MiO Energy Liquid Water Enhancer

Final exams bring out my most terrible habits. Despite lingering over the fact that the bulk of my exams were arbitrarily assigned at the end of the term, it led to a staunch examination of my vices when under pressure. Late-night snacking was a given, especially when the dining halls and wing delivery places were all open later. Incentive snacking also reared its sweet head. “I have twenty pages to paste together, so I think I’ll eat one M&M for every 200 coherent words I write.” Yeah, turns out M&M’s are the perfect snack to eat while watching Scarface on Netflix, too. The world is yours, but only if you finish this science report. Sigh. But by far, the worst crutch I developed was a dependency to energy drinks. I’ve never been the type to drink Monster or even Mountain Dew because both taste like bitter, overly sweet motor oil, but then I found out that some energy drinks were mixed with coffee or chocolate milk. Hey, I love coffee and chocolate milk, I think I’ll- why am I watching Food Network at 4 AM? It was dangerous. And kind of awesome.
Now that I’m done with finals I can slowly wean myself back to a non-caffeinated drink schedule and a normal bedtime of 10 PM, but not without one last hurrah. That’s right, MiO is at it again, replacing Sassy Gay Friend with non-porn star “Thunder” Dave Steinman to debut their new energy formulas, MiO Energy. Kraft sent me these two bottles to review fo’ free, but first, I need to clear something up. Thunder, are you a satire or are you a human? Either way, you look a little like Dale from Rescue Rangers. I want to punch you in the face and then go grab a beer. MiO Energy comes in two flavors, Mountain Dew Green Thunder and Black Cherry. Perfect for the holidays, if your wish list also includes no sex and an XBox. If you haven’t already tried MiO, the liquid water enhancer, check out my review here.
Both MiO Energy flavors are incredibly concentrated out of the bottle and smell very medicinal before mixed in water. Both have no sugar and 60 mg of caffeine per squirt, about as much as an 8 oz. mug of instant coffee. Green Thunder appears to be less of a citrus-inspired drink and more of an energy-flavored drink, and by “energy-flavored” I mean liquid Smarties and carbonated aspirin. And that’s basically what this one tastes like at first. It gets a little better after sitting for a while, and ends up tasting like fruit-flavored candies, but comes nowhere near having an actual fruity flavor. It’s the poor man’s Monster and the rich man’s Vault.
I much preferred the Black Cherry flavor. Despite having the stainability of a Sharpie, it has a much more floral, delicate flavor with a rich cherry flavor that masks the caffeine and doesn’t end up tasting like cough syrup. Like its noncaffeinated predecessor, it has a slightly viscous texture that later smooths out after mixing, and would taste good mixed with either juices or even another MiO flavor. It feels like a more thought-out, versatile flavor with the ability to add a fruity kick to whatever you’re drinking and is luscious and tangy.
MiO Energy isn’t supposed to be added to alcohol, but I can’t help but be curious about revamping the classic Red Bull and Coke with a few squirts of this red-eye style. I’m not sure if the Green Thunder would taste good with anything other than vodka, but the cherry could prove to be versatile in a number of situations involving booze. But mainly all-night gaming sessions and frat parties. MiO Energy is an interesting concept, but the twelve servings in the bottle only makes you roughly six water bottles or twelve glasses full of beverage. If you’re looking for small bursts of energy over a long period of time, it might be helpful, but won’t give you the same long stride as a 5-Hour Energy (138 mg/2 oz) or even a NOS (140 mg/8 oz) will. As always, I prefer MiO a hair stronger than the recommended serving size, so perhaps adjusting the dose will vary your mileage. Just make sure not to drink this in eveningwear.

Hershey’s Cookies ‘n’ Creme Santa

This candy has long been a favorite of mine, and I know I’m not alone. I think the Hershey’s Cookies ‘n’ Creme Bar is one of the only ones to incorporate a little salinity into their chocolate, which makes it my automatic preference when it comes to picking out movie candy or a treat. It’s one of the only commercially popular white-chocolate based bars out there as well as one of the few cookie-centric treats that has survived the 90’s. Guys, remember the Reese’s Crunchy Cookie Cup? A moment of silence. I’ve seen assortments of dark and milk chocolate bars along with the white ones in miniature bars, but I haven’t tried them yet.
Everything about this bar is pretty much perfect, from the salty, crispy cookies that actually taste like chocolate wafers to the sweet white chocolate. It’s a little too sweet, but those cookies make it just dreamy. This Christmas-themed Cookies ‘n’ Cream bar is shaped like Santa Claus’s head. It’s nicely molded and cheerful, until you remember that you’re slowly dismembering an already decapitated public figure. Can’t win ’em all. That being said, this was great to eat- thicker than the bar and packed with a denser layer of cookie pieces, and gone in about four bites.
Sorry, big guy.

