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THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods
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NEW PRODUCTS: Starbucks Chocolate

Chocolate lovers: New temptation has been put in your path. Starbucks has launched a new collection of artisan-style chocolates, developed with the Artisan Confections Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Hershey Company (the subsidiary includes Dagoba Chocolate, Joseph Schmidt Confections and Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker). Master chocolatiers have created a portfolio of chocolates with flavors inspired by Starbucks coffees and Tazo teas. And, they are darned good. Made with high-quality cacao and other premium natural ingredients, the collection is artistic, flavorful…and extremely affordable. It includes Tazo Chai, Passion[fruit] and Citron tea-infused chocolate tasting squares; Caffè Mocha, Chai, Espresso, Caramel Macchiato and Madagascar Vanilla Bean Truffles; and Milk Chocolate Covered Caffè Verona Coffee Beans. For those who like their chocolate plain, there are dark, mocha and milk chocolate bars and tasting squares. The tea-infused tasting squares are dynamite—perfect with a cup of coffee or tea, or just a burst of fine chocolate. The Citron square is an epiphany, Passion is perfect, and the Chai is enchanting. The milk chocolate-covered coffee beans are among the best we’ve ever had, plump and robust (and let’s face it, if these two companies together can’t master a chocolate-covered coffee bean, who can?). And yes, the truffles are very good too.   Starbucks Chocolate
Look closely at the shape of these bonbons, filled with chai-flavored creme: They’re tea cups!

But the best thing is the low price: The various bags and boxes retail for $2.99 to $5.99 (individual packages) at grocery, mass retailers, club and drug stores nationwide. Alas, the chocolates are not available in Starbucks stores at this time…but I suppose we’re lucky. It would be just too easy to get a bag of chocolate with that cappuccino. Every day.

Read our full review of Starbucks Chocolates.
– Read about more of our favorite chocolates in the Chocolate Section of THE NIBBLE online magazine.
– Read our review of Dagoba Chocolate.

– Read our review of Scharffen Berger Chocolate.

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TODAY IN FOOD: It’s National Pound Cake Day

Vanilla Pound Cake

Lemon Pound  Cake

Top: Vanilla pound cake with a lemon glaze from Spice Islands. Bottom: Cut view of a similar recipe from Baked NYC.

 

A pound cake is a loaf cake, although some people make them in Bundt pans.

The original pound cake, buttery and moist, recipe was made with one pound each of butter, flour, sugar and eggs (that’s about eight eggs), plus flavoring—hence the name.

Vanilla or lemon are the classic pound cake flavors, but quite a few variations have evolved through the years—adding buttermilk, cream cheese or sour cream to the batter, as well as every flavoring under the sun (amaretto, Black Forest, blood orange, cappuccino, caramel turtle, chocolate/white chocolate, chocolate chip, coconut-macadamia, Grand Marnier, Key lime, peanut butter, pecan, and so on). Others add fruit or a fruit swirl.

Some pound cake recipes on THE NIBBLE:

  • Grilled Pound Cake
  • Meyer Lemon & Ginger Pound Cake
  • Peanut Butter Pound Cake
  • Pumpkin Spice Pound Cake Bundt
  •  
    POUND CAKE HISTORY

    The original recipe, developed in England in the 1700s, made a very large and dense cake. By the mid-1800s, the ingredient proportions had been adjusted to make a smaller, lighter cake.

    The British pound cake is actually a fruit cake containing currants, raisins, sultanas (golden raisins) and glacé cherries. Pound cakes were the traditional wedding cakes.

    Since the ingredients are so simple, it’s hard to make a bad pound cake—just use the freshest eggs and butter you can find, real vanilla extract, and don’t over-bake.

     
    Pound cakes are so easy to make—why not whip one up to celebrate National Pound Cake Day?

    While a plain piece of pound cake is a joy, some added whipped cream, berries, vanilla ice cream or the full monte—a pound cake hot fudge sundae—makes the occasion even more joyous.
     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Cupcakes Replace Birthday Cakes

    Have you been to a wedding recently (or seen magazine photos) where the wedding cake has been replaced by a tiered stand of cupcakes? Makes sense, doesn’t it? Few people like the heavy fondant that wraps many wedding cakes; plus, the cakes cost a fortune, and if you’re any kind of sophisticated bride and groom, you really don’t want to stand in front of your friends feeding each other cake while some MC sings “Now the groom cuts the cake, the groom cuts the cake….” So, porting the concept to birthdays, instead of a birthday cake, consider a platter of cupcakes. Beloved by children and adults alike, they eliminate the need to cut and serve, and an assortment provides guests with a choice of flavors. You can further dazzle by serving highly-decorated cupcakes—for example, topped with chocolate medallions or marzipan animals (you can see a photo here).   Cupcakes
    Cupcakes from one of San Francisco’s favorite bakeries, Miette. Visit them in the Ferry Building when you’re in town. One of America’s greatest
    food halls, you can purchase great food—and cupcakes for dessert—and dine outdoors by San Francisco Bay. Wednesdays and Saturdays are farmers market days. Photo by Frankie Frankeny.
    You don’t need to purchase a tiered plate, although ask around to see if you can borrow one. If not, any round platter will do. The cupcake in the center should hold the candle(s). See more of our favorite cupcakes and cakes in the Cookies, Cakes & Pastries Section of THE NIBBLE online magazine.

