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FOOD FUN: Lucky Charms-Type Marshmallows

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You can have your own stash of Lucky Charms-type colored mini-marshmallows. Photo courtesy Sweet Gourmet.

 

If you got hooked on Lucky Charms cereal, you’re in luck once again: You can buy the dehydrated marshmallows to add to any cereal you like—or any other use.

We came across these dehydrated marshmallows made by Kraft Foods (Lucky Charms are made by General Mills). They’re regular marshmallow rectangles—not the green clovers, pink hearts, purple horseshoes, tri-color rainbows, orange stars and other Lucky Charms shapes.

Here’s a fun fact: In October 2012, Lucky Charms posted its best sales volume ever. The company attributed this success to their change in strategy: marketing to adults as well as to children. [Source]

Add the dehydrated mini marshmallows:

  • To baked goods
  • On cereal
  • As a dessert garnish
  • Atop hot chocolate or warm milk or coffee
  •  

    They’re sold in bag of 6 ounces, 1, 2 and 3 pounds. Get yours at Amazon.com.

     
      

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    PRODUCT: Annie B’s Caramels

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    Buy them in a bag or a gift box. Photo courtesy Annie B’s.

     

    Annie B’s caramels aren’t the usual square or rectangular affairs. They’re shaped like the salt water taffy we enjoyed as a kid.

    The all natural caramels come in more flavors than most:

  • Amaretto Caramels
  • Black Licorice Caramels
  • Black Raspberry Caramels
  • Blueberry Caramels
  • Butter Rum Caramels
  • Cherry Caramels
  • Chocolate Caramels
  • Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels
  • Huckleberry Caramels
  • Maple Caramels
  • Original Caramels
  • Sea Salt Caramels
  •  

    Our favorites: Original, Cappuccino, Chocolate and Sea Salt.

    Original is a buttery caramel, and Cappuccino adds strong coffee flavor. Chocolate has a mild chocolate flavor.

    Sea Salt is unlike any other salted caramel we’ve had. It’s made with large crystals of coarse sea salt, delivering lots of salt in every bite.

    It was too much salt for us, but it might become the favorite flavor of salt lovers.

    Options include bags of 10 and 16 pieces, gift boxes and bulk boxes.

    The bags are just $5.00 each: great for party favors and stocking stuffers (you can never plan too far in advance!). Nautical-themed gift boxes are currently 20% off and there’s free shipping on orders over $49.00.

    Get yours at AnnieBsCandy.com.

     
      

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    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Jelly Bean Day

    April 22 is National Jelly Bean Day. If you’re craving a sugar fix, Jelly Belly’s jelly beans have just 4 calories apiece.

    While there are numerous producers of tasty jelly beans, Jelly Belly, launched in 1976, was the first to sell them in single flavors (as opposed to mixed). The original flavors: Cream Soda, Grape, Green Apple, Lemon, Licorice, Root Beer, Tangerine and Very Cherry (today there are 50 flavors).

    The company also invented the “gourmet jelly bean.” The difference: gourmet jelly beans tend to be softer and smaller than traditional jelly beans, and are flavored in both the shell and the middle (traditional jelly beans typically contain flavor only in the shell).

    There are pronounced flavor preferences the world over. The number one flavors by region:

  • Americas: Very Cherry*
  • Asia: Lemon Lime
  • Australia: Bubble Gum (what’s up with that, Australia?)
  • Europe: Tutti-Frutti mix
  • Middle East: Berry Blue
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    *In 1998, Buttered Popcorn moved into first place. In 2003 Very Cherry moved back into top position by a mere 8 million beans.

       

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    Make jelly bean bark with this recipe. Or, use jelly beans to top a cupcake. Photo courtesy Taste Of Home.

     
    You can tour the Jelly Belly factories in Fairfield, California and Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin. The two locations produce 362,880 pounds of jelly beans per day, equivalent to the weight of 24 elephants.

     

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    For the sweet-toothed, jelly beans are made
    mostly from sugar. Photo courtesy Williams-
    Sonoma.

     

    WHO INVENTED THE JELLY BEAN?

    The modern jelly bean is believed to have been invented in the U.S., sometime after 1850. The earliest recorded advertisement for jelly beans is from Boston confectioner William Schrafft, who may have also been the creator. The ad promoted sending jelly beans to Union Soldiers engaged in the Civil War (1861-1865).

    By the early 1900s, jelly beans had become a staple penny candy. Possibly, they were the first bulk candy. They became part of the Easter tradition in the 1930s, when somebody connected their egg shape with the eggs symbolic of the spiritual rebirth of Easter. Their festive colors made them a perfect celebratory candy.

