June 2012

Kraft Cinnamon Bun and Chocolate Marshmallows

After yesterday's experiment with toasted coconut marshmallows, I guess I was primed for more dessert marshmallows, because a bag of each of these beauties leaped into my cart. Both bags are eight ounces, same as the toasted coconut marshmallows, but these offer smaller marshmallows so you get more in terms of number. The smaller size also makes them a little easier to eat.

The wrappers on both of these espouse odd, somewhat awkward suggestions for what to do with the things. Make flavored Rice Krispy Treats, dunk them in chocolate; the usual. I guess "cram them into your mouth one by one like the little piggy that you are" probably wouldn't look very good, although it would certainly qualify as "truth in advertising."
Chocolate Marshmallows (pictured above)
The single strangest thing about these is that I am pretty sure the outside of the bag is chocolate scented. I could smell chocolate just pulling them out of the grocery sack, but when I squeezed the bag it didn't deflate (meaning that the smell wasn't from a puncture in the bag). Sniffing the outside of the bag definitely gets you the strong smell of chocolate. And my pantry released poofs of chocolate scent every time I opened the door. 

Kraft Toasted Coconut Marshmallows

I was skimming the baking ingredients aisle for something else when my eye fell upon a bag of fancy marshmallows. "GREAT FOR SNACKING!" the package proclaims.

"I will take that bet," I thought.
Fancy marshmallows are all the rage these days, if you hadn't noticed. Marshmallows are the new cupcakes, the new cake pops. Square cut, artisanal marshmallows produced by hand in small batches: it's the new hipster dessert. 
The last time I was at a Metropolitan Market in Seattle I noticed a display of fancy pants marshmallows. I was tempted to try them, until I did a quick bit of math and realized they were priced at about $1.10 per marshmallow. No thank you sir!

Werther's Originals Sugar Free Caramel Coffee Hard Candy


The newest crop of sugar free candy has some real stand-out stars. When I reviewed sugar free Jolly Ranchers, I mentioned that I would not be able to tell them from the original - and in fact, I actually prefer the sugar free version in several different respects. The same is not quite true of these Werther's Originals, but nevertheless, they are remarkably good.

I'm trying to resist the urge to make a joke about old people and Werther's Originals and how obviously they would come out with a sugar free candy, because DIABEETUS. I bet Werther's Originals gets tired of people thinking of its candy as something that old people eat. And I like their candy, even though I am not a senior citizen. But at any rate: there you have it. These are perfect for your diabetic Nana.
Sugar free candy really was the "short end of the stick" for so many decades. But these are more than passable, they are actually pretty tasty. They have two things going for them: the coffee flavor, which camouflages a lot of potential flavor problems, and the inclusion of real butter and cream. 

Jolly Rancher Sugar Free Hard Candy

I actually like these better than the original.

Sugar-free candy has undergone a real revolution in the last few years. Although the old school, chemical-tasting sugar free candies are still in abundance, many candy manufacturers are bringing new, reformulated sugar-free versions of their candy to market. 

The cynics in the audience may mutter that the candy companies are simply capitalizing on a market share that they created in the first place: overweight Americans suffering from Type II diabetes. In the same way that companies like R.J. Reynolds also produce smoking cessation aids like nicotine gum and nicotine patches.
I am unable to counter these charges, except to say, "Yes, and?" The world keeps on spinning, you know?

Cinnamon Bears: The candy that bites back

Hurts so good!

There is a small sub-set of candies which are as much an exercise in masochism as anything else. Cinnamon bears definitely fall into that category. Depending on the brand, they can vary from "pleasantly spicy" to "downright painful." 

When I was in high school, there was a brief fad for cinnamon oil. Kids would bring little vials of cinnamon oil to school, dab it on a toothpick, and suck on the toothpick during class. Then it turned into a "quien es mas macho" game, where you dared each other to ingest more and more of the stuff until someone finally cried "uncle."

Skittles Riddles

As tasty as they are pretty!

Skittles is one of the few candy companies out there which consistently makes an effort to frequently release new flavor mixes. They don't always land right, but I applaud the effort. What a boring world it would be if every candy only came in one variety, and you never got anything new.
In this case, their newest release is almost more like a work of conceptual art than an actual candy. Called Skittles Riddles, the only riddle is which flavor matches up with which color. That's right: watermelon might be red! Punch might be blue! DUDE WHOA.
This brings me to my next topic, which is that I'm pretty sure Skittles is making a concerted attempt to corner the "high school and college age stoners" demographic. You have seen their bizarre ads, I trust. And now consider that their big gimmick is mixing up the flavors and colors. And now finally I submit my final article of proof: their website. 

Reese's No-Bake Dessert Bar Mix

Do I feel that I got my $1.48 worth? I do. Would I buy it again? Probably not.


Let's not mince words: this is food for stoners and latchkey children. If you need a peanut butter and chocolate fix RIGHT NOW but your dorm room doesn't have an oven and you don't own your own eight inch square pan, or if your parents let you use the microwave but not the stove, then this is the treat for you. 
Any time a dessert mix comes with its own pan, you're kind of in trouble. I say "kind of" because this sort of thing certainly has its place. I remember when I was starting out, my first year in college, I had access to a stove but I didn't have any kitchenware. Nor did I have any money to buy some. (If I knew then what I know now, I would have just gone to a thrift store and bought a bunch of stuff, because "used" Pyrex dishes really are perfectly fine.)

A simple Boston Cream Pie

I was invited to a birthday party last night, and of course, I was asked to bring a cake. My friends know that I will always bake a cake, rather than buying one from the store. The cakes I usually create are completely made from scratch, but I felt a bit lazy yesterday. Instead, I used a boxed cake mix and some creativity to come up with an amazing Boston Cream Pie.


Yes, I am aware that the cake that follows is not a "true" Boston Cream Pie, but it tasted pretty darn good. Don't knock it until you try it.