Hershey’s sent this over along with a few other goodies that you’ll see pop up in a neat recipe this week. Wanna win a Hershey’s holiday gift pack? It has one of these beautiful babies along with some other classic favorites repackaged for the holidays- a Hershey’s Kiss Santa hat, creamy Hershey’s milk chocolate holiday bells, Rolo candies, and more!
To win, just comment on this post with something holiday-related. Tell me what you’re going to eat. Tell me about the worst gift you’ve ever received. Extra entries will be given if you retweet or post on your Facebook with a link to this post including the phrase, “Meet me under the mistletoe, Foodette!” or any other slightly creepy-sounding holiday-oriented phrase and let me know where you put it. The link, that is. Options include, but are not limited to, “Let me see your latkes,” and “Honey, where’s the Ramadan?” Failing that, “My daughter has her own website and all I got was a half-eaten box of artisanal truffles.” I’ll post the winner on the 18th, and you’ll be eating bells by Christmas!

Bagels

Dunkin’ Donuts, what can I say? It’s been a while.
Look, let’s cut to the chase. I know you don’t even know my name. I’m the girl down the street. We chilled a few times over the summer when I needed a break, we grabbed coffee during my late nights studying this semester. We may have even hooked up at a lackluster work party. You know how it goes. I love those Munchkins.
I thought I’d be able to call you my coffee shop. I was entranced by your regional charm and ample selection of goods. But you had a lot going on. You’re going places- I mean, who would have time for a commitment when you’re busy opening 250 more retail locations throughout the US? I understand. So, you know, I played the field. I checked out the soulful neighborhood coffee shop, the rival Starbucks in the next town over. At the end of the day, though, sometimes a girl’s got to do the job herself.These bagels blew my mind. I’ll be back for your specialty sandwiches and doughnuts, but as far as bready breakfast is concerned, we’re done. Don’t call me until you’re ready to settle down.

Jess
Peter Reinhart’s Bagels (adapted from Smitten Kitchen and Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice)
Ingredients (makes six 4.5 oz bagels or ten 3 oz bagels)
Preparation time: 2-3 hours to prepare the bagels (best to start in the afternoon) and a rest in the fridge overnight
Cooking time: Fifteen minutes
For the sponge:
3/4 teaspoon of yeast
2 cups of flour
2 cups of water

For the dough:
1/4 teaspoon of yeast
1 3/4 cups of flour plus two tablespoons
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of corn or malt syrup

To finish:
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of corn or malt syrup
Cornmeal for dusting

1. Starting the afternoon or night before you want to bake the bagels, start by making your sponge. Combine the flour and yeast in a large bowl and slowly add the water until the mixture resembles a smooth pancake batter. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let it sit for one to two hours or until the mixture has doubled in size.
2. Incorporate your dough ingredients, starting with the yeast and flour and finishing with the salt and corn syrup at the end, mixing and kneading the dough until it is completely hydrated and no raw flour is left. Knead the dough until it is smooth and pliable but not sticky (about ten minutes) and all of the ingredients are incorporated into the ball.
3. Immediately begin dividing the dough into small balls of your desired weight or size. I weighed mine so that they would brown evenly but it’s not necessary. Smooth the balls out and cover them with a damp paper towel. Let them sit for twenty minutes.
4. Once the balls have rested, start by shaping them into bagels. I used the “stretch and tear” method, where I poked a hole into the center of my bagels and stretched the dough around my finger to create a smooth, even thickness. But you can also use the “rope and loop” method. Take a piece of dough and roll it into an even tube like you would a clay snake. (I failed art class) Take the tube and fold it over two of your fingers, looping the two ends together and smoothing the bagel dough out. Repeat with the remaining bagels.
5. Grease a baking sheet and lay your bagels on it. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let them sit for another twenty minutes. Once they have sat, fill a large bowl with cool tap water and perform the float test, where you will see if the bagels are ready to retard in the fridge over night. If a bagel floats on the surface for ten or more seconds, they are ready. Pat the wet bagel off with a paper towel and pop the pan on a flat surface in the fridge over night.
6. In the morning, preheat your oven to 500 degrees. Start boiling some water in a large pot on the stove. Leave your bagels in the refrigerator until you are ready to cook them. When the water is boiling, add the baking soda and corn syrup. Boiling the bagels is essential and will help prevent the bagels from spreading in the oven as well as create that chewy, thick crust that makes a bagel a bagel. Boil the bagels for one to two minutes, alternating sides halfway. The longer you boil your bagel, the thicker the crust and chewier the texture will be.
7. When all the bagels are boiled, spread your cornmeal out on your baking sheet and place your bagels on top. This is also the best time to add any toppings to your bagels, like poppy seeds, chopped onions, or garlic salt. The cornmeal will prevent the bagels from sticking. Bake for ten minutes or until the tops are golden brown.
8. Let the bagels cool for fifteen to twenty minutes, and then slice and toast or eat plain. Serve with salted butter or cream cheese and lox.

