Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Pie in the Sky

More than 150 of Boston's best chefs, restaurants, caterers and hotels have donate their time and resources to bake the finest Thanksgiving pies as part of the Pie in the Sky bake sale.

Proceeds from the sale of the delicious pies (apple, pecan, pumpkin, sweet potato or diabetic apple) go directly to those in need. Community Servings is dedicated to providing free home-delivered meals throughout Eastern Massachusetts to people homebound with HIV/AIDS and other acute life-threatening illnesses, who are unable to shop or cook for themselves.

Each pie is $25-the cost of a week’s worth of meals for a client. You can pick up your pie on Wednesday Nov. 25 at any of the locations listed online so that it is convenient to you.

To purchase a pie or make a donation visit:

Monday, November 16, 2009

Chocolate-Covered Job Training

When I was hired to be a waitress at Steak ’n Shake I was required to go through a series of “training” exercises… watch a video on health regulations and then take a quiz; read a book about customer service and then take a quiz. This routine is pretty standard.

However for my new job, the training has been quite different. At 10 a.m. I reported to the Elephant and Castle and settled in at a large round table. After a brief chat with the other people at my table, out popped Valerie. Valerie: Marketer by day…my chocolate hero by night.

Training for the day would include hearing from Valerie a history of how chocolate is made; learning how to temper my own chocolate and then…rolling my own truffles.

Remember Lucille Ball in the chocolate factory?

While I didn’t have a hat, my apron was covered with raspberry ganache, splashed with melted chocolate and traces of cocoa powder can still be found in my hair. While rolling the rich ganache centers into balls and covering in almonds, my inner chocolatier revealed herself… and my first truffle was born.

When the last of the ganache was scrapped out of the bowl, I was left with a pyramid of delicious handmade truffles and a deeper appreciation for how my favorite food is made.

Here is the recipe via Valerie for the BF's favorite truffle... Whiskey

This was just the beginning of my training…
With my truffles wrapped, I hopped into the car and headed towards Aroa in the South End for the beginning stop on my chocolate tour

Friday, November 6, 2009


There are few moments in life where all the stars align and shine on you,but last week it happened for me. I should have checked my horoscope for the day, but the gods all shined down on me as I pulled up to the Liberty Hotel to meet with David from the Craig’s list ad.

I know what you are thinking…I should know better than to meet at a hotel with a stranger I found on Craig’s list. Yet David, as explained in the advertisement, was launching a new business based around CHOCOLATE.

My sweet tooth screamed with excitement when I found the advertisement and in the interview with Taste of Chocolate, my blood rushed with a sugar-high without even tasting a piece of anything.

David was looking for a tour-guide for his new Boston-based chocolate tours. As he explained the job, I would be paid to walk from shop to bakery with a following of other chocoholics and taste each vendor’s specialty. This is my dream job!

David and I bonded over our love for cacao and before I knew it I became the new guide for a Taste of Chocolate. I start training this Saturday with a chocolate workshop and a walk through the very path I will be leading others through Boston’s chocolate paradise.

In addition to walking through Boston on my chocolate pilgrimage, I will be writing the company’s blog… I will keep you all posted.

All Hallow's Eve!

In honor of Halloween the roomies and I hosted a pumpkin carving party and pumpkin themed dinner. We squeezed 15 friends into our fittingly bright orange living room and dined on pumpkin ravioli and of course pumpkin desserts.

The kitchen became a war zone of cinnamon, nutmeg and pumpkin purée until out of the oven came the pumpkin cheesecake with gingerbread crust and a pumpkin cake with cream cheese icing. Two desserts are never enough and especially with that many guests so I whipped (literally) together a pumpkin and gingerbread trifle together.

I’m a big fan of the trifle. You can throw together layers of anything (chocolate, fruit and pudding) and somehow the end result always ends up tasty and awe-inspiring. Martha Stewart would have been proud of my layers of cheesecake, pumpkin pudding and gingerbread cake.

R was sweet enough to bring pumpkin ice cream from Christina’s in Inman square. Rich and creamy, the ice cream paid homage to pumpkin pie and fall in each scoop.


You will notice that I do not have an entry on Halloween candy. Halloween is my favorite holiday. How could it not be... you are publicly encouraged to dress up and walk from house to house to get bags full of FREE candy!

This year we only had four trick-or-treaters come to our door including one large woman dressed as a baby…diaper and all. This is four more than there were last year.

Last year, out of desperation for little kids to give candy to, I stood on the front porch waving my arms and shouting "We have candy!" trying to get the attention of the kids and families on the other side of the street.

Yes, we live on a busy street, but what kid doesn’t hunt for candy from any place they can get it? Instead I looked like a psycho who injected poison in the candy trying to get little Hansel and Gretel to come to my house.

This year, I decided that with so many young couples in the neighborhood pushing strollers and walking their children on leashes I would be the parent-approved house and hand out animal crackers. The BF is convinced that word got out that we were the lame house and that is why the kids didn’t come. I disagree and he took home a whole bag.

Friday, October 23, 2009


Rusty red and golden brown leaves blanket the ground while tree branches kiss the grass heavy with apples…it is picking season.

Apple picking is a tradition for many New England families, though even in Ohio I remember taking a field trip to the apple orchard. I recently convinced the BF to go to Brooksby farm in Peabody, MA for an afternoon of crisp fall weather with the promise of collecting as many apples as Johnny Apple Seed could carry.

We couldn’t have asked for better weather as we were handed an empty bag and ventured off into the miles of apple trees. We strategically headed away from the little kids running through the orchard and pounding fallen fruit into apple sauce.

