Wednesday, August 31, 2016

A Candy Critic Shirt Thing

Would you eat a pregnant gummy bear? I might, because it's like getting two gummy bears in one bite.


Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Candy Flavours From Around the World

As the world shrinks, the selection of food we eat grows.  Not long ago a shawarma was a foreign delicacy you’d only find in hidden away shops in cities with large Middle Eastern populations.  Now you can find a shawarma at your local mall food court along with pho, hummus, and chicken tandoori.  While our meals are evolving quickly today, our candy selection seems to be moving a little slower.

Sure you can pick up foreign candies in specialty candy shops, but some of the true foreign flavours of sweet treats have yet to really break out into the North American market (and some of our flavours haven't made it to the outside world either).  Sometimes there’s a reason for that, some of these flavours are nothing like what we’re used to, but some of these flavours are just itching to make it onto our candy shelves and bulk bins.

Tamarind – This is a common flavour of candies in South Asia and the Middle East.  It’s a sweet bean that on it’s own is a little strange, however as a flavour of gum or hard candy it can’t be beat.  The biggest problem with tamarind is how it looks, a large ugly dried bean is not something most North Americans want to eat, particularly if it's associated with sweet instead of savoury.  But get past the rough looking pod and you’re left with a unique sweet treat.

Sweet Potato – You’d have no problem covering your yams in sugar for thanks giving, yet you would probably never want to cover your yams in chocolate.  In Eastern Asia yams are as much a sweet treat as dried fruit or nuts.  In some cases it’s covered in chocolate, sugar, or just enjoyed for the sweetness it gives naturally.  In Japan they even have people going around neighbourhoods selling warm yams the same way ice cream trucks do in North America, they even have a song that plays to tell kids they’re around.

Sour Plum – Common in Japan and parts of the Far East, sour plums are just that, very sour pickled or dried out plums.  They can also be a little salty as well, thus making them fairly off-putting for most North American candy fanatics.  The only people that would probably enjoy sour plums are the same people that fell in love with the Harry Potter themed Bertie Botts jellybeans.  This is an extreme flavour, but for many Asians it’s one they love.

Licorice – What’s this?  Licorice is already a candy, there’s nothing strange about it.  While licorice is an acquired taste in North America, in the Netherlands and Finland licorice is the ultimate candy treat.  More importantly they’ve taken licorice and started to use it in other candy treats.  How about milk chocolate bar, filled with licorice chunks.  There’s also the famous Dutch “Double Zoot” salted licorice, a salty licorice flavour that you’ll either love, or loathe.

Marzipan – Most people consider marzipan to be a filling for chocolates, or occasionally found in that foreign bakery down the street.  In Austria it’s an art and a celebration.  There are shops dedicated to this sweet treat, and how they sculpt this treat into pieces of art is exceptional.  You can get plates that look exactly like Vienna Sausages, fruit, and just about anything you’d find for dinner all made out of this almond paste.  On new years it’s tradition to eat a pig made of Marzipan, for good luck.

Mastixa – Mastixa made of sap from a pine tree found on Chios island in Greece.  To say that it's an acquired taste is putting it lightly.  Many people would tell you that it tastes like awful cough medicine, others say that the strong flavoured sap is refreshing.  You can actually just chew the sap in a slightly crystallized form, however most people prefer it as a flavouring agent.  It's used to flavour ice cream, cookies, cakes and candies.

Rose – The smell of fresh roses brings memories of weddings, or Valentines Day, but in many Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cultures it brings up memories of cakes, cookies and candies.  Some North American recipes might call for rose water, but it's still a bit of a novelty.  However in Greek and Turkish desserts it's very regularly used.  Greek Christmas cookies known as kourabiethes are sprayed with rose water when they're done, and Rose flavoured Turkish delight is one of the most common.


Peanut Butter – peanut butter?!! Everyone loves peanut butter, right?  Nope, in many cultures peanut butter is just too strange.  Many European countries don't have much of a taste for peanut butter at all.  To them a peanut butter cup is a novelty, and too many a disgusting one at that.  So remember that next time you're eating strong piece of Dutch licorice in the Netherlands, or a sugar coated sweet potato in Japan, and grimacing about how gross it is.  They might feel the same way about your PB and J.


