Thursday, February 28, 2013

Stuff I Want To Try

Tostitos Artisan Recipes Grilled Red Pepper and Tomato Salsa - Frito-Lay - I don't know if I've ever sampled an "Artisan" tortilla chip before, but it sounds tasty. - Click here to learn more about this treat.


Classic/Creative Candy Advertising

Have you ever noticed that Haribo doesn't really "advertise" gummy bears?  I thought I'd do a search online for gummy bear advertisements  and I came up with virtually nothing.  I found the one above, but I'm not really sure if it's official or not.  Does anybody know if Haribo has ever done a large advertising campaign, outside of social media or the internet?  Have you ever seen a gummy bear commercial?

I found this ad here.


Shooting Donuts

I'm doing a series of photographs for an art show in Athens opening April 13th at the Finnish Institute at Athens.  It's a group show featuring several artists living in Greece temporarily.  The show's theme is all about taking photographs of things in Greece that remind you of your home country.  I couldn't possibly imagine not mentioning something sweet related for this exhibition, but it took a bit of thinking to come up with the perfect sweet treat that reminded me of home.  After a great deal of thought, it came down to donuts.
Whenever you move away from home you'll always crave certain foods.  Sometimes you just can't find these foods in the place where you live, and you have to rely on friends and family to deliver them once in a while.  Maple syrup was a big craving I had that I couldn't buy here, as was Shreddies cereal.  Sometimes you come across foods in another country that remind you of home.  Donuts in Greece was, and still is, a great reminder of home for me.  While the donuts here are very different in texture and flavour than the ones I get in Canada, they still make me feel the same way, like I'm home.

It's not even fancy donuts that I crave in Greece, most often it's donuts from a grocery store, or a cheap donut shop that fit the bill for me.  When I'm feeling home sick, a Greek donut reminds me of Canada just a little bit.  Now I have to figure out how to photograph these cheap donuts so people understand what they mean to me.  How do you make a little bit of Canada come across in a pile of cheap Greek donuts?


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Old Candy Critic Articles - Candy in the low Carb zone.

I've decided to take down several old articles from the and re-post them here on the Candy Critic blog.  This week we look at an old article from Allison where she looks at low carb version of popular bars.

As low-carbohydrate lifestyles gain popularity, there are more and more options for low-carb treats available in the marketplace. I have been on the Atkins plan for about a year now, and even within that time, I’ve noticed that low-carb snacks are getting better and and more plentiful.

A year ago, for treats I could get some muffin mixes, Atkins brand protein bars that were kind of chocolatey, and … well … raspberries and strawberries. Now, I can get chocolate bars, cookies, fudge-sicles, pudding, ice cream sandwiches, and even granola bars! (Not that raspberries and strawberries aren’t great.)

At first, I was pretty skeptical. Could you really enjoy sweet deliciousness without sacrificing your health goals? Yes, there are some downsides to the low-carb treat revolution. Expense is one thing. Even the “Atkins Baking Mix”, a flour substitute, is something like $17 in health food stores for a tin of about 4 cups. I found it once in a grocery store for $3.69. They don’t sell it anymore.
And soy flour? Not for making sweet treats. Trust me – I’ve tried.

After I finished Atkins’ “induction” phase and had been in the “ongoing weight loss” phase for about two months, I decided I needed a treat. Atkins “Advantage” bars were all I could really get then. Those and Ketogenics muffin mixes. (I recommend the chocolate chip.) In my opinion, the Atkins muffin mixes are terrible. “Advantage” bars aren’t so tasty either, but when you haven’t had anything sweet for 2-½ months, you take what you can get.

To sweeten these treats (and the new “Endulge” treats they’ve since released), the Atkins people use something called maltitol. Maltitol is a polyol, or sugar alcohol, which is a kind of hydrogenated carbohydrate used as an artificial sweetener. According to some common sugar alcohols are:
· Mannitol
· Sorbitol (Some cell damage may be related to too much sorbitol in the cells of the eyes and nerves.)
· Xylitol (Good for preventing tooth decay.)
· Maltitol
· Lactitol

Polyols are good in that you can sweeten things without the carbohydrates absorbing into the body and making us all fat (or perhaps marathon runners). But what they don’t tell you is that they can have a laxative effect. Most sources claim that you have to ingest large quantities for this to happen, but my experience is quite different.

I’ve never really been a gassy person, but when I started on Atkins I became a next-to-zero emissions person. But then, when I started eating the things sweetened with polyols, I became a veritable methane factory. As for the laxative effect? If I ate treats two days in a row, things would come out like soft-serve ice cream. Anything more than two days in a row, you’re looking at a slushy. Is it really worth the mediocre sweets? At the time, yes.

Then, in the U.S., Hershey’s, Keebler, and Nabisco SnackWells got in on the game with chocolate bars and cookies. Hershey’s even makes low-carb Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. They taste almost exactly the same as the “real” ones although a little dry, and not at all like the Atkins peanut butter cups, which have a bit of a strange taste in them (but again, OK in a pinch, if you don’t mind the soft-serve ice cream effect). The Hershey’s chocolate bars are about 1/3 the size of their regular ones, but they are delicious. I especially like the one with the little rice crisps, which I dip into chunky (peanut-only) peanut butter.

