after dinner sneeze

a lot of g says, t says

Posts Tagged ‘Chocolate


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t says:  Yesterday, I ate a spoonful of homemade chocolate sauce for dessert.  g thought it was disgusting.  I disagreed – it was delicious!  And, as bw has pointed out, my chocolate consumption could have some very significant positive implications down the line …

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18 October 2012 at 8:18pm

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imitating nutella

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t says:  Nutella is for me what Sriracha is for kp: it could go on pretty much anything, and I’d be happy.  You can imagine my surprise then during my last grocery escapade when I cam across a Nutella imitation … by Jif!

“choosey moms choose Jif …”

Feeling the need to do some investigative journalism (and the need for an excuse to shove more chocolate-flavored goodness in my mouth), I decided to do the above three-way comparison.  No – I have no idea why I thought to include peanut butter, but it seemed like a good idea at the time (in truth, I probably included it because it was right next to the other two in our pantry).

nutritional information

I decided to first compare the labels.  I was tempted to call the original Nutella “healthier” than Jif’s version … but then I realized that because both are kinda-sorta-really-awful for you (I mean, seriously, who’s eating either of these thinking that they’re “healthy”?), the minute differences are silly to point out.  They both have a lot of fat.  They have a lot of sugar.  Period.  What is interesting, however, is the picture of Nutella’s “example of a tasty yet balanced breakfast”.  Yea – I’m pretty sure that the inclusion of Nutella contributes absolutely nothing to the overall “balance”/completeness of that breakfast … as demonstrated by Nutella recently losing a lawsuit over the claims of promoting healthy eating.  Sorry Nutella – you’re not fooling anyone.


On to the taste-test!  I elected to start by eating a bit of each of them straight-up.  I thought for sure that Jif would have a different texture than Nutella – but I was wrong – it’s very similar.  Kudos to Jif for being able to emulate that oddly-soft-yet-cohesive-and-sticky quality of Nutella; I thought for sure that they’d screw it up and make it texturally similar to peanut butter.  As for taste, I can say that Nutella and Jif are indeed different.  Nutella is smooth-as-a-baby’s-bottom: it’s creamy/milky the whole way through, with a gradual onset and recession of a smooth hazelnut flavor.  It’s like the tide rolling in and leaving.  Jif, on the other hand is punchier.  On top of the milk chocolate and hazelnut is some kind of tangy/zippy flavor throughout that I feel is most similar to a pistachio.  Consequently, the Jif is more dynamic – it draws attention to the fact that there’s some kind of nutty flavor going on – it’s more like throwing in a few strikes of lightning to an otherwise serene rolling of the tide.  Could I tell them apart had I not tasted them next to eachother?  Unsure.  But there’s a definite difference when you do …

and again … with accompaniments!

I then went back and tasted them again with honey wheat pretzels and then again with prunes.  What was odd is that I liked the Nutella with the pretzel (that creaminess is nicely balanced with the pretzel’s salt and mild wheatiness – whereas the Jif’s extra nuttiness masked everything), but preferred the Jif with the prune (the extra nuttiness was useful against the palate-dominating plum flavor).

So I guess this means that for crazy people, there might be individual roles for both spreads.  And while I’m pretty crazy, I’m not so crazy that I’d stock them both.  So who’s going to “win” the next time I go to the grocery store?  Well, after they run out (I mean, obviously I’m going to have to work my way through them both), I anticipate that I’ll return to the Nutella – that creaminess is just too addictive.  Jif did a great job (a spoonful of Jif hazlenut spread works just as well as Nutella in picking up your mood after a tough day) – but there’s something about the original that just can’t be beat …

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5 September 2012 at 12:47am

Posted in Happenings

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rationalizing the chocolate in my diet.

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t says:  I <3 chocolate.  A lot.  All the time.  I knew that sooner or later someone would find some kind of silver lining to the cloud that’ll come with eating 5+ servings a week.  And here it is:

Inspired by this recent article, I’ve decided to put up some pics of some recent chocolate experiences:

Austrian chocolates courtesy of temporary Austrians!