Monday, August 29, 2016

This Week In Candy

There's a lot going on right now.  Things at Candy Critic are going to be different.  It'll start with a huge crazy adventure, followed by a change of address.  We're not at liberty to give everything away, but I can assure you that it's going to change things here a great deal. During the crazy adventure there will be a lot of regular things put on hold, or at the very least put on random.  Some of our regular posts will continue as is.  The reviews will likely be put on hold for a few weeks. I wish I had more to say on the subject, but I don't, particularly since I'm writing this week's in advance.

What you will have during this transition is a few of the regular blog posts.  We'll be posting our weekly "Candy Thing" as well as our weekly "Candy In The Media" posts.  This Week In Candy will also still be posted, but keep in mind that they're all pre-written, and they'll generally just explain that there's things going on.  Reviews may, or may not, be going online while we're in transition.  That really depends on our tech situation at any given moment.  Since this "transition/adventure" is a somewhat permanent thing, we're sure to run into a couple of bugs while we try to make sure everything works.  So please be patient.

To make up for everything we're not doing, we're giving you guys a fun little bonus.  For the month of September we're posting weekly articles about candies with variety.  This week we're posting about the bar that probably has the most varieties Kit Kat.  We'll talk about all of the different versions that are out there, and which are the ones worth trying.  Next week, we'll be looking at Pocky.

Snack Facts, our Instagram feed will not be posting daily, instead it will be posting randomly.  We'll post any fun things we learn about while this adventure happens.  Sometimes you'll get a whole bunch of posts, other times not so much.  You can always keep up with Snack Facts on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

Speaking of Facebook and Twitter, this is going to be where a great deal of our continuing coverage will be.  We hope to post here as regularly as we can with updates as to where we are, and what we're eating (junk food and candy wise).


I have internet, so here's a new review! Click here to enjoy it!


Friday, August 26, 2016

Candy In The Media

I've been pretty interested in this whole VR goggle trend, now that I can make my own out of graham crackers I'm even more intrigued.


Thursday, August 25, 2016

There's A New Episode Of Chris, Why Would You Eat That?!! Online

In this latest episode rather than watching Chris get grossed out, you can watch Chris be disappointed, and when it all boils down that's just so much worse.

Watch past episodes of Chris, Why Would You Eat That?!! here.


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Two Years In Pakistan

Pakistani culture is similar to its food, it can be really good, and sometimes it can be very difficult.  While I'm sure locals get over the difficult parts, as a foreigner that can be much more challenging.  If you're even somewhat  adventurous, the challenging can be at the very least educational. The part that shocked me most when moving to this country was the amount of good that there is, both in the people and the food.  People wise there is a lot of good, some of the most friendly people you'll ever meet, people who want to make you happy, and many who are willing to give the little that they have just to be a good person.

Food wise the challenges mostly came from the poverty issues. Health and cleanliness are a big issue in Pakistan.  There are really two levels of this when it comes to the food, one is that there are certain bacteria that locals can handle, but foreigners cannot, this lead to some problems particularly early on.  The second comes from other contaminants that even the  locals can not handle.  The contaminants are often found in the tap water, and this makes life very challenging. While this is a problem that cannot be overlooked, if you did you'd be in for a bad night of stomach upset, you also can't overlook how great some of the food is as well.

You can't start a conversation about Pakistani food without India.  In the 1960s Pakistan was part of India, while the religion may have been different, the food has many similarities.  Spicy is the order of  the day, and you'll have a hard time finding anything that isn't spicy, even the basic fast food places have menu items that would shock most westerners.  There is also a great range in spices used, it's not just about heat, but it's also about the flavours behind the heat.  The biggest differences you'll find  in the food between Pakistan and India is the meat.  Beef being illegal in many parts of India, is a huge part of the Pakistani diet.  Pork, while not illegal in India is not common, in Pakistan pork is illegal. This certainly makes for different choices when it comes to meals.

