Mid-Week Tangent: An Ode to the Cadbury Creme Egg

I am essentially five years old when it comes to holidays and special events. I expect stockings at Christmas. I want a whole birthday week, not just one lone birthday. I want to eat my weight in bite-sized candy bars at Halloween. And damn it, when Easter rolls around, I want my Easter candy hunt. It’s not quite the same if the candy is just handed to me in a basket (though, of course, I’ll still gladly accept it).

Easter is truly one of my favourite candy holidays. I have many, many Easter candies that I love with all my heart, but there is one Easter treat that surpasses all others, that holds a special, nostalgic place in my heart, without which the Easter season is simply not complete: the Cadbury Creme Egg.  Today I pay homage to this saccharine wonder with a love letter. You may think it too much to write a love letter to a creme egg, but I am certain by its end you will see just how sizeable a portion of my heart it has seized.

Dear Cadbury Creme Egg,

You were my first Easter love and now, at the ripe, old age of 38, I continue to be hypnotized by your sugary goodness. Others tell me that you are too sweet for the adult palate, but their (unjust) criticisms fall only on deaf ears. For me, you are confectionary perfection.

One of my most excited moments occurred when, as a university student with a Costco membership, I discovered your 12-packs: a dozen creme eggs lovingly nestled in a plastic egg carton (this was prior to environmentalism being a primary product concern). Never had I seen an egg carton so alluring. I am not ashamed to admit that I purchased the 12-pack, consuming each and every one of them by myself and in far too short a time frame. In fact, I refuse to publicly admit how quickly.

I show greater restraint now. Despite the fact that Easter candy appears in stores before the Valentine’s Day candy flame has even been fully extinguished, and despite the addition of the Cadbury “Screme Egg” (such a clever moniker) at Halloween, I reserve any creme egg purchases and consumption to the days surrounding Easter itself. I am a purist and respect the sanctity of the Easter egg in all its forms.

Can I express what I love about you in words? As many other confections continue to whittle away at the thickness of their chocolate coating, I presume in efforts to charge more for less product, you have refused to pull the wool over consumer’s eyes. Your chocolate shell remains stubbornly think and impenetrable. There is no accidental crushing of your chocolate shell; it holds up to substantial pressure. I know, because I have dropped many on hard surfaces, and thrown them into the bottom of my purse, which can only be described as a black hole of crap, and from which few food items survive without being smashed beyond recognition.

Many criticize your interior for being nothing but liquid sugar.  To them I say: what more do you expect from a candy confection?  Though substantially thicker than a real egg, your filling is a wonder of chemistry. It is viscous enough to almost hold it’s form once the chocolate shell is broken, making you a feasible snack for people on the go. I believe your filling even has a distinct flavour and that flavour is “magic”.

So many brands have tried to replicate your deliciousness but none even come close. At times in my childhood, my parents misunderstood your uniqueness and fell prey to the lure of other cream eggs. I cannot describe the level of disappointment I would experience when my well-meaning parents would present me with Purdy’s creme eggs, as though they were a perfectly suitable replacement. My heart would sink. I’d eat them, of course, but the guilt I’d experience, knowing I was cheating on you, would render the experience decidedly less pleasurable.

Thank you, Cadbury Creme Egg, for being a steady constant in my life, and for creating a product that can only be loved by the ultimate sweet tooth (i.e. me). Never change. Ignore the haters. I cannot wait to be reunited with you again so very, very soon.*

*I am in no way affiliated with Cadbury’s nor is this post sponsored by them, though I’d be lying if I said I would turn down free Creme Eggs in exchange for my love letter.  I feel no shame at the thought of selling out for Cadbury Creme Eggs.

 

 

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Mid-Week Tangent: Battle of the Peanut Butter Cups

It’s been…a week, friends.  I am staring unemployment in the face for the second time in the last four months (both times by choice, mind you) and it’s stressing me out hard.  When I’m stressed, I turn to my constant friend and comfort, candy. I’ve been eating my weight in peanut butter cups these days, which has inspired me to ponder the very unimportant question: in a battle of the peanut butter cups, who would reign supreme?

