Monthly Archives: June 2011

Chocolate Monday: Cadbury Soft English Toffee bar

One of the many joys about my recent vacation in Pennsylvania, was the plethora of chocolate which just seemed to jump in front of me. It seemed like everywhere I turned, there was some sort of new chocolate experience. Whoopie pies at the farmer’s market, fudge at the railroad, chocolate/vanilla swirl soft serve at Sesame Place, and at Hershey, well, I mean, there is an entire city devoted to chocolate. Turns out Belinda Carlisle was right: heaven is a place on earth.

Now, I’m not exactly the biggest Hershey fan on the planet. A bag of their kisses will never be what I reach for when I’m having a cocoa craving (in part because I over-indulged when I was like 10, got really sick and have basically Nanceefied* kisses). Neither will their original chocolate bars. I like milk chocolate and all, but a plain chocolate bar without any bells or whistles? Not unless it’s the really, really good stuff. I have to admit I don’t even use their chocolate syrup or cocoa powder (I’m a snob, I use Penzey’s Dutch process cocoa powder because it is AMAZING). But, there was no way in the world I could stop in Hershey and NOT take a drive by Hershey’s Chocolate World. Come on, it’s called Chocolate World…I was sold.

As I said, their plain old bars don’t ring any bells for me, but I have a definite soft spot in my heart for lots of their candy bars. Heck, what right-minded, candy-lovin’ person doesn’t? This is the company that brought Reese’s, Heath, Almond Joy and a score of others to grocery store check out stands so that I could drool and plead with my mom every time she took me shopping. Speaking of the score of other bars, Skor bars are theirs too. I never realized it as a child and was in a sort of constant childhood debate between Heath and Skor. Turned out I didn’t need be. I was supporting the same family no matter which kind of toffee I wanted.

So, imagine my joy when we were in the Hershey “store” and I found not only all of my childhood favorites, but also a whole stand devoted to a slightly more grown up favorite of mine: Cadbury.

When I visited London for the first time in 2004, Cadbury saved my life. Ok, so maybe they didn’t exactly save it, but they were a reviving force without which I might have crumpled into a lifeless heap in a tube station. I was one of two adult chaperones on a summer theater trip to London. Everything I’d read about England’s weather had prepared me for balmy temps in the low 70’s. So, that is exactly what I packed for. Imagine my amazement when we arrived right smack at the start of a European heat wave. London was posting temps in the high 80’s and low 90’s and our tour guide had us on daily forced marches around town with few stops for lukewarm water and small, bland dinners.

 This is where Cadbury enters the picture. After a full day of walking and barely eating, I found candy machines in the tube stations. These glorious beacons of hope offered me life-sustaining chocolate for a mere 50 p. It was in one of those stifling hot stations, where, after riding for twenty minutes next to two men who had no concept of personal space or body odor, that I found the Caramilk. It was love at first bite.

Turns out that it was pretty much the same thing I’d been eating (and loving) back in the states, but instead of being in a shiny brown, red and gold wrapper and called a Caramello, it was in the more traditional Cadbury purple and called Caramilk. Still, there was something about eating it when half-starved and fully exhausted in London that just made it the best damn caramel filled candy bar I’d ever had.

So, when in the Hershey store, I found not only the British packed version, but also a shiny purple wrapper touting a soft English toffee, I was in chocolate heaven! I grabbed both and skipped to the register. Yes, I realize I can get the a Caramello at any ol’ gas station in the country, but not in the purple wrapper (and I swear it improves the taste). But, I’d never seen the soft toffee one before, so I figured I had to have it for comparison sake.

The soft English toffee bar is similar to the Caramello. This shouldn’t really be a shock. While what we Americans think of as  English toffee is both taste and texture wise quite different from caramel, one thing I learned while in England, is that what they often refer to as toffee, is not at all what I was used to. It is the stuff Harry Potter and his buddies talk about when they eat sticky toffee pudding. And in fact, soft toffee is a lot like caramel, at least in texture. It has that same, gooey stringiness one expects from caramel.  The difference comes in the taste. It is not, the buttery richness of American toffee. Much like another of my English favorites, treacle pudding, soft toffee also has a sort of molasses hint to it. It also has more of a burnt sugar taste to it. Far more butterscotch than butter toffee.

