BlissCandies Caramels

I got a selection of homemade caramels today from BlissCandies. One thing that I adore about her items is the way they’re packaged. She puts things in these little baggies that are sealed, they look factory done, but are better because they’re homemade, and then into a perfect little box. It just looks extremely professional, and I love it.

The first caramel I was sent was a traditional vanilla caramel, and even as I was opening the wax paper wrapper, I could smell a strong vanilla scent coming from the package.

The traditional vanilla caramel starts out plain, with just a buttery and sugary taste, but finishes off with a fantastic vanilla-y-, vanilla bean aroma and taste that literally dominates your senses. This is not the caramel you find in Grandma’s candy bowl. It’s soft, chewy, and creamy, with just a bit of roughness in the texture.

6/10- TASTY
This next caramel has a funny little story to it. The spicy ginger caramels, it was funny. When I got the request from BlissCandies to try her caramels, I immediately thought, wouldn’t a ginger caramel be nice, and didn’t tell her.

Proof, of course, that the reviewer and chef can read minds. 😉

Ooooh. This really was a spicy caramel. But the spiciness didn’t linger and burn my throat. The ginger flavor was a little more mild than I would have liked, but was still very tasty, like a ginger snap cookie. I liked the kick of spice and think that this flavor works well with the candy.

6/10- YUMMY
The next flavor was vanilla hazelnut. I had high hopes for this candy, as it smelled very nutty and boasted a nice brown color. The flavor was more vanilla than hazelnut, but there was still a very buttery flavor to it, and it tasted like a nice coffee.

7/10- DELICIOUS
This flavor was very fascinating, as I’d never seen a caramel like it before. I was sent an orange creamsicle caramel. The color is a bright orange, one that I can only attribute to the orange flavor, and the flavor was sublime. It was caramely, malty, creamy, and orangy all at once, and was overall, a real winner in the flavor department. The texture was a lot smoother than the other caramels, and like ginger, the orange works well with the caramel and creates a pair where neither flavor dominates.

8/10- LOVELY
The last caramel was a sea salt caramel, a flavor I’d really been dying to try. For some reason, it was much harder than the other caramels, or maybe my jaw was just tired from eating the rest! The sea salt hit my tongue as soon as I ate it, and it was really salty, but dissolved into the traditional and delicious caramel that I know and love. A winner.

7/10- MMMMM

BlissCandies
www.blisscandies.etsy.com

Chilean Sweets

Here it is, the cookie that might very well rival the Clairesquare.

I was sent two famous items from the Chilean Sweets company, out of Maine, two traditional Latin American desserts: Dulce de leche and alfajores.

Dulce de leche is that caramel sauce we all know and love. It’s paired excellently with pancakes, ice cream, and, in the case of the alfajores, cookies, but like Nutella, I ate this out of the jaw in spoonfuls. It’s an achingly sweet caramel, almost a large, soft caramel candy than a sauce, with creamy undertones from its milk base.

I made pancakes with these this morning, using the sauce in two different ways. I incorporated the sauce into the pancake batter, as a starter, and then used it as a topper. It was definitely superior as an addition to the batter, but melted nicely on top. In the batter, it caramelized the outside of my pancakes and gave them this complex, buttery, salty flavor that made them perfect without needing any topping at all. They were moister and still maintained a dignified fluffiness.

This particular sauce is so deliciously authentic. It’s a wonderful addition to any dessert, and perhaps a few savory dishes, too. I’m definitely going to use this in a baking project, as it is too good and rich to pass up.

9/10- LOVELY


The real treat in this selection were the alfajores, though. Alfajores, or the singular, alfajor, is a traditional cookie made with two graham or shortbread-like cookies, sandwiched with dulce de leche in the middle, and coated with chocolate or coconut.

These particular alfajores broke my Chilean cherry into the most indulgent and incredible cookies. They were wrapped like those little soaps you get at hotels, in dark green paper, and when I got them, were almost completely melted, but with the richness of the chocolate, peeled off the paper incredibly and just collapsed in my mouth.

Quite simply, they’re one of the most amazing treats.

The cookie base is soft, but holds up to itself, like a graham, as it’s eaten. The chocolate keeps it firm and inside, just before it completely collapses in on itself. The dulche in the middle is perfect, and regardless of the temperature, the cookie melts in your mouth.

