Blog Category Archives: Product Reviews

Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Muffin Mix Review

Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Muffin Mix Review




Product Description: From the manufacturer: “With our Gluten Free Muffin Mix, making scrumptious gluten free muffins at home is as easy as 1, 2, 3! Just combine the mix with a few simple ingredients, add your favorite “mix-ins” (fruit, nuts or chocolate), and bake. It’s never been easier to enjoy simple, wholesome gluten free muffins at home. Mixed and Packaged in our Gluten Free Facility, each batch is tested in gluten free laboratory to ensure its gluten free status.”

Ingredient List: Gluten Free Flour Blend (Sweet White Rice Flour, Brown Rice Flour, Potato Starch, Whole Grain Sorghum Flour, Tapioca Flour, Xanthan Gum), Sugar, Baking Powder (Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate Sodium Bicarbonate, Corn Starch and Monocalcium Phosphate), Sea Salt, Natural Vanilla Powder (Sugar, cornstarch, Vanilla Extract).

Test Kitchen Overview: We are fans of Bob’s Red Mill products in general. They are consistently high quality. The breadth of their offerings continues to grow and we especially like their minimal packaging. While we often turn to them for whole grains – rice flours, sorghum, amaranth, cornmeal and others – we have been watching them closely recently, monitoring their blends and mixes. For years they offered a gluten-free flour blend that had a fairly high garbanzo bean content and it tasted a bit “beany”. When they came out with their Gluten Free 1 to 1 Baking Flour, which was a whole new all-purpose GF flour blend, we took note. This was a company that was dedicated to specialty baking needs. They have been adding more and more blends and mixes and this Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Muffin Mix is a great example. The mix is dairy free as well as gluten-free, making it versatile for those wanting to steer clear of dairy. The mix is easy enough. Simply add vegetable oil or melted butter, milk (or non-dairy milk), egg and add-in of choice. We went for classic blueberry.

Pros: Easy to use. Versatile in that we had a choice to use milk or a dairy-free milk option. (Note that the package only calls for cow’s milk but we have had great success with almond milk and coconut milk from the carton). The muffins pictured used whole milk and melted butter and 1 ½ cups fresh blueberries. Batter was ready to go into oven even before oven finished pre-heating. The flavor of the batter is basic but still flavorful (see the vanilla mentioned in ingredients) and would work with all kinds of dried fruit, nuts, other fresh fruit, etc.


Bob's GF MuffinMix_1

Cons: We like the minimal packaging because we transfer dry goods to airtight containers and suggest that you do too. Their bags are not re-sealable, so this may be a negative for you.

Suggested Use: Great to keep in the pantry for near instant muffins.

Where to Buy: From Bob’s Red Mill’s site or in stores near you. The site also has a store locator.


Price at Time of Review: 16-ounce bag (makes 12 muffins) for $4.29. 25-pound bag for $72.40


Have you tried this product? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

Bakepedia received this product as a gift for review. All opinions are the reviewer’s own.

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CO YO Coconut Milk Yogurt Review

CO YO Coconut Milk Yogurt


Product Description: From the manufacturer: “CO YO is a creamy delicious alternative to dairy yoghurt made from the creamy milk of the coconut with plant fed Probiotic cultures.

CO YO is made from the freshly squeezed cream from the whole flesh of the coconut. 98% pure coconut – in fact, it takes more than one whole coconut to make a small tub of CO YO.

100% dairy free, CO YO is gluten free, lactose free and soy free. And because it’s made from plant-based cultures, it’s suitable for both vegetarians and vegans.”


Ingredient List: CO YO is available in Natural, Mango, Mixed Berry and Raw Chocolate

Natural label: Coconut Cream, Stevia, Tapioca, Pectin and Probiotic Cultures

Raw Chocolate label: Coconut Cream, Chocolate (raw cacao, apple juice concentrate), Stevia, Tapioca, Pectin and Probiotic Cultures

Mixed Berry label: Coconut Cream, Mixed Berry (Apple Puree Concentrate, Puree of Blackberry and Raspberry, Water, Puree Concentrate of Raspberry and Strawberry, Natural Flavor, Pectin, Sodium Citrate, Fruit and Vegetable Juice (for color), Calcium Chloride), Stevia, Tapioca, Pectin and Probiotic Cultures.

Mango label: Coconut Cream, Mango (Mango Puree Concentrate, Water, Natural Flavor, Lemon Juice Concentrate, Sodium Citrate), Stevia, Tapioca, Pectin and Probiotic Cultures


Test Kitchen Overview: I came across CO YO at the Summer Fancy Food Show in NYC and it was love at first bite. And let me tell you how shocked I was because it is sweetened with stevia. And I cannot stand stevia. It truly tweaks my palate and I do not eat anything containing it. I took a bite of the Natural and was immediately struck by the luxurious texture and the very lightly sweetened and balanced flavor profile. And then I learned it was sweetened with stevia. Okay, live and learn. I would not have tried it if I had read the ingredients first. I took another bite and then, upon looking for it, detected a faint stevia-like taste, but the product was so fabulous, I didn’t care. This was a coconut milk yogurt I wanted to learn more about – and taste again. The Raw Chocolate intrigued me and I sampled that next and decided this could easily be a dessert treat for me. I asked for samples to be sent so that I could bake with it and you can see those results in our Gluten Free Lemon Coconut Yogurt Snack Cake.

chocolate coyo1

Pros: Unparalleled texture. Satiny. Thick, but not gloppy thick like some Greek-style yogurts. Just pure luxury. Fabulous flavors. The Raw Chocolate and Natural are our faves. I hope you can see the amazing texture from these images above and below of the chocolate flavor.

COYO chocolate2

Cons: Availability. For now this might be hard to find. Go to your local natural food store and advocate for them bringing it in. I apologize for getting you all excited about a product that has such limited availability but it is so fabulous I am sure that will change soon. (They are adding new locations constantly and the website is not yet up to date. CO YO is now available at Sprouts Farmers Markets, Earthfare, Haggens, Central Market and select Whole Foods, in addition to other locations).


Suggested Use: Eating right out of the cup or baking with it as we did in our Lemon Coconut Yogurt Snack Cake


Where to Buy: Use the LOCATOR function at

Price at Time of Review: The 5.3oz retails around $3.99 and the 12oz $6.49


Have you tried this product? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

Bakepedia received this product as a gift for review. All opinions are the reviewer’s own.

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Batterlicious: Edible Cookie Dough Review

Batterlicious: Edible Cookie Dough Review




Product Description: Certain things remain constant, like the love of cookie dough – as in raw cookie dough. We see “cookie dough” used as a flavor in ice cream, candies and other sweets and then there is the cookie dough itself. But as you all know by now, eating classic cookie dough in its raw form is not recommended due to the presence of raw egg. Batterlicious has solved this by creating a suite of flavors that are not only eggless, but formulated to be enjoyed raw or baked. We have reviewed raw cookie dough products before, but this is the first one we know of that is marketed as being a raw from-the-jar product as well as one that can be baked, giving us the best of both worlds.

Company description: “Our edible, bakeable, and irresistible cookie dough is a way for our family to share our tradition with every other family, minus the mess or tummy ache and adding even more yum to every spoonful!

You can enjoy our gourmet cookie dough right out of the jar or bake some delicious cookies, or even a little bit of both. Best of all, our eggless dough contains no added preservatives.”


Batterlicious dough


Test Kitchen Overview: We were sent two flavors: Delish Chocolate Chip and also the Dreamy Peanut Butter Cup. The packaging is attractive as seen above in top image with an easy to open and close airtight top.