Salted Butter
Ingredients (makes 1/4 cup)
1/2 stick of butter
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt or fleur de sel
1. Combine all ingredients.
2. Spread and eat once melted.
These are so goddamned easy to make. It’s the yeasty equivalent of “set it and forget it.” Now, thank me for your New Year’s Day breakfast.

Phillips Candy House Chocolate Turtle Basket

I’m picky about my holiday food. I get paralyzed with fear when the selection is too vast and usually end up mindlessly gnawing at brie rinds. So I’ve narrowed my priorities down to a helpful acronym for all you viewers at home. It’s easy to prioritize awesome foods this holiday season with ABCDEFGHI- Appetizers, Balls (Or Food in Ball Form, nyuck nyuck), Cookies, Deny All Canned Food, Eggnog, Fried Stuff (Namely, Latkes), Gooey Dip, Holiday punch, and iPods Playing Alvin and the Chipmunks. All things you should cram into your mouth. Not included on this list are festering hunks of meat, stale supermarket rolls, anything with powdered sugar, and bowls of salted nuts.
Have you ever eaten and enjoyed a Brazil nut? No? Because they taste like pee? Yeah, that’s what I thought. Brazil nuts are the leftover skulls and amputated body parts in a pirate’s treasure chest of gold ‘n’ spoils. They’re miserable and terrible and have been fondled and rejected more times than a sweater on craigslist throughout the course of an evening, and as a result of one too many tainted handfuls around holiday time, salted nuts are off the list.
I have hope, though. After eating my way through a few of these delicious turtles from Phillips Candy House, nut-based products may make it back on the holiday A-list this year. This chocolate turtle basket was whisked across the state and made its way into my hot little hands courtesy of elves at Phillips. This is an entire chocolate basket filled with dark and milk chocolate turtles. The standard order contains milk, dark, and white chocolate turtles, but I got hooked up with salted, yeeeeaahhhhh sooooon. Yes, the basket is chocolate. Solid, drippy detailed chocolate that begs to be gnawed on like a cartoon chicken wing- a one-handed, slobbery affair.
Turtles are one of those Christmas desserts that inevitably fall to the wayside, collecting powdered sugar dust along with Mexican wedding cakes and fudge of questionable origin in the shadows of homemade pies, cupcakes, and glorious Bûches de Noël. Not these, though. The milk chocolate turtles taste like the Snickers’ acerbic older sister (the one majoring in philosophy) with the kick of salt backing up the sweet, smooth milk chocolate. The dark chocolate ones were tasty with the salt but would have been delicious without them as well, with a deep, rich flavor, more powerful than the milk. The milk chocolate was definitely the more balanced of the two. What really hooked me were the nuts in these. Traditional turtles are made with pecans only, but these incorporate a bridge mix ambiance into each piece, using a mixture of pecans, cashews, and salted almonds. Hot toddy, these are good. With the salt on top and the salty nuts, they provide an excellent counterbalance to the sweeter elements.
I preferred the milk chocolates to the dark only because I found that they were a little more harmonious with the other components in the candy. They amplified the burnt sugar flavors in the caramel and accentuated the individual flavors of the nuts, especially the maple-kissed pecans, where the dark chocolate stole the show and left the others behind. Not to say they weren’t delicious, of course. My definition of second place is eating three instead of four. I liked these quite a lot. For $42, you get a huge amount of high-end, smooth chocolate and a pound of turtles- approximately twenty oozing, delicious creatures. The basket weighs about three pounds on its own, so you’re getting the whole shebang for about ten bucks a pound. Not bad for the presentation and goods. I imagine this would be a real hit at a holiday party, especially with the edible basket to nibble on with coffee once the turtle supply has been decimated. For the sophisticated terrapin enthusiast.

