Papa Ben’s Peanut Brittle

Over the years, we’ve seen the demises and returns of a ton of old fashioned treats from the quintessential penny candy stores like horehound, button candy, and a personal favorite, peanut brittle. And some of these favorites have been revived and redazzled into gourmet, upscale treats, like the Rice Krispie treat. Making one is like making a car- you can put anything you want on it for a base fee and then, the add ons just get worse. It’ll only be a matter of time before you can get edible diamonds or gold crap on your damned lollipops.Some treats are sticking to the basics, though, like a peanut brittle that I got in the mail recently. Papa Ben’s Brittle has six ingredients that do something insanely magic when they combine. It’s different from many of the brittles I’ve had in that it’s a little more substantial and less airy. The bubbles are packed closer together and it’s got a dense, foamy crunch. The sugar has caramelized and burnt to the point of perfection. It doesn’t stick to the teeth, it just gently releases, like a friendly dog, and the sea salt is an excellent counterbalance to all the sugar that brittle typically puts in.At first, I couldn’t appreciate this brittle because of the subtleties of the burnt flavors and the complexities of the layers. The peanuts are soft and yielding and end up playing, oddly, a second fiddle to the medley of sweet and salty and bitter that goes on in the actual candy in this confection. You can taste the very vessel that this was cooked in. This candy needs no bling or packaging or crazy advertising. It’s just, in a word, an art form. I can eat through four ounces and know that each piece will taste a little different each time. It’s a company that truly does keep on keepin’ on.

Trader Joe’s Mini Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

He looked me square in the eye and said, “I bet you can’t eat just one handful.” And I looked vaguely in his direction and said, ” Yeah, sure, I’m sure they’re just great.” It was the best kind of a Mexican standoff, in the middle of a Trader Joe’s, organic, fair trade, child labor free pomelos rolling by like tumbleweeds, and I took the package from him.Trader Joe’s Mini Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups.

Oh, you think you’re so cute. So tiny and bitty. Perfect to give to a child to serve at only the most haute of doll tea parties. Perfect for the burliest of porn star caliber men to pop in his mouth, a quick, protein laden energy boost with a sweet, sultry side. Perfect for the self-proclaimed motherly chocoholics.

You think you’re so perfect.
So I tried them. I brought them to Shutter Island and I tried them, and in the course of four days, they were gone. They are miniscule, and the chocolate is sweet. It carries a slight vanilla flavor, but that wavers in comparison to the veritable ocean of peanut butter that comes in when the chocolate melts. It’s just slightly salty, with a smooth texture.The melt is lovely, and the chocolate is chewy, but doesn’t get brittle or snappy. I wished that the peanut butter was a little saltier and grainier on the palate, as to provide a comparison, because after a while, the flavors just melted together. Reese’s does it quite well, with the peanut butter, but their chocolate doesn’t compare to Trader Joe’s. This one tastes more like a homemade peanut butter cup than anything else, but I loved them so.

Damn you, bitty monsters. Damn you to hell.

Amano Guayas 70% Dark Chocolate

I’m no dark chocolate aficionado, but here’s another great bar. This is an artisan bar from Guayas, from Amano Chocolate. The tasting notes say that there are hints of green banana, blackberry, and smoke, but I generally stray away from those, because like my wines, I like to taste them myself so as not to get a false influence from the notes, and then read them afterward.This bar, in comparison to the other dark chocolates, was much softer, and for a 70% dark chocolate, that’s an interesting fact. It didn’t have much of a snap and didn’t quite crumble, but it bent when I broke it apart, and was so smooth that I left fingerprints on the bar where I touched it. I was a little intimidated. However, the melt was extremely smooth and intense, with no build up at all. It did taste a very fresh, however, with aftertastes of ripe berries and smoke, and soy-like, almost carnal, deep flavorings. I didn’t feel as though this bar had as much depth to it as the Askinosie that I last reviewed.There was a richness and melt to this bar that reminded me of a milk chocolate, and the scent was deep and reminiscent of a cherry cordial when I first opened the package. After letting it sit out for a while, the scent strengthened and the blooming smell of berries wafted across my desk, enticing me to take a bite and releasing the flavor of the berries themselves, and smelling more and more like raw cocoa beans.

All in all, this is a professional bar. The style of dark chocolate might not necessarily be my favorite, but as far as artisan chocolate goes, one need not go further than Amano. The bar stops here.

Giveaway: 3 Musketeers Truffle Crisp Bars!

