Saturday, January 30, 2010

Snow, Ice and Chocolate!

We've got ice and snow in North Carolina and the capital city is shut down! Whoohoo! Of course, it's Saturday, so it's no big deal. Come Monday, we might have some issues.

In honor of the snow, we'll talk Snowflake Pretzels. My Sorbet Sistah Tracy said these were awesome, so when I saw them on sale at Crate and Barrel, that was a good enough excuse to buy them. And I love the cute tin they are in:

Here they are :

The tin says these are "wintry snowflake pretzels dipped in white confection and white nonpareils."

Now let's analyze that statement. I think all snowflakes are wintery (both spellings of wintry are okay BTW) so that's just hyperbole. (Not that I'm opposed to hyperbole in the least, mind you.) Where we run into trouble is white CONFECTION - i.e. - these don't involve anything remotely close to chocolate. Well at least they're honest. And nonpareils are just tiny sugar balls. Closely related to sprinkles.

Bottom line - these things are delicious!! Once you start eating them it's almost impossible to stop. Those lame pretzel M & Ms have nothing - I mean NOTHING on these. I hope I get invited to a Super Bowl Party so I can take these and save myself from them. A+++

Since we have more sleet right now than snow, let's talk ice. Or at least the candy equivalent of ice - mint.

Andes has a Valentine's Day offering:

It's the same old Andes mint, but I like the inner wrappers (although the outer package looks awful - I say go red or go pink, but not - what - mauve? Ugh.):

The best part is they did some different designs, not just slapping the same old mints in new wrappers:

I still am not a fan. I think these taste kinda like toothpaste.
These aren't chocolate, but they are my favorite peppermint:

Nice and chewy! LOVE these! And look at those adorable hearts:

All I have to do today to "get the sensation" is stick my head out a window, but just in case you'd prefer a more pleasant method:

Love the cute hearts on the wrappers:

And you know I'm thrilled with the heart shaped patties as well as the slightly pink mint filling. Go York! Same solid taste, but a nice holiday touch! YAY!!

Ah - love is in the air! Well, at least today, snow is in the air here in North Carolina. We don't get it much so it's something really nice to see. It's so quiet outside and it gives the landscape a gorgeous clean and pure look. We often take for granted the things we see all the time, but the unusual is easier to appreciate. I'm watching the birds hopping on the white background where I can really see their coloring. Just saw a cardinal - gorgeous!

If you're in the snow - take some time to enjoy it - and be thankful that you're warm. And try not to take the usual for granted. I mean, those white confection pretzels are unusual, but they will never replace Reese's. Ever. Not even if Raleigh and Hell DO freeze over.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Valentine Ink

I have been perusing the Valentine's Day candy in various locations searching for new and exciting things to share with you all. (And because I think it's so darn fun!) I've been to WalMart, Target, Walgreen's, Hallmark, Rite Aid, World Market, and Party City so far. I have to say, most of what I've found is simply do-overs from last year. Boo! But we do have some innovators. Remember the Christmas Orange?

Well, Ferrara has created the Milk Chocolate "Strawberry":

I really beat the hell out of this one - I think it was seeing those cupids. Naked little bastards.

Now here is truly an extraordinary thing - each of the "strawberry" slices has a different design!

There are lips, a rose, a stupid (I mean a cupid), LOVE, Hug Me, Be Mine, Only You, You & Me, and True Love. Pretty damn amazing I have to say. I was VERY impressed. I'd like to see how they make these things. This involves a lot of different molds and a lot of trouble.

Now as far as the taste.....well, not so great. There's definitely a strawberry taste but I'd rather have a strawberry filling than this kind of weird fake strawberry infusion. Hard to describe. And the chocolate is nothing to write home about. Flat, yucky. But the entertainment and novelty factor is so high, I have to recommend this. Wow!

I am also convinced that this whole Ed Hardy thing has gotten completely out of control. Does the man have no shame? I mean, really, Caramel Corn?

Don't get me wrong, I like Ed Hardy's work. But when you decorate everything from car air fresheners (I kid you not)to caramel corn boxes, you ain't "edgy" anymore, you're completely mainstream. In fact, at some point, you have no artistic standards and you're just a 'ho.