Big Bamboo Jamaican Irish Moss Peanut Drink

I don’t know if I can adequately vocalize the specific brand of rage I reserve for U2’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” Yes, I know it’s by Band Aid. But with the level of simpering, holier-than-thou pretension, they may as well have just said it was all Bono. Seriously. That’s not a Christmas song, because it contains a distinct lack of singing reindeer, beleaguered couples, and commercial joy. Also, because it’s not Christmas in East Haven. Case closed.
And don’t even get me started on Christmas Shoes. I mean, seriously, songs that are marketed toward a strictly Christmas audience (different from a Christian audience, but similar to an audience that responds positively toward the music played in department stores) are not automatically Christmas songs. Likewise, flavors that appear to be holiday-themed may, in fact, be the exact opposite.
I don’t know what holiday Irish moss officially represents. Let’s go with “Pick that thing up and put it in your mouth! Day” because like mushrooms, this drink is primarily derived from a food that should have never been consumed in the first place- Chondrus chrispus, also known as carrageen moss. Unlike mushrooms, it’s used as a popular aphrodisiac in Jamaica, colloquially “putting the lead back into your pencil.” Hi-ho, Ticonderoga, indeed. Did I mention this is inexplicably called the Big Bamboo? Fear for me, readers. Also, pray.
So I bought this because it was 75 cents and had snowflakes on it, which I now realize are an artist’s renditions of Irish moss and peanuts, hence my associating it with holiday foods. If soda was a nightmare, this is what would appear out of the darkness just before you wake up, biting off your head and lower intestinal area. Actually, I partially take that back. This isn’t really a soda, though it comes in a soda can. It looks like I’ve been suckered into buying another one of those FEMA nutritional drinks again. The nutrition facts on this read like a Stephen King novel. I’m not sure why someone put a peanut butter milkshake in a soda can and labeled it as a marital aid- maybe for Homer Simpson? But here it is.
Also, the can tab displayed remarkably faulty craftsmanship as well as visual comedic gold. Classic, Irish Moss, classic. The beverage is tan and HOLY CRAP IT’S CHUNKY. No. No. No. There shouldn’t be visual, pointy chunks in a peanut butter milkshake. It smells inoffensive, like granulated sugar and Mary Jane candies. Like grandmothers, but so, so far from that. The consistency is a little gulp-worthy, with a thick, gelatinous pour. It separates easily and has a foamy, oily texture that leaves a sheen on the fingers. As I expected, the flavor is pretty decent, as most products with 98% milk, peanut butter, and sugar ought to be. It has a clean, persistent roasted nuttiness and a pleasant salinity from the seaweed. Two flavors that surprisingly work well together, neither one overwhelming or strangely flavored. The aftertaste was slightly metallic.
Aside from the sheer creepiness of drinking this, for the most part, it was innocuous and tasty, with a balance in sweetness that most soft drinks seem to miss. Of course, that still doesn’t account for the 33 grams of sugar, but at least you don’t feel like it’s rotting your teeth as you drink it. Unlike “Christmas Shoes.” The chunks, whatever the hell they were, dissolved before I had the chance to strain them out and examine them. Despite the Freudian euphemistic signs that are as overt as a Blue’s Clues show, I’m totally above telling you that everything about this drink reminds me of sex. Oh, damn it. I mean, come on! Flesh tone beverage? Gently shake before opening? I’m not crazy. As for the side effects? Let’s just say that I didn’t feel any enhanced mistletoe interactions or heavily decked halls. Because those are completely meaningless terms, and I’m a Jewish girl. Damn you, Big Bamboo! Damn you to hell!

