Thursday, June 30, 2005
Name: Big Cherry
I had no idea there were made right here in Los Angeles. I also didn’t know that the Ben Meyerson Candy Co. is also behind all those Sunkist candy treats. It only makes sense then, that they’d have a big chocolate covered cherry in their repetoire. The primary curiosity of this candy, as Amy pointed out, is that the first ingredient on the label is not chocolate or cherries, but peanuts. Then sugar, corn syrup, CHERRIES and four items later is Cocoa. Hmm, might not be real chocolate on the outside.
It certainly smells nutty. Peanuts and cherries sound like a good combo. The wad is pretty big, picture a lumpy golf ball. Maybe it’s a bit bigger than that. It smelled chocolately and nutty and sweet.
I really should have taken a photo of the inside, because that’s the most interesting part. Inside is a bright pink cream - yes, pink like the package ... maybe brighter. The outside shell is thick and soft and the inside is well, thick and softer. There, far at the center was a dark, plump, red maraschino cherry.
I’m not overly fond of cherries and when I have chocolate I prefer the real stuff. The combo of peanuts and cherry cream was pretty good though a tad sweet without allowing the flavors to come through.
Rating: 5 out of 10 (because I don’t like cherries that much).
Wednesday, June 29, 2005
I made an order a few weeks ago from an online place called jbox. They’ll ship just about anything they can get their hands on from Japan. Most notably for me, candy.
At the moment I’m interested in Black Sugar Candy. This is something I don’t see in the states and I was curious about it. It’s basically brown sugar or molasses hard candies. Very nice, with great smokey overtones. I got five different kinds of that. There are also some caramels and some gum in there and one other chocolate bar I wasn’t able to find in Little Tokyo.
I’ll have full reviews later, but here’s a photo of what came in the box:
Monday, June 27, 2005
Name: London Mint
I’ve seen these bars a few times in the store and didn’t really “get” them. I figured, why buy a candy bar that looks like a $100 bill? But that’s not quite what they are. It’s a package of five little chocolate covered chocolate cream mints.
I also didn’t get the whole London thing and then it’s an American bill. Well, it’s from Harry London chocolates ... duh. Usually boxed chocolate companies don’t even enter my radar, but a few years back Trader Joe’s started carrying the best candy invention ever, the Mint Cookie Joy! Because of that, I’ll give anything with their name on it a try. Okay, now that I’m beyond the name and packaging, I can get to the tasting!
Inside are four square chocolates. Milk chocolate covering a fudgy chocolate/mint cream center. Perfection really.
The snackability on thise is pretty high. If the package were larger, I could probably shovel about a dozen of these down without a problem. They’re not heavy or cloyingly sweet, but friendly-sweet.
If you like really soft centers, just leave it in your un-airconditioned office on an 85 degree day near the window. If you prefer a chocolate with a snappy center, then you might want to stick these in the fridge during the warmer months.
Rating: 8 out of 10.
Friday, June 24, 2005
Name: Nestle’s Original Swiss Chocolate
Nestle is known for their milk chocolate and for good reason, the original Swiss chocolate that made them famous is a great chocolate bar. It’s consistently good with a strong milky flavor, smooth and sweet. It’s not easy to find in the states, and if I’m feeling like a European-style milk chocolate bar I usually pick up a Cadbury.
I found this assortmet at Target. (I actually saw it a few months ago but waited until last weekend to pick it up.) The little box says that it’s the perfect gift to share a perfect expression of authentic Swiss chocolate taste. I’m prone to agree that this is a nice hostess gift for someone that likes milk chocolate. Easy to share, and a good assortment.
Inside are seven different varieties, with what seemed like a majority of them being lavender-wrapped lait-milch. There are also milk with almonds, milk with hazelnuts, extrafine dark chocolate and white chocolate. The other curiosities within were one called Dessert which was milk chocolate with hazelnut creme (kind of like a nutella bar if they made them). I really love the combo of hazelnuts and chocolate (Nestle also owns Baci/Perugina now). The nutty, roasted notes of hazenuts go so well with chocolate. If I had my druthers I’d put more of them in the package than the plain milk bars. The other bar that I loved was the one called Chocmel which had chopped almonds and honey. Well, I don’t think it was just honey, I think it was some sort of honey nougat chips. It was very similar to a Toblerone bar, but the honey notes in the nougat chips was much more pronounced. Very good, in fact much smoother and less waxy than a Toblerone. I might pick up a bigger bar if I see this sometime.
