March 26, 2007

Candy Review Monday: Mazapan De la Rosa

This week's candy is Mazapan De la Rosa, described on the package as "the authentic Mexican-style marzipan candy." And the candy is indeed made in Mexico. I found it at Wal-Mart, which I know is evil and I shouldn't shop there, but whatever, I've accepted the fact that I'm a horrible person sometimes.

The package contains 8 little individually-wrapped circles of candy. Each one weighs 1 ounce. The plastic wrapping has a rose on it and the whole thing is really quite pretty. I like that they're individually wrapped. If they weren't the whole thing would just be a mess of peanut crumbles.

Mazapan has just three ingredients: sugar, peanuts, and the ever-nebulous artificial flavors. The candy itself is in a smooth circle, and each one I've eaten has broken in half when I opened the plastic. It's very dry and crumbly overall, and the texture is a bit paste-like when you dissolve it in your mouth. There are little flecks of peanuts every once in a while, which is nice. It's very sweet and peanutty, but not like peanut butter - it actually tastes like peanuts. It reminds me of a dry peanut butter fudge more than any kind of marzipan I've had. However, like peanut butter, it sticks to the roof of your mouth like crazy. This candy requires a beverage to go with it.

I like it. I bought it on a whim because it was cheap (I think $1.99) and vegan and kind of pretty. And because I love peanut brittle, peanut butter, peanut butter fudge, peanuts themselves, and any derivative thereof. I'm going to give it an 8/10, because it's a unique product here in the states, and because it's something I'd actually buy again. Each little circle has 134 calories, 5 grams of fat, 2 grams of protein, and 14% of the RDA of calcium. I thought the calcium part was especially interesting. Not bad for candy.


March 20, 2007

Belated Candy Review Monday: Simpsons Fruit Snacks

I was at Five Below a few weeks ago, looking for interesting candy, and I had to get these. I love me some fruit snacks, but often they have gelatin in them. Plus: Simpsons! And only a dollar. You can't lose.

Or so I thought.

Straight up, these are foul and disappointing. First, they aren't shaped like Simpsons characters. I totally thought they would be, and that made me pretty sad. I wanted to eat a little vegetarian Lisa. What they are shaped like is fruit. There are six kinds: orange, lemon, cherry, grape, green apple, and strawberry.

They taste like waxy nothing. Honestly. Here's the run down:

Cherry: It's like someone put a single drop of cherry cough syrup in a vat of fruit snack mix and called it a flavor.
Green Apple: The best texture of all of them. It's plumper, softer, and not as waxy. However, it tastes like a watered down jolly rancher.
Lemon: Lemon things are always my favorite, so I was hoping this one would be okay. It's not. Before I went vegan I used to get those honey-lemon cough drops, and I guess this kind of tastes like that. If you're tasting it from 3 months ago.
Orange, Grape, and Strawberry: These should all be shaped like some kind of magical nothing-fruit, because seriously, they are so non-flavored that the only reason you can taste any difference at all between them is because you brain sees something shaped like a strawberry and tries desperately to create a strawberry taste for you so that the universe doesn't collapse into itself

I'm calling it a 2/10. I'm throwing the box away. And I totally wasted that dollar. The only reason these don't get a 1 or a 0 is because I wasn't actually dry heaving afterward.


March 12, 2007

Candy Review Monday: More Ritter Sports!

Ritter Sport Peppermint

I've heard so much about these, but I could never find them anywhere. So after last week's review, when Lindsay from vegan chai offered to send me one, I jumped at the chance to try it. And now I can say with complete convinction that this is the most fantastic chocolate mint bar I've ever had and that it's a damn shame it's not widely available in the US.

Inside those little squares of chocolate is a smooth, fresh, delicious minty paste of some kind that I would like to eat entire bowls of. It's a generous amount, too; when I broke the bar apart and only saw those little stripes of white, I was a little disappointed. But then I bit into one and found a big well of the stuff, so I was happy again. Honestly, it's just like a peppermint patty - only so much better. Whoever is responsible for importing Ritter Sport products needs to remedy this situation, stat.

This one gets a 10/10 from me. I may cry when I finish this bar, just for lack of being able to get another one. Plus the german name is really fun to say. Pfefferminz!

Ritter Sport Dark Chocolate

This is a really mild dark chocolate. It almost tastes like milk chocolate to me, actually. It's very smooth and sweet, but still has more depth of flavor than the milk chocolate that I remember. I don't have much else to say about this bar; it's simple and very good. It would be a good "starter" dark chocolate for people who aren't crazy about the really dark stuff, because it's not bitter at all.

This one gets a 10/10 as well, because even though it's not breaking any new ground in terms of flavor or novelty factor, it's a really good, highly munchable chocolate bar that I will definitely get again.