Any professional apple picker will tell you that hidden at the back corner of the orchard you will always find the best choices. The largest apples are easy to spot high above little kid reach. We found some extreme apples heading down the farm. Easily larger than my hand, the shiny red fruit begged to be picked. The branches sprung back to life after the weight of the world was lifted and our bag was filled.

With no more room to fill our pockets or bag we headed back to the car until the perfume of apple cider donuts distracted us. The farm store bakes up fresh donuts and pies and if you weren’t hungry before picking you will be once you catch a whiff.

Apple cider donuts are hit or miss with me. If they don’t have enough cinnamon they taste just like cake donuts. The folks at Brooksby know a good apple cider donut. Here is a recipe to make your own.

While apple picking is a great outdoor activity, you do end up with a lot of apples. Trying to figure out inventive ways to use them before they go bad is a skill. There are archives of apple crisp pie and baked apple recipes to choose from. It is easy to be overwhelmed, however the size of the champion apples that we found lent themselves to only one thing apple dumplings.

The Cheesecake Factory serves giant apple dumplings on their menu and I set to making my own. All it takes is peeling, coring the apple and then rolling them in cinnamon and sugar and stuffing the middle with butter. Once this is finished a pie round tucks the apple into a lovely wrap. To cover our Frankenapples it took a nine-inch pie round ...a piece

Once tucked in, the dough is given a wash with egg whites and a sprinkle of sugar and then popped in the oven. It took two days for the BF to eat just one.

Oompa Lumpas in NH

"Greetings to you, the lucky finder of this Golden Ticket, from Mr Willy Wonka! I shake you warmly by the hand! Tremendous things are in store for you! Many wonderful surprises await you! For now, I do invite you to come to my factory and be my guest for one whole day - you and all others who are lucky enough to find my Golden Tickets.

I, Willy Wonka, will conduct you around the factory myself showing you everything that there is to see, and afterwards, when it is time to leave, you will be escorted home by a procession of large trucks. These trucks, I can promise you, will be loaded with enough delicious eatables to last you and your entire household for many years. If, at any time thereafter, you should run out of supplies, you have only to come back to the factory and show this Golden Ticket, and I shall be happy to refill your cupboard with whatever you want."

~Willy Wonka

I’ve been volunteering with the group Ovations for the Cure in Natick, MA in support of Ovarian Cancer research. In Sept. the organization held one of their largest fundraisers, the Night of the Monarch Gala.

For months I have been calling and soliciting artists, shops and restaurants for donations to the fashion show & gala’s silent auction. I was overwhelmed by the responses I got and was invited into the underbelly of the Taza chocolate company’s warehouse as well as the Lindt factory in NH to pick up a basket of chocolate to raffle off.

I had been offered the golden ticket... leaping at the chance to be Charlie and taste Willy Wonka's word, I adventured off to pick up the donation at Lindt. I imagined that the building would have been oozing chocolate with bars for bricks and frosting for mortar. The company paddle boat would float me through the river of chocolate to the front door just as Charlie felt going to the Willy Wonka factory.

The hour drive north from Boston only increased my anticipation of what the factory would be. My little yellow car flew up the winding road and past the Timberland factory until the familiar Lindt blue awnings greeted me. No, there were no Oompa Loompas or gumdrop trees or even a chocolate river (really the only way to travel) but the scent of cocoa whispered hello.

Anyone who has ever been even to the regular Lindt stores can tell you that the shopping experience is only sweetened by the free sample at the door. At the Lindt factory store there is not only a greeter with a basket of tempting truffles, but a café with Lindt hot chocolate and pastries.

I giddily placed my request for the raspberry truffle iced hot chocolate. The barista selected bits of real truffles and poured in steamed milk on top of ice cubes. The first sip can only be described as swimming inside the rich center of their raspberry chocolate treat. This was not just a cup of chocolate milk with raspberry syrup, but the reinvention of my favorite chocolate piece.

While the cashier went to the back to get the extra large basket of donated chocolate, I floated around the store. My nose leading me to pieces of chocolate I had never even seen before including the cherry & chili dark chocolate bars. Better yet, these bars were hiding in the sale section.

My godmother once told me that broken cookies have fewer calories, and I believe that this idea carries onto broken chocolate bars and the bags of chocolate sea shells and bunnies that never made it to the big show. Not only are their less calories in these pieces, but they are even cheaper. It is obviously more economical to buy the 10lb bag then only buy one piece!
After loading my car with the giant basket of chocolates for the event and chugging the chocolate drink, I can declare my afternoon as Charlie a success.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Out of Africa

Since the launch of the Vanilla Rooibos tea latte at Starbucks, I have been a faithful follower. It was good to change things up a little bit and not order a Chai. However, dear Starbucks…you have been serving me the B-list version of the best a tea could bring.

I’d like to issue a public thank you to the baristas at Flour Bakery and at Bloc 11 for awakening my morning with a proper red tea latte.

Instead of simply steeping a tea bag in steaming water or milk, my new best friends at the coffee shops press concentrated Rooibos into an espresso press and proceed to make a latte as they would any other. The result is a beautiful rust red drink with a thick foamy top.

The sweet nutty tea brings me back to South Africa, where the honey red bush is from. My experience in the country was an amazing one and I’ve vowed to go back. For now, this simple morning treat is enough to invoke my memories of Table Mountain, Kaelisha and the women of South Africa.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Zebra print and pre-fixe fun

In support of this Summer’s Restaurant Week R and I made reservations for a three-course pre-fixe adventure at Upstairs on the Square in Harvard square.

The food was as inventive as the restaurant’s décor. If Paris Hilton and Cindy Lauper had a love child on a zebra rug this is where they would have done it. Gilded mirrors, animal printed carpet, colorful chandeliers and purple floors compliment the zaniness of the restaurant’s Monday club bar, where we ate.