The caramel popcorn was good:

And, you even get this:

A temporary Ed Hardy tattoo! Woowee! Your body could match your car air freshener! Could he at least have included something a little more Valentiney? I was hoping for his "Love Kills Slowly" design - one of my favs:

and pretty much exactly how I feel about love. ; )

I guess this just shows you how mainstream the tattoo has become. The real act of rebellion now is NOT getting one. And let's face it, a tattoo doesn't make anyone cool or sexy or anything else. A geek with a tattoo is still a geek. But how many times are we fooled by the exterior? How many times have I gotten sucked in by a cool candy wrapper or a handsome face? A person's true character has nothing to do with their appearance and everything to do with their actions over time. (Think Tiger Woods, John Edwards, and on and on and on.)

I think Ed Hardy and the Naked Cowboy should partner up. Yehaw!!!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Candy on Sale!!!

There is nothing better than candy on sale! Especially expensive candy like that in Williams-Sonoma. These S'Mores were $24.95 originally, now they are marked down to $9.99:

These are as close to the real thing as I've seen. I ate one out of the box and it was pretty good. I bet if you zapped it in the microwave, it would rock! (Kris, I'm with you - never as good as the real thing.) But if you like s'mores - these are the best packaged ones I've found.

These were originally a whopping $16.50! $16.50 for a box of marshmallows! But I got them for $4.99.

They look pretty good and they ARE chocolate! But they aren't even worth $4.99. Just too bland. Boo!!!

These are another matter entirely. I saw them originally at $26.00 and refused to pay that for "a crunchy, buttery confection showcasing crisped rice and Guittard milk chocolate." I mean $26.00 crisped rice??? Please. But at $9.99 I thought I'd check them out:

And let me tell you what - they are awesome!!! The crisped rice (toasted organic brown rice) is mixed with a "homemade buttery caramel base." OMG!!! It's the caramel base that rocks these babies. Get thee to Williams-Sonoma and score some - they are fantastic!!!!

At first I thought the dancing figures on the box and liner were idiotic. After I tasted the candy, I want this as a bumper sticker. Or a tattoo.

Trust me. You too will be doing the happy dance.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Chocolate Hearts Don't Break!

I went back to work this week! (Actually I've been working for weeks, but this was the first week I had speaking engagements.) And so far, they've gone great! Yahoo!

Tuesday I spoke for independent grocers courtesy of MDI (Merchants Distributors Inc.). MDI does training for their clients and I've been lucky enough to be one of their speakers for several years. This year I got to go by the food show they put on to showcase their wares. And they had a section called Candy Carnival! There was a lot of good candy, but look at these:

I've never seen the giant VANILLA Tootsie Roll! Look how big it is compared to the standard Midgee. (It looks kind of like a tapeworm which is a little creepy.) The vanilla Tootsie Roll is good, but it's not as good as chocolate (in my humble opinion).

I've reviewed these before - the Valentine Tootsie Roll. Solid choice, low fat, like 'em.

I haven't seen these either - PRETZEL M & M's:

I like M & Ms. I like pretzels. I like these. BUT I'd rather have regular M & M's. Or peanut M & Ms. Or chocolate covered pretzels. Or about 1,000 other things. Maybe these are good as a lower calorie option (only 140 calories) but nothing to write home about. I predict failure.

I stopped by Cracker Barrel on the way home and they have new chocolate merchandise!!!

Cute, cute, cute!! And expresses how I feel perfectly.

I love seeing the new and creative ideas of candy makers - so fun!

Now there's creative and there's Walmart:

These hearts are by Palmer - very cute - look at that little tuxedo! (At the rate I'm going, the best man for me IS a chocolate one.)

Would you believe I heard from Afghanistan Man again? Just in time for Valentine's Day - he friended me on Facebook, which I ignored - I told him it was better for me if I let him go completely (i.e. after waiting all those months for him to come back from Afghanistan and then have him lie to me, I don't think I'm going to be Facebook friends with him). He said that saddened him, that I was a great woman, believing in him when he doubted himself, blah, blah, blah. Too bad I wasn't great enough for him to believe in me.