Subtlety there are a few differences between the two cuisines.  I found that Pakistani food tends to blend more spices together in each dish.  It's much harder to take apart a Pakistani dish and figure out what flavours are mixed in.  In Indian food the flavours are simpler, and maybe a little bit cleaner, with one or two spices leading each dish.

One of the great debates in local cuisine between India and Pakistan is who makes the best naan bread. Many people prefer the lighter Indian naan bread, but personally I really liked the thick heavy naan bread from Pakistan.  Indian naan is more flexible, and would then be easier to pick up food, but the heartiness of Pakistani naan made it a meal into itself. Pakistani naan also often had highlights, as well.  In Pakistan you can find naan stuffed with so many fillings, spicy or sweet.

As for candies and confectionery, Pakistan was a fascinating place.  In the packaged candy department there are a few locally made treats.  Most of these are either hard candies or gummies, and two of the most predominant flavours are Imli (a sweet red bean) or hot peppers.  The most popular packaged treats in Pakistan are not Pakistani at all.  Most of the chocolate bar market seemed to be British, this is likely because of the British influence from occupying this area for so long.  Dairy Milk and other British brands can be found everywhere.

Locally made treats where very different indeed.  Most treats came in the form of barfi and jalebi. As unappealing as it sounds to North American ears, barfi is a really great sweet treat, often made of milk.  It's a smooth creamy and sweet treat that takes on many forms.  Jalebi is a common sweet treat found in Pakistan that looks like a poorly made pretzel, but is in fact a sweet deep fried treat.  It's my favorite of all the treats I found in Pakistan, and something I hope to learn how to make myself.  As with the food, many of these treats can also be found in India, and there is always great debate as to where they have originated.

I can't lie, I had some trouble with the food in Pakistan. Many a night I found myself in the bathroom lying on the floor wondering what could have possibly made me this sick.  It's not a place for those that aren't adventurous (I'm still not sure how I survived).  The thing is, when it works, it works really well.  There's so much more to Pakistani cooking than just the food. I can't tell you how many times I enjoyed the environment, and people around me when I was eating. I'll never forget eating on New Food Street in Lahore, up on the rooftop of Andas restaurant looking down at a giant mosque with good people all around me.

Before I go, I can't forget the mangos... They're like nothing I've ever eaten before.


Monday, August 22, 2016

This Week In Candy, I'm Home

It's been 6 years now, but I'm finally home.  Over the last 6 years I've been living outside of my home country of Canada. It started with 4 years in Greece, and then 2 years in Pakistan.  Withing these times I traveled a lot, and saw a great deal of the world (including sampling a huge number of awesome treats), but now I'm home.  For the next little while my travel plans are going to go down (but not all gone), and I'm going to look at the food from my home and native land.  I'm also going  to look at the food from my favorite neighbours to the south as well.

Already in my first few days back I've noticed a few things.  First of all portion sizes are huge compared to most of the world.  I haven't been able to enjoy too many desserts lately because I can't even get through half of my giant dinners and lunches. Secondly, the selection of food in North America is amazing, I've found snacks and treats at Walmart that before this I only could find at local shops in developing countries.  Finally, food looks really good in North America, it doesn't always reflect the quality of flavour, but everything just looks great.

You might be asking, now that I'm back, what's going on here at Candy Critic?  I think there will be a few changes, mostly with when and how things are posted on this blog.  I might delay the posts so they go online later in the day, but that will come about as time goes on.  This week we're still going to have our regular posts with a new Candy Thing and Candy In The Media.  We'll also post a new episode of Chris, Why Would You Eat That?!! going online later this week.  For the next few weeks Snack Facts (our Instagram feed) is going to continue on vacation mode, and just post facts as we come across them.  This could mean you get several posts in one day, and maybe a few days off in between.

Later this week I'll also be  posting a recap of my time, and the food I discovered in Pakistan.  It's a pretty amazing place,  and although it's not an easy place to live, I had some great experiences. All this week I'm also going to be posting updates on my life settling back in Canada.  You can follow this adventure on our Facebook and Twitter feeds.