Ingredients for Delish Chocolate Chip: Wheat flour (bleached wheat flor, malted barley flour, niacin, iron, thiamin, mononitrate riboflavin, folic acid), Unsalted butter (pasteurized cream, natural flavoring), Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips (sugar, chocolate, cocoa butter, milk fat, soy lecithin, vanillin -artificial flavor, milk), Brown Sugar (sugar, molasses), White Sugar, Spring Water, Vanilla, Sea Salt, Baking Soda.

Ingredients for Dreamy Peanut Butter Cup: Wheat flour (bleached wheat flor, malted barley flour, niacin, iron, thiamin, mononitrate riboflavin, folic acid), Unsalted butter (pasteurized cream, natural flavoring), Brown Sugar (sugar, molasses), White Sugar, Peanut Butter Cups (milk chocolate (sugar, cocoa butter, chocolate, nonfat milk, milk fat, lactose, soy lecithin, PGPR an emulsifier), peanuts, sugar, dextrose, salt, TBHQ preservative, Peanut Butter (roasted peanuts, sugar 2% or less than molasses, fully hydrogenated vegetable oils – rapeseed and soybean – mono and diglycerides, salt), Spring Water, Vanilla, Sea Salt, Baking Soda.

The dough was sampled raw and baked. Raw it is very similar to what we experience at home (when we cheat and eat egg-rich dough) although the texture was a bit different. It is hard to describe but it is softer and seems a bit less substantial. The soft texture, however, was a boon when it came to scooping out for baking. Even straight out of the fridge it was very easy to create nice round mounds that baked up into nice round cookies. Testers liked that they could dole out enough for one or two cookies at a time and even bake them in the toaster oven, making hot chocolate chip cookies a near instant gratification item.

Pros: Knowing that we don’t have to worry about the health risks of raw egg put our minds at ease and the ability to also bake the batter was appreciated. The jars have a refrigerated shelf life of several months.

Cons: We all wanted more chocolate chips and more peanut butter cup pieces in the dough, but that was easily remedied, as you can see in the image below. The cookies on the left were baked as is, out of the jar. For the ones of the right we simply sprinkled some extra chocolate chips on top of the dough before baking.


Batterlicious baked


Suggested Use: Great gift for the cookie dough lover.You can buy the flavors individually or they also offer a Starter Pack and a Fabulous Four Pack, which also includes their Sinfully S’mores and Amazin’ Oats & Raisin flavors.

Where to Buy: Directly from Batterlicious. The 1 pint (473 ml) containers sell for $8.50. Wholesalers should inquire via phone 800-356-9091.

Have you tried this product? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

Bakepedia received this product as a gift for review. All opinions are the reviewer’s own.

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Heilala Vanilla Extract and Paste Review

A Floral and Elegant Vanilla heilala vanilla

Two of my worlds collided when both an old friend from Australia and Rose Levy Beranbaum each mentioned Heilala vanilla to me in the same week. Obviously the universe wanted me to know about this vanilla company that makes extracts, paste, offers vanilla beans, vanilla syrup and vanilla sugar. I contacted Heilala Vanilla (say “hey-la-la”) and they generously offered to send me samples. Heilala Vanilla is located in Tauranga, New Zealand and named after the national flower of Tonga. The company was started as an aid project to help a remote village on the Vava’u Islands in the Kingdom of Tonga. A vanilla plantation was established in 2005 in organic virgin soil. Coconut husk frames hold the orchids, which are had pollinated and sun-dried.

Product Description: We were sent vanilla extract and paste. The extract comes in an elegant slender neck clear bottle enabling us to see the color, which is lighter and redder than most vanilla extracts we come across. It’s a gorgeous mahogany reddish brown. We received a small 2-ounce jar of the paste and clearly states on the label that over 12 pods have gone into the container. One teaspoon of paste is equal to one vanilla bean according to the manufacturer.

Ingredient List:

Vanilla Extract – New Zealand mineral water, Alcohol 35%, Heilala vanilla bean extractives.

Vanilla Bean Paste – Heilala vanilla bean extract (water, alcohol 12%, Heilala vanilla beans), Heilala vanilla seeds, Sugar, Natural gum).

Test Kitchen Overview: These products are more floral than standard vanilla extracts and yet not as different or floral as Tahitian. We liked this very much. It is like having a third vanilla profile available to use in our baking and desserts. We found the unique vanilla flavors were best showcased in un-cooked forms such as puddings, mousses, custards, ice creams and buttercreams. The vanilla was perfectly suitable to cookies and cakes, but some nuances were lost. Try our Vanilla Meringues with Gold.

Pros: A “different” vanilla, a boon especially to all you vanilla lovers out there (and you are legion; vanilla ice cream is still #1)!

Cons: A bit pricey and not easy to obtain, but worth the purchase.

Suggested Use: As mentioned above we liked Heilala best in uncooked recipes where it’s subtleties could be best appreciated.

Where to Buy: Through Heilala directly.

Price at Time of Review: $16.95 per 3.38 fl ounce/100 ml bottle


Have you tried this product? Let us know what you think in the comments below!


Bakepedia received this product as a gift for review. All opinions are the reviewer’s own.



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CC Made Review of Caramel Corn, Caramels and Caramel Sauces

A Line of Artisanal Caramel Products from California

CCmade main image

Product Description: Small batch, hand crafted caramel products including caramel corn, caramel candies and caramel based sauces. Keen attention to ingredients. For instance they use organic yellow popcorn from the Sacramento area, and the almonds are  sourced from a local grower.

We were sent the Rosemary & Cashew Caramel Corn, Bitter Sea Salt Caramels, Rosemary Infused Caramel Sauce and Chicory Coffee Caramel Sauce.

Ingredient List:

Rosemary & Cashew Caramel Corn: Brown Sugar, Butter, Organic Yellow Popcorn, Salt Roasted Cashew, Corn Syrup, Olive Oil, Rosemary Leaves, Kosher Salt, Baking Soda.

Bitter Sea Salt Caramels: Heavy Whipping Cream, Sugar, Butter, Corn Syrup, Salt.

Rosemary Infused Caramel Sauce: Cream (milk, carrageenan), Sugar, Corn Syrup, Sea Salt, Infused Rosemary.

Chicory Coffee Caramel Sauce: Cream (milk, carrageenan), Sugar, Cold Pressed Chicory Coffee, Corn Syrup, Sea Salt.


Test Kitchen Overview: A recent correspondence from CC Made informed us that corn syrup will be replaced with Tapioca Syrup in all of their products this fall. Products shipped after mid-September will have the Tapioca Syrup. The products we tested have the ingredient list as shown above.

We discovered these products at the Fancy Food Show in NYC and the first product we tried was the popcorn. Full disclosure. I cannot stand classically savory herbs in my sweets. For some reason I asked to taste the popcorn and my taste buds woke up, did a dance and said MORE. I had to taste again to make sure I actually liked it, because I didn’t believe it at first. On second taste I realized I loved the Rosemary & Cashew Caramel Corn. Caramel corn can be unbearably sweet, which is one reason the sweet/salty combo in our Bacon Caramel Popcorn works. This blend with the brown sugar based caramel and hint of rosemary was positively addictive. I had to keep sampling. This culinary attraction entered me into a dialogue with the owner, Cassandra Chen (the CC of the name), and learned that she was born in Shanghai, went to UC Davis and was in the world of finance and international relations when she was bit by the baking and sweets bug. She worked with chef Traci des Jardins at Jardinière in CA, met her wine sommelier husband and decided to take the leap into retail with the caramel corn she had been making for friends and family. Recipe testing ensued and here she was at the Fancy Food Show and I was eating most of her freebies. I reigned myself in and asked her to send me some samples to our Test Kitchen. I wanted to approach her goods again with a fresh palate. The Fancy Food Show is filled with large corporate booths and in-between there are the small producers like Cassandra who I love to find.