Dear readers,

I have a giveaway for you! Spring has finally sprung in Western Massachusetts, and I am so freaking excited that I am giving away something awesome. Mars has sent me an entire case of 3 Musketeers Truffle Crisp Bars, 24 of them, and I am giving away 12 gift packages of them, with two bars in each, to 12 lucky readers.I have something very exciting coming down the pike with 3 Musketeers and I’m working with their team for another giveaway, so this is just a small taste (literally, ha ha) of what’s coming in the near future!
Here are the rules!

All I want YOU to do is comment and tell me what your favorite candy as a child was (or is, if you’re a kid now) I want stories, people!

One entry per person.

No entries after Monday, March 1st, 12:00 AM.

Winners will be randomly selected and announced the Tuesday after!

Happy contesting!


Cadbury Creme Egg

A while back, I reviewed the Cadbury Twisted Creme Bar, and though this isn’t traditional Valentine’s fare, actually, more Easter fare, I had to show you my new photo equipment! I built a lightbox last night and tried it out today, so from now on, all photos you’ll see on Foodette will be a product of this little toy! Very cheap and easy to make!
So the Cadbury egg is a quintessential treat around springtime. The stores are rolling them out now, even before Valentine’s Day, along with the Cadbury mini eggs, to ensure that we’re all aware that April is coming, and SOON.
The egg’s shell and fondant were a lot thicker than I thought. They’re actually a lot thicker than the bar’s were, too, come to think of it. It’s more of a creme than a liquidy goo, which is nice, and the creme isn’t grainy or sticky to the touch. It’s not fluffy like a buttercreme, though. It’s very smooth and flavorful, a light vanilla taste and aroma that blends with and doesn’t detract from the chocolate itself, which is standard Cadbury fare- a rich and creamy, slightly sour, dairy heavy milk chocolate. A very good treat, but so sugary. I love them so, but once a year is fine enough for me. There’s a reason why these are seasonal, and it’s because it’s easier to eat frosting out of the can or inject it intravenously.
Thr egg is also extremely substantial and can be lobbed like a small grenade. I think that the chocolate to fondant ratio is fine for the egg. You’ll see in one of the photos, the shell was rather tough to cut through to expose the fondant inside. And, as always, the yolk is ever so lovely and yellow.

3 Musketeers Truffle Crisp Bar

I tried this at the urging of two factors; the convenience store’s sign, proclaiming “NEW!!!” in bolded, highlighted lettering at the front of the desk, and the clerk at the desk herself, telling me how tasty they were.

Intrigued, I scurried back to my room, candy bar in hand. As soon as I unwrapped this, a wonderful and rich chocolatey smell entered my confused nostrils. This was…rich. Hrm. So I cracked open the bar, and to my surprise, it was extremely succulent. The chocolate on the outside was rich and milky, and on the inside, the bar snapped with an airy crunch like a malted milk ball and melted with a similarly airy feel to a malted milk ball, too. The truffle layer is really tasty, and very rich. It’s a lot creamier than a lot of the standard chocolate bars that Mars and Hershey put out.

The truffle layer was also very fluffy, but substantial enough to give me the feeling of eating an entire chocolate bar, and there was enough difference in each layer- the outside, the truffle, and the crispy bottom, that I didn’t get bored or bothered that there wasn’t a different flavor instead of just chocolate, and the flavors also maintained the integrity of the 3 Musketeers bar that it had deviated from in the first place. I’ll definitely go to this over another chocolate bar in the future, because it gave me a more gourmet feel of a truffle, but without the “gourmet” prices.

Reese’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

Saw these today while picking up a clip-on lamp and decided to give them a go. These have been around for a while, it seems. I’m not sure if they’re still from the Dark Knight or not, but here they are and here I am.

The dark chocolate is nice. It’s woodsy, and carries a really deep, textured flavor, with a hugely cinnamony and nutty flavor, really full and good, but has a waxy coating at the end, possibly from the milk-fats in the ingredients that turned me off and stopped me from eating the other peanut butter cup. The percentage of cocoa is not so much that it doesn’t melt, rather, it melts extremely easily.

One aspect of this candy that I enjoyed was the congruence and textural balance of the peanut butter. Its thickness and chunks and the saltiness made it really tasty to eat alongside the dark chocolate, whereas sometimes the milk chocolate peanut butter cups are a little too sweet. The dark chocolate cut it and brought out the flavors of the peanut butter that might have otherwise been minimized in the regular peanut butter cup. This candy was really great.

