Hershey’s Nut Lovers Miniatures

March 31, 2008

A few weeks ago, I admitted to not liking nuts as a kids. These days, however, I am a certified nut lover. I like the simple combination of nuts and chocolate. The Nut Lovers Miniatures have been trying to get my attention for a while now, so I finally gave in and bought them.

Extra Creamy Milk Chocolate with Cashews:
While I love to eat cashews out of hand, I think they have a hard time standing up to chocolate. That’s certainly the case here. There are just a few pieces of chopped cashews strewn throughout the chocolate. It’s just enough to lend a mild nutty flavor and a slight salty bite, nothing more. It needs more cashews.

I always find the extra creamy milk chocolate to be off-putting. It’s just not Hershey’s chocolate. It’s less chocolate-ty, and it trades the classic tangy yogurt notes for something more akin to sweet whipped cream. It’s not bad, per se, but come on Hershey, don’t be afraid to be yourself! (To their credit, the cashews would definitely be lost in traditional Hershey’s chocolate.)

Made with Chocolate and Peanuts: Mr. Goodbar, what have they done to you? It makes sense that this would be included in the mix, but not redressed as “made with chocolate and peanuts.” I guess the name Mr. Goodbar doesn’t fit in with the rest of the mix, but they could have kept it as a simple Hershey’s with Peanuts. *sigh* I think I let these things get to me too much.

Despite the name change, this is the same Mr. Goodbar that you find with the traditional Miniatures. It’s only bar in the mix with a sufficient amount of nuts, I think. I love ‘em. The simple combination of peanuts and chocolate is great.

Milk Chocolate with Almonds: Here’s another familiar face, but in name more than composition, opposite our dear Mr. Goodbar. The full-sized Hershey’s with Almonds employs full-sized almonds, but we’ve got crushed almonds here. It’s a disadvantage; there aren’t enough almonds to get a satisfying crunch or flavor.

Pecans and Crème: I was wary of this one. I wasn’t sure how pecans would go with white chocolate confection. After tasting this, I think it could be a decent combination, but there aren’t enough pecans here to make a fair assessment. The white confection is overly sweet and tastes strongly of vanilla. The occasional pecan is pleasing, but these were mostly a miss for me.

Nutrition Breakdown: Serving size is 5 pieces. There are 220 calories, 14g of fat (7g saturated), 21g of sugar, and 4g of protein per serving.

Rating: 6/10 (because Mr. Goodbar rules)

Name: Nut Lovers Miniatures
Brand: Hershey’s
Store: Target
Price: $2.00
Weight: 11 oz.


Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

March 26, 2008

I’ve never been a huge fan of Oreos, but my best friend in high school loved them. She always had a bag of Double Stuffed around, and few weekends passed when I didn’t have at least one or two. (Oh, and it had to be the Double Stuffed — no regular Oreos for us!)

These cookies remind me of fun, Oreo-filled times, but I did want to expand beyond the classic crowd pleaser. I think these cookies will work well with any filling, from chocolate ganache to ice cream. I used a peanut butter filling (recipe follows), but if the classic Oreo is what you’re after, try a white chocolate ganache.

(Oh, and I’ll try for a better picture next time. There will be a next time!)

Chocolate Sandwich Cookies
adapted from Retro Desserts by Wayne Brachman

Oven Temp.: 375°
Approx. Bake Time: 8-10 min.
Yields: about 12 sandwich cookies

Ingredients
1/2 c. + 2 tbsp. flour
1/4 c. cocoa, Dutch processed
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 c. sugar
5 tbsp. butter, softened
2 tbsp. beaten egg

Instructions

– In a food processor (or stand mixer) combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Add the butter and egg and pulse until a cohesive mass forms. (It will first look like pebbles, then form a big ball.)
– Scoop rounded teaspoons of dough onto a greased or lined cookie sheet. With a spatula (or tool of your choice), flatten cookies slightly.
– Bake in a preheated oven. Let cookies cool on cookie sheet for a minute, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
– Assembly: Match cookies of similar size. Spoon or pipe desired amount of filling onto the center of a cookie. Lightly press the second cookie over the filling, working the filling to the edge.

Peanut Butter Filling

Ingredients
1/4 c. peanut butter
1/4 c. powdered sugar
1 tbsp. butter, softened
1 tbsp. heavy cream

Instructions
– Using an electric mixer, combine the peanut butter, powdered sugar, and butter. Add the cream and beat until fluffy.

Notes
– You may double this if you want a lot of filling. (Double Stuffed!)


Happy Easter!

March 23, 2008

Happy Easter! Let’s celebrate with Cadbury Eggs for breakfast, chocolate bunnies for lunch, and Peeps for dinner!

No, please, don’t do that.

Instead, check out the Washington Post’s second annual Peeps Show. It’s a Peeps diorama contest, and this year’s featured submissions are all adorable and/or hilarious.


