Category Archives: Sweet Tooth

Mail More Chocolate

Chocolove chocolate bars, mail more chocolate, non-gmo chocolate, snacks for writing letters

Happy Weekend! Do you have any plans? I am going to my friend Jackie’s art opening on Sunday at Oak Park Public Library and spending the rest of the weekend getting ready for my own craft show next weekend. I’m a terrible procrastinator so it’s going to take some discipline for me to start this early. I have a couple of new Mother’s Day card ideas that I’d like to make for the show so, I need to start making them if it’s going to happen!

In other, mail-related news: I got a stack of mail themed chocolate bars for my birthday from my friend James. (He’s always on-theme!) The stamps and cancellations on the wrappers make them a perfect letter writing treat to send to a pen pal or a snack for a letter writing party. The candy bars are made by Chocolove in Boulder, Colorado and it looks like almost all of their bars have a little mail theme. Cute, right?

Have a relaxing weekend! See you on Monday!

P.S. This is not a sponsored post. 🙂

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Cherry Almond Angel Cake

cherry almond cakeLast week I had a couple of friends over for “Christmas” lunch. I made an orange pomegranate prosecco cocktail, Ina Garten’s split pea soup, a salad, and this cake. Isn’t it cheerful?

It’s a Cherry Almond Angel Cake and it’s basically a doctored box mix cake. I read about this cake many years ago on a blog I can’t find anymore*. She made the cake based off a Betty Crocker recipe and she made hers in two loaf pans. I wrote down the recipe and all these years later, I finally tried it. It’s so fun. My cherry “glaze” was more of a frosting, but it was really delicious so I’m not complaining.

Cherry Almond Angel Cake

1 box angel food cake mix (Betty Crocker gets my mom’s stamp of approval, so that’s what I used.)

1 1/4 cups cold water

1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract

1/2 cup chopped maraschino cherries (One tiny 10 ounce jar will be plenty for this recipe, with a few leftovers for a Manhattan or two!)

 

Make sure your oven rack is at the lowest level possible and preheat your oven to 350.

In a large bowl, beat cake mix, water, and almond extract on low for 30 seconds. Raise speed to medium and beat for 1 minute.

Fold in cherries.

Pour into an tube cake pan. DO NOT GREASE YOUR PAN! (Also, do not use a non-stick pan!)

Bake for 37-47 minutes until the top is very dry, cracking, and dark golden brown. If the top is still sticky, the cake is not done.

When done, remove from oven and turn over onto a glass bottle. (If you don’t have a glass bottle on hand–this isn’t 1950–you can set your pan on top of 2-3 cans. The important thing is that the cake cools upside down.) Let the cake cool completely. When the cake is cooled, run a knife along the edges of the pan to remove it.

Cherry Glaze

2 tablespoons butter

2 cups powdered sugar

2 1/2 tablespoons (or more) of maraschino cherry juice

Full disclosure, I broke my hand mixer making this glaze. The hand mixer was pretty old, but also, apparently 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 cups of powdered sugar and 2 tablespoons of juice were more like wall putty than a nice, glossy glaze. I finished the glaze by hand, with a spoon and ended up using 5 tablespoons of juice and still, my glaze was pretty thick. Start with 2 1/2 tablespoons and add as you go, 1/2 tablespoon at a time to be safe. When it’s the right consistency, drizzle the glaze over the cooled cake

Decorate the cake with extra maraschino cherries and beam at your work like a 1950s housewife.

Three things: Wouldn’t this cake be so cute for Valentine’s Day? I’m going to make it again for a Valentine karaoke party we’re going to next month. And, if you aren’t a frosting person, I always think angel food cakes are delicious on their own. Maybe slightly less cute, but delicious still. Lastly, if you’re interested, the box mix has instructions for making your angel food in two loaf pans. One for yourself, and one for a gift.

 

*Maybe you’ve read this blog? The woman lived in Champaign, Illinois. She was married, had a corgi, and she made quilts and doilies to show at fairs. She also had an etsy shop where she sold a pattern for aprons made of pillow cases.

 

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Japan Does It Better 21: Gum Papers

Black Black Japanese gumNaoto is a big fan of BlackBlack gum, a Japanese gum that is infused with caffeine*. The taste is strong and minty, and apparently, caffeine is absorbed into the body faster with gum than drinking coffee or pop. Naoto usually buys the little packs of five sticks, but the last time we went to Mitsuwa he could only find the large size of the tablet gum. Black Black gum, includes papers for throwing gum away, Japanese gumIt’s hard to see in my picture (it’s DARK here in Chicagoland!), but inside the container is a slot with a little stack of papers for wrapping up your used gum before it’s discarded. Isn’t that genius? When I have a stick of gum, I keep the paper to spit it out in, but when I have the canisters of gum, I’m at the mercy of finding a nearby trash can. This tiny pad of paper solves that problem.Black Black gum, includes papers for throwing gum away, Japanese gum I’m sure BlackBlack isn’t the only gum that has the handy paper option…I’ll have to keep my eyes open for more options on our next trip.

