Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Cool Christmas Gingerbread Thing

Over the last few weeks I've been posting various gingerbread house gadgets that help you make the perfect gingerbread house.  Some might argue that cookie cutters that cut the perfect shaped house pieces, or anything else that helps you make the perfect house might be cheating.  Frankly, I've been on the line about that, in some ways I think it's great to have a gadget to help you make a better gingerbread house.  However I understand that some purists might see the harm in not using your hands, and making a few mistakes, so you can learn how to build your very own cookie built architectural dream house.  Today's gadget on the other hand pushes things way too far.  I think if you're going to build a gingerbread house, it's probably cheating to have a cake pan that's chapped exactly like the gingerbread house.  While I can see the fun in using this mold to make a house out of cake or Jello, I think if you plan on using this mold for any kind of cookie like house, you're cheating.

CC

Monday, December 15, 2014

This Week In Candy

Today is the first day in a few weeks that I feel like myself.  I had a two week long cold that didn't knock me out, but it made me feel pretty tired every day.  But candy news and fun waits for no cold, and I spent the two weeks working on all kinds of fun things.  First of all, I had a quick 4 day weekend in Dubai, I took lots of pictures, and sampled a few fun candies.  I'll have a full write up on the trip later this week.

Recently, we also posted a question on Twitter to a few famous chefs, we asked them "What's the best candy to cook with?".  Overwhelmingly chocolate and cocoa ranked number one on the list.  Many of the chefs commented on how well chocolate works in both sweet and savory dishes.  Second favorite seemed to be candied fruit, which can also be used for many different savory and sweet dishes as well.  Probably the most surprising answer I got was the suggestion of using Red Hots candy in savory cooking.  I could see how it might work, but I think it would be a really tough challenge.

Also, all this week and last week we've been telling you guys about some of the cool candy themed t-shirts and greeting cards we have available at our store.  They make a great gift for any candy fan in your family, and all the profits go to keep this site up and free.

This week on Snack Facts, we're looking at the most famous of all Christmas candies, the candy cane.  We have a new candy cane fact going up every day on our Instagram feed.  If you don't use Instagram, you can also find the snack facts on our Twitter and Facebook feeds as well.

Finally, in continuing our line of holiday themed candies this month, today's new review is of a classic holiday chocolate that I would often find under the tree this time of year.  While the chocolates themselves don't really have a holiday theme, they're very much tied to the holidays for me.  Click here to read our Quality Street review.

CC


Friday, December 12, 2014

Candy In The Media



Man this is a depressing song.  I've learned two things about Dolly Parton listening to this song.  First of all she really gets sad around Christmas time, I mean she's really not that happy at all.  Secondly, I get the feeling that like many people, Dolly Parton does not like hard Christmas candy.  I wonder if she had the same experience as I did.  When I was a kid my mom would put out hard candy at Christmas and most of it wouldn't be touched, then it would sit in the bowl for months, forgotten. Eventually I'd be desperate enough to try and eat some but by then it would have hardened into a solid lump. I'd try and break pieces off, and I'd inevitably cut myself on the hard candy scaring my hands and my interest in Christmas candy forever.

(Thanks to Mark for his song suggestion)

CC

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Cool Christmas Gingerbread Thing



This seems like something that could be old fashioned, but it might be modern as well.  When I was a kid, and my grandmother used to make a gingerbread house, but she didn't use any kind of cookie cutter, she used a knife and some cookie based architectural skills.  This cookie cutter on the other hand looks like something she would own, but I'm not sure that they had gingerbread house cookie cutters in my grandmother's day.  So I'm asking any cookie historians out there, are gingerbread cutters a new thing, or have they been unearthed in great pioneer settlement archaeological digs?  Was my grandmother a classic baker, or was she just too cheap to buy cutters?

CC

Monday, December 08, 2014

This Week In Candy

As you read this post I'm presently somewhere in Dubai.  I'm not sure where, but hopefully I've managed to post a few pictures of some of the treats I've discovered and keep any sand out of my ice cream.  So what does this mean for things at candycritic.org this week?  Well the new review is going to be a little bit delayed.  I should be back soon, and I'll try and post it as soon as I get back.  Also next week I'll be sure to post something about this trip, as I'm sure Dubai has some fun and tasty sweet treats.

If my internet connection holds out, then the Snack Facts posts should be going up as usual.  This week we're looking at chocolate, a topic near to my heart right now since I'm presently working on a book about the history of chocolate.  I've decided to share a few quick facts that I've picked up researching this book.  As always you can follow Snack Facts on Instagram, and if you don't do Instagram you can also see the posts on our Twitter or Facebook feeds.

