The girl bakes! Caramelized Pear Gingerbread

November 30, 2007

I watch a lot of Food Network, but it’s not often that I actually make one of the recipes. But when my mom and I saw this Caramelized Pear Gingerbread on Emeril Live, we had to try it! Here’s the link to the recipe.

I actually hadn’t had gingerbread before. Gingerbread cookies, sure, but not actual gingerbread. It was really good! However, if I make this again, I’ll omit the pears. They were good and made for a nice presentation, but I didn’t find the texture terribly appealing the next day. I think it would be better to make plain gingerbread, then if you want, cook up some pears, apples, or even bananas to spoon over it.


Dove Dark Chocolate

November 28, 2007

Dark chocolate is very fashionable these days, but I can’t think of many “convenience” dark chocolate bars. When I say convenience candy, I mean the candy that most people buy — the candy at the checkout aisle. In fact, the only plain dark chocolate convenience bars that I can think of are the Hershey’s Special Dark and the Dove Dark Chocolate. Or am I missing something?

Most chocolate lovers wouldn’t call this dark chocolate. It contains milkfat, and the first ingredient is sugar. But I think this works. It’s a convenience candy, so it’s meant to appeal to the general public. Really dark chocolate can be a bit of a shock to people who are used to milk chocolate. I think this bar is a good introduction to dark chocolate.

Dove chocolate is always very smooth, and this is no exception. It melts excellently. It’s sweet, but still has the deeper chocolate flavor that I expect from dark chocolate. There’s better chocolate out there, but not much at 50 cents a bar.

Rating: 7/10

Name: Dove Rich Dark Chocolate
Brand: Mars
Store: Walmart
Price: $0.50

Newman’s Own Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

November 27, 2007

I’d been curious about these, so I was especially excited when I found them. I love peanut butter and dark chocolate, so the combination could lead to nothing but love, right?

Well, color me disappointed.

Each package contains three cups housed in a plastic tray. The cups are smaller than a Reese’s Cup. They are sturdy, due to the very thick layer of dark chocolate that surrounds the peanut butter. I’d say the proportion here is 66% chocolate and 33% peanut butter… heck, there might be even less peanut butter!

That lack of peanut butter is the downfall of this candy. The chocolate completely dominates the peanut butter… so much so that I can’t say much about the peanut butter. I didn’t taste it that much. It’s smooth and needs salt. That’s all I can say!

The chocolate is fine. It’s slightly sweet and not at all bitter. It’s fruity but lacks a chocolate punch. The thickness gives it a nice snap, but that’s not what I’m looking for here.

With 60 calories to each cup, they’re good if you’re watching what you eat and can exercise portion control. Dark chocolate and peanut butter are the healthier candy ingredients, after all. Also, it’s all organic, which is a plus.

If you are looking for a dark chocolate peanut butter cup, this may be it. If you are looking for a peanut butter cup with lots of chocolate and little peanut butter, this is probably it. But it’s not what I was looking for or expecting. I’ll wait for the limited edition dark chocolate Reese’s that are supposed to be coming, thanks.

These get a 5, which is what I give products that aren’t bad, but I don’t care for. Sorry Newman. I’m still interested in your Peppermint Cups and Ginger Os!

Rating: 5/10

Name: Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
Brand: Newman’s Own
Store: Walmart
Price: $0.50

Hershey’s Whole Bean Chocolate

November 26, 2007

I picked this up without knowing what it was. It was on sale for $1, so I thought, “Why not?”

I did a little research and found that this is part of Hershey’s “Goodness” product line. Here’s the deal: It’s healthy chocolate! Healthy milk chocolate! The wrapper boasts 40% less sugar than the leading milk chocolate bar (which I assume is the Hershey bar). It also has 7g of fiber, 4g of protein, and 25% of the DRV of calcium per serving. Those stats aren’t bad. Each serving still has 215 calories however, so it’s not exactly diet food. The extra fiber comes from added inulin fiber, and the extra calcium comes from calcium carbonate.

Don’t get too excited just yet though. I, at least, have a big problem with this bar. It contains sucralose, an artificial sweetener, aka Splenda. I do NOT like artificial sweeteners in my food, especially in my candy. I want sugar in my candy! Natural sugar! Artificial sweeteners have a terrible aftertaste. But more importantly, they irritate my stomach. I can’t even have sugar-gum anymore.

This bar also contains PGPR, which, according to Wikipedia, is an emulsifier made from the castor oil plant. Ew. It’s a cheap substitute for the cocoa butter in chocolate. A lot of mainstream bars contain this now, but this bar retails for $2 and is supposed to be “Whole Bean!” It shouldn’t contain PGPR.

So I almost chucked this out, but I was curious and decided to have a piece.

Well, it smells like a Hershey bar. It even tastes a bit like a Hershey bar, just milder. It starts with that classic Hershey’s tang, then morphs into something that reminds me of chocolate milk mix. It’s not bad. It’s smooth and melts well. I didn’t notice any aftertaste, but I only had 2-3 bites. It’s what the wrapper claims: “sweet, smooth milk chocolate.”

So I’m not going to rate this. I can’t rate it fairly. The ingredients totally turn me off. The taste is fine, and it could be nice for people trying to decrease their sugar intake.

