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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,
the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Candy

GIFT: Red Rocker Cashew Toffee


Delicious toffee made with cashews instead of conventional almonds. Photo courtesy Red
Rocker Candy.


Red Rocker Candy, of Troy, Virginia, makes one of our favorite toffees: Cashew Toffee with White Chocolate. Every batch is hand-made using only the finest ingredients: pure butter, the best nuts money can buy and fine chocolate couverture.

The result is just the way we like it: oh so buttery, with the different twists of roasted cashew instead of almonds, and white chocolate (although dark chocolate and milk chocolate versions are available).

The toffee is a best-seller year-round; but in its bright red packaging, it makes a delicious Valentine gift.

  • Red foil package, 8 ounces, $12.00
  • Red gift box, 16 ounces, $24.00
  • Jumbo box, 5 pounds, $72.00
    Get yours at Red Rocker

    And get some for your Valentine, too.




    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Marshmallows

    As a treat for friends and family, try your hand at making marshmallows for Valentine’s Day. These chocolate marshmallows, by Christina Lane of, are dipped in melted chocolate for a double-chocolate treat. They take only 15 minutes to make!

    Since this is “dessert for two,” the recipe makes 12 mini marshmallows. Make the first batch to see how you like them, and then make a larger batch


    Ingredients For 12 Mini Marshmallows

  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup light (clear) corn syrup
  • Pinch of salt
  • 6 tablespoons cool water, divided
  • 1 packet unflavored gelatin
  • 2 tablespoons special dark cocoa powder*
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
    For Dipping

  • ½ cup dark chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
  • 1½ teaspoons coconut oil


    Dipped chocolate marshmallows. Photo courtesy

    *You can substitute regular cocoa powder. A darker, more intense cocoa powder delivers more chocolate flavor.


    1. LINE a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper or foil. Spray with cooking spray.

    2. COMBINE the granulated sugar, corn syrup, salt and 2 tablespoons of the water in a medium sauce pan. Clip on a candy thermometer, and turn the heat to medium-high. Bring the mixture to a boil without stirring and continue to cook until it reaches 238°F. Meanwhile…

    3. PLACE another 2 tablespoons of the water in a medium bowl, and sprinkle the gelatin on top. Let sit to dissolve for 5 minutes.

    4. ADD the last 2 tablespoons of water to a small dish and microwave for 25 seconds, until hot. Remove from the microwave carefully, and whisk in the cocoa powder. Stir the cocoa powder mixture into the dissolved gelatin.

    5. SLOWLY STREAM the hot sugar (238°F) into the gelatin mixture while continuously beating with a hand mixer on medium-high. Be careful not to pour the hot sugar near the sides of the bowl because it will stick and harden immediately. Beat the mixture for 10 minutes, until light and fluffy; then beat in the vanilla.

    6. POUR the mixture into the loaf pan, and let set for at least 3 hours. Then lift the parchment paper or foil out of the pan, and cut the marshmallows into squares with a well-greased knife. Grease the knife between each cut. If the marshmallows are too sticky, roll them in extra cocoa powder.

    7. DIP the marshmallows: First place the marshmallows in the freezer for 5 minutes, on a baking sheet. While they are chilling, combine the chocolate chips and coconut oil in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on medium heat in 30-second pulses until melted, stirring between each pulse. Stir until chocolate is evenly melted and smooth.

    8. REMOVE the marshmallows from the freezer and dunk half of each marshmallow in the melted chocolate. Place each marshmallow back on the sheet, and refrigerate until the chocolate sets, about 5 minutes.



    VALENTINE GIFT: Tonja’s Toffee, With Or Without Nuts


    Tonja’s Toffee. Photo by Hannah Kaminsky |


    Not everyone wants a box of bonbons or chocolate hearts for Valentine’s Day. Some of us would love the buttery crunch of toffee.

    When we received samples of Tonja’s Toffee, we were happy, happy, happy. The style is very buttery, which is how we like it. And, this considerate family business makes nut-free varieties too.

    Choices include:

  • Almond Toffee: topped in dark, milk or white chocolate with a fine dusting of almonds.
  • Butter Toffee: nut-free, also in dark, milk or white chocolate.
    The toffee is sold in quarter-pound, half-pound and one-pound bags. The small bags make great stocking stuffers or party favors.

