Author Archives: Linda Roy

Hershey’s American Ban on British Cadbury Chocolate Really Takes the Biscuit

cadHello. My name is Linda. I’m a Cadbury Dairy Milk chocoholic.

It started several years ago when a friend brought me a bar or two over from England. The rich, creaminess of the chocolate was not like anything I’d ever experienced from a Hershey bar. I thought to myself that if public opinion about British cuisine was somewhat negative, (something I’ve never agreed with; I love a plate of bangers and mash) then the tea and chocolate more than makes up for it.

During our annual visits, my British friend would bring more of these fabulous bars of chocolate, along with Cadbury eggs for my boys. These were not the Cadbury eggs we’re used to here. Oh no. Packaged in a small purple egg container, each egg, the size of an actual small chicken egg, came individually wrapped in foil accompanied by a spoon to scoop out the ooey, gooey, rich, chocolatey almost mousse-y filling. A more recent configuration is the small chocolate egg covered in a sweet Smarties type of coating.

When Cadbury Dairy Milk became available here in the states, I rejoiced, as did the multitudes. At last, Americans could enjoy this mega creamy, chocolatey goodness without having to depend on our suppliers from across the pond. I became particularly enamored with the milk chocolate with roasted almonds. But the dark chocolate is equally sublime, as is the classic milk chocolate, unencumbered by additional ingredients. Although, if you enjoy being encumbered, might I suggest the fruit and nut.

That’s when my serious addiction began.

table
Mama’s got a serious problem: I keep a stash in my bedside table for convenient noshing while watching telly.

But the day came when Hershey’s not only became aware of “wassup”, but decided to put the kibosh on it. You see, the British stuff simply tastes better. And Hershey’s apparently won’t stand for that.

Dairy Milk Prohibition

The NY Times and Business Insider reported in late January that the Hershey Company had reached a settlement with Let’s Buy British Imports to issue a ban on imported British chocolate, citing infringement. The company, which secured the rights to make its own American version, claims they want to avoid confusion between their own chocolates and the British imports. The ban also includes the much loved British Kit Kat bar, Toffee Crisps (because the packaging is “too similar” to Reese’s Peanut Butter cups), Flakes, Yorkies (an “infringement” on the York Peppermint Patty) and Maltesers.

This, of course, is less than stellar news to American Cadbury fans who have become accustomed to a better tasting product. Why does British chocolate taste so far superior? The British version has a higher fat content, the first ingredient being milk. Aha! MILK in Dairy Milk! But here in America…you guessed it. In the land of “Do you want sugar with your sugar?”, the first ingredient is…sugar. The American version also contains preservatives.

American Cadbury fans are now stockpiling the stuff, buying up every bar they can get their chocolate covered hands on. Every time I go to the supermarket or Target, I throw a few into my cart. For safe keeping. The problem is, I eat them almost as soon as I buy them. I’ll be huge by Easter.

And my British friend? She just brought me over the huge bar you see above. One giant slab of chocolatey goodness.

What do you think of the ban? Do you buy and enjoy Cadbury chocolates, and will you be hoarding the stuff in preparation for the prohibition? Let’s kvetch about this, because I need a support group right now. 

Fish Tacos

fish tacos

Photo by NeilWill / CC BY 

So it’s 1991 and I’m in Austin, Texas with my band to play a showcase for the annual South By Southwest Music Festival. Somehow we ended up hanging out with a British punk band, the lead singer of which enthusiastically announced one day that he was going out for FISH TACOS!

First of all, back in 1991, we’d never heard of such a thing, so it seemed really odd and frankly, kinda gross. And secondly, the way he said “fish tacos” was hilarious. He pronounced the word “taco”, not in the way we would; his version rhymed with “wacko”. But to tell you the truth, it all kinda made sense after he took us to a little Tex-Mex place that served up the most delicious lightly battered and fried fish topped with pico de gallo, slaw, cilantro, a slightly spicy, yet cool and refreshing sauce, anointed with a squeeze of lime, that we went from oblivious to wacko about the things.

Since then, we’ve had them all over the country, most notable of which were in San Francisco on Pier 39 and here in Edison, New Jersey at Skylark Diner.

I’ve even made them at home. Here’s my favorite recipe, courtesy of Food.com.

