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Briefs: Put chocolate chips to work in an assortment of recipes

Chocolate chip bonanza

If you keep chocolate chips stashed in your fridge or cupboard and want to whip up something beyond the usual chocolate chip cookies, you'll find 45 creative ideas in The Essential Chocolate Chip Cookbook (Chronicle; $16.95), by Elinor Klivans. They run the gamut from a variety of cookies and candies to muffins, pies, tarts, puddings, cakes and ice cream desserts. With names like Pecan Chocolate Chip Pie, Chocolate Chip Truffles and Chocolate Chip Crumbs Cake, you'll be tempted to rush into the kitchen and cook up one. To decide which brand of chocolate chips to buy, Klivans, who favors a strong chocolate flavor, advises tasting different ones side by Side. Choose the one you like best.

Get a lick of energy

If your morning java just isn't giving you enough jolt, now you can get a boost while channeling your inner child.

Tootsie Rolls has launched Maxxed Energy Pops, a cleverly packaged energy drink in the form of a lollipop.

The caffeine-laced pops, which come in packages that resemble energy drink cans, have 40 milligrams of caffeine (an 8-ounce coffee has about 95 milligrams). Plus, there's plenty of sugar

(16 grams).

The company says the intended audience isn't children, but rather the energy drink-hungry 18- to 24-year-old demographic.

Maxxed Energy Pops are available at convenience stores for $1.

Pudding on the Ritz

Kozy Shack now has 22-ounce tubs of "chocolate covered strawberries pudding." It's made with sugar, and it's a "limited edition." We don't know how limited, so if you want to try them out, you'd better buy them now.

In addition to Kozy Shack's no-sugar-added rice and tapioca puddings there are also several fruit-on-the-bottom no-sugar-added items like Cherries Jubilee, with pieces of black cherries.

But the label on those doesn't say pudding, but rather "naturally flavored dairy dessert." The first ingredient is milk, but that's also true of the Kozy Shack items marked "pudding."

Not sure what the difference is.

Antioxidants fuel drinks

There are three new antioxidant-rich elixirs to keep us humming like Ferraris:

• V8's V-Fusion Acai Mixed Berry ($3.69, 46 ounces) is made with acai, the Amazonian wonder berry, plus carrots and sweet potatoes. Available at supermarkets, it tastes like cherry Kool-Aid.

• Frutzzo Yumberry Cranberry ($5.39, 64 ounces) is a more sophisticated juice. While other Frutzzo blends are widely available, cranberry is a Costco exclusive.

• Purple ($2.99, 10 ounces) combines acai, pomegranate, cranberry and four other fruits in a juice that's almost too intense to drink straight, with a deep, puckery taste that hints of dried plums. Get Purple at GNC stores and some natural food stores.

White with beef? Okay!

If you can't bear to quaff yet another cabernet sauvignon with your beef, there are other options, including plenty that refute convention, says Natalie MacLean, a sommelier and wine writer.

"If you're tired of big, honkin' reds, try a California chardonnay or a French blend of marsanne and rousanne," she says. But avoid light-bodied whites, which can be overshadowed by the assertive flavors of the steak.

If you'd rather color-coordinate your meal, but still aren't interested in a cab, MacLean suggests other hearty reds, such as an Australian shiraz or Rhone Valley syrah.

Compiled from Times wires

Briefs: Put chocolate chips to work in an assortment of recipes 05/13/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 13, 2008 4:30am]
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