Category Archives: chocolate

Chocolate Monday: Hershey’s Gold Peanuts & Pretzels

Hershey's gold barWhile dropping off my daughter’s prescription at our local Kroger, I noticed a new candy display. It looked like a Hershey wrapper, but was a strange cream color I am not used to associating with Hershey’s. Low and behold, it was a brand new type: Hershey’s Gold. It claims to be a caramelized creme, which I’ve never really heard of, so I had to try it. Plus, it has peanuts in it, which is a big plus. Peanuts have always been one of my absolute favorite snack foods.

This bar also boasts pretzels and while I am not usually a huge fan of chocolate covered pretzels, when I was in college I worked at a knock off Hallmark store and we sold these amazing white chocolate pretzel candies that were very pointy and “cluster” looking, but that tasted like creamy dreamy heaven. Even though this bar claimed to be caramel and not white chocolate, I thought it might be similar, so I gave in.

Hershey's Gold pieceIf you’re looking for a strong caramel flavor, this isn’t the bar for you. It has caramel hints at best. And really, it just sort of has a milky, creamy, buttery flavor. It’s not really distinctly anything–except salty.

The salty, which comes mostly from the pretzels is not so overwhelming as to make it inedible, but it is strongly there. It kept catching me in the back of my mouth as I finished up each bite. The peanut bits combined with the pretzels add a nice crunch the bar, but not tons of peanuty flavor.

Aside from the pretzel (and again, the salt), none of the flavors really stand out. It’s just sort of a sweet and salty hodge podge. I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised at the back touts that “sweet meets salty, creamy meets crunchy.” And really, that is the best way to describe the bar. A sort of nondescript sweet and salty flavor. It’s not bad, but I find it a bit unsettling that I can’t describe it any better.

Overall:

Taste: 4/10
Appearance: 5/10 (I find the color a bit unsettling too)
Value: 4/10 (it was more expensive than its regular Hershey brethren, which I also find unsettling).

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Wildcard Wednesday: A Panera letdown

When I first met my husband, the Panera around the corner from his apartment was one of our favorite places to go. I liked that it was fast-ish food where I could get fresher, healthier options without completely breaking the bank. Although I had a full time teaching job at the time, I was living on my own paying rent at an apartment that was probably a bit more than I should have afforded, but I was already in the complex when my roommate deserted me and I was just thrilled they technically let me break the lease to move to a significantly cheaper one bedroom place right across the hall, so I didn’t complain.

As time has passed, our lives have gotten more stable and we’ve added kids to the mix, I find myself at Panera less and less. Tonight, my daughter had a Girl Scout meeting and although I’d had time to get a quick dinner for her, there was not enough time for me to eat and get her to her meeting on time. Since I had a ton of grading to do, I thought I’d take advantage of Panera’s soup and free wifi.

From the moment I walked in the door it was a series of unfortunate events. First there was quite a long line and only one person behind the counter. Of course, the moment it was actually my turn to order, another cashier came up to take orders.

“Just my luck,” I thought. But, I was in a pretty good mood and had time to kill, so who cared, right?

Then I tried to place my order. My squash soup was no problem, but the flatbread I wanted to accompany it was nixed. Apparently the panini press was broken, so no hot sandwiches were available. I tried not to be snarky when I asked, “so are there any sandwiches you can make?” It was a legit question as the only sandwiches I ever eat at Panera are always warm. I know there was an edge to my voice and I tried to push it down. The manager listed a few off and I picked the chicken salad.

When I went to pick up my order, the next snafu occurred. They were also out of baguettes to go with my soup. One of my favorite things about Panera is the ability to dip bread into my soup. It’s way better than crackers! I sighed and took my chips with a heavy heart. I tried to joke with the woman handing me my food, “it’s not a good day to order at Panera, is it?” She gave me a half-hearted smile and moved on.

I shrugged, resolved to still enjoy my meal and get some grading done. I went to fill my cup with diet Pepsi (blast!) and although soda filled my cup, my entire hand got sprayed with water that appeared to be leaking from the front of the diet Pepsi button. Try as I might to maneuver my hand so I could get soda in the cup and not ice water all over my hand, it was no dice. I calmly mentioned it to the manager (who’d heard all of my woes to this point) and he told me he knew of the problem and that he’d called Pepsi to get it fixed.