That's okay - I can buy my own Valentine's Day chocolate, I have friends who love me, and I believe in me. At the end of the day, that's what really matters - that you believe in yourself. (And that you have chocolate. Lots of chocolate.)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Dealing with Distraction

I don't know about you all, but I'm having trouble getting focused. I've blamed it on the hip replacement, the holidays, blah, blah, blah. But what I really think it is is too many distractions. There is e-mail coming in, blogs to write, blogs to read, sales calls to make, articles to write, text messages to respond to, friends to talk with, TV shows to watch, family, sports, exercise, shopping - ARGH!!! So much to do - so much going on! So many nonproductive possibilities!

My postman and I were sharing hip replacement stories today when I saw the most amazing thing. The postal truck was parked behind a silver car, squarely blocking it in. My postman was facing me and could not see his truck or this car. Two men in (I'm guessing) their 20s exited a home a couple of doors down from me and headed toward the car. The driver had to walk all the way around the truck to get into the car. They closed their doors and in a few minutes, backed right into the postal truck.

I've never seen anything like this. It was broad daylight. The postal truck is huge. I had to shout over, "Dude, how could you not see that truck?" He said "I'm just so used to backing out." Wha? He physically walked around this giant truck to get into his car parked behind it. How in God's name could he miss this?

This is what I think - distraction. Was he talking to his fellow blind man? Was he fooling with his cell phone or the radio? Was he thinking about where they were going and not about actually driving? I dunno. But I do know I've been distracted lately and I'd rather not hit any postal trucks.

Here's what I did to focus myself. I have two goals that are important to me. Well, I have several goals that are important to me, but two that REALLY matter to me - a health goal and an income goal. The health goal is keeping my weight down - I don't want a bunch of extra pressure on my new hip and I want to stay in shape. The other goal is an income goal. I have my own business and I've been off for two months with the hip surgery. I need to get back to earning some income! Every other goal I have is an outgrowth of these two. If I don't have my health, I can't do anything. If I have no income, there's going to be no big exciting trip this year. I think of income as fuel. It makes my dreams and plans go.

So, to cut down on all the distraction, I wrote down two numbers - the weight I want to maintain and the income I want to earn. I posted them on my computer (you can post them everywhere, but especially where you get distracted). When I'm tempted to goof around, I see that income figure and I ask myself - is this the best thing I can be doing right now to generate that income? Instant focus.

You can do the same thing. Figure out what your top two goals are. Maybe it's spending time with your kids. Write down the word kids or 5:00 if the problem is that you work too late. If you are getting distracted, you can say, "Is this going to get me out of here at 5:00?"

What REALLY needs to happen during your workday to have the greatest impact on your goals? Figure out what that is and write down a word or a number and post it. If it's sales, post that. And stop lying to yourself - getting another connection on LinkedIn is not the same as calling someone who can buy what you sell. Surfing the web and looking at diet sites is not the same as going to the gym. You need laser focus - you need to keep yourself honest.

Choose your two. Post them. Quiet all the noise.

Realize that you can back your car up all you want, but until the postal truck moves, you're going nowhere. Spending three hours waxing your car isn't going to get it moved. Researching its value on isn't going to get it moved. Tweeting that you are about to back up your car isn't going to get it moved. Posting a picture of your car on Facebook or calling your Mama and telling her you're moving your car isn't going to get it moved. You already know what to do. Get focused and do it.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Livin' the Dream

If you've been experiencing a little of the post-holiday blues, I'm here to help.

We all need to plan a road trip to Hershey this summer. Or maybe we should wait until fall - let the crowds die down and keep our chocolate from melting.

Why do we need to go?

Because they are expanding my favorite place - Chocolate World - and creating a mini factory experience where we can make our own chocolate bars!!!!!!! Read this:

Guests, wearing factory aprons and hairnets (okay the hairnets will suck), will select and load ingredients such as caramel bits, graham crackers and crisped rice and pull levers and handles to dispense the ingredients via equipment similar to machinery used in Hershey’s factories.

YAY! I say! How much fun would that be!! (Although peanut butter better be on the list somewhere.)

I want to go NOW!

The five-ounce bars will be cooled and wrapped in custom packaging created by guests. The price of the attraction is expected to be $12.95, Hahn said.

I don't care if it's $50 - that sounds cool as hell! Okay, well Hell isn't cool, but you know what I mean.

Here's the artist's rendition of the building:

I am drawn to that like a moth to a flame!

In fact, I think I see myself - I'm the one trying to stick my mouth under the caramel dispenser.

