Thursday, December 27, 2007

Mint Chocolate M&Ms

Hi guys! I've just found out this morning that I'm going on a short trip, so here's a rushed review of my last Christmas product. I'll be back sometime next week -- probably on the 2nd -- and this blog will have a whole new face for the new year!

The M&Ms line has expanded lately. Dark and Dark Peanut have been added as regular flavors, and we’ve also seen a few limited editions pop up, such us Razzberry, Cherry Cordial, and this Mint Chocolate M&Ms.

Being a Holiday Mix, these come in red and two shades of green. They are a little bigger than plain M&Ms, being close in size to the Peanut Butter, I think. They are shaped irregularly, and in the picture you can see my favorite little conjoined Mint M&M.

They are a mint infused milk chocolate M&M, and honestly, that’s the best way to describe them. I think they taste like an Andes Mint, but I don’t have any on hand to do an actual comparison.

I liked these a lot better than Hershey’s attempt at mint infused milk chocolate. In retrospect, the mint probably doesn’t do well with that Hershey’s tang.

I think these are a nice seasonal item. I wouldn’t want to have them all the time, but popping up once a year is fine.

Ingredient Watch: All clear.

Nutrition Breakdown: Serving size is about 1/4 cup of M&Ms. Each serving contains 210 calories, 9g of fat, 26g of sugar, and 2g of protein.

Rating: 7/10

Name: Mint Chocolate M&Ms
Brand: Mars
Store: Target
Price: $2.00 (11oz)

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas Goodies

I hope you all had a very merry Christmas! No review today, sorry, but here are some pictures of what I've been making and baking over the past few days. Nothing too fancy, but recipes will come in the future.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A Russell Stover Christmas

We’ve already had a Russell Stover Halloween; now it’s time for a Russell Stover Christmas. The products that I reviewed for Halloween are available in Santa forms, but I chose a few new products this time. There are still a few varieties that I passed on though. I guess we’ll get to those for Easter!

Coconut Wreath: I wouldn’t call this a wreath. I would call it an unattractive (but tasty) dollop of milk chocolate and toasted coconut. I usually don’t care for coconut. I like the flavor but find the stringy texture unappealing. However, the coconut here is toasted and crispy, which lends a great crunchy texture. This is a simple, sweet mix of chocolate and coconut, and I really liked it! (140 calories, 9g of fat, 11g of sugar, 2g of protein.)

Rating: 8/10

Chocolate Marshmallow Snowman: This petite snowman is chocolate marshmallow covered in milk chocolate. The chocolate marshmallow has a mild cocoa flavor and is super soft, smooth, and springy. It’s less sweet than a typical marshmallow, but the bar’s sweetness is kicked up by the milk chocolate coating.

Unfortunately, this contains sorbitol, an artificial sweetener, which really irks me. I’ve mentioned before that I don’t think that artificial sweeteners belong in candy. Of course, neither do partially hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup. But I’m sensitive to artificial sweeteners, so the inclusion is a little more bothersome -- I didn’t bother to read the ingredients until after I ate this. Still, it’s Christmas, so I’ll give it the rating I would have given it sans sorbitol. I’m sure some of you don’t care about it! (100 calories, 3g of fat, 13g of sugar, 1g of protein.)

Rating: 7/10

Marshmallow Santa in Dark Chocolate: When I reviewed Halloween’s Buzzard Egg, I mentioned that I would like to see a dark chocolate covered marshmallow. Well, here it is! I think that Santa shape here is actually pretty well done. I can definitely make out his outline.

Again we’ve got soft, springy marshmallow. One thing I like about Russell Stover’s holidays products is that they are fresh. This really shows in their marshmallow products. (I also like the line because it’s very cheap -- 39 cents a piece!)

The marshmallow is sweet, but the semi-sweet chocolate tones it down. It’s not nearly as sweet as the milk chocolate covered marshmallow is. The chocolate comes though more, lending a better balance.

However, again with the sorbitol. Again I’ll let it slide for the rating. I should know the read the ingredients before I eat something. This is something I do with everything I consume except for candy. I say I’ll try any candy once, but artificial sweeteners are a no go for me. (So much for the Peppermint Peeps!) (110 calories, 3g of fat, 14g of sugar, 1g of protein.)

Rating: 8/10

Brand: Russell Stover
Store: Walgreens
Price: $0.39 each

Monday, December 24, 2007

Peeps Cutouts

Just Born has been expanding its Peeps line over the past few years. You can find them for all the major candy holidays, not just Easter. They’ve also added flavors: Cocoa Cats, Peppermint Stars, and even Cookie Cutouts. Last year was the first time I saw these cookie flavored Peeps. I bought a pack because they looked like good gingerbread house occupants. But I ended up baking cookie people for the gingerbread house, and these Peeps sat around into January. I almost threw them away. I like Peeps, but cookie flavored? Weird.

I decided to give them a try anyway. I was horrified. Horrified that I actually liked them. Yes, I liked them quite a bit. So much that I bought another package this year.

That being said, I don’t think that these really taste like cookies. They taste like a mix of artificial vanilla and almond. Yes, artificial… so artificial, but man, I like them. Don’t ask me why.

Like all Peeps, these are soft and springy marshmallow with a sparkly sugar coating. These are colored all the way through, unlike most Peeps, which are white with colored sugar.

Come on, they’re cute. Admit it.

Ingredient Watch: Nothing suspicious. These are basically just sugar, corn syrup, and gelatin. Not remotely healthy, but hey, fat free!

Nutrition Breakdown: Servings size is two peeps. There are 100 calories, 0g of fat, 24g of sugar, and 1g of protein per serving.

Bottom Line: I should not adore these.. But I do!

