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
---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
---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
---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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please specify that you’re writing about chocolate. Thank