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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: Habanero Caramels

Anyone who loves caramels and a little heat will shout yippee! after one bite of Buckin’ HOT Habanero Caramels from Cowgirl Chocolates.

One of the most memorable caramels we’ve ever had (our first bite was back in 2007), they sizzle without taking out your taste buds.

A wonderful combination of chewy, buttery caramel and habanero heat, the reusable gift tin is $19.00.
 
Send them to someone special!

What is caramel and the history of caramel candy.
 
 

 

Luscious habanero caramels from Cowgirl Chocolates. Photo by Michael Steele | THE NIBBLE.

 

  

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STOCKING STUFFER & YEAR-ROUND TREAT: Sun Cups

If you love peanut butter, you may have the same reaction we do when we hear of someone with a peanut allergy: “I’m so sorry.”

Those who know the joys of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or peanut butter cups empathize with those who can’t have them.

But everyone can have sunflower butter!

Sunflower butter is a smooth spread that looks and tastes almost identical to peanut butter. It’s made from sunflower seeds and is completely peanut- and tree nut-free.

It’s healthier than PB, with one-third less saturated fat and 27% of a day’s recommended allowance of vitamin E, along with a much higher iron and fiber content (but 25% less protein).

In jars, it’s available in the same variations as peanut butter: creamy, crunchy, natural, organic, unsweetened, even individual snack-size packs. Sunflower butter is also an ingredient in snack foods that previously relied on peanut butter, including energy bars, granola bars and peanut butter cups.

 

All the lusciousness of peanut butter cups with no nuts whatsoever! Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

 

Sun Cups are chocolate cups filled with sunflower butter instead of PB. They’re made by Seth Ellis Chocolatier in Boulder, Colorado.

They resemble Reese’s peanut butter cups, with a similar flavor (there’s just a hint of sunflower seed tanginess).

How Sun Cups Differ From Peanut Butter Cups

  • Sun Cups are filled with sunflower butter instead of peanut butter (and sunflower butter is perfectly creamy-smooth).
  • They’re made with a better-quality chocolate.
  • They’re available in flavors: not just dark chocolate and milk chocolate but caramel and mint (we’re partial to the dark chocolate).
  • Unlike Reese’s, they’re organic, nut-free and gluten-free. The chocolate is Rainforest Alliance Certified. The wrapper is compostable.
  • Like Reese’s, they’re vegetarian and kosher (dairy) [OU-certified for Reese’s, EarthKosher—an organic kosher certifier—for Sun Cups].
     
    The manufacturing plant and the entire supply chain (the ingredients suppliers) is nut-free, so even folks with the strongest of peanut allergies can nibble safely. The Sun Cups team must wear “inside shoes” so nothing gets tracked in from outside. The sunflower seeds are even grown in a region too cold to grow peanuts, so the fields can’t be contaminated with migrating peanut plants.

    And the cost: about $1.00 per cup. A 20-pack of duos is less than $40 on Amazon.com.

    Or if you just want to test them out, Sun Cups offers a $1.99 sampler of the four flavors.

    Sun Cups are a safe bet for stocking stuffers, school lunch boxes and Halloween. They‘re a sweet treat for anyone—with nut allergies or without.

    And they’re a favorite at THE NIBBLE. Try them!

      

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    GIFT: The Best Peppermint Bark

    The best peppermint bark we’ve ever had.
    Don’t miss it! Photo courtesy Enstrom.

     

    We’ve tried every peppermint bark we’ve come across. And the winner:

    Peppermint Bark from Enstrom Candies of Grand Junction, Colorado.

    It’s a perfect blend of top-quality dark and white chocolate with crushed peppermint candy and chocolate cookie pieces. We admit to total addiction.

    And we have to stock up on it, because it’s only made during the holiday season.

    We promise you: Anyone you give a box to will tell you it’s the best peppermint bark they’ve ever had.

    And they’ll pine for December 2012, when another box might come their way.

    Enstrom Candies are certified kosher.

    Get yours at The Nibble Gourmet Market—home to our very favorite treats.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Mint Lollipops For Holiday Visitors

    Creamy mint lollypops from See’s Candies are a hit! Photo courtesy Sees.com.

     

    Over the holidays, when people show up at the door—neighbors, letter carriers, package deliverers (lots of them!) and so on—we like to send them them off with a little something special.

    In years past, we’d hand out homemade cookies, but those buttery cookies got messy, requiring napkins and plastic sandwich bags.

    This year we’re streamlining and giving everyone a delicious Christmas Mint Lollypop from See’s Candies.

    The white lollys in green foil wrapping are not kid food: They’re truly gourmet lollipops (both lollipop and lollypop are correct spellings).

    The flavor of the heavy cream base is lightly accented with mint. And, dear to our hearts, the sugar is in perfect balance—not sugary-sweet like many lollipops.