Rating: 8 out of 10
Thursday, June 23, 2005
Name: Reese’s Pieces Peanuts and Peanut Butter
Introduced last year, Reese’s Pieces Peanuts and Peanut Butter are a natural evolution of Reese’s Pieces (which have been around since 1978 ... why didn’t they do this sooner?).
They’re just Reese’s Pieces with a whole peanut at the center. The colors are the same RP colors, except for some reason they don’t quite have the consistent sheen to them, they’re slightly speckly. I don’t think it’s bad for the flavor or anything, they just aren’t as pretty as they could be.
I bought these at Target in a “theater box” and they’re a pretty good deal at 89 cents. I’ve not seen them in smaller bags anywhere. Actually, until I saw them at Target I didn’t even know they existed. The Reese’s site says that they’re a limited edition. Reese’s seems to be trying out a lot of different variations on their products lately, the inside out peanut butter cup, the white chocolate peanut butter cup and the Swoops. I still prefer just plain old Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Not just for the nostalgia, but it was just a great combo and sometimes you get it right the first time.
I always found regular RPs just a little too artificial in the peanut butter part, a little too sweet, a little too creamy. Well, that an all the hydrogenated oils. Where these succeed is the pure peanut taste of a real peanut in the center. It really balances out the greasiness of the RP filling and makes a nice combo. I’m still not likely to buy these over Peanut M&Ms for movie snacking, but I’m not sorry I tried them. If I went to the theater and these were available, I might pick them up. Unless they were like, $3 a box, which they’d probably be. Then I’d regret not sneaking them in.
The other thing is that the name is just too long.
Rating: 7 out of 10
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
Name: Licorice Bridge Mix
I can’t believe I’ve been doing this blog for three months and have not posted about licorice. Licorice is one of those candies that I think people either love or hate.
I love it (you knew that, didn’t you). I love Good & Plenty and any kind of licorice pastels. Of course when we start getting into licorice allsorts, things get a little hinky. There always seem to be a bunch of them I don’t like.
This assortment from Confections carries none of those anxieties of allsorts. Inside are some pastels (just smaller versions of good & plenty) some buttons and black jelly bellies. There was also one jelly button with multicolored candy dots.
They’re all good. The pastels were nice, with a good ratio of candy coating to licorice on the inside. The buttons were a little odd. The only thing that I can describe them as is licorice candy corn. You know, whatever that stuff that candy corn is made of, it’s like that only they’re either white or black (they look like game pieces or something). Smooth and very sweet with a good hit of licorice to them. And of course everyone knows that jelly bellies are good, with lots of flavor and no colored tongue to betray that you’ve been snarfing down candy in your office.
They’re a little expensive at $2 for 3 ounces (yes that’s over $10 a pound) but at least I’ll eat everything in this variety pack. I think I’ll stick to my pastels though. It’s just occurred to me that I’ve never tried anise bears and I should probably rectify this.
Rating: 6 out of 10
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
Name: Starburst Chew Pops (Green Apple, Orange & Strawberry)
I’ve got to hand it to Starburst. They’ve always packed their candies with flavor. When Starburst first came on the market, I loved them. They were much more flavorful than other taffy treats available at the time. Easier on the teeth, too.
Starburst now offers lollypops. In the tradition of Charm’s Blow Pops and Tootsie Pops, there are fruit flavored hard candy with a same-flavored Starburst fruit chew center.
I picked these up at the grocery store at the check out counter (thanks Russ!) for ten cents a pop. The orange is by far my favorite. It’s really orangy, and the flavor goes all the way through with the continuation in the chew. Dirt cheap, I know I’d buy these again. In fact, they’re perfect for Halloween (I like to give away a mix of chocolate and non-chocolate/nut treats for the kids).
I wasn’t as keen on the green apple flavor as it had a very unpleasant chemical taste to it. But then again, green apple usually does. The strawberry is good too, but also a little bit on the artificial side. They’re rather tart, which is something I enjoy in a fruit hard candy.
I hope they come out with more flavors. I bet I’d love lemon.
Rating: 9 out of 10.