The products arrived and the second time around was a good as the first. She also sent the Bitter Sea Salt Caramels and they are a good, basic caramel. When I came to the two sauces – the Rosemary Infused Caramel Sauce and the Chicory Coffee Caramel Sauce once again I was truly wowed with the balance of sweet, savory and unexpected. The caramel sauce with the rosemary took the great qualities I had tasted and appreciated in the popcorn and brought them together in a satiny, buttery sauce, with just a bit of chew (just how I like my caramel). The chicory coffee blend was unique and that is saying something in the very crowded field of caramel sauce. If you have never had chicory it is kind of hard to explain. Chicory is a root harvested somewhat like sugar beets. The root is dried, roasted and ground and has often been used as a coffee substitute or used to blend with coffee. It is very popular in New Orleans. Some say its flavor softens coffee when blended together, others describe it as being chocolate-esque. I think it is unique and it has found a happy home in this caramel sauce. Some words to describe it from our tasters are “roasted root”, “nutty”, “chocolaty”, and “reminds me faintly of something maple”. Let’s just call it sophisticated and delicious. If you are a caramel sauce fan looking for something new, give this one a try.

CCMade Chickory

Pros: Simple, elegant packaging. The small size of the popcorn provides some portion control (which we needed)! This entire line is a refined approach to caramel sauces and products and stands out in the field. The long thin shape of the caramels is a nice change from the more typical “nuggets” one finds. The sauces would be a most welcomed host/hostess gift and as they last long in the fridge, why not get some for yourself.

CCMade on ice cream

Cons: My only wish is that the caramels themselves had a bit more chew and resistance to the tooth. Also, the term “Bitter” in their title seems misleading. The do have a rich, deep burnt sugar flavor but the term bitter might dissuade some from sampling. They are a good, basic caramel.

Suggested Use: The caramel sauces are going to be high on my list for gift giving this holiday season. The popcorn is a great snack food – consider offering it at an adult Halloween party. We served it at a cocktail party and it disappeared fast.

Where to Buy: Consult the buying locator guide on 

Price at Time of Review:

Rosemary & Cashew Caramel Corn: 8-ounce bags are $8; 3-ounce bags are $4.

Bitter Sea Salt Caramels: 2.5 ounce box is $7.

Rosemary Infused Caramel Sauce: 11-ounce jar is $12; 4-ounce jar is $5.

Chicory Coffee Caramel Sauce: 11-ounce jar is $12; 4-ounce jar is $5.

Have you tried this product? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

Bakepedia received this product as a gift for review. All opinions are the reviewer’s own.


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Askinosie 70% Cortes, Honduras Dark Chocolate Review

Askinosie Dark Chocolate

Product Description: This is a 70% bittersweet chocolate that we received in bulk form, which means it came as random chunks suitable for melting or chopping for inclusion in cookies and bars. The container has minimal packaging and is 2.2 pounds/1 kilo in size. While this is best for the frequent baker, you can also buy this chocolate as a 3-ounce bar. It is Certified Kosher D.E., vegan and gluten-free.

Image: Peter Muka

Askinosie Dark Chocolate

Image: Dédé Wilson

Ingredient List: 67% cocoa liquor, 30% organic cane sugar and 3% cocoa butter, pressed in the Askinosie factory.

Test Kitchen Overview: My favorite chocolate has been Valrhona Manjari (64%) for so many years that I named my hard drive after it. I love the hit-you-over-the-head intensity of its acidic flavor profile. You taste citrus and red fruit; it makes you pay attention. I took a bite of this 70% Askinosie and I was floored. No chocolate has excited my taste buds this much in a long time.

While it shares some of the acidic fruitiness of the Manjari, this 70% Askinosie also has a bit of a rounder flavor profile that brings in strong notes of molasses and a touch of woodiness. I reveled in it. It is a brilliant formulation and I am thrilled to have discovered it. It melts beautifully in the mouth and melts in the bowl to a lovely flowy texture, suitable for dipping truffles or candies.

Pros: This chocolate is a welcomed addition to a world increasingly crowded with chocolate choices. If you are a fan of sharp, acidic chocolates, this is a must-try. Also, the Springfield, MO based company is extremely active in pursuing their business as socially responsibly as possible and in their words are “committed to fairness, sustainability, minimal environmental impact and community enhancement.” They practice Open Book Management and profit sharing ensuring clarity of process for all employees and the farmers that they work with directly. They keep their packaging to a minimum, which we also like.

Cons: The chocolate is pricey. The 3-ounce bar is $8.50 when purchased directly from Askinosie Chocolate. The bulk version, since it is in random pieces, is a bit less at $64 for 2.2 pounds/1 kilo.

Suggested Use: Love to eat out of hand. Marvelous in chocolate chunk cookies. Great to use in recipes featuring complementary flavors such as berries, citrus, toffee and caramel. Works well with nuts, too.

Where to Buy: Askinosie Chocolate

Price at Time of Review: $8.50 for 3-ounce bar. $64 for 2.2 pound

Have you tried this product? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

Bakepedia received this product as a gift for review. All opinions are the reviewer’s own.

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Watson Edible Glitter Review

Edible Glitter Review, Including Naturally Colored

red-white-and-blue-cake-balls-dede-wilson 2

Image from Cake Balls by Dede Wilson


Product Description: (Note to home baker: these products are also geared towards the commercial user, hence some of the industry language). From the manufacturer: “Edible GlitterTM flakes are toppings, inclusions, and color change systems. They are pure sparkle and magic. They can be used in a
wide range of applications and there are several different varieties available depending on your application… FDA Status: All ingredients comply with U.S.P., N.F., or F.C.C. specifications…All products in the Edible GlitterTM product line are certified Kosher by the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America.” Made in the USA by Watson, Inc., which has been manufacturing food ingredients since 1939.



Image by Watson


Test Kitchen Overview: While we do not use a lot of food colorings in our baking here, we do like a good “sprinkle”. This is the term we use when we reach for a (usually sugar based) sprinkle-able decoration for topping cupcakes, cakes or whatever it is we want to festoon. The array available to the baker has grown by leaps and bounds and in recent years there have been some quite vivid options. Unfortunately not all of them are considered edible! I know that sounds crazy but the classic metallic dragees (balls) are a perfect example. They are actually supposed to be used for décor only. Well, we like to be able to EAT our food. That isn’t too much to ask, is it?


Watson glitter


We received some information from Watson Inc. about their Watson’s Edible Glitter and asked for some samples and you can see the array they sent in the above image. We are quite impressed with the selection, which is divided into several categories: Colored Edible Glitter, Flavored Edible Glitter, Metallic Edible Glitter and Edible Glitter Shapes.

It was actually the flower shape shown below that got us so excited as they have an elegant quality we do not often see in “sprinkles”.


Screen Shot 2016-04-21 at 11.18.13 AM

Image by Watson


I used their tiny stars on the cake balls below from my book, Cake Balls: More Than 60 Delectable and Whimsical Sweet Spheres of Goodness.


Image from Cake Balls by Dede Wilson


And we liked that they have a line of naturally colored decors using cabbage juice, algae, carrots, radish, turmeric and annatto as color sources.

Many Watson products are available under some familiar brand names such as Wilton and CK Products Brand (see availability below).

Pros: Heat stable to 450°F without browning or burning. Can also be used on frozen baked goods (as seen below in ice cream). For commercial use Pantone matching is available as well as access to both soluble and insoluble forms. Also, the product goes far – according to the manufacturer you need 1/20th in weight of classic jimmies/sprinkles for the same coverage.