I tried to joke with him, “it seems like it’s a day where 5 million things go wrong, huh?”

In what I think was an attempt to make something go right, he came over and tinkered with the machine. He got it to stop spraying water, but not before my cup was full and my hand was drenched. He finally joked back, “what was that you said, 5 million problems? Well, I have one less now, so what does that make it?”

We jokingly did the math together, laughed a bit and then he went back behind the counter as I headed to my table.

The soup was good, the sandwich ok. My husband will like the chips. The meal was saved by the Kitchen Sink cookie, which I probably should not have eaten by myself, but I went to Zumba today. And damn…it was good!

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Chocolate Monday: Dream Dinners Scones

Dream dinners sconesDream Dinners has become an obsession of mine. For those who have not heard of this amazing place, it’s one of those meal prep places. You place an order for at least 12 meals and then schedule a time to come in and prepare all of the meals at once. They have everything chopped and all the measuring tools conveniently placed at each recipe station. Over the course of an hour or two, you follow the very simple step by step instructions, measuring everything into baggies, placing all those baggies into a bigger baggie, pop some cooking directions in and voila…easy to cook weekday meals that taste like you spent hours on them.

Although I was a bit skeptical about how much time going to Dream Dinners would actually save me and about the quality of the recipes, I am a complete convert. My least favorite part of cooking is all the slicing and dicing needed for meal prep, so the fact that this is all done for me is brilliant. I have no food waste and can spend extra time with my family each evening. It’s a complete win and worth the $5 or so a portion.

In addition to being a great time saver, a food waste reducer and a social outlet for me (I go each month with one of my best friends), Dream Dinners also has levels I can unlock, which makes it into a bit of a game for me. The more meals I prepare and review, the more points I earn. The more points I earn, the more freebies and fun stuff I get. As part of their November promo, not only did the meals I ordered earn me double prep points, but I also got a free package of their scones. Of course, in order to get the scones I had to purchase one extra meal,  but I as soon as I saw there were white chocolate raspberry scones, I was sold.

When I went to do my November meal prep, the scones were already in the package waiting for me. There were a dozen triangular pastries just waiting to be baked. I didn’t even have to thaw these bad boys, just preheat the oven, break them apart, put them on a cookie sheet and bake for 25 minutes.

The smelled heavenly.

I am a HUGE fan of scones. I have not only made my own super tasty strawberry scones from scratch, but also tried several different mixes for drop scones that I have really liked. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that the Dream Dinner scones were better than the mix scones and almost as good as my homemade ones. According to my husband, they were even better.

GRRRRR.

Seriously though, these little pastries are fantastic. The raspberry is the perfect blend of sweet and tart and quite clearly a mix of both raspberry jam and real raspberries. There are white chocolate chips throughout to help balance out the tart and add the perfect amount of creaminess. I love how mixing white chocolate with raspberries gives the perfect berries and cream taste. The scones are light and perfectly blended so they do not taste too doughy or too floury, which can be a real problem with scones. Texture wise they remind me of scones I’ve had at tea time in several small English tea shops on visits to London.

Everyone in my family adored them. I know that I will have to buy more of these and I may even branch out and try some of the other flavors. Although this one is so tasty it’ll be hard to convince myself to get a different one.

Overall:

Taste: 10/10
Appearance: 8/10
Value: 10/10–but only b/c they were free. I actually don’t know how much they are (and can’t find a price on the website), so the jury is still out on this one.

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Chocolate Monday: DeBrand’s Classic Collection

Debrand classicI know it seems like I cannot sing the praises of DeBrand’s Chocolate enough in my blog. The truth is that I cannot. I have fallen madly, hopelessly in love with it. It is some of the best chocolate I have ever had and I am beyond thrilled that they have opened up a store less than 15 minutes from my house. My wallet and my waistline may not be so happy down the line, but for now, I am giddy with excitement.