Cadbury’s soft toffee had not only the burnt sugar hints, but also a just a tiny hint of molasses. It reminded far more of the treacle pudding I had at a Garfield’s in London (which I’ll admit was totally because both Alice in Wonderland and the Harry Potter kids both bring up the stuff). The creaminess of the milk chocolate does help set off the slightly bitter bite the soft toffee has. It also helps to mask the difference between the super buttery toffee taste my American palette expects when it sees the word toffee and the reality of the darker, heavier, and burningly sweeter taste of the British version. It is sweeter than caramel, which is texturally what my mouth expected. It was not a bar I could eat more than six squares of at a time, which is good, since that’s a serving (although less than half the actual bar).

All in all, the bar is still toffee, and I do LOVES me some toffee. It was satisfying and rich. I think I may even like it better than it’s more American cousin, the Caramello. But, I’ll have to eat that bar to make sure. It’s only fair, right?

Overall:

Taste: 7.5/10

Price: 7/10 (it was a big bar and considering I was at a tourist attraction AND I’d never seen this one before, I thought the price of $2 wasn’t bad)

Appearance: 5/10 (it’s nothing to look at)

*Nanceefied is a term we use in honor of a dear friend who has a bad habit of eating so much of a food that she makes her self ill and then cannot be induced to eat that food again…no matter what.

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Chocolate Tuesday: “The Cookie” by DoubleTree Hotels

So it’s totally Tuesday and usually this blog is all about “Chocolate Monday,” but I am over 500 miles from home and despite having a plethora of chocolatey experiences so far this vacation, I have also been chasing around two children under the age of 5, so by about 10 pm, I am drooling on my stack of three pillows.

I’m actually hoping to have several posts this week, but we’ll see how chasing them around a theme park for two days goes. I have a feeling I may start drooling even earlier.

Although this vacation was not supposed to be chocolate themed, I’ve actually managed to find myself surrounded by all sorts of cocoa goodness. It all started when we checked into our hotel. Despite being laden down with diaper bags, stuffed animals, a purse and a baby, when the nice lady behind the desk handed me the keys and four small paper bags with cookies, I was thrilled. I was a tad less thrilled when she said the word cookie as the four year old standing at my hip nearly started scaling me to get t said cookie.

After we made our way to our room (which I will amit was a bit confusing to find), dropped all the bags on the floor and sent my husband back to the car for the rest of the luggage, my son and I dove into our bags.

It was a little hard to eat at first. Since it was warm, it was falling apart in my hand. I love cookies, but hate when pulling a small piece off leaves my hands really messy. Nothing like trying to find a tissue in a brand new hotel room hile two kids who should be in be are running around trying to get in to everything. Especially when one of them has a similar melty cookie in his hand.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t get much of a chance to enjoy the cookie that night. Since there were two left (my husband didn’t want his and my daughter couldn’t have hers), I put them in the fridge, thinking we might eat them later.

I didn’t get around to thinking about them until three nights later. I was pretty sure they’d be stale, but to my surprise, not only were they not stale, but they still tasted fresh. Unlike a great many cookies, they were still soft and practically fell apart in my hands. The benefit of putting them in the fridge is that they weren’t at all messy.

What they were was tasty. I was nervous since they are chocolate walnut cookies and I don’t generally like walnuts, but the nuttyness was subtle and actually crunchy. My main complaint with walnuts in desserts is that they get all mushy and mealy. These nuts still had a slight crunch. While they didn’t contribute much flavor (they never really do), they gave the cookie just a slightly salty hint that blended well with the sweetness of the chips.

The chips were ample. I know this is going to sound odd, but I often don’t like when cookies are nothing but chips. This one wasn’t so jammed with them that I felt overwhelmed. I think the nuts really helped this. Instead, I got a bit of chocolate in each bite without just tasting chocolate.

While I won’t go sofar as to say I will only stay at DoubleTree hotels, I know that when I ask my mother-in-law (my official travel agent) to find us a place to stay for vacation, I might just ask her to check to see if there are DoubleTrees in the area. Any place that gives me free chocolate is ok by me.

Overall:

Taste: 8.5/10

Value: 10/10

Appearance: 8.5/10

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Filed under addictions, chocolate, food, motherhood, ramblings, travel, what makes me me