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For Chocolate Lovers only
 



Hi! My name is Stephanie Zonis, and welcome to the June, 2004 edition of For Chocolate Lovers Only! Each month, you’ll find recipes, tips, and recommendations on great chocolate specialties. This month is about taking it easy in the kitchen, so the recipes are adapted accordingly. And set aside some time to appreciate your Dad on Father’s Day, perhaps by making him one of these treats.

Chocolate Recommendation of the Month: There’s always a new trend in chocolate, something previously-overlooked or revived from long ago. And these trends can be truly great---creative and inspiring. But there’s definitely something to be said for periodic forays into classic, less cutting-edge sweets, and those you will find in abundance at Jo’s Candies. If you’re like me, sometimes there’s just no substitute for the crunchy molasses-based candy called “honeycomb”, and you’ll find it here (dipped in milk or dark chocolate, of course). Peanut butter meltaways compete for your attention (and discretionary funds) with turtles and the fabulous chocolate-covered graham crackers, with their extra-thick layer of chocolate on top (for a great ice cream sandwich, scoop a little slightly-softened ice cream between two of these graham crackers; devour immediately or freeze for later).

But Jo’s Candies also shows that classic needn’t mean boring. How about a CocoJo, a chocolate cookie flavored with cinnamon and dipped in chocolate? And you’ve got to try Dr. Peter’s Peppermint Crunch, small squares of a crunchy, very pink, white chocolate-peppermint oil-crushed peppermint candy interior coated with dark chocolate, again with an extra-thick layer of chocolate on top. Good thing I’ve got a couple left from my last shipment, as I’m getting hungry just thinking about them. There’s a Chocolate of the Month Club, too, if you know anyone who’s been very, very good. The best way to find out more about Jo’s Candies is to head over to the website at www.joscandies.com. You can also phone them toll-free at 1-800-770-1946 or locally (in California) at 1-310-257-0260. Online ordering is available. If you’re nostalgic for simpler times (and confections) or just want to taste something good, check ‘em out!

Most U.K. Website of the Month: There are certain customs, expressions, and foods that make one think immediately of the United Kingdom. If you are into biscuits (what Americans call “cookies”), cake, and a “cuppa”, check out www.NiceCupofTeaandASitDown.com, possibly the most British website I’ve ever encountered. The Mission Statement is hilarious, and the site readers are not shy in giving their opinions about such vital, hot-button issues as the best topping for toast, Earl Grey tea, and the proper spelling for the shortened form of “biscuit”. Fig Fest and What the Polls Said are both fun, but be sure you check out the links under Stuff, where you can see short films which are also hyper-UK in addition to being jaw-droppingly surreal. See Prawnzilla emerge victorious from his battle with the dastardly Citrus Sheep. Watch Giant Bee ice skate and play beachball with his chum Blode. And rejoice with Blode, his friends Food and Squid, a very clean Musk Ox, and the Crab of Ineffable Wisdom after they defeat the Giant Space Marmot. Taken all around, the site is very low-key and quite charming in a self-deprecating way. As they would say, “Lovely.”

Rant of the Month:
High Fructose Corn Syrup in Soda…and a Few Alternatives

It’s no secret that there’s an obesity epidemic in this country. Americans are consuming too much sugar, and one of the ways in which we’re ingesting a lot of it might prove more harmful than we think. I’m referring to high fructose corn syrup, or HFCS, which is found in everything from bread to ice cream. HFCS is a favorite of large-scale food manufacturers because it’s significantly cheaper than cane sugar, mixes readily into most formulations, and often extends product shelf-life. There’s also some evidence that it may be contributing to our obesity epidemic. Among other possibilities, research suggests that fructose may act as a damper on the usual chemical signals to the brain that control appetite, so people feel as though they need to eat more.

A few things to note here. First off, more research needs to be done on the effects of HFCS on the body. In addition, just so we’re all on the same page, I’m not suggesting that HFCS alone is responsible for the pervasive over-eating and poor health habits of the American public. It isn’t. But this much I can say: many Americans drink a lot of soda, and most of the best-known sodas in this country contain large quantities of HFCS, sometimes as many as 13 teaspoons in a 12 ounce can.

So what do you do if you like soda but want to reduce your HFCS consumption? Luckily, a number of alternatives are now available. I’m sure there are more than I list here; these are just the brands I know about. Everyone has a different angle in this game; some of these are carbonated fruit juices, some are more along the lines of what I consider soda. But all of these companies eschew the use of HFCS, which makes them worth a try. I list first the brands I’ve tried myself, and with each brand I’ll tell you about one or two flavors that sound noteworthy.

Incidentally, if you think any of this too-much-sugar talk sounds funny coming from a chocolate columnist, I’ve always advocated the consumption of all food products in moderation, including desserts.

---Wild Fruitz, www.wildfruitz.com. The first product of this type I knew about. Trev Warshauer is very passionate about his products and was the first person to present me with reasons against the use of HFCS. A lovely Watermelon variety in addition to a great Huckleberry/Blueberry.

---Steaz Green Tea Soda, www.healthybeverage.com. Green tea sodas in which you can actually taste both tea and fruit. The Key Lime is, in the words of my friend Jason, “mighty”. Certified organic. I didn’t think kids would like this beverage, but I have plenty of evidence that they do.

---GuS (Grown-up Soda), www.drinkgus.com. The Star Ruby Grapefruit is fabulous. Most of the varieties are called “dry”, and they really are less sweet than many other choices out there.

---Fizzy Lizzy, www.fizzylizzy.com. Try the Pineapple!

---The Switch, www.switchbev.com. The Cranberry Ginger sounds interesting…

---IZZE Beverage Company, www.izzeco.com. I like the idea of both the Sparkling Pear and the Sparkling Blackberry.

---Vermont Sweetwater Bottling Company, www.vtsweetwater.com. Some very unusual varieties, such as Maple Seltzer and a Raspberry Rhubarb Ramble.

---Tommy’s Naked Soda, www.tommysnakedsoda.com. Funkiest website of any here; I’m diggin’ the “Save Moose” campaign. Clear sodas, including a Clearly Cream and a Bubbling Black Raspberry.

---Santa Cruz Organic Spritzers, www.scojuice.com. The mere idea of the Raspberry Lemonade sounds refreshing.

 

Do you have a comment, question, or suggestion? I’d like to hear it. You can reach me at: sdziadwm@nac.net. Please specify that you’re writing about chocolate. Thank You.

 

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