Thursday, March 22, 2012

And Speaking of White Chocolate...

Put this mix in several bowls and spread them around your next party setting. Be prepared to hear people exclaim that they can’t possibly like it because they don’t like white chocolate. Next they'll get mad at you because it's so addictive. It’s going to happen. I guarantee it. Someone might also give you an award for being the best party host on the planet. I won’t guarantee this, but it could happen.

White Chocolate Party Mix
1 1/2 cups of EACH of the following: Mix all of the first six dry ingredients in a large bowl. Melt Van Otis white chocolate in a microwave or on a stove top according to melting directions. Pour the melted chocolate over dry ingredients and stir until coated. Spread mixture onto a piece of waxed paper. Once hardened, break apart and store in a sealed container.

Party in a Bag

Easter always helps me turn the corner from winter to spring. I’m willing to exchange snowflake for springtime decorations, including my retired Van Otis candy molds. Some people have connections to get courtside seats; I have connections to get old pieces of metal shaped like bunnies and chicks. I win.

Every Easter, I try to outdo myself with new basket displays and unique content. After recently seeing a Van Otis Facebook post, I knew I had found this year’s “unique”.
Jelly Bean Bark is bite-sized chocolate pieces embedded with brightly colored jelly beans.

The bark comes in Van Otis’ exceptionally creamy white and milk chocolate.
I was surprised to discover that of the two options, Van Otis’ white chocolate Jelly Bean Bark is my favorite. (Remember, I’m a dark chocolate fan.) There’s saltiness to the white chocolate that pairs well with the super sweet jelly beans.

Another reason I’m drawn to the white chocolate bark is the overall appearance. Each half-pound bag of bark comes in a clear package, tied with a pastel-colored ribbon. The white chocolate bark looks like squares of confetti cake.

Get your own party in a bag at Van Otis’ retail shop in Manchester, New Hampshire or at Also make sure to “like” Van Otis’ Facebook page for updated product and event information.


If you live in New England, all you’ve done lately is talk about the weather. You mention it every day to at least seven people at work. Some people are even subjected to your morning AND afternoon reports.

You post, tweet, text, and tout your observations, using lots of exclamation points for emphasis. Gorgeous day! Went for a walk – beautiful outside!! Just sang harmony with the robins to The Sound of Music!!!

You chuckle with store clerks, “How ‘bout this weather?” The store clerks smile, secretly wishing for a major natural disaster so that they can talk about something else.

It’s what New Englanders do. We like our routine, and we especially like consistency in our seasons. So the prospect of wearing Easter attire without a parka is kind of a big deal.

We’ll get equally excited in a few weeks when skies turn gray, temperatures drop, and everything is soaked like a sponge from incessant rain. This will give us an entirely new topic to discuss – rainy weather.

No matter what’s happening outside, you can find a touch of spring at Van Otis’ retail store in Manchester, New Hampshire and online at You don’t need to wait until Easter to celebrate the season. Foil-covered chocolate eggs, chocolate-dipped Peeps, and chocolate-filled eggs with peanut butter, caramello, buttercream, or coconut are available now to help you wish others (and yourself) a happy spring! Oh, I mean, happy spring!!!!!!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are further proof of my assertion that salty and sweet should be represented during every dining experience. I tried using this logic on my kids when defending my love of chocolate ice cream with plain potato chips, but they still think I’m weird.

I was unable to find solid evidence of the origin of the popular PB&J. It appeared in history during the 1904 World’s Fair and was later a standard during World War II.

Due to meat being scarce and expensive during WWII, PB&J was originally a necessity; however, it has held its popularity ever since. The National Peanut Board reports that the average kid eats 1,500 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches before graduating from high school.

The popularity of the fruit and nut combination has spawned things such as crustless sandwiches and canned PB&J. Yes, canned.

Visit Van Otis Chocolates at their Elm Street, Manchester retail store or for some of their handmade fruit and nut confections. None of them come in a can.

Peanut Cluster - Dark or Milk Chocolate
Large, crunchy peanuts surrounded in chocolate

Peanut Butter Crisped Rice
Crisped rice in a creamy peanut butter center encased in milk chocolate

Peanut Butter Cup - Dark, Milk, and White Chocolate
Creamy, salty peanut butter center encased in chocolate

Cherry Cordial - Dark and Milk Chocolate
Maraschino cherry, floating in a liquid cherry center encased in chocolate

Orange Nougat - Dark and Milk Chocolate

Chewy orange nougat with candied orange bits encased in chocolate

Pineapple - Dark and Milk Chocolate
Candied pineapple slice encased in chocolate

Fruit Slices
Sweet and sour, sugar-coated, fruit-flavored jellied slices

Ball of almond-flavored goodness, artfully designed to look like a ripening piece of fruit

The Creams
Raspberry, Strawberry, Orange, Lemon, Cherry
Dark, Milk, and White Chocolate (Limited)
The creamiest fruity centers encased in chocolate

The Jellies
Raspberry and Orange - Dark or Milk Chocolate
Subtle berry-flavored, jellied center encased in chocolate