When drb and his fiance visited us most recently, they came bearing gifts!  Handmade Austrian chocolate bars!  And, while not something that g and I are particularly aware of, these were organic, fair trade handmade Austrian chocolate bars.  That’s right – chocolate with a conscience!  Feeling that we should share these with friends, as access to foreign candies is rare for us, we brought them out when dining with dz and smn.  In short, I can tell you that they were fabulous.  Well, 2 were fabulous, while 1 was straight-up weird (in a potentially fabulous way!).  The “Happy Birthday” one (technically for g’s bday) had milk chocolate and caramel butter cream nougat and a stiff, thin layer of “cracknel” (crunchy caramel).  While not as dark a chocolate that I normally prefer, it was actually quite wonderful.  The ratio of chocolate to filling was just right, unlike those chocolate samplers that everyone sees around the Valentine’s day which have way too much filling.  Had it been darker chocolate, it might have overwhelmed the sweet caramel, so I liked it the way it was (but wonder what would happen if there was a dark chocolate version with a bit of salt).  The sesame and sour cherry one I think was crowd favorite.  Imagine a mouthful of bitter dark chocolate, a sweet-and-sour cherry overtone, and a hint of sesame in the background and that’s precisely what this tasted like.  I’m going to add some sesame to my cherry chocolate chip cookies the next time I make them.  The wildcard here was the ginger-carrot bar, which had a “carrot chocolate” with “coconut and ginger cream”.  I think that this caught us off-guard because I have a feeling that “carrot chocolate” is as much a chocolate as “white chocolate” is (i.e. NOT chocolate).  It was interesting – the coconut was a nice surprise (we didn’t read the label before indulging).  While definitely the loser of the trio, as it was the only one we had leftovers of, I think that I’m going to have to experiment with this bar some more before criticizing it.

take 2 cookies and call me in the morning ...

My last chocolate adventure has to do with Insomnia Cookies, which recently opened up a storefront in addition to their truck (which I had visited before).  What’s better than having closer access to delicious cookies?  FREE cookies!  As I had mentioned, the week they were opening, they were giving away free cookies.  Obviously, I absolutely had to find some excuse to visit the store and get my free cookie.  But why stop there?  Why not support them and actually buy a cookie, too?  So, as you can see, I got a free standard chocolate chunk cookie (on the left), and I bought the triple chocolate deluxe one (on the right).  I won’t belabor just how awesome it was to eat warm fresh cookies.  Simply put, there are few desserts that can rival such a feeling.  I will say, though, that the deluxe cookie actually did taste better than the regular, free one.  Is it worth the nearly doubling in price?  Well, it is larger (I calculated it to be approximately 40% bigger by volume), but even more important is that because of this, the center is chewier.  If you’re like me, a chewy center is key, so I guess I’m going to always have to with the deluxe.  Yea.  I’m sure that’s exactly what Insomnia Cookies wants me to do.  Oh well.  I guess they know their target audience: suckers for cookies (n.b. I still prefer my homemade cookies to these because I like a darker chocolate and some salt, but it’s not like I’m crazy enough to have dough on hand at all times or anything … right?  No.  That’d be crazy.)

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29 March 2012 at 11:35am

Chocolate + Pop Rocks = ???

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t says:  Someone gave g a candy bar.  I proceeded to eat the candy bar.  Result:  g didn’t get any.  Oops!  But to be fair, I did take a few days to eat it – she could have had some any time she wanted …

As you can see – there really is no way for me to communicate to you what this bar is called, who it’s made by, or even where it’s from (g tells me it’s from Israel – so says google, which pointed me to this blog).  But I will tell you one thing: it had Pop Rocks in it (or at least something like Pop Rocks).  That’s right – it had that sugary candy with the carbonation that pops/fizzes in your mouth.

Pop Rocks alone never actually tasted good to me, but I guess others and I liked it because it made fun noises – never mind that it never sounded as loud to anyone around you as it did to you while you were eating ’em.  Fortunately, the chocolate bar was far better than straight-up Pop Rocks, as the chocolate was sweet and creamy.  I did eat some for breakfast one day and it added a nice spring in my step for the morning.  Good fun.

