From chocolate to hard candy, we all love to taste test the latest in culinary confections. In time for National S'Mores Day (10 August 2010), below we share some of our favorite sweets to snack on.
Dufflet Caramel Crackle
Winner of the 2009 Sofi Outstanding Confection Award, the Caramel Crackle from Toronto-based Dufflet combines powerful sweet flavors with a crispy yet semi-gooey texture for a modern take on the classic Florentine. Toasted almonds are baked into a thin layer of hard and sweet caramel, then sprinkled with ground pistachios and sea salt to create the delicious brittle.
Dufflet's Crackle is also available in three other chocolate flavors, including the 2008 Outstanding Confection Winner, Bittersweet Chocolate Crackle in Maple Cashew. Boxes of Crackle sell in Canada from Dove Tale Collections or in the U.S. from Gourmet at Home, each for around $12 a box.
Butter Baked Goods Marshmallows
Interior designer turned pastry chef, Rosie Daykin brings "Leave it to Beaver" charm to Vancouver with her aptly named bakery, Butter. Using classic kitchen ingredients containing no preservatives or additives, Butter creates cookies, cupcakes, bars and other assorted treats.
We particularly enjoy the line of homemade marshmallows, created in assorted flavors such as coffee, raspberry, or matcha tea. Though we didn't care much for the mint variety, the toasted coconut flavor—covered in real toasted coconut shavings—left us fighting over the last bite. Each bag contains ten hand-cut marshmallows and sell for $6 (or you can buy just one mega-marshmallow for $2) either in-store or from the bakery's website.
Levity Gourmet Marshmallows
The brainchild of two recent college grads, Levity Gourmet Marshmallows has all of the nostalgia and playfulness of childhood but with a refined palate. What sets these marshmallows apart from competitors (and what justifies the steep price tag) is the wide array of flavors. Instead of a classic hot-cocoa treat, each light and airy concoction transforms into a stand-alone dessert.
The S'mores flavor (which was devoured in minutes at CH HQ) has soft graham cracker chunks and a milk chocolate ribbon swirled in, reinventing the beloved campfire dessert. Though we have yet to try the White Chocolate Chip Macadamia Nut, Coffee Caramel Swirl and refreshing Watermelon variety, we're sure they're on par with the flavors we so fervently consumed. Packages sell for $10 to $18 for a pack of ten depending on type, from the Levity online store.
Chocolate Soup Macaroons
Steamboat Springs, Colorado's Chocolate Soup Pastry Cafe makes delicious tarts, truffles, cakes and cookies, but are best known for just one simple thing—their macaroons. All natural and handmade, the chewy coconut cookies come in three distinct flavors, Dark Chocolate Pistachio, Milk Chocolate Almond and Lemon White Chocolate Macadamia.
A little heartier than a classic cookie, but enjoyed by fans of the traditional coconut macaroon and newcomers alike, these well-known desserts are a real treat. Though the Chocolate Soup online shop isn't up and running yet, call the cafe at +1 970 870 0225 to place an order.
Lori's Meringue Mushrooms
Known for their Lemon Pistachio and Chocolate Hazelnut Madeleines, Ashland, OR-based Lori's French Connection Bakery recently expanded their trade to include baffling and delicious meringue mushrooms. Colored in earthy browns and faded whites or a more psychedelic pastel assortment, the mini desserts look just like fresh-picked fungi.
Given their natural appearance, the taste is shockingly sweet, made of just pure cane sugar and egg whites. A thin strip of chocolate attaches the stem to the head, offering a surprising texture to an otherwise classic meringue. Perfect for cake decorating or as a unique gift, the mushrooms come in packages of 16 full-sized or 24 minis for $15 each. Available in chocolate, vanilla or vanilla pastel, the mushshrooms can sell directly from the French Connection Bakery's online catalog.
Tom and Sally's Handmade Chocolates Skinny Bars
Moving from NYC to Brattleboro, VT with the dream of creating incredible chocolates, Tom and Sally's eponymous line of Handmade Chocolates span the classic to the kitschy, featuring all-natural and healthy ingredients, with a fair assortment of vegan options.
Their 100% organic single-serving Skinny Bars in flavor favorites such as Dark Chocolate with Ginger Root and Dark Chocolate with Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Coffee have already gained much notoriety, but the duo recently unveiled four new flavors. Coconut contains 41% Milk Chocolate while the other three varieties of 66% Dark Chocolate come in refreshing flavors of Green Tea, Hibiscus Flower and Lavender Flower. The incredibly fresh and vibrantly flavored bars sell for around $3 in retail stores across the U.S.
For those seeking a sweet without the sugar, Caring Candies offers all natural, sugar-, fat- and gluten-free handmade hard candies. Sweetened with Isomalt, a sugar-free sugar substitute derived from beets, the candies won't leave you feeling guilty (though they may leave you a little ill if you aren't used to all-natural sugar substitutes).
The bonbons, lollipops and candy cane shapes come in a variety of flavors, such as licorice, ginger and lavender mint. One of the best tasting sugar-free sweets we've had, the candies sell directly from the Rehest website for around $3 a bag.