Tidy ways to dispose of your gum…another example of how Japan Does It Better!

To see all of the other JDIB posts, go here.

*I don’t get it…in a world with coffee, why would I want to get my caffeine any other way?

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Japan Does It Better 20: Häagen Dazs Crispy Sandwich

JDIB, Häagen-Dazs Crispy SandwichOh Häagen-Dazs Cookies & Cream Crispy Sandwich…how I miss you! This is another one of those American-like snacks that is exclusive to Japan. (But if anyone wants to start a letter writing campaign with me so we can get them over here…I have my stamps ready!)

The Häagen-Dazs Crispy Sandwich is an ice cream sandwich made with ice cream (in this case cookies & cream which is, in my opinion, the best!) coated in a hard shell and sandwiched between two crispy wafers. The wafers taste kind of like an ice cream cone, but they are thinner. They add a nice crunch and texture, but not a ton of taste which allows you to focus on the yummy ice cream and coating. The Crispy Sandwich takes the ice cream sandwich to a whole new level…so good. So very good.

Crispy Sandwiches can be found at just about any convenience store, which makes them waaaaay too easy to eat every day. (Not that anyone is guilty of eating one every day during her two week trip or anything…) I tried the plain vanilla and the special spring sakura versions, but truthfully, cookies & cream wins. I’ve read about a green tea version and will make it my mission to find one during our next trip.

Tastier ice cream sandwiches…another reason Japan Does It Better!

For more JDIB posts, go here.

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Cherry Mash Candy

Cherry Mash Candy, Chase Candy, St. Joseph, MOI love a good consumable souvenir. Whenever I’m traveling, I like to stop into grocery stores to see if there are any locally-made snacks or sweets to take home. (This is how I discovered the deliciousness of Canada’s potato chips!) Finding treats in the grocery store is a lot more budget-friendly than buying them at the airport or souvenir shops, plus there are sometimes hidden gems that aren’t in those souvenir shops.

While we were in Missouri, we stopped at WalMart to pick up something. (Full disclosure: We went to pick up a bottle of whiskey–whiskey that was made in Missouri, but not delicious enough to make the cut as a souvenir. Actually it was terrible.) At the check-out I spotted this fantastic vintage candy, Chase’s Cherry Mash. Cherry Mash has been made in St. Joseph, Missouri since 1918. (St. Joseph is about an hour away from Hamilton.) I bought one to try and then went back the next night to buy a few more. Cherry Mash Candy, Chase Candy, St. Joseph, MOThe Cherry Mash is made with crushed maraschino cherries, blended into a creamy center and coated with chocolate and chopped peanuts. There are a few videos of the process here.Cherry Mash Candy, Chase Candy, St. Joseph, MOI love maraschino cherries (even the bright red ones that are swimming in red dye) so I think the Cherry Mash is delicious. Because it is so sweet, it’s a shareable portion, but I promise not to judge if you eat the whole thing! I love a good, vintage candy and this one fits the bill perfectly!

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Calling Card Extras with Ferrara Pan

calling cards with treats, Ferrara PanToday I am on my way to San Francisco to attend Ex Postal Facto!

I mentioned before that I will be seeing many of my pen pals while I’m in SanFrancisco this weekend. I’ve met a few in person before at various letter writing and social events, but most of them, I’ve never met. I’m excited to see them and hang out with them…they already feel like old friends.

For my pen pals, I decided to make bonus calling cards by including boxes of candy. Ferrara Pan makes their famous Lemonheads, Red Hots, Jaw Breakers, Boston Baked Beans and more right here in Forest Park and they have a fantastic little shop where you can buy fresh candy for practically pennies. I decided to buy Lemonheads (the classics) and Red Hots (my favorites, and perfect for Valentine’s Day) and make up some hometown treats for my friends.

I taped the boxes together with some Oh Hello Friend postal-themed masking tape. Then I topped the boxes with a business card and tied everything up with some Airmail Divine Twine to add some more postal pizazz to the package.

They are super simple and not too bulky and once I hand them all out, I’ll have a little pocket of space in my suitcase to fill up with treats from San Francisco!

