May 2012

Licorice Rips and Rips Whips

Summer candy!

I spotted these candies on sale in the "summer stuff" aisle at my grocery store. I was intrigued, even though the Rips are manifestly a sour candy, and sour stuff isn't my favorite. These are two forms of licorice produced by the Foreign Candy Company - sister foods, if you will. 
Having tried them both, my only real complaint is that they play fast and loose with the definition of the word "licorice." Licorice originally referred to an extract from the root of Glycyrrhiza glabra, the Licorice plant. Then it referred to the rubbery candy made with that extract. Then it came to refer to anything with a taste similar to the original plant, most often meaning anise. That's how it made the jump to the familiar black jelly bean, which bears only a passing resemblance to the original flavor, color, or ingredients of the original.

The best cake fillings

When you ask most people what their favorite cake flavor is, they will reply with chocolate, yellow or carrot. Sure, all of these flavors are delicious, but there is so much more to cake besides the spongy delight. The icing and filling are also crucial to the success of a tasty cake.

Personally, I'm not a huge fan of frosting. Please don't tell my husband. That's his favorite part. I prefer to experiment with differing fillings to put between the layers.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Safeway Select Lemon Coconut Gourmet Sandwich Creme Cookies

I'm pretty sure these are the sandwich cookies they serve you in Heaven.

I feel a little bad about having picked on Safeway Select ice cream in my last post. Part of my outrage was fueled by the fact that I was genuinely surprised it was so bad. Because as a rule, in my experience, the Safeway Select (their "black label" house brand) stuff is SO GOOD. And these cookies are no exception.
Even after reading the description on the box, I still wasn't really sure what I was buying. But it sounded good, so I snapped them up and headed for the register. Here is what the box says: "Light lemon crème between two delicate coconut cookies topped with toasted coconut crumbles."

Safeway Select Mini Ice Cream Tubs

Go for the premium stuff instead


You might be surprised to hear it, but I do not have the best eating habits. I also do not really have a functioning freezer (I live in a cabin equipped with just a mini fridge). So if I want ice cream, I have "no choice" (this is me using "air quotes") but to eat the entire unit right then and there. 
Now, in my defense, a pint of ice cream is about equivalent to what you would get in a Blizzard from Dairy Queen, and people eat those things all the time. Also, I know for a fact that I am not alone in this experience of eating an entire pint of Ben & Jerry's at one sitting. Also, I only buy ice cream once or twice a year because gross.

Archer Farms Tiramisu

Not worth the $6

I had high hopes for my last visit to Target. They have that whole "store in a store" deal going, and one of their featured boutiques is a candy store. Well, too bad for me, because the offerings were A) pretty typical stuff (like Jawbreakers) and B) super expensive due to fancy packaging. I don't need a tiny glass apothecary jar for my candy, especially not if it brings the price up to $6 for a small handful of Jawbreakers.
Dejected, I cruised down to the frozen food section. The last time I went to Target I bought an Archer Farms cheesecake, and I was shocked at how good it was. This time my hand hovered over the cheesecake, then - despite my better judgment - reached for the Archer Farms tiramisu instead.
It's so easy for tiramisu to go wrong. And Archer Farms managed to hit pretty much every low point.

Time for some berry delicious treats

Summer is finally here, so it's time to start making some sweet treats just for the season. What sort of desserts come to mind when you think about summer? For me, it's all about using seasonal berries in my baking. It's the only time of year when you can find these berries fresh and ripe at the local grocery store. Stock up and get ready for some tart and tangy desserts.

Crows Candy: Probably Not Racist?

(Not anymore, anyway.)
I think for a lot of people beyond a certain age, the vision of a cartoon crow with a top hat and cane is inextricably going to be tied to the thought of those cartoon crows in Disney's classic movie "Uncle Tom's Cabin." Those racist, racist crows.
The idea of a racist depiction of a crow is tied up in the concept of "Jim Crow." The Jim Crow laws enacted racial segregation in the United States from 1876 to 1964. Jim Crow laws were responsible for "whites only" water fountains, black people not being allowed to eat at the Woolworth's counter, black people having to sit at the back of the bus… all of that horribleness falls under the name Jim Crow.

Hostess Zingers

If you have ever eaten a Twinkie and thought "I wish these were more sweet" then the Zinger is for you.

With the much declared death of Hostess, the implication is that you should stock up on Hostess goods and get them while you can. Personally, I'm skeptical - the Hostess brand name has far too much value, I think, to just lapse quietly into history. Someone will buy it and keep cranking out Twinkies, I'm certain of it.
But nevertheless, I thought it might be a good idea to try a Zinger, just in case.
I'm not a fan of artificial fruit stuff in general, which is why I have always avoided Zingers in the past. Why buy a Zinger, I always thought, when you can get a perfectly good Ho Ho or Ding Dong or - if you're really lucky - Chocodile? Even a regular Twinkie is, to my mind, somewhat preferable to a Zinger. 

Chuckles Candies

Difficult to find, but worth the hunt!
Chuckles are one of those old-timey candies that you can still find, although you have to go hunting for them. I buy mine at the hardware store in the next town over, where they stock them up by the register. I also sometimes find them at Walmart, sold in a big plastic tub. (Has anyone ever complained of having too many Chuckles?)
If memory serves, way back in the dawn of time, Roger Ebert claimed that he was able to discern the flavor of each Chuckle in the dark. Gene Siskel (that's how long ago this was) scoffed at Ebert's claim. One day Ebert was put to the test blindfolded, and passed with flying colors. That's my recollection, in any case - I can't find any info about it online.