I was excited nibble on tasty rosa bianca eggplant cannelloni with fiore di nonno mozzarella and sungold cherry tomatoes for my main course. R was daring enough to try quail for the first time.

Despite barely making it through the first and second courses with any room left in our bellies, the desert course was not to be missed. And, so it was that R ordered the Spiced churros with Mexican chocolate dipping sauce and I ordered the crema catalana with orange, cinnamon and honey pirouettes.

The churros, lightly covered in cinnamon and sugar were crisp and light on the outside while still being fluffy on the inside. R and I excitedly dipped the little Latina finger doughnuts into a dark pool of bittersweet chocolate.

Crema catalana is the Spanish version of crème brulée. With a tap of my spoon, the sugar crust cracked and the smooth cinnamon and citrus kissed crème said hello. Complimenting the creamy vanilla flavor of the “pudding”, the chef served two small cookies perfect for dunking and adding a touch of salt and crunchiness.

Not only was this a lovely evening out with a girlfriend, but Restaurant Week supported Community Servings. A charity that I love dearly and will be hitting you all up to buy pies from this Thanksgiving.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Ta-da Taza!

Courtesy of Taza Chocolate

Taza is the only chocolatier in the states to produce 100% stone-ground organic chocolate and then presses it in a cute little circle to make their Chocolate Mexicano disk.

The shape is what first attracted me to the chocolate on the shelf, but the taste and texture have made me a fan forever.

In a pure magically simple process the chocolatiers at Taza grind their beans with Oaxacan stone mills the way your chocolate-loving Abuella used to…that is if I had one. Mine just ate the stuff.

The grinding is what sets the chocolate apart from the endless rows of bars at the drug store. The millstone process leaves the sugar and cacao in the chocolate creating a sandy and surprising texture. The disks are segmented to easily beak apart. The tiny triangles are extra tasty when melted into milk to create hot chocolate.

The Mexicano comes in salted almond, vanilla bean, cinnamon, yerba mate, cacao puro and guajillo chili. Keeping with a true Mexican-chocolate palette, I love the chili flavor the most.
I’ve been stocking up on the disks during my morning coffee run at Bloc 11, but you can order them online.

I am dying to tour the factory. When they do open their doors at another event look out for a giggling recap. I’m very proud to support the small chocolate maker in my little hood.

P.s. not only does the chocolate taste good, it is fair trade!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Cookie in cup...with a morning shot

Vanilla, chocolate and a kick of caffeine is exactly what the Black and White latte at Bloc 11 in Union Square delivers. Reminiscent of the famous cookie, this latte has been kick-starting my mornings lately.

Hidden away in the construction zone of Union Square, Bloc 11 serves not just yummy coffee, but a laundry list of vegan and vegetarian-friendly (yea!) sandwiches, soups and salads (yea!). But let’s not deviate from the real important stuff like the sugar content.

Bloc’s baristas bustle about steaming, squeezing and pressing out beautiful drinks. Each drink I’ve received is presented on the counter with a swirl of late art. The foam hearts and leaves garnish the cup and any of the moist muffins and scones on their menu.

In addition to the beautiful cappuccinos, Bloc is located inside an 87-year old bank building. You can even eat your muffin and sip your coffee within a vault.

Bloc is owned by the same creators of Diesel café in Davis and has the unique hipster vibe that Somerville offers. They are definitely doing something right, in addition to always having customers, Bloc has been named a 2008 Food and Wine New Star and received rave reviews from other news sources.

I’m so excited that I found a Starbucks alternative, and a way to get a cookie in a cup.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Concession Cotton Candy

On Tuesday, we surprised a friend with a birthday outing to the Sox game and while they got drunk on overpriced beer I giggled my way through a bag of electric pink cotton candy and popcorn.

There is nothing that makes a carnival, festival or baseball game better than eating a dinner of spun sugar. According to the Gourmet magazine, William Morison and John Wharton invented the first electric sugar spinning machine and aptly named it “Fair Floss.” Indeed, only flirty fairies could be responsible for fluffy clouds of pure sugar.

I’m in love with the sweet scent that the spinning machines weave, the stickiness left on your fingers and the slow dissolve from fluff to sugar rush when eating.

When I first moved to Boston, I explained to my parents that rather than giving me a blender what my apartment needed was a cotton candy machine. I stand by this argument…every day should be a celebration. I am also proud to say that almost all of cotton candy-machines manufactured today are made by Gold Medal in Cincinnati.

Despite my love for fairy floss, I am not a fan of cotton-candy flavored things. I think this is due to their tainting by blue coloring. Cotton candy ice cream is usually blue and pink…and not so good.

Unfortunately as fun and quick as cotton candy is to eat, it is that quick to shrink in the bag. There is no such thing as a to-go bag for freshly spun candy. You can buy it pre-purchased, but the fun is in the carnival experience and watching the stand attendee hypnotically whip around the machine. I can’t wait until the next fair and game!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Kraft, sure does know how to get a girl’s attention.

Imagine fluffy marshmallows propelled and puffed up in the air on an explosion out of jet airplanes.

Sure they don’t exactly say that’s how the tiny marshmallows in the Jet-Puffed Mallow Bites get their oomph, but it is a logical theory. They do say that the mallows are made with a … “patented process that infuses air into the marshmallow during manufacturing.”

Marshmallow’s are cheery and happy, whether they are in hot chocolate, rice crispy treats or on their own. The white pillows practically spring out of the bag and dance when you eat them. Kraft has figured out a way to make a good thing better. While at Target (I know that’s really hard to believe) I stumbled upon a lone bag Kraft’s Jet-Puffed Mallow bites. The milk chocolate covered miniature marshmallows screamed my name and I obliged.