Monday, June 20, 2005
Name: New Tree Chocolates: Vigor, Forgiveness & Tranquility
I reviewed another of these bars, called Renew a few weeks ago and I wanted to try other flavors. I found these little boxes with tasting bars at the Farmer’s Market and picked up an assortment. The one that had me most intrigued was Tranquility which bills itself as soothing. It’s milk chocolate with Lime Blossom and Lavender in it.
The packaging, first of all, is delightful. I put a quarter in the photo so you could see how tiny these bars are. New Tree extols itself as all natural, healthful chocolate what eschews genetically modified organisms (I’m not sure if Monsanto has gotten around to modifying the cocoa plant) and infuses their Belgian made chocolate with sometimes incongruous flavors and extra fiber. Turns out the no GMO part applies to the soya lecithin.
The Tranquility bar was very nice. It’s not terribly smooth, which is often what happens when you put dried stuff in chocolate. For Belgian milk chocolate it’s a bit sweet, but it doesn’t have that milky taste. The lavender notes come through loud and clear and leave a pleasantly fragrant note on the tongue long after the chocolate has dissolved. I wasn’t able to detect the lime blossom, but I’ve never eaten lime blossoms before and they might taste just like lavender for all I know.
I had to try the Vigor bar early in the day, as eating a full ounce of this is the equivalent of one cup of coffee (and I’ve already had a cup of coffee). At 73% cocoa, this bar smells unabashedly like pure chocolate. But upon putting it in my mouth, it melted quickly and I tasted only slight hints of rich coffee flavors. Naked coffee and chocolate are a great combo, as they both are roasted and smoky and contain lots of alkaloids. This is a barely sweetened bar that also boasts that it contains extracts of guarana. I’ve had more mocha tasting bars in the past and to be honest, I don’t want a caffienated chocolate bar, because I’d be tempted to eat it later in the day and then curse it as I couldn’t sleep later in the evening. But if you’re good with caffeine at all hours, maybe this is the bar for you. I don’t recommend pairing it with Red Bull or other energy drinks unless you enjoy heart palpitations.
The last bar, Forgiveness, was in the yellow box and was flavored with lemon and said that it helps metabolism. Again, a very dark bar with 73% cocoa. This bar also smells suspicously like chocolate with a slight lemon essence to it that’s more obvious after eating. It’s not a zesty taste, like a lemon bar or anything, just a hint of it. It’s actually very nice, a big difference from the heavily flavored bars from BruCo (don’t get me wrong, I liked those, too). The “helps metabolism” part got me curious though. There are “natural extracts of cactus” in it. Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but there are a lot of cactus out there ... that’s like saying something vague like has “natural nuts” in it. The website says that the cactus is Opuntia ficus-indica. A quick google search reveals that this is a prickly pear, and looks a lot like one I have in my back yard. Further searching reveals that this particular cactus also contains mescaline. I’m sure that my teensy bar that’s less than a third of an ounce does not contain any measurable amounts.
I guess this is where I can get into the topic of candy for snacking and candy for savoring. There are some folks who enjoy wine and drink it for the joy of drinking. Then there are some folks who enjoy wine for all its nuances and savor every sip. I’m somewhere in the middle there when it comes to candy. I love consumer candy, stuff you just eat, that you put in your mouth and you finish and you want more. This New Tree stuff and many of the other gourmet bars are not meant for munching. They’re more complex, like a fine cheese or something. As a reference, I still have a little bit of the Renew bar left and it’s been weeks. This is not candy that calls out to me to be eaten. (Yes, sometimes I hear the candy calling me ... mostly things like maltballs and I can also hear smarties calling from several hundred yards.) Maybe some will accuse me of not being sophisticated enough and I’d be inclined to agree with them. You can dress up my vitamins in gumballs or chewables, but that doesn’t make them candy. Candy is a treat, not a chore.
I feel kind of bad for not liking these bars more, like I’m not sophisticated or stylish. I also feel bad because they’re so hugely expensive. Which I guess goes to prove that good quality candy does not have to be expensive. And expensive candy is not neccesarily great.
I think over the past few months as I’ve been trying more of these bars, my favorite fancy flavored bar has been the Dagoba Milk Chocolate Chai. I ate that, it tasted good and I wanted more. That’s what I want in my candy ... one that gets me addicted.
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.