Rating: 7/10

Name: Peeps Cutouts
Brand: Just Born
Store: Target
Price: $0.99

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Hershey's Mint Miniatures

The Mint Miniatures are milk chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate, and white confection infused with peppermint flavor. They smelled strongly of mint, even when they were still sealed inside the bag. I stored them separate from my other candy because I was afraid the mint would infect the other goods.

Mint Milk Chocolate: These are very strongly minted. Seriously. The blast of cool peppermint is really too much for me. I didn’t enjoy the intense mint mixed with so much sweet chocolate. Rating: 4/10

Mint Sweet Chocolate: The mint flavor is more subtle here. Mint seems to compliment darker chocolate better, and this is much more pleasant that the milk variety. Rating: 5/10

Mint White Crème with Candy Bits: These are basically flat Candy Cane Kisses studded with red and green nonpareils, so I’ll just refer you back to that review. I know I gave those a better rating, but I'm sick of white confection.. I want some white chocolate! Rating: 6/10

Overall, I wasn’t too crazy about these, which I think is reflected in the quick review. The best tasting were the white, but I only had a couple because, like the Candy Cane Kisses, they are made with inferior ingredients.

Nutrition Breakdown: Servings size is 4 pieces. Each serving contains 170 calories, 10g of fat, 20g of sugar, and 3g of protein.

Name: Hershey’s Miniature Mint Collection
Brand: Hershey’s
Store: Walgreens
Price: $1.00 (8.5oz)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Nestle Meets Santa Clause is Comin' to Town

Santa Clause Is Comin’ To Town is one of the classic stop-motion Christmas specials -- you know, the one with the Burgermeister Meisterburger. I’m not exactly sure how it ties in with Nestle, but let’s just go with it.

These come in Nestle Crunch and Butterfinger. The wrappers feature jolly old Santa, a few snowflakes, and the North Pole pole. Nostalgic. The chocolate medallions also feature Santa, which is a little weird. I feel bad eating this with Santa’s little molded face staring back at me. I don’t want to end up on the naughty list!

Butterfinger: Regular Butterfingers are covered in lackluster mockolate. This however, is made with real milk chocolate. That’s a necessity, because this is mostly chocolate. There are plenty crispy little Butterfinger bits that bring the salty peanut butter flavor, but it’s nothing close to the full on peanut butter blast of the Butterfinger.

I like this and I’m glad to have tried it with real milk chocolate. That being said, Nestle chocolate isn’t a favorite of mine, so I feel pretty ‘meh’ towards it.

This contains partially hydrogenated oils (most likely in the Butterfinger bits). The label does note that this “adds a trivial amount of trans fat.” So a slight tip of the hat to Nestle for at least noting that. (160 calories, 8g of fat, 18g of sugar, and 2g of protein per medallion)

Rating: 6/10

Nestle Crunch: So, this is pretty much a round Nestle Crunch; we’ve got the familiar sweet Nestle chocolate and crispy rice bits. I may say that I’m not crazy about Nestle chocolate -- and I’m not -- but the Nestle Crunch always wins me over in the end. It’s slightly malty, and I love malt. It’s familiar and good, but still, I want more from it. With a little more flavor, a little more maltiness, I would reach for these more often.

To it’s credit, this is free from any suspect ingredients. (170 calories, 9g of fat, 19g of sugar, and 1g of protein per medallion)

Rating: 7/10

Name: Santa Clause Is Comin’ To Town Butterfinger and Nestle Crunch
Brand: Nestle
Store: Walgreens
Price: $0.50

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

KitKat Holiday Assorment

I’ve always underappreciated the KitKat. It’s never been a go-to candy for me, but every time I have one I remember how good they are. After eating my way through this assortment I’m a bit more interested in the KitKat and the wacky flavors you can find across the world. This assortment is pretty classic though: milk, dark, and white KitKats.

Milk Chocolate (red): This is your classic KitKat, but the smaller size throws off the proportions a little. There is more chocolate to wafer here, but that’s certainly not a bad thing. It’s sweet and perfect with a cup of coffee or tea. Scrumptious! Rating: 9/10

Mildly Sweet Dark Chocolate (dark brown): I’ve never had a Dark KitKat, but I’ve heard people rave about it. I have to admit that I was a little under-whelmed by this. It was good, but I wasn’t blown away. The initial flavor reminded me strongly of coffee, but that morphed into a semi-sweet chocolate chip flavor, which overtook the wafer. I think this would be very nice in a regular size, with more wafer to chocolate. Rating: 7/10

White Candy (white): Note that this is white confection, not white chocolate. That’s because it’s made with various vegetable oils, not pure cocoa butter. I’ve come to expect that with most mass-produced white products. Still, I did enjoy these. It has a strong vanilla flavor that works well with the wafers. Rating: 7/10

Nutrition Breakdown: Serving size is 5 pieces. Each serving contains 210 calories, 12g of fat, 20g of sugar, and 3g of protein.

Name: KitKat Assorted Minis
Brand: Hershey’s
Store: Target
Price: $1.66 (11oz)

Monday, December 17, 2007

Snickers Nutcracker

I picked this up with the Snickers Crème Pumpkin in mind. This is labeled Snickers Nutcracker, with no trace of the word crème in sight. Would it contain nougat or not? I figured that the odds were 75% in favor of there being no nougat and… there was no nougat. As with the Crème Pumpkin, this is a nougat-less, extra sweet Snickers. Yummy!

Ingredient Watch: Partially hydrogenated soybean oil in the caramel.

Nutrition Breakdown: Once again, there are no nutrition facts on the individual pieces. Boo. I did look at a multi-pack in the store to get the calorie count… but I forgot to write it down. I'm pretty sure it was 140 calories per Nutcracker, but don’t hold me on that.