    The company also makes peanut butter bon bons and peanut brittle. We haven’t tried them yet, but as soon as we finish eating all our Valentine candy, they’re on our list.

    Get yours at




    RECIPE: Make Your Own Gummies


    Fun project: Make your own gummies. Photo


    Gummy fan? We admit to a gummy habit.

    We were happy to discover that in 15 minutes, we could make our own gummies, with top-quality ingredients (including honey instead of refined sugar) and for less expense than purchasing them.

    It’s easy, so try it—perhaps inviting your favorite child to participate in the joy of making sweets. Prep time is just 5 minutes, cook time is 10 minutes.

    The only thing you need to do is buy a candy mold—although you could use a sheet pan/jelly roll pan and cut the solid rectangle into squares. You also can try a mini ice cube tray. This recipe used a sheet mold tray with 64 molds of 3/4″ x 1″.

    This recipe is made with tart cherry juice. If you like the result, you can try it with other juice flavors–apple, cranberry, grape, etc.

    This recipe is courtesy of Mitzi Dulan, RD, of, via


    Ingredients For 128 Pieces

  • 1-1/4 cups tart cherry juice
  • 1/4 cup unflavored gelatin
  • 1/3 cup honey


    1. COMBINE the juice and gelatin in a small bowl, stirring until the gelatin is fully dissolved. Pour the mixture into a small saucepan over low-medium heat and add the honey. Continue stirring until well mixed. Be sure not to boil!

    2. REMOVE from the heat, allowing the mixture to slightly cool before pouring into the mold.

    3. LET cool for about 10 minutes or until it begins to gel before transferring into the refrigerator. Place in the refrigerator at least 30 minutes to allow it to set.



    As we were looking for candy molds online, we came across this Gummy Candy Maker, $29.75.

    It includes the silicone molds to make gummy fish, worms and small bears—as well as a jumbo bear—with easy-to-use silicone molds. The central heated base holds the gelatin pot with a spout for easy pouring; the entire unit disassembles for easy cleaning.

    Reviews from 60 customers gave it 4.4 out of five stars, with many giving it five stars. If we can convince ourselves that this is an important appliance to bring into our small kitchen, we may be buying one soon.

    We think it makes a great Valentine gift.



    This gummy maker has molds of favorite shapes. Photo courtesy Nostalgia Electrics.




    RECIPE: Chocolate-Dipped Figs

    One of the earliest foods cultivated by man, figs, the sacred biblical fruit of ancient times, are cherished in some cultures as a symbol of peace and prosperity.

    Most U.S.-grown figs are available from June through September, but you may find imports in the stores.

    If you do, cut them into grains or stuffing; serve them sliced on ham or turkey sandwiches; stuff them with cream cheese, goat cheese or mascarpone; served on a cheese plate; chop and bake them in muffins; cook them with meat dishes (great with pork); make a fig tart or fig ice cream for dessert.

    And the easiest way…dip them in chocolate!

    Serve them on Christmas Eve with a sparkling or dessert wine; bring them as a gift; serve them on New Year’s Eve.

    Select figs that are fresh-smelling and fairly soft—avoid hard figs. You can ripen them at room temperature or lay them on a layer of paper towels, cover with plastic and refrigerate for a few days.



    Chocolate-dipped figsPhoto courtesy




  • 3.5-ounce quality chocolate bar*
  • 12 dried figs
  • Optional: spirit of choice
    *You can use your favorite chocolate, be it dark, milk or white.


    1. BREAK the chocolate into pieces and melt in a double boiler.

    2. PLUMP the figs. You can actually dip them in your favorite spirit (and of course, drink the leftover “fig spirit.”

    3. DIP each fig into the melted chocolate and transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper. Allow the chocolate to cool and harden completely.

    4. STORE in an airtight cookie tin. The figs will keep at room temperature for 3-4 weeks.

    Or, buy the figs in the photo from Mackenzie Limited. They’re filled with a chocolate truffle, kissed with a hint of brandy, and enrobed with a delicate layer of chocolate. Delicious!




    GIFT: Mrs. Prindable’s Caramel Apples


    The Nutcracker, a keepsake toy, stays with
    you after the apple has been enjoyed. There are teddy bears and other seasonal options. Photo courtesy Mrs. Prindable.


    We recently recommended a stocking stuffer of Mrs. Prindable’s caramels. For 25 years, Mrs. P. used that caramel to coat scrumptious jumbo apples, with a top layer of chocolate.

