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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Candy

GIFT OF THE DAY: Special Caramels For Your Honey

salted-caramels-droga-230r

Salted honey caramels. Photo courtesy
Droga.

 

For the lover of gourmet caramels, something special for your Valentine:

Put Your Money On Honey salted caramels from Droga Chocolates of Los Angeles.

The luscious bites are the result of a bet that a caramel couldn’t be made without corn syrup. Seeking a solution to the challenge, Droga says:

“Inspiration stung us—honey was the answer! The first honey caramel came to bee, and people have been abuzz ever since.”

And you should make a bee-line for them! So soft and redolent of fine honey, each taste makes you want another. And another.

The small-batch caramels are:

  • Made with California creamery pure cream and butter
  • Sweetened with raw California wildflower honey
  • Enrobed in premium dark chocolate from Guittard
  • Sprinkled with delicate French fleur de sel sea salt
  •  

    The nine caramels in the gift box ($16.95, two boxes for $29.95) will disappear quickly, but leave such happy memories.

    Droga confections are certified kosher by KOF-K.

    Get yours at DrogaChocolates.com.

    There are caramels in other flavors that also hit the spot. Here’s our review.

      

    Comments

    STOCKING STUFFERS: Conventional & Sugar Free Sweet Treat Favorites

    Sugar free bridge mix, licorice and Gummi
    Bears (inside package) from Nuts.com. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    Nuts.com is a third-generation purveyor of nuts, dried fruits, chocolates and other sweets. They offer some 3,000 items sold by the pound, but will also package the wares into snack packs, 3.2 ounce bags sold in packs of 12. The 12-packs range from approximately $18 to $24, creating an inexpensive stocking stuffer that has a higher-value appearance.

    We love the snack packs as stocking stuffers or party favors, the cheery green bags hinting at the goodies inside. There are hundreds of sweet options, that you can search by category (or however you like):

  • Chocolate: bark, gourmet PB cups, chocolate-dipped fruit
  • Classic treats: just about everything you can name, from malt balls to chocolate-covered ginger, grahams and marzipan
  • Gluten-free, organic and raw options
  • Nutritious treats: dried fruits and edamame, energy squares, nuts, trail mix and fun items like freeze-dried chickpeas, broccoli and spinach
  • Nuts: chocolate covered and bridge mix, yogurt covered, candied, sugar roasted
  •  

  • Sugar-Free: chocolate covered nuts, espresso beans, bridge mix, and pretzels; hard and soft candies (jellies, gummies); mini peanut butter cups; licorice; yogurt raisins and more—an impressive sugar-free selection
  •  
    There are also Gummy Sugar Plums for gifting or as a garnish for cakes, cupcakes or other desserts.

    Check out all the options (well, maybe not all 3,000) at Nuts.com.

      

    Comments

    GIFT: Daelia’s Honey Nougat (Italian Torrone)

    Good nougat is hard to find. It can be a jawbreaker or cloyingly sweet. But is a Christmas tradition in numerous countries, and good nougat is worth hunting down.

    For at least six generations, Maria Walley’s family has made torrone for Christmas and Easter (torrone, pronounced toe-ROE-nay, is Italian for nougat).

    Her ancestors brought the recipe to America from Viterbo, Italy in 1910. It was made with almonds and hazelnuts and wrapped in pieces of wax paper with the ends twisted.

    Maria has turned the family recipe into a commercial venture, Daelia’s Honey Nougat. She separates the flavors into your choice of Almond or Hazelnut.

    The all-natural confection is made with egg whites, honey and nuts; the almonds come from California, the hazelnuts from Oregon. There is no corn syrup—an ingredient used by many nougat manufacturers that cheapens the flavor and texture.

     

    Daelia’s Nougat in two delicious flavors:
    Almond and Hazelnut. Photo by
    Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    The bars of nougat are formed in wood molds, then cut by hand. A 3.53-ounce bar is $9.99 on Amazon.com:

  • Almond Honey Nougat
  • Hazelnut Honey Nougat
  •  

    A delicious stocking stuffer, party favor or small gift, nougat is delicious with tea or coffee…or just by itself.

    Daelia also makes delicious biscuits for cheese. Check them out.