Fish Tacos 

ingredients: 

1⁄2 cup sour cream
1⁄2 cup mayonnaise
1⁄4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 package taco seasoning mix, divided
1 lb cod or 1 lb white fish fillet, cut into 1 inch pieces (about 4)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 (12 count) package taco shells, warmed or 1 (12 count) package flour tortillas
Toppings

shredded cabbage
chopped tomato
lime juice
taco sauce

directions: 

Combine sour cream, mayonnaise, cilantro and 2 tablespoons seasoning mix in small bowl.
Combine fish, vegetable oil, lemon juice and remaining seasoning mix in medium bowl; pour into large skillet.
Cook, stirring constantly, over medium-high heat for 4 to 5 minutes or until cod flakes easily when tested with a fork.
Fill taco shells with fish mixture.
Top with toppings.

Cake and Ice Cream Martini

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Cake and ice cream? Yes please. Birthday cocktail? Don’t mind if I do. Why not put them together? Sounds like a match made in heaven. Turns out, it is. Cake vodka is a wonderful thing, my friends. Here’s how to have your cake and drink it too.

ingredients:

2 oz cake vodka
2 oz light cream
confectioner’s sugar
nonpareils sprinkles

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directions:

Chill vodka and cream in a martini shaker filled with ice
Rim glass with a mixture of confectioner’s sugar and water (that’s the glue for the sprinkles)
Roll the rim of the glass in sprinkles and then pour the chilled cocktail in said glass (duh) and…

Inspired by the Cake Batter Martini by The Novice Chef

Look to the Cookie

Look to the Cookie

For the answers to life’s big questions and indeed, the key to humanity, we have only to “look to the cookie”.

That’s what Seinfeld says, anyway.

President Obama calls them Unity Cookies.

See? Already, there’s harmony surrounding the thing.

Me? I’m in firm agreement with both of them. I respect our nation’s leader in all things, not the least of which is his culinary inclinations. And Jerry, we’ll, he married a baker after all. Besides, the black and white cookie is the yin and yang of deliciousness. Have commitment issues? Having trouble deciding between vanilla and chocolate? You don’t have to! That’s the beauty of the thing. Even the cookie itself can’t quite get on the cake or the cookie train and ride the rails unabashedly. It’s gonna be both. And I like that.

Coming to the East Coast from the midwest, back in the 80s, I’d never tasted this particular brand of confectionary neutrality. It’s a New York staple; a child of the deli and the local mom & pap baked good establishment. But trust me, my friend, once you go white and black, you never go back. Sorry. I had to.

So where and how did this delicacy originate? Often confused with the Half Moon cookie, which is traditionally a devils food and more recently a vanilla cookie base, with a buttercream frosting. They’re richer than the black and white and they hail from Central New York, whereas the black and white is a New York City thing.

It all started at Hemstrought’s Bakery in Utica, New York, where the Half Moon cookie was born in the early part of the last century. Either a chocolate or vanilla cake base was topped with either a dark fudge or sugary white frosting, often both, it was later re-appropriated by Long Island, New York City as a vanilla cake based, vanilla and fudge frosted favorite whose topping is now more typically made of fondant.

Now they’re so widely available, you can get them in most supermarkets. Like its black and white brother, the Oreo, everybody has a favorite way to eat one. I like to break them apart, letting the fondant fall off in pieces, eating that first, then going in for the cookie kill last.

Want to try your hand at a homemade version? Here’s a recipe for the traditional New York City Black and White Cookie. It only takes 40 minutes to make. Recipe courtesy of Food.com.

ingredients:

1 1⁄4 cups all-purpose flour
1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1⁄3 cup buttermilk
1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla
1⁄3 cup unsalted butter, softened
1⁄2 cup sugar
1 large egg

Black or White icing:

1 1⁄2 cups icing sugar or 1 1⁄2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon clear corn syrup
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1⁄4 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon water (approx)
1⁄4 cup cocoa powder

to make: 

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Sift together flour, baking soda and salt in medium bowl.
In small bowl or cup, mix together buttermilk and vanilla.
Beat butter and white sugar together in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer for about 3 minutes or until it’s evenly distributed.
Add egg to butter and sugar mixture, and beat until blended.
Gradually beat in flour mixture one cup at a time, and add in buttermilk mixture between each cup of flour, and mix until smooth. It will be necessary to scrape down the sides of the bowl while mixing.
Spoon batter in 1/4 cup size servings onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Bake on middle rack for about 15-17 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown and spring back when touched.
Place on a cooling rack, and allow to cool completely before icing.
Stir together icing sugar, corn syrup, lemon juice, vanilla, and 1/2 Tbsp of water in bowl until smooth.
Place half of mixture into separate bowl and add cocoa powder, and remaining water bit by bit until it is the same consistency as the white icing. If the icing is too runny, add more icing sugar until it is smooth and spreadable.
Turn cooled cookies flat side up, and spread icing with pastry spatula, or butter knife. White over one half, chocolate over the other. The icing does not set solid on these cookies, and does not harden, but it dries enough to be wrapped as they are sold in the city. They can be wrapped individually in cellophane, or sealed in a plastic container.

