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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 Special Sweets

REVIEW: Sugar Flower Bakery

When you’re in the mood for a comforting home-baked cookie, but don’t have the inclination to fire up the oven, call upon Sugar Flower Bakery. The small company makes classic comfort cookies that bring you back to childhood days in Mom’s or Grandmother’s kitchen, when nothing tasted better than homemade cookies, whipped up from scratch. If your family didn’t bake, we’re sorry; but you can still enjoy the experience one step removed. We love all the flavors; they make charming cookie gifts. People who love chocolate and mint are advised to buy a lot of the Chocolate Mint cookies. Read the full article, and check out our other favorite cookies in the Cookie Section of THE NIBBLE online magazine.   Sugar Flower
Don’t forget the milk!

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TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Lillie Belle Farms

Lillie Belle Farms
Beauteous bonbons, handmade by the artisans at Lillie Belle Farms. Photography by Dhanraj Emanuel.
  A few years ago, chef Jeff Shepherd stuck a toe into the chocolate business by selling four flavors of bonbons from the back of his car at farmers markets in southern Oregon. Today, the nationally-acclaimed, award-winning artisan chocolatier is master of a product line of more than 20 confections that includes some of the best chocolates, caramels and toffees in America—not to mention our favorite product from this year’s Fancy Food Show, the Smokey Blue Truffle (that’s a chocolate ganache and blue cheese truffle, and before you raise an eyebrow, everyone who tastes it wants to buy a box).
While the entire line is not certified organic, many of the ingredients, including the chocolate couverture and the fruits grown on Jeff’s two-acre organic farm, are. We formally certify that everything in this line is a must-try. We would practically hitchhike to Oregon for the Lavender Salt Caramels, the Spicy Cayenne Caramels, the flavored toffees (Cocoa Nib, Macadamia Nut, Pistachio and Spicy Pecan) and those Smokey Blue Truffles. Read the full review.
See more of our favorite sweet treats in the Chocolate Section and the Candy Section of THE NIBBLE online magazine.

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ARTICLE: Pairing Chocolate and Scotch

Pairing chocolates with wine and spirits doubles the pleasure of eating chocolates by themselves. If you haven’t already seen our wine, spirits and chocolate pairing guide, wine, spirits and chocolate-pairing guide, take a look. Then, read about a particular evening we spent with Laphroaig single-malt Scotch and some fine chocolates. We paired Laphroaig, known for its smoky peat and creamy, sweet oak flavors, with some smoky, creamy single-origin chocolates. It’s a special way to entertain a small group during the holiday season. And for a special gift idea for your single-malt loving friends, give a bottle of Laphroaig along with the chocolates we tried, so they can have their own tastings. It’s a great way to spend New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day, too. Read more about alcohol for entertaining in the Cocktails Section of THE NIBBLE online magazine.   Laphroaig
Laphroaig and chocolate…life is good.

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TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Cocoa Puro Kakawa Cocoa Beans

Kakawa Cocoa Beans
Five types of chocolate in one fascinating bite.
  We thought of Cocoa Puro’s Kakawa Cocoa Beans as a gourmet gift for a connoisseur—until everybody at THE NIBBLE offices started to dig in, and wanted more. This is a unique product, a chocolate-covered cacao bean (not the nibs, which are the “seeds” of the bean). The finest beans are roasted until crunchy, like coffee beans; then they are enrobed it all three types of chocolate (white, milk and dark). Finally, the tri-chocolate-covered bean is rolled in cocoa powder to create a five-in-one chocolate experience—all of the manifestations of cacao in one bite. Each stage of production is a hand process: It takes a lot of artisan work and the most minute attention to detail to create these beans. Kakawa is the Olmec word for cacao; the Olmecs were the first people to cultivate the plant. Read more about Kawkawa Cocoa Beans, and why you might want to treat yourself to some of these beauties as a holiday gift. They’re wonderful with after-dinner coffee.
 

