Original Jer’s Square & Pretzo Chango-O Jer’s Square

jersquare

I received both of these squares from Jer’s in my January Love with Food box.

Original Jer’s Square Information:

Jer’s Original Squares are crafted with all natural Valencia peanut butter mixed with crunchy rice crisp covered in premium milk chocolate. Now, you can have Jer’s Squares 4 oz. boxes on hand at work, at home, or on the go! That’s what we call “out of the box” thinking!

My Thoughts:

This is yummy!

The peanut butter center is lightened up with the crackly crunch of rice crisp.  The chocolate is sweet and creamy, the peanut butter is too, but there is enough “salty” to it to give it a nice savory quality and to cut through some of the sweet.  I’d take these over a peanut butter cup any day!

Pretzo Chang-O Jer’s Square Information:

Pretzo Change-O Milk Chocolate squares are crafted with sweet and salty pretzel bits mixed with all natural Valencia peanut butter covered in milk chocolate. These 4 oz. boxes are great for sharing, putting into a candy dish at your house or office, or stashed away for that quick fix when needed. After all, that’s how we’re able to pack big flavor into such a little package.

My Thoughts:

The Pretzo Chango-O is also a milk chocolate candy.  Instead of the crispy rice in the original square … this has salty pretzel bits which adds more salt to the treat.  The center is a little denser than the original was because of the pretzel bits, and it’s crunchier.  But I love the additional salty notes to this square.  Of the two, this one was my favorite, but I loved them both! This is truly a salty-sweet treat!

My Final Thoughts:

I want more of these!  That is all.

Chocolate Almond Butter from Justin’s

chocolatealmondProduct Information:

What do you do when your roommates start eating all of your chocolate almond butter?  Put your name on it, like I did!  What began as a kitchen experiment has turned into the perfect combination of premium chocolate with California Almonds for a nut butter so good you’ll want to put your name on it too.

Learn more about this product here.

What I Think:

I can’t believe I haven’t reviewed this stuff yet.  It’s so yummy.

For the purposes of this review, I smeared some of this nut butter on apple slices.

There is a good balance between chocolate and almond.  It’s very rich and chocolate-y, but I can still taste the delicious nutty flavor of the almond.  It is sweet, a little salty and a whole lot yummy.  This would be good on just about anything, and even better right out of the jar.

Just out of curiosity, I compared the numbers in the nutritional information of the chocolate almond butter and the classic almond butter (both from Justin’s) and the numbers are very similar.   I’m no nutritionist by any stretch of the imagination, so, I’m not going to pretend that I really know what all those numbers mean.  I don’t.  But, based on what I see, I think that if the classic almond butter can be part of a “healthy” diet, I don’t see why this product couldn’t be.  And this has chocolate in it, which makes the chocoholic in me very happy.

My Final Thoughts:

Before I tried this Chocolate Almond Butter from Justin’s, the Maple Almond was my favorite nut butter from them, but now, I’d be hard pressed to decide which one I like better.   Both are simply phenomenal.  Every product that I’ve tried thus far from Justin’s has been exceptional and this one is too.  I really can’t say enough good stuff about Justin’s nut butters (and let’s not forget their peanut butter cups!  YUM!)

Justin’s Organic Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

peanutbuttercups

Pic from Knoshbox.
Click on the pic to go there.

Product Information:

Nothing says Halloween quite like a peanut butter cup! These organic peanut butter cups are unlike any you’ve tasted before. They’re crafted with organic ingredients and contain no hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup or artificial ingredients.

I received a package of these peanut butter cups in my October Knoshbox.

Tea Suggestion:

I brewed a cup of steaming hot chai to go with my peanut butter cups, and one of my favorite chai blends is this Witches’ Brew Chai from 52Teas!  It’s spicy, a little bit smoky, and a whole lot of WOW!  It made for a compelling accompaniment for these rich, delicious confections from Justin’s.

What I Think:

Before I begin on this review, I think I should make mention of the fact that when I visited the Knoshbox website to get the information on this product, it would seem that Knoshbox has changed their name to Knoshy!  As long as they keep up with the amazing boxes … I don’t really care what they choose to call themselves!  Just please don’t do something like sell out to a company and then disappear on us.  I need you, Knoshbox or Knoshy!  You can change your name but don’t go changing what you’re about, please!

Anyway, back to these treats!  I’ve tried a few different “gourmet” peanut butter cups, and while those that I’ve tried have been superior to the best known peanut butter cup (you know which one I’m talking about, right?) I have yet to find one that compares to Justin’s.  I guess the same is true for their peanut butter too.

