Recently in Candy and Sweets category

Homemade Marshmallow Recipe

marshmallows marshmallows

Some of my favorite candies are marshmallows. Actually, I should backtrack a bit and say at the very top of my all-time favorite things to eat are marshmallows. I love their pillowy softness and their tender sweetness with undertones of vanilla. If it sounds like I’m getting a little Proustian for them, you’re right. I recently made several batches for some projects, which not only rekindled my love of them, but when I brought them to a few parties, people were stunned at how good they were and could not stop raving.

marshmallows

Of course, all compliments are welcome—I’ll take them whenever I can get them. But there’s really nothing complicated about making marshmallows and anyone with a few extra egg whites on hand and a sturdy mixer, can produce world-class marshmallows right at home.

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Prune-Stuffed Prunes

stuffed prunes with prunes

In what could be the hardest-sell on the planet, I always try to talk people who come to Paris into trying Pruneaux d’Agen fourrés, which are prunes stuffed with prunes. In spite of their reputation, prunes are a great delicacy in France and rightfully so; one taste of even just a regular pruneau d’Agen (especially mi-cuit, or “partially dried”), and you’ll plotz the first time after your first bite. (Although sometimes you need to give it a few hours for the full effect.)

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Recchiuti’s Asphalt Jungle Mix

Recchiuti asphalt jungle mix

Michael Recchiuti was recently here in Paris for a few weeks, visiting, and eating his way around town. Because he’s a chocolatier (from San Francisco), of course, he concentrated on chocolate. Interestingly I couldn’t remember how we met, but he recalled the event pretty well.

Apparently a group of us had been invited to Robert Steinberg’s kitchen, since he was working on developing ScharffenBerger chocolate. Along with me and Michael, Harold McGee was there, as well as a few other local pastry types. Although I vaguely remember this (so I reserve the right to dispute it at a later date), Michael said that I arrived for the chocolate tasting and discussion with a bag filled with my very own plastic containers and proceeded to unload and open them, each containing a recipe I was working on for my chocolate book, asking the various pastry chefs and food professionals sitting around the table for their opinions.

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Le Bonbon au Palais

le bonbon au palais

I just realized that I haven’t used the word “astonishing” in a while. I’m not jaded or anything. I still walk around the streets of Paris sometimes and think, “Wow, this place is pretty spectacular.” And on my travels, including a recent trip to Chicago, I was wowed by everything from terrific Mexican food to a wonderful bakery.

But sometimes adjectives aren’t enough, and every so often you drop into a place and your jaw just kind of drops as well. Le Bonbon au Palais is such a place.

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Economy Candy

gumballs

I’ll spare you any quips about feeling like kids in a candy store, but from the squeals of delight all around us (and there was no one under eighteen in Economy Candy), there we were, a roomful of adults, surrounded by floor-to-ceiling displays of candy—from the new to the long-forgotten. And I could hear every few moments someone saying, “Oh my God!” or “I LOVE these!” from people reconnecting with their favorite sweets from the past.

orange slices

My favorite candies of all time are Orange Slices, jellied wedges of orange coated with tooth-crackling sugar crystals. Man, I could eat a jumbo bag of them. I also like Dots, but you have to be careful if eating them at the movies because if you don’t hold each one up to the screen and check before you pop it in your mouth, you might accidentally eat one of the green ones.

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Salted Butter Caramels

pouring caramel

I had a wee bit of a dilemma recently. In my refrigerator was a half-jar of crème fraîche, that I had to use up before I left for a recent vacation on the beach. I’d been thinking about making caramels with it, but I also knew that I would be slipping on a swimsuit within a few weeks. And being alone in my apartment with an open jar of ultra-rich crème fraîche was probably not a good idea.

bordier butter salted cup of creme fraiche

So what did I do? I hemmed and hawed about it, until I channeled my mother, who would have flipped out if I tossed away the rest of the crème fraîche. (Or anything, for that matter.)

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A l’Etoile d’Or

bonnat bars

You get a little lazy living here. At least I do. And because I’m not as spry as I used to be, if someone proposes a trip that’s more than one métro change away, I usually find a way to opt out of it. Arrondissements that are far, far away, like the 15th or the 17th, may as well be on the outside of the périphérique (or l’hexagone, for that matter) and I haven’t stepped foot in the likes of them in years.

One place that’s worth going out of my way for is A l’Etoile d’Or, and I broke my cardinal rule when Cenk from Café Fernando came to Paris for a visit and he asked me where to meet up.

cenk & denise french chocolates

I’ve known Denise Acabo, who lords over her confectionery wonderland, even before I moved to Paris, when I’d stop in and gawk at all the amazing chocolates and confections.

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Bernachon Chocolate

bernachon coffee bar

For my birthday, back in December, Romain presented me with a Kalouga bar from Bernachon, handwrapped personally for me by Denise Acabo of A l’Etoile d’Or, one the best, and wackiest, candy and chocolate shops anywhere in the world.

I’ve been afraid to open it since I know what’ll happen once I do. So I’ve been saving it for a special occasion, or a WTF moment. And yes, I’m aware that it’s a long time, but I guess things have been going pretty well lately.

sideofbarsblog

Well, that is until a recent trip to my bank to simply change the status of my account since I found out I was being overcharged up the wazoo for services I didn’t understand or use. (Like, even though she insisted I did, do I really need two free money orders a month? I think the last time I used a money order was in 1998. But I’ve learned that not speaking picture-perfect French can easily tack on 20-30% to the cost of things.)

The banquière hefted a thick dossier of paperwork so voluminous, it made the Sunday New York Times look like a pin-up flyer for a lost cat. It took my breath away, and I spent an hour and a half going through it and just to get out of there, I signed away whatever it was they wanted me to sign away.

When I got home, that bar was certainly tempting me. And I held off.

But I don’t need to hold off any further.

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