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REVIEW: Best Chocolate Holiday Gifts

When you taste as many different chocolate and candy products a year as we do (500? 1000?), certain products stand out. Some of them get written up as full reviews in our Chocolate Section, some of them end up on our Best Chocolate Gifts list and some are in both places! This year’s gift list isn’t your typical selection of quality chocolates. We have artisan bonbons from organic and Fair Trade ingredients, chocolate-covered cacao beans (not nibs—the whole bean), the best peppermint bark we’ve ever had, jumbo slabs made of different types of chocolate and garnishes, our favorite chocolate-covered figs, chocolate sushi and more. Each item is truly special, and deserves to be part of a grand chocolate buffet. We’ll be showing other chocolate items in our Best Kids’ Gifts and Kosher Gifts lists (including great PB cups and PB turtles). But for now, take a look at the Best Chocolate Gifts. You can see the chocolate gifts from previous years in our main Gift Recommendations page of THE NIBBLE online magazine.   Poco Dolce Sea Salt Tablets
Poco Dolce Mint Toffee Sea Salt Tiles rock the chocolate casbah.
 

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PRODUCT WATCH: The Chocolate Show

The New York Chocolate Show (ChocolateShow.com) was held this past weekend. This year’s show was better than prior shows for one big reason: For the first time, every chocolatier was giving away free tastes of chocolate. At previous shows, quite a few exhibitors had chocolates to sell, but no freebies to taste. Kudos to the show organizers for ensuring that visitors who paid $28.00 to attend got to taste as well as look. Now, if they could only eliminate the “free children under 12” policy: The hall is packed, no place for strollers, and most of the chocolate is sophisticated dark, not of interest to the kids we saw spitting it out. Call us the Chocolate Grinch, but this particular show is for chocolate connoisseurs, not a family event. Next year, please eliminate the “free babysitting” so the intrepid explorers among us can get through the aisles more easily to find the good chocolate. We missed a few because we couldn’t plow through the throngs.   Chocolat Moderne Kimono Collection
Chocolat Moderne’s Kimono Collection has the flavors of Japan.
 
As always, there were new kids on the [chocolate] block to discover. And all of our favorite regular exhibitors outdid themselves with new products. A key frustration is that there is too much offered: ongoing demonstrations and so much chocolate to discover, that we didn’t have the time to attend the presentations and tastings in the two theatres and the lounge. We’ll write long reviews of the newbies in future issues of THE NIBBLE online magazine, but here’s a shout-out to those we already know (in alphabetical order).
- Chocolat Moderne. Joan Coukos continues to wow. The new Greek Revival assortment is filled with Kalamata Olive caramel (amazing), Rose-Pistachio, Mastiha-Orange Blossom, Baklava, Halva and Ouzo. The Kimono Collection is infused with savory and sweet Japanese ingredients: Adzuki Bean, Green Tea, Persimmon, Shichimi Togarashi, Shiso and Soy-Miso. Any chocolate connoisseur would like a box of each. Read our full review of Chocolat Moderne. ChocolatModerne.com.
- Christopher Norman. John Down’s edible art included a Mondrian-like collection of chocolate-covered flavored caramels—ganaches and liquid—in beautiful fall shades of umber, sienna, gold and pumpkin. ChristopherNorman.com.
- Coppeneur. This German company has not yet made big inroads in the U.S.—it just debuted here last year. Georg Bernardini & Oliver Coppeneur have lots of imagination and the skill to back it up: Their filled chocolate bars are spectacular. Apple & Calvados, Chili & Highland Whiskey, Lavender Cranberry, Mango Lassi, Rose Petals & Grappa, Saffron & Orange…there are about 30 flavors and we’d like to have all of them. Coppeneur.de.
- Green & Black’s. We loved spending time with head of product development, Micah Carr-Hill, in town from England to point out the nuances of chocolate-making. Green & Black’s generously gave away entire chocolate bars to booth visitors. The line is certified organic, and our favorite white chocolate bar happens to be G&B’s. If you think you don’t like white chocolate, give it a try. GreenAndBlacks.com.
- J. Emanuel. Tad Van Leer, who grew up in the chocolate business, has expanded his line of wine truffles by teaming with Craig Shelton, famed chef of the Ryland Inn in New Jersey and coffee expert. The new line of chocolates and toffees that incorporate coffee are delicious. JEmanuel.com.
- Lillie Belle Farms. Does Jeff Shepard ever sleep? Every time we see him (three or four times a year), he has new and spectacular chocolates. His new Bolivian bar, from Felchlin’s dazzling couverture, is dynamite. But remember our other favorites (brittles, lavender salt caramels, new Smokey Blue truffles and just about everything else in the line). Read our review of of Lillie Belle Farms’ toffee. LillieBelleFarms.com.
- Michel Cluizel. What more can we say about one of the greatest chocolatiers on earth? Read our review of his single origin bars…and taste the new 99% cacao boucher. It’s amazing. If you’re in New York City, you must plan at least one (preferably two) visits to his salon in Union Square to do the paired single origin chocolate and spirits tastings. It’s an unforgettable experience. Read our full review of Michel Cluizel. Cluizel.com.
- Peanut Butter & Co. Anyone who likes peanut butter cups must get The Ultimate Peanut Butter Cup Collection: Dark Chocolate (bittersweet and wonderful), Milk Chocolate, White Chocolate and Inside Out (a PB shell with chocolate inside). ILovePeanutButter.com.