These treats are sweetened with other names of sweeteners that I don’t recognize, but could also very well be polyols. Hershey’s uses erythritol, and Nabisco uses acesulfame potassium in their SnackWells CarbWell cookies. Sounds terrible, tastes great. Also, less soft-serve ice cream effect, and far less methane production. AND, they’re about as expensive as regular chocolate bars, so less gouging at the cash register.

I hope they decide to bring them to Canada soon.

There are lots of other low-carb treats that I’ve tried, and I recommend experimenting around. Some of them are GeniSoy’s Low Carb Crunch, Breyer’s ice cream sandwiches, Sobey’s store-brand low-carb fudge-sicles, Odyssey “Slim Advantage” chocolate bars, and Atkins granola bars. All of these are available in Canada, and I’m sure most of them in the U.S. as well.

The very best treats I’ve found, though? Those little miniature “real” chocolate bars that weigh about 5 grams each. They can’t possibly have more than 5 grams of carbohydrates since that’s they’re weight, and you get to eat the real thing, provided you can stop at just one. I’ve also been known to enjoy the occasional Timbit doughnut hole at Tim Horton’s. They probably have a few more carbohydrates, but I just make sure I walk to the farthest Tim Horton’s possible and burn it off.

So where am I after almost a year? Looking and feeling healthy and happy, and enjoying some of the treats out there.


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Stuff I Want To Try

jcoco - Seattle Chocolate Co. - I think I'm stylish enough to eat a chocolate bar inspired by high fashion... well maybe not. - Click here to learn more about this treat.


Candy Art - Gifs

The Huffington Post posted a great collection of food related gifs.
Nothing makes my mouth water like watching food get made, stirred, eaten, or whatever, over and over again.  It's truly mouth wateringly mesmerizing.

Click here to see all of these beautiful gifs.


Monday, February 25, 2013

This Week In Candy

I know that many of you reading this are still stuck in the cold end of February, wondering if the snow will ever end.  But me, I'm already thinking about spring, warm days, cool treats, and iced tea.  I have had such a craving for iced tea, and I realized something, there really aren't that many iced tea flavoured candies out there.  How could one show "iced tea" in candy form anyways.  I would think that it would always come across as just tea.

It's going to be a bit of a slow week on the Candy Critic blog this week, mostly because we're preparing some new material, and we want it to be just right.  We'll still have our regular posts like Candy Art, Classic/Creative candy advertising, and our Friday Candy videos, we're just going to cut back on some of the extras this week.

Finally, we've opened an Instagram (candycritic76) account recently, but we're not really sure what we're going to do with it.  Do you have any ideas, what do you do with your Instagram photos?


Mike and Ike Names (A New Review Too)

One of the interesting things I learned while writing this review is the crazy naming convention that some Mike and Ike candies have.  I could be wrong about this, but I believe that "Mike" is represented by either the green or red candy, "Ike" by which ever one Mike is not.  So the candies from today's review are represented by "Cherri" the dark red candy, and "Bubb" the pink candy.  Is this a common trend with the Mike and Ike's family?  I've had a few other Mike and Ike treats, and I don't remember this naming format, is this new?  If it is new, then keep it up Just Born, it's a really good idea.  If it's an old idea, then I need some back story here, because this is really great.

Click here to read the review about Cherri and Bubb.


It's National Chocolate Covered Nuts Day!!!

This is a pretty vague holiday in my opinion. I have many questions that I need answered before I can go out and celebrate.  For example, do peanuts count as nuts on Chocolate Covered Nut Day, because a peanut is not technically a nut, neither is a Brazil Nut.  And because the word "Nut" is plural, are we required to eat more than one variety of nut today.  This isn't as much a problem as a question since there are many varieties of nuts I enjoy covered in chocolate.  In fact, I can't think of any kind of nut that I wouldn't enjoy covered in chocolate.  I've tried many varieties of nuts in chocolate, except maybe cashews, do people eat them covered chocolate?  Maybe this is a day that I should answer these questions, for myself, and for chocolate covered nut fans all over the world.


Friday, February 22, 2013

Candy News

Those "healthy" bars you're eating instead of a chocolate bar... well they may not be as healthy as you think.

The folks that made the movie Wreck it Ralph, had to do a lot of candy research to make candy land just right.

I love red velvet cake, mostly because it looks so cool, but where did it come from, and why is it so darn popular?

We all know that the recipe for Coca-cola is a very closely guarded secret, so how do they manage to get kosher certification?

The New York Times published a really interesting article about how junk food is marketed and sold, it's a little long, but well worth reading.

If your children come home from school with a candy shaped like a skull, then it might be a pot drop.

Wrigley's believes that they have a gum that will freshen your breath even better.

Madelaine Chocolate had a bit of a bad time when hurricane Sandy hit, but it looks like they're getting back on their feet, and should be producing candy in time for Halloween.

I love food festivals, I particularly love chocolate festivals, I'd love to go to "the annual Chocolate Festival, hosted by the Galesburg Historical Society"

If you cut yourself it's a good idea to go for the antiseptic, or maybe even a bit of aloe, but what about a spoon full of sugar?

I am a huge fan of fun gumball machines, I even like a good challenge, this secret knock gumball machine sounds so awesome.