Although I’ve only been to the store once so far, while I was there not only did I pick up some of their amazing pecan caramels and a chocolate shortbread cookie, which I reviewed a few weeks ago, but I also put together my very own box of their classic collection. Although I have favorites among both their truffle and connoisseur collections, my heart truly belongs to their classic collection. The best part about having a store so near me is that I can go in and hand pick all of my favorites to ensure that there is never a chocolate I like but do not love–I’m looking at you mocha cream.

Looking at my box of goodies, it’s pretty clear that most of my picks are milk chocolate. That should not surprise anyone who reads my blog with any sort of regularity. I’m a milk chocolate girl. Still, I do have some absolute favorites in their dark chocolate collection as well, so I had to throw those in.

The first piece in my collection of 8 is their gourmet PB&J. This is a bit of an odd choice for me. As much as I love any combination of peanut butter and chocolate, the idea of throwing the jelly into the mix generally grosses me out. When I was younger, I had a few oddities I thought were quirky enough that they earned me bragging rights. One was that I did not eat pizza. The second was that I never threw up after drinking too much. The third, was that I’d never had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

The pizza thing died as soon as I went off to college. It’s not that I’d never had pizza or anything. My father just loved it so much that we ate it constantly and only sausage and green pepper pizza…two toppings I despise to this day. I got sick of pizza, so whenever they’d order pizza, I’d just eat breadsticks. However, my freshmen year of college several of my friends would buy cheap pizza from this place that delivered until 3 am and we’d sit in the study lounge, eat pizza and talk until the sun started to rise again.

I caved to the puking after drinking only once in my entire life and that was a bad, bad, bad night that I have almost no memory of. I won’t go into detail, but suffice it to say that when I mentioned getting a tad sick (and it was just a tiny, tiny bit), all of my friends realized I’d crossed some sort of line. It’s never happened since, which I still consider a sort of badge of honor.

As for the PB& J thing, I don’t really have a good reason for it. My mom never made them for me and I never asked for one. I’d never tasted one until I was 19. I had missed dinner in the dining hall due to a late class one night and the guy I was dating made me a sandwich. Since we were in the dorms, there wasn’t much on hand. He thought it was nuts I’d never had a PB&J so he made me one. I ate half of it out of politeness, but did not see the appeal and have never eaten one since.

However, somehow when it you take away the bread and cover it in chocolate instead, I find it appealing. It doesn’t hurt that this PB&J uses a very tart raspberry jam. Raspberry and chocolate is my weakness and this piece is an amazing blend of salty and sweet.

My second chocolatey delight was the caramel coconut. Despite being a dark chocolate piece, I find this one exciting because it is three tastes I love all rolled in to one. The caramel is speckled with little chunks of coconut which give it a perfect texture. The caramel is the ooey-gooey liquidy kind I love. While I do think it would be even better in milk chocolate–I’ve always been an Almond Joy gal, it’s still a solid offering. I like the little bits of coconut that stick in my teeth at the end, leaving me a bit longer to enjoy the piece.

debrand vanillaNext up was a version of one of my absolute favorites in life: vanilla buttercream. This one is pretty good. Not quite as thick as I usually like my vanilla creams, but still full of delicious vanilla flavor. I liked it, but it’s not my favorite in the collection.

Since I love caramels so much it’s really no shock that half of my custom box was full of caramels. Nor is it a surprise that I decided to try the Debrand caramel. Unlike their other caramels, this is not a liquid version. This is a straight up, super chewy block of caramel covered in creamy milk chocolate. The caramel is soft, creamy and perfectly sticky. I loved letting it slowly melt in my mouth. It’s not as good as their pecan caramels, but still really darn good. I love that it is more caramel than chocolate.

debrand rose caramelI immediately tried another caramel because really, is there such a thing as too much caramel? No, no there isn’t. This one is the rose carmella. I love the rose design on the top of this piece. The description says it is a liquid caramel with a hint of rose water. I’ll admit that I’ve never really had much rose water (or any flower flavored water), so I wasn’t sure I’d be able to pick up those hints. After all, I’m terrible when it comes to picking up fruity hints in beers and wines–I’m better with wines since they are already a bit fruity, but when a beer says it has hints of apricot or strawberry, all I ever taste is, well, bitter beeriness. Blech. This piece is definitely a liquidy caramel, which makes it an A+ in my book. Since it is also covered in sweet milk chocolate, I think the flowery hints do get a bit lost in the big picture. However, when I tried a taste of just the caramel, there was definitely a slightly perfumy taste to it, which I found interesting and kind of cool.