These peanut butter cups look just like the “better known” peanut butter cup that you can find in any convenience store candy aisle (you know the one I’m talking about, right?)  In fact, if you put just the peanut butter cups up next to each other, side by side, you’d probably have a hard time determining which was which based on appearance alone.  They’re both about the same size, they’re both about the same shape with the same ridges around the edges, and they’re both lined with the wax paper cups.  They’re both made of chocolate and they both have peanut butter inside them.

But that’s where the similarities end.  They might look the same, but the certainly don’t taste the same.  Sure … the milk chocolate is sweet and creamy, and the peanut butter is smooth and and deliciously peanut-y.  But with these Justin’s peanut butter cups, everything just tastes of better quality, you know?  The chocolate is better, the peanut butter is better … and this just creates a better tasting product.

My Final Thoughts:

Everything that I’ve tried from Justin’s has just simply been YUM.  Their nut butters, their peanut butter cups … just … yummy.  Sure, the products cost a bit more than the commercially processed competition, but give Justin’s a try and you’ll find that when it comes to taste there simply is NO competition.  Justin’s is just better.  Period.

Jam Sandwich Cookies from Butter + Love

cookies2Product Description:

These Jam Sandwich cookies will remind you of holiday baking with your family. The cookie sampler brings you four incredible flavors to try: raspberry lemon, blackberry lime, marionberry rosemary sea salt, and strawberry balsamic marjoram.

I received this sampler basket of cookies in my December Knoshbox; additional sampler baskets can be purchased for a limited time in Knoshbox’s Market.

Tea Suggestion:

I love shortbread cookies with a cup of good, hot black tea, and this English Breakfast tea from Butiki Teas proved to be just the right choice!  The richness of the tea together with the buttery, sumptuous flavor of the cookies was just heavenly!

What I Think:

Oh my goodness!  Is there anything better than a buttery shortbread cookie?  I think – other than peanut butter blossoms – that shortbread might just be my favorite kind of cookie.  And really, peanut butter blossoms are my favorite for sentimental reasons – they remind me of gramma.

But when it comes to the taste my palate craves, it’s butter shortbread cookies all the way!  I just love them.  So rich and delicious … I love the way the cookie just sort of crumbles over the palate and then seems to melt on the tongue, tasting of deliciously sweet butter.  YUM!

So, needless to say, I was thrilled when this cute little basket filled with four shortbread cookies … and because these are jam sandwich cookies that means double the shortbread pleasure.  And with a bakery name like Butter + Love, the buttery part of the shortbread is implied, isn’t it?  I knew I was in for a rich, buttery treat!

cookies
From the top, clockwise: Marionberry Rosemary Sea Salt, Raspberry Lemon, Strawberry Balsamic Marjoram, and Blackberry Lime

The first thing I notice about this sampler is that each of the four cookies are different, so, I consult the Butter + Love website to find out which one was which!  Here are my thoughts on each cookie:

Marionberry Rosemary Sea Salt:  This cookie is a culinary experience in savory and sweet.  The marionberry jam is sweet with just a hint of tartness to it.  I like that I am not noticing a lot of seeds from the marionberry jam here.  The rosemary is baked right in to the cookie, and it delivers a savory taste to the otherwise sweet, almost creamy taste of the shortbread.  Slightly resinous and woodsy tasting, I think that the rosemary gives this gourmet treat an almost rustic kind of taste.  The touch of sea salt here adds not so much of a salty taste (there is a bit of that too, though), and acts more to accentuate the flavors.  It brings out the buttery taste of the shortbread and marionberry and rosemary.

Blackberry Lime:  This was the next cookie I grabbed from the basket.  Another love at first bite!  Here I am able to notice the texture of the cookie better, I think, and I realize that these are not “golden brown” but quite pale.  They look like they might even be slightly underbaked, although they do not taste like it.  No doughy taste, they taste as though they’ve been perfectly cooked.  But what this pale color means is that there is very little crunch or crispy snap to the cookie, instead, it is soft and crumbly.  I like!  I like!  It tastes very fresh and I love the soft texture.  And the blackberry and lime is a compelling contrast of sweet and tart.  A well conceived combination of flavors.

Strawberry Balsamic Marjoram: YUM!  I love this sampler … every single cookie is like a new adventure.  The one thing in common between the four cookies is the cookie itself … the buttery shortbread.  But for the two square cookies – this and the Marionberry Rosemary Sea Salt cookie – there are other ingredients added to the shortbread.  Here, the addition is marjoram.  The marjoram gives the cookie a slightly citrus-y undertone with just a hint of woodsy flavor.  The strawberry balsamic jam is delightfully sweet and tart, and I like that the balsamic is just a hint of flavor, acting more to accentuate the strawberry rather than take on a big presence of its own… except in the aftertaste, where I notice the balsamic more.  This was a really yummy cookie.