If you want to keep up with all of the daily candy news that we come across as it happens, follow us on Twitter.


Friday Candy Video - Cups and Cakes

Today was a day of learning for me.  For no particular reason I had the song "Cups and Cakes" stuck in my head for the last couple of days.  I thought it would be a fun song to post on the Candy Critic blog because it's main theme is sweets.  I decided to search YouTube to see if I could find it posted, and what I found blew my mind.  Did you know that there's a Lego version of the Rock Band game?  Did you know that this version allows you to play as Spinal Tap?  Did you know that one of the song options is "Cups and Cakes"?  This is so very awesome that I think I'm going to just sit back and play this video again.


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Retro Mike and Ikes

I just got 4 boxes of Retro Mike and Ikes in the mail today.  Two of the packages have watermelon and lemon, and the other two have cherry and bubble gum.  My favorite thing about these packages has to be the characters.  In particularly I love the fact that the artwork isn't 3D or overly rendered.  To me, a simple cheesy drawing is the perfect thing to adorn your candy package.  My favorite character has to be the drunk looking bubble gum guy.

Now before I taste test these, I want to pick which flavour I'm going to review this weekend.  Should I make my choice based on the coolest characters, the flavour I think I'll most like, or should I just let the first person who sends me a message on Twitter or Facebook decide.

My Carob Experience

This giant 5 inch bean, is a bean that many chocolate fanatics despise.  This is a carob bean, and carob is most often used as a chocolate substitute.  I'm sure, if you're like me, you're wondering why in the world someone would want to substitute real cocoa for something fake.  I'm guessing it has to do with either the high price of cocoa, or maybe some people are allergic to cocoa (although I've never met anybody in my life with this horrible affliction).  On many occasions I've been lucky enough to sample cocoa, in many forms, including full toasted beans.  But I can't say that I've ever even seen a carob pod before.  So once I saw this glorious bean on a market shelf, I knew I couldn't pass it up.
Before I bought it, I asked the nice lady selling them exactly how one goes about eating a carob pod.  She went on to tell me about a few cooking methods, but I'm sure the confused look in my face led her to tell me that you can just eat it as is as well.  Frankly this giant bean didn't really look that appetizing at all, but it did have a nice smell, so I bought the bean, and took the nice lady's advice.  After my first bite I wasn't really convinced that you can simply bite into a dried carob pod and enjoy.  There was a certain chocolate like flavour, but the pod was really tough and woody.
Inside the pod I found several of these little hard beans.  In most cases the bean is much tastier than the pod, and I figured that once I bit into one of these little beans, I would be in fake chocolate bliss.  As it turns out these little beans are rock hard and impossible to bite through.  It could be that they are the most flavorful part of this bean delight, but I wasn't going to know, because I couldn't crunch it without doing some serious damage to my teeth.  I did try sucking on the little bean for a little while, but it was still as hard a marble.
Is a carob bean tasty?  The flavour that I did manage to extract from this bean wasn't that bad at all.  I can see why it could be used a chocolate substitute, and it might even have flavorful applications on its own.  I am however convinced that the lady at the market really wanted to sell me this bean.  I don't think people actually eat these beans as is, the texture is just too woody, and the beans are impossible to chew at all.  Maybe if I soaked it, or maybe if I boiled it, I might have had more luck.


Classic/Creative Candy Advertising

I'm not really sure why the folks at Wrigley's thought that sexual innuendo with twins would sell gum, but it worked.  In fact it worked so well that the "Doublemint Twins" is now a big part of their marketing campaign.  Though they've dropped the campaign several times, it just keeps coming back, and each time it comes back, it seems to get just a little bit more sexualized.

I found this ad here.


Stuff I Want To Try

Chewie Gum - Chewits - While I am interested in trying this, I think if they made a special edition Star Wars package I'd be even more interested. - Click here to learn more about this treat.


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Old Candy Critic Articles - Is Red a Flavour?

I've decided to take down several old articles from the and re-post them here on the Candy Critic blog.  This week we look at candy companies that insist on naming their candy's flavours based on their colours.

Ahhhhh novelty, one of the key ingredients in any great treat, at least sometimes it can be. I've noticed a new novel trend lately, and I'm not too sure how to deal with it. Several companies have been creating red flavoured treats, not cherry or fruit punch but "red” flavoured.

It's important that we make sure somebody doesn't know something I don't. I'm going to make some assumptions, if you know differently please let me know and I will retract this statement: Orange is both a fruit and a flavour, so right off the bat have established a "grey area". Grape, Lemon, and Pineapple, although with some exceptions (when it comes to house paints) are fruit and not colours. Purple, Yellow and Red as far as I know are colours. Wait a minute, is red a flavour too?

To be honest, when I was a kid, I would never ask for the cherry or grape Popsicle, I would ask for the red or purple Popsicle. Having said that, on the package it is clearly marked as “cherry” or “grape”. So could mean one of two things; either most people used "red" as a description for the Popsicle and I was just using the colloquialism for the product. It could also be that I was the only person in the world doing this and I'm either an idiot or a creative genius. Well now that we’ve established that “red” is used as a flavour context, let's look at whether or not a candy company can just label a candy "red” favoured.