Let me present you with the :

screen-shot-2017-03-01-at-5-19-24-pm

At the bottom of the heap, I’d squarely place Justin’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups in a dead tie with Theo Peanut Butter Cups.

–Let’s start with Justin’s: People go nuts over these things, I think under the illusion that organic ingredients somehow make them more healthy. Let me tell you, there is no mass-produced peanut butter cup on the planet that is legitimately healthy.  Plus, don’t ruin my peanut butter cup high with your dark chocolate. Don’t you dare. (Sidenote: Perhaps the milk chocolate variety is more delicious, but I have yet to see them readily available in Canada).

–On to Theo we go:  I mean really, these are at the same level as Justin’s. They are candy masquerading as healthier treats. The biggest issue I have with Theo peanut butter cups is the cost, a whopping $3.49.  If I’m going to pay $3.49 for a peanut butter cup it better weigh more than 38 g and it better pack some serious sugar punch. These do not. While I enjoy unsweetened, natural peanut butter on my toast in the morning, I like my peanut butter cups on the sickeningly sweet side of the scale and these are nowhere near that.

One level up from these peanut butter cup travesties, we find my perfectly acceptable range for peanut butter cups: the classic Reese’s peanut butter cup and the PC brand mini peanut butter cups.  Why do these outperform Justin’s and Theo? They are made as peanut butter cups are meant to be, unabashedly artificial and saccharine!

–First, the beloved Reese’s: Let’s be honest, these are pretty fantastic. They don’t really taste like peanut butter, but that’s somehow perfectly acceptable.  What keeps these from the top of my peanut butter cup pyramid are two minor problems: the chocolate layer is too thin and the peanut butter to chocolate ratio is all wrong.

–Next up, President’s Choice mini peanut butter melts: I am as shocked as anyone that these made it above the bottom of the list. I expected them to be repulsive.  However, they are not. They present an appropriately thick chocolate layer and an only vaguely peanut buttery filling that is reminiscent of the great Purdy’s peanut butter finger (a treat only omitted from this list because it does not meet the cup-shaped criteria). You’re probably wondering how something that does not taste exactly like peanut butter made the list. I urge you to try these and then ask me that question.

At the very top of the peanut butter cup hierarchy, however, are two of my most treasured peanut butter treats: the Reese’s Big Cup and the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory (Giant) peanut butter cup. Let’s give these treats the recognition they deserve.

–I’ll start with the Reese’s Big Cup: This beauty corrects all the issues I have with the original Reese’s. It has a thick chocolate layer, particularly enjoyable when chilled, and a perfect ratio of chocolate to filling. I also swear the filling tastes different, more like actual roasted nuts, but that is likely confirmation bias hard at work. I want to like these more, so I look for all the things that I’d want in a better version of the standard Reese’s cup as evidence of its superiority, and then find it whether it truly exists or not.

–Last but certainly not least, I have my magical RMCF giant peanut butter cup:  This is true love in a peanut butter cup. It is mammoth, as evidenced by its calorie count (which I saw by accident and wish desperately I could unsee)–530 for those who are curious. It has what some would consider too thick a chocolate layer, though chocolate thickness is never something I would personally complain about. It’s peanut butter filling is clearly blended with other delicious things. It lacks a distinctly peanut flavour, but has a sublime creaminess that will make you not care.  I wish I had one of these in my face right now. It would be the perfect antidote to the Wednesday blues.

So there you have it, I have presented you with the thing you never wanted nor cared about: a peanut butter cup hierarchy complete with commentary that is purely subjective. You’re welcome. Happy Wednesday. I’m going to go eat a Big Cup (because I do have one of those in my fridge right now).

 

Mid-Week Tangent: Best Holiday Candies!

Ahhh, the holiday season, where my love for the festive can be united with my love for the chocolate.  Christmas is second only to Easter, in my mind, for quality seasonal candy items. Don’t even talk to me about Halloween. All it offers are mini-sized versions of everyday candy bars. Give me the unique seasonal fare!