Read about more of our favorite chocolates in the Chocolate Section of THE NIBBLE online magazine.

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ENTERTAINING: Thanksgiving Candy & Chocolate

Want your Thanksgiving dinner table to look a bit more special? Looking for party favors for your guests? Or are you the guest, looking for something to bring your hosts? Take a look at our Thanksgiving candy and chocolate selections—they’ll fit every bill. Warning: The Ginger Caramel Sin “spoon candy” is addictive (and goes well atop pie, cake and ice cream). For more Thanksgiving ideas, visit the Entertaining Guide section of THE NIBBLE online magazine.   Chocolate turkeys
Turkey family, in dark or milk chocolate from Lake Champlain Chocolates, is kosher, too.
 

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PRODUCT WATCH: Recchiuti Fall Chocolates

Recchiuti Chocolate
Available only through the end of November.
  Just for the month of November, San Francisco chocolatier Michael Recchiuti has dressed up his best-selling Burnt Caramel chocolate, decorated with a delicate pattern of falling leaves. They’re almost too pretty to eat…but we said almost. Treat yourself, buy some for hostess gifts, use them as table accents for dinner parties. Give the kids chocolate turkeys at Thanksgiving, and bestow these upon more grateful palates. Eight pieces are $18.00. Read our full review of Recchiuti Chocolate in THE NIBBLE online magazine. For more Thanksgiving chocolate ideas, don’t miss this roundup of our favorites, Thanksgiving Candy & Chocolate.
 

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REVIEW: This Little Cookie

This Little Cookie has a definite point of view: the best ingredients, a wholesome, homemade style, and it’s not too sweet or rich. We’ve never tasted a line quite like it before. Although it’s made by a woman who also turns out detailed buttercream cakes decorated with fragile petals, we have to say that these cookies have a masculine flavor profile—because men tend not to like sugary, buttery baked goods to the extent that women and children do. Still, both men and women who like sweets made with less sugar—we count ourselves among them—will appreciate these [not so little] cookies. The buttery Shortbread made with Fleur de Sel sea salt is not to be missed! You can contact the bakery about special orders of gluten-free cookies, too. Read the full review. Also check out the Cookies & Brownies section of THE NIBBLE online magazine for more of our favorite cookies.   Shortbread Cookie - This Little Cookie
The nifty Shortbread with Fleur de Sel.
 

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REVIEW: Kool Freeze Kulfi Bars (Indian “Ice Cream”)

Kulfi Ice Cream
Kulfi is rich, creamy, and has less fat than ice cream.
  Kulfi, an Indian frozen dessert similar to ice cream but made without air (overrun), is now available in cool and refreshing ice cream bars. Made in California by Kool Freeze for American palates, they’re richer, creamier and less grainy than traditional kulfi. They’re also made with cow’s milk instead of water buffalo’s milk; so if you haven’t enjoyed kulfi you’ve had before, there’s a good chance you may like these bars. In exotic flavors like Chikoo, Faluda, Malai and Saffron, plus the more familiar Coconut, Mango, Pistachio and Strawberry, Kool Freeze Kulfi Bars are an experience in satisfying your sweet tooth, with a flair that transcends the typical frozen dairy bar. The bars seem very rich, despite the fact that kulfi doesn’t have high butterfat content like premium ice cream—the bars are 160 to 180 calories apiece. They’re also all-natural and certified kosher. Read the full review in THE NIBBLE online magazine. For more information on the different types of frozen desserts, read our Ice Cream Glossary.
 

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