I guess my point of this post was to show you a wrapper so that if you ever come across this candy bar, you’ll buy it … and then share it with me …

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6 November 2011 at 9:51pm

Posted in Happenings

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Max Brenner: Chocolate Pizza and Chocolate Soup

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t says: We went out looking for some place in Center City with drinks and dessert. Naked Chocolate is wonderful, but they have no liquor license. West Philly was too far away, otherwise we would have considered Capogiro. Instead, g, kp, and I went to Max Brenner. Here’s the short-and-sweet tale …

6/2010, 9pm, Party of 3. It was melting outside (stupid humid summer nights), so we were relieved that the inside was well air-conditioned. Of course, they also opened the windows to the joint – so we were confused. Do they want the chocolate to melt? Do they like stressing their air conditioners? Do they like paying PECO a ton of money? Or maybe they just hate the environment? Or maybe they wanted to mock me as they sat us in the warm part of the restaurant after we knew quite well that they were capable of cooling the place sufficiently …

The ambience … in a word … dark. We could barely read the menu. It was definitely someone’s idea of a joke to have those tiny candles on the table be our sole source for lighting. It was also super loud … which is weird, because the space is quite open (and the windows were open), so we’re not sure why it felt like we were in a shoebox BYO at peak dinner time. Maybe everyone was experiencing a sugar-high?

kp and I split the half-order of the chocolate pizza with “the works” (marshmallow, peanut butter, and bananas). Holy crap. It was great! Of course, it was unbelievably rich – but because of this, it was also very economical as we were barely able to finish it (kp had to abandon some of the crust). But, in reality, I guess we could make this at home. As a matter of fact, kp now has possession of two pizza stones, so we might just go ahead and try it one day. Ok, so it wasn’t an ingenius invention … but it was tasty.

g had some sort of “euphoria sundae”. On one hand, it had similar components to what was on our pizza … except it was supposed to be on top of ice cream. Well … much to g’s discontent – ALL of the ice cream had melted! She was basically eating a cool soup. This was a major disappointment for her, as she was expecting a cold, refreshing dessert because it was so warm in there! Good flavors (she really liked the caramel sauce), but poor execution.

For drinks, I had the chocolate milk … it was “ok”. It wasn’t as nearly as cold as I would have liked (it was supposed to be over ice, but there was not a single cube in it!). kp had the tiramisu cocktail. The Courvoisier was quite potent in it, but I’m not sure if he’d ever really complain about too high an alcohol content (ask him about his “Grape Monster”).

In conclusion … If you go, the best dessert in my opinion is the pizza, as it is quite filling and inexpensive. If you get ice cream, make sure it’s cold. Alternatively, if you just stock up on chocolate, peanut butter, caramel, bananas, and marshmallow, you can open up your own Max Brenner in your living room.

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14 June 2010 at 12:41pm

Chocolate Taste-off: Vosges vs. the World

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t says: Back when I was a wee one, I ate Hershey’s chocolate bars. They were yummy. They had that classic Hershey’s texture where no matter what temperature it was outside, it was soft and flexible – almost like a fudge or really thick ganache. Flash forward 20 years, and I’m still eating Hershey’s chocolate bars … how can you make s’mores without ’em? I guess I don’t consider them to be “fine chocolate”, but I still consider them as tasty … “things”. At a recent Philly food tour, I was introduced to better chocolates and was intrigued … but hadn’t had the chance to really explore these fancier chocolates …

One day a month or so ago, lc sent us some Vosges chocolate, which was flavored with bacon. She thought we’d get a kick out of the concept. I did! My response was “ooooooo, bbaaccoonn …”. But g’s was, “oooooo, Vvoossggeess …”. I had never heard of Vosges, aside from the mountains. g tells me it’s some really nice, really expensive chocolate. I took her word for it. I imagine real choco-philes would probably snub Vosges (much like they snub Max Brenner), instead preferring some kind of chocolate that was had from a certain cocoa plant that was fertilized with a certain type of manure from a sacred cow that fed on a blessed field of grass. Whatever. I was going to judge for myself just how “good” these chocolates were; would they fulfill the ultimate criteria: would I buy it again?

A few weeks passed and I still had not yet tasted the bacon chocolate – I kept holding off until we got more other chocolates to taste with it. Of course, I kept forgetting to pick up other chocolates when I saw them (e.g. at Naked Chocolate Cafe). Then g and I just happened to run into a store in Kennett Square that had a clearance on Vosges – buy one, get one free. I considered it but was not super-convinced it was worth $8 for two bars ($8 each, normally). Then the manager gave me a piece of the Vosges chocolate that featured chiles. I put it in my mouth and was greeted with a nice bitter dark chocolate. As it slowly melted in my mouth, the taste of chocolate increased as the bitterness faded – it was delicious! But then came the heat. Now, I like heat, and I even like heat with my chocolate – but it was a little distracting – it just screamed “I’m hot and I’m here and I killed the chocolate – what are you gonna do about it?”. So I decided that I wanted to try more Vosges but vetoed getting the chile one – we picked up one creole bar (flavored with chicory, espresso, and cocoa nibs) and one naga bar (flavored with curry and coconut milk). The stage was set – we were going to have a four-way taste-off … or so I thought …