Rating: 8/10

Name: Snickers Nutcracker
Brand: Mars
Store: Walgreens
Price: $0.50

Friday, December 14, 2007

The girl bakes! Sweet Cornbread

With all of my final papers, projects, and exams, I haven't had time to bake since Thanksgiving! Fortunately, now that the semester is finished, it is time for the Christmas baking to begin. I haven't gotten into the kitchen yet though, so today I'll share the recipe for the sweet cornbread that I made for Thanksgiving.

1 c flour
1 c. yellow cornmeal
3/4 c. sugar
1 tsp. salt
3 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 egg
2/3 c. plain yogurt
1/3 c. milk
1/2 c. oil
1 tbsp. honey

Preheat oven to 400°. Combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, and baking powder. In a separate bowl combine the egg, yogurt, milk, oil, and honey. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix just until combined. (Don't over-mix – it will be a lumpy batter.) Pour into a greased 9 in. round pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

I adapted this recipe from several different ones that I found across the web. It turned out quite well. It was great with a little butter for breakfast! I'm sure you can also makes this into muffins or a loaf.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Fannie May Pixie

Fannie May is a Chicago-based candy company. One of their bestsellers is the Pixie, which is pecans and caramel surrounded by milk chocolate. It’s basically a big (1.5 oz) turtle. These aren’t a seasonal product, but the wrapper is decorated with festive holly leaves. I’m not sure if they sell them individually wrapped outside of the holiday season.

The caramel is soft, thick, and matte. It slightly buttery, but really lacking in burnt sugar notes. I’d like a darker flavor. Underneath the thick caramel layer are several large pecan pieces. Unfortunately, the premium sized pieces lack in other departments. They are mushy, not crunchy at all. Nor are they buttery, which is how I would describe a good toasted pecan. The whole thing was pretty lackluster.

Ingredient Watch: I spy partially hydrogenated oils in the caramel.

Nutrition Breakdown: Each Pixie contains 180 calories, 12g of fat, 14g of sugar, and 2g of protein.

Bottom Line: A bland take on a turtle.

Rating: 5/10

Name: Pixie
Brand: Fannie May
Store: Walgreens
Price: $0.99

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Nestle Tollhouse Jingles

Jingles are Nestle’s seasonal bell-shaped chocolates. They come in Nestle Crunch, Butterfinger, and Nestle Tollhouse flavor. I picked up the Tollhouse because I wanted to try something a little different. Nestle describes these as “cookie pieces in real milk chocolate.”

These are little molded bells dressed in red, green, and gold wrappers. (The gold aren’t pictured because my cousins got into the bag and picked them all out.) The chocolate is typical of what you get with a Nestle Crunch, which, for me, is pretty nondescript. I can’t say that I’m overly fond of it, but it’s not bad. The little cookie bits don’t really add much flavor, just crunchiness. Really, this is like a Nestle Crunch with chunkier bits.

Ingredient Watch: We've got partially hydrogenated oils near the end of the list.

Nutrition Breakdown: Serving size is 5 pieces. Each serving has 200 calories, 11g of fat, 22g of sugar, and 2g of protein.

Bottom Line: These are fine, but are somehow not as satisfying as a Nestle Crunch.

Rating: 6/10

Name: Nestle Tollhouse Jingles
Brand: Nestle
Store: Target
Price: $1.66

Monday, December 10, 2007

Candy Cane Kisses

I heard a lot of good things about the Candy Cane Kisses last year, but I never got around to buying them. This year I made sure to pick up a bag. They really are quite cute. Red stripes stand out against white confection, which is dotted with red nonpareils. They are dressed in silver foil wrappers adorned with red canes.

The white confection is sweet and tastes strongly of vanilla. The infused peppermint flavor is refreshing and festive, but not overwhelming. I have to admit that I was a little disappointed, because I expected candy cane bits, not nonpareils. But the nonpareils add a nice crunch, and don’t stick in your teeth like candy cane bits probably would.

Ingredient Watch: These aren't white chocolate, as they aren't made with pure cocoa butter. There's a good amount of palm, shea, sunflower, and safflower oil here. These also contain PGPR.

Nutrition Breakdown: Serving size is 9 pieces. There are 220 calories, 12g of fat, 25g of sugar, and 4g of protein per serving.

Bottom Line: Tasty and fairly addicting. Too bad these aren't pure cocoa butter; a good melt would blow me away.

Rating: 7/10

Name: Candy Cane Kisses
Brand: Hershey's
Store: Target
Price: $2.00 (11oz)

Sunday, December 9, 2007

'Tis NOT the season for eggs.

I recently covered the Cadbury Ornament Creme Egg for Sugar Savvy. I personally think it's a cop-out, but I can forgive that. At least they are trying to disguise it as a Christmas product.

Then this weekend I found myself in Walgreens, where I noticed a display of Cadbury Orange Creme Eggs. There was nothing ornamenty or Christmasy about them. I found this odd, but brushed it off. Then I noticed a display of plain old Cadbury Creme Eggs in their regular Easter garb. This just didn't seem right. Were they introducing these year-round or were they really putting out Easter products this early? Shaking my head, I proceeded to the checkout counter (with no Cadbury eggs in hand, mind you). To my horror, next to the gum was a display of Snickers Sport Eggs.

Since when are we putting out Easter candy before Christmas? It's bad enough that Christmas candy makes it's appearance the day after Halloween. But we've still got Christmas and Valentine's to get through before Easter. I don't understand the need to rush into these things.

Has anyone else noticed this, or am I the only one?

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Hot Cocoa Creme Kisses

I've been curious about these. How can hot cocoa work as a flavor? What sets hot cocoa apart is the fact that it is hot; aside from that you just have chocolate milk. Still, I think they probably captured the flavor as best as they could. I suppose they could have thrown in some marshmallow flavor. After all, who doesn't have marshmallows with their hot cocoa? But no, no marshmallow here (and it may be better that way).