Askinosie Dark Milk Chocolate + Licorice CollaBARation Bar

As much as I go ga-ga for the latest limited edition bag of chips or Kwanzaa-themed taco from Taco Bell, it is an absolute treat to receive wintry desserts and chocolates in the mail. No doubt. When I got this bar from Askinosie, it sat on my reviewing desk for a while, and then moved to the kitchen. While I knew it would be amazing, I was a little afraid to review it.
Black licorice and chocolate? And anise seeds to boot? I feared my intrepid nature had gone too far. But winter is slowly encroaching upon us like an aged ogling spectator at the gym, and there’s nothing we can do to stop it but sit inside and eat. Pity, really. In the spirit of all things chilly, because really, Western Mass, it’s the first day I haven’t been able to go outside with a t-shirt on, so I poured myself a finger (okay, two) of 10 year Laphroaig and got my virtual fireplace on, preparing to try this bar. #boss
Askinosie’s dark chocolate is superb and despite the $10 price tag and limited release on this bar, I encourage you to check this out as a gift or a treat. The packaging is especially clever, with the label and bar inside a glassine sleeve, whose opaque tint blurs some words and emphasizes others. It’s bold, yet minimal. I’ve mentioned my love for their Socunusco here, and while their Davao is 62% as opposed to the robust 75% of the Socunusco, it’s no less potent and sweet. On its own, the chocolate is glossy and thick, with a firm, shiny exterior and snap. The Davao has grassy, olive-like notes with a tangy, coffee finish. This particular bar studs the Davao with pieces of salted black licorice from renowned Scandinavian factory Lakritsfabriken, anise seeds, and fleur de sel.
Texture-wise, this offers a melange of thoughtful bites to maneuver on the tongue, starting a curiously sensual process before taste even enters the picture. The pieces of licorice are soft and chewy and the anise seeds and salt start to dissolve and soften in your mouth before the chocolate. Tempting as it was to wolf down each piece, I found that letting it melt and linger on the tongue released far more earthy, savory notes than chewing it did- though it was an extremely difficult effort to not mindlessly eat the entire bar. The salted elements infuse the bar in a few different ways. While there is a persistent mild salinity from the fleur de sel, a pleasant contrast to the briny flavors in the chocolate, every so often the licorice yields small pockets of salt that shock the tongue delicately and open up those sweetly subtle anise flavors and brown sugar/molasses notes.
This is an absolutely crafted bar, no doubt about that. It is not something to casually eat on the way to work or after a big meal with ice cream. It is too nuanced and delicate to eat alongside other sweet foods. With a small glass of scotch on the rocks, it quelled all cravings for any other foods. It’s compelling enough to enjoy in small pieces but not so intense that it overwhelms the palate. It is easily one of the tastiest bars I have eaten this year and carries the same level of precision as any Vosges or Amano with attention to balance in its flavors and the showcasing of its amazing chocolate. Saving the remaining squares for Miss Love will be an arduous task indeed.

Nestle Nutrition Chocolate Nutrament Nutrition Drink

Where else but the dogmatic structure of a university can adults pay to be legally forced to churn out work like underage sweatshop employees, spending countless sleepless nights toiling on assignments that lead to…more school and more work? Seriously, I’m about to send a press release to the World Human Organization and Amnesty International. I’m more marveling than complaining. I like working on papers. I strive to enter a career that revolves around research and arguments. But I can’t help but be impressed at the marketing behind higher education.
As you can see by my incoherent and loosely structured rant, I’m knee-deep in the sludge of college finals. I have a gorgeously written paper due tomorrow, two final exams to study for, and a film about bugs to watch and take notes on. Needless to say, I’m locked in my dormitory awaiting execution by homework. It’s going to be a long two days. I stocked up on energy drinks and protein shakes to keep me alert and unencumbered by things like “food” and “bathroom breaks.”
Seriously, this drink looks like something you’d hand out to African refugee children suffering from ascites. Or college students. Same difference. I can’t tell if the label on this is a misguided jab at hipness from the 60-year old WordArt certified graphic designers on this account or just incredibly outdated and cheap. My guess is the latter. This is the only nutrition or protein drink I’ve seen that can be bought for $2. And your soul.
With 360 calories and your apparently daily recommended value of sugar, 49 grams, not a whole lot about this is screaming “nutritious.” The store only carried chocolate, but I must say I feel a little jilted that my area wasn’t privy to the more eclectic flavors this comes in like banana, coconut, and dulce de leche. And this barely passes as chocolate. Hell, canola oil surpasses cocoa in the ingredient list. Nestle, do you mean to tell me that one of the primary energy supplements in this is canola oil? Holy hell, this is worse than I anticipated. The can tells me to “just chill the can + shake vigorously to release the inner power.” I’m guessing that’s a roundabout way of saying there’s an asston of sediment at the bottom or a subliminal advertisement for masturbating.
This tastes like a distillation of chocolate Necco wafers and Flintstones vitamins, down to the chalkiness and artificially fruity flavor. It has a powdery, fake smell reminiscent of the marshmallows in Lucky Charms and flat, dull color. While there but for the grace of Nestle goes the texture, surprisingly fluid and smooth, there is absolutely nothing else redeeming about this drink. It has the disturbing heft and substance of baby formula and an unrelenting sugary aftertaste. In pinning down this flavor I think it’s best described as “protein ass.” Please, please, please, if you’re between this and another protein drink for twice the price, splurge. Nestle, merely putting the word “nutrition” on the bottle five times does not make this nutritious.

