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Archive for the ‘Sweet’ Category

VerMints GingerMint

Mints in tins really seemed to take off in the late nineties when Altoids introduced their wintergreen flavor.  All of a sudden it seemed like mints were everywhere, knocking Certs (do they even still make those?) and lifesavers off of the prime candy aisle placement next to the gum.  Riding this expanded interest in fresh breath, VerMints grew from making only peppermint mints, to a solid line of delicious little mouth fresheners.  I don’t remember what the first flavor I had was, but I do remember thinking that it was pretty cool that a local company was making something that competed with a titan like Altoids.

By now I’ve tried most of the VerMints flavors, but keep coming back to ginger.  The ginger flavor is noticeable as soon as you pop it in your mouth, but it’s refined and a balanced spice. The flavor builds the more you suck on the mint or if you bite it in half.  It’s a really pleasant true ginger flavor, a bit like sucking on a piece of crystalized ginger (sans sugar) or a ginger chew.  One mint will change the taste in your mouth, two will guarantee fresh breath.

Verdict: A terrific, flavorful mint. 

We found these mints on sale at TJ Maxx of all places.  The tins lists them as “Distributed by , VerMints, Inc. Burlington, Vermont.” You can follow VerMints on Twitter and like them on Facebook. Here are some ideas of what to do with your empty tins.

I get frustrated by companies who don’t list where their products are made.  Labeling your product “Distributed by” or “Made for” gives the impression that A) you’re not making the product yourself B) that your product might not be made in Vermont.  I understand that for some products contracting out production makes sense, but if it is made here, why the ambiguity of using either of these phrases? 

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Given the chance, what would you name as Vermont’s state treat?  We’ve got a pie (it’s apple) but seem to lack a true state dessert.  It seems that most folks don’t realize that pie is not dessert, but a course onto itself.  Our neighbors to the South have an official donut (Boston Crème), New Hampshirites are too cranky to have anything but a state vegetable (Pumpkin) and the folks to the west have copied our state fruit (Apple) and have a totally lame state muffin (Again, apple).  Only our friends over in Maine seem to really get it, and have dubbed the Whoopie Pie as the state treat.

If the Vermont legislature thinks that it should spend time establishing Skiing and Snowboarding Vermont’s official outdoor sports and adding Walleye as another official fish, it is past high time that we get a state treat.  Therefore the Sapbucket officially calls on the Legislature in its next biennium to formalize an official treat for the state of Vermont.  Since it seems that election season has already started, we further declare that this will be the litmus test by which the Sapbucket judges every candidate for office.  Will you take a strong position in favor of an official dessert for all Vermonters?  (We’ll be taking suggestions for what that treat should be during the rest of the year.)

In the meantime, we’re discus Maine’s official treat the Whoopie Pie.  I’m not vested enough in the history of the dessert to take a side in whether Mainers or the Pennsylvania Amish invented it.  Heck, I had never even had a Whoopie Pie before trying the Nomadic Oven’s devilish creation last year.  It recently caught my eye in the City Market dessert case and I figured the time was right for a Sapbucket review.  The pie is a large size, comparable to a hamburger from Al’s French Fries with a second patty between the bun, and comes wrapped in plastic.  That seems to help the outer chocolate cakes stay fresh and moist.  The cakes are soft (bordering on sticky) and fantastically chocolately.  Not a crazy rich brownie chocolate, just simple chocolate cake goodness.  The icing is sweet and marshmallow like in texture and flavor while binding the two cakes together so you consistently have both chocolate and icing bites.  As noted, I’m a Whoopie Pie novice, but I thought this was an excellent treat and a great dessert.

Verdict: Maine’s official treat will always be welcome here in Vermont. 

Baked in Burlington, we picked up a Nomadic Oven Whoopie Pie from City Market.  A few years ago Seven Days did a small piece on the story behind the Nomadic Oven’s creator, Jen Smith.  After reading that, like the Nomadic Oven on Facebook and follow them on twitter @TheNomadicOven.

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The Easter Bunny was kind enough to drop by the Sapbucket household with a few Vermont products.  He always brings jelly beans, but this year he had something special in store.  Palmer Lane Maple Jelly Beans.  These beans come in a plump, half-pound bag, with a re-sealable top. A sweet maple flavor practically rushes to escape as you open the bag.  There’s certainly no confusing these with buttered popcorn jelly beans (aka the absolute worst jelly beans in the world).*  The beans are small and have a high quality texture, comparable in size and feel to Jelly Belly beans.  They have a pleasantly sweet maple flavor and will satisfy the maple lover in your family.  You wouldn’t confuse the flavor with pure syrup (the beans are artificially flavored), but they’re still addictive and depending on your mood you might not have a need for the re-sealable bag.

Verdict: The perfect maple product for an Easter basket or jelly bean lover.

Made in Jeffersonville, you’ll have to ask the Easter Bunny where he got them.  You can buy them, and other maple products, online at www.palmerlanemaple.com.  Like them on Facebook.

*I have no idea why they make they make buttered popcorn jelly beans, they’re horrible.  And why are they so hard to distinguish from other jelly beans? You’re picking through a bowl of beans and grab a white one. Perhaps its coconut, or another acceptable flavor, you pop it in your mouth its too late before you realize your horrible mistake.  You want to spit it out or throw up, but that’s not acceptable so you swallow it and quickly down a handful handful of other beans to get rid of the taste.  Yech. Maybe that’s the reason.  Eating a buttered popcorn bean results in additional jelly bean consumption to get rid of the taste.  Net gain = Jelly Belly.