It is about time that someone combined the well-known successful combination of chocolate and marshmallow into bite size pieces and in a convenient snack size (the bag is resealable...but lets be honest).

The chocolate coating was creamy and only slightly melted on my fingers while popping the pieces into my mouth. I imagine these would be great to include in brownies or crispy treats because the chocolate would add a little something extra to the recipe.

Any marshmallow is pretty much bound to be amazing if it is made with jet power or covered in chocolate.

A Year to Celebrate Chocolate

Last Wednesday was National Milk Chocolate Day…I hope you celebrated!
My apologies for not notifying you about the holiday but my fingers were covered in chocolate…just kidding.

Milk chocolate has always been seen as second class to chocolate connoisseurs, however according to the National Confectioners Association (NCA), Sixty-five percent of American chocolate eaters prefer milk chocolate.

Every day for me in National Milk Chocolate Day, but here is a list of places I think are the best for satisfying that craving

Taza Chocolate – Run out of Somerville, this organic chocolate company creates chocolate treats by grinding their beans with stone, the Mexican way

Aroa – When work has driven my stress level through the roof, I give the acupuncturist a call. I am not sure if it is the calming and recentering of my qi or the visit to the neighboring chocolate shop that helps…but it is working. Aroa not only makes decadent truffles but also thick fruit jellies and fluffy homemade marshmallows. Chocolate + marshmallows = peace

L.A. Burdick – I consider myself one of the chosen few to have the honor of living so close to this famous shop. In addition to a full café menu with drinking chocolate that coats your insides till they look like Willy Wonka’s, Burdick’s also sells handmade chocolates rich with fruits and nuts. Their adorable penguins, mice and now bees are hand-crafted and give smiles to the faces of party guests, wedding guests and my family during the holidays.

Chocolee ChocolatesChocolee’s truffles are handcrafted and without a doubt made with love and at a level of craftsmanship that only the founder of the New England Pastry Guild can do. Lee Napoli, the shop’s owner, is the muse and backbone of Boston’s desert community. I highly recommend the Spicy Pepper, a dark chocolate truffle with poblano peppers.

As so not to miss next year’s holiday and others like it, below is a listing of the best-chocolate themed holidays around. Celebrate them all!

January 3: National Chocolate Covered Cherry Day
January 10: Bittersweet Chocolate Day
January 27: National Chocolate Cake Day

February 5: National Chocolate Fondue Day
February 10: Cream Cheese Brownie Day
February 11: National Peppermint Patty Day
February 14: National Creme-Filled Chocolates Day
February 19: National Chocolate Mint Day
February 25: National Chocolate-Covered Nuts Day
February 28: National Chocolate Soufflé Day

March 6: National White Chocolate Cheesecake Day
March 19: National Chocolate Caramel Day
March 24: National Chocolate Covered Raisins Day
March 28: National Black Forest Cake Day

April 3: National Chocolate Mousse Day
April 21: National Chocolate-Covered Cashews Day

May 1: National Chocolate Parfait Day
May 5: National Chocolate Custard Day
May 12: National Nutty Fudge Day
May 15: National Chocolate Chip Day
May 19: National Devil's Food Cake Day

June 2: National Rocky Road Ice Cream Day
June 7: National Chocolate Ice Cream Day
June 11: National German Chocolate Cake Day
June 16: National Fudge Day
June 22: National Chocolate Eclair Day
June 26: National Chocolate Pudding Day

July 3: National Chocolate Wafer Day
July 7: Chocolate Day
July 8: National Chocolate with Almonds Day
July 25: National Hot Fudge Sundae Day
July 28: National Milk Chocolate Day

August 4: National Chocolate Chip Day
August 10: National S'mores Day
August 20: National Chocolate Pecan Pie Day

September 12: National Chocolate Milkshake Day
September 13: International Chocolate Day
September 22: National White Chocolate Day
September 27: National Chocolate Milk Day

October 18: National Chocolate Cupcake Day
October 28: National Chocolate Day

November 7: National Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds Day
November 29: Chocolates Day

December 8: National Chocolate Brownie Day
December 13: National Cocoa Day
December 16: National Chocolate-Covered Anything Day
December 28: National Chocolate Candy Day
December 29: National Chocolate Day

* To purchase T-shirt above and wear on all chocolate holidays click here

Thanks to for the dates

Monday, July 20, 2009

Watch Out Betty Crocker!

With the bustling of farmer’s markets in the area, it finally feels like summer around here. Growing up in Cincinnati, each weekend my father would throw me on his shoulders and take me to Findlay market to shop for meat, bread, fresh vegetables and juicy fruits. I have a strong favoring of shopping these markets and as the local produce trend begins to take hold, there is more and more interest for supporting organic and area farmers.

After dropping off my car at the shop in Medford, I was forced to take the orange line back into the city. The train crawled through each stop and I found myself being convinced to get off at Haymarket. While the vendors at Haymarket are as ripe as their produce, the prices are amazing. I stocked up on fruit and vegetables including the ultimate summer “vegetable” rhubarb.

Yes, even though it is a vegetable, rhubarb is prepared like a fruit and I was inspire to bake a pie…even in 80 degree weather.

Rhubarb pie is the easiest pie to make. Just combine crust, rhubarb, flour, butter and sugar... and you have a pie. The rhubarb’s bright red stalks bled juice as I chopped up the long celery-like stalks and threw them into the pie shell.

Here is the classic recipe that I used. I added another cup of rhubarb and put the 9” crust in a 10” dish, because the juice can overflow.