    —Steven Gans

      

    Comments

    GIFT: Droga Salted Caramels & Gingerbread Men

    Droga Chocolates was launched in 2007 in the San Francisco Bay Area. Founder Michelle Crochet grew up addicted to her mother’s homemade rocky road candy, which replaced walnuts with roasted, salted peanuts long before salt and chocolate became the rage.

    Michelle became a food buyer for Williams-Sonoma, and subsequently decided to join the ranks of Bay Area food-preneurs, ultimately pairing with a business partner, Lisa Albani. They consider themselves “the perfect ingredients for a sweet and successful business.”

    We tasted their holiday wares, and have a few requests for Santa:

    GINGERBREAD MEN

     

    We could eat an army of these gingerbread men. Photo courtesy Droga Chocolates.

     

    The Jolly Gingerbread Cookie really hit the spot. As soon as we finished one, we wanted another (our gift set from Droga, while generous, included only one of the ginger guys).

    In a coat of milk or dark chocolate, the artisan gingerbread, a cookie 6 inches long and 6.5 ounces, is $12.50 in a cellophane bag and ribbon. There are also smaller “gingerbread boys” for $6.95.

     

    Two excellent flavored salt caramels. Photo
    by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE

     

    SALT CARAMELS

    We taste a lot of salt caramels, and not that many turn our heads. Droga’s East vs. West Salt Caramel Set hit the spot, and made us sad that there were only four caramels in each box. We could have eaten dozens of:

  • NYC City Caramels: chocolate espresso caramels in dark chocolate and hint of black salt.
  • LA City Caramels: lemon ginger caramels in dark chocolate and hint of pink salt
  •  
    A four-piece box of each flavor, $13.95.

    Any of these would make a more-than-welcome stocking stuffer or party favor.

    MORE GOODIES

    Larger portions, gaily boxed, include:

  • Big Bite Brittle
  • Money On Honey Caramels, with intense, rich honey flavor
  •  

  • Peppermint Peppies, dark and white chocolate with crushed peppermint
  • Rebel Rocky Road (Mom’s recipe)
  • Nutty Puddles, a turtle-like confection of roasted almonds and honey caramel
  •  
    Get yours at DrogaChocolates.com.

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Candy Corn Fudge

    Fudge in an homage to candy corn. Photo courtesy The Pampered Chef.

     

    October 30th is National Candy Corn Day. According to the National Confectioners Association, more than 20 million pounds of candy corn are sold during the Halloween season.

    The iconic confection was created in the late 1880s by George Roniger of the Wunderlee Candy Company in Philadelphia. The first three-layer candy, it was laboriously made by hand.

    Even with today’s machinery, it takes 4 to 5 days to create each piece of candy corn (here’s a video of candy corn being made). Each kernel has 3.57 calories, and it’s all sugar (the ingredients are corn syrup, honey, sugar and food coloring, coated with carnauba wax).

    The orange, yellow and white colors of the candy corn can actually be found in fresh corn kernels—though the colors are intensified by the candymakers. Some companies create an “Indian corn” version, substituting brown for the yellow base color.

    Why not “fudge the rules” by turning fudge into candy corn? It’s vanilla fudge, made in three layers that are the color of candy corn. The recipe is courtesy of ThePamperedChef.com.

    Don’t like fudge? Try this candy corn cocktail, or simply mix candy corn into some popcorn (almonds optional).

     
    RECIPE: “CANDY CORN” FUDGE

    Ingredients For 72 Pieces

  • 3 cups white chocolate chips
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 15 drops yellow food coloring
  • 10 drops red food coloring
  •  

    Preparation

    1. MICROWAVE chocolate and condensed milk in a 3 cup bowl, uncovered, on HIGH for 1-2 minutes. Stir every 30 seconds until melted.

    2. LINE a loaf pan with waxed paper and pour in one-third of the fudge mixture, spreading evenly.

    3. PLACE pan in freezer 5 minutes to cool. If the fudge mixture in the prep bowl has begun to set, microwave an additional 15 seconds.

    4. DIVIDE remaining fudge mixture into two bowls. Add yellow food coloring to one bowl and mix well. Add red food coloring to the other bowl and mix well.

    5. REMOVE fudge from freezer. Pour orange fudge mixture over first layer; return to freezer for 5 minutes. Then pour yellow fudge mixture over first two layers and place in freezer for about 45 minutes or until set.

