Candy Talk, Episode 22: White Chocolate

Get ready to make some enemies. Parent against child. Dog against man. Simon against Garfunkel.

Two words: white chocolate.

If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that the white stuff is very polarizing. Listen as the Candy Talk team discovers what separates real white chocolate from the impostors, why it’s associated with winter (it’s not JUST because of the color), and how much Big White Chocolate is pulling all the strings in this country. Let’s get this off our chests, shall we?

And don’t forget to check out the the 1986 Nestle commercial we mention that will make you desperate for a wind machine:

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5 Things We Learned at the Sweets & Snacks Expo

The other day, a group of us braved the center seat to make our way to Chicago to partake in the National Confectioners Association Sweets & Snacks Expo. As promised, there were both sweets and snacks to be seen as far as the eye could see. So. Many. Aisles and aisles lined with innumerable vendors, all giving out samples. Needless to say, we had a light dinner that night.

The purpose of our trip was to get an idea of where the trends in the rapidly growing snack category were heading. Here are five of the key take-aways we…well, took away.

Continue reading “5 Things We Learned at the Sweets & Snacks Expo”


Email marketing: alive and well in 2018

Despite the rising popularity of social media and messaging apps, an Adobe 2017 Consumer Email Survey found that the average respondent spent 5.4 hours per day checking email! And according to a 2016 study by The Radicati Group, email use worldwide is estimated to top 3 billion users by 2020.

At Ingredient, we believe that the fundamental value of email marketing is more relevant than ever. In fact, of all the strategies in your marketing toolkit, email has some distinct advantages.

Here are a few key reasons why it makes sense to leverage email in your marketing efforts:

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The 2nd Annual Great Ingredient Brownie Bake-Off

We had so much fun eating brownies for lunch last year that we decided to do it again! This year, five competitors faced off in one of our favorite office contests, a good old-fashioned brownie bake-off.

Because seriously, anytime you have a work-mandated excuse to eat a plateful of brownies in one sitting…now THAT’S a good day.

But first, a little back story on brownies. The earliest printed recipe for brownies appeared in the Boston Cooking-School Cookbook 1896, created by a woman named Fannie Farmer, who was well known cook and lecturer on food and nutrition. (And yes, the inspiration for the Fanny Farmer chocolate brand years later.)

The first recipe called for molasses instead of chocolate, and the brownies were baked in individual molds. In 1906, the recipe was updated with chocolate swapped in for molasses – and Americans discovered a new favorite dessert!

Fudgy brownies have a minimum amount of flour and no leavening (such as baking powder).

Cakelike brownies are just like they sound – like little cakes. With less butter and more flour than fudgy brownies, along with the addition of baking powder, they bake up softer and lighter.

Chewy brownies are made with extra eggs and a combination of different types of chocolate, creating a nice, chewy texture.

Blondies aren’t made with chocolate at all; instead, they’re butterscotch bars made with brown sugar, butter, and eggs.

Brownie bake-off contestants Brownie bake-off selection

The five brownie recipes in our bakeoff definitely fell in the chewy, fudgy category – and not a blondie in sight! After stuffing our faces with delicious, chocolaty goodness, it all came down to a vote.

Emily's browniesIn third place: Emily’s Glossy Fudge Brownies. Made with three (!!!) sticks of butter, six (!!!) eggs, cocoa, and dark chocolate, these brownies were incredibly rich, dense and chocolaty.

 

Marcie's browniesIn second place: Marcie’s Snickers Brownies. These insanely good brownies had gooey chunks of Snickers candy bars mixed right into the batter.

 

And in first place: Lindsey’s aptly-named Best Ever Brownies, from Gemma’s Bigger Bolder Baking. Dark, moist, and studded with plenty of chocolate chips, these extra-rich brownies were a chocolate lover’s dream. Check out the recipe and try it for yourself!

Lindsey's brownies

Best Ever Brownies
Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes
Total time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (8oz/227g) butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (6¼oz/184g) brown sugar
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8¼oz/244g) white sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (5oz/150g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (4oz/123g) good quality, unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1½ cup (9oz/270g) roughly chopped chocolate or large chocolate chips

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C), then line a 7×11 inch baking tray with parchment paper and set aside.
  • In a large bowl combine melted butter, oil and both sugars.
  • Add the eggs, vanilla and salt, then whisk for about one minute until evenly combined and light in color.
  • Over the same bowl sift in the flour and cocoa powder. Gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until JUST combined (don’t over mix). Fold in half of the chocolate chunks.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan, then smooth the top. Generously top with the remaining chocolate chunks.
  • Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the center of the brownies no longer jiggles and is JUST set to the touch.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature before removing from the baking tray and slicing into 16 brownies. Enjoy!

Banana Bread Bake-Off!

According to King Arthur Flour, the most searched-for bread recipe online isn’t white sandwich bread or whole wheat bread – or any bread with yeast in it at all! Nope, the most sought-after bread recipe in America is actually…banana bread!

It all makes sense, of course. Nothing conjures up happy memories quite like the smell of banana bread baking, or the satisfying taste of a warm slice fresh from the oven. For many people, banana bread is a family tradition that’s been passed on for generations.

Banana bread first became popular in the United States in the 1930s. During the Depression era, households were unwilling to throw away anything, even “rotten” bananas.

Around the same time, baking powder and baking soda became widely available for the first time, giving families the ability to bake simple “quick breads” without having to use yeast.

The first widely used banana bread recipe appeared in Pillsbury’s 1933 Balanced Recipes cookbook. Over the years, as more versions of this simple recipe appeared, banana bread exploded in popularity among home cooks.

