Local Treats (Winter Garden Edition): David Ramirez’s Chocolates & Macaroons Review

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Macaroons are everywhere, and they should be. This decadent French treat has been around for centuries and has not lost its *insert trendy French word here to describe anything cope/cool/wavy/sassy, followed by a suffix of -ness*. These petite treats, of so very delicate and challenging to make are competition to many other baked goods, and you can find a variety in the Orlando, Winter Park and Winter Garden Area.

David Ramirez’s chocolates, a Winter Garden Plant Market vendor, has decadent varieties of macaroons. They’re honestly one of the best I’ve ever tasted, amongst my favorite (another favorite being Le Macaroon, in Winter Park). My first time there, I noticed the generous sizes and fun flavors, such as mango raspberry, staple flavors like vanilla, chocolates, strawberries, rose and lavender to fun fall flavors, like pumpkin and apple pie. My first out of three was the birthday cake. The “upper shell” and bottom tasted like a standard macaroon vanilla flavor, but the cream filling was a perfect replica of cake batter with fun sprinkles.The texture was pillowy.

Image may contain: foodThe pumpkin, my favorite, was spicy in terms of fall flavors, with a great combo of sweet and last- the mango raspberry, my favorite, has a perfect balance of mango and tart raspberry. On another visit, I tried bacon and peanut butter. Addicting. I love anything salty and sweet, and found this eccentric pairing a winner. Salted caramel was also memorable. The caramel having a deeply buttery aftertaste to dance with the salt.

 

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The chocolate varieties are a fun and colorful assortment. I decided to give the cinnamon habanero chocolate a try. Perfection. The dark chocolate subtly hugs the cinnamon and the habanero peeks its head out. Not at all overpowering.

 

 

Have you ever tried this chocolatier or the macaroons/gelato? What were your thoughts? Don’t forget to rate, comment and subscribe!

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Flavor Pairing Ideas: Butterscotch and what?

Butterscotch is a cousin to caramel since it features the same flavor overtones. The butterscotch flavor features brown sugar and butter to create a flavor-rich delicacy that is versatile with vanilla, dark rums, coconut and even sea salt. The caramel and sea salt concoctions have been a staple ingredient to many households and restaurants, but Image compared to caramel, many have not considered pairing butterscotch with the likes of sea salt. Here are a few ideas to help you experiment with butterscotch flavors in any sweet dish.

  1. Butterscotch, sea salt and chocolate coffee. I just ordered a custom coffee brimming with sweet buttery notes of butterscotch coffee syrup, rich chocolate syrup, a mild sweetener and a dash of sea salt. This flavor combo created a well-balanced tone of rich, buttery sweet butterscotch, and a mouth watering salty swallow. The barista also commented of the innovation of the flavors, since it’s a less commonly requested order.
  2. Butterscotch and sea salt blondies. I searched the web for a recipe featuring this pairing, and came across this one here. Adapted from the domestic rebel this recipe features a moist blondie cake with butterscotch chips and sea salt. The sea salt additives can be exchanged or combined with a rum and caramel glaze, a vanilla and sea salt glaze, or a maple or pecans infusion to give the blondies more texture. Don’t forget to try smoked almonds with a dash of sea salt to compliment the butterscotch notes.
  3. Whiskey-Brown Butterscotch Pudding with a Ganache and Sea Salt. This creative  recipe stems from hungry girl por vida’s blog and combines chocolate, dark rum butterscotch and sea salt in a pudding. Genius.
  4. A Butterscotch Milkshake with whipped cream and a sea salt garnish. This doesn’t come from any site in particular, however, you can create an easy butterscotch  milkshake by making a butterscotch syrup, adding it to milk, sugar, a dash of sea salt and vanilla, then topping it with whipped cream and sea salt to taste. Not too much–you want the sea salt to be a light topping to shave off some sweetness.

Since butterscotch is a warm flavor that pairs well with other fall flavors (cinnamon, clove, vanilla, dark rum, apples and waffles) you can use any flavor combo (including a maple bacon flavor)  to taper off the sweetness of butterscotch tones.

What are your thoughts? Do you prefer butterscotch over caramel? Do you know of any dish that features these flavors I should discuss? Don’t forget to rate, comment and subscribe.