    6. REMOVE fudge from pan. Cut into 4 lengthwise rows with a pizza cutter or other implement.

    7. TURN rows on their sides and cut into triangles.

    8. STORE in an airtight container in refrigerator.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Lovely Caramels, Vanilla & Chocolate Swirl

    The Lovely Candy Company of Woodstock, Illinois is committed to all natural, gluten-free and non-GMO candies made from the best ingredients. Its products include caramels, fruit chews and licorice.

    We love good caramels, and devoured the two bags we received: Original (vanilla) and Chocolate Swirl. We also received Fruit Chews—not our thing—which were devoured by the rest of THE NIBBLE team.

    Buttery and soft yet chewy, no dentures or fillings will compromised by these tender caramels. They’re made from brown rice syrup (a lower glycemic* sweetener), sweetened condensed whole milk, butter, dried cane syrup, molasses, vanilla and lecithin, with chocolate liquor† added for the Chocolate Swirl variety.

    Our preference is for the Chocolate Swirls, which are less sweet than the Original. We’ve earmarked them for stocking stuffers.

    But give us either flavor—the contents will disappear just as quickly.

    The line is certified kosher by KOF-K.

     

    We couldn’t stop eating them until the bags were empty. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     
    We’ve seen the caramels at a number of specialty food stores; there’s a store locator on the company website.

    Or, head to Amazon.com for:

  • Chocolate Swirl Caramels, $5.50 for 6 ounces, a 4-pack for $19.96 or a 12-pack for $59.88
  • Original Caramels, 6 ounce bag, 4 pack and 12-pack
  •  
    You can also find the Fruit Chews on Amazon.
     
    ABOUT BROWN RICE SYRUP

    Brown rice syrup, also called rice bran syrup and rice malt, is a low-glycemic sweetener. This means that its complex sugars are absorbed more slowly into the bloodstream—usually a boon for people with diabetes (see the next paragraph). It’s about half as sweet as table sugar and one-third as sweet as agave syrup/nectar.

    Although brown rice syrup has a GI (glycemic index) of 20,* it is not recommended for diabetics. That’s because its sweetness comes from maltose, which causes spikes in blood sugar. But, check with your healthcare provider if you are a diabetic who’d like to try brown rice syrup or products it contains.

    *Table sugar has a GI value of 60-65. Pure maple syrup maple syrup has a GI of 54.

    †A misleading term, chocolate liquor contains no alcohol. It is a thick, gritty, dark brown paste. Here’s a longer explanation of chocolate liquor.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Caramel Apple Bar With Lots Of Toppings

    How do you roll (your apple, that is)? Photo
    courtesy Kimberly Reiner | The Sugar
    Mommas.

     

    For a family treat or Halloween entertaining, how about a caramel apple bar?

    Unlike the crackling-hard red candy apple coating, caramel coating remains pliant and you can press in candies and other garnishes.

    Start with this recipe for caramel apples; then pick your toppings.

    Also check out our other food bar ideas: breakfast/brunch, lunch/dinner, desserts and drinks/snacks.

    Candy & Snack Foods

    Look for mini versions of chocolate chips, M&Ms and Reese’s Pieces.

  • Candy corn
  • Chocolate chips (dark, milk, white) and other flavored chips (butterscotch, mint, peanut butter)
  • Crystallized ginger pieces
  • M&Ms
  • Reese’s Pieces
  • Silver, gold or pearl dragées
  • Sprinkles (especially in Halloween colors)
  • Toffee/Heath Bar pieces
  • Plus

  • Cereals: Corn Flakes, Fruit Loops, granola, Rice Krispies, other favorite
  • Crushed cheese crackers, graham crackers or Oreos
  • Crushed pretzels and/or potato chips
  • Popcorn: salted and/or kettle corn
  • Spices: allspice, chili flakes, cinnamon, nutmeg
  •  

    Nuts

    Chop them so they’re easy to roll on.

  • Almonds
  • Peanuts: honey peanuts or salted
  • Pecans
  • Pistachios
  • Walnuts
  • Other favorites
  •  

    Fruits

  • Banana chips (pieces)
  • Dried blueberries, cherries, cranberries, pineapple
  • Shredded coconut
  •  
    THE PROCESS

    1. SET out the plain caramel apples and bowls of toppings with spoons or scoops. Give all participants a soup bowl on a larger dinner plate.