Image by Watson


Cons: Currently the naturally colored glitters and flavored glitters are only available in bulk direct from Watson. For the home baker, you are out of luck for now. Commercial buyers, contact Watson directly. We look forward to when we can use them in the home kitchen.

Suggested Use: Anywhere you want to add a little extra pizzazz. We reach for them most with cupcakes, cakes and doughnuts that have a frosting on which they can adhere and on top of chocolate dipped cake balls and chocolate dipped candies.



Image by Watson


Where to Buy: Check both Wilton and CK Products for home use. Contact Watson for commercial.

Price at Time of Review: Depends with choice of product and whether you are buying retail or wholesale. For the home baker many choices are less than $5 per unit.


Have you tried this product? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

Bakepedia received this product as a gift for review. All opinions are the reviewer’s own.



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Sharp Microwave Review

Sharp Microwave Review: Model R551ZS


sharp microwave


Product Description: The Sharp Microwave Model R551ZS: “Roomy, family-sized 1.8 cu. ft. microwave has a bigger capacity to cook and reheat larger portions of food. Can be built-in and also fits nicely on a countertop. 1100 watts of power give you rapid reheating and fast cooking. Modern, brushed stainless steel finish with scratch-resistant glass door complements your style.” 15-inch glass turntable; 10 cooking power levels; +30 seconds key; keys 1 through 6 are Express Cook buttons (press “3” once for a quick 3-minute cycle, etc.), Precise Cook Sensor Technology; Popcorn and Beverage Settings; Auto Defrost; new Softening feature (see below), which blew us away – in a good way! Also available in black or white.

Test Kitchen Overview: The first thing we noticed upon using this Sharp Microwave is how quiet it is. A big plus for us as we are surrounded by buzzing and whirring appliances all day. As with every Sharp microwave we have owned before (at least 3) we found the control pad to be very intuitive to use. So much so that we started heating our tea with the Beverage function before we had completely read the manual…upon which we discovered the new-to-us Softening feature. This feature has its own area on the Touch Pad and lists Butter, Chocolate, Ice Cream and Cream Cheese as the items it can soften properly. If this was to be true, it was going to be a huge boon to us and any home bakers.

Soften Butter

softened butter in Sharp microwave

We immediately ran out and bought ingredients and started experimenting. You simply press the Softening feature once to soften 1/2 cup (4 ounces; 1 stick) of butter. We took our unsalted butter straight out of the fridge and followed the directions. Looking at the image above you can see that the butter softened to the perfect consistency for creaming or spreading on delicate breads. Soft, but not too soft, melted or oily. We were very impressed and will be using this feature all the time.


Soften Chocolate

Sharp Microwave Soften Feature chocolate

Next up, chocolate. We put 8 ounces of semisweet Ghiradelli in a bowl. We didn’t even chop it; we just broke it into pieces. We pressed the Softening feature twice as directed and the chocolate was partially melted, as you can see above, which is how we like it.

A mere minute later and the residual heat had almost completely melted the chocolate as seen below. A quick, gently stir and it was completely melted. The chocolate softening was a huge success.


1 minute chocolate Sharp microwave softening feature


Soften Ice Cream for Perfect Scooping

vanilla bean ice cream in coupe

Then we tried 1/2 gallon of ice cream. We pressed the Softening feature three times and as you can see above and below the ice cream softened perfectly for us to very easily form into luxuriously smooth scoops, ready to eat.

vanilla bean ice cream close up


Soften Cream Cheese for Perfect Spreading & Creaming

Lastly we tried 8 ounces of cream cheese. After pressing the Softening feature four times we got cream cheese softened very similarly to the butter as seen below – ready to be made into Cream Cheese Brownies or Cheesecake, or to spread even on delicate bread and pastries.

softened cream cheese

Pros: Sleek look that will blend in with many kitchen decors. Quiet operation and intuitive to use. All the bells and whistles we expect from a standard microwave plus the new Softening feature, which we really like, especially for butter and chocolate. Also, this is the first microwave we have had that defrosts really well. Prior units were okay, but we often ended up with some cooked food. We defrosted both ground beef and chicken thighs following the manufacturer’s instructions (in the enclosed manual) and were very impressed with the gentle approach this machine’s technology took with our food. Whereas before we never used this feature due to some less than great results, we look forward to using it with the R551Zs model.

Cons: We prefer a large microwave, because we like to use it for casseroles and other larger items, not just heating beverages or making popcorn. This one, at 1.8 cu feet, might command too much counter space in smaller kitchens (note that it can be built in as well, if you have that option in your kitchen design). Check out for other models, including smaller ones. Also, we were temporarily flummoxed when we went to set the oven for a 10-second burst. We couldn’t figure out how to set the oven for less than 30 seconds (which is very easy to do with one touch).We called the Customer Service number (800) 237-4277 and got a very prompt answer. You have to press the Power button once for Full/High power, then 1 and 0 for 10 seconds (1 and 5 for 15 seconds, etc.). This requires more button pressing than we would like and we do need small increments of time when making Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Mug Cake (below) for example. One more caveat: with the ice cream softening feature: it is best if you use the whole half-gallon of ice cream at once so that you aren’t putting softened ice cream back in the freezer, which can lead to ice crystal formation.


mug cake closeup 2


Suggested Use: Reheating might still be the #1 use of the microwave in your kitchen, but models like this Sharp Microwave Model R551ZS offer so much more and will change your routine. (Read our companion article.) The Softening feature will be used everyday by us and any frequent baker will appreciate it as well. Our best advice? Use it often. The more you use it and become familiar with its abilities, the more you will put it into regular use in your kitchen, saving you time and energy.

Where to Buy: or most small appliance dealers.

Price at Time of Review: $169.99


Have you tried this product? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

Bakepedia received this product as a gift for review. All opinions are the reviewer’s own.



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Cocomels Coconut Milk Caramels for Mother’s Day (or Any day!)

Cocomels Coconut Milk Caramels


cocomel main image


This post is going to be a hybrid of product review and Mother’s Day gift recommendation. I tasted these caramels in 2014 when they were named as a Finalist of the prestigious SOFI awards and I fell in love – and the product line has only gotten better. With the addition of new flavors like Sea Salt and Espresso and the new Chocolate Covered Cocomels, it was time to do a proper review. Any of these would be perfect as a gift for Mother’s Day for the Mom who loves caramel, coconut milk or is interested in trying something new. And then there are those who just have a sweet tooth but like a non-dairy treat. Perfect fit.


espresso chocolate covered cocomel


We were sent several items for review: Original Cocomels, Espresso Cocomels, Sea Salt Cocomels (all of these preceding ones are now referred to as “naked” caramels by the company) as well as Dark Chocolate Covered Espresso Cocomels, Dark Chocolate Covered Sea Salt Cocomels and Dark Chocolate Covered Vanilla Cocomels.


cocomel bite out


Product Description: The Cocomel line is based around coconut milk caramels. The Original Cocomels and the flavored versions (Sea Salt, Espresso, Vanilla) are all packaged in a resealable 3.5 ounce pouch containing 15 individual candies with attractive retro look wrappers. The Cocomel candies are made without dairy, gluten and soy and are non-GMO. The chocolate covered candies (2 per 1 ounce package) have a similar ingredient profile with the addition of dark chocolate that does contain soy lecithin. They are made in Boulder, CO by JJ’s Sweets.