All Coconut Everything Plus a Recipe

ImageThis summer has featured a large supply of coconuty goodness mixed with delightful flavors. Summer, not surprisingly, is coconut season, and you can find just about any product–from coffee creamers, to chocolate, caramel and caramel candies and fun flavored iced coffee. Below is a short list of fun coconut inspired products that are worth a try.

  • Dunkin Donuts’ new coconut mocha iced coffee. This fun treat is a great way to cool off as the tropical coconut flavor balanced well with the mocha overtones that create a well- balanced flavor roundness. Also available are: Coconut caramel and Coconut almond.
  • Betty Crocker’s Almond Joy Icing. This I have not yet tried, but I can imagine that if the flavors of chocolate, coconut and almond compliment each other, it should taste no differently than the International Delight creamer of the same flavor.

    Taken by Shinai

    Almond Joy Icing

  • Caramel, Chocolate and Coconut Ice Cream by Edy’s: This is very close to the Girl Scout Samoas flavor, and was once named as such. This ice cream begins with a caramel flavored ice cream and chocolate ribbons, and chunks of the Samoas cookies are nestled in. The mix-ins make this ice cream a hit run. Make your own Samoas cookies and bars here.
  • Nestle Crunch Samoas (Chocolate & Coconut) Bars. This is easily an addiction of mine. I can’t decide whether or not it’s due to the intoxicating balance of coconut and caramel, or the crispy and airy cookie texture. These bars come in three popular Girl Scout flavors: Coconut and Chocolate, Thin Mint and Peanut Butter Creme. Worth a try.
  • Coffee Mate’s Coconut and Chocolate (Samoas) Creamer. This is a smooth, fun and indulgent creamer that features a soft, but noticeable coconut appearance, with a muted caramel finish. The smell is fantastic–your nose will pick up on the sweet coconut flavor with the lingering hint of sweet caramel. Perfect for a cozy cup of joe.
  • Haagen-Dazs Coconut Macaroon Ice Cream. This by far has been the best ice cream I’ve tried. The base of the ice cream is a sweet coconut flavoring with coconut flakes. The ice cream features bits of coconut macaroon–chewy little bits of coconut flakes and cookies pieces. Exquisite and may be available in select stores.

These items won’t be in stores forever, so be sure to try them before the spicy tones of autumn roll around.

Must Try Foods: Super Target’s Limited Time S’mores Cupcake.

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S’mores perfection, but bite sized.

In honor of summer (which is nearly done)  Target has released their delicious s’mores cupcakes. I have been meaning to do a blog on these delights a few months ago, but was to busy cramming my face with these to blog about them. 😀 These mini desserts are made with a chocolate cake base and a divide of marshmallow creme icing, and chocolate icing. To top it all off you also receive a dash of crumbled graham crackers to add texture, and the authenticity of the classic s’mores flavor.

I have to say I have enjoyed snacking on these because I love s’mores. The marshmallow icing is delicious, and I can’t resist these. Another benefit is the size as you can control how many calories you intake and control the amount of sugar you consume. The serving size is 3 mini cupcakes, which total out to 330 calories, individually  110 per cupcake. If you are watching your sugar, or trying to practice self-discipline while you snack on sweets, you may like the portion control. As for the rest of us who gobble up things without regards to self-discipline, 3 may not suffice! These are delicious, and the flavors are a fun, well balanced treat perfect not only for summer, but for the entire year. Too bad they won’t be available for that long!

You get 12 in a pack for $2.50 or $2.99. Yes, I know it’s pretty bad I can’t remember the price, and I cannot find my receipt at the moment :-/ Either way, try them if you can. You won’t be sorry, unless sugar scares you.

S’mores cupcake Yumfactor: 4 tongues and a taste bud. It’s just really good. Only thing is, they may go fast if you love them as much as I do. And I don’t even share these.

Why Eating Ben & Jerry’s Boston Cream Ice Cream Should Be A Sin.

