Archive for November, 2007

Das caramels

Before I left school for Thanksgiving break, I checked my PO Box one last time. Surprise! There was a box of caramel samples from Das Foods. I was thankful that I’d thought to check my mail; otherwise I would have had to wait an extra week to taste these.

The caramels may come in a small box, but Das Foods packs that box to the brim. I was surprised at how many caramels fit inside (not that I’m complaining). I was also surprised to see that my caramels differed a little from the ones in the website’s photo. Where were my visible grains of fleur de sel (French sea salt)?

Even if I couldn’t see the salt, I could taste it. If you’ve never had a salted caramel before, you’re missing out! While it may seem like an odd flavor combination, the salt really cuts through the sweet to bring out the darker, burned sugar flavors of the caramel. The Das caramel had a dark and dusky flavor that I found quite enjoyable. The website claims lavender and honey flavors; I could taste the honey component (which probably brought some of the darker sugar taste) but didn’t notice the lavendar.

Texture-wise, it had a creamy, buttery, and slightly greasy mouthfeel. I loved the buttery and creamy; the slightly greasy I could do without, but I don’t think it’s physically possible to get the first two without the latter. Life’s tough like that. The chew was quite soft and enjoyably sticky – it gets stuck in your teeth but eventually works its way out without you having to commit a social faux pas by picking it out.

Das caramels come in a wide assortment of flavors, including cafe cortado, ginger and pistachio, chocolate walnut, lemon and honey, orange and honey, and chai latte. They all sound intriguing. An OMG on these guys, even though I probably won’t buy them again (I’m not one who likes to regularly eat caramels). The box that I do have, however, I will slowly savor.


November 30, 2007 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

Shameless Self Promotion, a Chocolate comic, & Tuesday’s news

Well Fed‘s 2007 Food Blog Award nominations start tomorrow and go until December 5th! They have 14 categories for food blog awards, including Best Food Blog – Theme and Best New Food Blog. Hint hint. A published nomination could do wonders for increasing my site traffic. Increased site traffic may make it worthwhile for me to further invest in ZOMG, Candy! upgrades and the like. Just to throw that out there…

In other news, I’ve been following this great comic strip called F Minus. It’s offbeat, surreal, and clever. I like the strip even more after this comic about chocolate (click on comic for larger version).


That white stuff is bloom, which is what happens when the cocoa butter in chocolate separats and rises to the surface. It’s actually not a sign that the chocolate is old, only that it’s been poorly stored. But the older the chocolate, the more opportunities it has had for being improperly stored, so old chocolate is more likely to have bloomed.

And the news you would’ve seen on Tuesday:

After reading about the Dessert Truck (a street food truck that only serves dessert; yum!), I was intrigued and have added it to my mental list of places to visit next time I’m in New York. Just check out what’s on the menu:

“Chocolate Bread Pudding…Served with creme anglaise. (For those looking for a new taste experience, ask for our bacon creme anglaise)” Looks like the bacon/chocolate phenomenon has spread!

November 29, 2007 at 8:00 am 1 comment

Lula’s Chocolates – Aloha Rocky Road

I was so excited to receive this sample of Lula’s Chocolates’ Aloha Rocky Road. The wrapper says it contains “homemade, artisan marshmallows”, “Hawaiian, house-roasted macadamia nuts”, and “premium milk chocolate”. Doesn’t that just sound delectable? I like the Hawaiian twist on your traditional rocky road with the addition of macadamia nuts in place of almonds or walnuts.

The chocolate comes in one giant, chocolate-covered slab. The packaging is simple, yet functional (unlike the Sweet Sweet Confections S’mores Bars) – the cellophane was sturdy and the package opened easily. Surprisingly enough, the bar arrived fairly intact – only a few marshmallow pieces on the edges were slightly smushed, and even then barely noticeably so. I also liked how the Lula’s logo looked summery and Hawaiian.

I appreciate the quality of the ingredients that went into this treat. The marshmallows are good – they’re fluffy and not overly sweet but definitely not bland either. The chocolate is good quality as well. It has a nice texture, a great snap, and a smooth mouthfeel, and though it was milk, I didn’t find it too sweet at all. The macadamia nuts were delicious as well, but really, it’s hard to go wrong with chocolate-covered macadamia nuts.

Tastewise, I think this bar got everything right. It was delicious, and the lucky friends I shared it with agreed. However, I didn’t like how it came in one giant slab. It was hard to eat and share, as it didn’t break into pieces easily. Should I pick up the entire bar and bite off a chunk? Should I try to break it apart with my hands? I went with the latter, which was difficult and messy. Also, the marshmallow and macadamia nut pieces are haphazardly distributed throughout the bar, and it’s hard to get a taste of both in the same bite. It was more like I was eating chocolate covered marshmallows and chocolate covered macadamia nuts that just happened to be fused together.