Raspberry Lemon: I saved this one for last because I had a feeling it would be my favorite … I love lemon cookies, and I love the combination of raspberry and lemon.  This is delightful!  The raspberry gives just a little bit of sweetness, and the lemon brightens the whole cookie.

My Final Thoughts: 

While the Raspberry Lemon was my favorite of the bunch, I loved every single one of these cookies … and I don’t know that I’d choose one over another!  I’d want to get all four of them again … these are definitely going on my re-order list!

Oh Yay! My Knoshbox Arrived Today!

Well, technically, when this published, it will have arrived yesterday.  But on the day that I wrote this review (yesterday) … it arrived today.  Confused yet?  I am, and I’m the one writing it.  I can only imagine how confused the reader must be at this point.

DecKnoshboxSorry about that.  It’s just … the arrival of my Knoshbox is one of the highlights of my month … it is, without a doubt, my favorite sampler box that I subscribe to.  The only thing better than getting my Knoshbox in the mail is getting tea in the mail.  Now, if Knoshbox were to do a tea-time theme one month … that would be absolute perfection.

The theme this month, though, is “The Holiday Collection” – and I’m really happy about it too, because the box was filled with delights to appeal to my sweet tooth.  Two treats from Butter + Love:  Gingerbread Mustache Cookies and a Jam Cookie Sampler.  From S’more Bakery, there was a package of “The Pepp” s’mores.  There’s also a chocolate bar from The Ticket Kitchen (that name may sound familiar to anyone who’s read my blog for a while, the Ticket Kitchen makes those amazing hot chocolate on a sticks!) and finally a “Snow Witch” white chocolate brownie from Fat Witch Bakery.

My goodness!  What an amazing bunch of sweet goodness!  My sweet tooth is ready to dive right in!  Please keep watching my blog for individual reviews of each item!

Butter & Garlic Croutons from Olivia’s Croutons

Photo from Petit Amuse. Click on the pic to go there.

Product Description:

Crunchy and buttery with a healthy dose of garlic, these croutons taste like they are fresh out of the oven.

These Butter & Garlic Croutons are available at Petit Amuse.

What I Think:

I received a sampling of these croutons in my Petit Amuse box for October.  The little sample pouch holds six croutons, just enough to determine whether they are something you’re going to want to get a full-size package.  Since there were only six croutons in the package, I decided to snack on them as they were, rather than toss them on top of a salad or float them in a bowl of soup.

And the verdict?  They’re pretty good.  They’re really crunchy, and very buttery.  And heavily seasoned with garlic.  As in GARLIC-Y!  Seriously, don’t plan on kissing anyone after eating these croutons!

I happen to love garlic, so I find the flavor of these croutons to be very appealing.  I love the buttery taste of them, and I love the strong taste of garlic.  I think they’d taste great in a tomato soup or on top of an ordinary salad – these croutons would really liven it up.

My Final Thoughts:

Because the garlic is so strong, I don’t think I would actually buy a full-sized package of these croutons for me and my family, because I’m the only one in the household who really loves garlic.  My husband likes it alright as long as it’s moderate … and I know he would think that these are way too garlic-y.  And truth be told, he uses more croutons than I do as I generally prefer my salads without croutons (I prefer nuts of some sort).   Good, but not something that would appeal to my entire family.

Butter & Sea Salt Halfpops

Product Description:

Partially popped. And fully delicious. Savor the crunchy heart of air-popped kernels. Revel in flavor that’s positively packed in – not lost in the fluff of ordinary popcorn.

Learn more about Halfpops on their website.

Tea Suggestion:

With these buttery, salty snacks I recommend iced tea!  These would be great with hot tea as well, but they have that snack-y kind of appeal that just screams iced tea to me.  Today I’m sipping on some cold-brewed tea from 52Teas newest brand:  Southern Boy Teas, and I’m drinking the RadioactiviTea “flavor” – which isn’t really a flavor at all, but pure, CTC Assam teas.  The natural fruity notes provide a lovely sweetness which is a very enjoyable contrast to the salty, buttery goodness of these Halfpops.

What I Think:

The half popped kernels have always been a “secret” pleasure of mine, I would always dig for them at the bottom of the bowl… but I didn’t realize that other people loved them as much as I did … enough to create a whole new snack around them!