Two more weeks passed, and I found myself at the local drug store staring at Cadbury chocolate bars that were on sale for $1. g and I have a thing for Cadbury fruit-and-nut bars (especially the one that kp brought back from England, i.e. not made by Hershey’s), so I was thinking of throwing it in the mix. I was sold when I saw the “2009 Chef’s Choice” or some other meaningless award advertised on the package. Then, a few days later, in Picnic (I needed some eggs and the drug store was too far away), I had to buy some more stuff so that I could use my credit card. They had some other chocolate bars – these were by “Chocolove”! Swayed by the goofy name, I bought one that included crystallized ginger and another that was “cherry and chilie” (I hate spelling it like that). Now, it was going to be a 7-chocolate tasting! A random Thursday night came around and I figured that I should put this tasting to rest or risk buying more chocolate “for the sake of the blog”. I was totally ready for it. g was also psyched … but she fell asleep before I was done opening each of the packages (she’s narcoleptic like that). It was just me and the chocolate (I saved her some) …

That's a lot of chocolate!

The chocolate's ready!

I couldn’t figure out how one should go about properly tasting chocolate. For wine, you normally start with those that have less body/flavor/tannin and increase – so light, herbaceous whites, followed by fruitier, intense whites, followed by light reds, followed by hit-you-in-the-mouth reds. For chocolate, do you go by the bitterness or by the sugar? I was afraid to go for the milk chocolate first because then the dark ones might come off as far too bitter. I was also afraid of getting full if I tried to save the Vosges for last (that’s a LOT of chocolate). So I did the four Vosges at random, had a Cadbury interlude, and then finished with the last two (which I figured would be sweeter than the Vosges).

The creole bar was first. In retrospect, this was very dumb because it was the darkest of the bunch (I think), but random is random – so that’s the way it was. As soon as I put it in my mouth, all I could taste was “yikes, that’s bitter”. It was very bitter. But there was something about this bitter – it didn’t taste like chocolate. It was something else … I remembered the espresso … there we go … that’s what it was – the flavor of bitter coffee was up first … then the chocolate took over as the bitterness faded. Next came a slow building up of coffee flavor that eventually dissipated, returning once again to chocolate, but now it had a very enjoyable sweetness. It was a rollercoaster for my mouth – I enjoyed it very much. There was also something crunchy in there … not sure what it was (?cocoa nibs?), but it was fun to munch on. I did taste this again later, just to make sure the tasting note was consistent … it was.

Next was the Naga bar. Even before I put it into my mouth, my nose caught a whiff of the curry – it was strong, but delightful. I thought I knew what was coming – it was going to be a blissful marriage of savory and sweet … Unfortunately, what I thought was coming was actually better than what came. Yes, there was curry flavor, and yes there was chocolate (more of a milky, sweeter chocolate than the creole – ?coconut milk?), but I just didn’t think the two played well with one another. It reminded me of the Vosges chocolate-chile sample I had in the store – both flavors were there and vivid, but that doesn’t mean it’s a great combo. Would you dip your chocolate in curry?

The bacon bars were next. I had high expectations. Having made bacon-chocolate-chip cookies, I knew this was going to be fun. I bit into the milk chocolate bacon bar, immediately running into something with crunch. It was bacon. I was surprised! I didn’t think that it’d actually have bacon in it – does that mean it should be refrigerated? No idea … In any case, the bacon flavor was profound; the chocolate barely touched the bacon flavor – that was weird (it made me sad). Then a bacon bit got stuck under my tongue (it made me mad). Fortunately, the second bite, which had far fewer bacon bits, had more chocolate-bacon balance – woohoo! I found the chocolate to be very nice (texturally and taste-wise), but it was a little on the sweet side. I looked forward to the dark chocolate …

The flavor of the dark chocolate bacon bar swung the balance in favor of chocolate – the bacon flavor was only there in the presence of a hint of salt – which was nice with the chocolate, but in honesty, the bacon bits tasted more like salted nuts than actual bacon. The bacon flavor only really came on well after I had swallowed the chocolate. It was good, but I want some more bacon up front. In any case, it was very interesting to see what the effect of the chocolate had on the taste of the different bacon bars.