The pie cooled on the ride to the BF’s family’s lake house. A heaping scoop of ice cream only made it better.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Lost without Lulu's

I was very excited to hear that Lyndell’s bakery was going to be adding a location in the North End. Lyndell’s half moons are addicting. I was anxious to see how the new spot in little Italy, but I was shocked to find out that the new location is the empty shop that Lulu’s Bake Shoppe once filled with my favorite sweets.

What will I do without you Lulu’s? How can a bakery raved about on yelp and in Food Network magazine not survive. Even during tough economic times, doesn’t everyone need a cupcake?

While tourists stood in line at Mike’s Pastries, I was proud to visit Lulu’s for a cupcake or small cheesecake. Lulu’s was a hidden gem on Hanover street that visiting felt like unwrapping a secret only I knew about.

I would like to take a moment of silence for the loss of Lulu’s moist and rich red velvet cupcakes…

A box of fruit slices is a serving of fruit

Faneuil hall is a fat kid's dream with stalls of Chinese, Japanese, burgers, cookies, ice cream and pizza vendors. However in the North Market building, a building rarely frequented by anyone other than tourists, is the Boston Creamery & Confections.

In addition to pick mix selections of jelly beans, truffles, chocolate covered cherries and turtles I come to Boston Confections for their fruit slices.

I’m not sure where they get them, but the slices are thick, sweet and flavorful. These are not the typical cherry, orange and lime flavors, but the variety of unusual flavors and quality make them unique. My favorite is the pomegranate. There is also grapefruit, peach, green apple. I believe a box constitutes at least a serving of fruit, because these have to have real flavoring.

My family requests these specific slices every time I come home or send a care package. The obsession is so great that upon picking up dear old mom and dad from the airport last week we made an immediate visit to stock up…my addiction is clearly genetic.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Icing Overload

2.5 inches of icing... I’ve eaten half an inch before realizing that frosting is not good for you.

The strawberry shake cupcake (second cupcake from left in top row) from Sugar Bakery in West Roxbury is deathly frosted 2.5" high with pink butter cream and then covered in vanilla hard topping…like real ice cream. In a cheeky presentation a small straw has also been inserted.

I am a great fan of frosting. I enjoy it all; whether it is whipping cream, cream cheese, butter cream or even just chocolate. However, this cupcake has done me in. I’m raising the white flag.

Road trip: Studying at Sundae School

When I told people I was going to the Cape they all said “You have to go to Sundae School!”

Voted one of the best places for ice cream in New England by, the Sundae School boasts three locations including the one I visited to in Dennisport.

Before heading back into Boston, I took the wheel and drove deeper into the island until my GPS guide “Samantha” announced my arrival.

A classic 1938 ice cream truck parked in front of the cottage parlor sets the tone for the vintage marble soda fountain inside. The counter is endless and the chalkboard of flavors spills over onto notes and flyers with “flavors of the month.”

There are simple sundaes served in tulip glasses, super sundaes, frappes, banana splits and ice cream pies. The BF and I responsibly split the ice cream sampler. For only a little more than $4, we had four scoops.

There was a scoop of Raz Oreo (black raspberry ice cream and Oreo cookies), a scoop of Oreo Crunch (vanilla ice cream with Oreo cookies), Grasshopper (mint ice cream with Oreo cookies) and then Pirate's Pandemonium (peanut butter ice cream with a fudge stripe and chocolate covered pretzels). We hadn’t meant to select so many Oreo flavors, but they complimented each other nicely. The scoops stacked high enough to cause instant brain freeze.

The Sundae School has such a Cape cult following it has its own facebook page.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Road trip: Candy from the Cape

Despite living in Boston for more than seven years, I only recently made my first trip to the Cape.

With a furlough week free to explore, the BF and I headed down for a day trip. It is hard to figure out what town to stay in, but thanks to wonderful tips from friends, we settled on a lovely spot on Craigville beach. Even better, we were lucky to be blessed with the only two nice days last week.

On Wednesday, we spent a brisk afternoon walking on the beach. The horizon was obscured slightly by a heavy fog, but at least it didn’t rain. We strolled up and down main street in Hyannis and popped into the small tourist shops and store fronts… eventually stumbling (I use this verb lightly) on the Kandy Korner.

Walls and walls of candy, chocolates, taffy and fudge make it okay for me that they spelled both candy and corner incorrectly. Some times when there are so many options, I freeze. I grabbed only the small bag of salt water taffy and just a square of rocky road homemade fudge. The BF threw in a package of Mallocups.

I was given firm instructions not to eat any of the fudge until dinner, and I made it a block before nibbling on the rich and creamy fudge. The chunk’s walnut and marshmallow pieces were the perfect appetizer for dinner.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

empanada de plátano

I am on a mission to be more fiscally responsible (please stop laughing). As the economy is still recovering, many restaurants are offering fantastic deals on their menu. For $13 the Cactus Club on Boylston is offering a three-course prefix meal, which includes dessert…just as R.

After filling up on guacamole, there was little room for dessert, but who is going to deny the third part of the meal? R selected the banana empanadas and was kind enough to share. Two turnovers drizzled with chocolate greeted us at the end of our meal.

The pastries’ traditional filling of beef, beans and cheese was substituted with warm, cinnamon chunks of bananas. I had hoped that the dough would have been a little less cooked. But the banana Hotpockets were complimented by a scoop of vanilla and a scoop chocolate chip ice cream and after they started to melt, the empanadas softened a little.
I'm really not complaining... she shared.

Blizzard to Beat the Blues

You know that it is love when without prompting your BF knows that the cure for a gloomy rainy day is a trip to Dairy Queen.