    2. SCOOP toppings of choice into the bowl, one-by-one or mixed together.

    3. ROLL the apple in the topping(s), pressing hard.

    4. TAKE a bite! People can adjust the toppings as they like (something saltier, something crunchier, etc.).

     

    A sophisticated approach. You can also use gold, silver or pearl dragées. Photo courtesy Cocosala.com.

     

    CARAMEL APPLES VS. TOFFEE APPLES: THE DIFFERENCE

    For the purpose of candy apples, there’s no difference between “caramel apples,” “taffy apples” and “toffee apples.” The coating is made from melted caramels.

    In the world of candy, however, there are distinct differences. Check out the difference between butterscotch, caramel and toffee.

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Chocolate Covered Licorice

    Here’s a fun idea we found on the Red Vines Facebook page: red licorice enrobed in white chocolate, drizzled with dark chocolate.

    You can make them for Halloween. Simply melt white chocolate, dip licorice and dry on wax paper. When white chocolate has dried, drizzle with milk chocolate (use a squeeze bottle).

    Licorice is a “healthier candy”: no cholesterol, no salt. Few Americans have grown up without sampling bags of Twizzlers or licorice ropes. But it started out as medicine!

    THE HISTORY OF LICORICE

    We know licorice as moderately firm, semi-firm gelled candy. But for thousands of years in ancient China, Egypt and Greece, it was a cure for stomach and respiratory ills, as well as a thirst remedy for travelers and soldiers.* The troops of Alexander the Great and the Roman legions used it. Even today, it is used as a homeopathic remedy to soothe irritated membranes and loosen congestion in the upper respiratory tract. It helps as an anti-inflammatory, with allergies and with the liver.

     

    A “twist” on conventional licorice. Photo courtesy Red Vines.

     

    Use of licorice has been documented for 3,000 years. Ancient Egyptians created a sweet drink from it. Large quantities of licorice root were found in the tomb of King Tut (1356 to 1339 B.C.E.) A popular version of the drink, called mai sus, is still enjoyed in Egypt.

    The Caesars advocated licorice as a health remedy. Some 1800 years later, Napoleon Bonaparte chewed licorice for his ongoing digestive problems. Over time, his teeth turned black from the concentration of licorice juice. (You can chew on a piece of licorice root if you want the experience —just don’t make a habit of it.)

    Licorice extract is made from the root of the licorice plant, Glycyrrhiza glabra. A member of the pea family that is native to southeastern Europe, licorice grows about four feet high with pretty bluish purple and white flowers that resemble sweet pea blossom. Although they have similar flavor notes, licorice is not related to the spices anise and star anise, the vegetable fennel or the spice tarragon. The relation is that all of these plants and spices contain anethole, an aromatic and sweet-tasting ether compound.
     
    *According to Theophrastus, writing in the third century B.C.E., the Scythians were able to live for 12 days without water because they chewed on licorice root.

     

     

    To make licorice extract or syrup, the dried root is boiled in water; then most of the water is evaporated. In addition to health remedies and confections, licorice is used in cooking to flavor broths, herbal teas, liqueur and soft drinks. The root can be chewed as a breath freshener. Before the widespread availability of affordable sugar, licorice was used as a sweetener (glycyrrhizin, a component of licorice, is 50 times sweeter than table sugar but also carries with it the strong licorice flavor).

    LICORICE FACTS

  • Around 1500, licorice arrived in Europe with crusaders returning from the Holy Land. Monks continued the homeopathic uses, which spread across Europe during the Renaissance.
  • Southern Europeans drank licorice tea, believed to be a “blood purifier.”
  • Dominican friars introduced licorice to England. At some point, some manufacturer began to add honey to the licorice. In the late Middle Ages, licorice pastilles cast in rough molds were widely available.
  • A monastery in Pointer, England, in Yorkshire, became popular for its licorice discs, stamped with a seal (for decor and branding) and known as “Pointer cakes,” launched in 1614. In 1760, as sugar became affordable, it was added to Pointer cakes, which ratcheted up the popularity of licorice considerably. Pointer Cakes are still manufactured in Pointer, England.
  •  

    LICORICE AS A CONFECTION

    At some point, licorice, sweetened with honey or sugar, took on a new purpose: candy. While licorice extract continued to be used for medicinal purposes, its sweet chewiness made it a popular treat.