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    NEWS: Conveyor Belt Sushi Chain Comes To U.S.

    Surf Clam Sushi
    Now, your surf clam can surf over to you via
    conveyor belt.
      Is America about to experience conveyor-belt sushi in a big way? Known as kaiten-sushi, a branch of the largest chain, Sakae Sushi, has made the leap to America (“leap” is an appropriate analogy, since the company logo is a frog on a lily pad—although no frog sushi is served). The premiere is the launch of a goal to be, ostensibly, the first successful sushi chain in America. The company, based in Singapore, has 40 sushi restaurants there, and 20 in other countries—none of which offers the market potential of the large and sushi-hungry American public.
    The high-tech restaurant should also appeal to the experiential dining desires of Americans. There’s a patented interactive menu at each table, enabling patrons to create custom orders, as well as a hot water tap to refill cups of green tea. There is three-tiered pricing—three different colored plates, priced at $1.90, $3.90 and $6.90, depending on the value of the contents. In a bit of architectural irony, the two conveyor-belt restaurant, totaling 97 feet of rolling sushi, sashimi, soups, salads, dumplings, ramen, yakitori and other bites, is located in the venerable Chrysler Building, one of the country’s most dignified architectural landmarks. It’s an easy location for anyone to get to, right across the street from Grand Central Terminal, at 42nd Street and Lexington Avenue. Taking the train into town? Drop in for some sushi before heading to your destination. The speed with which consumers can get their sushi from the conveyor belt gives new meaning to the term “fast food.”The chain was established in Singapore in 1997 with the goal of offering affordable Japanese food. In New York City, which is not known for conveyor-belt restaurants, it will certainly be the king of kaiten. The restaurant, located at 405 Lexington Avenue at 42nd Street, is open 7 days for breakfast, lunch and dinner, from 7 a.m. to midnight. A 24-hour delivery service will be offered. For more information, visit Sakae-Sushi.com or telephone 1.877.SAKAE-USA.

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    PRODUCT ALERT: Leprechaun Bombs For St. Patrick’s Day

    You don’t need the luck of the Irish to enjoy Leprechaun Bombs from Cosmic Chocolate. You just have to read THE NIBBLE (or else, live in Oakland, California and wander into this boutique chocolate shop). Part of the shop’s “Cosmic Bomb” series, these bonbons are the bomb: beautifully hand-painted chocolate shells, dappled with edible glitter. The Leprechaun Bombs are filled with a ganache that is infused with Bailey’s mint liqueur, Irish whiskey and Green Chartreuse, an ancient herb liqueur of more than 130 medicinal and aromatic herbs, flowers and other plants (who can even name that many?). Taken from an old alchemical recipe for an “elixir of life,” it was first made in the 1600s by monks of the Grande Chartreuse monastery in the Chartreuse Mountains of eastern France, intended as a medicine.   St. Patrick’s Day Chocolate
    You don’t have to be Irish to deserve a set or two of Leprechaun Bombs from the Cosmic Chocolate Shop.
    The recipe was enhanced and became popular as a beverage. It’s green in color, hence appropriate to the Leprechaun Bombs. A second Chartreuse liqueur, colored with saffron and milder and sweeter than the original, is called Yellow Chartreuse. The yellow color with the greenish tinge known as chartreuse takes its name from the Yellow Chartreuse liqueur. But back to the chocolate. You can purchase four bonbons for $8.00 in a transparent box, allowing the cosmic glow of the Emerald Isle to shine through (well, not really—but the candy looks great) at CosmicChocolateShop.com—and you can see the other Cosmic Bombs as well. We haven’t tasted the Leprechaun Bombs, but we’ve enjoyed every other Cosmic Bomb that has crossed our lips, so our money is on the Leprechauns. When you order, please tell the Cosmic Chocolate folks that it’s St. Paddy, not St. Patty (you’ll note that error in their website description). No one likes his name spelled wrong, not even the patron saint of Ireland. When your name gets spelled like a girl’s name, even a saint has his limits.
    – See our other favorite St. Patrick’s Day chocolate, candy, cookies and more.

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