These kind of taste a bit like Corn Nuts, only they’re better, because they don’t taste overly processed.  The Corn Nuts, while enjoyable because they’re crunchy and have a tasty corn flavor, have always tasted just a bit artificial to me … very junk food/corn chip like to me.  But these taste more like popcorn.  Oh sure, I’m sure they still qualify as “junk food” with all the salt and buttery flavoring, but they don’t taste overly processed.  They have that natural crunch and sweet corn taste of real popcorn, because that’s what it is.  These aren’t uniformly shaped and processed.  They look like what’s at the bottom of the popcorn bowl, only… there’s more of them!

I was kind of hoping for the cheese flavored Halfpops to be in the box, mostly because I figured it’d be something different from what IS at the bottom of my popcorn bowl, but, it only took one taste of these buttery, yummy, salted Halfpops to not feel like I’m missing out on the cheese flavor.  These are really awesome.   Lots of buttery goodness and just enough salt… just the way I like my popcorn.  (Although recently, I’ve taken to adding a sprinkling of Bourbon Smoked Paprika on top of my popcorn!)

Hey, Halfpops, if you’re reading this, you should team up with Bourbon Barrel Foods and make a Bourbon Smoked Paprika flavored Halfpops.  Or… a Bacon flavored Halfpops would be good too.

My Final Thoughts:

I really like these.  I was kind of underwhelmed with the idea of them being in the box at first, but, I’m glad that Foodzie included them.  They are sure to satisfy that crunchy snack craving when you get them:  they are a little sweet from the corn and the butter, salty, and irresistibly good.   My only real complaint is that there are a lot of “empty” shells in the package – the hulls that have shed off of the Halfpops.  A minor irritation, really, not a big deal, but something I think is worth mentioning.  I see that these are available at my local Whole Foods, I think I’ll have to look for them the next time I’m shopping!

 

Sun Cups from Seth Ellis Chocolatier

In my Stocking Stuffer Tasting Box, I received four different Sun Cups:  a milk chocolate sunflower butter, a dark chocolate sunflower butter, a caramel cup and a mint cup.  I tried each of these at different times and took notes of each tasting so that I could compose one review for all four Sun Cups. 

Product Description:

Imagine a luscious, nut-free, organic chocolate cup filled with roasted sunflower butter or mint cream or caramel. That’s a Sun Cup!

To Learn More about Sun Cups and Seth Ellis Chocolatier, visit the website.

What I Think:

I started with the milk chocolate sunflower butter cup, and it is delicious.  The sunflower butter is creamy and satisfying and nutty, tasting like… well, sunflower seeds.  No big surprise there.  The milk chocolate was quite sweet and even though I’ve a sweet tooth, as I finished the cup I found myself wanting something to help cut through the sweet, cloying taste that had developed on the back of my palate. Delicious (incredibly so!) … but sweet.

Which is why I found the dark chocolate sunflower butter cup much more to my liking.  With the first bite, I noticed that the more assertive flavor of the dark chocolate did mute out some of the softer flavors of the sunflower butter cup at the start, but, as I took my second bite, I noticed the flavor of the sunflower butter coming through.  The aftertaste is bittersweet from the chocolate.  This is really lip-smacking good!

The Mint Cup is really good.  Much better than I was anticipating.  I figured, “oh okay, this will kind of be like a peppermint patty” but, it is so much better.  The dark chocolate is thicker than in the typical peppermint patty, so it presents a stronger flavor.  It is a rich, dark chocolate, and what I like is the creamy mint filling, because it doesn’t taste overly sweet.  Sure, it’s sweet, but, it doesn’t have that cloyingly sweet flavor of the average peppermint patty.  It compliments the dark chocolate of this cup well.

I saved what I thought would be my favorite of the quartet for last:  the Caramel Cup.  Before even opening the package, I found myself wishing that it had been made with dark chocolate.  My thoughts here did not change as I ate the cup, I think I would have preferred a dark chocolate caramel cup.

That being said, this is still one seriously delicious piece of candy.  The caramel is rich and smooth and creamy – I love the texture of the caramel.  It isn’t a viscid/solid kind of caramel; it is liquid, but, not a thin, runny caramel, it is thick enough and has enough body to it to stay inside the cup as I eat it.  In other words:  gooey, but, not oohey-gooey.

