Friday, April 22, 2005
Name: Noir au Grue de Cacao
Michel Cluizel has been mentioned to me a few times as the epitome of fine, dense chocolate. I’ve looked at it quite a few times in the shops but have always been hesitant because of the price. Really, at $1.55 per ounce, this stuff better be pretty good.
It’s nicely packaged, I like things in boxes instead of flimsy paper, especially for something that I’m not going to finish in one sitting. The scent of the chocolate is positively gorgeous. Chocolately, rich and with a hint of coffee.
The bar I chose is a standard dark chocolate with bits of cocoa nibs in it. I’ve had this sort of bar before (I’ll try to find that bar again, because I really liked it) and was looking forward to the mix of textures and taste density.
My first two squares were disappointing. I think I hit a bad patch of nibs, because they tasted very musty. But, upon revisiting it the next day, I found that the chocolate was very smooth with an excellent contrast of the crunchy nibs. Overall I think that the addition of the nibs if more of a novelty than an actual enhancement. I like nuts in my chocolate, or raisins or, jeeze, just about anything. But I don’t like things in my chocolate that don’t add to the experience.
Rating: 6 out of 10.
Thursday, April 21, 2005
Name: Super Lemon Candy
Of course I’m a sucker for packaging. How could you resist this sassy lady with her cherry lips and surprised expression heralding “It’s So Wonderful Candy!”
What’s even better are the pictographic description on the back:
And is it ever sour. Taking them out of the individual packet, you’ll find a little round ball, about the size of a marble, distinctly yellow with a powdery dusting on it. Pop it in your mouth and you’re gonna definitely feel that “Oh! Super Candy” feeling. It’s sour. I’m serious. It’s painfully, numbingly sour.
After the salty, toxic waste sourness dissolves away, you’ve got a lemon drop. It’s a good lemon drop, smooth and without too many airgaps. It’s got good essense flavor to it, too. If you like the megasours that have been on the market for years without the novelty that goes with them, this is a solidly good sour lemon ball.
I’m unable to find much about the company that makes it, though it’s a common import and obviously packaged for the overseas market as much of the package is in English.
Rating: 8 out of 10
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
Name: Coffee Crisp
Nestle’s known for the Nestle Crunch bar. This one is a bit of a twist. This huge, light block of a bar has layers of crisped cookie alternating with creamy coffee coated crisp. It’s all covered in a light layer of milk chocolate or more likely a waxy chocolate-like product.
It’s very sweet, but though the bar is large, it’s very light and crunchy. The ingredients list such artery-clogging items like palm and shea oils and hydrogenated soy oil. But I’m doing this for the good of science so I tossed aside my usual embargo on trans fats and wolfed this down.
The scent of coffee as you bring the bar to the mouth is quite evident, but the taste really isn’t there. The bar has lots of good textures, the crunch was crunchy without being dangerous like Cap’n Crunch or anything. But the whole thing was just too sweet and oily feeling. It’s a satisfying bar in that you don’t even feel you need to eat the whole, but it’s not one I’d probably buy again.
Rating: 5 out of 10
(Note, since this review the Coffee Crisp is now distributed widely in the United States by Nestle and was reformulated to contain only a trace of trans fats.)
In some ways I think that the Jelly Belly candies created after the flavors in the Harry Potter Books are more easily recommended than these candies. Those are meant to have an alarming taste. These, I think are supposed to be delectable.
For the record I like Jelly Bellies. Though not all the flavors. I like that I can buy just the flavors I like and that the flavor goes through and through, not just in the outside.
The candies, when tipped out of their little box, are a riot of dingy colors. I’m not a flavored chocolate snob. I like combinations of chocolate with such things as mint, fruit flavors, nuts, liquors - really just about anything can be combined with chocolate. The color coding is not terribly clear. The colors depicted on the box are not true to life, so the yellow they show for banana on the box is more like a caramel color in real life. Sometimes they’re supposed to have speckles on them, but I didn’t always get them on mine. They vary widely in size, too. I’m not saying that’s a good or bad thing, but I’m used to my plain M&Ms being the same size.
