Monday, January 17, 2011

CREAM: Alcohol Infused Whipped Cream Caramel Flavor

First of all, my apologies for the lack of pictures. I am not at home right now, and somehow between picture taking, editing, emailing back and forth etc., they all seem to have disappeared down the ravenous gullet of the Great Picture Monster. Again, I apologize. I will back be home within the next several days, where everything will at least be under the same roof, and hopefully this won't ever happen again.

Anyway, I am writing from what is still the frozen tundra that the fair city of Atlanta has lately become. I know my Northeastern friends and my Canadian friends are probably laughing themselves purple over the idea that six inches of snow and a ton of ice shut down the entire city for days (and here in the 'burbs we aren't out of it yet)...but all this time stuck indoors means that I have lots of extra time to do things like, ummmm...perfecting my Wii Super Mario (which actually just involves a lot of swearing), and doing some updates to my computer (which involved a lot of swearing when my browser deleted all of my bookmarks), and then there's the fact that while being stuck inside with a reasonable amount of alcohol I can't drink any of (health issues -- and yeah, more swearing).

But before Snowpocalypse 2011, we had Christmas 2010. And as the house bartender (regardless of if I can drink it or not), I got to make cocktails for the grownups. One of them is a Gingerbread Martini that I normally garnish with a little dollop of whipped cream. While we were at the liquor store my mother spotted Cream -- alcohol infused whipped cream -- and had to have it. And I have to admit it was a pretty interesting idea, so I wanted to try it myself.

Cream makes several flavors, but all our store had was caramel. It comes in your standard issue aerosol whipped cream can and is meant to be kept unrefrigerated. Also, like every other canned whipped cream, it squirts out the top (well, actually you are supposed to hold the can upside down to dispense).

In terms of looks and texture, if you have ever had canned whipped cream...well, again, it's all kinda the same. Although in terms of richness, I would say that it reminded me more of a reduced fat whipped cream than the full fat stuff.

Taste: Okay, so no one tell on me please! I "cheated" and had some (well duh, how else would I be writing this). I have to say upfront that it tastes far better when it is used as part of a drink than it does on its own. I can think of about 30 different shots with names worthy of a Girls Gone Wild video (Do they even still make those? Have all the girls aged out of being wild and moved into being bloated in front of the TV?) that I am sure this whipped cream is being used for -- and it probably works pretty well for that. Hell, it worked well enough on my Gingerbread Martini.

On its own the caramel smell was really good. It smelled like the sweetener put you into coffee drinks type rather than the darker, richer kind. In terms of, it tasted more like those cheap caramel flavored coffee syrups, with a strong generic alcohol push (although it's only 15% alcohol by volume). Again, both of these traits are not as noticeable when mixed with other booze, but personally I would never just snack on it by itself. That said, I love the concept and I would love to try the chocolate and the vanilla flavors.

Oh, and if you want my Gingerbread Martini recipe, here you go:
In an ice-filled martini shaker mix together:

1 oz. vodka
1/2 oz. Baileys/Irish Creme
1/2 oz. Kahlua/Coffee Liquor

Shake well and strain into the waiting rimmed martini glass. Garnish with a little dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkling of nutmeg (or cinnamon if you prefer).

This will make a two ounce martini. You can do it in larger amounts of alcohol (going to 1 full ounce of each mixer -- but because this is so sweet, it is super easy to down too much too soon, so I recommend going easy) or you could also mix in an extra ounce of half & half for a larger drink without the extra alcohol; although the flavor will be a little diluted this way. Have your martini glasses rimmed in the crushed hard ginger cookie of your choice (grind it reasonably fine -- bigger chunks don't rim as well).
So yeah....if you happen to see this, try it. Don't go out of your way, though.


Random local liquor store



No dietary or allergy information available on either the package or the official website, although the official serving size is listed as 1 ounce.

OFFICIAL WEBSITE: (must be 21 to access)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Vosges Mo's Dark Bacon Mini Bar

Waaaaayyyyyy back in the day (okay, so it was only 2008, but in an odd coincidence I started this review exactly three years to the date of the first review) I went on an adventurous trek to get the then new-to-the-market Mo's Bacon Bar. It was the beginning of the bacon trend, and this was the first bar that mixed chocolate and bacon. Me, being the giver/weirdo that I am, had to review it -- and I went pretty far to get it.

Well, here we are three years later, and not only is the original Mo's bar still going strong but Vosges makes more Bacon + Chocolate products then you could shake a honey baked ham at. There are several things in that category I would love to try, but I did manage to score the dark chocolate version of the Mo's Bar.

The Dark Chocolate Mo's bar has applewood smoked bacon, alderwood smoked salt, and 62% dark chocolate. (the Original version is the same, except it has 45% chocolate.)

As much as I liked the milk chocolate version, I really have to hand it to the dark chocolate. It is like a whole new game.