So look to the cookie! And don’t look back.

Photo by Yelp.com / CC BY

Featured photo by veganbaking.net / CC BY

Fortune Cookies for Valentine’s Day

fortune cookie crop

Looking for a unique homemade gift idea for your Valentine? How about for your child’s Valentine’s Day school party? Fortune cookies are easy and fun to make and you can get the kids in on the fun. Personalize them with romantic or fun messages and you’ll have a tastier, new, homemade take on the old heart-shaped candy standard. Plus, fortune cookies are kind of heart-shaped!

ingredients:

3 tablespoons butter, softened

3 tablespoons sugar

1 egg white

1/2 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract

1/3 cup unbleached all purpose flour

to make: 

  1. Write fortunes on 3 1/2 x 1/4″ strips of paper; set aside.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Draw two 3 1/2″ circles on paper; set aside.
  4. In a small bowl, beat the butter, sugar, egg white and vanilla. Add flour; mix well. Spread 1 tablespoon batter over each circle. Bake at 400 degrees for 4-5 minutes or until lightly browned.
  5. Slide parchment paper onto a work surface. Cover one cookie with a kitchen towel. Place a fortune in the center of the other cookie; loosen cookie from parchment paper with a thin spatula. Fold cookie in half over fortune strip so the edges meet; hold edges together for 3 seconds.
  6. Place center of cookie over the rim of a glass; gently press ends down to bend cookie in middle. Cool for 1 minute before removing to a wire rack. Repeat with second cookie. If cookies become too cool to fold, return to oven to soften for 1 minute. Repeat with remaining batter and fortunes.

Yields 10 cookies.

Recipe courtesy of Taste of Home

Cookbook Review: Homemade Decadence by Joy Wilson

cake

If you’re not familiar with Joy Wilson, the talented writer, photographer and self taught baker extraordinaire otherwise known as Joy the Baker, then you’re in for a treat when you check out her blog of the same name. Featuring beautifully photographed, decadent and imaginative desserts, beverages and savory tastiness, you can’t help but feel…well, joy when you read her words and take the culinary journey with her.

Her first book, Joy the Baker Cookbook which I reviewed here, has been thus far, my favorite cookbook ever. Filled with 100 recipes from the classics, to the new, fun and imaginative, it’s one of those books you want to make every single recipe from. My personal favorite is the bourbon banana bread. Fab.

With her newest cookbook, Homemade Decadence, Joy spreads her creative wings, beginning with an exhaustive brunch section which includes doughnuts, scones, breakfast rolls, dark chocolate croissants, blueberry pancake muffins, breakfast nachos and an inventive breakfast sandwich of braised kale and egg. There’s a variety of homemade toast spreads and a variety of cocktails to accompany it all. A maple bacon syrup and a quick and easy homemade vanilla quick jam tops your Lemon Poppyseed pancakes and all the rest deliciously.

Joy credits her parents with the inspiration behind her passion for baking. She cites her father with giving her the pie gene, and her mother, the cake gene. Working out of a small apartment with what she describes as an oven so small, it requires specially sized cookie sheets, Wilson’s emphasis in this book is on the ability of the home cook/baker to feel confident with the outcome of their culinary efforts no matter the size or bells and whistles of the home kitchen. She lets us know that passion and fresh ingredients are all you need to delve into the pursuit of deliciousness. Her enthusiasm is infectious and the results both whimsical and scrumptious. You feel like you’re in the kitchen baking cookies with your best girlfriend.

Check out the recipe that graces the cover; chocolate peanut butter pretzel cake. It’s a salty,sweet marriage made in heaven. Standouts in the savory category include a french onion quiche and a breakfast grilled cheese made with brioche, brie, ham and cherry jam. I loved the bourbon banana bread so much, I can’t wait to try the banana biscotti dipped in chocolate.

There’s something for everybody’s taste and culinary skill level here, and as the title suggests, it’s a compendium of “irresistibly sweet, salty, gooey, sticky, fluffy, creamy crunchy treats” that you’ll return to again and again.

Be sure to also check out Joy the Baker’s Homefries podcast, as well as her original web series Bonkers Awesome.  And also, I’m free for brunch anytime. Call me.