But if I want less sugar and more fiber/protein, I’m not going to look for a candy bar. I’ll go with a nice granola bar like Kashi, which doesn’t contain unnatural sweeteners!

Name: Whole Bean Chocolate
Brand: Hershey’s
Price: $1.00
Store: Big Lots

NOLA Special: Hubig’s Sweet Potato Fried Pie

November 20, 2007

Here’s a new addition to the blog: NOLA Special. NOLA stands for New Orleans, Louisiana. I’ve lived in the suburbs (well, the bayous..) of the city my entire life. And if/when I move away, the thing I’ll miss most is the food. So here I’ll be featuring regional goodies, probably about once a month.

Today’s feature is Hubig’s Pies. Specifically, their fried sweet potato hand-pie. I’m sure most of you know this, but sweet potato pie is very similar to pumpkin pie. Same spices, same color, different vegetable. Sweet potato pie is more Southern, I think.

I call these hand-pies, but most people call them fried pies. They are fried turnovers. Each pie is big enough for one or two servings, depending on how hungry you are. They come in flavors like apple, lemon, chocolate, pineapple, coconut, peach, and of course, sweet potato. Apple is the most popular flavor. I know this because every time I go to buy one, half of the display is devoted to apple! Also, I’m pretty sure that sweet potato is a seasonal flavor for the fall.

I wasn’t a pie fan when I was younger. The only time we had it was for Thanksgiving, but I always went straight for the Turtle Cake. I eat pie now, but I’m still more of a cake/cookie/candy girl, so Hubig’s Pies often fall off my radar. But it’s pie season, and I’ve been craving pumpkin pie. I thought Hubig’s might make one, so I went on the hunt. My quest ended with the acquisition of this sweet potato pie.

The package told me to “microwave 25 seconds for a delicious treat.” Who am I to argue? I popped half the pie (I saved the other half for my mom.) into the microwave and nuked it for a few seconds. When I opened the microwave the kitchen was filled with the aroma of pumpkin pie spice. Nice.

The crust is like a pie crust and donut hybrid. This makes sense of course, since it’s a pie that’s fried like a donut. It’s soft, flaky, and covered in glaze. Yummy! The filling is runnier than regular pie filling; this is partly due to my heating it. However, it’s not so runny that it is messy. You could easily eat this with one hand. Anyways, the filling has a great blend of spices and really satisfied my craving for pumpkin pie.

Hubig’s Sweet Potato Pie, I have a confession to make: I love you. Really, I do. Who else offers me a single serving (or two) of delicious pie for 89 cents?

Hebert’s Fully Loaded Rocky Road

November 19, 2007

The Fully Loaded bars are slabs of chocolate ‘loaded’ with extras on one side. It’s not filled, just covered. The Rocky Road bar is a slab of milk chocolate covered with dark chocolate pieces, walnuts, and “marshmallow.”

I put marshmallow in quotes because this bar doesn’t contain any actual marshmallow. Instead, it’s covered with what seems to be white chocolate. I suppose this is because marshmallows would go stale if you just slapped them on top of a bar. While the white confection adds marshmallow-like sweetness, the texture is totally lost.

In fact, I think the whole concept of Rocky Road is lost. Rocky Road is just chocolate, marshmallow, and nuts, isn’t it? Without real marshmallow, can we really call this Rocky Road? The walnuts occasionally come in with a nice nutty flavor, but it’s not enough.

The slab of chocolate itself is nice. It’s rich and milky. But it overwhelms the other flavors, which are supposed to be the highlight of the bar.

I liked this bar just fine, but it didn’t live up to it’s name. Still, I’m interested in the other Fully Loaded bars, including the Dark Chocolate Turtle that’s sitting in my candy chest!

Rating: 6/10

Name: Fully Loaded Rocky Road
Brand: Hebert’s Confections
Store: Walgreens
Price: $1.50

World’s Finest Chocolate Continental Almonds

November 14, 2007

The scene: A lazy Sunday afternoon and a knock at the door. I answered to find an adorable little kindergartener accompanied by his dad and a case full of chocolate.

“Would you like to buy some candy?”

Because I’m a sucker for candy and cute little kids, I bought a box. The kids at my local elementary school have been selling World’s Finest Chocolate since I went there — probably even longer. According to their website, the company has been doing fund-raisers since 1949.

I’ve always thought that you could only get World’s Finest products through fund-raisers, but I’ve recently seen the brand in retail locations. The website says they began their retail line in 2003 though, so I’m a little behind.

Continental Almonds are milk chocolate covered almonds. The almonds are fresh and crunchy. They are consistent in size, and I would say they are fairly large, but I don’t know how big almonds get! They are covered in a thick layer of milk chocolate. The chocolate is milky and has a good melt. I like to let the chocolate melt and then crunch down on the almond. Yum!

I really like these and buy them every year. I wouldn’t call it the world’s finest chocolate, but it is pretty darn good. It was a treat when I was a kid though, so I may be biased.

Rating: 8/10

Name: Continental Almonds
Brand: World’s Finest Chocolate
Store: Cute Fund-raising Kindergartener
Price: $2.00