Now that I’ve been writing for this blog for over a month, it’s probably time that I get this out in the open. I guess I’m kind of an ingredient snob. Ok, I don’t like the word “snob.” I’m just very conscious of the ingredients present in the foods I buy and make. I grew up eating very fresh food. We skimped on other “less important” things in order to make meals that were, well, real.
When home cooked meals were swapped for dining hall duds (thank God that’s over), I really started paying attention to the quality of all things edible. I’m really not radical or preachy (although, my friends might beg to differ). Sure, I pass on preservative-packed supermarket slices of bread and cheese, but I also haven’t started substituting agave for corn syrup in the few dessert recipes that call for it. By subscribing to this philosophy, I feel like every bite I take is worthwhile and, frankly, more tasty.
For years, my candy consumption was limited to a few delicious goodies: Fran’s sea salt caramels, Green and Black bars, and anything homemade, of course. And when Halloween came around, I rarely indulged in those fun-sized artificial nuggets that I passed out. Then, I heard about Liddabit Sweets, a company, or should I say, a two-woman operation, working out of Brooklyn and selling creative confections and offering new takes on classic candies. Everything is scratch-made by pastry chefs Jen and Liz (along with a VERY small staff), and ingredients are organic when possible. I checked out their website and fell into a sugar comma before even having purchased and tasted anything.
These treats surpass anything you’ll find at the cash register counter. The candy bars, which were my gateway goodies, are like fully composed desserts. The caramel corn is the perfect blend of sweet and salty with that great stick-to-your-teeth quality. The caramels are delightfully chewy with a buttery melting quality. And they bring back and make better an old-fashioned favorite of my grandmother’s: honeycomb.
Last weekend, I read on the Liddabit Sweets Twitter feed (follow them, they’re pretty witty) that they would be coming to Taza Chocolate in Somerville, Boston’s very own Willy Wonka Chocolate factory. Liddabit Sweets uses Taza’s organic stone ground chocolate for some of their confections. Both Jen and Liz were incredibly down to earth and brought some new treats, made especially for the trip to Taza. These are probably two of the hardest working girls around, as they make, package, market, and sell everything themselves.
Meeting them was a treat in itself, but Jen and Liz really spoiled visitors. Their beautifully laid out treats included, of course, their Taza dark chocolate sea salt caramels, beer and pretzel caramels, and more. The special treats they brought really stole the show, though. They showed their pastry prowess with a delicious chocolate sandwich cookie with a salty, crunchy peanut butter filling and another with a sinfully rich, whipped Taza chocolate ganache. They rolled marshmallows in Taza chocolate caramel for a sticky sweet treat. Best of all, they brought some caramels with goat cheese, rosemary, and fig, all of which go so nicely together. When used in high quantities, rosemary can taste soapy and medicinal. Here, the herb is the perfect earthy ending note to the symphony that is this chew. Salt, tang, texture– this caramel has it all.
Below is a rundown of my favorite Liddabit Sweets eats.
For more from Liddabit Sweets, check out their website. You may want to get you credit card ready — just sayin’.
Pecan Pie Bar
pecan dulce de leche, bourbon ganache, pie crust, dark chocolate
This candy bar was the first I tried from Liddabit Sweets and is, understandably, a seasonal offering. The crust is not as golden brown as I would like, but come on, they wrapped a real pie crust inside a candy bar? I’ve fawned over flaky crust before, and this crust gets it right. And the filling above the crust is just like that of a pecan pie but more deeply caramelized. I’ve never liked chocolate in my pecan pie, finding it too sweet, but the balance here is much better, especially with a hefty shot of bourbon in the ganache. That always helps.
roasted peanuts, golden caramel, creamy chocolate nougat, dark chocolate.
You guessed it. This is Liddabit’s take on the classic Snicker. It has that chewiness that I feel many artisanal caramel candies often lack. The peanuts seemed sparse to me, but that’s most likely because I’m a peanut addict. They provided the perfect touch of salt and added a punch of crunch to the thick layer of the lightest but most flavorful nougat I’ve had.
peanut butter nougat, brown sugar-brown butter cookie, fresh banana ganache, milk chocolate
This is the bar I most wanted to try from Liddabit Sweets and it most definitely lived up to its rock star reputation. The nougat, again, was flavorful yet refined in its delicacy. The cookie brought a grown up depth to the bar with its slightly toasty, caramelized flavor. The banana ganache did not at all taste artificial, like most banana-flavored things and brought an element of freshness. Are you drooling yet?
salted-cocoa sablé, milk chocolate ganache, whipped white chocolate ganache, dark chocolate
Too bad this rich bar is another seasonal offering. You know those classic tripple layer mouse cakes? This tastes like the candy bar form of that dessert. The chocolate sable base is so dark and salty, reminiscent of Dorie Greenspan’s popular World Peace Cookie. The different ganaches are smoothe and luxurious.
Apple Cider Caramels
organic apple cider jelly, dried apples, Calvados
The now-in-season apple cider caramels take advantage of a classic combination and are, to me, the best caramels in the Liddabit line. Apple is crammed into these babies three ways, so you know the flavor will shine. The rich buttery flavor of the caramels is cut by the slight acidity of the apple. And the dried apple, gives the caramel some welcomed texture.