The Weekly Bite

March 22, 2008

Here are some bites from other blogs:

  • Joanna at Sugar Savvy reviewed Greek Gods Baklava Ice Cream. Um, yum? I’m going to be on the lookout for that one.
  • I’m not the only one who has a thing for limited edition Kisses. Sugarhog.net has reviewed Spring’s Lemon Creme and Orange Creme varieties. Remember, they’ll be on clearance soon.
  • Anna at Cookie Madness has a recipe for Coconut Macaroons that should be great for Easter.
  • Here’s another must-try recipe — the Chocolate Fudge Souffle Bars over at Eat Me, Delicious. Who wouldn’t like those?

*twitch*

March 21, 2008

Malt Balt (well, Robin’s Eggs) Cookies. It started out well. First, I got to use my pretty red rolling pin..

Rolling Pin: 1
Robin’s Eggs: 0

Then I made a very yummy cookie dough.

It was a very buttery dough, and by extension, very soft. I stashed it in the fridge to let it firm up. It seemed fine a few minutes later, so I scooped out some cookies and put them in the oven.

Then I started to clean up. Behind the sugar container, I found a small bowl of flour — flour that was supposed to go into the cookie dough. Uh-oh.

Here’s what happens when you forget to put half of the flour into the cookie dough:

Missing Flour –> Spreading –> Burning Edges + Uncooked Middles

Oh well.  It happens to the best of us, right? RIGHT?

I did add some of the flour to the remaining cookie dough. It’s sitting in the fridge right now; I’ll bake them up later. We’ll see, I guess!


Lindt Carrots, Bugs, and Bees, Oh My!

March 20, 2008

Lindt has several cute foil-wrapped chocolate products out for Easter. There are bunnies, chicks, and lambs, but I went for the slightly less conventional carrots and insects. Why? Well, these are the hazelnut products, and I’m a sucker for anything hazelnut.

Let’s start with the bugs and bees. There are two ladybugs, two bees, and one unidentifiable bug. Unwrapped, they all look the same. They’re adorable, but a little pricey at $3.00 for less than two ounces.

Like the Lindor truffles, which many are familiar with, these have a slightly greasy outside. The center is filled with a thick, slick hazelnut paste and crisped rice. It’s not too sweet, but nice and nutty. Nutella fans will approve. The crisp rice brings a fun texture, but no additional flavor.

I liked these; they were quite tasty. They’re on the expensive side, so I won’t be filling any Easter baskets with these, but I will look for them on clearance.

Nutrition Facts: Serving size is four pieces. There are 210 calories, 13g of fat (6g saturated), 21g of sugar, and 3g of protein per serving.

Rating: 8/10

The carrots are equally adorable. I was surprised to find that these are served on stick, so that they resemble chocolate umbrellas. Unlike the bugs, they aren’t filled. Instead we’re treated to a solid blend of chocolate and hazelnut paste. Think gianduja/Nutella on a stick. Seriously, does life get much better? It’s sticky, nutty, and quite satisfying, even though each piece weighs less than a half an ounce.

I’ll certainly be looking for these on clearance, though they’re already a great price at $1.33.

Nutrition Facts: Serving size is three carrots. There are 210 calories, 14g of fat (8g saturated), 18g of sugar, and 3g of protein per serving. Oh, and 10% of your RDA of calcium.

Rating: 9/10

Name: Lindt Bugs and Bees / Chocolate Carrots
Brand: Lindt
Store: Target
Price: $2.99 / $1.33
Weight: 1.76 oz. / 1.8 oz


Reese’s Pieces Pastel Eggs

March 19, 2008

I love milk carton packaging. It makes sharing and saving for later very easy. It also makes an excellent noise maker musical instrument, much to some parent’s annoyance.

The Reese’s Pieces Eggs are quite pleasing to the eye. They are very uniform in size and the pastel colors fit the season. The shell is very smooth on cool on the tongue. It’s a thick shell, so it’s hard to peel off with my teeth.

Not so long ago I said that problem with Reese’s Pieces is that they don’t taste like much unless you eat a handful at once. The Pastel Eggs solve that problem. The larger size lends a much bigger peanut butter punch. These are Reese’s Pieces of course, so the filling is sweet and smooth, unlike the salty, crumbly interior of a Reese’s Cup.

This is a nice way to get your Reese’s Pieces fix, if you require that for nostalgic reasons like me. I can see myself picking up a container of these each Easter. I think it would be great to mix these with some Hershey’s Eggs.

Nutrition Breakdown: Serving size is 12 pieces. There are 180 calories, 8g of fat (7g saturated), 22g of sugar, and 4g of protein per serving.

Rating: 8/10

Name: Reese’s Pieces Pastel Eggs
Brand: Hershey’s
Store: Target
Price: $0.99
Weight: 3.5 oz.