Monthly Archives: June 2010

Chocolate Monday: Yoho Bakery

So it’s been awhile since I blogged. I spent the last week vacationing with my husband’s family at the beach (which will no doubt result in a heap o’ posts), and even though my days were a bit lazy, I just didn’t feel like blogging. Maybe it was the intense heat. Maybe it was trying to keep the baby on some sort of a schedule in a house full of people who could not comprehend that every noise they made reverberated 10 times up in our room. Maybe it was the simple joy of not having anything to “do.” Whatever it was, blogging wasn’t on the menu.

Sadly, neither was chocolate. My MIL claims to not be much of a chocolate person, and we had none. We had homemade frozen custard (made by my husband), but it was vanilla and peach (and even the peach took some major concessions on my MIL’s part). She brought cookies, but they were lemon. We even had some tasty key lime bars, but alas, no chocolate.

So, the only chocolate I got was the impulse bag of M & M’s I bought at the check out line in Target. Since I’ve already done a blog on those bits of deliciousness, my indulgence had to wait until I landed back in town.

But even then, we got in after an arduous drive broken up over two days and I was too tired to savour any new chocolate. Luckily before we left, I was able to sample some treats from the Yoho Bakery and I took very good notes. So, here goes:

I first heard of them at the art exchange I went to a few weeks ago. After getting my bag of swag, the first booth I came to was selling brownies and mini cupcakes. What in the world could be better? Don’t misunderstand, I’m a big fan of art, but art I can eat…that is just pure genius! While I was at the booth, I picked up two treats: a salted caramel brownie and a margarita mini cupcake. My BFF bought two of the three other items: a blondie and a tiramasu mini cupcake. They also had a chocolate peanut butter regular sized cupcake, but I wanted something different.

I ate the cupcake at the festival. It was an orange cake with a margarita frosting. Now I’ve had other mini cupcakes before and often they are a bit dry. I think this is due to how long they have to cook and how little there is to actually cook. This cake, however, was so very moist, with an excellent citrus flavor. The frosting definitely had a tequilla flavor, but somehow managed to avoid the bitter alcohol after taste so many liquor infused treats tend to have. The slight bit of salt in the concotion grabbed my attention and added a real complexity to the cake. The frosting was creamy and delicious! Even though it was small, it was worth the $1 I paid.

I saved the brownie for a few days after I bought it. I didn’t mean to, just had my fill of sweets and it got put on the back burner. Even two days later, it was moist and chewy, just the way I like a brownie to be. In fact, when I bit in to the brownie, I could actually see just how moist it was. The first bite had a real hint of salt, which mixed well with the sweetness of the chocolate, which was very sweet and fudgy. The slightly crunchy top added a nice texture to the treat. The caramel flavor wasn’t obvious, but does add a non-chocolate sweet which the salt helps to temper. Pretty darn good. Not quite as good as the Sweet Embrace brownies I reviewed a while back, but these are local and easier to get. As an added bonus, the brownie was cut into two pieces, so it would have been easy to share, had I had any desire to do so. Since it was so rich, I could see why someone would want to save half for later or share half. Not me though, I’m a true chocolate nut.

At $3, it was pretty reasonable considering the taste. I didn’t get to try the other two items my BFF had, but she raved about her mini cupcake. She loves a good cupcake, but is really picky about her frosting. She usually ends up taking over half of hers off. However, she really liked this frosting. I think it helped that it was cream cheese based and not nearly as sugary as buttercream. I’ll let her comment on whether or not the blondie was any good.

If the non art show prices are as good, I’d really like to try some of their other items. I think this could become a favorite local bakery.

Overall:

Taste: 8.5/10

Value: 8.5/10

Appearance: 6/10

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Chocolate Monday: The Hot Cookie

I got to have a nice day out with some of my best friends this past weekend. It started with a trip to the art exchange. I was jazzed about it in part because I got out of the house without pushing a stroller or dragging a pre-schooler around and in part because I was getting to do something very grown up: wandering aisles of stalls filled with the endeavors of local artists. This particular art show is lots of fun because it’s filled with some things I can actually afford and want.

The art exchange (not sure why it’s called that since the only exchange going on is art for money), is held twice a year in an art building downtown. It’s a pretty cool place. It’s a sort of collective filled with artists. They have small apartments and more importantly: studio space. I believe everyone who lives in the building has to be an artist of some sort, but I don’t know the actual “rules.” Not that it matters because I don’t  have a shred of artistic talent.

There were a plethora of artists at the exchange. I bought a print for the nursery from a favorite local water color artist of mine. I also got my little girl a really cute handmade t-shirt. For my son I picked up some homemade crayons which are a neat swirl of four or five different shades. I picked up some stickers, buttons and an album for my husband. I wasn’t sure what I wanted for myself. There were some really neat necklaces, but since I hardly ever wear jewelry, I figured it would be a waste to pay so much for something I’d only wear once or twice, even though they were awfully pretty.

What wasn’t a waste though, were the two food vendors. They were both local bakeries filled with goodies to buy. The first vendor had cupcakes and brownies. I grabbed one of each. The second vendor, The Hot Cookie, had an assortment of cookies for sale. They said their most popular ones, the ones they were sure to sell out of, were the Sea Salt Chocolate Chunkers.

I think I must have slightly misheard them, because I swear I heard caramel in there. I think it was probably because salted caramels seem to be all the rage these days. Since I was expecting something a little gooey, I was definitely disappointed when I just got chocolate. And believe me, that’s not something I say lightly.