    During World War II, much of the chocolate produced in the U.S. was sent overseas to soldiers. Americans focused on other sweets; flavorful, colorful jelly beans became popular.

     
    And, if you’re old enough to remember, they were the favorite candy of president Ronald Regan. He persuaded the Jelly Belly company to make a blueberry jelly bean so that he could serve red, white and blue jelly beans in the Oval Office.

    Here’s more on the history of jelly beans.
     
    JELLY BEAN TRIVIA

    Each year, U.S. manufacturers produce more than 16 billion jelly beans for Easter, enough to completely fill a plastic Easter egg 89 feet high and 60 feet wide—about the height of a nine-story office building.

    Christmas is the second largest jelly-bean-eating holiday. Who knew?

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Uses For Marshmallows

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    They may be delicious, but what if you have
    too many for straight snacking? Photo | THE
    NIBBLE.

     

    If you received marshmallows for Easter and are looking to do more than snack from the box, you can make hot chocolate, s’mores or rocky road brownies, cookies or ice cream.

    You can add them to peanut butter sandwiches and pancake batter, sliced or cut to size. You can make fruit and marshmallow skewers, or recipes with marshmallows from ambrosia salad to sweet potatoes.

    You can dip them in chocolate fondue. Add them hot or cold cereal. Toss coffee-flavored marshmallows into hot coffee.

    Use them as a pie topper: Bake the pie at 400°F for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the marshmallows are toasted.

    Or, try these less obvious uses for marshmallows:

  • Brown Sugar Softener: After you open a bag of brown sugar, add a few large marshmallows before you reseal it (we further double-bag the bag brown sugar in self-sealing freezer bags). The marshmallows will provide moisture that helps keep the sugar soft.
  • Candle Holder: For birthday cakes or cupcakes, place each candle into a marshmallow before placing on the cake. When you remove the candles, there are no wax dripping on the cake or holes in the cake.
  • Cone Drip Stopper: Place a small marshmallow (or cut a larger one) in the bottom of an ice cream cone to stop melted ice cream from pouring out the bottom.
  • Icing Protector: To keep foil or plastic wrap from touching the icing when you transport a cake, place a few large marshmallows on the tops and side of the cake.
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    HOW TO KEEP MARSHMALLOWS SOFT

    Marshmallows should be stored in an airtight container. But if they begin to harden, you can:

  • Pop them in the microwave for five seconds (not longer or they will begin to melt).
  • Toss them into hot chocolate.
  • Place them in a resealable freezer-weight plastic storage bag with a slice or two of fresh bread. Depending on how hard they are, they can take one or two days to soften.
  •  
    IF YOU HAVE TOO MANY MARSHMALLOWS

    Stick them in the freezer, in the storage bag with the fresh bread.
     
    TO UNSTICK MARSHMALLOWS

    If your marshmallows have clumped together, unstick them by placing them in a plastic bag and adding a teaspoon or two of cornstarch or powdered sugar. Seal the bag and shake it vigorously to evenly coat the marshmallows. They should begin to come apart in a few minutes.
     
    Check out the history of marshmallows and much more about these sweet pillows.
     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: The Easiest Chocolate Bark

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    It couldn’t be easier to make chocolate bark. Photo courtesy Erika Rax.

     

    We found this tip from Erika Rax, a home baker living in Sydney, Australia.

    “I have a little secret to make really pretty and quick bark,” she says.

    Forget the chopping and melting of chocolate, ladies and gents. Erika’s technique will give you almost instant bark for special family treats or gifting. In the conventional technique, the inclusions get mixed into the chocolate. Here, they sit on top—an even prettier presentation, with no dimunition of flavor.

    Erika’s pistachio and rosemary bark, green ingredients on a white chocolate background, is perfect for St. Patrick’s Day. For Christmas, add some dried cherries or cranberries.

    RECIPE: THE EASIEST CHOCOLATE BARK

    Ingredients

  • White chocolate bar(s)
  • Chopped pistachio nuts
  • Fresh rosemary
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 170°F/75°C. Line a baking sheet with parchment and place the bar(s) on the parchment.

    2. ARRANGE the toppings over the bar. Place the sheet in the oven for 3-5 minutes until it just starts to soften. Take care not to overbake or the bar will lose shape.

    3. REMOVE from the oven. We lifted the parchment from the pan to cool on the counter, so the bars would not continue to get heat from the pan.
     
    Erika wrapped her gift bars in parchment paper, tied with a piece of kitchen string and a sprig of fresh rosemary. It’s charming! Here’s the photo.

    Find more of Erika’s tips at Blog.ErikaRax.com.

     
      

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