KeVita Sparkling Probiotic Coconut Refreshment

I’m the first to admit that I’m literally the world’s foremost expert on everything, especially gourmet food, dark chocolate, and haute cuisine. Emeril can take a goddamned seat. And I know that most people agree with me. Hell, I’ve even gotten over my self-proclaimed Kryptonite, mushrooms. Better yet, I’ve made peace with the vile scum and we’ve reached a quiet understanding.
However, there was one thing I had to cross off my bucket list that I knew would be a tough one. Worse than watching Keepitcoming Love laugh at my old “claw hand + cell phone” photos from the backlogs of ’09, I’ve always been kind of squicked out by kombucha. You’d think fermented anything wouldn’t be something that would gross me out. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s made with something called a “mother mushroom” which is a kind name compared to the fact that it’s literally a giant floating ball of bacteria in your lefthanded Limoges teacup.
And guess what? This drink isn’t kombucha. I’m a huge baby. But this is probiotic, a good start to infiltrating your body with tiny, superpowered microorganisms. This was given to me by our good friend the German Shepherd Whisperer. I drank this pretty quickly. And I didn’t turn into Jamie Lee Curtis as a result my “irregularity.” I’m so regular, guys. This drink, from KeVita, is pretty darned tasty. When you overlook the fact that the carbonation isn’t from good ol’ CO2, it tastes like a well-crafted, delicious soda. This drink makes me want to take up yoga and go out for a jog. It has a clean, fresh mild flavor, including that textured creaminess that coconuts have. The probiotics round the drink out with an earthy, yogurty tang. With the bubbles in abundance, it’s more complex than your average Coke and has a restrained sweetness that makes it hard to resist. While it took me a while to adjust to the lack of a sugary onslaught, I realized I liked it quite a bit.
The drink left me with a full feeling and satisfied my sweet tooth. It was really tasty, and even the bubbles looked livelier. I feel like this would work well as a supplement to a juice fast. Not that I’ve ever tried any of those. I’m proposing to bifidobacteria tomorrow. I’ll let you know how that goes.

Hedonist Chocolates Holiday Truffle Collection

Call it a slight case of Freudian deference to authority or what have you, but I freaking love Christmas. It might be my gay love of kitsch speaking. Yes, I’m Jewish. Yes, I grew up with a Catholic mother and a Christmas tree and menorah. One of those kids, and I can confirm what’s going through your mind right now: I totally got twice the presents. Boo-yah.
As soon as December first rolls around, never before that because Christmas music in November is just batshit dumb, I start humming along to the insipid pah-rum-pum-pums of the techno Miley Cyrus/Akon remix of Little Drummer Boy on the radio and plot out recipes for no less than thirty Christmas cookies. I suddenly tear up when A Charlie Brown Christmas comes on, and I’m suddenly less repulsed by marabou-laced lingerie two-pieces at Target. Come on, they totally come in Santa colors! So yes, as much as the sorrow-tinged afternoons of Yom Kippur and the agony-laden nights of Passover move me to no end, I’m a shameless addict to the consumerist culture of Christmas.

Hedonist Truffles, whom you may remember from our Valentine’s Day TweetHeart post, sent over some holiday goodies from their winter collection that were almost genetically and technologically programmed to elicit the exact amount of winter cheer from every single person on the planet. I stand by that statement one hundred percent. Five truffles in five flavors: champagne pomegranate, egg nog, ginger molasses, fig, and orange clove. Playing off my love to condense classic flavors into bite-sized cubes, they sounded like they incorporated some really intriguing and underused flavors. Each truffle is coated in a substantial shell of Hedonist’s inky, smoky dark chocolate.
While each truffle was delightful in its own way, egg nog was hands-down my favorite. I think I speak for everyone when I say that typically, egg nog isn’t at its best in solid form. This is the exception to the rule. Dark, bittersweet chocolate revealed a creamy white center speckled with nutmeg and cinnamon, with an egg-like springy texture and gutsy booziness. Hedonism for the win!
The other flavors didn’t have as deep a level of precision as the egg nog, but still sat squarely in the high-quality, phenomenal truffle territory. These were no mass-produced Godiva truffles. The champagne pomegranate didn’t remind me of either champagne or pomegranate, but had a clean, smooth smokiness that lingered in the mouth after chewing and a light salt coating that gave a saline balance to the restrained sweetness of the truffle.