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Boston Cream Pie Ice Cream

First off, I don’t literally mean to imply that this ice cream breeches any sanctimonious rituals of daily life, or acts to be a blasphemous force to be reckoned with. Not to mention the looming feelings of guilt I felt after indulging in this delciousness. I’m simply saying that this luxurious ice cream, is sinfully delicious. When I first tasted a spoonful, I felt gluttonous, and became fully aware that if I continue to eat this, I’d be committing one of the 7 deadly sins on a hardcore level. So I stopped before things got too intense. :-/  (Yay for self-restraint :-D) . Described on the carton as “Boston Cream” flavored ice cream with fudge flakes, swirls of pastry cream and pieces of cake” this flavor reaches to portray magic in each spoonful. To make sure I describe this accurately without too much exaggerated connotations, I’ll break down each flavor, under-current, and note as I recall.

Firstly, what exactly *is* Boston Cream Pie flavored ice cream? (I don’t mean including the other added

The dimensions of delicious.

stuff like the chocolate flakes, the pieces of cake, and the ribbons of creme, but specifically the ice cream base). Now, think about this- Boston cream pie is NOT just a monotone flavor. One must take into account the chocolate glaze, the cakey foundation, and the gooey, custard rich center that makes it all worthwhile. In the context of this ice cream, what should have read in the product description based on what it actually tastes like is as follows:”Rich custard ice cream meets deep pieces of fudge flakes, dancing with ribbons of pastry creme”. Why? because the base of this ice cream is a plain custard- vanilla base. So if anyone is expecting for there to be more in terms of the ice cream, (such as more chocolate flavor)  there you go. That isn’t to say that the smooth custard doesn’t hold up on its own. No. Quite the contrary. The custard undertone is smooth, and performs well with the bittersweet fudge pieces that don’t get left out in the equation of all this bliss. But just when you thought there wasn’t more, more just arrived. Imagine dense and decadent pieces of vanilla pound cake, which take on the richness of the custard ice cream.

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Custard, creme and a little flake of fudge.

Finally, as if that doesn’t wow your tastebuds, there are ribbons of pastry creme to tie it all together. It plays hide and seek, because at one portion of the ice cream pint, you may not get any, but then, when you’re expecting a piece of fudge, or a dollop of cake, BOOM! You’re met with a creamy, velvety goop of pastry cream. This is not for the faint of heart. If this description is too intense for you, then I don’t suggest trying this. But then again, whenever I indulge in something that gives me a guilt complex, I tend to intensify it.I appreciate the uniqueness of this flavor and the attention to detail Ben and Jerry’s have done to provide a nice compliment to the Boston Cream Pie. I’m sure this may not be for everyone, but I enjoyed it. My only gripe is that there could have been more pieces of cake, or better yet, bigger chunks of cake. Also, since the custard ice cream is representative of the custard center, the ribbons in this ice cream could have been chocolate instead of more custard. I did feel that there was an abundance of custard and pastry creme that really mirrored the other. So, in other words, custard ice cream, chocolate ribbons, and bigger cake chunks. Other than than, it’s a great ice cream.

Ben & Jerry’s Boston Cream Pie Ice Cream Yumfactor: 4 tongues and a tastebud (4.5 out of 5 stars) This is really rich and delicate, and uniquely fun treat. I’d be curious to try it with chocolate swirls, and more cake chunks. This is what stopped it from being a 5, because the flavors would have been more balanced in my opinion.

What do you think? Don’t Forget to Rate, comment and subscribe!

Must Try Foods: Limited Edition Cocoa Chex Mix

I have always loved this mix as it balances sweet chocolate with salty pretzels. I tried it a few years ago and have always looked for it, so naturally I was not hesitant in picking up another bag! It was about $2.00 and change, and is normally made available around the winter months, which makes sense considering it is supposed to be a Chex interpretation of hot cocoa. Fun! 😀 Firstly, Chex mix seems to be a crowd pleaser, and the standard flavors tend towards the salty, (although there are candies in some of them) which is to be expected.

Oh, the fun!