As we roll into December, it’s time to start stockpiling this stuff and jamming as much into your greedy face as you possibly can. It will be gone soon.  Don’t worry about extra calories. Did you know that your body’s basal metabolic rate increases in the the cold? That means you will burn more calories just by doing nothing! Sure, the additional calories burned are negligible, but every little bit counts. And, as I shared yesterday, the holiday season affords you with all sorts of opportunities to amp up your calorie burn with outdoor activities.  There is no better way to refuel than candy.

Looking for saccharine inspiration? Here’s my top six favourites for the holiday season.  I had to throw in a sixth just so you don’t think I’m biased towards mint-flavours.

#6. Almond Roca: My token non-mint seasonal favourite. My love for this confection is purely nostalgic. I used to get a canister of it every Christmas. Mostly, I sucked the chocolate off the outside then suffered through the cloyingly sweet, sticks-in-your-teeth-forever filling. It’s best in small doses but the iconic pink tin screams Christmas to me, so I had to include it.

For best results, just eat the chocolate off the outside.
For best results, just eat the chocolate off the outside.

#5. Ovation: This is yet another nostalgia bomb for me. Ovation candies were a major part of my childhood. They seemed classy, each coming in its own little monogrammed sleeve, and they had a delightful candy snap lacking from their soft and oozy, yet often-preferred cousin, the After Eight. I don’t even think they sell these in Canada anymore, which is better for my waistline but worse for my heart.

It saddens me that the Ovation people have moved away from their signature, quirky, upright square box. Though it was highly flawed design–when you pulled the lid off, the sticks inside splayed and made it virtually impossible to put the lid back on–it reminded me of my childhood.

#4: Mint M&MsThese addictively delicious little bastards are notoriously hard to find. You see a festively colored bag of M&Ms on the shelf and your heart soars with anticipation until, upon closer examination, you realize that, no, they are just regular M&Ms in holiday colours.  Your heart sinks and you continue in your search for mint M&Ms elsewhere. When I find them, I buy only one bag, because I would eat all of them at once if I were to buy more than one bag. That, my friends, is the hallmark of an excellent candy.

One bag. Promise yourself you will only buy one bag.
One bag. Just promise yourself you will only buy one bag.

 

#3. Hershey’s Kiss Candy Can Mint CandiesFirst, and most importantly, do NOT confuse these with the Hershey’s peppermint bark bells. Sure, those are fine in a pinch, but they don’t hold a candle to these gems. It’s also important to know that I am a major white chocolate fan (as you’ll see from the next couple items on my list). If you are not, to you I say: great! more for me! Also, you probably won’t like these, although I do find that the peppermint cuts the sweetness a fair bit.

I think the second I finish this post, I may have to go i search of these beauties.
I think the second I finish this post, I may have to go in search of these beauties.

#2: Lindt Lindor Candy Cane: See? More white chocolate and mint. I am obsessed.  I curse those people at Lindt for making such perfectly sinful little chocolate balls. I especially curse the person who said ‘let’s take white chocolate and peppermint and turn it into a Lindor.’ Now I must exercise willpower every time I visit the grocery store, or else I’d buy a whole sleeve of the damn things and eat every last one of them (relax, there’s only 5 in the sleeve).

Forget Lay's potato chips, THIS should be the product with the slogan "Bet you can't eat just one".
Forget Lay’s potato chips, THIS should be the product with the slogan “Bet you can’t eat just one”.

#1. White Chocolate Peppermint M&MsThere is one reason and one reason alone that I lament Target’s failure in Canada: the white chocolate peppermint M&M. It was the only place I could find these bites of perfection in Canada. Yes, I could order them from the States, but one of the small handful of lessons I’ve actually learned is life is that if I order a dozen bags of candy, I will eat all of them single-handedly and in short order. If you can find these, I implore you to indulge as often as your stomach can tolerate during the holiday season. They are sweet. They are minty. They have a slightly thicker candy coating shell that, if bitten properly, can be cracked off leaving the entire orb of pepperminty white chocolate behind to blissfully melt in your mouth. Perfection. Holiday perfection.

I miss you White Chocolate Peppermint M&M, and I adore your snazzy christmas cap.
I miss you White Chocolate Peppermint M&M, and I adore your snazzy christmas cap.

So there you have it. I have given you all manner of ways to start your holiday season off on the wrong foot. Remember, there is always New Years for renewed pledges to your health and wellness.