The chocolate on the outside is a fine chocolate, that coats the cookie entirely, not a bare spot to be found, and encases it entirely. The dessert is rich and large and can easily be split with two people.

10/10- AMAZING

Chilean Sweets
www.chileansweets.etsy.com

Wow, two tens in two days. Send me crap, people. I have to keep up my image, here.

Necco Twilight Candy Hearts


I bought these on a whim with some of the best people in the world. How could we pass these up?

Necco made these for the Twilight craze. It was probably the best purchase I’ve ever made. These were fucking hilarious. I mean, first, you have flavor names like Passion Fruit, Tempting Apple, Orange Obsession and Secret Strawberry. Then there’s the “from and to” header on the box so your own Edward Cullen can GIVE YOO HIS CANDEE HRTS OMGWTFBBW XOXOXOXOX”

I’m totally aware that says big, black woman and not barbecue.

There are the hearts. They come in a hard-to-open, vampire-piercing proof plastic bag, roughly 3/4 full. They’re just like conversation hearts, except they say enigmatic and occasionally worrisome phrases like “Bite Me,” “Live forever,” and “Forks.”

The flavors are pretty odious, but addictive. It’s like eating stale bubblegum. All the flavors tasted the same, varying in acidity and color, and the texture wasn’t like conversation hearts at all. Where the hearts are chalky and hard, these were chalky and chewy. Either they were left outside all night in a vampiric rainstorm, or the vampire glitter powder emulsifies them. Regardless of the cause, these are awful.

And yet, like the fangirl to Edward Cullen’s tired penis, I just can’t stop eating them.

Necco Twilight Candy Hearts: My brand of crappy, sparkly heroin.

1/10- HORRID

Clairesquares


Here’s a homemade treat sent to me from an independent baker, Claire Keane.

She makes treats that are similar to traditional Irish recipes, like Marathon Squares from the UK, and more. The treat I tried was her signature confection, the Clairesquare.

The Clairesquare resembles, in ingredients, a Marathon Bar, with a layer of shortbread, a layer of caramel, and a top layer of chocolate. But Claire took the popular candy and gave it steroids, turning it into something downright obscene and incredible.

This post is dedicated to my dad. I told him I’d share. I didn’t. I ate all three of these monsters in one sitting. It was pretty pathetic. But these cookies were not.

The shortbread layer was buttery without being greasy, and crumbled in my mouth, not in my hands. It was crispy and dense and flaky all at once. The caramel was definitely my favorite part, though. I had never tried a homemade caramel before, and this was an eye-opening experience for me. It was buttery, creamy, rich, and I’d have spooned it out of a jar, into my mouth, all on its own. The saltiness perfectly balanced with the sweetness of the chocolate, the final addition to this triple threat of a baked good.

The chocolate was a ganache-like dark, with a woodsy, smokey taste to it that blended with the caramel perfectly. It was a little soft and gooey with the caramel, which was perfect, but together, with the dryness of the shortbread, it created this delicious amalgam of flavors in my mouth.

Claire Keane, Clairesquares
clairesquares.com

10/10- INCREDIBLE

Thai Fanta

Another trek to an Asian grocery, one that’s a little closer, brought this delightful…thing.

Swagger and I found this while stopping for a cool drink on a muggy day. There were a few flavors there, the standard orange and strawberry, but this looked intriguing. It was the only flavor where no english was present, so I was excited to have a drink.

The package was bright and green and featured many photos of tropical fruits, leading me to believe that maybe this was a tropical fruit, maybe a punch flavor. WRONG. When I opened the can- and it has that special can shape, that slightly more triangular shape of opening. Do you know what I mean? That one.

Well, when I opened the can, I was hit with a strong flavor of bubble gum. Strange. And when I tasted it, that was all I tasted. Bubble gum. It was as though someone had taken eighty five Bazooka Joes, thrown out the comics, and melted them down to make this soda. It was the same green color as the can, oddly enough, and threw me off for the flavor.

There might have been hints of tropical fruit flavor, but there’s a chance I’m making that up because I’m confused.

2/10- STRANGE

Choco Banana Pocky


Look. Let me get one thing straight. I hate weeaboos. I hate the Wapanese. I am not racist…okay, maybe internet racist, but I hate the people that run around spouting phrases like “kawaii” and calling people “Foodette-san” or “chan” and making eyes like this >
Sigh.

Hi, I’m Jess, and I guess I’m racist.