These are reminiscent of a regular Hershey's Kiss, but a bit milkier. It's smooth, milky chocolate creme surrounded by classic Hershey's milk chocolate. They're sweet, but not throat burningly so. I find them rather comforting, actually. I think that fits in with the hot cocoa theme. They really remind me of homemade chocolate buttercream icing.

Ingredient Watch: These contain PGPR.

Nutrition Breakdown: Serving size is 9 pieces. There are 210 calories, 13g of fat, 23g of sugar, and 3g of protein per serving.

Bottom Line: This remind me of comforting, homemade chocolate icing. That can't be bad.

Rating: 7/10

Name: Hot Cocoa Creme Kisses
Brand: Hershey's
Store: Walgreens
Price: $1.00 (8.5oz)

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Mint Truffle Kisses

The Mint Truffle Kisses are a new addition to the Kisses lineup. I think they're either limited edition or seasonal... I guess it depends on how well they sell this year! They are wrapped in either silver or green foil; each bag has a mix of both. They are dark chocolate filled with a creamy mint center. To my surprise, the center is bright green. I guess I should have looked at the picture on the wrapper.

These are very strongly minted, more so than either a York Pattie or Andes Mint, which I find myself comparing these to. The center is dense and creamy, not fluffy and sweet like a York Pattie. The dark chocolate is a nice addition, but it's really overtaken by the mint. I think the chocolate comes through more in an Andes Mint.

Nutrition Breakdown: Serving size is 9 pieces. There are 210 calories, 14g of fat, 22g of sugar, and 2g of protein per serving.

Bottom Line: These are good, but I'd rather have an Andes Mint or York Pattie.

Rating: 6/10

Name: Mint Truffle Kisses
Brand: Hershey's
Store: Target
Price: $2.00 (11oz)

Monday, December 3, 2007

Cadbury Sugar Shell Chocolates

These Cadbury chocolates are the Christmas version of Easter's Cadbury Mini Eggs. I'm already a big fan of the Mini Eggs, and these aren't much different. They are little spheres of Cadbury milk chocolate – sweet, dairy, and smooth. They're quite yummy... and addicting!

The shells are crispier than an M&M. They don't have much flavor, but I don't expect them to. The colors are green, red, and white, and I can't help but notice that my bag is overwhelmingly green.

The name of these bugs me. Or rather, the lack of name bugs me. I'm not sure what to call them. The bag just says Cadbury Solid Milk Chocolates with a Crisp Sugar Shell. Okay. I don't see why these can't be Mini Ornaments. After all, Cadbury now has an Ornament Creme Egg. You can read my post over at Sugar Savvy about that.

These contain PGPR. That makes me sad. I really love these but bad ingredients knocks it down a couple points.

Bottom line: I adore these far more than I should. But PGPR is a real turnoff. Still..

Rating: 8/10

Name: Solid Milk Chocolates (with a Crisp Sugar Shell)
Brand: Cadbury (under Hershey's)
Store: Walgreens
Price: $1.00 (8.5oz)

Friday, November 30, 2007

The girl bakes! Caramelized Pear Gingerbread

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.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Dove Dark Chocolate

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

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Newman's Own Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

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

Monday, November 26, 2007

Hershey's Whole Bean Chocolate

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

Friday, November 23, 2007

The girl bakes! Turtle Cake

Hi guys, sorry for the sudden absence! I lost track of myself the past few days. ^^;

Thanksgiving was a blast, and I hope yours was too. There was turkey, ham, gumbo, mac and cheese, green beans with caramelized onions and mushrooms, and baked sweet potatoes (just plain, none of that marshmallow/syrup for me). Then there was cornbread, gingerbread, and turtle cake! So good.

When I was very young I refused to eat turtle cake because I thought it had something to do with real turtles. But no, it's just chocolate, caramel, and nuts. We make it every Thanksgiving and Christmas. It's a favorite and there usually isn't much left over.

I use a guideline, not a recipe, for turtle cake. It's very simple and there is plenty of room to play around. As a result, the instructions aren't very specific. But here's what I did this time:

1 box German chocolate cake mix (and the ingredients required by the box)
1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 bag caramels
1/3 c. evaporated milk
2 tbsp. butter
1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped

Preheat oven to the temperature specified by the cake mix. Prepare the cake batter as per the instructions on the box. Pour half of the batter into a 9x13 in pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean (or nearly clean, don't overbake).

Meanwhile, melt the caramels, butter, and evaporated milk in a NONSTICK pot. Remove from heat when the caramels lose their shape.

Spread the caramel, chocolate chips, and pecans evenly over the baked layer of cake. Top with the remaining cake batter. Sprinkle pecans on top. Bake until the top layer looks set.

A few notes: (1) Using a nonstick pan and a silicone spatula to make the caramel sauce greatly reduces mess. (2) It doesn't matter which order you layer caramel, chocolate, and pecans; I do it differently every time. (3) There are no specific baking times because it depends too much on the oven and the amount of batter used for each layer. (4) I used too much batter for the first layer, which is why the candy layer is so high. But turtle cake is forgiving!

Some (obvious) variations: (1) You can use a jarred caramel sauce to make things easier. I just like to make my own. (2) You can switch up the type of chips and nuts. (3) You can use a different flavor of cake mix, or make your own cake batter. I've also made this using a brownie batter. I thought it was great, but my mom thought it was too chocolatety.

Too chocolatety? How can there be such a thing?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

NOLA Special: Hubig's Sweet Potato Fried Pie

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?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Hebert's Fully Loaded Rocky Road

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

Friday, November 16, 2007

The girl bakes! Classic Sugar Cookies

Cut-out, decorated sugar cookies are fun to make, especially during the holidays. But what I really love are big, round, chewy sugar cookies. I’ve been trying to make the perfect sugar cookie for a while now, but every recipe I’ve tried turned out cakey and tasteless.