This mix  gives a handful of variety as there are chocolate squares, vanilla yogurt cream flavored crispies, plain chex cereal squares, delicate mini marshmallows, salty pretzel, and sweet swirlyness. The mini marshmallows gives it an overall sweeter than salty pretzel experience, but admittedly is my favorite part of grabbing a handful to snack on. The vanilla yogurt cereal squares are also rather delicious as their flavor is strong, and the coating is rich, playing of the sweet chocolaty notes. I bought a bag last night, and finished it already 😦 That is a drawback of this product- you may eat it off before you plan to!  They are 7% less in fat compared to potato chips, and contain only 7g of sugar per 1/2 cup per serving, along with 120 calories! Not too shabby! Not only is this mix delicious, but it captures the spirit of winter because of the hot chocolate association. Try it! You may love it as much as I do! Here is another review of the same product: http://www.betterproductadvisor.com/review-limited-edition-cocoa-chex-mix/

Note: For those who are diabetic, while this snack is low in sugar, please remember than this in a carb than will break down into sugar once eaten and digested.

Low Budget Gourmet: Boston Cream Pie Coffee? Home Goods Raid..Sorta

Today a friend and I went to Home Goods, which is a store that offers gourmet food/coffee, furniture, and bath goods for discount prices.  Think Marshall’s, Ross or TJ Maxx, but without the clothes. I love this place, because it’s easy to access quaint adorable tea pots, funky, vintage “distressed” mirrors and desks, and features the best flavored coffees available- all at a bargain, or a decent price. I appreciate the variety. I went straight to the gourmet foods section, passed the strawberry flavored balsamic vinegar, and the garlic olive oils, to the fun flavored coffees.  What caught my attention first was the flavored coffee syrups (for about $5.99 for a 25.4 fl oz bottle).  There were sugar-free vanillas, to classic hazelnut and regular vanilla, and even Kahlua all manufactured by Monin and Davinci brands, who seem too be the to leading suppliers of coffee syrups. What I appreciate is the lack of corn syrup Monin and Davinci brands offer, and the attention to the importance of making pure, and natural, Organic syrups if you will. And you should. 😀

 

Lovely...

Tangent: I prefer Monin over Davinci just because they offer a wider variety, and it just tastes better.  It does, however contain a little bit more sugar. I love getting the Vanilla syrups because they are a versatile item that can go well with milkshakes, in milk alone,cocktails, sodas (Vanilla Coke, anyone?) in smoothies, and of course in coffees and teas, not to mention a flavor enhancer for baking items. (I will post both websites below just in case you are curious about the flavors they carry.)  Monin has over 100 flavors, also, many which are fruit based like (Mango,Passion Fruit, Strawberry) to other types. Their Vanilla syrup uses pure Madagascar Vanilla. Fancy!

I moseyed over to the coffee, my eyes shifting quickly from the standard “French Vanilla” to “Kahlua” when it hit me- “Boston Cream Pie” flavored coffee. I literally squeaked because there is nothing more exciting than interesting flavors of food or beverages, and this was one flavor I was not going to find everywhere. Then it hit me again…. “Pralines and Cream”. I had a dilemma here, folks. The Pralines and Cream smelled rich and had caramelized nutty and vanilla notes that were enticing, but the Boston Cream Pie- that indulgent cakey base, with deep chocolate and buttery, creamy custard seemed to beckon me as well. I was afraid that the chocolate would override what vanilla custard was there, although I smelled creamy notes through the bag (it has a scent hole). I figured since it’s not a layered edible item, all the flavors would run together, and the chocolate may even be a tad bit muted by the vanilla. Plus, if you have chocolate syrup and vanilla creamer at home, you could probably duplicate this! Especially with a creamier vanilla based creamer, such as Vanila Latte (Coffee Mate) or Sweet Cream (Int’l Delights Coffee) or perhaps “Italian Sweet Cream” (Coffee Mate) Both bags were $4.99 for 12oz Arabia coffee. I will do a review on these items in the future.

monin carries a wide variety of flavors, offers free monthly recipes on their site and even has flavors like “Apple Pie, Pumpkin Pie, Pecan Pie and Blueberry Pie” to florals like”Lavender, Rose and Hibiscus” and your standards fruits, exotic fruits (Chipotle Pineapple) and dessert type of flavors. How innovative is that? o.O You can buy Monin’s syrups here baristaproshop. As for davinci  they offer Buttered Run which Monin didn’t have, and Zabaglione (Italian egg nog with Marsala wine) but has a smaller variety. You can shop on their site.

What interesting coffee flavors have you tried? Interesting cocktails or sodas that featured unique syrups? Please share and of course let us know if you’d recommend them to anyone else! Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to comment/rate/subscribe!