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Japan Does It Better 8: Kit Kats

matcha and sakura kit catsYes, Kit Kats are totally an American treat…but man, are they ever better in Japan! On my first trip to Japan, I was browsing some tourist shops in Kyoto and I came across Matcha (green tea) KitKats. I was very intrigued, so I brought some home to try and to give to friends. When I tasted one for the first time, I realized that it was going to by verrrry difficult to part with those tasty green treats! They were so good–sweet, and crispy with just the right amount of green tea punch–and I didn’t know when I’d be back to Japan, so I didn’t want to give them to anyone! I ended up being super strict about giving them away.

Is she Matcha KitKat worthy?

Nope.

Guess I’ll eat it myself.

Sakura Matcha KitKatWhen we traveled to Japan together for the first time in 2011, Naoto and I found Sakura (cherry blossom) Matcha KitKats. They were just as fabulous as the matcha ones–a little bit sweeter with hint of flowery taste complementing the green tea. YUM!matcha kit kat packagingI love the fact that they are made for gift giving. There is a place in the back for you to write a message for your recipient–the perfect omiyage! Inside each box, there are three small, individually wrapped KitKat pairs.

Now when Naoto and I go, we buy several boxes to bring home so I don’t have to get all hoard-y with them. I actually mailed out a bunch to my pen pals and I think they were a welcomed sight in mailboxes all across the country. Even with giving a ton away, I have five (ahem, now four) bars left in my pantry for an I-miss-Japan kind of day. (Yesterday was one of those days…while drafting this post, I had to take a break to eat a Sakura KitKat.)

pumpkin puree kit kat barWhen we were there in September, we picked up some Pumpkin Pudding Halloween KitKats. They were…interesting…not my favorite.

It seems that we have a lot more taste testing to do with Japanese KitKats. I found this article that reviews a “care package” of crazy flavored Japanese KitKats. Who knew there were so many more? I’ve rarely seen the matcha or sakura flavored KitKats in regular grocery stores in Japan (just at the airport and tourist shops), so I ‘m going to have to do a bit of research and hunting when we go back this year.

Matcha & Sakura KitKats…yet another reason Japan Does It Better!

P.S. For the rest of the JDIB posts, go here!

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Japanese Gummy Cheeseburger

Japanese gummy hamburger packageWhen Hisae sent me this package of Japanese candy, I had no idea that it was so involved. I gathered from the packaging that it was a candy hamburger, so I was expecting something like this. Japanese gummy hamburger componentsI did not, however, expect the make-your-own cheeseburger that I found inside. There was a plastic tray of buns, a package of gummy burger patties, lettuce and cheese and a little silver package of ketchup (actually strawberry flavored gel). Ooooh, fun! (Clearly I’m a child.)Japanese gummy hamburgerJapanese gummy hamburger with ketchupJapanese complete gummy hamburgerSo I cracked apart the bun and added a burger, lettuce and cheese and squeezed on a little bit of ketchup. Japanese gummy hamburgerI was expecting the little burger to be all whimsey and no taste, but it was delicious! The burger, cheese and lettuce all had different flavors (cola, pineapple and green apple, respectively) and the strawberry gel added some extra sweetness. The bun was flavorless and wafer-like, but the crunch was a nice touch. Japanese gummy hamburger

Here’s a little video someone made of putting it all together. (Please ignore the fact that the cheese should go on the burger, not on the lettuce…details.)

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My Love, Mister Donut

mister donut 4If there is one thing in Japan that I miss most, it’s Mister Donut. More than amazing office supplies, more than fancy stationery, more than MT tape…I miss Misdo (affectionate for Mister Donut). naoto at mister donutkimberly mister donut

In normal, everyday life, I think donuts are fine. Naoto and I go to Dunkin Donuts almost every day for the coffee. Sometimes I might get a donut, but it’s really just to quash a morning sugar craving (or make the sugar craving last all day, as the case may be). Dunkin Donuts donuts are not really delicious to me. (No offense Dunk…but you guys truck them in…how can you even think that’s a good idea?) But at Mister Donut, donuts are a must. They taste different than American ones. First of all, they are made fresh on the premises. Naoto and I went to the Mister Donut right at opening on our first day in Japan (hello, jet lag!) and they were filling the shelves for the whole first hour with fresh-from-the-oven delights. Aside from the freshness, the donuts are just…different. They are lighter, less sweet and have a better consistency than American donuts (bakery & Dunkin). I seriously have never had a better donut. mister donut chestnut menuThey also have different flavors than typical American donuts. Misdo’s glazed donut is glazed with honey (not corn syrup), there is a green tea old fashioned, there are savory donuts made with puff pastry filled with a hot dog or au gratin potatoes… And, Mister Donut has new flavors that they roll out with the changing seasons. When we there there in 2011, I gorged myself on a variety of sakura (cherry blossom) donuts. This time the new flavor for fall was chestnut. Those were all amazing. Would you like to see every single donut I ate on my vacation?