I am officially a big fan of Ritter Sports. They rock. They're cute and delicious, and the square shape and little chunky nuggets of chocolate make me feel like I'm playing with edible blocks. Go Ritter Sport!

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March 09, 2007

Cupcakes x 2

These tasty little morsels are rootbeer float cupcakes, and they're actually surprisingly true to life as far as the flavor goes. I don't drink soda too often, but when I do I love rootbeer - so these were awesome for me. The cake is moist and a little airy, and the frosting is sweet and creamy. Yum.

The recipe is here, courtesy of the ever-awesome Bittersweet. I sent most of these to work with my boyfriend last week and they were a bit hit. I followed the recipe for the most part, with just a few changes. I subbed applesauce for some of the oil, halved the frosting (I still had plenty), and left off the ganache drizzle because I was feeling lazy. Mine didn't rise too high, but they didn't sink, either - always a plus. I think I under-filled my muffin tins a little bit, though, because I got 15 cupcakes instead of 12. No one complained about the extras.

These are less exciting but just as delicious. Golden vanilla cupcakes with chocolate buttercream, both recipes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. I made them to take to class today, because college students are excellent for getting rid of excess baked goods. These were excellent, and well-loved by all. We are by and large a bunch of geeks, so the Spiderman wrappers went over particularly well.

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March 06, 2007

Recent Joanna Tester Recipes

Lemon "Butter" Rice and Roasted Roots. The rice is really nice and flavorful and goes perfectly with a lot of things. The roasted veggies were a nice change from my standard method and re-heated well too.

Chana Masala! Oh, how I love pretty much any incarnation of this dish. Joanna's recipe is super easy and really tasty.

Sesame Green Beans with leftover Roasted Roots and - yes! - hoisin-glazed baked tofu. I ate tofu! For real. And I didn't hate it. We're making progress. Those sesame green beans are SO good, and I don't usually care for sesame-flavored things.

March 05, 2007

Candy Review Monday: Ritter Sport Dark Chocolate with Marzipan

Before Friday I had only ever seen Ritter Sports online. These square German candy bars aren't available at any health food or grocery stores in my area, but while I was at the farmer's market I spotted them in a display case at a German deli. I'd never even given the place a second look before, since they mostly sell meat and other extremely non-vegan items. But the lure of bright red packaging and the promise of chocolate covered marzipan were too much to resist; I plunked down $2.50 and then ran back to a produce stand to try and get the meat smell out of my nose.

Of course yesterday I was at Target and I saw the very same bar (and the plain dark chocolate variety, which I'll review another time) for less than $2. Damn.

It's a nice-looking bar. I like the square format. It's chunky and cuter than the standard rectangular bar shape. The little squares snap apart easily and without much mess. The chocolate is glossy and smooth, with a nice little Ritter Sport logo stamped into the top of each square. The marzipan is a creamy color that contrasts nicely with the dark chocolate.

But the real question is, of course: how is it? Quite good, I have to say. The chocolate is creamy and pretty sweet for a dark chocolate. It melts nicely on your tongue. The marzipan itself is a bit crumbly and not terribly sweet or overwhelmingly almondy. When you pop a square into your mouth you mostly taste chocolate, but as you chew the marzipan flavor becomes stronger. I'd say it lends more texture than any pronounced taste, though. My favorite squares were around the edges, where the chocolate to mazipan ratio was a little skewed toward the chocolate side of things.

I'd give this bar an 8/10, because it's very tasty and pretty unique as far as candy bars go. I liked it enough to pick up another one at Target. But I like marzipan; when I had my boyfriend try it, he didn't care for it very much. I think it goes without saying that if you don't like marzipan, you won't like this bar. But if you do, definitely give it a try.

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March 04, 2007

Whole Wheat Bagels

Earlier in the week I tried my hand at making bagels. I used to work in a bagel shop and I have a pretty deep love for the big, doughy, carb disasters we call bagels. I never buy them, though, because they're always insanely high in calories and full of white flour, which I try to avoid when I can. But when I ran across this recipe for homemade bagels while sorting through my bookmarks, I had to give the whole wheat variation a try. I followed the recipe pretty exactly, except I'm out of agave so I just stuck with sugar.

They were fun to make - boiling bread dough is a weird experience. Next time I make these (and there will be a next time) I'll knead the dough in my bread machine, because I really am not a fan of kneading and I don't think I did it quite long enough. Even so, they turned out pretty well. I made four plain and four with an everything topping (poppy seeds, sesame seeds, dried onion and garlic, and sea salt). They were nice and soft right out of the oven, but the next day they weren't as great. There's a reason bagels are made fresh every day. They don't stand the test of time very well. Next time I'll pre-slice and freeze them the day they're made.

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