I think it's all right, but only sometimes. For example, if you attach another word with it, like berry, then it’s perfectly fine. Nothing wrong with Berry Red, in fact I believe it's a well-established Kool Aid flavour. I guess this isn't a good example though because it does imply the flavour, by using the word berry. You understand that there are red berries, and then this flavour is most likely a combination of these red berries.

It just seems like some products are trying to sell the colour of their products, rather than sell the flavour. It is a scientific fact that people tend to buy more candies and treats when it has a lot of red on the package, but does it sell if the flavour is red as well?

I guess I'm not really hip to the idea of candy being labelled by colour instead of flavour. Although I've tried many of the "red flavoured" treats and you know what, they tasted red. Some I could place like a cherry or fruit punch, but some just tasted red. It just comes across as lazy to me, are candy companies afraid that they might mislabel a flavour?  Or does red actually have a flavour in our minds; do blind people see red when they eat a red flavoured treat?


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Chips Or Crisps

I love to travel, I love to explore every corner of the earth and see what's around the next bend.  I also love to snack, and my snack of choice while traveling is often banana chips. The great thing about banana chips is that they're available almost everywhere.  Sure in some places they're a little harder to find, and often more expensive, they make such a great snack and are often worth it.  There is one very strange thing I find all over the world about these yummy little chips.
The strange thing is their name "chips".  In many places all of the the world a potato, deep fried, and put into a bag is known as a bag of crisps.  Chips, in their crispy, bagged potato form are pretty much only available in North America. For more of the world "chips" are the fried potatoes you get on the side of a hamburger.  I have no problem with this at all, it's a cultural difference, most people that call them crisps still understand you when you call them chips.  It's a fun difference between cultures.  In the case of banana chips, I think it's strange because not one of these "crisps" using countries calls their banana chips, banana crisps.
To me a banana chip is pretty much the sweet brother of a potato chip.  A banana chip is thinly sliced, cooked (fried or dried), and put into a bag. A potato chip is also thinly sliced, cooked (in this case almost always fried), and put into a bag.  I think for the sake of this argument you can pretty much say that both of these products are produced the same way.  So why do so many places that sell "crisps" call their banana chips, "chips"?  Why not call them banana crisps, they are after all crispy versions of bananas.

It's fairly difficult to figure out the exact origins of the banana chip, some say South America, others might point to Africa, and in many countries they go by a completely different name.  But every English, and a few non-English countries I've ever visited calls these snacks banana chips. Even if I don't get them as a side dish to my hamburger.


Candy Art - Can You Eat It?

The Huffington Post has a great article about a candy maker/cake decorator called Andie's Specialty Sweets, who make that most beautiful realistic treats I've ever seen.
I don't know if I'd have the heart to even take a bite of these creations.
Unless they taste as good as they look.

Click here to see more of these creations.


It's Chocolate Mint Day!!!

For most of my childhood, I thought that the only herb that worked well with chocolate was mint.  While it still remains one of the most popular herb/chocolate combinations, a few inspired chocolatiers have come up with some new combinations that are well worth trying.  Basil is one of the up and coming herbs to mix it up with chocolate, and it's pretty tasty too.  My favorite combination has to be bay leaf with chocolate, mostly because it's a subtle flavour that affects the chocolate well.  It's not only herbs that are starting to come into this realm, but spices like pepper, salt, and cayenne are starting to be fairly common on the chocolate scene. Like peanut butter, you don't have to go out and buy fancy spiced/herbed chocolate either, simply pick out your favorite bar and flavour to your liking.


Monday, February 18, 2013

This Week In Candy

Today I'm feeling a little under the weather, I'm hoping that I'll feel better by the end of the week, but we'll see.  That isn't going to stop me from updating this blog, or maybe even doing a little baking.  After all doesn't candy cure everything... well maybe a little rest is a good idea too.

This week we'll be looking at an interesting problem I've had with the name "banana chips".  Specifically I'll be looking at why some people call them banana chips, when maybe they shouldn't.  I'm also going to be sampling some carob this week, in full bean form.  I can tell you now, I'm not even sure if it's actually edible.

Well I'm going to go lie down for a little while, maybe I'll watch the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.


Can You Bear This Review...

I wonder what the first ever animal shaped treat was.  I'm guessing it might be animal crackers, but I could be wrong.  I'm sure that people had been making desserts that look like animals for many years before that, but as a mass produced treat, animal crackers have been around for a long time.  It's a strange thing to want to eat the likeness of an animal, but for some reason it seems to entertain us.

Click here to read our latest bear review.


Friday, February 15, 2013

Candy News

In the Democratic Republic of Congo there are some new ideas to help the chocolate industry, and more importantly help the people working in the chocolate industry.

There are legal troubles between Haribo and Lindt, and it's all over the idea of a "Golden Bear".

Pepsi is offering a new drink called Kickstart, apparently it looks and tastes like Mountain Dew, but it's designed as a morning pick-me-up.

Which one of these items is not actually available dipped in chocolate: Onions, pickles, carrots, Slim Jims, squid, or peppers.  If you answered this question then you answered incorrectly.

How do you feel about pairing red wine and chocolate, some love it, this person thinks you're crazy.

A judge White Plains New York has approved some sort of legal technicalities, these technicalities are the first step towards Americans getting the Twinkie back.

When you eat chocolate bark, is there ever too much stuff in it?  Is there ever anything too strange, or salty?

