{Chocolate Review}: Toffee Theory

October 27th, 2011 · 13 Comments · Candy, Chocolate, Field Guide to Candy, Recipes, Reviews, San Francisco, SF Events

toffee field guide candy
image from Field Guide to Candy

A few weeks back, I was invited to be a judge for TasteTV‘s Best Toffee in North America Competition. A whole boxful of toffees delivered to my door? Yes, please!

Those of you who are curious about the difference between toffee, English toffees, and buttercrunch, feel free to see my older post on buttercrunch. I became quite obsessed with untangling the various monikers of this candy while researching my candy book, if you couldn’t tell.

These days, most buttercrunch is marketed simply as “toffee”; I only saw one brand out of thirteen that was labelled “English toffee” (Which may perhaps provide some comfort to poor Brits trying to find their version of the candy abroad). For that reason, I will refer to all the candy I sampled for the competition as toffee, to avoid confusion. I will maintain, though, my abiding love for the word “buttercrunch”. If I ever make and sell my own version, I’ll call it buttercrunch, and probably confuse the heck out of everyone.

So how does one determine the best toffee?

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{Cookbook Review} CakeSpy Tour de Sweet

October 13th, 2011 · 3 Comments · Cookbooks, Cookies, Recipes, Reviews

TdSgraphic

 

Cupcakes, unicorns, and rainbows. Today I’m excited to be part of CakeSpy’s Tour de Sweet blog tour! Cakespy is one of my favorite sweet blogs – the adorable graphics and quirky fun recipes definitely make it one of the most distinctive sites out there. I love Cuppie the cupcake – his smiling face and his group of equally delicious friends always makes me smile when I visit the website.

I was honored to get an advance copy of Jessie (head CakeSpy)’s new cookbook, Sweet Treats for a Sugar-Filled Life, and I’m happy to say it’s just as captivating as her site. It contains over 60 recipes for some wildly outrageous concoctions like Cinnamon Rolls Stuffed with Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Cupcake Stuffed Cupcakes, and Red Velvet Cake Shake. I wish my dessert dreams were as creative as Jessie’s. The cookbook is liberally sprinkled with artwork of Cuppie and his companions. As someone with zero drawing ability, I love her art – it really helps set the cookbook apart from all the other cookbooks out there and adds to the zany and whimsical feel of the book.

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{SF} My Favorite Ice Cream Shops in San Francisco

August 5th, 2011 · 9 Comments · Reviews, San Francisco, Sweet Spots, Sweet Spots

mrmrsmisc

Typical menu board at Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous. Flavors change daily – another incentive to visit often.

By popular request and in an attempt to populate the “San Francisco” tab on my site, I’ve created a list of my favorite ice cream spots in San Francisco. Of course, I started this last week when it was bright, sunny, and warm (these three conditions are not always simultaneous in San Francisco), but naturally now it’s back to Fog City again. No matter – in SF ice cream consumption is rarely tied to the current weather but rather to the pure desire to have a cone filled with something sweet, frozen, and really, really delicious.

I’ve only listed ones that I’ve been to personally, as is only fair. However, as eating ice cream is one of my very favorite activities, and as there seems to be no shortage of ice cream shops both classic and artisan opening up in SF, rest assured this list will continue to be updated (with more photos, as well!) Feel free to give your own recommendations in the comments as well – there’s always room for more ice cream.

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{Cookbook Review} I’m Back! With Apricot Lemon Hazelnut Bars

June 15th, 2011 · 18 Comments · Cookbooks, Cookies, Recipes, Reviews

Apricot Hazelnut Lemon Bars on dessertfirstgirl.com

Hello all! I’m back from a 12 day Mediterranean cruise – Rome to Venice, with a bunch of Greek isles in between. I finally got to tick quite a few places off my travel wish list; I’m eager to share a recap with you in the next few weeks!

But first, thanks for your patience during my absence and thanks to all who entered the contest for Alice Medrich’s newest cookbook. The winner of a copy of Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy is:

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Hong Kong Eggettes (Daan Jai) for Mother’s Day

May 8th, 2011 · 28 Comments · Pastry, Personal, Recipes, Reviews, Tools

Eggettes (Daan Jai) trio

My first trip to Hong Kong that I remember happened when I was in fourth grade. (My very first time to Hong Kong, I was only a few months old, and therefore have no memories of that trip – a shame, as my maternal grandmother passed away shortly afterwards). When I went again as a fourth-grader, my mother took my sister and I down to the twisty streets of Yau Ma Tei and stopped at a streetside cart where a elderly man was spooning batter into what looked like a handheld waffle maker held over a charcoal grill. In a few seconds he turned out a golden, bubbly sheet into a paper cone and handed it to me.

Plain Eggettes

This was my introduction to eggettes, a classic Hong Kong street food. Like most street food, they taste best seconds after they’ve been handed to you by the vendor. Crisp on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside, it’s like bubble wrap made of cake, and pulling off the individual “eggs” affords a satisfaction akin to popping the little bubbles on bubble wrap. The Chinese name, daan jai or gai daan jai, literally translates to “little eggs”, which is what the treat resembles, although somewhere along the way someone came up with the much catchier name “eggettes.” Eggettes became one of my and my sisters’ favorite things to eat in Hong Kong, and every time we’ve returned, we keep one eye open for a eggette stall every time we step outside.

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{Chocolate Review} Sweet Treats for Easter

April 20th, 2011 · 2 Comments · Chocolate, Reviews, San Francisco, Sweet Spots, Sweet Spots

recchiutiforcenoirbox

Warning: There is going to be a lot of chocolate on this page for the next few posts. After all, it’s nearly Easter, the holidays that generates more candy sales than any other holiday save Halloween. Have you got your jellybeans and peeps ready for your Easter baskets?

Let me suggest a few other Easter treats you might not want to miss. Michael Recchiuti, one of my very favorite chocolatiers (and a great guy, to boot), has created some limited edition sweets for the holiday. I got a chance to sample a couple of them:

recchiutiforcenoireggs

These are the kind of Easter eggs I’m looking for now (sorry, candy-colored plastic eggs from the drugstore!) Recchiuti’s Force Noir Eggs, a shell of delicately painted dark chocolate enclosing his famous vanilla-laced chocolate ganache. You know how Reese’s comes out with their peanut butter eggs at Easter? I actually prefer them to the traditional peanut butter cups because I think the shape provides a better peanut butter to chocolate ratio. It’s the same concept here with the Force Noir Eggs – the plump curve of the chocolate shells is just the right amount of backdrop for the ganache filling to unfold in your mouth.

 
recchiutihoppeep

Another signature Recchiuti flavor, burnt caramel, gets the Easter treatment in the Peep & Hop Box – burnt caramel chocolates with spring-y Easter images printed on top. Although deep dark caramel is everywhere these days, Recchiuti was one of the first to really popularize the flavor. I got a box of eight of these chocolates and had to fight to hold on to even one to taste test! As delicious as ever.

These and other Easter treats can be found at Recchiuti’s website. Here’s hoping the Easter bunny brings you something sweet on Sunday!

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