Then Martha Stewart came to my rescue! I saw her recipe for Classic Sugar Cookies posted by yumsugar and wrote it down immediately. I knew it would be great! It’s just taken me a while to try it.

3 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 3/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. brown sugar
1 tbsp. lemon zest (I used one small lemon.)
1 c. butter, softened
1 tbsp. of lemon juice (I used half of a small lemon.)
2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350°. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In a separate bowl, combine the sugar, brown sugar and lemon zest. Add the butter to the sugar mixture and cream until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time. Stir in lemon juice.

Drop rounded balls of dough onto a cookie sheet. Use a spatula to slightly flatten the dough, then sprinkle each round with sugar. Bake until golden brown (anywhere between 10-15 minutes, depended on the size of your cookies). Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for at least two minutes, then move to cooling racks to cool completely.

My first batch stuck to the pan slightly (that's why some of the pictured cookies are cracked). I solved this problem by separating the cookies from the pan as soon as they were removed from the oven. Don’t try to remove them from the pan, because they are still too soft. Just slide the spatula underneath to separate the cookie from the pan. If you have silicone baking sheets or are using parchment paper, you probably won't have this problem.

These became crispy after they cooled, but if you stick them in the microwave for a few seconds they become soft and chewy again. You can have the best of both worlds! I thought these cookies were great, especially with a cup of tea.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

World's Finest Chocolate Continental Almonds

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

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Immaculate Baking Co. Cookies

These caught my eye with the line “A Better Cookie For Kids.” Hey, if they're better for kids, they must be better for me too. The label reads that they are 100% organic (USDA approved), low in saturated fat, contain no trans fat or GMO, and are made from pure and simple ingredients. For me, the absence of high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils warranted these a try.

There are three varieties of cookies in the box. Choca Doodle Doos are Chocolate Chip Oatmeal, Hunka Chunka Chocolate are Double Chocolate Chip, and Doohickeys are Oatmeal Raisin. I had four bags of Choca Doodle Doos and three bags of the the other two, for a total of 10 one ounce packages. There were 5-6 mini cookies in each bag.

All three varieties had the same, rather odd texture. Usually cookies are either moist and dense or dry and crumbly, but I found that these were dry and dense. I suppose it's just the texture of the oatmeal. I don't have oatmeal cookies often, so I'm not used to it. But don't let the description of dry turn you off; they don't have a bad mouth-feel. They aren't moist, but they are nice, thick, and chewy.

Choca Doodle Doos

These are the chocolate chip oatmeal. The actual cookie has a good flavor. The oatmeal has a nice nutty taste. I'm really not tasting the chocolate though. There aren't enough chocolate chips to compete with the cookie. I'd normally give these a 5 for lack of chocolate, but the wholesome advantage bumps it up to a 6.

Rating: 6/10

Hunka Chunka Chocolate

These are the double chocolate chip, and trust me, they aren't skimping on flavor here! They have a strong chocolate taste, almost like a brownie. The thick texture also reminds me of a brownie. I usually find packaged chocolate cookies disappointing, but these served my chocolate craving. I'd have them again.

Rating: 7/10


These are the oatmeal raisin. Again, they aren't skimping on flavor. They smell and taste strongly of spices, but not overwhelmingly so. There are also some salty notes, which I like with my oatmeal. There aren't a whole lot of raisins here though. I think the problem with all the varieties is that the cookies are two small to hold an adequate amount of chips/raisins. But I don't think raisins add much to cookies, so I still really enjoyed these. They were my favorite of the lot.

Rating: 8/10

I would buy these again. The cookies are tasty and I like the healthy ingredients angle. I'm also really interested in some of the companies other cookies, which include flavors like Pumpkin Ginger and Key Lime. Yum! I hope I see those in the store soon.

If you have children, I'd suggest giving these a try. The bright packaging and fun names may help them forget that these are oatmeal cookies. And if not, more for you!

Name: Cookies For Kids Multi-Pack
Brand: Immaculate Baking Co.
Store: Target
Price: $4.99 for a package of 10

Monday, November 12, 2007

Choxie Dark Chocolate Espresso Beans

Choxie is Target's brand of premium chocolate. I think the catchphrase when the brand arrived a couple years ago was 'Chocolate with moxie.” ...yeah. I've tried a couple things from Choxie before, and I think it's good but overpriced. It has attractive packaging and interesting flavor combinations going for it.

I've never had chocolate covered espresso beans before, so I have nothing to compare these to. They are packaged in a round tin. The thick layer of chocolate and crunchy bean make for a nice texture. The coffee flavor is intense. These are best eating by just popping them into your mouth and munching down. If you don't get the coffee and chocolate at the same time, the bean is rather bitter.

If you don't love coffee, you probably won't like these. I couldn't eat several in a row. The tin lasted about a week; I kept it in my bag for that quick chocolate/coffee fix. I don't think I'd buy these again, but I wouldn't turn them down.

Rating: 6/10

Name: Dark Chocolate Espresso Beans
Brand: Choxie
Store: Target
Price: $1.40

Friday, November 9, 2007

The girl bakes! Reese's Chewy Chocolate Cookies

Ah, chocolate and peanut butter. A match made in heaven. This week's baking bit translates the combination into cookie form.

I've been making these cookies for a long time. They are my brother's favorite. The recipe comes from the back of the Reese's Peanut Butter Chip bag, but I'm sure that it can also be found at Hershey's Kitchens. It's always worked for me, so I've never bothered to tweak it, but I may try in the future.

2 c. flour
3/4 c. cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/4 c. butter, softened
2 c. sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 pkg. peanut butter chips

Preheat oven to 350°. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt; set aside. Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Gradually add the dry ingredients. Stir in the peanut butter chips. Drop by the spoonful onto a greased baking sheet. Bake for 8-9 minutes. Cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes, then move to wire racks to cool completely.