pile of cocomels


Ingredient List 

Original Cocomel: Organic coconut milk (organic coconut, water), organic brown rice syrup, organic dried cane syrup, sea salt, xanthan gum
Espresso Cocomel: Organic coconut milk (organic coconut, water), organic brown rice syrup, organic dried cane syrup, organic brewed espresso coffee, organic roasted coffee beans, sea salt, xanthan gum
Sea Salt Cocomel: Organic coconut milk (organic coconut, water), organic brown rice syrup, organic dried cane syrup, sea salt, xanthan gum
Vanilla Cocomel: Organic coconut milk (organic coconut, water), organic brown rice syrup, organic dried cane syrup, organic vanilla extract, sea salt, xanthan gum
Dark Chocolate Covered Espresso Cocomels: Coconut cream, brown rice syrup, evaporated cane sugar, chocolate (cacao beans, cane sugar, cocoa butter, soy lecithin, vanilla beans), espresso roasted coffee, sea salt, xanthan gum
Dark Chocolate Covered Sea Salt Cocomels: Coconut cream, brown rice syrup, evaporated cane sugar, chocolate (cacao beans, cane sugar, cocoa butter, soy lecithin, vanilla beans), sea salt, xanthan gum
Dark Chocolate Covered Vanilla Cocomels: Coconut cream, brown rice syrup, evaporated cane sugar, chocolate (cacao beans, cane sugar, cocoa butter, soy lecithin, vanilla beans), vanilla extract, sea salt, xanthan gum


Test Kitchen Overview: We love the creamy, slightly sticky texture of these caramel products. Sticky enough to provide that satisfying chew but not over the top where we fear for our teeth and fillings. The addition of the Espresso and Sea Salt flavors is inspired. The chocolate covered ones are fabulous. The slightly bitter dark chocolate works perfectly with the caramel. None of the products are overly sweet, which we like. For those avoiding dairy who want a true caramel experience, it doesn’t get better than this.

We were also sent a baking block of coconut milk caramel that we will use in recipe testing in the future.


holding chocolate covered cocomel bite out


Pros: The recommended serving size of the individual candies is a hefty 6 pieces and has only 120 calories! We love that we can have a true caramel experience without dairy – and we like the natural sweeteners used.

Cons: Not stocked in stores in certain areas, so order early for Mother’s Day. The packaging isn’t ultra fancy for gift giving (tuck in a gift basket).

Suggested Use: Gift or snack.

Where to Buy: 1200 stores around the country including Whole Foods and Krogers. Direct from or check for a store locator.

Price at Time of Review: $4.99 for a 3.5 ounce pouch; $24.99 for one pound bag; $45 for 30 ounce tub for the Cocomel Caramels. The Chocolate Covered versions come in a 1 ounce/2 pack unit for $1.99 or a 15 ounce/2 pack display case for $24.99.


Have you tried this product? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

Bakepedia received this product as a gift for review. All opinions are the reviewer’s own.


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Candy for Valentine’s Day: Look for Laurie & Sons

Laurie & Sons


Laurie & Sons closeup

Last summer I was wandering around the Fancy Food Show in NYC at the Jacob Javits Center, which, let me tell you, is not for the faint of heart. There are hundreds and hundreds of food purveyors and each one can have a single to dozens to hundreds of offerings – and everything is out for you to taste. It’s the classic my-eyes-are-bigger-than-my-stomach situation. You want to try everything, but your palate goes dead real fast.

I came upon a booth with some innocent looking candies, but the sign grabbed me. It said, “Dangerously Delicious Black Licorice Chocolate Toffee“.


Image by Laurie & Sons


What, I thought, is that? I had to try it. It looked like a typical chocolate covered toffee…but once in my mouth, the buttery, toffee flavor and crisp texture blossomed along with a distinct black licorice flavor. Wow. This was new. I had never had this combo before. My palate got very excited! The chocolate had apparently garnered the attention of the industry as well and before the show was over had been named 2015 Gold Sofi Winner for Outstanding Chocolate. Food & Wine also named them one of the Best New Candies for 2015. And it turns out that Laurie and I had been at Hampshire College around the same time. It’s always nice to give a fellow alum some love, but – sorry Laurie – this is all about the chocolate! I love this stuff! This would make the perfect Valentine’s Day gift for the the chocolate lover on your list who is always looking for something new and unusual.


Laurie & Sons


The 4-pack retails for $24 and you get four, 1.375 ounce packages of chocolate, each one filled with handmade toffee squares made with real black licorice & fresh ground star anise, lightly enhanced with Pernod liqueur, dipped in dark chocolate and topped with tiny crystals of Black Hawaiian Lava Salt for extra crunch.


Image from Laurie & Sons


Her Harlem-based company offers other items as well, such as this Moroccan Spiced Chocolate Toffee (below), which features cinnamon and cayenne, or if you are a milk chocolate lover how about her Milk Chocolate Toffees with Maine Sea Salt (the dark version is in our top image).


Laurie & Sons Spiced

Order now to have in hand for your special sweetie for Valentine’s Day. You will not be disappointed. And while you are at it, get some for yourself. I want you all to experience this new taste sensation.

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Nordic Ware Natural Prism Half Sheet Pan Review

Nordic Ware Natural Prism Half Sheet Pan Review



Nordic Ware Prism Pan


Product Description: A new style of baking sheet pan from Nordic Ware, which comes in one smaller as well as one larger size as well. “Natural Aluminum; Interior Dimensions: 16.50″L x 11.375″W x 1.00″H; Exterior Dimensions: 17.88″L x 12.88″W x 1.06″H; Product Weight: 2.35; Lifetime Warranty; Made in the USA.” The “Prism” line also includes two sizes of high-sided baking pans – a 13 x 18-inch and a 9 x 13-inch.

Company description: “Embossed grid pattern enhances the performance of our supremely functioning baking pans. Exclusive Natural Prism grid adds strength, durability, scratch-resistance, easy release and improves air flow for crisping.”

Test Kitchen Overview: We immediately noticed the textured ridges on this pan. We wondered if they would make a difference during baking so we made cookies both directly on the pan as well as on parchment paper laid on top of the pan; we also made granola spread out directly on the pan. The hefty weight and general high quality construction was immediately apparent as well – as we have come to expect from Nordic Ware.


cookie bottoms on Prism pan

As you can see in the images, the bottoms of the cookies baked directly on the pan were perfectly and evenly browned. They even picked up a bit more caramelization than the ones baked on parchment, and we liked that very much.

The slight texture to the pan encouraged very even browning with our granola as well – and even though the sticky oat mixture was directly on the pan, clean up was a breeze.


Prism granola


Pros: Standard half-sheet pan, which is a size we reach for often. Large enough to hold a bunch of cookies but will fit in standard sized ovens, taking advantage of the rack size. Priced very well for such a great piece of equipment that will last for years.


granola prism pan


Cons: Not a necessary item, but a solid addition to your equipment.

Suggested Use: Anytime you need a baking sheet pan with great heat conductivity. Would also make a great holiday gift for the bakers in your life.

Where to Buy: From Amazonor Nordic Ware directly. Ranges from $17.95 to $22.50


Prism pan Nordic Ware


Have you tried this product? Let us know what you think in the comments below!


Prism granola


Bakepedia received this product as a gift for review. All opinions are the reviewer’s own.

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Tovolo Skull Ice Molds

Tovolo Skull Ice Molds


skull Tovolo


Product Description: Just in time for Halloween, these Tovolo Skull Ice Molds are fun and easy to use, will certainly inspire conversation and maybe best of all, they are large, so they won’t water down your drinks.


