The Weekly Bite

February 29, 2008

Sorry guys, I’ve been sick the past few days, so there hasn’t been any sugar going down the hatch. I’m happy to report that I’m feeling much better and even made some cupcakes tonight. :)

In the blog-o-sphere:

  • Cybele at Candy Blog has featured a week’s worth of hollow chocolate bunnies. There’s also a reindeer, gnome, and penguin thrown into the mix, so you have to check it out!
  • While we’re on the subject of Easter candy, Sugarhog has a review of Nerds Bumpy Jelly Beans. I might have to pick up a bag for my nerd-loving friend.
  • Joanna at Sugar Savvy has an adorable story about her very first candy purchase — Smarties.
  • The Smitten Kitchen has a recipe for an old-fashioned Devil Dog Cake. It brings back memories of sneaking into the kitchen to steal Devil Cremes in the middle of the night..

Next week is Easter Egg Week! I’ve got a ton of eggs to review, so I’m going to make a week out of it. Here’s a sneak peek:

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The girl bakes! French Toast Blondies

February 26, 2008

I was browsing blogs this weekend and came across the Master Baker challenge. I’ve yet to participate in a blog event, but this seemed as good a time as ever — especially since I couldn’t decide what I wanted to bake. I needed inspiration.

Inspiration came in the theme ingredient of cinnamon, which is pretty broad. Truth is, I add a dash a cinnamon to just about everything I bake. I wanted to make something that focused on the flavor. I opted for cinnamon blondies. I’d never made blondies before, so I had no base recipe to work from. I chose to work from this recipe at Smitten Kitchen due to it’s high sugar and butter content — can’t go wrong there, right?

The recipe calls for a 8×8 in. pan, but I don’t have one. (I’ll work on that.) I used this weird 9.5 in. square dish instead, so my blondies came out a little flat. Also, I wanted to top these with candied pecans, but I ran out of eggs (candied pecans call for egg whites). Instead, I made a simple powdered sugar glaze and dipped the pecans in it.

The blondies are very rich, sweet, and buttery. The crust is crispy and the middles are chewy — just perfect. They taste like cinnamon (or French) toast, hence the name. I’m quite happy with them — and they disappeared quickly, so I guess my family was too.

French Toast Blondies

Oven Temp.: 350°
Approx. Bake Time: 20-25 minutes
Yields: 8×8 inch dish

Ingredients

1 c. flour
1/8 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
7 tbsp. butter, melted
1 c. brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 c. pecans, toasted and chopped

Topping:
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

Instructions

– Whisk the flour, salt, and cinnamon together. In a separate bowl, combine the sugar with the melted butter. Stir in the egg and vanilla. Stir in the dry ingredients. Stir in the pecans. Spread batter into an 8×8 baking dish.
– Mix together the cinnamon and sugar for the topping. Sprinkle this mixture over the batter. (You will likely have more than enough.)
– Bake for 20-25 minutes. Don’t over-bake. The blondies may seem underdone, but will set as they cool. Allow to cool before cutting into bars.
– Once cooled, you may opt to top the blondies with cinnamon glazed pecans.

Cinnamon Glazed Pecans

Ingredients
3 tbsp. powdered sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
milk, as needed
pecans

Instructions
– Combine the powdered sugar and cinnamon. Slowly add milk until the mixture reaches a syrupy consistency.
– Dip the pecans into the mixture, then place them on top of the blondies. As the glaze dries it will adhere the pecan to the blondie.


Nestle Turtles

February 25, 2008

When I was younger, I never understood why these were called turtles. Actually, scratch that. I’m still not sure why they are called turtles. I assume it’s because if you squint hard enough, they kind of resemble a turtle with little pecan-feet and a pecan-head sticking out of a chocolate-shell.

The mascot for these is a turtle decked out in a suit complete with a top hat and monocle. If his fashion choices are supposed to indicate a more upscale treat, it’s not really working. He’s too cute, and, well, these just aren’t anything special.

The dark chocolate turtle is sweet and chewy. The caramel is semi-soft, stretchy, and – well, pretty bland. It’s just sweet. There are no buttery, salty, or burnt sugar notes. The chocolate is bland also. It’s not particularly chocolatety, but again, just sweet. The nuts were the last hope for these, and they aren’t doing a good job either. They taste plasticy and stale.

The same things can be said for the milk chocolate turtle. It’s a bit sweeter than it’s dark chocolate sibling, but is otherwise the same. It’s just a little blob of sweetness, nothing deeper than that.

These aren’t truly bad, but I wouldn’t have them again. I have, however, decided that ‘turtle’ is a fun word to say.

Nutrition Breakdown: The serving size for the milk chocolate turtles is 2 pieces. There are 160 calories, 9g of fat (4g saturated), 15g of sugar, and 2g of protein per serving. Serving size for the dark chocolate turtles is 2 pieces. There are 160 calories, 10g of fat (4.5g saturated), 13g of sugar, and 2g of protein per serving.

Rating: 5/10

Name: Turtles
Brand: Nestle
Store: Unknown
Price: Unknown


Reese’s Pieces Peanut Butter and Chocolate

February 22, 2008

When I bought this, I hardly registered what it was. It was robotic. I thought ‘candy… new…’ and my arm automatically reached for the box. Such is the fate of a candy blogger… we’re like machines, except we run on sugar instead of fossil fuels.

Imagine my disappointment (just disappointment, not surprise) when I got home and noticed that this utilized no chocolate, but “chocolate candy” instead. Yeah, you know, “mockolate.” The fake stuff. It’s the pyrite of the candy world.