But I love bananas. Possibly more than I hate Wapanese. If that makes any sense at all. So while browsing at my local Asian grocery, the same one that Swagger (who is legit, straight-up Asian, yo) and I went to, this exotic looking treat was too much to pass up, especially for a buck fifty. Even if it does scream poser.

This particular product, made by Glico, the pocky overlords, boasts a creamy banana flavor with swirls of milk chocolate. I had to test it. One thing the Japanese have completely mastered is constructive packaging. Here’s another pet peeve of mine. The environment. I don’t care. Glico doesn’t, either. And we work together wonderfully. They’ve included, in the lovely box, two packages of pocky so package two doesn’t get stale while you’re eating the first one.

The sticks are nice and slender, with an even coating. A part of it is uncoated so it doesn’t melt all over your fingers and make them sticky-icky. The flavor was pure banana, and the chocolate was in just the right amount, like the coating on a chocolate covered banana. It was delicious.

What I like best about pocky is that it’s rich without being too high calorically. It’s tasty and elegant, but not too bad on the tummy, too. A good snack. Even if you’re not a weeaboo.

9/10- YUMMY

Mrs. S’s Sensitive Treats

Whooo! It’s been ages since I got these treats, and again, another huge and generous sorry from me to her. I was laid up in bed and gumming down Jell-O.

I got many things in this package. The idea with these treats is, they’re made for sensitive stomachs, so all are wheat, gluten, yeast, soy, and dairy free. Oy. To best put these to the test, I actually ate some of them- well, swallowed some whole- while laid up during surgery, where I was told I may throw up. Sure sounds like a sensitive stomach to me!

I was sent a large assortment of treats in a huge package, delivered by none other than Mrs. S’s HUBBY, whom I thank greatly for helping me out and going twenty minutes out of his way to drop a package at the house of a random stranger. So, in the box was a decadent chocolate cake, zany zucchini bread, two fudgey brownies, a chamomile lemon cake, and banana bread.

I tried the zucchini bread first. I can’t believe this was free of so many ingredients. The zucchini pieces were delicately shredded, not chunky, and the bread was buttery, flavorful, and tasty. I ate the entire loaf in one sitting. I’m not even upset to say so, it was that good. The texture was crumbly, but stayed together, so the only place it crumbled was in my mouth. It was the perfect treat. If I had one criticism, it would be that it didn’t take to spreading very well, like with margarine or cream cheese. But then again, those eating this bread probably aren’t spreading it with rich toppings.

9/10- LOVELY

The next dessert to sink my teeth into were the brownies. They were good, but very crumbly. The chocolate flavor was intense, but to some, the texture might have been a little off-putting. Because of the lack of eggs, the brownies were fudgy, but somewhat dry. I personally enjoy a wetter brownie. To remedy this, I simply microwaved it. It was very tasty and, as promised, chocolatey good.

5/10- GOOD

Next was the chamomile lemon cake. It was a good cake, again, improved by microwaving it. It wasn’t very intense in the way of flavor. I couldn’t taste any chamomile and not much lemon at all. There was a dusting of powdered sugar on top. This cake was good, but for flavor, somewhat bland. It almost had a meringue, hazelnutty taste to it, but from what, I do not know.

The texture of these baked goods is remarkable for foods that lack some of the ingredients we take for granted and consume on a daily basis. I still don’t know how all of these hold together.

4/10- OKAY

Again, I got another whole cake. I could not believe it. For ordering purposes, these are generous cakes for the prices you’re getting them at. Very heavy, dense cakes, too.

This cake really hit the spot. The chocolate cake was a lot cakier than the brownies, and had a dense, rich ganache on top. I think that the frosting aspect of this was what made it really spectacular. It was a deep, dark chocolate flavor, very tasty, and microwaved, was gooey and rich. Rich. That’s a good way to put it. It was a very rich cake. The chocolate flavor was consistent and the texture only improved with microwaving.

Best of all, they worked! They worked! My tummy wasn’t burdened by any of the flavors, no matter how rich!

8/10- YUMMY

Last, but not least, was the banana walnut loaf. The banana taste was very natural and very subtle, a very buttery and fruity taste to it. The walnut chunks were a little too bit for my liking, but the flavor was good. The texture was that nice “wet” texture that banana breads get, the dense, yet wettish texture. You know what I mean, right? I’m not a crazy girl, right? Wet. Wetlicious? Great. Now the banana bread sounds like a porno.