Williams-Sonoma Peppermint Bark

Hello, hello, hello, and to all, a Merry Christmas!

Dinner is over, almost everyone is long since in bed, and I’m up, scheming and dreaming away, and eating delicious peppermint bark from Williams-Sonoma, a gift from Dr. D’s mother-in-law.

I do love Williams-Sonoma, and all of their products are quite high end. The packaging is always really adorable, too. This one was a play on the word “bark,” and had a little dalmatian running across the box. They always do vintage-inspired advertisements, really classic stuff. I hear their croissants are killer, and though I’ve never tried them, I’d love to sometime.

So this peppermint bark came in a lovely abundance, with peppermint stick pieces studded throughout the candy, which was about 1/6th of an inch thick, half dark chocolate, half white chocolate. It was quite tasty. However, I wish there was a more milky, high-quality to it like most of the WS products that I’m used to. It was chalky, and the chocolate flavors weren’t as pronounced as I’d have liked. The bite was nice and it snapped audibly. The dark chocolate was extremely bland and had no external notes or undertones and such, and wasn’t even very chocolatey. In fact, the only real flavors I got were the milky vagueness from the white chocolate and slight waxiness and the crunch and mintiness of the peppermint candy.

An epic fail, but a lovely Christmas. Cheers to all!

Goetze’s Caramel Apple Cow Tale

I know it’s a little late for fall favorites, but figured this would still delight you all. I’ve always had a fascination with Bullseyes and Cowtales, because of how they’re described as a “fondant” wrapped around caramel. If that white magic is fondant, I’d crash more weddings. It’s delicious. The candies are oft overlooked, but have still remained a tasty classic for children and adults everywhere.

I also have some good news, unrelated to this review, but still good, nonetheless. As you can see, I am using a new rating graphic, with colorful candies, and have eliminated the precursory adjective from the system altogether.

The Caramel Apple Tale has the same slightly stale, yet chewy bite that the regular Cow Tale has, with the powdered sugar on the outside to keep it from sticking to the package. I always thought that was genius. But the filling is intense, a red, sticky sour apple flavor. I’m not too sure it translated as well to fondant as the original flavor does. It seemed a little too sticky on my teeth, and the flavor really overpowered the caramel.

That being said, it was a rather original design, which I liked, and the flavor was good. I just wish there was a better balance between the two flavors.

Random Candy Reviews…

I snuck some pieces of candy from my sister’s leftover Halloween stash and figured I’d review them all for you. IT WILL BE FUN.

So the first thing I tried intrigued me and scared me at the same time. It was a chocolate golf ball wrapped in golf-like foil. It was pretty big and of a nice size and weight for a no-name chocolate. And the chocolate even had little golf ball dimples! Really cute. Gotta say, I’m a sucker for candies that smile and have cute things on them.

But this wasn’t just cute foil and dimples. The chocolate was about 1/4 inch thick all around and was a smooth, not too sugary chocolate, almost like See’s. I checked the See’s website and saw nothing about golf balls, though. Still, a really tasty and fun treat!

8/10- LOVELY

The next snack was a mini pack of Black Forest gummi bears. I’ve had good treats like this, and figured I’d enjoy these as I’ve enjoyed the gummi worms in the past. But these were way too chewy for my taste, almost rubbery, and really bothered my teeth. They were very bouncy, but like all foods, I like my gummies to have a little give to them! The flavors were decent, five of them, but out of all, I liked the orange the best.

Don’t quite know what happened to these. I’m not pleased with the overall taste of them or the texture, and wish that they were more akin to Albanese or Haribo.

4/10- BAD

The last candy was actually a gum that I’d been wanting to try, Trident Layers. I’d heard some mixed reviews from them, but figured that the best time to try them was “on the job,” in this case, rushing to class without brushing my teeth. Big mistake. I got a tiny bit of strawberry first, and then a big, acidic wave of pineapple. And then the pineapple went away and left a nice strawberry flavor, smooth texture, not gritty, for about 45 minutes. Weird gum.

The pineapple part is also jelly-like in the middle, and it’s damned strange. I don’t like gum that resembles a dessert. The pieces are big, and quite wide for gum, though. I don’t know. I’m ambivalent. I don’t feel like there was enough overall pineapple to merit the combination, and also don’t feel like the strawberry was tasty enough to consider eating a whole pack of.

3/10- EH.