This week's new candy review is a candy made by some of my favorite candy makers here in Canada.  OMG's came out a few years  back, and I was lucky to have been visiting when they did.  Now that I'm back, I'm really happy to see that they're still around.  This week's review makes me proud to be a Canadian. Click here to read the review.


Friday, August 19, 2016

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Candy Critic Dessert Club – Ice Cream Meets Apple Pie - Apple Pie Ice Cream Cake

I have a strange goal in life, I want to discover the best ice cream recipe that does not require an ice cream maker. By this I mean no ice cream maker at all, not even a makeshift ice cream maker, like two Ziploc bags and salted ice. This recipe might be one of the best answers to this goal so far. It not only delivers an ice cream like substance, but it also tastes pretty good as well.



1/2 cup of melted butter
2 cups of crushed digestive cookies
2 tsp brown sugar

Ice Cream Filling

2 Cups of whipped cream
14 Oz of sweetened condensed milk
About 1 cup apple pie filling (I have a great recipe right here)
1 tsp cinnamon

You'll also need a baking pan (that can be frozen), waxed paper, a mixer (or a whisk with some serious elbow grease) and a mixing bowl.
Take your broken up cookies and in the mixing bowl add the brown sugar, stir till incorporated. Take the melted butter and ad it to the crushed cookie mix. Stir these together until your cookie bits are made up of fairly evenly sized clumps. Take the cookie mix and pour it into your baking pan, that should already be lined with waxed paper. Using a spoon, press the cookie mix into the bottom of the pan until it evenly covers the bottom. Once you have a smooth cookie base, put the baking pan and cookie base in the refrigerator.

While the base is cooling in the refrigerator, wipe out your mixing bowl, and add the whipped cream. Whip the cream until it sets, and the cream forms peaks. With the hand mixer this shouldn't take more than a few minutes, with the whisk it will take much longer (and will be a little painful). Once the whipped cream is whipped, ad the condensed milk and whip it a little more on the lowest setting on your mixer. You only want to blend the two dairy products, and you don't want to over whip the whipped cream.

Once the two dairy products are mixed together, add the cinnamon and pie filling. Using a spoon or spatula gently fold the ingredients together. Do not use the mixer for this as it will over whip the whipped cream.

Take your cookie crust out of the refrigerator and pour the filling mix on top of the crust. Using the spoon or spatula level the cream filling off. If you'd like, you can sprinkle the top of the cake with more crushed cookies, or any other hard topping you'd like. Place your unfrozen ice cream cake in the freezer, and leave it there for at least 12 hours.

Once the cake has frozen remove the cake and let it sit for a couple of minutes. After a few minutes you should be able to remove the cake and the wax paper. Take the cake and waxed paper out, then peel off the waxed paper. You might have to flip the ice cream cake upside down to peel off all of the waxed paper. Once the waxed paper is removed, cut the edges off the cake and discard (into your tummy).

Cut the rest of the cake anyway you like. You can either serve immediately or return it to the pan and serve later (should last a couple of weeks in the freezer). When serving you can add whipped cream or any kind of sauce you like.


Monday, August 15, 2016

This Week In Candy

It's going to be a short one today as this week is absolute madness here at Candy Critic.  Most notably, we're going home this week, for a few years at least.  We're packing up and moving back to Canada for a few years, and this week is the week where we make the move.  We'll have a round up of everything once we're back in Canada and settled in a bit.  I've also got a few ideas for posts for our journey back home (which will likely take about 30 or 40 hours).  Make sure to check out our Twitter and Facebook feeds for regular updates (or at the very least whenever we have internet).

Since we knew this week would be insane, we set up a bunch of articles to be posted on the blog while we're in transit.  So you'll still get your weekly dose of a Candy Thing, and Candy In The Media.  We're also going to be posting a new recipe, and it's a really good one, and that's going up tomorrow.