    In addition to the Christmas Mint Lollypops, there are Cinnamon Lollypops; mixed-flavor Lollypops in Butterscotch, Chocolate, Coffee and Vanilla; and the same four flavors in a Hanukkah Lollypop Box.

     

    Get a bunch for yourself, too, and extras for stocking stuffers.

    See’s Candies are certified kosher by KSA.

    What would you give as a mini-gift? Let us know!

      

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    COOKING VIDEO: How Is Candy Corn Made

     

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

    Even with today’s machinery, it takes 4 to 5 days to create each piece of candy corn. Each kernel has 3.57 calories, and they’re all sugar (the ingredients are corn syrup, honey, sugar and food coloring, coated with carnauba wax, a wax from the leaves of a Brazilian palm tree).

    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.

    See candy corn being made in the video below.

    CANDY CORN TRIVIA
    The leading manufacturer of candy corn is Brach’s. Each year, the company sells enough candy corn to circle the earth 4.25 times.

       

       

    Find more of our favorite candy in our Gourmet Candy Section.

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Gourmet Marshmallows From America’s Youngest Confectioner

    Ethereal, melt-in-your-mouth marshmallows from The Marshmallows Company. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    What do you say to an eight-year-old CEO? How about, “Congratulations!”

    When Canaan Smith was just three years old, he was scrambling his own eggs for breakfast and watching the Food Network instead of morning cartoons.

    One day at age 4, Canaan commented on how clouds looked like marshmallows. He then began thinking about different flavors of marshmallows. He and his mom, Megan, made a batch of peach marshmallows that were a big hit.

    At age 5, Canaan sold his first marshmallows to family friends. He decided to launch his own marshmallow company, and within a few months he was selling to a local coffee house. By the following year, 2009, he was selling both retail and wholesale.

    Canaan was featured in the local newspaper, the Lexington (Kentucky) Herald Leader. It led to an appearance on The Suze Orman Show earlier this year. He’ll be back in December as one of Suze’s favorite guests of the year.

     

    The marshmallows are absolutely terrific: among the most tender marshmallows we’ve ever had, with excellent vanilla flavor.

    These all-natural pillows of paradise truly melt in your mouth. As marshmallow connoisseurs who have tasted the wares of some of America’s finest marshmallow artisans, we urge you to try them. They’re as gourmet as it gets.

    The marshmallows are a wonderful light snack or a topper for hot chocolate. For a special dessert, dip the tops into melted chocolate and decorate them (with mini chips, coconut or graham cracker crumbs, for example). Make the best s’mores with these marshmallows and the best graham crackers and chocolate bars you can find.

    A good corporate citizen, the Marshmallows Company donates 10% to Heifer International and sends marshmallows overseas to our fighting troops. The CEO’s next focus is on green energy to produce environmentally friendly marshmallows.

    Get yours at TheMarshmallowsCompany.com.

    MORE MARVELOUS MARSHMALLOWS

  • The history of marshmallows, including recipes.
  • Reviews of our favorite artisan marshmallows.
  •  
    Want flavored marshmallows? We’ve got them at The Nibble Gourmet Market.

      

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    HALLOWEEN: Festive Chocolate-Covered Strawberries

    Show of hands: Are these Halloween strawberries cuter than yesterday’s meringue ghost cookies? Not as cute? A tie?

    You can send them as a gift, via SharisBerries.com.

    Or you can make your own.

    You can even plan a strawberry-decorating get-together this weekend. Ask a friend or two if they want to bring their own ingredients and join you. (They’ll also need to bring a baking pan to carry home the decorated berries.)

    Ingredients

  • 1 quart of fresh strawberries (1-1/2 pounds—you may wish to go for large or jumbo berries)
  • 8 ounces white chocolate (chocolate chips work fine), plus dark chocolate morsels if you want to make dark strawberries as well
  • Red and yellow food coloring (to create orange)
  •  

    Who said boo? Photo of chocolate-covered berries courtesy SharisBerries.com.

     

  • Halloween-colored sprinkles, confetti or other embellishments (check the cake-decorating aisle of your grocery store)
  • Parchment paper
  • Chocolate tempering machine or substitute (if you find that you enjoy making chocolate-covered berries and want to do it regularly, you can pick up an inexpensive electric melting pot)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Wash and completely dry the strawberries so the chocolate will adhere properly. You may wish to do this a couple of hours in advance.

    2. If you own one or can borrow a chocolate tempering machine, great! If not, simply melt the chocolate in a microwave oven or double boiler. For the microwave, melt at half power for 1 minute in a microwave-safe bowl; stir, then heat at 30-second intervals until completely melted.

    4. For orange chocolate, whisk two drops of yellow and one drop of red food coloring into melted white chocolate; stir and continue to add color until you get the right shade of orange.

    5. Holding each strawberry by the stem, dip about half of it in chocolate. Give it a quick twist, shake off the excess and point it at the ceiling for a second, bottom side up, to be sure the chocolate adheres.