1: hot dog donut, glazed pon de ring, brown sugar pon de ring

Day 1: hot dog donut, glazed pon de ring, brown sugar pon de ring

Day 2: chestnut filled chocolate pon de ring, brown sugar pon de ring, chocolate glazed pon de ring

Day 2: chestnut filled chocolate pon de ring, brown sugar pon de ring, chocolate glazed pon de ring

Day 3: hot dog donut, old fashioned, strawberry frosted pon de ring, chocolate frosted pon de ring

Day 3: hot dog donut, old fashioned, strawberry frosted pon de ring, chocolate frosted pon de ring

Day 4: old fashioned, chestnut chocolate frosted pon de ring

Day 4: old fashioned, chestnut chocolate frosted pon de ring

Day 5: chestnut filled with chestnut cream, brown sugar pon de ring, chocolate glazed pon de ring, strawberry dipped cruller

Day 5: chestnut filled with chestnut cream, brown sugar pon de ring, chocolate glazed pon de ring, strawberry dipped cruller

Day 6: hot dog donut, chestnut filled chocolate pon de ring

Day 6: hot dog donut, chestnut filled chocolate pon de ring

Day 7: old fashioned, honey glazed old fashioned

Day 7: old fashioned, honey glazed old fashioned

Keep in mind, I shared those donuts with Naoto…I didn’t eat all of them on my own. We had fun each morning choosing the next one to try, or going back for old favorites like the hot dog. I cannot tell you which is my favorite. It changed by the day. You just really can’t go wrong with Misdo. mister donut 16In “our” Mister Donut (the one by the hotel…hey, we were “regulars”!), you walk in and pick up a little tray and tongs and choose your own donuts. At the cash register, the staff transfers your donuts to a plate (and warms up your hot dog donut if you wish) and places the plate on another tray with your coffee. Then you can take your tray to your seat at a table or a counter by the window. When you sit in the restaurant, your little red Misdo cup is a bottomless cup of coffee. The Misdo staff comes around and pours refills periodically, carrying a little basket with creamers and sugars. Naoto and I drank a lot of refills, especially because we were up so early and had a lot of time to kill before places opened at eleven.

mister donut 15On our last full day in Japan, Naoto had to pick up his suit–He bought a suit in Japan!–so I stayed at Mister Donut alone and wrote my postcards and people watched. He was a little bit worried about the language barrier, but really, I didn’t think “more coffee please” would be that difficult to communicate. (It wasn’t.) kimberly naoto mister donutmister donut 12I’m already dreaming of my next Misdo visit…mister donut 5

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Sweet Tooth Part 2

DSC_0112I’ve been on a little bit of a vintage candy kick again lately. It all started with a Twitter conversation with Danielle about ZotZ. About a week later, I had a package full of ZotZ delivered to my mailbox! (Thank you, Danielle!) On the outside, ZotZ look like a regular hard candy. But when you bite into one, there’s a powdery inside made of acids and sodium bicarbonate that react with your saliva and create fizziness. It’s a little bit of a shock at first, but then you grow to anticipate the fizzy fun. ZotZ have been around since 1968, which seems like a long time considering how technologically advanced they are. They are pretty sour and a lot of fun! I’ve been enjoying/hoarding them, choosing a new bubbly flavor to try each day or so.

Recently, Naoto and I were perusing World Market and I bought a couple of candies that I enjoyed as a child. The first, Chick-o-Stick–a long orange stick of candy made from hardened sugar with peanut butter and coconut. I loved these as a kid and I was happy to eat this one up again without the help of Naoto. (He hates coconut.) For those who have never had one, it is kind of like a butter finger, but sweeter and without the chocolate. Chick-o-Sticks have been around since the Great Depression…I love thinking about eating a candy that my great-grandmother may have eaten!

And of course I had to pick up some Fruit Stripe Gum. Fruit Stripe is just as I remembered…super fruity and tasty for about ten seconds, then flat, no flavor. Womp. Womp… But it’s still delicious, and well worth the $1.25 I paid. Fruit Stripe has been around since the 1960s (when apparently no one cared how long the flavor in their gum would last). It really does evoke the best childhood memories…no matter how fleeting.

We are thinking about bringing some vintage American candies to Japan for our omiyage (souvenirs associated with location, as customary in Japan). I only have a few more weeks to collect some good ones for Naoto’s mom and sisters and their families. Can you think of any “must have” American candies we should take?

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