    We love these apples, great gifts for individuals or families. In addition to the half-inch-thick coating of delectable chocolate and caramel, you get lots of crunchy Granny Smith apple. The combination of indulgent and healthful is a delicious treat.

    The extra-fancy apples are crisp, juicy and jumbo: an impressive 4.5 inches tall, 3.5 inches wide and 1.5 pounds. They’re available in eleven flavors* and can be sliced to serve up to 10 people.

    If you want a bit less, there are Petite Apples, still sizeable at 3.5 inches tall and half a pound, serving two people. They’re available in seven flavors.

    Jumbo apples are $23.99 to $29.99 each, the higher price for apples decorated for the season, which includes a novelty keepsake like the Nutcracker and Champagne bottle in the photos here.


    Each apple is hand-dipped in the day’s fresh batch of wonderfully flavorful caramel and chocolate. Depending on the flavor chosen, the apple is then hand-rolled in the finest nuts and toppings.

    Order your apples at They’ll arrive in a couple of days, nicely gift boxed and much nicer to eat.



    We’d like Santa to give us an Apple of the Month Program. An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but an apple a month will live in memory for a long, long time.

    The program is available in six-month and 12-month subscriptions, $169.99 and $399.99, respectively.

    Each month, the lucky recipient will receive one of the best-selling flavors.

    Are you listening, Santa?
    *Choices include dark chocolate caramel apples, mlk chocolate caramel apples and white chocolate caramel apples, with or without nuts—almonds, cashews, pecans or walnuts.



    Celebrate New Year’s Eve with your choice of apple, topped with a keepsake Champagne bottle novelty. (Shown: the Toffee Walnut apple, one of our favorites.) Photo courtesy Mrs. Prindable.




    GIFT: Fika Gourmet Malted Milk Balls


    Gourmet malted milk balls with a seasonal look. Photo courtesy Fika New York.


    Forget Whoppers: Lovers of malted milk balls know how to search out the best malted milk balls. Our reigning favorites are the Mint Chip Maltballs from Marich, malt centers encased in dark chocolate and a mint cookie coating.

    But there’s a new entry for your consideration from Fika. Under the snowy surface of confectioners’ sugar are sweet milk chocolate-covered malt balls. The malted milk balls are handmade in Fika’s New york City facility.

    At $12 for a clear gift box of 10 ounces, they’re available, along with many other treats.

    For a respite, drop in at one of Fika’s 10 locations in New York City for coffee, pastry or a light repast.




    STOCKING STUFFER: Cowboy Toffee Co. S’Mores Toffee

    For toffee lovers, here’s a delightful variation: S’mores Toffee from the Cowboy Toffee Company of Oakdale, California.

    There are classic toffees we like better. Our gold standard is the uber-buttery Enstrom’s, which also is made in a sugar-free version. (It has so much butter, you’re advised to store it in the fridge! It’s also certified kosher)

    We’ve never seen s’mores toffee flavor before. Enhanced with mini marshmallows, mini graham cracker squares and a cover of milk chocolate, it’s something new, different and fun.

    A four-ounce rustic gift box is $9.99. Get yours at

    (Note that the toffee photo on the website isn’t too attractive. We devoured our sample before it could be photographed. The toffee looks much tastier in person.)



    Inside the box: S’mores Toffee! Photo courtesy Cowboy Toffee.



    Toffee is a hard but chewable candy made by caramelizing sugar with water and butter. American recipes can add vanilla and other flavorings, plus milk or cream. The ingredients are boiled together at a high temperature until the mixture is golden brown and stiff.

    The hot toffee is spread onto a shallow pan or countertop to thicken and cool. The slab is then broken into smaller, irregular pieces. Some toffees are poured into individual molds to create individual square or round pieces.

    Here’s more about toffee, including English-style toffee and the difference between toffee, buttercrunch and caramel.



    STOCKING STUFFERS & MORE: Mrs. Prindable’s Caramels


    A gourmet stocking stuffer. Photo courtesy Mrs. Prindable’s.


    We taste many caramels each year, looking for those that are very buttery, easy to chew and bursting with natural flavor.

    Mrs. Prindable’s, the queen of gourmet caramel apples, has applied the company’s knowledge of making fine caramel to bite-size candies, available in sizes from stocking stuffer to principal gift.