To say we were excited for an office-wide banana bread bake-off is an understatement. (You know we love a good competition.) The office smelled amazing! The eight competitors brought a wide variety of banana bread recipes to the table. Many were tried-and-true recipes that had been in their families for years, but several people tried brand-new recipes, putting their faith in Google’s ability to beat out Grandma. One person even baked his bread right in our studio kitchen that morning (NO FAIR, warm banana bread advantage!) – prompting everyone else to wrap their breads in foil and pop them in the oven to even up the score.

Banana Bread Tasting PlateBanana Bread Tasting Sheet

What surprised us the most was that no two banana breads were alike. Some had nuts, some had chocolate chips, some were plain. One had a chocolate drizzle. One was under-baked (sorry, Steph).

After some pretty delicious taste-testing, we narrowed it down to three winners….

Kelsey's Aloha Banana BreadIn third place: Kelsey’s Aloha Banana Bread, inspired by her recent trip to Hawaii. It was the most unique bread we tasted, featuring pineapple and macadamia nuts baked right inside.

 

 

 

 

Marcie's Traditional Banana Bread with mini chocolate chipsIn second place: Marcie’s Traditional Banana Bread, which had mini chocolate chips. “Because they don’t sink,” she explained.

 

 

 

 

Jasper's Secret Recipe Banana Bread

And the winner: A surprise entry from Matt, the person we didn’t think knew how to bake. Turns out, he does. His delicious Nutmeg Spiced Banana Bread stole the show. And for the record, it was a grandma recipe. We’d love to share it here, but the recipe is a family secret! Looking for a similar recipe? Ask YOUR grandma! (Or Google. We won’t tell.)

 


Candy Talk, Episode 21: Movie Theater Candy

Movie theaters and candy: they go together like rama lama lama ka dinga da dinga dong. Can anyone resist the siren song of the concession stand? Would…anyone ever want to?…

Join the Candy Talk team as we walk through the history of cinema + candy and discover why movie candy is ungodly expensive, confess just how severely we’ve flouted “no outside food” rules in theaters, and take the ultimate popcorn/candy combo taste test.

Just remember to pick up your trash when you’re done.

Psst! Don’t forget to check out the concession ad mentioned in the episode:

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Candy Talk, Episode 20: Is it candy?

In this very special episode of Candy Talk, we get everyone riled up by debating just what makes candy…candy?

Join us as we attempt to define candy, and in the process expose our weirdness and test the resilience of our friendships. Is gum a candy? Marshmallows? Are any of you sneaking Flintstone Vitamins for a late-night emergency dessert?  Come out of the shadows, because you’re not alone!

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Candy Talk, Episode 19: Booze

Let’s get this party started. In this episode the Candy Talk team pursues more ways to legitimize day drinking with a deep dive into boozy candy.

Be our wingman as we get some liquid courage and ask the important questions: Can you actually get drunk off boozy candy? Which alcoholic treat tastes the most like burning? And did any of us drunk dial an ex at the conclusion of the taping?

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Red hot chili cook-off

It’s that time of year again…when we enthusiastically pull out our slow cookers, grab our spoons and gather together in the kitchen for our annual chili cook-off! This year’s competitors included a Queso Chicken Chili, Vegetarian Chili and Spicy Chorizo Butternut Squash Chili.

chili cook-off 2017 allchili cook-off 2017 veggiechili cook-off 2017 tastingchili cook-off 2017 chorizo

We loaded up our bowls with chili and piled on the toppings: cheese, green onions, cilantro, sour cream and avocado. And of course, there were plenty of chips for dipping! As we stuffed our faces sampled the chili, we debated the merits of chips vs. cornbread (both awesome) and had a hearty discussion about which Fritos are better: regular or scoops (scoops, obv).

After we had all enjoyed seconds and thirds, we cast our votes and went back to our desks to take Tums wait for the results.

And the winner was…Kelsey’s Queso Chicken Chili!

This cheesy white chili is packed with chicken, beans and chili peppers for a Mexican twist. It’s flavorful, but not too spicy – chili perfection! Another successful chili cook-off in the books, and another great chili recipe to add to your collection. Try it for yourself and you’ll thank us later.

queso chicken chili

Kelsey’s Queso Chicken Chili

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 cups diced onion
  • 2 poblano peppers, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cans Great Northern beans (2 cans mashed, 2 cans whole beans)
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
  • ½ teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon dry mustard
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 (4-ounce) cans diced green chiles
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 8 ounces queso cheese, shredded

 

Directions:

  • In large stock pot cook chicken in butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Remove and let cool. When cooled enough to touch, shred with two forks and set aside.
  • In same pot, add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and sauté onion over medium heat until softened. Add poblano peppers and garlic; sauté until onions are browned.
  • Rinse and drain beans. Mash 2 cans of the beans, leave 2 cans whole. (The mashed beans give the chili a wonderful creaminess!)
  • Add beans to the pot, along with the chicken stock and spices; simmer on medium heat for 20 minutes.
  • Add shredded chicken, green chiles and lime juice; simmer for 20 more minutes.
  • Add queso and stir until cheese is melted.
  • Top with your favorite fixings!

 

Topping suggestions:

  • Sour cream
  • Avocado
  • Cilantro
  • Tortilla strips
  • More shredded queso!

 

 


Candy Talk, Episode 18: Custom Candy Bars

What if you could create your own candy bar from the ground up? Would you use that power for good…or evil? In this episode the Candy Talk team morphs into chocolatiers and takes the build-a-bar challenge.

Join us as we reveal the sometimes peculiar history of chocolate bars (which classic candy bar was forced into an unholy trinity with mayonnaise and tomatoes? are you appropriately worried about avoiding neck gauntness?) and then alternately surprise and horrify each other with our haute couture concoctions. Which bars did we expect to like but didn’t?  And which one was the surprising winner supreme?

chocolate lab chocolate bar

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