Whereas we may now to use toothpaste disguised as chocolate to clean our teeth (read more here), these days we may also pretend to clean our teeth with sugar toothbrushes! I like this very much in concept! The Swizzels Matlow Tooth 'n' Toothbrush Fun Gums taste pretty gross- artificial fruit flavor with an unnerving consistency. But I'm into the twisted idea underlying the candy- of sugar disguised as its adversary, The Toothbrush!
I used to believe that chocolate can add a special spark to anything. I mean, even savory edibles taste great with mole. However, toothpaste and chocolate should always maintain an adversarial relationship. They should work against one another; not operate in tandem. Blech! I don't want the taste of chocolate filling my mouth while getting my teeth sparkling clean. I can't even find it in myself to invest in a tube of the stuff to try- it's all too upsetting. Have any readers sampled this offensive fare? Please report back!
As someone who hails from the Left Coast originally, I did not grow up with the awareness of the glories of Coffee Syrup. This was probably a stroke of luck as I was far too entranced by coffee as a youth, as it was. Coffee Syrup would have spelled big trouble. My friend, Kara, hails from Rhode Island, the epicenter of the Coffee Syrup tradition. Thank goodness she introduced me to the stuff by the age of 18, so I've now had a number of years to experiment with its myriad possibilities. Usually you get coffee syrup in a plastic squeeze bottle similar to a Hershey's Chocolate Syrup bottle. You can pour it into milk, or coffee, or on ice cream, or on top of brownies, or create exciting cocktails or or.... Recently, Kara found an small-batch craft-roasted Coffee Syrup by Dave's Coffee. This stuff makes the traditional mass-marketed coffee syrups taste like water- this is strong and sweet and powerful stuff. The coffee is boiled down with sugar until it obtains a thick syrupy consistency. This syrup has substance and packs a punch of flavor. I love it. Unfortunately, once you open the massive bottle, the stuff can go bad because it's made from real ingredients and not chemicals- so you have to consume the syrup fast. I've been finding all kinds of ways to utilize the magic caffeine liquid.... Thanks, Kara!
donna toscana balsamic truffle. photo courtesy of donna & company.
Stepping into the New Jersey chocolate factory of Donna & Company, the
delicious brainchild of chocolatier Diane Pinder, feels a lot like
stepping into a pristine scientific laboratory. The gleaming metal
appliances remind the visitor both of Pinder's roots as a critical care
nurse as well as of her exacting attention to detail in creating her
mind-blowing chocolate truffles, caramels and candy bars. Frankly,
though, this is more than science; this is chocolate alchemy!
vanilla grapefruit truffle. photo courtesy of donna & company.
actually manages three separate chocolate lines under the Donna & Company umbrella, each focusing in on a different vein of chocolate
connoisseurship. After studying chocolate-making in Tuscany, Diane
introduced the Donna Toscana line, hand-molded and colored chocolate truffles, caramels, and
candy bars infused with rich olive oils and balsamic.
During our visit,
Diane urged me to try myriad exotic chocolates and caramels. I had never experienced any of these
combinations of flavor- mini flavor revolutions. From the Donna Toscana line, I tested
the classic Olive Oil and Sea Salt Truffle, the Balsamic Truffle
and the Red Raspberry Wine Truffle.
I ate a Carrot Cake Truffle that
blew my mind. (Truly. And these are not chemically-induced flavors. Diane infuses the cream center with pure organic carrot juice, raisins, toasted walnut, and cinnamon.)
We tasted a new bite Diane concocted for her
seasonal Valentine's Day chocolate mix, a Vanilla Grapefruit Truffle. At
the center of the milk chocolate heart lies a combination of white
chocolate and heavy cream infused with vanilla bean, fresh grapefruit
juice, and a splash of bitter Campari.
cocoabee blood orange and almond caramel. photo courtesy of donna & company.
The CocoaBee line consists of chocolate-covered caramels that employ honey from New Jersey apiaries rather than corn syrup. I taste-tested
the Blood Orange and Almond Honey Caramel and it constituted one of
those rare flavor epiphanies. The honey gives such a warm depth to the
caramel and the layers hit your tongue one at a time, each stealing the
spotlight from the last element. First you are struck by the rich honey,
then the buttery caramel, and then tendrils of the blood orange infused
through the caramel begin to drift to the fore. Finally, you bite down
on a solitary almond at the center of the bonbon, bringing the entire
piece together with a resounding crunch.
fundamental chocolate line. photo courtesy of donna & company.