Don't chew the chocolate! Take a little piece and let it slowly melt on your tongue. The chocolate is woodsy and deep, but at the same time it isn't dark enough to be really bitter.

The salt comes in little grains and plays perfectly with the dark chocolate. But the bacon is the part that most people are both most interested in and most scared by. What I love about Vosges is that they went with soft, almost pliable bacon; it's not some little hard salty, vaguely bacon flavored bit. It's BACON! BACON BACON BACON!!...sorry, I might have gotten a little excited there. Anyway, the bacon is smoky -- and it's that smoke that goes with the aforementioned salt that perfectly matches the chocolate. Folks, there is nothing to be scared of with this bar...but there is a lot to love.

If you have never had a bacon-chocolate mix before, this would be a great gateway candy. If you have had other bars, then this will probably become your new favorite.

Proof, once again, that there is nothing bacon can't make better. Even chocolate.

Whole Foods

I honestly forgot to look, but the Vosges website lists $2.50 as the price, so I'm sure it was close to that.

70 Calories per one 5. oz bar

Obviously NOT kosher. Manufactured in a facility that also handles tree nuts, peanuts, sesame seeds, milk, eggs, wheat, shellfish and soy.


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Hammond's Vanilla Mitchell Sweets

I have been thinking long and hard here (heh, I said long and hard...yeah, I truly am the world's oldest, snickering 12-year-old boy). The immediate issue is that I am writing this on an extended trip to Georgia, far away from the fabled Gigi HQ-cum-Batcave in Southern California. (Nyuck, nyuck...I said cum! Heh, snorts 'n' giggles again!) Thus all the items that I have waiting for me at home -- items that, ideally, I should be writing about right now -- will simply have to wait a bit longer.

Aah, but don't despair! What do friends and relatives give to someone who reviews food that mostly revolves around candy? Well, DUH! The answer is, of course, more candy! (I also squeaked a Nook Color out of the deal, so there's no whining here. I may be emotionally stunted and dwarfed, but the epithet "ingrate" shall never adorn me!) Needless to say, therefore, I am in no short supply of things to write about. The question was where to start.

Well...two of my very favorite things are caramel and marshmallow. And as luck would have it, I am fortunate enough to have an individual Hammond's Candies Vanilla Sweets Marshmallow on hand. Oh, happy day!

You may have seen Hammond's Candies on Food Network programs such as Unwrapped -- and deservedly so. Hammond's, which has been around since 1920, still hand-makes their candies and their Art Candies -- and while I have never tasted them, I can tell you they are beautiful looking (again). Handmade candies require a level of skill and craftsmanship that the candy world is sadly no longer brimming over with. With all that in mind, you can probably understand why I was so excited about trying this marshmallow.

Each marshmallow is about the size of your normal Mega Mart brand -- only, imagine it more squared off than round. I love the minimalist packaging; the confection comes wrapped in a simple waxed paper wrapper with a paper label that seals it closed.

The exterior of the marshmallow is covered in a layer of caramel. Interestingly enough, it leaves both ends exposed (think of how the nori encloses a sushi roll), so that the soft airy center is visible and practically begs you to smoosh it. Yeah, I admit it...I never have to be asked twice when it comes to marshmallow.

The marshmallow has a subtle sugary scent. The caramel wrapper has a soft crackle as you break through the "crust" that is formed by the caramel being exposed to air for however long. And I kind of like that texture -- it reminds me of biting into a maple glazed doughnut. From the company's website photos, it appears that on "fresh" marshmallows, the caramel is softer, slightly more liquid -- but remember that mine was a gift, and has sat here for two weeks now. I thus am unsure which version of the texture is the "true" version.

The flavor is sweet and milky. It's not really a deep burnt sugar-type of caramel, but I think it's perfect. The proportion of caramel to marshmallow is also good. I think that had it been a thicker layer, or if the marshmallow had been completely enrobed it, it would have been overkill.

The marshmallow is the classic thick and sticky kind. The vanilla comes through, but it does so with subtlety. I like this type of marshmallow because it is a such welcome change it from the Mega Mart type. It has an actual texture to it. The sugar doesn't merely melt in your mouth on contact; it dissolves slowly, letting you savor it (should you like to). Simply delicious

And I am sorry to disappoint here, but sadly, there will not any flaming pictures. As we all know, one of the things I love to do with marshmallow anything is to apply the "flame test" to see how good it tastes toasted. Well, my mother -- probably wisely -- decided that letting me play with open flames in her house was not the greatest idea. You can send her email on this at Pret... NO! NO! I am kidding, do not send her hate mail! Then she won't buy me more candy! (Just pimping the system, y'all, candy does not always buy itself!)


Whole Foods


No calorie info given.

May contain trace amounts of eggs, soy, peanuts & tree nuts. Gluten free. Kosher.