Peanut butter and chocolate is another personal favorite combination of mine. The only reason not to simply adore peanut butter and chocolate is if you are allergic to it. Otherwise, I am suspicious of anyone who doesn’t love the marriage of two of the most delicious flavors on earth. This piece is a salted peanut butter, which I think sounds even more intriguing. The peanut butter inside is super creamy and definitely just a little bit salty, which is fabulous. It’s so interesting because from a texture standpoint it reminds me of creamy peanut butter, but the extra saltiness to it makes me think of the far superior crunchy peanut butter. It also makes this piece a bit more savory than sweet, which I really like.

My second to last piece was a dark piece, but since it was a strawberry rhubarb caramel, I saved it for last. I was about 10 years old when I had my first piece of strawberry rhubarb pie. I was at the county fair with my aunt and we stopped in the Grange building to visit another aunt and uncle who happened to be volunteering. The Grange building was basically a big restaurant, so we decided to eat with my aunt and uncle. I couldn’t tell you what my main course was, but I grabbed a piece of strawberry pie and was super excited. It didn’t taste like the strawberry pie I was used to and when I mentioned it to my aunt, she told me about the addition of rhubarb. Even though I like the straight sweet of strawberry, the tart that goes with rhubarb became a new love for me. This caramel piece has that same, hit you in the back of the mouth, puckering effect of that first piece of fair pie. Once the initial wallop of the tart rhubarb subsides, there is a lovely undertone of sweet, sun-ripened strawberries. The caramel really just lends it a slight creamy texture. Honestly it is more rhubarb than anything else and that is 100% ok with me.

debrand raspberryMy final piece is my “best for last” piece: a milk covered raspberry. This piece is also available in dark, and in the last classic assortment I got from DeBrand, I got the dark chocolate version, which I really liked. So I was super excited to try their milk version. Even though tart raspberry is the way I enjoy dark chocolate best, I will always be a milk chocolate girl, so I had to try it. Oh my goodness! This is sheer, unadulterated goodness. It’s a raspberry cream, so while it has a bit of the velvetiness of a standard cream filling, it is also drenched in totally tart liquidy raspberry filling. It is a raspberry cordial filling to make Anne of Green Gables proud. I cannot heap enough praise on this piece and will go back again and again and again for it. I could easily buy a box with nothing other than this piece in it and be thrilled. Of course I would miss my other favorites too much, so I guess I’ll just have to keep saving this chocolate for last!

Overall:

Value: 10/10 (at $18 a box, each piece is $2)
Taste: 10/10
Appearance: 9/10

 

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Chocolate Monday: Condor Chocolates

Condor chocolates full boxOn my most recent trip to Athens, Georgia, my best friend and I stopped by Condor Chocolates. While we were there, not only did I get a very delicious dark chocolate brownie, but also a box of their 8 filled chocolates.

Condor is a cute, family owned chocolate shop founded by two brothers whose mother came from Ecuador, which is also where they get all their chocolate from.

Although I am not a big fan of dark chocolate, I always like to support local chocolate shops and every now and then I find a dark chocolate I really love, so I figured I had to give this chocolate collection a shot.

When I opened the box I thought the chocolates were all simply, but elegantly decorated. I had a moment of worry though–I wasn’t sure how I was going to tell the chocolates apart. It’s not like I could eat all 8 at once. Ok, that’s a lie, I could do it, but as it would make me sick, I knew I shouldn’t. So, when I opened the box a day later, the only one I was sure about was the raspberry chocolate. The little red dots on top, which look like individual raspberry seeds, was a dead give away.

Luckily I noticed the position of the raspberry in the box, right between a circular chocolate and one with what appeared to be a coffee bean on top. On the list of chocolates included in the box, there are 8 chocolates and the second row has a mayan, mocha, raspberry and spiced apple. The genius people at the chocolate shop put them in the box in the same order they are listed on the insert. I’m so glad I figured it out and that they have this clever system, otherwise I would have been lost.