It has been raining in Boston and New Hampshire for the past two weeks. Even the joy that splashing in my galoshes brings has not been enough to add a ray of sunshine. However, The Blizzard is an amazing tool for doing just that.

The Brownie Batter Blizzard is this month’s Blizzard of the Month. An uber-rich chocolate brownie batter ribbon is blended in vanilla ice cream and sprinkled with fudge brownie pieces and creamy vanilla soft serve. There is so much chocolate that the vanilla really becomes chocolate ice cream. To compliment the chocolate extravaganza, I requested cherry topping be added to my Blizzard. The Cherry Brownie Batter Blizzard is sadly only available on request... even on rainy days.

Chomp-free candy

I am happy to report that I survived the dentist exam this morning cavity free. I was reprimanded however for breaking a couple of fillings, I’m a grinder. Stress has driven me to not only eating chocolate with both hands, but also grinding my teeth at night. At least this is part of my hypothesis.

I am a biter as well. Remember the Tootsie Pop commercial “How many licks”? I’ve never been patient enough to really answer that question. A couple licks and then crunch. hard peppermint candies, Jolly Ranchers have no chance to escaping my chomping. This could have something to do with my chipping as well.

I’ve decided I should experiment with softer textures. On the way home from the appointment I stopped into Walgreens (for non-candy purchases) and stumbled upon Chewy Lemonheads and Friends by Ferrara Pan.

Ferrara Pan Lemonheads have always been one of my favorite candies, the perfect combination of mouth puckering lemon flavor dissolving into sweet. I usually chomp them and then eat the shell before melting the middle on my tongue.

The cheery box of Lemonheads and Friends features not only the traditional lemon flavor in a new soft and chewy reincarnation, but also contains grape, orange, green apple and cherry flavors.

The same strong sour flavor is carried over to envelop a jelly center. While I thought lemon would maintain my favorite, the lemon flavor is a bit like more cleaning supply lemon then I was expecting. The orange, cleaned the competition’s clock. It reminds me of Sunny Delight in a happy sunshine bursting chewy candy. There is hope for my teeth after all.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Cookie Dough Danger

“Don’t eat raw cookie dough.”
We have all heard the warnings about getting salmonella or E.coli poisoning, but how can something be so good and so bad for you at the same time?

There is something beyond comforting about being able to taste a chocolate chip cookie without having to wait for it to bake. When in a full emotional crisis, I am not even sure cooked cookies have the same therapeutic effect as attacking a tube of dough. If it was a really bad day you don’t even have to use utensils, but gnaw at the ends until the satisfaction of sweet, salty and chocolate overtakes you.

The hyponitic pull of cookie dough has lead candy and ice cream manufacturers to fill shops and grocery stores with flavors all in an ode to the dough that never quite makes it to the tray.

Despite the warnings, I have never heard any stories of people keeling over thanks to death by cookie dough (though wouldn’t that be a way to go), and yet today, Nestlé announced a recall of their Toll House cookie dough.

“We want to strongly advise consumers that raw cookie dough should not be eaten,” said Nestle in their press release. “This message also appears prominently on our packaging. Nestlé Toll House cookies made from refrigerated dough are safe to consume when baked as directed on the package.”

According to the FDA, since March, there have been reports of 66 people falling ill after eating dough, with 25 of them subsequently hospitalized.

The recall includes:
· Nestlé TOLL HOUSE refrigerated Cookie Bar Dough
· Cookie Dough Tub
· Cookie Dough Tube
· Limited Edition Cookie Dough items
· Seasonal Cookie Dough and Ultimates Cookie Bar Dough.

It is devastating to know that now in addition to chocolate chips, Nestle’s Toll House cookies may be coming with E.coli 0157:H7, which may cause abdominal cramping, vomiting and diarrhea.

Tonight there will be a full investigation on ABC.

I leave you with a recipe I found for “safe” cookie dough

Safe-to-Eat Eggless Cookie "Dough" Recipes
Craving cookie dough but don't want to eat raw eggs? Here are some cookie dough recipes that are safe to eat.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Froyo for Me! Froyo for you?

Frozen Yogurt is the latest craze to hit the food world. Where once upon a time TCBY had a corner on the froyo world, small shops and chains are popping up just in time for summer like wild fire.

Yogurtland is Disneyland for frozen yogurt lovers.

I’m reminded of Tokyo walking into the wide-open and modern storefront. Along the self-service back wall are stations of multiple flavors to fill your EXTRA LARGE Yogurt cup up. There are no cup sizes, but you fill and then the yogurt is weighed.

Today’s flavors offer a sea of possibilities and combinations. How can you choose just one and what tastes the best together?

My options: Dutch Chocolate made with Ghiradelli chocolate, cookies and crème, vanilla wafer, coconut, New York cheesecake, vanilla, peanut butter, strawberry and even taro. In addition to classic flavors, the store also offers “tart” flavors of mango, blueberry and pomegranate raspberry.

Settling on chocolate and cheesecake for my yogurt base, I move along to the two toppings sections. There are dry options of coconut, chocolate chips, granola, brownie bites, cheesecake bites, M&Ms, sprinkles and more. There are also wet toppings including fresh strawberries, lychee, and even red bean.

To compliment my flavors I add brownie bites, chocolate syrum and fresh strawberries. This is the lowest calorie strawberry and chocolate cheesecake that I’ve ever had. The yogurt is smooth and rich and a refreshing afternoon treat in sunny San Jose, CA.

In addition to the wonderful taste, I have been won over by the adorable and biodegradable pink spoon. This is not a wimpy bite and the green spoon holds up well.

The fiver-year-old chain is only available in Cali, Hawaii, New York, Texas, Arizona and Nevada… can’t Boston get some love? We have cravings too.