Tovolo Ice Molds 4


Company descriptions: “Creates 3 detailed skull shapes. Stackable, sleek design conserves space. Once frozen, sleeves with ice can be stored without base saving space. Tray handles for easy mobility. Set includes base and 3 silicone skull sleeves. BPA free, dishwasher safe and food safe.”



Food Test Shots

Test Kitchen Overview: These are fun. An ice skull bobbing around in your cranberry juice has a way of making the whole experience a little more, shall we say, gruesome – in a great way, that is.

Pros: Easy to use. Family friendly. Large size is great for not watering down drinks. You can make the 3 skulls, pop them out of the silicone sleeves, place them in an airtight container for freezer storage and keep making more.

Cons: Not a necessary item, but an entertaining seasonal one.



Suggested Use: Great host gift or for Halloween parties.

Where to Buy: Amazonand at Bed, Bath and Beyond.

Price at Time of Review: $14.95


Have you tried this product? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

Bakepedia received this product as a gift for review. All opinions are the reviewer’s own.

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Mill Fudge Factory Review

Mill Fudge Factory Review

Main fudge


Product Description: “Our fudge is made with all natural, fresh ingredients like Callebaut Belgian dark chocolate, Cabot butter, pure honey, and cane sugar – you won’t find any corn syrup, preservatives, artificial flavors or colors in there! We follow our family’s traditional Scottish recipe that calls for just the right amount of sweetness and gives our fudge an incredibly pleasing texture and density.

Classic Fudge flavors are true masterpieces. Simple and traditional, each is a delicious and satisfying indulgence. We only use fresh, natural ingredients in our timeless recipes, creating the highest quality, sweet-but-not-too-sweet gourmet fudge. You’ll love curling up at home and enjoying our handcrafted classic flavors!”

The Mill Fudge Factory also offer flavors such as Chocolate Mint, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Pure New Hampshire Maple, Scotch Whiskey, Eggnog, Pumpkin Pie and more.

The company is located in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire is a historic 1700’s grist mill overlooking the Newfound River. They are family-owned and operated, making fudge and ice cream since 2006. Their mission is simple: “to make people happy”.

fudge wrapped

Ingredient List:

 Original Penuche: Cane Sugar, Evaporated Milk, Butter (salted), and Pure Honey.

Belgian Chocolate: Cane Sugar, Evaporated Milk, Butter (salted), Belgian Dark Chocolate and Pure Honey.

Maple Walnut: Cane Sugar, Evaporated Milk, Butter (salted), Pure Maple Syrup, Walnuts, Pure Honey and Maple Extract.

Chocolate Raspberry: Cane Sugar, Evaporated Milk, Butter (salted), Belgian Dark Chocolate, Raspberries, Natural Raspberry Extract and Pure Honey.


Test Kitchen Overview: An email was sent to the Test Kitchen describing this fudge. We almost overlooked it, but the fact that it was deemed as all natural ingredients had us intrigued, so we asked for samples for review.

We were sent four flavors, as listed above. They were very simply wrapped in plastic wrap with a paper label, which were then placed in a brown presentation box. We liked the fact that there are not overly packaged. It made us think of stepping up to an old-fashioned candy store counter and choosing the fudge ourselves, cut and packed to order.

We tasted the Original Penuche first and were immediately met with a strong honey flavor, which we didn’t expect (as we hadn’t yet read the label). The texture was super smooth and the density was very nice – providing a little bit of chew and resistance, while still being quite silky smooth. Overall we liked the honey in this flavor, which was also redolent of caramelized sugar. The Belgian Chocolate was next and while the chocolate was deep and rich and the texture similarly smooth, the flavor of honey was a distraction for us from the chocolate, as it was in the Chocolate Raspberry flavor. It harmonized well with the Maple Walnut.

Pros: Perfectly smooth texture. If you like honey as a flavor, you will love this fudge. Making fudge from scratch can be problematic if you are not familiar with candy making. Mill Fudge Factory offers classic as well as seasonal flavors from which to choose.

Cons: There is a dominant honey flavor. We liked it in the Original Penuche, but in the Chocolate Raspberry, for instance, we felt it detracted.

Suggested Use: As a treat or host/hostess gift. Great for holiday gift giving.

Where to Buy: Through Mill Fudge Factory directly and throughout New England in select Whole Foods and other stores. Use the store locator on the Mill Fudge factory site.

Price at Time of Review: $7.99 to $10.00 for half a pound

Through 10/31/15, receive $5 off of a $10 minimum purchase when using code BAKE5


Have you tried this product? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

Bakepedia received this product as a gift for review. All opinions are the reviewer’s own.

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Review of Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Three-Piece Pie Baking Kit

Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Three-Piece Pie Baking Kit


rose's mat


Product Description: Our good friend Rose Levy Beranbaum has come out with some pie baking tools to help you make pie baking as easy and enjoyable as it can be. Her three-piece kit consists of Rose’s Magic Rolling Pin, Rose’s Magic Dough Pastry Mat and Rose’s “Fast Tracks” (each item is available separately as well).

Rose’s Magic Rolling Pin is 18-inches long and 2-inches in diameter and made from non-stick SynGlas. It is extremely lightweight and dishwasher safe and comes in red, pink, white, blue and natural.

Rose’s Magic Dough Pastry Mat is a nonstick rolling mat that measures 24.5-inches by 18-inches and features both a non-slip backing as well as Rose’s pie crust recipe and tips printed right on the front. It has several measurements, round (for classic pie crusts) as well as a linear grid and a conversion chart among other helpful information.

Rose’s “Fast Tracks” are simple tools that ensure consistent dough thickness when rolling. The kit contains three pairs that are 18-inches long by 1-inch wide. There is a 3/32-inch that she recommends for pies, a 1/16 for tarts and galettes and a 1/8-inch for cookies. All are dishwasher safe silicone.



Image above courtesy of realbakingwithrose and American Products Group, Inc. Photo by Stretch Tuemmler.


Test Kitchen Overview: We pay attention to anything that Rose recommends, as she is a stickler for detail and function. She sent us this kit for review and I have to say I was most excited about the mat. It is extra-large, able to handle anything we are rolling out in our Test Kitchen. The non-slip backing has a good grippy feel, while not being sticky, and it doesn’t mar surfaces. We tried it with pie crust as well as a rich cream cheese rugelach dough and it worked very well with just a tiny bit of flour dusted over the surface. The pin is quite nonstick, however its ultra-lightness threw us for a loop at first. We think there is a learning curve with this one. As we continued to use it, we liked it more and more, but it felt very different beneath our hands from what we are used to. We like that it is so wide (18-inches); makes it very easy to roll out crusts for extra large pies in particular. The “Fast Tracks” work well, but we have used products like this before. They do help one roll out a nice even piece of dough.

Pros: With the mat it doesn’t matter what your kitchen surfaces are – this tool provides the perfect rolling surface no matter what. Its extra-large size is perfect even for larger pies and baked goods. We like that the mat is jam-packed with all sorts of tips and recipes from Rose right on top of the mat. The pin comes in colors to match your décor. We have several different types of pins in our kitchen and use different ones for different purposes. This pin is especially good for sticky doughs. The “Fast Tracks” can help you roll out evenly if that is something that eludes you. Also, the tracks store inside the pin, which means you will never misplace them or take up unnecessary room.

Rose's mat

Cons: None per se. You do not need this mat, but it certainly made rolling out a breeze. If you have struggled with rolling out piecrust in the past, this would be a great item to try. The rolling pin is nice is you need one, although we don’t think it will replace our heavy wooden one. (We are looking forward to trying it with marzipan and chocolate plastic where we think it will shine). We don’t consider the tracks a must, but again, if you are a pie fiend and like gadgets, get the kit!