  • Extruded licorice candy (in tubes and ropes) is believed to have originated in Holland at the beginning of the 17th century.
  • When the candy industry developed during the Industrial Revolution of the mid-1800s, licorice became one of the standard confections.
  • Today licorice can be found in the shape of animals (cats, cows, pigs, reindeer, Scotties), bites, coins, drops, jujubes, laces (also called lariats, ropes and vines), pipes, sandwiches (part of an allsorts mix), tubes, twists and wheels and animals.
  • Krapelien & Holm, a Dutch manufacturer, makes bears, beagles, cars, cats, cones, farm animals, honeybees, lighthouses, thumbs, strawberries and other shapes.
  •  
    So even if you don’t dip licorice sticks in chocolate, you can still have fun with it.

    WHY IS LICORICE PRONOUNCED LICORISH?

    The Scots pronounce it “licoriss,” from the Old French “licoresse.” In England and the U.S., it is “licorish.” Here are two theories as to why:

  • The phoneme may have shifted from /s/ to /sh/, as happened with the words “pressure” and “sugar.”
  • A 1685 spelling of “licorish” in England leads to speculation is that this pronunciation originated in a regional dialect of English, which changed many final “s” sounds to “sh.”
  •   

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Megaload, Chocolate Candy With Double The Pleasure

    Megaload isn’t the name we’d have given to this candy line. It’s more like “double the fun.”

    Created by someone who obviously couldn’t decided among different treats, Megaload offers peanut butter cups and caramel cups topped with other favorite sweet snacks:

  • Almond buttercrunch
  • A chocolate chip cookie
  • A chocolate-covered pretzel
  • A chocolate sandwich cookie (think Oreo)
  • Candy coated chocolate pieces (think M&Ms)
  • Peanut buttercrunch
  •  

    Hmm…where to start? Photo courtesy Megaload.

     

    Packages of three cups include:

  • “Sweet and Salty,” peanut butter cups topped with different chocolate-covered pretzels
  • “Caramel Crunch,” caramel cups topped with buttercrunch or candy coated chocolate pieces
  • “Original,” peanut butter cups topped with chocolate chip cookie, “Oreo” and “M&Ms”
  • This is fun “kids’ candy,” not gourmet chocolate. But adults who enjoy PB cups and caramel cups will like them just as much.

    Right now they’re available at Amazon.com, and soon will be coming to a Walmart near you.

      

    Comments

    FATHER’S DAY: Chocolate Marshmallow Pops Recipe

    Make these treats for Father’s Day. Photo
    courtesy La Chocolate | Australia.

     

    We saw these inviting marshmallow lollipops on the website of La Chocolate, an Australian chocolatier. “Make a batch of me,” they called out.

    So we decided to make them for Father’s Day.

    RECIPE: CHOCOLATE COVERED
    MARSHMALLOWS ON A STICK

    Ingredients

  • 10 large marshmallows
  • 2 cups chocolate chips or other chocolate for melting
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Sprinkles or other decorations*
  •  
    *You can vary the color and type of decorations by holiday: little Valentine hearts, stars for July 4th, etc.

    Preparation

    1. MELT chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl for 30 seconds; stir and continue to microwave and stir at 30-second intervals. Take care not to scorch the chocolate. If there’s just a slight amount of undissolved chocolate, for example, whisk it to melt it instead of overheating the chocolate.

    2. DIP the marshmallows into the chocolate with a fork or other utensil. Place on waxed paper or aluminum foil. Sprinkle with decorations. Allow to set (you can do this in the fridge).

    3. INSERT sticks.

    PRESENTATION

    Marshmallow pops lying on a tray is one option, but you can get more creative in your presentation.

  • Bowl or vase. Fill a deep bowl or small vase with another food that will anchor the marshmallow pops: M&Ms or other small hard candies, rice, lentils or beans, etc.
  • Loaf cake. Buy a pound cake or other loaf cake and let it get slightly stale. Insert the pops into the top. Afterward, you can toast the pound cake and serve it with ice cream, or use it for fondue. You can make a Rice Krispie Treats recipe in a loaf pan for this purpose, and eat it after the pops are gone. If you have a fruit cake in the pantry, its dense texture makes a worthy pop holder.
  • Melon. A watermelon or other pretty melon can serve as your base. You may need to trim the bottom to create a level base, and use an ice pick to make holes for the sticks. But you can still eat the melon afterward.
  •  
    Other ideas? Let us know!

      

    Comments

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