2010 is going to be a very good year indeed!!!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Poxie on Choxie

Hang in there, gang! We are almost done with all the holiday chocolate!

I've got some more Choxie we need to review. The first is a three pack of holiday bars:

This one is a milk chocolate creme brulee truffle bar:

Wow - this is a pretty good, albeit RICH bar. It is "caramel and vanilla infused white chocolate truffle with a touch of toffee, blanketed with milk chocolate." It's the toffee that makes it so good - I wasn't expecting it. It mimics the carmelization on the top of a real creme brulee. I am shocked and astonished and thrilled. VERY sweet and rich, but a good bar.

Of all the Choxie gingerbread offerings, this one is the best. It's a milk chocolate gingerbread truffle bar. It has some gingerbread cookie pieces in in, but they are relatively small (unlike those horrible bits). But this is nothing to run out and buy. Nothing great.

The hazelnut bar had a lot of bloom on it, looking pretty crappy I must say:

This is the milk chocolate hazelnut biscotti truffle bar. The description reads: "satiny milk chocolate yields to reveal a duet of tastes and textures, with pieces of crisp almond biscotti and hazelnuts throughout." Oh la, la! After seeing that bloom, I was skeptical. But damn, this was the best one! I love nuts, so the hazelnut flavor was a big hit with me. I thought the biscotti might make it too dry, but no - delish! I am shocked!!

But I will not remain so for long:

These are dessert truffle meltaways and the assortment is pretty even:

You know how I hate it when you get ten of one flavor and three of another.

The first one is apple pie:

I think apple pie is one of those flavors that doesn't need to be a chocolate. This did taste like apple pie, but was such a poor rendition of apple pie that it's not worth it. Maybe if the center was creamier? I don't know - let's just say one of these was enough to last me the rest of my life. And I like apple pie. But not these.

Pumpkin Pie:

Yucko - all I can taste is a weird spice - no pumpkin. Gross. And I love pumpkin. Evil.

Dark chocolate mousse:

This wasn't too bad - had a good rich dark chocolate taste. But it isn't the best dark chocolate in the Universe. And everything else in the assortment is horrifying.


What happened? The bar was good! This is horrible! It doesn't taste like gingerbread and has a weird aftertaste.

All I can say about this box is YUCK.

So far, all I can endorse are the bars. The rest of this stuff is pretty terrible. This is the last of the Choxie holiday stuff - the "Slice of the Holidays" truffle collection:

More pie. I'm scared. First up is milk chocolate pumpkin pie:

Huh? I can't taste any pumpkin. The outer truffle shell is pretty thick and these also have more chocolate in the center of the truffle. Unusual - something about their production. Boo!!

This is dark chocolate cherry pie:

Tastes a little like cherry, but nothing great. Again, maybe too much chocolate? See the lines of chocolate through the filling?

Key lime pie:

This was very not good. I'm not sure I'm the best one to judge because I don't really like key lime, but it tasted kind of fake - kind of chemically. Ew.

White chocolate banana creme pie:

Ugh - same for banana. These are really just not good. The chocolate isn't very smooth and the flavors seem off - not authentic.

Apple pie:

Again, awful. Chemical? Weird spice? Makes me want to taste an apple. Creepy.

Pecan pie:

Glaaack. These are all bad, bad, bad.

Here's what I think about Choxie to date:

Very cool boxes and the chocolate is great to look at. They have some awesome designs.

The bars are good - we'll try some more.

The other stuff - truffles, etc. - is really bad. And this stuff isn't really cheap (a la Palmer), so it should taste a little better.


Just because it can be chocolate, doesn't mean it should be chocolate. Apple pie ROCKS. Apple pie chocolates are the spawn of Satan.

Another example - Quaker just made a creme brulee rice cake. Would you like to ponder that for a moment? I'd go so far as to say the exact culinary opposite of creme brulee is the rice cake. No good can come of this.

Fancy packages do not mean good content. Over and over we learn this. I'm going to start wearing burlap.

Two rights can make a wrong. Apple pie = right. Chocolate = right. Apple pie + chocolate = wrong. Very wrong.

Two rights can make an even better right. Chocolate = right. Peanut butter = right. Chocolate + Peanut butter = yahoo!!!!

Food math is confusing. I need a Reese's.