Suggested Use: Anytime you are rolling out piecrust, pie dough or pastry doughs.

Where to Buy: Direct from Rose, through Amazon or Food52.

Price at Time of Review: $59.99 for the three-piece kit. (Slightly less at Food52).


Have you tried this product? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

Bakepedia received this product as a gift for review. All opinions are the reviewer’s own.



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Review of TSP (Totally Sweet Products by Architec) Spatulas and Icing Combs

Review of TSP (Totally Sweet Products by Architec) Spatulas and Icing Combs


spatulas Main

Product Description: “This line was designed to give the home baker tools to create bakery finish every time. When designing this line, our team channeled the home baker but called on the pros to help develop items that would make it easy and fun to produce creative & professional baked goods! And the best part – 5% of TSP sales go toward our Bake for Benny fund, benefitting pet charities & shelters nationwide!”

The spatulas are made from heat resistant silicone to 440°F and are BPA free & dishwasher safe. The combs are made from nylon and are BPA Free & dishwasher safe.

spatulas in pitcher


Test Kitchen Overview: We were sent a PR email featuring these products and as soon as we saw the images of the spatulas, we had to get our hands on them. We use our spatulas all the time – for folding, mixing, scraping out jars, spreading – whether it is buttercream, frosting, ganache, peanut butter, honey or even when we are savory cooking like folding together the ingredients for our weekly gigantic kale salad that we snack on all day (one cannot live by butter and sugar alone). We asked to see the spatulas and the icing (decorating) combs to take into the Test Kitchen.

The spatulas are indeed shaped unlike any other spatulas we have. Would these shapes work well and in what applications? They are named for flowers:

16” Freesia Spatula: This is the extra long skinny one (blue towards right rear). We did find that it worked great for getting the last bit of ingredients out of jars, but was too narrow for folding. This is why there are so many various shapes – they each serve a purpose.

14” Calla Lily: This shape (far left in image) was a little more similar to other spatulas that we have but the sharp angle on the side gives it some flexibility; it not only worked well for folding small amounts of ingredients, but that little bump-out helped scrape out jars and the bottom corner of bowls.

14” Tulip: This shape (rear, middle, white) was very multi-functional and the squared off top works well with bowls that are not completely rounded on the bottom.

14” Peony: If we had to choose one that would be fairly multi-purpose, it would be this one (far right, pink).

14” Orchid: The rounded side is good for folding and scraping bowls, while the straight side works well for smoothing the tops of batters (2nd in from left, blue).

14” Lotus: This one is an odd shape and at first we couldn’t quite figure out its best usage (front in pink). Then, while using it with a food processor, we found that the pointed end got into the corners of the bowl perfectly and now we grab it just for this usage every time.


icing combs

Icing Comb Set (6 combs): The icing comb set has nicely formed ridges for creating various textures in buttercream and icing. They are a good stiffness, attractive and easy to use and clean. The shapes are as follows: Large Zig-Zag; Small Zig-Zag; Large Stripe; Small Stripe; Large Scallop; Small Scallop.


icing combs close up

Pros: The spatulas add a decorative flair to the kitchen and they do work quite well and clean easily. These new shapes add function to our battery of tools. The combs worked well. For the quality we find the products to be very well priced.

Cons: The 16” spatula might be a challenge to stand up in some dishwashers (simply lay it down). We like the pink color of the combs, but wonder if that will detract for some bakers.

Suggested Use: We love that the spatulas are named after flowers and couldn’t resist arranging them like a bouquet. These would make a perfect wedding shower gift. As with any rubber/silicone spatulas, we say you can never have enough!

Where to Buy: Direct from

Price at Time of Review:

Icing Comb Set: $9.99

Spatulas are all $6.99


Have you tried this product? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

Bakepedia received this product as a gift for review. All opinions are the reviewer’s own.

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Chimes Toasted Coconut Toffee Review

Chimes Toasted Coconut Toffee Review



Product Description: A classic recipe from Malaysia and produced in Malaysia, using fresh coconut milk instead of coconut powder or flavoring. Chimes uses freshly pressed coconut milk and cane sugar and cooks them until they caramelize, then adds a noticeable amount of sea salt. Chimes Toasted Coconut Toffee are vegan, gluten-free and dairy free.

The company began in 1935; from the website:

“In 1935, a young couple decided to open up a modest café in a town near Mt. Bromo. One day, an herbalist stopped by the café, and ended up giving the couple a recipe for a chewy ginger candy to help supplement their meager income. Three generations later, Chimes Ginger Chews are made by the same family in the same town where the café was 70 years ago! Today, Chimes employs hundreds of local villagers, and we are privileged to make a difference in the lives of our employees, their families and the community in which they live. Our production has been so notable, that East Java celebrates our ginger chews as a “Heritage Industry.”

Ingredient List: Coconut Milk, Cane Sugar, Tapioca Glucose, Palm Oil, Sea Salt, Soy Lecithin.


Test Kitchen Overview: We came across this candy at the Fancy Food Show in NYC. I stopped by the Chimes booth because I was familiar with their Ginger Chews and was looking for a nosh. Front and center they were showcasing their newest product, these Toasted Coconut Toffees. I love toffee and was intrigued by the coconut milk content. One sample and my taste buds smiled. It is a hard candy that softens a bit in your. You will be tempted to bite into it, but wait as long as possible so that you can enjoy the coconut milk/caramelized sugar flavors. You definitely get a hit of the salt, which is a nice counterpoint. The size is large enough to linger a few minutes, but not so large that you feel as through you are making a bit candy/calorie commitment.

Pros: Chimes Toasted Coconut Toffees are a great addition to the large variety of toffees available and offer something different with their coconut milk content. We like the small size, which allows us to indulge while providing a portion control (if you do not eat several at once, which is tempting. And we like the salt flavor too and the fact that each candy is individually wrapped.

Cons: Like any toffee, use your best judgment when eating – loose cavities or dental work beware.

Suggested Use: As a snack. If you are so inclined, we also crushed them up and added them to our Toffee Peanut Butter Cookies in lieu of the standard toffee bits.

Where to Buy: Check out the locator on the Chimes site and Amazon.

Also look for their products at Whole Foods, Zingerman’s, The Fresh Market, The Food Emporium and others.


Price at Time of Review: 3.5 ounce (100 grams) resealable pack that retails from $2.99 to $3.49. Right now available at Cost Plus World Market, soon to be rolled out elsewhere.


Have you tried this product? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

Bakepedia received this product as a gift for review. All opinions are the reviewer’s own.

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SuperSeedz Flavored Pumpkin Seed Review

SuperSeedz Flavored Pumpkin Seed Review



Product Description: SuperSeedz is one of the fastest-growing snack brands featuring 9 flavors of no-shell, dry roasted pumpkin seeds. The newest flavor, Maple Sugar & Sea Salt, as an example, offers 7 grams of plant-based protein, 2 mg of Iron and 2 mg of Zinc in just ¼ cup. All varieties are non-GM0 verified, cholesterol- and trans-fat free, allergen friendly (gluten- free, peanut-free, tree nut-free, egg-free, dairy-free, fish-free, shellfish-free and include soy-free ingredients). Other flavors offer up to 9 grams of protein per ounce.

Ingredient List: Here are a few of their flavors:

Maple Sugar & Sea Salt: Shelled Pumpkin Seeds, Organic Sugar, Cinnamon, Real Vanilla Extract.

Cinnamon & Sugar: Shelled Pumpkin Seeds, Organic Sugar, Maple Sugar, Unrefined Sea Salt, Real Vanilla Extract.