Regardless, it was very tasty bread. Definitely dense enough to hold up to a spread, and sweet enough to hold its own.

7/10- LOVELY

Super treats, Mrs. S! And thanks again for your patience. 🙂

Mrs. S’s Sensitive Treats
www.mrssstreats.etsy.com

Updates and how I can spy.

Readers, I SEE YOU. Thanks to my new Wowzio widget, that is.

So here’s a question, you sneaky lurkers, you. I have a child conundrum. They’re not my kids, they’re the kids of my father’s girlfriend. And I want to have a lot of fun with them this weekend, so I told them we’d make peanut butter.

Let’s take it one step further, though. What other recipes can I make with a two and four year old that will drive them bananas and think I’m the coolest?

Comment freely! I don’t bite.

Foodette

Flipz Double Dipped Peanut Butter and Chocolate


Flipz have always been a favorite movie treat for me, and when I went to see Bruno yesterday, these looked too good to pass up.

One of my favorite things about Flipz is that there’s a perfect balance of crunch and cream, of salt and sweet. These were a little different in that they were “double dipped” and thus a little thicker on the coating than the other varieties of pretzels. This particular coating was a layer of peanut butter and then a layer of chocolate.

Biting into this was a soft bite, then the pretzel crunch. The flavors came together well, but the peanut butter was far more subtle than I’d thought. In the bag, which was about three dollars, there were twenty mini pretzels, a bad value, in my opinion. The chocolate was good, a little mockolate tasting, but not so bad.

Overall, I far appreciate homemade chocolate covered pretzels or at least ones with better flavor coverage.

3/10- LAME

Barker Chocolate Box

This is a series, the first of two, in which I review bakers and candy-makers who have made things and waited patiently while I recovered from my surgery to review! Sorry for being late!

This candy-maker is out of Barker, New York, and sent me a selection of truffles and delicious fudge to review. I tried the cherry chocolate fudge she sent, first. It was a nice chocolate base with mixed chopped cherries. The chocolate was a good flavor and melted nicely in the mouth with a smooth finish and none of the grainy taste and texture that fudge can sometimes have.

The cherries were a little too overpowering, giving the fudge a bit of a flowery taste to it. It’s good, but just a little too much. I liked the texture mix of the chewy cherry bits and the fudge, though.

6/10- GOOD

The next selection she gave me was in a little box of items. In the box were four truffles, of raspberry ganache, a walnut caramel with sea salt, a genuine Ohio Buckeye, and a chocolate ganache.

The raspberry ganache was, like the texture of the fudge, very smooth. The taste was a bit vague, and at times, I tasted more of the essence of raspberries than the taste of raspberries, but it was delicious. It was a smooth ganache, less like the fudge than a frosting-like goo, very delicious. The outer texture was good, but the real treasure was in the shape. It was a beautiful jewel of a little raspberry, something that I think would charm guests at receptions or just as a stand-alone gift.

6/10- GOOD

I’ve really been broadening my culinary standpoints as of late, and two of my goals were to try salty desserts and spicy desserts. This marked the coronation of my salty dessert. The caramel was a nice piece of very buttery flavor. Having tried homemade caramels before, this was just fantastic. The walnuts were a little too chunky with this one, but the salt made a perfect mix. It was like eating gourmet salt water taffy.

7/10- DELICIOUS

The Ohio Buckeye was one I’d been dying to try, and one that Cindy touted as being an amazing treat. She wasn’t lying to me, either. This was a creamy treat, and I wish I had more of them to dissect so I can appreciate and try each individual layer. An Ohio Buckeye is basically a peanut butter bon bon wrapped in chocolate. Mmmmmm. The peanut butter wasn’t quite peanut butter, it was more of a fudgy, but frosting-like taste, and it was a delicious and melty, rich flavor. Incredible. The chocolate enrobing it was fantastic and the entire thing was just a joy to consume.

9/10- LOVELY

The last truffle was a chocolate ganache. This one was a surprise. The coating was the same rich flavor as the other chocolate, but the ganache inside was a little bitter. I’m not sure what was going on. It was tasty, like a semi-sweet chocolate or those natural bars, and really brought out the more subtle, woodsy flavors of cocoa, but for those seeking a sweet treat, was not exactly saccharine.

4/10- OKAY

Find her at Barker Chocolate Box
www.barkerchocolatebox.etsy.com