The fig truffle was awesome, with a seriously seedy texture and jammy chew. Unfortunately, its placement next to the orange clove chocolate caused it to have a diminished citrus and spice flavor which detracted from the earthy figs and dark chocolate. The orange clove chocolate was delicious and had a forward, in-your-face spiciness that tasted like swallowing a pomander whole. The little piece of candied orange rind had a gummy-like chew that made me crave more! Ginger molasses was a tasty way to end our little sampling, but lacked the smoky, burnt sugar aspects of molasses that I crave. It did have a bold spiciness from the ginger.
Check these out if you’re looking for an eclectic holiday gift or party offering. They make lovely little mignardises at the end of a meal or with a late cup of espresso.

Cornmeal Crepes with Jalapeno, Sage and Maple Chicken Sausage

A little simple math for you so you can play along at home.
What does this?
Plus these?
And some of this?
Equal? Some of you may have said “awesomesauce” You are partially correct. Some of you winced and said, “calories.” You are wrong and deserve to be kicked in the face. These are crepes ‘n’ sausage, also known as pigs in the blanket, and our personal family favorite, pigtails, are a mouthwatering, comforting dish which can rack up to 829 calories per serving with 27 grams of fat and 1,502 grams of sodium. Kind of awful amidst all these holiday meals, no?
What if I told you we could cut that number in half? We totally can- but we have to go deeper. We’ll start with the sausage. In the immortal words of Alex from School of Rock- pork, you’re tacky and I hate you. Of course, I’m kidding, but yeah, we can totally do better. My homemade chicken sausage patties and links took about fifteen minutes to make and fifteen minutes to cook. Each link or patty has a whopping 60 calories and 2 grams of fat and have a bold, meaty flavor with a smooth, minced texture. For the crepes, I adapted my recipe from this one and thought it did the trick wonderfully. Next time I’d even use less butter. Three crepes runs you 280 calories with 10 grams of fat. A little high in fat, but still not completely insane.

I added some jalapeno maple syrup, two tablespoons of which has around 150 calories. That’s optional, but damn, is it good. The total calorie count for this recipe without the syrup, per serving, comes to 460 calories and 16 grams of fat for three sausages in their blankets. Move over, Baby Jesus, this is the real Christmas miracle.

Jalapeno, Sage, and Maple Chicken Sausage Patties
Ingredients (makes 8 2 oz. patties or 20 links)
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon Root liquor (optional, but makes it awesome)
1/4 teaspoon dried sage
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon chopped jalapenos
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large clove of garlic

1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until finely ground. The mixture will be a little sticky.
2. Form small patties and links with hands- don’t worry if the edges are slightly ragged. It will give them a better, crispier texture.
3. Heat a small frying pan with a little olive oil and fry the sausages in sets of three or four until the meat is no longer pink around the edges and has a golden brown crust. Serve with pancakes, in a sandwich, or eat them on their own. They’re best fresh, but can be frozen for up to three months and reheated on the stove or in the microwave.
Cornmeal Crepes
Ingredients (makes 8-10 5-inch crepes)
1/8 cup plus one tablespoon of ground yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup plus one tablespoon of all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/2 tablespoon of light brown sugar
2/3 cup of milk
1 egg
1 tablespoon of butter, melted
1 tablespoon of butter, unmelted

1. Mix wet ingredients together. Slowly, incorporate dry ingredients until the batter is smooth.
2. Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter into a small frying pan. Take two to three tablespoons of batter and plop them in the pan. Remove the pan from the heat and swirl the batter around until it is in a thin layer.
If you can do this, you’re doing it correctly.
3. When the edges of the crepe are crispy and brown, flip the crepe and cook for another 30 seconds until the other side is brown as well. Serve immediately on their own or loaded with toppings.