Yeah, Cadbury chocolate bar that was next … dumb idea. It tasted like a sweet, sugary mess. It almost tasted gross which is weird, because it’s normally not a bad chocolate at all – for $1 it was a steal! I guess its cacao percentage just couldn’t stand up to the bolder chocolates I had had up until then … For a split second, I felt like a full-fledged chocolate snob!

The chocolate-cherry-chile bar hit me in the face with cherry from the get-go. And then I bit into something soft – presumably a cherry. Splash! My palate got another dose of sweet cherry. I was caught offguard and regretting that chomp (but I liked the texture – it was the first squishy thing of the evening). But then the chile flavor turned on and saved the day, adding some refreshing spice to my mouth. The only thing – I really didn’t get a whole lot of chocolate – some was there (more up front with the cherry), but it didn’t last. Still – cherry and chile was a fun combo – I think I’d eat it as a 2pm snack for a little fun pick-me-up – like one would eat some sour patch kids or something.

Finally … the last chocolate of the night (well, except for having to go back and re-taste the creole bar). I faced the chocolate and crystallized ginger. I put it in my mouth, not knowing if I could handle the perfume of ginger if it was turned up as high as the cherry was in the bar before. Lo and behold, it was quite tasty! Just the right amount of sweet and tangy ginger to balance the lush and bitter chocolate. Why didn’t I think of this? It’s so simple! While perhaps not as complex an evolution of flavors as the creole bar (ginger and chocolate turned on at the same time and ended at the same time, with the sugar from the ginger buffering the bitter from the chocolate), I was still super-happy. I could totally see a crystallized ginger-dark-chocolate-chip cookie coming out of this. I’m going to have to try it soon.

And I guess that’s it … Summary? The chocolate, itself, in the Vosges bars was great! I think the other flavors that were incorporated ranged from great to ick (*sighs* curry). I think that it’s probably a good idea to sample a variety pack and decide for yourself which of these flavor combos works the best. Nevertheless … I still recommend the bacon for everyone (even though I preferred the Creole one) – if for no other reason than it’s a great conversation starter.

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4 April 2010 at 10:03pm

Tofu Brownie-Cakes

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t says: Why on earth would I make these? I have no dietary restrictions. Tofu shouldn’t be in desserts. So why? I’m a prankster.

g’s older sister lc frowns upon tofu. I’m pretty sure I’ve heard her swear that she will not eat it. Because of this (or because I imagined this – she may have actually eaten tofu before – I have no idea), I made it my mission to make her eat tofu. But how? Surely she has eyes, so it’d have to be concealed. Surely she has a tongue, so it’d have to be texturally masked. I then read online that someone said you could add tofu to boxed cake mix. That person was a genius.

Now, really, there’s no reason to add tofu to boxed cake mix – you still have to add eggs (well, I still do – some people say you don’t – I think they’re lying). Also, it doesn’t “do” anything for the cake – it just comes out a little thicker than normal (which is why I made them in a cupcake pan and called them “brownie-cakes” – sinister, right?), but otherwise imparts no flavor to the brownie (especially if you use dark chocolate chips – their flavor’s fairly strong).  So I want to restate: there really is absolutely no reason one should add tofu to cake mix … unless you want someone to eat tofu … without him/her knowing until it’s too late …


__ 1 package of silken tofu, excess liquid removed
__ 1 boxed cake mix
__ some chocolate chips (optional)
__ all the ingredients the box calls for (# of eggs cut in half)


0) Preheat the oven as per the box’s directions for cupcakes. I greased the cupcake pan because I did NOT use cupcake wrappers – brownies don’t have wrappers.

1) Mix together all ingredients and beat VERY well. If there are chunks of tofu, your eater will be suspicious. Add chocolate chips to give the cupcakes some textural contrasts (and to hide the texture of any tofu chunks you might have missed – still pretty sinister, right?)

2) Bake as per the box’s directions.

3) Serve to unsuspecting eaters. Why? Because you’re a sinister mastermind …

PS I don’t know if there is such a thing as a soy allergy, but if someone avoids tofu for some sort of medical reason, don’t serve them these – that’s not sinister – that’s stupid (and likely criminal).

PPS Yes, it worked.  She ate them.

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21 February 2010 at 10:24pm