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Big Picture Farm Goat Milk Caramels

Satisfying your sweet tooth with Vermont made products traditionally means picking up some maple candy or chocolate.  If you’re not in the mood, there really aren’t that many options for candy lovers outside of the big two. Enter Big Picture Farm’s goat milk caramels.  Delicately packaged with an attractive pastoral label, the caramels are individually wrapped in parchment, which gives them a rustic vibe.  Unwrapped, the caramel is the size of an longish Tootsie Roll, long enough to bite in half.  The texture is wonderfully chewy, but not so sticky that you’ll need a trip to the dentist.  The caramel has a rich buttery, vanilla flavor and a delicate sweetness.  Just a touch of saltiness lingers after you are done chewing.

Reading a little bit about Lucas Farrell and Louisa Conrad, the farmers behind Big Picture Farm, you can’t help but root for them.  Apparently they started farming in 2010, and explained that they’ll be using some recent financial assistance “to expand our labor force, more effectively market our product, expand our online presence, and propel us that much closer to our goal of becoming a vibrant, exciting, socially responsible, and financially profitable Vermont farm.”  That’s pretty much the dream, right?  I can’t say I’m more excited about caramels than local vegetables or milk, but its become the norm to expect those things to be high quality and local.  You don’t expect to have great locally made caramels.  And that’s what has me excited right now food in Vermont, the unexpected items that folks are putting their heart into to make it work.  I can’t wait to see what fun new item comes along next.

Verdict: Caramel lovers take note, this one’s a winner.  

Made in Townshend, we came across these caramels at the Co-Op in Rutland for $4.99.  Check out Big Picture Farm’s other creations here, Like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter @BigPictureFarm.

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Today chocolate week comes to an end.  It was a good week, with some highs and lows, and entirely much more chocolate that we expected to consume.  All in the name of supporting Vermont companies though, so we’re not going to feel guilty about anything.  Our last chocolate product this week actually is white chocolate.  Do you know anyone that actually likes white chocolate?  Or likes white chocolate more than dark chocolate?  I don’t, and I’d be suspect of their character if I met such a person.  Sure it’s made with derivatives of cocoa and using the same methods, but in my book it’s not real chocolate.  Mrs. Sapbucket shares my aversion to the white stuff, but I think that’s mostly derived from a traumatic life event.  A number of years back a canceled flight let her stranded in the airport and the only thing anyone in her party had to eat was a giant white chocolate Toblerone bar.  It wasn’t quite the Donner Party, but I know she’s never looked at white chocolate the same since.

If you’ve bothered to read this far your probably asking yourself why I’ve reviewed a white chocolate product if I’m decidedly anti-white chocolate.  Turns out that in some instances, it’s not all bad.  Douglas Sweets in fact takes a splendid chocolate shortbread, dips it in white chocolate, and then drizzles some chocolate on top for a remarkable little treat. The white chocolate flavor is tempered by the shortbread and drizzle and is pleasantly sweet.  The shortbread is tasty in its own right and I’m eager to give it another try.  I’ve already transferred the crown of shortbread making to Vermont from Scotland, and Douglas Sweets only helps to cement bringing the shortbread title to the Green Mountain State.

Verdict: Be thankful that the Douglas Sweets folks have kept a familial Scottish shortbread recipe alive and are making some to share. 

Made in Burlington, Douglas Sweets are available in shops around the Queen City.  We picked these up at Maglianero.  Follow them on twitter @DouglasSweets and like them on Facebook.

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There is nothing small about this chocolate.  The bar is large, the chunks are large and the flavor is large.  You would probably benefit from having a large knife to chop it up.  Granted it is slightly unwieldy to chop up into pieces, but if you wanted a small chocolate you would have bought some Hershey Kisses.  (Some of which are apparently also nut-free)  The relatively plain packaging belies the straightforward chocolate on the inside.  You wanted dark, nut free chocolate?  You’ve got it.  Reminiscent of Nestle’s semi-sweet chips, this chocolate has a nice sweetness with only minimal bitterness.  It’d be great as a substitute for Neslte chips in baking.

That a nut-free chocolate is made in Vermont really shouldn’t come as a surprise.  For a state with strong sense of community, there’s also an undercurrent of individuality that runs through the populous.  Sort of a, “I don’t expect someone else to meet all my needs, so I’m doing what I have to do to take care of them myself.”  I think that’s reflected in the number of nut-free, gluten-free, allergen aware products that are made here.  It makes sense and feels right, and even if you don’t have a nut allergy you’ll enjoy this delicious chocolate.

Verdict: Rich, dark and thick, this chocolate losses nothing by being nut-free.  

Made in Grand Isle, we picked up this hefty 6.5 ounce bar at the Natural Foods Co-Op in Middlebury.  VT Nut-Free has an inactive Twitter feed, but an active Facebook page.

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I bought this bar as a treat for Mrs. Sapbucket on her birthday.  She loves chocolate but is incredibly susceptible to the effects of sugar and caffeine, so her intake of sweets in the evening is typically pretty limited.  We both had a taste of the bar after dinner and then set the bar on the counter.  As I went about my evening activities the remaining pieces of the bar kept disappearing.  So I was not surprised at all when I woke the next morning to see Mrs. Sapbucket wide awake having not slept a wink.  Discussing the bar a few days later, Mrs. Sapbucket said not only did the memory of the bar make her mouth water, but she’d gladly trade a night of good sleep in exchange for this delicious chocolate.  The chocolate was dark without any bitterness and each bite was punctuated by a wonderful amount of salt crystals.  There was just a hint of pepper which added a little backing spice.  This was an excellent chocolate that any lover of sweets would enjoy, earning a notation as our second Sapbucket Selection.

Verdict: You can’t miss with this chocolate bar.  

Made in downtown Stowe, we found this chocolate on the shelf at City Market for $4.79.  You can follow Laughing Moon on Twitter @LaughingMoonVT and like them on Facebook.  

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