Usually I’m a save the best for last kind of girl, but since I didn’t want to risk jumbling the chocolates and not knowing what I’d be tasting, I decided to eat them in order.

Condor bourbonMy first chocolate was the bourbon chocolate. Surrounded in dark chocolate, it definitely has a bitterness to it. However underneath that bitter dark is the distinct taste of slightly smokey, slightly sweet bourbon. It reminds me quite a bit of the center of my homemade bourbon balls. I’m not much of a bourbon girl, but I like bourbon balls. Especially because they always leave my mouth just a little tingly. So did this truffle. I felt like I’d just had a shot, only without the actual alcohol buzz.

Next up was the caramel truffle, which probably would’ve been my second to last treat if I was doing this in my usual order. But, as I was sticking to my chart, it became my second. I liked the little geodesic dome structure to it. It was sleek and fun. The dark chocolate on this piece is much more subtle, partially tempered by the very sweet caramel. It was not the usual buttery caramel I’m used to. It is definitely a liquid caramel, which is what I always prefer, but it was a mix of sweet with just a slightly savory hint. Salt-like, but not salty. I’m not sure quite how to describe it. I’m also not sure I really liked the actual caramel, which is a rarity for me. It was such a small piece, that it was hard to call it.

The dark chocolate was next for me and my first bite was definitely more than enough. It didn’t help that it had bits of dark chocolate nibs on the top and they scraped the roof of my mouth. For someone who loves dark chocolate, this is probably a dream piece, but I just couldn’t finish it.

Condor earl grayThe Earl Grey piece was a bit more my speed. I thought it was very pretty to look at. I love the bits of tea on top of it, especially the tiny purple beads. It didn’t have an overwhelming tea taste, but it did have tiny bits of tea leaves in it, which gave it texture. It reminded me of the few times I’ve eaten tea leaves by not straining properly. It did have a bit of a creamy taste to it, which reminded me a bit of putting milk in Earl Grey tea. Not my favorite, but I could definitely finish it.

 

 

Since I’ve had a few different chili chocolates, I figured the Mayan chocolate was going to have a spicy kick to it. This piece did not have a painful dose of spice–and I have had some that really have. One brand of chili chocolate I had was so spicy it made my eyes start to water. This one was more subtle. The center itself has a slight sweetness to it. The spicy doesn’t really hit until a few seconds after the bit is swallowed. There is a sort of lingering heat at the back of my throat and my tongue and cheeks have a slight tingle to them. Despite being a fairly dark piece, this is my favorite of the first five.

I was not at all excited about the espresso chocolate. I am not a coffee gal and anytime there is a coffee or mocha or espresso flavored chocolate, it’s usually the first chocolate I eat (if I don’t give it away), so that I can get it out of the way and move on to better, tastier chocolates. I do like the design on this one. It has some cute white “pearls” and a little coffee bean on top. Just from an aesthetic perspective, I find this one very appealing. If you are a coffee fan, this one is definitely for you. Surprisingly, I didn’t hate it. It definitely had not only the taste of coffee, but also a slight hint of crunchy coffee beans–even before I bit into the actual bean. It was actually creamy and fairly tasty…and not just for a coffee chocolate.

Condor raspberryThe raspberry chocolate was the next on my list. This was the one I was most excited about. I LOVE raspberries. In fact, my love for them is so deep that they actually helped me ease into dark chocolate. I attribute my biggest leaps in my tolerance of dark chocolate to Godiva’s raspberry cordials. This meant I had pretty high hopes for Condor’s raspberry chocolate. And those expectations were fairly well met. Although it didn’t have the liquidy raspberry center I love in a cordial, the center was VERY tart, which is my only real desire in a raspberry dark chocolate pairing. Unlike the rest of the the chocolates, this one has an added layer of what looks a bit like raspberry jam, which gives it that lovely, fruity, tarty sweetness. The bitterness of the dark chocolate is completely eclipsed by that super yummy raspberry. I love the little tiny bits of raspberry seeds in it too. While not quite as amazing as Godiva’s raspberry cordial, it is a close, close second. I actually saved the last bit of this truffle so it could officially be my last taste of Condor chocolate.