 

Mid-Week Tangent: My Personal Heaven (aka Valrhona Cite du Chocolat)

Much like last Wednesday’s post, I’m going to warn you right off the bat that this has nothing to do with fitness, running, training or health.  This post is about the most fabulous place a chocolate lover (like myself) can imagine. If you must link it to fitness of some sort, I’ll encourage you once again to consider chocolate the perfect reward for a tough workout. With that out of the way, let’s move on to my own personal heaven.

Picture yourself in an impossibly large room filled entirely with chocolate products.  Breathe deeply and inhale all that rich, chocolate aroma lingering in the air. Envision entire walls of chocolate-filled tubes, pouring out endless samples to fuel your gluttony.  Stand back and see that beyond the chocolate tubes, every single chocolate product features a bowl of samples into which you can repeatedly dip your greedy, greedy fingers. Are you understanding the magnitude of this chocolate fantasy? Honour-system endless chocolate samples.

Let that sink in.

Only this isn’t a fantasy. No, this was the lucid reality of my visits, because yes I went more than once, to the Valrhona Cite du Chocolat in Tain l’Hermitage. Sure, my initial reason for visiting this part of France was its famed Syrah-producing hillsides.  I won’t lie, though, when I found out that the town also featured a city of chocolate, nothing was going to get in the way of my visit.

Photographic proof that I didn't hallucinate this wonder of chocolate samples.
Photographic proof that I didn’t hallucinate this wonder of chocolate samples. Look at them all. SIXTEEN types to sample…and that’s not all the samples.
Chocolate chocolate everywhere and...many samples to taste (tell me someone out there gets the lame Rime of the Ancient Mariner reference)
Chocolate chocolate everywhere and…many samples to taste (tell me someone out there gets the lame Rime of the Ancient Mariner reference)

There, in this almost unimaginable world of chocolate generosity, I discovered a deep love for blonde chocolate, a variety that I’ve somehow gone my whole life without experiencing.  There, I discovered more varieties of milk chocolate than I ever thought I could taste in a five-minute time span. There, I learned that I can consume at least 11 chocolates within ten minutes and still go on to school a galette within a half hour (more to come on the wonder of galettes in another post).*

In other words, there I learned the true meaning of happiness. Go. Visit. Taste. I promise you that you will not regret it.

*If you’re curious about the 11 chocolates consumed, I believe they were the Tanariva, Bahibe, Caramelia, Dulcey, Ivoire, Orelys, dulcey covered Almond, milk chocolate covered fig, dark chocolate covered salted caramel, and a white chocolate covered dark chocolate and raspberry ganache. No, I did not feel ill after eating them. I am a pro.

 

Monday Musings: On my 6 Month Injury Anniversary

I am a big fan of any birthday or anniversary or, really, any event that is cause for a party, wine, chocolate, cake and/or gifts.  Even so, I have to admit that this is one anniversary that I would rather not be celebrating.

October 14th marked the sixth month anniversary of my SI injury. It’s an injury that’s lasted far longer than I ever imagined, and caused me greater emotional grief than I ever thought possible. It’s made me question whether I’ll ever actually fully recover. It’s made me feel like my body has betrayed me, which is perplexing as, generally speaking, I feel like I’ve taken pretty good care of it.

Alas, even six months later I’m working on coming to terms with my adjusted lifestyle.  I’m most likely to get down on things when I run into people I haven’t seen in a while and their first question is “so, have you been hiking a lot lately?”.  That’s when it really hits me what a big part of my life has been missing since April. It’s also when I realize that I’m still a little bit in mourning for that piece of my identity that’s been lost.

This really wasn’t meant to be a pity-party post. I just had a moment last week when I realized just how long it’s been, and it seemed like a staggering amount of time for someone whose injuries have never lasted more than a few weeks. Rest assured, though today is not the official anniversary, I’ll be celebrating nonetheless because even a belated party is better than no party. Even better, this party will be Halloween style, complete with as many Coffee Crisps as I can squirrel away, wine, and the latest episode of Walking Dead.  If you’re taking notes, this is how you make the best of a not-so-great situation.