I wrote a few weeks back about a company that was producing chocolate flavoured envelopes, well now Belgium is producing the stamps to go with it.

Not chocolate cheesecake, but just chocolate cheese, yup it exists.

Did you get a box of chocolates for Valentines Day this year, who's name was on it and why?

Food themed tourist attractions are really taking off and, Nestle has just announced its newest attraction on the original site where they were founded in Switzerland.

If you want to keep up with all of the daily candy news that we come across as it happens, follow us on Twitter.


Chocolate Cake Experiments - The Microwave Cake

So far this week I've answered the question, can you make a cake too small, as well as can you fry a cake like a pancake.  Today I'm looking into a baking method that I've seen and heard of a few times, but I've always had my doubts about how well it would work.  Today I'm examining the microwaved cake.
When I researched this idea, I found many recipes involve mixing the batter in your mug.  I, to be more neutral, decided that I would just take my classic and simple chocolate cake recipe (courtesy of my mother in law) pour it into a mug, and microwave it.  My biggest worry was that these recipes might have some kind of quick leavening agent or liquid that would make my cake a total failure in the microwave.  I was also worried because I didn't really know how much batter to put into the mug.

I decided to follow the cooking time of most of the recipes, about 4 minutes at 750 watts.  It seemed like a really long time in a microwave, but it also seemed like too short a time to bake a cake.  Many of the recipes that I found said not to worry if you see your cake popping out of your mug, like the photo above, but I was worried because I wasn't really following the recipe exactly and I only guest the quantity.  It did drip over the sides a bit, but as it turns out it wasn't too hard to clean up afterwards.
When all was said and done, the cake did settle down to the bottom of the mug.  I thought that the best first test I could perform would be the toothpick test.  It's the same thing I would do if I was baking a cake regularly, and it seemed like a good way to check to see if my cake would be a gooey mess when I tried to take it out of the mug.  The toothpick came out clean, so I decided that it would probably be OK to flip out of the mug.
When I flipped it out of the mug I was shocked... it worked.  I had a mug of cake, or one might even say I had a cup cake.  It seemed pretty solid all the way down, and when I broke it in half it was solid all the way through.  I could tell, when I broke it in half, that it was a little more rubbery than my other cakes I've made with this recipe, but considering it was out of a microwave, it was pretty good.  When I tasted it, I found it to be fairly dry, much dryer than this recipe normally is in the oven.

Most of the websites suggest mixing things like chocolate chips into the cake mix before you microwave it.  That would probably go really far towards making the batter much moister.  A layer or two of icing might also help out with that as well.  While I wouldn't make this cake for anybody for a special event, it is a really fun parlour trick, and it's really impressive to watch it pulsate in the microwave.


Friday Candy Video - Soda Pop Education

This is a great example of the theory (I believe it to be true) that all you have to do to stop soda pop from exploding in your face after it's been shaken up is to wait a few minutes.  I even believe a few seconds can make the difference as well.


It's National Gumdrop Day!!!

What's the difference between a gumdrop, a jelly, and a gummy?  This is a question I get all the time, and I do believe that there's a proper answer.  A gumdrop is often bell shaped, covered in sugar, dense, and kind of sticky.  A jelly can be just about any shape you choose, although I really enjoy the ones shaped like wedges of fruit, it's often covered in sugar as well, but the texture is a lot softer and smoother than that of a gum drop.  A gummy can also come in just about any shape, they don't have to be covered in sugar, and the texture is more rubbery than either the gumdrop or the jelly.  There are a few chewy treats that don't fit perfectly into any one of the these categories, but most do favour one category more than the others.


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Chocolate Cake Experiments - Can You Make a Pancake?

Yesterday I started this series where I answer some cake questions that I have.  Today I'm continuing with a questions I've had for a really long time, but I've never had the means to answer.  Today I'm going to find out if you can make pancakes out of cake batter.  The reason I've never had the means to try this before is because whenever I've had cake batter in the past, I'm pretty focused on making cakes.  I generally find it in bad taste to waste cake batter, except today, in the name of science.

I figure that the word pan "cake" implies to me that at one time people decided to make cakes, in their pans.  It seems logical enough, but does it work?
The moment I poured the batter into my hot pan I knew that this wasn't going to work.  In fact, the minute my batter was made I was pretty sure that this wasn't going to work.  The batter is just too runny to make a fluffy pancake.  Pancakes, when being fried, have to be fluffy before you put them into the pan.  Cakes, because they take a lot longer to cook, can gain their fluffiness in the oven.  So the leavening agent in cakes works slower than the leavening agent in pancakes.  The minute my batter hit the pan I put my syrup away because I knew I wasn't having pancakes for lunch today.
While I didn't end up with a traditional  looking pancake, what I got wasn't that bad. It was still kind of fluffy, under a harder crunchy crust.  It seemed like the crust came from the large amount of sugar in the batter.  I'm guessing that pancakes don't use as much sugar as regular cakes.  The chocolate flavour was still there, but I had to be careful not to burn it because that would have ruined the taste completely. I had to keep a watchful eye on the pan, and it only took a few minutes to cook.