Coco Joe: (seen below) Shelled Pumpkin Seeds, Sugar, Premium Cocoa, Coffee, Vanilla, Unrefined Sea Salt.

Tomato Italiano: Shelled Pumpkin Seeds, Crushed Tomato, Granulated Garlic, Granulated Onion, Dried Basil, Unrefined Sea Salt, Dried Parsley, Dried Oregano, Black Pepper.

Super Spicy: Shelled Pumpkin Seeds, Organic Sugar, Garlic, Unrefined Sea Salt, Cayenne, Black Pepper, Habanero, Red Crushed Pepper.

They also offer Sea Salt, Somewhat Spicy, Curious Curry and Really Naked.




Test Kitchen Overview: We have been on a “plain” cake kick recently meaning we have been indulging in baking pound cakes and simple coffee cakes. (Check out our CRAFTSY class if you haven’t already). They go so well with the fruits of summer and they also lend themselves to tweaks and variations. Chopped nuts are a classic way to add texture and flavor and when we saw the line of SuperSeedz at the Fancy Food Show in NYC this summer our minds immediately went beyond eating them as a simple snack; we could see how much they could add to our baking. They are a line of non-GMO sunflower seeds with various flavors from simple Sea Salt to curry to maple, Italian-inspired and more.

Pros: We really like the range of flavors, from sweet to savory and they are all very balanced. You can taste the fresh roasted sunflower seeds and they are complemented by the flavorings, but never overpowered. For instance, with the Coco Joe you can taste the cocoa and the coffee but neither assault your taste buds. You still feel like you are eating a healthy snack – which you are – while getting a little bit of an indulgence. This restraint with flavorings also makes SuperSeedz more versatile as an addition to our baking. Great packaging too. The bags are resealable and we like the simple but illustrative artwork.

Cons: Really none. Love the product. Would love to be able to buy in bulk!

Suggested Use: Eat as a snack – we love the small 1-ounce snack size for portion control – but also let your imagination run wild. Add them to crumb toppings and streusels. Toss into granolas and granola bar recipes. Use as a base for brittles and pralines. The Tomato Italiano is great on pizza and in salad and on top of savory bread loaves. We added the Cinnamon & Sugar to banana bread and blueberry muffins. We tried the Maple Sugar & Sea Salt in carrot cake. All very successful.

Where to Buy: Check out the locator on the SuperSeedz site.

Also look at Albertson’s Big Y Supermarkets, VONS Natural, Whole Foods, Fairway, Stop & Shop and others.

Price at Time of Review: 1-ounce two packs from $3.99. Average price for 5-ounce package is $4.99.


Have you tried this product? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

Bakepedia received this product as a gift for review. All opinions are the reviewer’s own.

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Fiskars Scissors & Shears Product Review

Fiskars Scissors & Shears


Product Description: Fiskars offers four kitchen-focused scissors and shears. We tested the following three models presented here with the manufacturer’s descriptions. (We did not test their Heavy-Duty Kitchen Shears 9-inch):

Fast Prep Herb Shears 5-inch: “Ideal for quickly mincing herbs and veggies right into the bowl, these dexterous, dishwasher-safe shears feature a more compact stature to maximize accuracy when cutting ingredients like chives, thyme, mint and basil…Engineered to put speed and control at your fingertips, a forward hand position allows you to make quick cuts at any angle. Add to that a spring-action design that makes every stroke of the blades virtually effortless… When dinner’s ready, simply toss the shears in the dishwasher for a thorough cleaning.”

Fast Prep Herb Shears 7-inch: “This streamlined, dishwasher-safe design makes it easy to chop vegetables, herbs and even meat directly into the bowl, no cutting board required.” Additional description same as above (5-inch model).

All-Purpose Kitchen Shears 8-inch: “Ever made an entire meal with just one tool? Allow us to introduce the kitchen’s ultimate jack-of-all-trades. Whether you’re stripping stems, chopping vegetables, opening packaging or cutting meat, these all-purpose shears go from one task to the next without complaining. A serrated blade edge grips for precision no matter what you’re cutting, and sculpted handle loops with Softgrip® touchpoints bring Fiskars’ hallmark comfort to every use. Plus, a take-apart, dishwasher-safe design makes post-meal cleanup a cinch.”


Test Kitchen Overview: We have said it before and we will say it again: every kitchen needs a good set of scissors or shears. Along with tongs, they are the unsung heroes. Perhaps you have a collection of wooden spoons, a spatula or two and some knives. You need to branch out! We use our scissors for snipping herbs, opening packages, cutting strips of parchment for lining pans, cutting parchment for triangles and possibly our favorite use is for trimming pie dough to aid in creating a neat edge. Not a day goes by in the Test Kitchen when we don’t reach for our scissors. In a perfect world we would have at least two, reserving one for paper and one for food. Just like knives the most important thing is that they are sharp and well made. Dull tools not only do not work, they are dangerous. In the past we have used scissors purchased any old place and haven’t used scissors specifically meant for the kitchen. That changed when these Fiskars came to the Test Kitchen.

We tested 3 models, all meant for the kitchen and the quality and craftsmanship had us looking for more ways to use them! I have small hands so I had others with much larger hands work with them as well for a more balanced review. (We tested a right-handed model of the All-Purpose Kitchen Shears and the testers were all right handed. Note that Fiskars makes left handed models and also note that the 5-inch and 7-inch Fast Prep Herb Shears work equally well for lefties and righties).

Pros: A few features jumped out at us immediately, primarily that all of these are dishwasher safe, which is so important for kitchen sanitation, that they all come with sheaths for storage and that they are backed with a lifetime warranty. And here’s another thing that might seem silly, but we didn’t need a strong set of shears to get the packages open! We had just re-watched the Curb Your Enthusiasm where Larry David goes to buy box cutters because he has a package that he can’t open. When he gets home he realizes that he needs a pair of box cutters to open the box cutter package. The irony hit home; we have had this experience. The Fiskars folks have secured their scissors and shears in very well thought out packages that present them safely, allowing you to see them front and back, and yet we were able to open the packages easily with our hands.


The Fast Prep shears work equally well for right and left-handed cooks. We assumed the 5-inch size (seen above) was going to be a bit undersized for our extra-large handed tester, but it worked very well for all of us. Surprising and a testament to good design. We loved the ability of the All-Purpose Kitchen Shears to come apart for cleaning. They lock together very well and very safely so we didn’t even give this a thought during use. They feel secure and they are secure. None of our previous scissors had come with sheaths and we appreciated this extra. It allowed us to store the scissors in a drawer knowing the blades would be protected and any hands rummaging around would be safe, too.

We knew we would use these for herbs, parchment paper and trimming pie dough, as mentioned previously, but the blades are so sturdy and sharp we found ourselves using them for other tasks as well such as cutting up kale for smoothies, trimming fresh flowers for cake decorations, cutting raw and cooked bacon, cutting pizza, using to “chop” peeled tomatoes right in their can, to “dice” dried fruit, snipping marshmallows into the sizes we need and possibly our favorite use – using scissors to slash vents into pie dough…everyday we are coming up with more uses.


Cons: None. These tools are well made, inexpensive and readily available. They make a great gift, too, for the cook or baker who have everything.

Suggested Use: See above. Just have them at hand and you will use them constantly. We recommend at least two pairs: one for food and one for non-food items.

Where to Buy: You can buy these through Amazon, retail outlets and from Fiskars directly.

Price at Time of Review: $12.99 for the 5-inch Fast-Prep, $17.99 for the 7-inch Fast-Prep and $24.99 for the All-Purpose Shears.



Have you tried this product? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

Bakepedia received this product as a gift for review. All opinions are the reviewer’s own.





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