Our other posts this week will all be about Christmas/the Holidays, because it's one of the best times of year to talk about food.  Candy, and snacks have been an important part of my holiday seasons, and I'm always excited to see what the big red man has left me to munch on.  In our Cool Candy Things post I'm continuing to post about awesome gingerbread things.  For Candy In The Media all this month I'm looking at famous Christmas songs that feature candy or sweet treats.

Sorry no new review today, but I'll let you know when it's up later this week.

CC

Friday, December 05, 2014

Candy In the Media



In an attempt to merge this week's two main themes, Cadbury and Christmas, I searched out Cadbury Christmas commercials.  What I found was pretty interesting.  As it turns out last year was the first time Cadbury had ever produced a commercial for the holiday season.  They've been using print advertising for Christmas for a very long time, as shown by this example:
But this was the first time that they ever produced a commercial for television with a Christmas theme in the more than 180 years that the Cadbury company has been in existence.  You have to give them some credit, television hasn't been around for 180 years.  The first television transmissions didn't start to happen until the 1930s, about 80 or 90 years ago.  Still, Christmas advertising has been a big thing on television for a long time, and it's taken Cadbury, one of the most important global candy brands, many years to come up with a Christmas advertisement.

CC

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Cadbury Proof - Part 2

Photo by Adam Montpetit www.behance.net/amontpetit
Almost 5 years ago I posted a blog about the purchase of Cadbury by Kraft (You can read it here).  I said in this post that I would save a Dairy Milk wrapper that was purchased when Cadbury wasn't owned by Kraft, then in one year I would compare the bars and see if there were any changes made.  Life got in the way and I wasn't able to write the article in one year.  Then after having moved several times, I lost the wrapper.  However, after having moved again recently, I was going through my file drawer and I came across the Dairy Milk wrapper from almost 5 years ago.  It reminded me that I should check up on how Cadbury/Kraft was doing.  See if they've made any great advancements, as well as check to make sure they're not lowering their standards in any way.
Since I'm not living in Canada right now, the place where I bought the original bar, I had to ask around and see if anybody would be willing to help me out by purchasing and photographing a Dairy Milk bar for me in Canada.  Fortunately my friend Adam (check out his awesome photo website here) was happy to oblige.  Probably both to help, and also to have an excuse to eat some chocolate after his photo shoot.  The first picture on this post is of the current state of the Dairy Milk bar in Canada, the photo directly above is of the wrapper from almost 5 years ago.  The wrapper itself has gone through a bit of updating, but I must say not much.  The two glasses of milk are still there, and the logo is almost exactly the same.  The colour of the package may have changed a bit, but that could also be a lighting thing.  The Dairy Milk font has changed a little, and the biggest change is the addition of the giant chocolate jug.  So far this is fairly promising.
Photo by Adam Montpetit www.behance.net/amontpetit
Upon comparing the ingredients, I'm happy to report that the order that they appear is still the same, and there appears to be little or no change to the ingredients.  This doesn't mean that there is definitely no change at all.  Companies are required to list what ingredients are in a bar, not how much of each ingredient is in a bar.  That means that notionally they could lower the amount of cocoa in the bar, and keep the wrapper the same.  The only reason they would have to change the package is if the change affected the ratio of ingredients.  The ingredients are listed from most found in the bar to the least.  So the amount of cocoa would have to change to the point where there was either less cocoa than soy lecithin, or more cocoa than cocoa butter for a change to be required.

I'm also happy to report that they haven't changed the size of the bar either.  I've traveled around and seen "updated" Dairy Milk bars in the shapes of bubbles, and these bars were a few grams lighter than the Canadian Dairy Milk bar.  I was worried that the folks at Kraft had decided that this "new" shape would be the norm all over the world, and that they would shrink the size of the Dairy Milk bar.  But as the bar Adam purchased shows, 42 grams, is exactly the same weight as the one I purchased several years back. It would appear that Kraft is doing well and leaving this classic bar alone.
While I am very happy about the fact that the Dairy Milk bar hasn't changed in Canada, I'm not completely happy with the way Kraft has dealt with Cadbury products.  I was optimistic when the purchase happened that Kraft would try and make Cadbury products more universal.  I was hoping that they might try and move some Cadbury products into new markets and share the wealth.  Caramello Koalas should be available to everyone around the world, not just Australians, and Crunchy bars should be on every store shelf around the world.  Most importantly Cadbury should be available to my neighbors to the south, the Americans.  As far as I know Cadbury is still a specialty item in the US, and that's a shame.  It's about time Americans knew what great chocolate bars taste like, and maybe add a bit of competition into what I consider one of the weakest in quality of chocolate bar markets.

CC