My final piece was the spiced apple. This one had a thinner layer of dark chocolate surrounding it, but had a surprising amount of bitterness to it. It also had quite a spicy bite. It reminded me a bit of eating Penzy’s pie spice right out of the jar. It was very heavy on the nutmeg and a bit too light on the apple for me. It wasn’t bad, but did not fulfill my hopes. It made me very glad I reserved that last bite of raspberry.

I enjoyed about half the pieces in this collection and truly loved one. When I go back to Condor on my next visit, and I will definitely go back, I’ll be a bit pickier about my selections. I’ll probably fill my box halfway full of raspberries. I may also have to try the gelato.

Overall:

Taste: 6/10
Appearance: 8/10
Value: 7/10

 

 

 

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Chocolate Monday: DeBrand’s pecan caramels and cookies

DeBrands caramel and cookieI feel in love with DeBrand chocolate last year when one of my seniors gave me a box of their Classic Collection as a thank you for writing her a college recommendation letter. That first box sparked me to buy a box of their truffle collection as well as their Connoisseur Collection. While I liked all three collections, the classic is, without a doubt, my favorite.

For my birthday my husband bought me a collection of their amazing tasting bars and I loved each one.

Last week I got one of their catalogs in the mail and I was pouring over some tasty treats I haven’t yet tried. High up on my wish list were their caramel collections. I also thought about ordering a box of some of my favorite individual classics. The only problem, in my opinion, with DeBrand is that the stores are located about two hours from my house, so shipping is my only real option and that gets pricey.

Then, on Thursday, one of my students mentioned that DeBrand had just opened a new location in Indianapolis. Not only did they have all of their chocolates on sale, but also ice cream and beverages. I knew this was a must for me, so this weekend I ventured in.

It was hard not to go crazy and buy everything in sight. However, since the store is now so close, I did my best to remember that I could come back whenever I wanted to, so I didn’t have to get it all. Still, it was hard not to.

On this first trip, I satisfied myself with a handpicked box of my favorites from the Classic Collection. I also grabbed my first box of their caramels and a chocolate butter cookie. I love the melty caramel centers in their Classic Collection and the semi-melty center in their caramel truffle, so I figured the caramels on their were a must.

The cookie was fun to look at and at only $1.25, it seemed like a great way to get some solid, unadulterated chocolate. The print on top of the cookie is the name of the company in several different fonts. The cookie itself reminds me of a fancy Fudge Striped cookie, which happens to be my favorite type of store bought cookie. The cookie is buttery and crumbly and and quite good on its own, although it is so covered in chocolate that it’s hard to get a bite of just cookie. The chocolate on top is rich and creamy. Together, they are a much improved version of my childhood favorite. I could definitely see getting addicted to these treasures.

debrand caramel with biteAs much as I enjoyed the cookie, I was blown away by the caramels. There are four varieties of caramels they sell. They have milk chocolate with sea salt, dark chocolate with sea salt, butter caramel (no chocolate) and pecan caramel. Since it seems the only way to find caramels these days is with sea salt, I opted to try something I see less often: pecan caramels. I’ll admit I was initially drawn to the very heavy coating of pecan dust on the top of the candies. It reminded me of butter toffee, one of my absolute favorite chocolate covered treats. Before I tried the actual caramel, I took a taste of the pecan dust that fell into the wrapper. The nuts were salted, giving them a decidedly savory taste, which made me happy. It seems I was going to get salted caramel after all.

What I was not prepared for was the actual pecan content of the caramel itself. I guess I figured the dusting on the top would be the whole of the pecan contribution. However, my first bite proved this wrong. When I looked at the inside of the piece, I was amazed to find it a virtual wall of pecans. Texture wise I couldn’t wrap my mind around it, because despite seeing chunks of pecans in front of me, what I tasted was a thick, creamy caramel with just a slight crunch to it. It was hardly even a crunch really. The nuts blended perfectly with the caramel, giving it a sinfully delicious nutty taste.

I’m usually not a huge fan of nuts in chocolate, but I am in LOVE with these. They are so darn tasty. I could easily eat the entire box of four in one sitting. Sure, I’d regret it later, but in the moment it would be bliss. I know it’s going to be hard to go back into DeBrand and try any of the other caramels since I love this one so much. But, thankfully, I will persevere.