I do recommend that you time these. I usually don't pay attention to baking times; I just use my own judgment. But it can be difficult to tell when these are done because of their dark color.

I tossed some chocolate chips in mine because we had an open bag, but I don't think they added much.

These are 'safe' cookies. Everyone likes peanut butter and chocolate. My dad and brother are picky eaters (My mom and I will eat anything.) but they both love these.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Goo Goo Peanut Butter

The Goo Goo Cluster is made by the Standard Candy Company in Nashville, TN. It's one of the few surviving regional candies. I'm not sure if you can find them outside of the South. I'm in the New Orleans area, and I can find Goo Goos at discount stores and the “mom and pop” grocery store (a dying breed themselves) in my town. I don't ever see them at the big grocery chains.

The Goo Goo Cluster comes in the original, Supreme, and Peanut Butter version. I've tried the original and Supreme before, but this is my first Peanut Butter. I picked it up at a discount store even though it was due to expire in a month. I kind of regret that now, because it would probably get a better review if it were fresh. But I've got to take what I can get.

A Goo Goo Cluster is peanuts, marshmallow, and caramel covered in milk chocolate. The Goo Goo Peanut Butter is just peanut butter and peanuts covered with milk chocolate. It's not very attractive -- it's just a plop of ingredients -- but it has it's charm.

The peanuts obviously weren't fresh. They weren't crunchy, but they were awfully salty. The whole thing was too salty for me. The chocolate didn't add enough sweetness on it's own. I think they should have added (or rather, kept) either the caramel or marshmallow from the original Goo Goo. This would have added more sweetness and kept it more true to the original. It's just too much peanut butter.

While this bar has definite problems, I know it would have been better had it been fresh. I'll consider giving it a second chance if I find a fresh one.

Rating: 5/10

Name: Goo Goo Peanut Butter
Brand: Standard Candy Company
Store: Big Lots
Price: $0.40

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Larabar Apple Pie

Now, a change from all that candy!

Larabars are raw fruit and nut bars. They are unprocessed, gluten free, dairy free, soy free, non-GMO, vegan, kosher, and have no sugar added. Now, tell me that's not healthy! There are several flavors, including (but not limited to) Pecan Pie, Ginger Snap, Cashew Cookie, and Key Lime Pie. Today I bring the Apple Pie flavor to you.

The best thing is that each flavor has 6 ingredients or less. The Apple Pie bar contains dates, almonds, unsweetened apples, walnuts, raisins, and cinnamon. I love it when I can recognize all of the ingredients in a product!

The bars average around 200 calories each. The Apple Pie contains 180 calories. It has 10 grams of fat, which seems like a lot, but keep in mind that 9 of those grams are healthy unsaturated fat from the nuts. The bar also packs 4 grams each of fiber and protein. It also counts as one serving of fruit on the food pyramid. Nice.

But I don't eat Larabars just because they are healthy. No, I eat Larabars because they taste good.

I'm not going to pretend that Larabars are attractive. In fact, they look rather unappetizing. The dates hold the other fruit and nuts together in the form of a brick. The nuts are pretty finely chopped, but you do get a chunk of almond occasionally.

I'm not an apple pie expert; I've only had it on a couple occasions. But I think the taste is pretty darn authentic. While there are no crust notes, the bar tastes like apple pie filling/baked cinnamon apples. There's no other way I can describe it. It's good.

The bars are moist and very filling. I'm not recommending them as a meal replacement, but they do keep me full for more than a couple of hours, which is great when I have five classes in a row. This makes the expense worth it for me: a box if 16 costs about $20. When you consider the average cost of health/energy bars, this really isn't that bad.

With so many bad-tasting, not-all-that-healthy health food bars out there, it's nice to see a product that uses the simplest ingredients to give us something tasty and healthy.

Rating: 9/10

Name: Apple Pie Larabar
Brand: Larabar
Store: /
Price: About $20 for 16 bars

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Frey Hot Chilli Pepper

I'd never had a spicy chocolate bar before, so this was a first. It's described as "extra fine dark chocolate with chilli." It's 55% cocoa solids, which I think of as classic dark chocolate. It certainly smells of chili, and when you snap it in half you can see the little reddish bits.

Like the other Frey bars, this is on the thin side. It is a 100g tablet with 2.5 servings per bar and 210 calories per serving.

Lets first talk about my expectations for this bar. I didn't expect any heat or burn. I expected that the chili would lend more complexity to the chocolate. What I got was the total opposite. The initial taste was your standard, slightly sweet dark chocolate. A few seconds later, the heat started. It wasn't really spicy, just hot; the kind that leaves a burn in your throat.

Now, I'm used to spicy/hot foods, so this was a fun surprise for me, but if you don't like heat, stay away! I only ate two of the ten pieces, and I'll probably share the rest. It's a fun novelty, and I'm glad I tried it, but it's not something that I really like. The chili just didn't add enough to the chocolate; it was more like a special effect.

However, these could be good for practical jokes..

Rating: 4/10

Name: Hot Chilli Pepper
Brand: Frey
Store: Target
Price: $1.66

Monday, November 5, 2007

Harry and David Dark Chocolate Maltballs

These candies are dark and shiny. The shape is irregular; they aren't perfect spheres, but they are still pretty. The box is pretty cute too, and contains about four servings of candy.

Now, let me say that I LOVE malted milk balls. My top 3 candy choices are always changing, but malted milk balls are a constant. Unfortunately, they don't seem to be that popular with others. It's rare to see a single serving bag of Whoppers down even the most well-stocked candy aisle. So I get excited when I see a malt product, and I'm not overly picky with them.

That being said, I was incredibly disappointed my these. I didn't even finish the box, and that's saying a lot.