Diane's third and newest line is called Fundamental. Based
on the paleo-diet, Diane is going into uncharted territory here
with chocolate made of three simple ingredients and nothing else. She
uses organic cocoa butter, organic cacao from South America, and gathers
honey from local apiaries. That's it. The chocolate recipe is that
simple, but the process is a trade secret. There's Simply Chocolate as well as the portioned chocolate slabs with additional dried
raspberries or pistachio and sea salt on top. They're all good although
I was partial to the Real Raspberry variety. The unsweetened
raspberry provides the perfect kiss of tartness to the bite. This is
really smooth decadent chocolate and it melts so quickly in your mouth
it feels more like a fudge than solid chocolate bar.
Diane is garnering more and more fans with her imaginative
chocolates. She won a number of top prizes
in the 2012 International Chocolate Salon Awards: 3rd Place in Top
Luxury Caramel; 2nd Place in Top Chocolate Bar; and 1st Place in Top
Chocolate Bar. Talk about bragging rights! Edible New Jersey Magazine
also named Diane as 2010 Local Hero. Diane doesn't seem to let any of
these accolades go to her head. She's too busy working on her next new
flavor combination.... I can't see what she comes up with next!
I'm already overwhelmed by the mountainous array of Valentine's Day candy treats that must be tasted this year. As far as problems go, though, this isn't so bad. Palmer Cuddly Cuties are a Valentine's classic. Not because of their taste, of course, which is not chocolate but rather "chocolaty candy." The candy isn't horrendous but you can't expect a luxurious cocoa experience. The shapes of the Palmer holiday candies, though, are some of the most imaginative and whimsical on the market. Not to mention the most affordable. I love this Cool Dawg. He was not terribly delicious but I smile every time I see the photo. It's worth picking up one or two of these Cuddly Cuties....
Another addition to the wish list! Word has it over at the impulsive buy blog that Stride Gum has joined forces with Sour Patch Kids to create an exciting collaboration- Sour Patch Kids Gum! Click here to read the full impulsivebuy review. In the meantime, I'll be scouring the shelves of local purveyors to scoop up some packs to taste. Any chance to try a Sour Patch Kid in a new form constitutes a delight.
Wow wow wow! These Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt Caramel Squares are my new favorite. They're the same as the traditional Caramel Squares that have been out forever, with that elegant liquid caramel that's barely contained within the chocolate walls. The tiny addition of salt flavor to the caramel, however, perfectly offsets the bittersweet dark chocolate and the sweet caramel to produce an ideal and delicate balance of bitter, sweet, and salty flavors. The salt flavor anchors the caramel to the chocolate. I love it. Thanks, Ben & Will! You've created an addict!
Look! It's a jelly bean tin adorned with my dog, Loki! I don't believe there's a sweeter packaging job out there for candy. I made it at zazzle.com- simply couldn't resist. What a fun present for yourself or anyone you're fond of! $5.95 for a tin emblazoned with an image of your choice along with a handful of Jelly Belly brand jelly beans!
This delightful Candy Cane Bar harkens from Drake's Glen Creations in Arcata, California. A lot of the peppermint bark of late has favored the tiny shredded chunks of peppermint. I like how this candy bar really consists of almost equal ratios of peppermint chunks and chocolate. The peppermint flavor is strong and the white chocolate melts pretty well with each bite. Good stuff! Thanks, Mom!
I felt somewhat ambivalent about the Lindt Hello Nougat Crunch Stick, but I feel oddly impassioned about the Lindt Hello Lime Splash Chocolate Stick! Now this is something special! The buttermilk provides just the right tiny bite to the white chocolate to pair it beautifully with the really zesty, citrus-y lime flavor throughout the solid white chocolate. I simply loved it and have no idea why these flavors are not more prevalent in the chocolate bar market.
Let's face it - all Lindt chocolate is delicious. It just depends on which mix-ins you like. In the case of Lindt Hello Nougat Crunch Stick, I was not into the chewy nougat bits and crunchy hazelnut brittle suspended in the fantastic milk chocolate. For the right person, these nibbles could be a dream, but the chewy bits were a little surprising amidst the chocolate and the crunch confused the whole thing. There was an awful lot happening in my mouth at once. I think the hazelnut brittle alone in the chocolate bar might be nice. I know Lindt does hazelnut nicely...