The flavors are not alarming in and of themselves - blueberry, apricot, grape, *raspberry, *cappuccino, *honey graham cracker, strawberry cheesecake, *orange juice, tutti-frutti, green apple, buttered popcorn, sizzling cinnamon, *coconut, cotton candy, toasted marshmallow, ice blue mint, juicy pear, licorice, very cherry and top banana. I’ve marked those that I thought were tasty with a star.
Mostly they’re too sweet, grainy and the flavorings are overtly plastic. There’s no essence to them, just a hint of artificiality to them in the candy shell and some ordinary cheap milk chocolate in the center. The snackability is lost because I really wouldn’t want to inadvertently combine a juicy pear with a licorice.
Thank you, I’ll stick to my M&Ms.
Rating: 3 out of 10
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
I could blog about any old candy. I probably eventually will.
Mostly I figured people would want to know about the candy they might be afraid to try.
When The Man travels, I like it when he brings back candy from the newsstands. You know, whatever the locals are eating. It’s become more of a global marketplace, so things aren’t as diverse as they used to be. But I’m hoping to expose myself and you to more candies and we can all experience little tastes of the world.
First is to not be afraid. Most candy that’s sold in the US that’s imported has to at least have an ingredients label on it. You can kind of tell what kind of candy it is by the shape (though some of these Japanese ones are throwing me), but definitely by the ingredients. Chocolate contains, well, chocolate or at least cocoa. Caramels usually start with corn syrup and often contain an emulsifying oil like palm kernel or butter. Hard candies are usually all sugar, fruity ones might have some citric acid or malic acid for tartness.
What’s the worst that could happen? If your allergic to something, well, probably lots. But for the most part, it’s an investment of two dollars at most and if it’s really wretched you can trick your friends into eating it. What’s better is when you find a new favorite. Of course then you’ve suckered yourself into going to Little Tokyo or the Latino Quarter to pick up more of it.
Of course for the skittish among you, I’m here to help. Photos of everything I try and hopefully enough info for you to even know whether it’s something you’d like.
Name: Asahi Kinu Kokuto
I wasn’t quite sure what these were when I purchased them. I knew they were hard candy and I read over the ingredients, which are: Corn Syrup, Sugar, Brown Sugar, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Artificial Flavoring, Caramel Coloring.
As far as I could figure, they were brown sugar drops. They’re better than that, I think they’re black coffee drops. Instead of those creamy drops (Coffee Rio) that are a bit like taffy, these are a smooth if sweet hard candy. Instead of being crackly with little air gaps like regular hard candy, these are dense.
They do have a tangy bit of molasses to them, I’m guessing because of the brown sugar. I have no idea what the flavoring is beyond that. I’ve searched the web for any info on them and I can’t seem to figure out what they’re even supposed to be called in English. The name up there is from the receipt.
If I can find these reliably, I will continue to buy them. They’re in little sealed packets and they last on the tongue for a quite a while without any of those sharp edges you sometimes get when there’s an air bubble in regular hard candies. The real drawback is that they’re rather expensive.
Rating: 8 out of 10
Monday, April 18, 2005
Name: Wilbur Semisweet Chocolate
Not only is this one of the best domestic chocolates I’ve ever had, it’s really well priced. Of course it’s ridiculously hard to find so I usually go to the factory when I’m in Central Pennsylvania or order from them over the phone (nope, they don’t even have a web store).
Their dark chocolate is exceptionally buttery, not too bitter. It has no dry finish like most of the denser gourmet chocolates. I consider Wilbur more “eating” chocolate than “savoring” chocolate. The mouth feel is really wonderful and not at all grainy. It’s just tad sweet, maybe a little too sweet for my taste, but is great for melting and dipping things like strawberries or pretzels.
You can find the chocolate bars sometimes in east coast and midwest department stores in their gift departments but still the best way to get a hold of the freshest chocolate is to order from the factory.
Rating: 9 of 10
Sunday, April 17, 2005
This weekend I did a little shopping and will have lots to share in the coming week.
First, I went back to Little Tokyo and spent about $20 on things. I have no idea what, it’ll be an adventure. I think I bought some caramels, an assortment of hard candies, one kind of pocky, something that might be like starbursts and some more chocolate.
Next, I picked up a couple of other things on my travels today, one European Nestle bar at Bristol Farms and some of those new Jelly Belly chocolate candies.
The hard part is waiting until I take a picture of it before I eat it. This blogging thing is harder than I thought!
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.