    Decorating The Berries

  • Confetti Design: Before chocolate dries, roll the berries in sprinkles or confetti. Place on parchment paper to set. You can also set the chocolate by putting the tray in the fridge for 5 minutes.
  • Jack O’ Lantern Design: Melt dark chocolate morsels or a plain chocolate candy bar. Pipe on the face using a pastry bag and a fine tip.
  • Swirl Design: Use the tines of a fork dipped into melted chocolate of contrasting color(s). Your swirls won’t be as thin and perfectly circular as in the photo, but a thicker swirl is just as good.
  • Ghost Design (not shown): Dip berries in white chocolate. With the tip of the strawberry as the top of the ghost’s head, pipe eyes in dark chocolate.
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    TIP OF THE DAY: Try Gourmet Marshmallows

    Luscious blackberry marshmallows from
    artisan confectioner Gateau Et Ganache.
    Photo by Dhanraj Emanuel | THE NIBBLE.

     

    It’s National Toasted Marshmallow Day, but today’s supermarket marshmallows are nothing to celebrate.

    Over the decades, what was once a melt-in-your-mouth confection has acquired the personality of a cotton ball—but not as soft.

    In the early 1950s, Kraft Foods developed a technique to make vast quantities of marshmallows commercially. The process drastically changed the delicate texture of handmade marshmallows, and the use of artificial flavors made the airy delight much less delightful. While mass-produced marshmallows are fun to pop into hot chocolate or toast for s’mores, how many of us enjoy eating them straight from the bag?

    So today’s tip is: Seek out handmade gourmet marshmallows from a marshmallow specialist.

    Think of gourmet marshmallows as you would fine chocolate. They’re an all-occasion gift with the bonus of being fat-free and gluten-free.

    If there’s no artisan confectioner near you (or in your specialty foods store), check out our recommendations for the best gourmet marshmallows.

    Brush up on the history of marshmallows.

     

    FOOD TRIVIA

    Marshmallows get their name from the marsh mallow plant (Althea officinalis), the root of which contains a sticky, white, almost jelly-like substance. The Egyptians combined it with honey as early as 2000 B.C.E., to make a candy.

      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Lollipop Day

    See’s gourmet Lollypops are made from
    heavy cream, butter and flavors, in
    butterscotch, chocolate, coffee and vanilla.
    There are root beer lollys, too. The line is
    certified kosher.

     

    It’s National Lollipop Day. Read this history of the lollipop as you enjoy one or two.

    According to the National Confectioners Association, eating sugar from a stick likely dates to prehistoric man, who licked honey off the stick he used to scrape it from the beehive.

    The ancient Arabs, Chinese and Egyptians made fruit and nut confections candied in honey, which may also have been eaten from sticks, owing to the stickiness of the confection.

    But what we think of as a lollipop may date to Europe in the Middle Ages, when sugar was boiled and formed onto sticks as treats for the wealthy—the only people who could afford sugar.

    By the 17th century, sugar was plentiful and affordable. In England, boiled sugar (hard candy) treats were popular. The word “lollipop” (originally spelled lollypop) first appears in print in 1784, roughly coinciding with the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

     

    Beginning in the later part of the 18th century, industry, including confectionery, became mechanized. Horehound drops, lemon drops, peppermints and wintergreen lozenges became everyday candies.

    While we don’t know the inventor of the modern lollipop, the first automated lollipop machine was invented in Racine, Wisconsin in 1908. The Racine Confectionery Machine Company’s machine put hard candy discs on the end of a sticks, producing 2400 lollipops per hour, 57,000 per day (Today’s machines can produce 3 million lollipops daily).

    Far beyond the Tootsie Pop of childhood, today’s lollipops come in all shapes and sizes, from hand-crafted works of sugar art to caffeinated Java Pops and bacon lollipops.

    Find reviews of our favorite old-fashioned candies.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Skinny Cow Chocolate Candy

    We can’t believe we ate the whole thing.
    Photo by River Soma | THE NIBBLE.

     

    The Skinny Cow line, which for years has offered reduced-calorie ice cream sandwiches to diet-conscious ice cream lovers, first expanded to ice cream cups, cones and bars.

    Now, there’s candy. And we like it.

    There are:

  • Dreamy Clusters: Bite-sized chewy clusters of creamy caramel and crispy pieces, covered in dark chocolate or milk chocolate (120 calories, 3g fiber, 6g fat, 4 Weight Watchers points).
  • Heavenly Crisps: A wafer bar in peanut butter creme and/or chocolate creme, covered in a milk chocolatey coating (110 calories, 3g fiber, 3g fat, 3 Weight Watchers points).
  •  
    The candies are sold in single serves and 6-packs.

    Learn more at SkinnyCow.com.

    Warning: These products can be addictive.

     

      

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