Chocolate in California

They say that Aztec emperor Montezuma drank an amazing 50 pitchers of chocolate a day. I would not be surprised that if he had the chance to try one of the drinks at Bittersweet, the small chocolate shop on Filmore street, he may have double that number.

I was tipped off to this shop by a San Franciscan with a serious a dark chocolate jones. I was also warned that from where we met for coffee, the treck to the shop would be up one of San Fran’s steepest hills. Filmore is actually so steep that there are small steps to keep you moving.

The spicy hot chocolate was indeed hot and spicy. The kick of pepper was paired with cinnamon to hit the spot. Rich and velvety, the hot chocolate at Bittersweet remind me of the drinking chocolate at Burdicks.

To compliment my afternoon pick-me-up I selected a marzipan canola from the case. The fudgy chocolate filling rolled in almond marzipan shell and kissed with chocolate ends. Almond and chocolate is always a good combination.

In addition to selling drinks and pastries, Bittersweet specializes in importing unique chocolates from around the world. I was an easy sell for the Dolfin Dark Chocolate Bar with Pink peppercorns. I highly recommend that if you haven’t tried spicy chocolate in one form or another, you should!

Chocolate Chai

When you work at a place called Bread and Cocoa why would you ever be grumpy. The staff at the café is beyond nice. On the quest for breakfast and a morning wakeup I found this bold brown awning screaming for me to enter.

I was greeted with an immediate "hello" from the depths of the story. Surprised by the warm reception, I suddenly was stuck as to what to order. The perky girl behind the counter was open to me asking for suggestions and without hesitation chirped for me to order the Chocolate Chai.

This is a life changing drink. I am a faithful Starbuck’s Chai drinker, but this is a combination of Cinnamon Toast Crunch and rich chocolate. The barista took extra care to fill my cup to the brim.

“Do you want to try it to make sure you like it?” asked the barista.

Silly boy...what’s not to love?

The rich velvety drink floated down my throat with hints of nutmeg and cinnamon. What a Silly barista and fabulous start to my morning.

California Chocolate Pilgrimage

It doesn’t take much to get me to take a trip to a good bakery or chocolatier, but to get the San Francisco’s Ghirardelli Square, I would walk through fire or at least a heck of a hill and then some 40 minutes worth of adventure…both ways.
Following my phone’s GPS dot I made my pilgrimage to North Street and just when I thought I was lost (yet again), in the horizon I could see the iconic clock tour and the large letters that spell Ghiradelli in front of the Bay’s view of the ocean. A flood of relief and excitement swelled inside my belly and was greeted warmly by a lovely man in a blue apron offering me a free sample of Ghirardelli’s rich and smooth chocolate square.

While it is located close to the tourist trap that is Fisherman’s Wharf, Ghirardelli square is a chocolate lovers dream. In addition to the store, there is an ice cream parlor and café.

The brick building is the original historic building of where Domingo Ghirardelli first manufactured his chocolate, however the chocolate is no longer produced here...sad, but there are other sights to be seen… enter Kara’s Cupcakes.

Clean, simple and pink. Kara’s Cupcakes presents pretty little cakes in a no-fuss, no-way these aren’t good way.

The store’s large pink wall features explanations of the cupcakes flavors, but all it takes is a look at the rows of cupcakes to make a selection.

As it is strawberry season, the seasonal flavor is an organic strawberry cream. The moist vanilla cupcake is filled with organic strawberries, which are grown locally, and is topped with a smooth cream cheese frosting. At Kara’s the smallest box fits two cupcakes snuggly…so I selected a chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting and sprinkles (I’m sorry I can’t remember the name) to be the strawberry cake’s new best friend.

I love that Kara, the bakery’s owner is the daughter of a dentist and according to the site’s biography used to hide sweets around the house.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Naughty Chocolate

Any candy that advertises itself as “Naughty but not that Naughty” is enough to perk my interest. Mars’ new candy Fling is a Twix like bar (two in a pack) of either milk chocolate or hazelnut.

Clearly Mars is marketing their latest sweet towards women. The feminine pink and silver package and scripty logo are directly aimed at women in the mood for a “quickie” sweet attack. The feminist in me is appalled at the cheeky commercials that suggest low-calorie chocolate is an affair or sexual experience but alas.

Walgreens, which is just down the corner from my hotel room, sells the milk chocolate flavor. A chocolate honey-comb/meringue textured crust is topped with a fluffy chocolate nugget and then wrapped in milk chocolate… and the nice part…it is only 85 calories per stick.

Unfortunately, Fling is just being launched in California at the moment…but the site promises a quick expansion. I think that depends on how many feathers the commercials ruffle.

Monday, June 8, 2009

A Taste of London...San Francisco Style

San Francisco has 43 named hills. I know this because the lovely cab driver who drove me yesterday from my hotel to Golden Gate Park told me so in his thick Russian accent.
Thank goodness this city is built for calorie burning.

This is a special San Francisco edition of my sweet follies.

Nestled in Union Square on Sutter st. Fiona’s Sweet Shoppe is busting with large glass jars of licorice, lemon drops and toffee. Fiona’s specializes in treats that would tickle Willy Wonka like Humbugs, sherbets, Licorice brooms, and Gobstopping Gingers.

Though slightly expensive because of the import costs, the fizzy hard candy and rich English toffee is worth it. The lovely girl behind the glass counter suggested in an enchanting British accent that I try the chocolate covered licorice. Delightfully dark chocolate melts over the salty black licorice. A wonderful suggestion however, being in the mood for something more fruity, I picked up a pick mix of Rhubarb Custards, West Indian Limes and Cola Cubes.