After that first bite, I went back and looked at the package again. When I saw there was no caramel anywhere on the package, I reset my expectations and took another bite. Chocolate chunk might have been an understatement, as it seemed each cookie was basically a solid hunk of chocolate with a slight cookie coating. If I had read the ingredients carefully, I might have picked another flavor, since these “chunkers” were made from dark chocolate. I know I’ve said it time and time again, but I’m not a huge fan of dark chocolate.

Since the hunks of chocolate were dark, the cookies had a slightly bitter after taste. They were also on the crunchy side since they were very flat (and tiny). The slight cookie “breading” stretched thinly over the chocolate was hardly noticeable as a flavor. The chocolate dominates everything, so the cookie doesn’t get to shine at all. However, the sea salt at the end was a nice kick. It’s not as good with just chocolate as it is when mixed with caramel and chocolate, but it gave a bit more flavor to the cookie.

I do like that The Hot Cookie is an organic company that uses only natural ingredients. It’s refreshing to eat something that isn’t pumped full of preservatives. Not that it really makes the cookie that much healthier, I realize.

Even though I’m not a huge fan of this particular cookie, I am interested in trying another flavor or two from them. I know they make whoopie pies because my BFF adores them. She raved and raved about them. I was a bit sad I didn’t have enough money to buy one. Since they don’t have an actual store (only one on etsy), I may have to wait until the next art show to get another crack at them. The flavors on their website look good, but then, so does every cookie I’ve ever seen.

Overall:

Taste: 4/10

Appearance: 7/10

Value: 5/10 (about 70 cents a cookie, and they are fairly small)

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Chocolate Monday: World Market Blood Orange Chocolate Bar

I love World Market. I love their funky furniture (including my gorgeous dinning room table), their fun kitchen accessories, their wacky kids’ toys and I really, really love the unique foods from around the world. Every year at Christmas I spend hours there looking for fun (and tasty) stocking stuffers.

However, despite my love of the place, it never dawned on me that WM might just be the place to get some exotic chocolates to nibble and review here. I just happened to be there last week killing time with my BFF, when I was reminded of the HUGE aisle practically devoted to chocolate.

Perusing the shelves, I wasn’t sure where to start. I only wanted to get one or two items since I like my reviews to be fresh. Nothing like commenting on month old chocolate, right? Each shelf held a cornucopia of chocolatey happiness from just about every country. My eyes were racing and my mouth was watering. My brain was pounding…I had far too many choices.

Then, I saw it: Blood Orange. World Market actually has their own line of chocolate bars and the first one I laid eyes on was a milk and blood orange combination. My decision was made.

I first had a blood orange (also called Moro oranges) at the incredibly rural school I teach at. It was not at all the place I expected to find something so exotic, but every year our FFA sells boxes of fruit as a fundraiser. I didn’t actually buy any of the fruit as their smallest box was like 10 lbs and it was just my husband and I back then (I stuck to the caramel corn, which is fantastic as well), but I guess they had over ordered and as a treat for the faculty, the sponsor left a fruit tray in the lounge.

When I saw the oranges which actually looked as if someone had beaten them, I was a little wary. The grapefruit, navels and red apples were being gobbled up, but everyone seemed afraid of these horror film rejects. But, as I am a bit of an adventurous eater, I figured what the heck, threw caution to the wind and grabbed a slice. Then I grabbed another, and another. It was the best damn orange I’d ever had. It was sweet and tart and juicy and, well, the best damn orange ever.

From that moment on, the allure of blood oranges has been to strong for me. Whenever I see anything associated with blood oranges (including the kick ass caramel made by Vosages), I must have it. So, I grabbed a bar and headed for the check out.

When I unwrapped it, I was a bit disappointed I couldn’t smell any citrus. Not that I expected the chocolate to smell like an orange, but I thought there might be some hint of the sweet tartness to come. There wasn’t.

The first bite wasn’t what I was expecting either: it was crunchy. Yes, that’s right, it was crunchy. Not in a Nestle Crunch sort of way. It tasted like it had seeds in it, which was very odd to me since oranges aren’t very seedy fruits. I quickly turned the wrapping over to look at the ingredients and found the culprit: blood orange peel. Still, I was unnerved because orange peel isn’t usually crunchy either. My guess is that it was dried and then mixed in with the chocolate. As I continued looking at the ingredients, I notice the only one actually associated with a blood orange was the peel.

This was a particularly bad find since peel often adds a slightly bitter taste in cooking. And in this candy it definitely did. There was none of the sweet tartness I’ve come to know in a blood orange. The chocolate actually tasted more like it was infused with grapefruit. Not overly citrusy, but a slight bitter citrus after taste I’ve always attributed to grapefruit. I don’t care if it’s good for me, I don’t like grapefruit.

The slight bitterness was especially well, bitter, since it was milk and not dark chocolate. The combination of flavors though, reminded me of a dark chocolate, which was very disappointing to me. I’ve had other, orange chocolates which haven’t tried to sucker me in by claiming a blood orange connection. I both like and respect those chocolates far more than this one.

I went in to this taste experiencing expecting greatness. My tongue was primed and my mouth watering, but I could only finish three of the 15 squares offered me because I just didn’t like it. I’m going to try to sneak the rest of it in my husband’s lunchbox as a treat. He’s not at all picky about anything food related, so he might actually see it as a treat and not me wanting to alleviate my guilt over spending too much on bad candy.

Overall:

Taste: 3/10

Appearance: 3/10 (nothing special about it)

Value: 3/10

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