My problem was with the chocolate. It had a fruity quality which came off as medicinal to me, like cherry cough syrup. The flavor completely overwhelmed the malt in the center; I could hardly taste it. Even worse, and rather odd, was the that the chocolate didn't melt well. I had to bite or scrape off the chocolate with my teeth. It is real chocolate, not 'mockolate,' so I'm not sure what the problem there was.

I can say that these were fresh. I never encountered one of those hard-sticky centers that can occur. Each was nice and crunchy. I can only tell you this because I spent time dissecting the candies (yes, I'm still playing with my food). I only ate a couple; the rest ended up in the trash because I really disliked the chocolate, and no one else in the house wanted them either.

I wonder if dark chocolate is too overwhelming for malted milk balls, or if it's just this brand? Or just me?

Rating: 4/10

Name: Dark Chocolate Maltballs
Brand: Harry and David
Store: Target
Price: $2.08

Friday, November 2, 2007

The girl bakes! Peanut Butter Fudge

Okay, so technically this should be “the girl candy-makes,” but I've always associated candy-making with baking. Maybe because both are associated with the holidays?

Today's recipe is for peanut butter fudge, one of my absolute favorite treats. Here is the good news: it's ridiculously easy. The bad news? You may be tempted to eat it all in one weekend if you are a peanut butter lover like me.

This fudge is made in the microwave. Now, I'm usually very suspicious of microwave fudge; I've never met a good chocolate fudge from the microwave. But this peanut butter fudge is just as good as any! So, the recipe:

1 c. butter
1 c. peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 lb. powdered sugar

1. Line a pan with wax paper. If you want your fudge to be thin, use a 9x13in pan. For thicker fudge use a 9x9in pan. Or whatever size you have; it really doesn't matter.

2. Microwave butter and peanut butter for two minutes.

3. Stir, then microwave for two more minutes.

4. Remove from microwave, then add vanilla and powdered sugar.

5. Stir the mixture until it becomes dull.

6. Spread into the pan.

7. Cover the surface of the fudge with another piece of wax paper and refrigerate until firm.

I told you it was easy! The hardest part is lining the pan with wax paper. I love giving this as a gift around holiday time. Candy will stay fresher longer than cookies and other baked goods, so it will last them longer!

I've never tried this, but you may be able to mix goodies into the fudge. Next time, I might try it with M&Ms minis. I'll let you know the results.

Until then, enjoy the peanut butter goodness!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Halloween notes.

I hope everyone had a great Halloween. I spent my evening handing out candy and making s'mores. I wish I had pictures of the s'mores, but I ate them too fast. They definitely get a 10.

We've got plenty of candy left over. Our loot included Kit-Kat, Take5, Heath, Reese's Pieces, Rolos, Milk Duds, Nestle Crunch, Babe Ruth, and Butterfinger. Not the most kid-friendly hand-outs, but it's all stuff that my family likes! I wish I could have passed out home-made goodies, but most parents would think I'm trying to poison their kids. It's so sad!

I know I'm cheating a bit with this post. There's no review, just a reminder to head to the store and pick up the discounted Halloween candy!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Mellocreme Pumpkin Love

Happy Halloween!

Halloween brings visions of candy corn. Now, they say people have either a love or hate relationship with candy corn. This doesn't apply to me. I have a 'meh' relationship with candy corn. I eat it, I like it, but I don't buy it for myself.

Mellocreme pumpkins, on the other hand, are a different story.

I'm almost ashamed to admit how much I look forward to these sugary morsels each year. Yes, they are far too sweet. But to me, it's about more than taste. Mellocreme pumpkins indicate the change of the season. Fall is my absolute favorite season, so this is quite welcome. I think the pumpkins are perfect for Halloween through Thanksgiving, though most people don't associate them with the latter.

I love the mellocreme pumpkin, and I love eating them. Heck, they get a straight up 10.

But are they truly that tasty? Well, I have to be honest with myself this year. No, they are not. I'd probably give them a 5 or 6. I know this because I have 'meh' feelings toward mellocremes that aren't orange pumpkins. I don't love mellocremes in the form of Valentine hearts or Christmas trees. I know they are all the same, but in my head, the pumpkins are 10 times better.

I love the mellocreme pumpkin because of what is represents to me: fall and the upcoming holidays. And I'm okay with that. I won't be ashamed anymore!

Rating: Priceless.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A Russell Stover Halloween

Buzzard Egg
This is a marshmallow egg covered in milk chocolate. I didn't quite realize what it was until I got home. An egg? For Halloween? Did they decide to slap a buzzard on leftover Easter stock and call it Halloween candy?

Silliness aside, I actually like the packaging. The wrapper is a nice blackened purple/silver color and the buzzard looks sharp. I'm rather afraid of taking her egg.

The chocolate layer was very thin... and very sweet. The marshmallow was fluffy, soft, sticky... and very sweet. Yes, the whole thing was very, very sweet. Throat-burningly so. But that's okay with me; I like very sweet. I was also very pleased with the freshness of the marshmallow.

At 110 calories, this is a nice treat that I don't have to feel guilty about. I'd be interested in a dark chocolate version to cut some of the sweetness.

Rating: 6/10

Caramel Pumpkin
The caramel is chewy, with a nice stretch – I pulled it in half and the caramel stretched for a long time. However, it's lacking in taste. It's not buttery, salty, burnt, or even particularly sweet. It's not bad, but it's distinctly lackluster.

Rating: 5/10

Caramel & Marshmallow Pumpkin
I suppose this is the love child of the marshmallow egg and caramel pumpkin. Now, I know I just knocked the caramel pumpkin, but I wonder if my taste buds were off that day because the caramel here is much better. It's buttery, but it would benefit from some saltiness. The marshmallow adds sweetness and interesting texture.