With the purchase of $10 or more the shop throws in a free Sherbet Fountain. The Fountain is a licorice straw dipped into fizzy powder similar to Pixy Stix powder or Lik a Stix dust.

Fiona’s has been a lovely trip across the pond while still enjoying the California sun.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Peanut Butter M&Ms Get Spring Makeover

It is no secret that Peanut butter M&Ms are my Achilles’ heel… not that it takes much to take me down. But, as the BF likes to tell people, I can easily eat a “medium” bag in one sitting.

Note to the Mars marketing department: Please remove the daily nutrition percentage from the front of the bag. I don’t want to know.

Last week, when refilling our candy dish at work, we stumbled upon a bag of Limited Edition Strawberried Peanut Butter M&Ms. As a tie to the Transformers movie (don’t really get it), Mars has created peanut butter and jelly flavored M&Ms.

Who doesn’t love a good peanut butter and jelly sandwich? I personall take mine with the crust on and the bread toasted.

As for the candy, I was expecting a little bit more strawberry flavor on the inside, but the strawberry is in the coating, not in an additional jam or jelly. There is more flavor in the perfume of the candy then in the pieces.

The candy shells are limited to being red, brown and yellow with red speckles, which means the best part is that there are no blue ones!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Chocolate Mountains Covered in White Candy Pearls

Sno-Caps®, despite their chilly name, will not survive a warm afternoon. In fact, I’ve discovered that they barely survive a half an hour in the car on a humid day. Instead, all that is left after a proper cooking is a white polka dotted chocolate blob.

Have no fear though! When refrozen (yes, I saved the box), the little droplets do have the same rich dark flavor they had in their former lives.

I should have known better than to leave the box in the car. Part of the candy’s appeal is their meltability over popcorn at the movie theatre. A shake and a rattle out of the box and Sno-Caps turn already addicting movie popcorn into a treat that would know the socks off of Poppycock.
Sno-Caps made their debut onto the candy stage in the 1920s when the Blumenthal Chocolate Company gifted the shrunken nonpareils to movie goers. The product originated as a large milk chocolate disk, but the size was too large for mass production as the candy measured over 2.5 inches in diameter.

*** A bit of candy trivia for you Simmons College girls; Sno-Caps were originally named Bob White.***

Traditional nonpareils are named after the small white “sprinkles” that cover their tops. According to Wikipedia (no I don’t speak French), in French nonpareils means without equal. I have to agree even when they are a melted mess, Sno-Caps and their heafty cousins are worth a good Pick ’n ‘ Mix or box.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

How Sweet It Is!

The cupcake is not for bake sales and birthday parties anymore, the opening of the second Sweet bakery in Harvard Square in Cambridge, MA has given the personal treat an academic backing.

Nestled between the Curious George bookshop and Tealuxe, Sweet offers a Juicy Couture style to simple flavors. Pink and brown wallpaper compliment the clean white and pink furnishings. Clean and modern, the store mimics the cupcake flavors featured in the patisserie case. All of the frostings, fillings and batters are freshly prepared from scratch and highlight high quality cocoas and vanillas.

The shop’s signature flavor ‘Red Velvet’, also happens to be my favorite cake ever. Puffy cream cheese frosting floats on top of ruby red colored cake flavored with Bensdorp Dutch cocoa.

I’m a sucker for red velvet even at $3.25. My grandmother Elizabeth used to make red velvet cake for special occasions, and I would request it just so my brother, then allergic to red food coloring, couldn’t partake. She would use two whole bottles of red. I know this is evil…but don’t mess with me and cake. Thank goodness for the portion-controlled cup, or I would eat a whole cake.

You don’t have to be a college co-ed or Harvard professor to enjoy these treats either. My virgin visit was the highlight of a rainy day visit with a friend (she got the chocolate coconut cupcake). Sweet seems to be becoming the perfect ending to a date or a girl’s night.

Unfortunately besides miniature cakes, Sweet does not offer coffee or tea. However, there are cold beverages including milk available.

Deliveries are available within Boston (the flagship store is on Massachusetts Ave. in the Back Bay) and Cambridge.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Ice Cream for Dinner

No, I’m not pregnant, but last night I had pickles and ice cream for dinner.

Before you judge me, there were a couple of hours in between my servings of Tony Paco’s pickles and Peppers and my late night run for ice cream.

The craving hit me hard at the end of an episode of "House". I tried to put it off, but alas I succumbed jumped into my car wearing a smashing pair of Pajamas and sped off to Emack & Bolios in Porter Square. Fate even granted me a parking spot right up front.

My favorite flavor has always been key lime pie, a low-fat key lime frozen yogurt with little pieces of graham crackers, but I needed more.

After tasting the Cookie Monster, Grasshopper pie, and Milky Way flavors (why turn down the opportunity for free samples?), I settled on the healthiest of the choices Oreo frozen yogurt.
While two scoops are $4.40, a whole pint is only $5.40… so the pint won. No, I did not dig into the whole thing! I responsibly drove the container home and made myself a bowl.

I even turned down the delectably devilish ice cream cones that the little parlor is known for. I’d like to shake the hand of the employee who had the idea of covering a waffle cone in rice crispies and marshmallows. They also have a fruity pebbles, and cocoa crispies versions. I thought for a moment about bringing home an Oreo coated cone, but worried about the nightmares that I may have from a cookie overload.

Oh, Oreo ice cream! Do you remember when Cookies ’n Cream was the bombdigity? Why is it that flavors that we devoured as adolescents have been pushed off by “adult” selections? Chocolate Chip Cookie dough was another popular request from the United Dairy Farmers’ case. But nothing beat Cherry Cordial. Mmmmm