I think the concept could be improved by changing the presentation. Why not make individually wrapped, bite-sized pieces of Aloha Rocky Road – one cube of marshmallow topped by a roasted macadamia nut, all coated in chocolate? That would make them easy to share and easy to eat. Of course, it would be harder to pack, but I think it would be an improvement. An OM for the way it is now; an OMG if it wasn’t so messy.

November 28, 2007 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

Emily’s Chocolates’ Dark Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

An extremely generous box of samples arrived from Emily’s Chocolates (BUY on Amazon!) while I was out of town for Thanksgiving break, so I didn’t get them until yesterday. I haven’t had a chance to taste everything in there, but I did try the cookies, and they were most definitely worth the wait. In fact, they were so good that I’ve bumped today’s news story to share this review.


The sandwich cookies come in mint cream and peanut butter cream. The peanut butter cream cookies come in a similar container, only it’s orange, and it’s snowman had a top hat instead of earmuffs. Isn’t it funny how we now associate orange with peanut butter, all thanks to Reese’s? The packaging is pretty, cute, and festive, making these cookies a great candidate for a hostess gift or a way to suck up to teachers.

Both flavors of cookies are like dark chocolate-covered Oreos with generously thick layers of peanut butter or mint cream. The dark chocolate covering is thick, rich, and delectable. Here’s a shot taken with a flash that shows off how hefty the layers of chocolate and cream are, though it makes the chocolate look lighter than it really is.

The cookies are a great blend of textures – smooth dark chocolate, crunchy chocolate cookie, and creamy filling. The mint cream cookie smelled strongly of mint and chocolate and packed a wallop of mint flavor. I loved it. The mint flavor was strong, but not too strong, leaving the cookie well balanced. The finish was of just chocolate, which I think works well, as a lingering, sugary mint taste isn’t always pleasant. Flavor-wise, the cookie is reminiscent of a Thin Mint, but better – it’s more texturally interesting, the chocolate is of better quality, and there’s more of everything! An enthusiastic ZOMG! for the Dark Chocolate Covered Mint Cream Sandwich Cookies.

The peanut butter cream cookie smelled slightly of peanut butter, and it’s peanut butter taste was present but mild. The finish was pretty much all chocolate, just like that of the mint version. I would have preferred a stronger and saltier peanut butter flavor, though the overall cookie was still delicious. An OMG for the Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cream Sandwich Cookies.

Emily’s also sent me their limited edition boxes of their dark chocolate covered nuts and fruits, a big box of their milk chocolate covered macadamia nuts (apparently still in stock on Amazon as of 11/26), and an adorable dark chocolate-covered cashew-filled snowman. I’m excited to taste those as well, though I think I may save the macadamia nuts to bring home for my folks for Christmas.

What surprised me the most about the Emily’s Chocolates line was how affordable all the products were. They look like they would cost much more than they actually do. I think they’d make great gifts, especially since all the holiday boxes already look like they’re wrapped. If you order by December 10th, you’ll get free shipping on orders over $40. I’ll try to have the rest of my package (minus the macadamia nuts) tasted and the reviews as soon as possible so y’all can take advantage of that offer.

November 27, 2007 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

Brach’s Candy Corn varieties

I have a love-hate relationship with candy corn (BUY!). On the one hand, it really doesn’t taste that good. It’s too sweet, and it leaves that sugary aftertaste in your mouth. On the other hand, it’s sooo addicting! I think when I eat candy corn, I keep reaching for more pieces to try to wipe out that candy corn aftertaste… with more candy corn.

On second thought, I love candy corn. I hate that I love it, but I do, which is why I was excited to try Brach’s new flavors of candy corn: caramel apple and caramel.

The caramel apple does a pretty good job of tasting like a red candied apple. The brown layer is the caramel and tastes just like a Milk Maid. The apple layer – blech! It tastes like candied apple, but really artificially and unappetizingly so. There’s already something a little eerie about the fake taste of a candied apple; the further candy imitation of that is unbearable. Candy corn is already sweet as it is, and the apple just takes it too far into the realm of fake sweetness.

Thankfully, the caramel candy corn was much better and was actually enjoyable. The brown layer was the same caramel flavor as that of the caramel apple, only the caramel version didn’t have the apple layer to mess up the flavors. I think the rest of the caramel corn (the yellow and white) were standard sugary normal candy corn flavored. I like how well the candy corn evoked the caramel flavor of a Milk Maid caramel.

An O for the caramel apple and an OM for the caramel. I think the caramel corn may be a good addition to Brach’s autumn mix (candy corn, Indian corn, and mellowcreme pumpkins).

November 26, 2007 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

That Popcorn Place Decadent Gourmet Popcorn

Earlier this week, my friend Cassie took me to That Popcorn Place on the downtown Drag near UT. What a wonderful food find! They’ve got dozens and dozens of flavors of popcorn, from the savory (ranch, cajun, sour cream and onion, bacon and cheese) to the candied (caramel, vanilla, orange) to the decadent gourmet (s’mores, cookies and cream, dark chocolate), and oh man are they good!