The pan cake doesn't look very appetizing, but it tasted fine. The dry texture of the pan cake could have been improved with a topping, like icing or maple syrup, but that probably wouldn't have worked flavour wise because the cake was too sweet on its own.  I don't think I'd ever try this again, but I'm glad I could finally answer that question that was stuck in my head.


Classic/Creative Candy Advertising

According to this advertisement (or so I'm told) this particular brand of chocolate was sold to help cure migraine headaches.  This isn't the first time I've heard the idea that chocolate might have chemicals that can help a migraine sufferer.  I've also heard that coffee can be helpful as well.  If you happen to be a migraine sufferer, don't take my advice as any kind of medical advice.  But if you've ever used chocolate to help with your headaches let me know.

I found this ad here on Boing Boing.


Stuff I Want To Try

Chicken & Waffles Chips - Lay's - I'm actually more interested in the "waffle" part of this treat than the chicken. - Click here to learn more about this treat.


Happy Valentines Day!!!

I both love and hate Valentines Day treats.  I love them because I'm a big fan of chocolate and cinnamon (the two most common flavors associated with Valentines Day) and I hate them because I think creatively it's not the best candy related holiday there is.  While fine chocolates are great to get, it's a pretty obvious choice to give as a gift on this holiday.  Sadly, most stores support the idea of a box of chocolates and rarely give you more options.  Sure sometimes you might find a heart made of chocolate (realistic or classic heart shaped) but again it's the same old same old.  I want someone to introduce a new treat for Valentines Day, one that seems like it should have been obvious, but that I've never seen before.


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Chocolate Cake Experiments - Smallest Cake Possible

Over the next three days, I want to learn something about cake.  In fact I have some specific questions about cake that I want answered.  Sure it's easy enough to search online and read about the answers, but I've always liked to experiment for myself as well.  So over these three days I'm going to answer 3 questions that I've had about cake.  I won't be looking at icings, fillings, or any other cake additions, these questions will focus on the cake itself.  I've decided to use chocolate cake for these experiments because it's my favorite, and I have a great recipe for chocolate cake (from my Mother in law) that's almost fool proof.  
 My first cake question is about size.  I've seen some pretty big cakes in my day, in fact I was witness to the making of the worlds largest Chinese Moon Cake a few years back.  What I want to know is, how small can one make a cake, while still keeping it's cake like consistency and taste.  For this experiment I decided to start with a standard ramekin (about the same size and a muffin or cup cake) and work my way down.  Since I didn't have any kind of baking trays smaller, I made my own out of tin foil.

Making the baking trays was actually very easy.  For the middle size I used a small container and placed it on a square of tin foil.  I wrapped the tin foil around the container leaver the top uncovered.  I pulled out the container and it seemed to hold up.  For the smallest baking tray I used the same technique only instead of a container I used a 1 euro (about 2 cm across) coin.  This seem like a good sample of a small cake range.  I figured that the ramekin had a very good shot of working, but anything smaller was a bit of a guess.
I was very careful about keeping an eye on these cakes, because over cooking them would certainly make them hard.  The smallest cake took only 5 minutes to bake, I made sure it was baked by using the age old toothpick test.  After another 5 minutes the middle cake's toothpick came clean, and about 5 minutes after that the ramekin cake's toothpick came clean.  I had buttered and floured the containers so the cakes came out effortlessly.  I let them cool for a few minutes, but I wasn't too worried about them cooling completely, since I had no plans of icing them.

What I discovered shocked me a little.  Each one of these cakes were pretty similar.  All of them were moist, light, and tasty.  The only difference had to do with the ratio of crunchy top, that cakes often have, to soft interior.  As you would expect the small cake had slightly less soft interior, but about the same depth of crunchy top as the other two.  It made for a slightly crunchy cake, but for the most part it was soft and light.  I'm guessing that there would be a finite size of cake one could bake while still keeping it's soft texture, but I'm thinking you could still go much smaller than a 1 Euro coin before you achieve it.  I couldn't imagine why anyone would ever need a cake any smaller in the real world anyways.

Tomorrow I'll answer another cake question that's been burning up in my mind for a while, can you make pancakes out of cake batter?


Old Candy Critic Articles - Ladies Choice

I've decided to take down several old articles from the and re-post them here on the Candy Critic blog.  This week we look back at a poll I took trying to find out which candy most ladies would appreciate on Valentines Day.

It’s Valentines Day, you’ve got a special dinner planned for your best lady, followed by a nice romantic walk in the park, but what about a sweet little treat?  When you start a date with a nice little treat, it can be a big part of how the rest of the date night might go.  With the wrong treat you might insult her, or ever worse, gross her out.  So what kind of treat is the right treat to give to your date on this the most “important” of all date nights?

Here's the results of a little poll I took recently, asking what people thought about getting certain treats for Valentines Day. The results might shock you, the results might cause you to think, the results might convince you that maybe you should go back to the candy store and get something different for that special someone.

A box of Chocolates.

Nice mix of chocolates with all kinds of fun fillings.

This was no surprise at all. Although some people seem to think it's a little tacky to give someone a box of chocolates for Valentines Day.  I think some people might be put off by the “commercialism” of just going out and buying a box of chocolates.

A bag of cinnamon hearts.

Spicy and sweet all at the same time.

