Speaking of mint, which can be really gross let’s FACE IT already, how do you feel about peppermint bark? I am pro, mostly because I’ve developed a late-20s white-chocolate urge that surely indicates I’m turning into my mother. The more white chocolate the better these days. But what exactly IS it? The Wall Street Journal explained, in a poky li'l article titled 'White Chocolate, a Blank Slate for Flavor, Wins Converts,' that: “White chocolate is made from the cocoa butter separated out when cocoa beans are roasted.” So it really is a distant relative of real chocolate, and apparently there are standards, which is nice—Wikipedia tells us, “Regulations govern what may be marketed as ‘white chocolate’: In the United States, since 2004, white chocolate must be (by weight) at least 20% cocoa butter...Before this date, U.S. firms required temporary marketing permits to sell white chocolate.” What I would give for a framed white-chocolate permit.
Back to peppermint bark. It’s hard to blow it with this candy (Williams-Sonoma has a nice fancy one, and Trader Joe’s standard bark always does the trick), but right now I'm pretty into Hershey’s Candy Cane Kisses, which consist of white chocolate, red stripes, and little dots of crunchy candy cane—just enough mint to be safely outside the sweet-toothpaste danger zone. They're less intense than classic bark—you can eat them without candy-cane shrapnel flying everywhere and they don't involve the dark chocolate bottom layer, which I can usually live without. (For you mint lovers out there, they also offer a dark chocolate mint truffle Kiss, which is a green mint-paste blob wearing a dark-chocolate smug jacket.)
Two other holiday treats I found in my grocery- and drug-store travels:
Red Velvet Santa: From Russel Stover (the Wet N Wild of confectioners)—a lump of pinkish red-velvet-flavored clay-like substance covered in chocolate. For the record, it’s not shaped like a Santa at all, more like a damaged triangle; red-velvet cake mix is listed as an ingredient, which is why, I assume, the lump is gritty. But really, it was kind of good. Dominic Holden described it best: “This is deliciously disgusting.”
Gingerbread-Flavored Men: These Peeps marshmallow buddies are light brown and shaped like little gingerbros. I wasn’t expecting it, but they actually taste like gingerbread—right down to the ginger/mollasses-y spice kick. Paul Constant didn’t hate them: “Better than a Starbucks gingerbread latte, which is as good as you’re going to get from me.”
Now then, does anyone know of any good New Year's candies?