Before I left the store, I did get a hot caramel, which was a fun take on the usual hot chocolate drink. It was very sweet, so I’m glad that I shared it with my daughter. While it’s not something I’d get every time, it was a fun change of pace that I’m glad I tried. My next visit will have to include not only more caramels, but maybe an ice cream sundae as well.

Overall:

Caramel Taste: 10/10
Caramel Appearance: 9/10
Caramel Value: 9/10–I know $3 per caramel is a bit steep, but they are large caramels and so damn good!

Cookie Taste: 8/10
Cookie Appearance: 9/10
Cookie Value: 10/10–At $1.25 per cookie, I think these are just about a perfect treat

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Chocolate Monday: Reese’s Crunchy cups

Reese's crunchy tower.jpgLast weekend when I was at Kroger doing my weekly grocery shopping, I happened down the candy aisle. This is nothing new. I always go down each and every aisle in the grocery store, in part to make sure I don’t forget anything, but also because I kind of enjoy grocery shopping. I pop in my headphones, listen to an audiobook and slowly meander down the aisles, taking time to ensure that I not only get everything off my list, but that I check out all the new items that might turn into great finds.

My most recent great find was in the candy aisle, which I usually just skim over. Sure, as I’m making my way through the aisle I am always careful to scan the fancy chocolate bar section to see if there is anything new and exciting I want to try (there always is), but I very rarely actually grab anything and put it in my cart. I usually have a chocolate backlog, so grabbing something off the Kroger shelf is never a priority. However, as my eyes were glancing over some of my childhood favorites, a bright yellow wrapper caught my eye.

I have always loved all things peanuty. As a kid, whenever my mom would take me to the grocery store, I would beg her for peanuts. If I was really lucky, she’s let me get a huge scoop of peanuts ,still in the shell, from the giant barrel in the produce department. As soon as we’d get home, I’d dump some in a bowl and hurry to my room to devour them as I read a book or played with my dolls. I would slowly suck all the salt off of the shell, then crack it open to reveal those two (or sometimes three) glorious little nubs of heaven!

It is no wonder that I have always preferred crunchy peanut butter. To this day, one of my absolute favorite treats is a spoonful of crunchy peanut butter. I don’t want bread mucking up the flavor. All I need is a spoon and a jar to make me happy.

About the only way to improve the taste of crunchy peanut butter is to combine it with chocolate. Which is exactly what my beloved Reese’s used to do. When I was a kid, I remember finding Reese’s Crunchy Cups everywhere. Then, all of a sudden, they disappeared.

Last Thanksgiving, when my husband and I were visiting the Hershey’s Chocolate World in Vegas, I was amazed to find my crunchy cups again…at least in miniatures. Not that it mattered to me. I grabbed a gift bag and filled it full of the precious golden nuggets. Sadly, even though I did my utmost to eat them slowly, they were quickly gone.

Reese's crunchy bag.jpgThen on Sunday, like some bit of Halloween magic, I looked on the shelf at Kroger, and there they were: an entire bag full of Reese’s miniature crunchy cups. I snatched those off the shelf.

The miniature cups are not as good as the full-sized cups. I feel this way about the regular Reese’s cups too. As much as I love chocolate, when it comes to peanut butter and chocolate, I always want more peanut butter flavor than chocolate flavor. Unfortunately in the mini cups, the chocolate is a bit overpowering. However, the added crunch of the bits of real peanuts in the cups, does help compensate for the extra chocolate. If you love crunchy peanut butter and you haven’t tried these, they are a must.

When I found these, I took a gander at the Reese’s website and it does appear they are bringing back the regular sized crunchy cups, so next time I go to the grocery store, my hope is I will find them at the check out line. My fear is that this will be like the honey peanut butter cups they brought back over the summer…here for a very limited engagement. I am not yet holding my breath, but as they are listed on the first page of the product website, I hope this means a permanent slot on the Reese’s main line up. They are certainly better than the dark or white chocolate varieties.

Overall:

Taste: 8/10
Appearance: 6/10
Value: 8/10

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