Surprising, I think people just love a classic.  It goes to show that price isn’t really the most important thing when it comes to getting the perfect Valentines Day treat.  It’s amazing how much a childhood memory can make someone really happy.

A couple of lollypops.

It's simple but shaped like a heart.

I think people though they're a little cheap to give as a token of love. Most people seem to look at lollipops as being too simple a choice as a treat.  I’m sure if lollipops were included in a gift basket it would be different, but on their own it’s not really much of a gift.

Hershey Kisses

Take the Hershey away and it might be better?

It's funny how the name of a treat can influence what you think of it.  I think the people that thought this was a great gift thought the name “Kiss” was kind of cute.  They might also have had fond memories of Hershey’s Kisses as a kid.

A cute chocolate animal.

Who says bunnies are just for easter.

Many people seemed to really like the unique idea of getting a cute little animal for Valentines Day.  I think those that didn't like it wanted something a little more traditional instead of something overly original.  I also think that some look at chocolate animals as being the exclusive treat of Easter.

What I get from this little exercise is that people really like candy for Valentines Day. I think if you try and say that price has no influence that would be wrong, except in the case of the cinnamon hearts. My advice is to do your research and always make sure you know whom you're buying for.


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Stuff I Want To Try

Lik-M-Ai Fun Dip Mystery Flavor Valentine Exchange Kit - Wonka - I love a good surprise, particularly on Valentine's Day. - Click here to learn more about this treat.


Latest Junk Fud Podcast - Sense and Perception

The latest episode of Junk Food, the podcast all about junk food, snacks, and treats, we talk to Dr Robert Stewart (my dad) about one of his areas of expertise "sense and perception".  This study examines how we see, smell, taste, and touch our environment.  More specifically Rob talks about how these, and other senses affect the way we eat foods.  We talk about everything from the existence of Umami as a taste, to why brown M&M's might taste better to some.

Click here to download the latest episode of Junk Fud.

Older episodes are available here.


Monday, February 11, 2013

This Week In Candy

I'm starting this week in candy with a look at an invention that was introduced to me a few months ago, but I only remembered it recently.  It's very simple, but very tasty as well.  You simply take a slice of banana, top it with a glob of Nutella, then a small dollop (or spray) of whipped cream.  I've decided to call this dessert the "Virginia", after the creator of this simple and very tasty treat.  She originally suggested that this would make a perfect, and simple, canape for any classy event.

Later this week we'll be posting a few experiments dealing with chocolate cake.  I'm interested in chocolate cake because frankly it's the best cake available, cake is also one of the more versatile and generic baked goods.  The goal is to gain a better understanding of chocolate cake, and maybe create a few tasty treats along the way.

Finally, this week is Valentines Day, I have nothing in particular to say on the subject, other than I hope you get, and give, some loving treats this year.  And if you can't think of anything, a batch of Virginias might be the perfect treat.


It's Peppermint Patty Day!!!

When I first heard that today was Peppermint Patty day I wasn't sure if they meant the yummy chocolate covered mint disk, or the slightly annoying friend of Charlie Brown.  Then I wondered, is she named after the treat?  After a little research it appears that there may be a connection.  As it turns out Charles Schulz named the character after a bowl of "mint candies" he had on his desk.  I'm guessing he changed the last word from "Pattie" to "Patty" because her first name is Patricia.  It might have also helped with any legal issues at the time.


A Review That Might Not Be Appropriate For Valentines Day

I wasn't sure what I should review this year for Valentines Day.  Frankly I've been getting a little bored of reviewing another themed chocolate treat that's covered in red foil.  Then I came across the "Fling" bar, and I thought to myself, why not review the worst possible treat you could give your loved one for Valentines Day.

Click here to read the Fling review.


Friday, February 08, 2013

Candy News

According to science, you gain more satisfaction from finishing a snack than by eating a large amount of the snack.

Just in case you want to have a smart conversation with a Canadian about Maple syrup, here's some information to help you out.  In Canada this was part of our primary school education.

Ever wanted to taste ice cream for a living, don't worry, the job exists.

Barry Callebaut wants you to know what you should be looking for in chocolate.  Don't worry about what you actually might want, it may not be trendy.

Here's a few Superbowl related tidbits from earlier this week:

As it turns out M&Ms topped the list of most searched terms during the Superbowl.

Here's a really interesting article about how OREO managed to get an advertisement posted about the blackout only minutes after it happened.

The Jason Priestley Tim Horton's donut was all the rage in my home country, then it started to spread around the world.

I'm not sure that gum needed more crunch, sure more flavour, and longer lasting flavour, but probably not more crunch.

Ever wanted to know why Mentos and Diet Coke explode into a fountain of awesomeness?

Most people assume that all sugar free treats are laced with chemicals, this isn't always the case.

I've never been to Minnesota, but seeing how much they're into candy and candy making, I'm thinking a road trip might be in order.

Did you know that in 1947, in Canada, there was a "Chocolate Candy Bar Strike"?

If you've never tried salted caramel chocolates, this Valentine's Day would be the perfect time to pick up a box. For someone you love... as long as they're willing to share.

If you want to keep up with all of the daily candy news that we come across as it happens, follow us on Twitter.