Rating: 6/10

Coconut Cream Pumpkin
My first thought was, 'Wow, what a poor misshapen pumpkin.' While the other two pumpkins actually resembled pumpkins, this looked much more like a hockey puck. It seemed very heavy and solid to me, almost like a chocolate covered cookie (or hockey puck). It's not pretty, but I can forgive that.

The middle didn't strike me as cream, but more like fluffy, sticky icing. I'm not sure that the cream is actually coconut flavored. It tasted mostly of vanilla, but there were pieces of coconut throughout. Not so much that it had that stringy texture, but enough to give it a nice flavor. Coconut isn't a preferred flavor of mine, but I liked this.

Rating: 7/10

Overall, I think these would be nice additions the special Halloween bags you might make for your kids/grandkids/other special kids in your life. They are also a nice, cheap treat to pick up for yourself. They are fresh and come in a greater variety than what I've reviewed here (orange marshmallow, strawberry creme, etc.).

The calorie count is much lower than a regular candy bar. The Buzzard Egg has 110 calories; the Caramel Pumpkin has 160; the Caramel Marshmallow Pumpkin has 120; the Coconut Creme Pumpkin has 150.

Brand: Russell Stover
Store: Walgreens
Price: $0.39 each

Monday, October 29, 2007

Snickers Creme Pumpkin

I wasn't sure what to expect from the Snickers Creme Pumpkin. When I think of creme/cream in candy, my first thought is of something sweet and milky. My second thought is of something with a custard-like consistency.

But in the world of Snickers, creme apparently means “no nougat.” The Snickers Creme Pumpkin is just caramel and peanuts covered with milk chocolate; the regular nougat is missing. I don't have a regular Snickers to compare it to, but the caramel seems slightly runnier than usual; perhaps this contributes to the creme bit.

Aside from the name, I really liked the Snickers Creme Pumpkin. It was cute, like a tall, slim Jack-o-lantern. All of the flavors come though, especially the peanuts. There aren't a terrible lot of them, but the nutty and salty flavors are very clear. It's almost like peanut flavored caramel. I don't miss the nougat, but I haven't had an actual Snickers in some time, so I can't say how it compares.

I like the scaled down size, so I hope they introduce something similar for the other candy holidays. One reason I don't eat Snickers often is because it's just too much. It's nice to be able to pick this up. I might try to grab a few more if they go on sale after Halloween.

I am a bit annoyed that the nutrition facts aren't printed on the wrapper. I sent an email requesting the information, but it's been over a week and I haven't heard back from them. Boo Snickers!

Other than that, this was pretty darn tasty.

Rating: 8/10

Name: Snickers Creme Pumpkin
Brand: Mars
Store: Walgreens
Price: $0.50

Friday, October 26, 2007

The girl bakes! Chocolate Kahlua Cheesecake

Here is what I hope to be a weekly installment to the blog: The girl bakes! I've mentioned that I don't eat a lot of prepackaged snacks, and that is partly because I've always made my own. I've been baking since I was a kid, but it's always been basic things like cookies, brownies, and box-mix cakes. Over the past year, however, I've been getting more adventurous. Today's edition of The girl bakes! covers my first cheesecake: Chocolate Kahlua.

I used a ready-made graham cracker crust because we happened to have one, and I didn't have the ingredients to make one from scratch. I adapted the filling recipe from two different recipes that I found in an old cookbook. One recipe called for amaretto, but I decided to substitute Kahlua. Here's what I came up with:


16 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. brown sugar, packed
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs
3 tbsp. Kahlua liqueur
1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted


1. Preheat oven to 325°.

2. Beat cream cheese, brown sugar, and vanilla until smooth.

3. Add eggs one at a time, stirring just until combined. You don't want to over-beat, so I would do this by hand.

4. Stir in Kahlua and chocolate chips.

5. Pour mixture over crust and bake for approximately 35 minutes. I took it out when just the center 2-3 inches still appeared moist.

I didn't have any cream to whip, so I skipped the toppings. The cake is rich, dense, and smooth. The Kahlua flavor is there, but it isn't overpowering. I would actually prefer it to be a little stronger, but then, I really like Kahlua. The rest of my family enjoyed it as well.

I'm very pleased with the way this came out. I would definitely make it again, but next time I would make my own crust with either graham crackers or shortbread cookies. The ready-made crust was actually a bit too small, and I had to toss a little bit of the filling out. I'll also top this with some whipped cream next time.


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

3 Musketeers Mint

I'll be honest: I didn't expect to like this. For one, I don't care for the original 3 Musketeers. Two, I didn't think this could measure up to the York Peppermint Pattie, which I'm a big fan of. However, I'm happy to report that I was pleasantly surprised by this bar.

The 3 Musketeers Mint is whipped-up minty candy covered in a thin layer of dark chocolate. Like the original 3 Musketeers, this is advertised as a 'lighter' candy option. According to the wrapper, it's “a lighter way to enjoy mint chocolate.” With 150 calories and 5g of fat, I'd say that's a fair assessment. Better yet, this isn't a single bar, but two smaller bars, which makes it perfect for sharing or portion control. One smaller bar has only 75 calories, a pretty guiltless treat. I like it when a candy lives up to its claim.

The mint is sweet and fluffy. The texture reminds me of a dense marshmallow. The mint flavor is pretty mild, much less intense than a York Pattie. Whether that's good or bad depends on your taste. Now, what's odd about this bar is the aftertaste... I can only describe it as salty. It's strange, but I rather like it.

I ate one of the bars when I was in the need of a evening candy-fix, and it was surprisingly satisfying. I decided to put the other half in the freezer overnight. When I pulled it out the next day I found quite a treat. Of course, mint and cold work well together. I would eat these frozen fairly often over the summer.

While this doesn't overtake the York Pattie in my book, I can see myself alternating between the two.

Rating: 7/10

Name: 3 Musketeers Mint
Brand: Mars
Store: Walgreens
Price: $0.69