In accordance with Austin’s Keep Austin Weird philosophy, That Popcorn Place is a literal mom and pop operation. Mark, the “Pop” of the business, was in the shop when we stopped by, and he’s the most gregarious proprietor I’ve ever had the pleasure to come across. He gladly answered all of my questions about the shop and the popcorn and was incredibly generous with the free samples (the portions of which were also generous). In fact, I had to stop him from bringing out even more flavors for us to try because I couldn’t finish it all. I think if we had asked, he would have let me taste every one of his 50+ flavors. Believe me, I felt bad about turning down free samples and leaving popcorn behind on the counter.

I walked out with a small sized (about 9 cups) mix of some of their savory flavors (ranch, loaded potato, and cajun) and a snack sized (about 3 cups) bag of three of their decadent gourmet flavors: s’mores, dark chocolate, and cinnamon roll. Each bag was only $4.50 (the decadent gourmet is more expensive because it’s loaded with chocolate), a popcorn steal. For the record, the snack sized bag was packed full to the brim when I bought it; I ate a bunch on the way home because I just couldn’t resist.

As you can probably guess, I absolutely loved the decadent gourmet popcorn. I tried the cookies and cream (vanilla popcorn tumbled with oreo pieces) in the store and didn’t like it enough to buy it, but even that was good enough for me to polish off my handful of free sample. I ended up choosing cinnamon roll because Mark said that was his favorite and the one he was most proud of, s’mores because the three other customers in the store at the time ordered it, so we figured it had to be good, and dark because Cassie wanted to try it. Mark was wonderful about letting us mix flavors in the bag, so don’t be afraid to ask for that if you’re able to visit them in person. And if you order online, it couldn’t hurt to try and ask for that same accommodation. Or you could just buy a bag of each flavor – it’s worth it!

The cinnamon roll is their caramel bliss popcorn with a hint of cinnamon and drizzled in white chocolate. It has just the right touch of cinnamon – strong enough to make its presence known but not so strong that it overpowers the caramel. The white chocolate is a great evocation of cinnamon roll icing, and it’s good quality chocolate too. The caramel layer is perfect – thick enough to get stuck in your teeth a little, but no so thick that it stays stuck there. The thinness of the caramel layer also gives the popcorn a little bit of a chew and a crunch without making it difficult to bite down, like some other caramel popcorn gets.

The s’mores was their caramel popcorn plus mini marshmallows, graham cracker crumbs, and a heavy drizzle of milk chocolate. At first I thought the mini marshmallows were just bits of white chocolate, but nope, actual marshmallow bits. The texture was dry and almost styrofoamy, but the pieces were too tiny for the texture to be noticeable unless you very carefully nibbled apart a marshmallow bit on its own, and the marshmallow taste was spot on. I couldn’t really taste the graham cracker crumbs through the heavy chocolate coating, but every once in a while I’d get a large piece of cracker, and then I could taste it. It couldn’t hurt for them to use larger bits of graham cracker. Finally, the milk chocolate was really good – sweet, smooth, and creamy. I wish I’d thought to ask Mark what brand of chocolate they used.

We asked Mark to throw in just a few pieces of dark, and I didn’t really notice any in our bag. I think that’s because the milk chocolate of the s’mores was so nice that it approaches what some companies try to pass off as dark, because the sweetness of the caramel probably undid the lower sugar content of dark chocolate’s flavor, and because I tore through my bag of popcorn pretty quickly. An enthusiastic ZOMG!!! for the lot. Extra exclamation points for top notch customer service.

I hope That Popcorn Place will be open on Saturday so I can buy more to bring back to New Haven with me. If not, they’ll be one of the first places I visit when I’m home for winter break. They also offer online ordering, though it means missing out on the in store experience! I may resort to that if I need a popcorn fix in the spring semester. The shipping and handling gets a little pricey, but the popcorn is so well-priced that I think I could afford the splurge. They also have cute gift tin options, and I personally would be delighted to receive this popcorn as a gift.

In case you’re wondering, the savory flavors were incredibly, ZOMG!-worthily delicious too. I won’t write about them here because they’re not candy-related, but they’re gooooood, and you should buy some. I especially like the cajun, and the dill pickle is weirdly intriguing.

November 23, 2007 at 8:00 am 1 comment

Happy Thanksgiving!

Gobble gobble. Doesn’t do you much good now, I guess, but here are some resources for Thanksgiving/autumn-related chocolates. Maybe if you check back tomorrow, they’ll be on sale?

I hope y’all all have wonderful Thanksgivings. I’m thankful for friends and family and for you, my readers! Feel free to leave me mouthwatering descriptions of your Thanksgiving desserts. I made pumpkin oatmeal cookies the other day, and I think I may attempt a pumpkin cheesecake today. Yum!

November 22, 2007 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

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November 2007
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