    The company’s new confections include:

  • Aleppo Chili Caramels, with a touch of heat from Aleppo chilies.
  • Hawaiian Red Sea Salt Caramels, enhanced by Alaea sea salt, a red/pink salt harvested off the Hawaiian island of Molokai that provides a light crunch along with the salty-sweet counterpoint.
  • Vietnamese Cinnamon Apple Caramel, delivering tart apple flavor paired with sweet cinnamon.
    Each cube-shaped gift box contains 12 individually wrapped pieces for $9.95. There’s also a box of mixed flavors ($19.99), chocolate-covered caramels ($19.99), and a stocking stuffer of four chocolate-covered caramels ($5.99).

    The line is certified kosher (dairy) by CRC. Get yours at



    RECIPE: Pumpkin Spice Fudge

    Here’s something special to make for work colleagues, friends, family and Thanksgiving hosts: Pumpkin Spice Fudge.

    It’s an easy recipe from Nestlé. In fact, you can let kids old enough to work with hot liquids make it as their contribution. Prep time is 10 minutes, cooking time is 20 minutes.


    Ingredients For 48 Pieces (About 3 Pounds)

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup (5 fluid ounces can) evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin (pure pumpkin, not pie filling)*
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice†
  • 2 cups (12-ounce package) white chocolate chips
  • 1 jar (7 ounces) marshmallow creme
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract


    Pumpkin Spice Fudge. Photo and recipe courtesy Nestlé.

    *Pumpkin pie filling has spices blended in. Pumpkin purée is not seasoned; the appropriate spices are added separately as the recipe requires.
    †Pumpkin pie spice is simply a blend of the traditional spices that go into pumpkin pie. If you don’t want to buy a pre-mixed container, it’s easy to make your own. Combine 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger and 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves.



    First marketed in 1857 as a safe milk drinking option, evaporated milk and its sibling, sweetened condensed milk, have become an asset in cooking as well. Photo and recipe courtesy Nestlé.



    1. LINE 13 x 9-inch baking pan with foil, letting the foil drape over two ends of the pan to serve as handles.

    2. COMBINE the sugar, brown sugar, evaporated milk, pumpkin, butter and spice in medium, heavy-duty saucepan. Bring the mixture to a full rolling boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil, stirring constantly, for 10 to 12 minutes or until a candy thermometer reaches 234°F to 240°F (soft-ball stage).

    3. QUICKLY STIR in the chocolate chips, marshmallow creme, nuts and vanilla extract. Stir vigorously for 1 minute or until the chips are melted. Immediately pour into the prepared pan.

    4. COOL on a wire rack for 2 hours or until completely cooled. Refrigerate the pan, tightly covered. When ready to serve…

    5. LIFT the fudge from pan using the foil handles; remove the foil. Cut into 1-inch pieces.



    Evaporated milk, also known as dehydrated milk, is a shelf-stable canned milk product. Approximately 60% of the water is removed from fresh milk.

    Prior to the 19th century and refrigeration, milk was highly perishable. In the summer heat, it spoiled in a matter of hours. In addition, there were sanitation problems: Milk straight from the cow was contaminated harmful with bacteria.

    Gail Borden conceived of a shelf stable canned milk product in 1852. His first condensed milk product, launched in 1854, lasted three days without souring. Borden was granted a patent for sweetened condensed milk in 1854. Commercial production began in 1857.

    In Borden’s early product, sugar was added to inhibit bacterial growth. Competitors perfected the technique of sterilizing the product to vastly improve shelf life. Today, evaporated milk has no added sugar; a separate product, sweetened condensed milk, is evaporated milk that contains sugar. [Source]

    While not a hit right out of the gate, evaporated milk soon became popular as a safe and reliable substitute for fresh milk. It could be shipped easily to locations lacking the safe dairy production and/or refrigerated storage.

    The Florida Keys were an example of a hot and remote area that had no dairying. Evaporated milk made it possible for residents to finally enjoy milk in coffee and in cooking. Key Lime Pie, initially made with evaporated milk and now with sweetened condensed milk, is a legacy of Mr. Borden’s vision.

    The shelf life of canned evaporated milk will vary from months to years, depending on the sugar content and its proportion of fat. Carnation Brand makes evaporated milk from whole milk, nonfat milk and 2% milk.



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