Candy and Snack Related Super Bowl Commercials

This commercial is a little different than the commercials I've posted earlier this week, most notably this commercial while intended for the Superbowl, never made it to air.  Apparently from the reports I've read both Coca-Cola and Pepsi (big sponsors of the Superbowl) asked that it not be aired.  This might be the first time in history that Coca-Cola and Pepsi ever agreed on anything.  It's pretty amazing how they seemed to unite together against a product that could change the way we drink soda.  I have to be honest, I'd never heard of the Soda Stream before seeing this commercial, but it sounds like a really good idea.  I don't think it's fair to ban this advertisement  since I know for a fact that both Coke and Pepsi use each others logos in their commercials, but I understand that they're a little nervous about this new competition.  As for making me want to buy the product, you better believe I want one of these things, and my birthday is coming up (hint, hint).


Friday Candy Video - Chocolate Record

Breakbot has just released a special edition of his latest record (you kids might need to Wiki that) on chocolate.  Apparently a chocolate record is playable on a record player, and I bet it has the yummiest scratches and pops while it plays.  Best of all, if the record gets a scratch, you can have some chocolate to console yourself.  While I love the idea of chocolate records, I sure hope it doesn't catch on, I don't want to have to buy my entire Beatles collection again.

Link Via Boing Boing.


Thursday, February 07, 2013

Stuff I Want To Try

Hershey’s Special Dark Milkshake - Hershey’s - I always say that these chocolate milkshakes aren't chocolaty enough, finally someone address the problem. - Click here to learn more about this treat.


Candy and Snack Related Super Bowl Commercials

For today's look at Superbowl commercials, I've decided to lump the Doritos commercials together.  Why would I do that?  Well because in premise, they're pretty much the same idea.  Start off with an innocent idea, watch it get strange, but plausibly strange, then because of the Doritos (or lack of) the commercial gets really stupid.

Of the two advertisements  I like the "Goat 4 Sale" commercial the most, it would even be excellent if they didn't make the goat scream and destroy the guys stuff at the end.  I think this advertisement needed stronger writing to make the premise work, why not invite Stephen King to write this same commercial.  With a proper scary writer doing this premise it would have been much funnier, and from what I understand the budget on these commercials is very high so they could probably afford him.  The good thing about both of these commercials is with the incessant crunching and constant shots of Doritos, I was actually craving them throughout the entire commercial, so in that way it's a success.

As a bonus I thought I'd include this Taco Bell commercial, since it appears they're eating the special edition Doritos Tacos at the end.  Might I say the end is the only time you're reminded that it's a commercial for anything.  Also, most disturbing in this commercial is imagining the digestive track of these old folks after eating Taco Bell.


Classic/Creative Candy Advertising

You would think it would be every single mans dream to have a bevy of lovely ladies fawning over you on Valentines Day.  This advertisement on the other hand presents a different idea of what it might be like, and for some reason just looking at this group of ladies staring back at me makes me nervous, and gives me the creeps.

I found this ad here.


Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Candy and Snack Related Super Bowl Commercials

Once again M&M's are going for the slightly disturbing angle in their commercial of what happens when a character is in fact the food you're going to eat.  This one has a slight sexual twist at the end, only because the red M&M seems to be a little into the idea of being devoured by a group of women.  This commercial isn't bad, but it's not the most clever use of the disturbing fact that the M&M's characters are in fact edible. My favorite use of this method is this commercial, it's much more clever, a lot darker, and a little funnier.  I will say that this latest commercial does entertain me, and it sure makes me want to bite into an M&M, particularly a giant one with arms and legs.


Old Candy Critic Articles - Valentine’s Day the Japanese Way

I've decided to take down several old articles from the and re-post them here on the Candy Critic blog.  This week we look back at an article Allison wrote about how they celebrate Valentines Day in Japan.
Here in North America, when Valentine’s Day rolls around my girlfriends are either pining away about not having a boyfriend/girlfriend, or hoping that their partner will do something fabulous. Or at least that he hasn’t forgotten that the day exists.

Women in Japan, however, take matters into their own hands. Valentine’s Day there is not so much about who loves whom, but rather, it’s there for women to give chocolate to the men in their lives. These men can be boyfriends and husbands, sure, but also co-workers, bosses, or even “just friends”. Giving chocolate to a man on Valentine’s Day is in no way a declaration of a crush. It’s just a way to celebrate whatever the relationship is that exists.

Sounds a little fishy, I bet. I mean, these poor women spend their (considerably lower, usually,) salaries on chocolate for these men who just sit back and receive, right?

But wait. Japan has one more “love holiday” that we don’t. It’s called “White Day”, and happens exactly one month later, on March 14. This is when all men who received chocolate on Valentine’s Day can return the favour. Traditionally the return gift is a cookie (not one from a store-bought bag, mind you, but something nice). However, the gift can really be anything, including perfume or jewellery (the latter being the gift of choice of most of my Japanese girlfriends).

It is a system that I, personally, enjoy. There is none of the “will-he-or-won’t-he” doubt, and most certainly none of the “if-I-give-him-something-will-he-misinterpret-it” conundrum. Not to mention the “I-don’t-have-a-boyfriend-so-Valentine’s-sucks” lament. In Japan, it’s just a fun pair of holidays where people who know each other give each other goodies. And if I end up with some nice jewellery in exchange for a few chocolates, well, who am I to complain?

by Allison