It’s particularly disappointing because this is a pretty good idea: candy-coated peanut butter candies mixed with candy-coated chocolate candies. It should be the Reese’s Cup that melts in your mouth, not in your hand… but it’s not. The chocolate candy just doesn’t taste very chocolate-ty. It’s sweet with a mild cocoa flavor, but just isn’t very good. The Reese’s Pieces are their classic selves, a sweet peanut butter candy, which has always reminded me a bit of peanut butter fudge.

Reese’s Pieces were a favorite of mine when I was younger, even more so than Reese’s Cups. It’s odd really, considering that I’ve always been a huge chocolate-lover. These days, Reese’s Pieces disappoint me. They’re not bad — not by far — but they don’t taste like much unless you pop a bunch at once. That’s just not my style. I’m a sorter — each color gets it’s own pile, and then I methodically eat them one by one. Still, I’ll always have a soft spot for them.

The Reese’s Pieces are in their traditional colors of orange, yellow, and brown. The chocolate pieces are dressed in red, green, and blue. I found this disappointing as well; I hoped it would be like roulette — you don’t know if it’s chocolate or peanut butter until you bite into it. They should have just mixed up some Reese’s Pieces and Kissables. Then we could have gotten some real chocolate, at least.

Nutrition Breakdown: Serving size is 46 pieces. There are 2.5 servings per box. There are 190 calories, 9g of fat (6g saturated), 25g of sugar, and 3g of protein per serving.

Rating: 4/10 for the mix, but 6/10 for Reese‘s Pieces alone.

Name: Reese’s Pieces Peanut Butter and Chocolate
Brand: Reese’s (Hershey) (USA)
Store: Wal-mart
Price: $0.99
Weight: 3.5 oz


Twix Java

February 21, 2008

The Twix is a tease. It offers a perfect combination of ingredients — shortbread cookie, caramel, and chocolate — but each ingredient shirks it’s job. This doesn’t make for bad candy, but it’s displeasing when you think about what the bar could be. I feel cheated every time I bite into one. Somehow, I always forget that I find them rather bland. (Maybe I’ll remember next time.)

Still, I was pretty excited when I heard about the limited edition Twix Java a few months back. I love coffee and chocolate together, as you might gather from some of my past reviews.

I was apprehensive when I saw that this utilized a chocolate cookie, especially after the greasy bit that was the Twix PB. Fortunately, the cookie here is much better, though lacking in flavor. It does lend a pleasing crisp, sandy texture. The caramel is where we get the flavor. It’s not your typical sweet, buttery caramel; instead it holds a surprisingly authentic coffee flavor. These coffee notes come with a welcome note of maple, and the milk chocolate coating sweetens it up just a bit more.

I first spotted it at the end of January, but I’m not sure how much longer they’ll be around, so you might want to grab it while you can. I prefer this to the regular Twix, and wouldn’t mind seeing it added to the regular line… and maybe as a fun size or a mini?

Nutrition Breakdown: Serving size is one package (two cookies). Each serving contains 280 calories, 15g of fat (11g saturated), 27g of sugar, and 3g of protein.

Rating: 7/10

Name: Twix Java
Brand: Mars (USA)
Store: Walmart
Price: $0.59
Weight: 2.0 oz.


Frey Cinnamon and Blood Orange

February 19, 2008

The first thing I notice when I open a product to review is the smell. That was definitely the case with this bar. No, there was no horrific odor or sublime aroma. It just smelled strange, and rather familiar at that. I stared at it for a minute before I realized what it was – this bar smells like a mix of Juicy Fruit and Big Red gum.

I know. Odd, right? I wasn’t too keen on tasting chocolate that smelled like chewing gum, but I sucked it up and tried it anyway.

This is a white chocolate bar with “a fruity touch of blood orange and cinnamon flavor.” I found the white chocolate to be slightly waxy, but not unpleasantly so. The sweetness isn’t too overwhelming, and the other flavors certainly stand out.

The cinnamon flavor is definitely of the fake Big Red variety. It more akin to Red Hots than the actual spice. However, it’s not spicy at all, as Big Red can sometimes be.

Now, I haven’t actually had a blood orange, so I can’t tell you if the fruit flavor is authentic. My assumption is that it isn’t. It’s citrusy, and yes, a little too reminiscent of Juicy Fruit. The little orange bits throughout the bar (blood orange granules, according to the ingredients) are rather tart and acidic.

I didn’t like this very much. I’m not a huge fan of fruit and chocolate to begin with, and the chewing gum comparisons were very off-putting.

Nutrition Breakdown: There are 2.5 servings per bar. Each serving contains 240 calories, 16g of fat (10g saturated), 19g of sugar, and 2g of protein.

Rating: 4/10

Name: Cinnamon and Blood Orange
Brand: Frey
Store: Target
Price: 1.66 (reg 1.99)
Size: 3.5 oz.


Cadbury Crunchie

February 18, 2008

I’ve had handmade honeycomb candy before, but never anything mass produced. So the Crunchie was a little new to me. Unlike handmade honeycomb, which has bubbles of various sizes in various places, the bubble structure of the Crunchie is very consistent. The bubbles are very small along the sides and grow larger toward the center.

The center is crisp, crunchy, and dissolves easily in the mouth. It’s sweet and buttery with some faint burnt sugar notes. I rather enjoyed the first couple bites, but it became too sweet by the third. I would probably like this better in a mini size.

While I definitely prefer handmade honeycomb, I think this has it’s place. That being said, it’s not readily available to me, so I don’t see myself picking it up again.

Nutrition Breakdown: Serving size is 1 bar. Each serving contains 210 calories, 8.5g of fat, 31g of sugar, and 3g of protein.

Rating: 6/10

Name: Crunchie
Brand: Cadbury
Store: World Market
Price: $0.99