Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Swizzels Matlow Ltd. Teeth 'n' Toothbrush Fun Gums- Fruit Flavour Foam Gummies



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!

Score (visual stylings): 5
Score (taste): 1

It's All Wrong: Crest Chocolate Mint Toothpaste

photo courtesy of proctor & gamble co.

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!



Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Dave's Coffee Syrup (Cold Brewed & Craft Roasted)

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!


Sunday, January 26, 2014

Obsessivesweets and the Chocolate Factory: Visiting Diane Pinder of Donna & Company

 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.
Diane 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!



Donna & Company Website





Thursday, January 23, 2014

Valentine's Day Treats: Palmer Cuddly Cuties Cool Dawg


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....

Score (visual): 4
Score (taste): 2

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Wish list: Sour Patch Kids Stride Gum

image courtesy of theimpulsivebuy.com

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. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Ghirardelli Sea Salt Caramel in Dark Chocolate Squares


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!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

So Many Gummies, So Little Time: Mary's Mixed Fruit Jellies



Beautiful soft gummies in an array of natural fruit flavors. These are some of the tastiest and freshest gummy creations I've encountered. Thanks, Tomioka family!




Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Sharing the Puppy Love: The Official Loki Jelly Bean Tin

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! 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Holiday Wrap-Up, The Final Chapter: Drake's Glen Creations Candy Cane Bar



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!

Lindt Hello Lime Splash Chocolate Stick


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.

Score: 5




Lindt Hello Nougat Crunch Chocolate Stick


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...

Score: 2

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Yankees Baseball Ring Pop


Yankees Baseball branded Ring Pop in Blue Raspberry. 
Nothing to say but recite the old slogan- Pride, Power, Pinstripes.





Eye Candy: Gummy Gators


Straight from Florida, these gummy alligators by Anastasia Confections are bright sugar jewels. Super fresh, soft gummy, too, issuing bursts of flavor. Thanks, Alexa and Marcus!