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 Boston.com, 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!