This week's new review is almost a sequel to last week's review.  I picked up last's week's review (which was a crazy new flavour of Lay's chips), and a friend of mine suggest I try another interesting flavour.  He claimed that although the concept was a little weak, the way they did them was pretty good. Click here to check out this old idea done in a new way.


Thursday, August 11, 2016

A New Episode Of Junk Fud On The Road Is Online!

This month's episode is all about Japan, and the crazy junk food you can find there.  The food was so crazy there that it inspired me to write a book (coming soon... I hope).


Monday, August 08, 2016

This Week In Candy

Thing here at Candy Critic are in a kind of wind down phase.  We're deep in the thralls of moving ourselves back home to Canada, a place we've been away from for almost 6 years.  It's been a great 6 years abroad where we've sampled some amazing snacks from all over the world, but it's time to get back to our roots.  The plan is to try and spend one full year without getting onto an airplane.  It's a time to eat some of our classic local food, and also see what's new.  It's a time to get back to our roots.

Having said all of that, we're going to be heading on our first "local" adventure almost immediately, with a trip to Disney World.  The idea is to inundate ourselves with the ultimate in North American culture, and a drive down the east coast of America to Florida seemed like a great way to do that.  A stop at the happiest place on earth is the icing on the cake, especially because the EPCOT food and wine festival will be on while we're there.  We'll get to sample foods from all over the world.

This week we'll be focusing on our move, and you might see some signs of that on our Twitter and Facebook feeds.  Even though we're moving, we're going to do everything in our power to keep the content coming here on Candy Critic.  This includes a new episode of our podcast Junk Fud On The Road, which will go up later this week. I think the only thing that's going to "take a break" is going to be Snack Facts, our Instagram feed.  It's not stopping per se, but it will be going into vacation mode.  That means that rather than post something everyday, we'll post fun Snack Facts as we come across them on this move.  For the next few weeks, many of these posts are likely to be connected to our pack up and move.

We're also going to be keeping our reviews coming, as best we can, throughout the move.  This week's review is a pretty special treat, or at least I hope it becomes one.  These chips were a revelation, and something I hope last longer than expected.  Click here to read the review.


Friday, August 05, 2016

Candy In The Media

This isn't exactly candy, unless you consider coffee candy, but it's a pretty interesting look at how Hollywood deals with on-screen coffee drinkers.


Thursday, August 04, 2016

A New Episdoe Of Junk Fud News Is Online!

Just posted the latest episode of Junk Fud News where we look back on the month of July 2016.


Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Monday, August 01, 2016

This Week In Candy

Feeling much better this week, but that means that I'm behind, and I have to catch up.  I think I mentioned this before on this blog, but just in case I didn't, I thought I'd let you all know that I'm moving... again.  The good news is that I'm moving back home, to Canada.  The bad news is that I have to tie up a lot of loose ends where I am before I leave.  I was hoping to get a good start on that last week, but the food poisoning made sure that wasn't going to happen.  So that just means we'll have to put things in high gear here, and get everything ship shape before we go.  That mostly means cleaning out the candy drawer, writing reviews, and shooting episodes of Chris, Why Would You Eat That?!!

This week you should expect our regular shenanigans, along with a new episode of Junk Fud, our podcast.  This week's episode is going to be all about the junk food news that happened during the month of July.  I expect the episode should be up sometime around  Thursday.  I'm also working on a special article that I hope to get up soon where I'm going to design a candy (most likely chocolate bar) based on the present American US election candidates.  If you have any ideas, let me know.

This week on Snack Facts, our Instagram feed, we're looking at bacteria.  Sure it doesn't sound appealing, but last week I felt pretty sick, so I was inspired to research food born bacteria that makes you sick.  If you're a daring foodie, you might be familiar with a few of these. Make sure to keep up with Snack Facts on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, and learn why that under-cooked hamburger made you ill.

This week's new review has a strange name, Lunch Bar.  I can only assume you're supposed to eat it at lunch, but there's no specific instructions on the package.  It's not like a Clark bar is only for people named "Clark".  Make sure to read our latest review, and eat the bar whenever you want.