition lives!! At least for those on the dark side. : )

And my good friend Mike was visiting friends at the beach - and they had tons of Trick or Treaters. In fact - they almost ran out of candy. But they managed to save three white chocolate Reese's cups for themselves, so all was not lost. Happy Belated birthday, Mike! He was 30 minutes shy of being born on Halloween.

I'm feeling better about the future already.

I have come to realize in recent weeks that I am a sucker for coupons, especially those fabulous e-mail offers from companies like Bath and Body Works and Harry and David. In fact, I'm like Pavlov's Dogs. Remember them? The experimenter would ring a bell and then feed them. Pretty soon all the experimenter had to do was ring the bell and the dogs would salivate - food didn't even have to be present. Well, all these retailers have to do is send me a coupon and I immediately go to their website and buy things. I don't even have to need anything. Bow wow!

And they are smart - once you spend money and use a coupon, they send you more coupons! I'm salivating just thinking about it!

Well, this week I got a coupon for 25% off your entire purchase at Harry & David - sweet!!! That was a no brainer - I totally scored some great stuff to blog about! Wheee!! (This is a brilliant marketing strategy, by the way. Marketing directly to the people who are most likely to buy from you. Give them an offer they can't refuse - and voila - instant sales.)

So let's see what I got!

Harry and David has some pretty darn good chocolate. The truffles are smooth and creamy and the flavor good - not too subtle, not too overpowering.

Fruit flavors are seldom my favorites, but these are good. As you can see, these aren't those cheesy cream filled things like you get from my enemy, Russ Stover. This is delicious chocolate ganache. I liked cherry and raspberry better than orange, but it's all a matter of personal preference.

Now these truffles look like they have nuts on them, but look at the real picture below:

These are Moose Munch truffles. Moose Munch is their collection of popcorn blended with a variety of flavors. So crazy me thought there might be something more to these - like a crunch. They were described as "starting with a thick layer of decadent milk chocolate". "Inside, we've blended real nuts with even more creamy chocolate, then added toffee's crackle." Hmmmm.......the nuts are so blended that you can't detect them. And you can see the toffee. Not much crackle going on.

The flavor doesn't seem nutty - more like a like coffee flavor. Not bad, just not at all what I expected. These are not my favorite. Too wishy-washy. What makes the Moose Munch line is the crunchy popcorn and the mix of flavors and textures. These ain't got it going on.

Is this not the perfect collection? I LOVE all these flavors, so I'm pretty excited about this one! At the top is hazelnut - and you can see the nut there - no messing around! This one is delicious. BUT there are better hazelnut offerings out there - Perugina Kisses leap to mind.

The almond is smooth and creamy, but I think it should have a nut too. I actually prefer chocolate covered almonds to almond flavored truffles. Who knew? But I know now.

Peanut Butter is my favorite - no surprise there, huh? But are these better than Reese's Peanut Butter cups? I have to say no. I know, crazy right? The cost like a million times more. They just don't really kick. The peanut butter isn't particularly smooth and creamy or really peanut buttery tasting. Trader Joe's Peanut Butter cups are way better too.

So I just want to let you all know that Halloween is alive and well. And so is scientific theory.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Sinners and Saints

I got 6 Trick or Treaters. Boo! I guess I just don't live in the right neighborhood. I can't accept that Trick or Treating might be a dying tradition. That breaks my heart. What did you all see? Any good stories?

I'm on the road all week - which is great! But not much time to blog. I did get to go to the Saints game Monday night - what a blast! My awesome clients at Republic Finance took me. I saw more costumes there than I did at Halloween. And I don't think seeing a football game anywhere else can be as cool as seeing the Saints win number 7 in New Orleans! For one night I was a member of the Who Dat nation! Woowee! Go Saints!