Monday, December 28, 2009

Does Chocolate Make Things Better?

My dear readers, I hope you all had a fantastic Christmas!! I hope you ate loads of cookies and chocolate and other goodies. YAHOO!!

I was out today and actually purchased my first Valentine's Day candy. God help me. If you saw how much Christmas candy I still have you would drive me to the mental institution. I'm telling you - watch for me on an upcoming episode of Hoarders - the Crazy Candy Lady.

I have to show you these cookies just because they are my fav of the season and if there are any left you should buy them. Immediately.

Cute box. Cute cookies. If you like almond shortbread cookies - these are the best. Ever.

Are you still reading? Get in your car - go to Trader's Joe's! They can't last forever - go NOW! I'll still be here when you get back.

Today we have a serious issue to cover. Does chocolate make everything better?

I'm going to say, "YES!" and "no." Do you like how I made the no in lower case? It's a no, but a quiet no, a subtle no. This is Motivation by Chocolate, after all. Hang in there, munch on an almond snowman and watch my philosophy unfold.

In the case of gingerbread (yes, more gingerbread), the answer is HELL YES!!! Chocolate and gingerbread are a match made in heaven.

Bahlsen ( (check out also) is a German company that makes some great, great gingerbread. These guys are cute:

You know me, I love all the different designs. But what really makes them good is:

Oh yeah, baby! The layer of dark chocolate on back. YUM!! Soft, cakey and spicy offset by the dark chocolate - these gingerbread men are my new boyfriends. I love them.

Now, I typically prefer men to boys, but in this case:

The white chocolate works too. By Nikki's Cookies, this guy was nice and moist and the white chocolate was a much thicker layer than the dark chocolate on the Bahlsen men. But he was great too - not as spicy as the German cookies, but still good. The chocolate seems to help keep the gingerbread moist. It's a kickin' combo.

These cookies started my love affair with gingerbread. They still rock my world. I have these stashed everywhere because I can only find them around Christmas so I bought like a million. They are in my pantry, my cookie jar, my cupboards, even my silverware drawer. They are everywhere. They are sooooo good!!!

I know - you think - whatever. Here's the deal - they are like cakey spice cookies. They have a wonderful fruity, spicy flavor that is so fabulous with the dark chocolate I can't even explain it. I can only find them in World Market and A Southern Season. And you may not be able to find any because I have bought them all. Bwah, ha, ha! Just call me Moriarty (yes, I saw Sherlock Holmes last night).

This is Harry & David's Gingerbread Cookie Boy "coated in chocolate flavor" (which means mockolate). But I don't care - he's really good too! I'm telling you, this gingerbread and chocolate thing is very, very beautiful. Gingerbread needs a little help and chocolate is just the thing. Although H & D's GBB is a little dry. The German's are kicking our butt on this I'm afraid.

Look at that cute smile! And that swirl of hair! Awwww!

These beauties were made exclusively for Williams-Sonoma by Two Hearts Bakery in San Francisco. They were insanely expensive - the box of eight was $25:

And you have about a week to eat them before the marshmallow starts to get hard and yucky. They "do not recommend refrigerating or freezing them." I read that as "Don't refrigerate or freeze." And they are not big:

With a winter Oreo

with the H & D Gingerbread Boy. Damn.

Now according to Williams-Sonoma, these Gingerbread Boy S'mores are well worth $3+ each. Listen to this:

"Two Hearts Bakery in San Francisco creates these "boys" for us by hand, one batch at a time. Their graham crackers are baked with a touch of wildflower honey and Saigon cinnamon, then dipped in a silky blend of Guittard couveture milk and dark chocolates and piped with vanilla icing buttons. Sandwiched in between is a fresh, hand-cut marshmallow flavored with Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon vanilla beans."

Well good God! Was Martha involved? Where are my maps? Did they drive these cookies through the Holy Land too? Where they blessed by the Pope?

Okay, I did notice that the chocolate on these babies was super delish. However, the wildflower honey, Saigon cinnamon, and those vanilla beans with four names went right by me. Didn't even notice. Liked the milk chocolate better than the dark. Glad I tried them, but you won't find them stashed in every nook and cranny of my kitchen. And I won't buy them again. A little too rich for me, both in taste and cost.

For $25 I can assemble an Archway army and go kick some Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon vanilla bean butt. Wow - first I decapitate Santa, now I'm assembling a gingerbread army. What will be next?

Here's the "no":

These are from Crate and Barrel - yep - they have Christmas Treats in their catalog. They are Rice Krispy treats covered in milk and white chocolate and sprinkles:

The white chocolate was the better of the two, but the chocolate didn't work here. Too much, too heavy. A drizzle of chocolate or chunks of chocolate are okay, but this was way too much. Rice Krispy treats are pretty damn good on their own. They don't need this much help from chocolate.

So sometimes, YES, chocolate makes things better. And sometimes, no, chocolate doesn't make things better. There is no single solution to every problem. What works for a vanilla bean may not work for a hazelnut. Some days even chocolate can't solve your problems. But as long as you know that things WILL get better, you'll be okay. Chocolate may not be able to solve all your problems, but you can. And if you don't think you can, call me - I'll bring my army.


David R. Lindquist said...

(chuckle) Most of the world's commercial vanilla is grown in Madagascar (and the most widespread variety is the Bourbon one), so what is the big claim to superior quality? I concur with you: let the tastebuds vote. Down with puffed up claims!

Kris, in New England said...

Some days even chocolate can't solve your problems.

Bite. Your. Tongue.

Chocolate is the antidote to everything. Of course there is a side effect that chocolate can't solve - weight gain.

Denise Ryan said...

AHA! David, I should have known! Thanks for helping me debunk that marketing BS! : ) Power to the tastebuds!!!

Denise Ryan said...

Ha, ha - Kris, if only they would get on that pill that would let us eat whatever we wanted and not gain weight! Wouln't that be a beautiful dream??? : )