The milk chocolate is sweet and delicious.  One Caramel Cup is more than sufficient even for this sweet-toothed chocoholic, because the combination of caramel and milk chocolate was incredibly sweet.  As I said before, I found myself wishing it was a dark chocolate cup, or at the very least, it had been adorned with a sprinkling of sea salt to help offset some of the sweetness.  It is still delicious, but I think it could have been even better.

My Final Thoughts:

These Sun Cups were amazing.  YUMMY!  As for a tea recommendation, I had these four cups at different times (yes they were yummy, but, they were incredibly rich and I really couldn’t handle more than one at a time)… but I found one variable that remained steadfast, and that was a choice of tea:  I chose an Assam tea to drink with these confections.  I found that the hint of bitter undertone to the Assam was a pleasant contrast to the sweetness of the candy, and there were no extraneous flavors to compete with the flavorful fillings of the Sun Cups.  My current favorite Assam (my favorite does change from time to time!):  Golden Tips Assam from The Tao of Tea.

Chocolate Hazelnut Butter from Justin’s

Where to Buy:  Justin’s Online and select stores

Price:  $9.95 for a 16-ounce jar

Product Description:

Quick Question:  Do you eat cake frosting for breakfast?  I didn’t think so.  Neither do I.  Yet some chocolate hazelnut butters have more sugar than cake frosting.  You can check.  I’ll wait … see.  So this is a warning that my chocolate hazelnut butter may not taste like what you’re used to; sugar.  What it will taste like is a delicious combination of the premium hazelnuts and homemade chocolate for an addictive, skip the bread and eat with a spoon delicacy. 

What I Think:

When I received this packet in my Foodzie Tasting Box for August along with the other Justin’s nut butters, I figured it would taste like Nutella.  I usually keep Nutella on hand, so I held off on tasting this Chocolate Hazelnut Butter because I didn’t really figure it would be anything all that different.

And you know what… this is very similar to Nutella.  Except … I can taste the hazelnuts.  I mean… really taste the hazelnuts!  As with my other experiences with Justin’s nut butters, this has a slightly different kind of consistency and texture – it tastes homemade.  It doesn’t taste like it was made in a factory.  So every once in a while, I can feel the texture of a bit of finely ground nut that wasn’t ground quite as finely as the other particles.

This is smooth and creamy, nutty and oh-so-chocolate-y!  This just simply tastes better than Nutella.  It is sweet… but like the above description states, this doesn’t taste like sugar.  And I think that is what my fascination for Nutella was about – it was the sugar.  It does taste like cake frosting.  This … doesn’t.  It is sweet, but this tastes like chocolate and hazelnuts.  And even though I love cake frosting … I like this better.

My Final Thoughts:

Well, I am going to finish my last jar of Nutella because I don’t like the idea of wasting it.  But, when it comes time to get a new jar, I think I’m going to reach for THIS instead.

 

Honey Peanut Butter from Justin’s

Where to Buy:  Justin’s Online or in select stores

Price:  $5.99 for a 16 ounce jar

Product Description:

I don’t know kung fu and I’ve never learned to play the piano, but what I do know is how to make peanut butter really, really well.  Some people might consider my single-minded obsession with nut butters to be a waste of time, but I disagree.  Can you kung fu a piece of celery into tasting better?  I think not.

What I Think:

As with the two other nut butters that I’ve tried thus far from Justin’s, I am tasting this with a slice of toasted 8-grain bread and apple slices.

As with the classic peanut butter, the consistency is smooth and creamy.  Occasionally, I’ll pick up a tiny (teeny-tiny!) chunk of peanut.  Since my review of Justin’s Classic Peanut Butter, I’ve been contemplating how to explain the difference in flavor between Justin’s nut butters and everyone else’s (or at least those that I’ve tried).  It’s not just the flavor (although the flavor difference is significant), it’s the texture.  Yes, this is creamy and smooth, just like a creamy peanut butter off the grocery store shelf … but this has a less processed kind of texture to it.  You can not only taste the individual ingredients, but you can feel them too.  This tastes (and feels) real … like someone who really cared about the product made this.  Or… if I can borrow a phrase from Chef Carla Hall, I can taste the “love” in this.

This Honey Peanut Butter blend tastes very much like the Classic Peanut Butter, but it is sweeter.  I can taste the honey, but it isn’t a strong or overpowering note.  It is subtle.  Unlike the Classic Peanut Butter, which is made with no sugar, it has a sweetness to it, but it isn’t cloy.  This nut butter does not rely upon the honey as it’s main flavor component, it is an accent to the main event:  the peanuts!

My Final Thoughts:

A delicious combination of sweet, nutty, and salty.  Justin’s is what peanut butter SHOULD be.