When I was a kid growing up in California, Ghiradelli was an every day name. No matter which grocery store my mom decided to visit, Alpha Beta, Vons or Ralph’s, at the check out line there would be a wonderful assortment of bright wrappers all with that familiar golden banner and eagle. As a kid my favorite was a bar with milk chocolate and raisins. I think it had a purple wrapper.
It wasn’t until I moved to the Midwest that I realized Ghiradelli wasn’t a household name. None of my friends had even heard of the confectioner, much less tasted any of their delectable goodies. For nearly 10 years those candy bars vanished from my life. Since I never saw them, I never thought of them. It wasn’t until a road trip to Vegas in my early 20’s that I stumbled upon a Ghiradelli candy shop. It was enormous (or so it seemed at the time) and was stocked from floor to ceiling with shiny wrappers, all beckoning to me. Unfortunately, I was finishing up my last semester of college, and since it was the indentured servitude known as student teaching, I was pretty broke. Instead of gobbling up just about every candy bar in sight, I had to settle for a few favorites.
After that trip, Ghiradelli once again disappeared from my life. It wasn’t until several more years that I stumbled upon bags of individually wrapped squares available at World Market. Fairly shortly after, I noticed similar, non-holiday flavored bags of chocolatey squares showing up on the shelves of Targets and finally once again at the corner grocery store. However, like all things from my childhood there’d been some changes. First off, the raisin bar had been discontinued. Second, I could no longer get candy bars anymore. Sure, I could get the squares, and they were great, but I liked finding the bars in the check out line right next to the Hershey’s bars (and not the King Sized ones either, just regular ol’ standard-sized bars). Now, it seems when I do find Ghiradelli, it’s either bite sized morsels or huge triple serving “tasting bars.” Granted, both will do in a pinch, but I do find myself waxing nostalgic every now and again.
Two weeks ago my husband and I took our kids to Disney World for the first time. It’d been just over 10 years since we’d been and I’m not sure who was more excited, our kids or myself. I think it actually might have been me (in all fairness, I knew the wonders they were about to embark on). We decided to keep this trip really casual. We had hotel reservations and tickets for four days at the parks, but other than that, we didn’t make any reservations or specific plans. Rather than get all stressed out over schedules, we let the kids wants and schedules guide us. Sure, it meant that we skipped Tower of Terror and Space Mountain, but we also avoided huge lines and everyone had a pretty darn swell time.
While looking over the guidebook during my daughter’s nap one day, I glanced at a map of Downtown Disney. To my eternal happiness, I spotted a Ghiradelli shop. I knew I had to go. I casually mentioned to my husband that since we weren’t going back to a park that night, it might be fun to take the river taxi from our hotel (Port Orleans) to Downtown Disney just to see what they had. I never once let on that I was dying to go to the chocolate shop, but luckily, he was all for the trip, so after a great romp in the pool, we took off.
While we definitely had a nice dinner and some fun shopping, the highlight for me was the Ghiradelli shop. Not only did they hand out samples of their pumpkin spice squares (very pumpkiny with a lovely hint of nutmeg and cinnamon), but they also had two new bars I really wanted to try (they will be reviewed very soon as I haven’t had the chance to try the coconut bar yet). But, more importantly, they had both ice cream and milk shakes. I was over the moon! I jumped in line and ordered the Sea Salt Caramel Banana Quake Shake, sans banana. It was heaven. Despite the fact that I could barely get it through the straw because it was so thick, everyone in my family was vying for tastes. I ended up sharing way more than I wanted to. If you are ever at an ice cream shop, I highly suggest it. Sure, it was about $7, but it was worth every delightful gulp.
As I was getting ready to leave, glass of manna in hand, I noticed jars of ice cream topping on a rack. I immediately yanked the one labeled fudge caramel sauce off the shelf and headed right back to the counter. Because we were at Disney and I had no way to heat it up (or ice cream to try it on if I did), I had to wait over a week to actually taste it, but the wait was worth it!
The sauce is really thick. So thick, in fact, that it has to be spooned out and placed into a bowl in order to be warmed up. After about 15 seconds in the microwave (I didn’t have the patience to follow the directions and heat it on the stove), it slowly poured over the side and directly on top of my vanilla ice cream. Warning: a little of this goes a long way. It is super rich and velvety. It only takes about a tablespoon to cover an entire bowl, but since I put too much on the ice cream, I had the job of eating straight caramel fudge, which I’m certainly not complaining about. It definitely had the thicker, slightly chewy consistency of caramel, although the flavor was far more fudgy. I only got tiny hints of caramel every now and again. Still, it was so lip-smackingly good, I’m not complaining that its real caramel claim is textural. All I know, is that I want another bowl….or 10.
Overall for the shake:
Value: 8/10 (like I said, it was pricey, but so very delicious)
Overall for the fudge caramel sauce:
Appearance: 4/10 (nothing special about the way it looks at all)
Value: 8/10 (at $10 per jar, it’s a bit pricey, but it’s also hard to find and TASTY!)