Wednesday, November 14, 2007
I’ve talked a lot over the years about Candy Season and the accompanying seasonal candies that go with each. Slowly the candy companies are seeing that those seasonal favorites can be re-purposed into other seasons. Just like M&Ms are found in color combos for every time of the year and Russell Stover is making a marshmallow-filled pumpkin, Santa and egg, it seems that Cadbury doesn’t want anyone to miss out on incorporating their egg-shaped candies into the major holidays.
This is where the Cadbury Ornament Creme Egg comes in. It’s just a Cadbury Creme Egg with a red foil wrapper.
It seems silly, but I’m going to re-review these, even though they’re no different than the Easter version. However, the last time I ate one was back in ‘06 when they were 1.38 ounces. This made for a very large reservoir of fondant ... which is not my favorite part of the Cadbury Creme Egg. (My favorite part of the Cadbury Creme Egg, for the record, was the clucking bunny commercial.) The more recent version is 1.2 ounces.
The egg has a wonderful sweet dairy chocolate smell to it that reminded me of powdered milk. Both of mine had a small sticky problem around the seam (and I tried to hard to pick good ones).
The nose cone of both seemed extremely thick, which gave a good dose of chocolate to the otherwise too-sweet fondant density.
The fondant creme center is sweet, it’s nice and smooth indicating its freshness (an old Creme Egg will have a slight grain to the fondant). But really, it’s just a big hunk of sugar, and while I often enjoy big hunks of sugar (rock candy anyone?), I still felt a little too much of a sugar rush aftewards.
I think I prefer the smaller one. I’d love it if they made a mint one (and I did find the orange one a bit better). That said, it’s still not a favorite of mine. But I’m sure fans of the Creme Egg will be happy to see it now as their stockpiles from Easter are probably long gone.
While I can fault them for doing nothing more than slapping a different color wrapper on it and the word “ornament” to make it a Christmas product, I did find that making the Mini Eggs into little spheres for their new Christmas thingies did actually muck with perfection.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
A few months ago I was contacted by JBox, the webstore that lets North Americans buy Japanese snacks directly from Japan. I’ve ordered from them before, so I was happy to have some personal contact from them and I suggested they start carrying some items that I know readers here are interested in. (Juntsuyu for one and Mentos.) They also gave me a sassy gift certificate so that I could try a wider variety of their products. (I’ve already reviewed HiCHEW Yuzu & Valencia Orange, UHA Puccho Custard, Lotte Crunky and Shigekix Aha! Brain on their dime.)
After my wonderful experience with the Asian Sour Mentos that had pineapple in the mix, I had to try the Japanese Pine Fresh Mentos.
I was so encouraged that I ordered three rolls of the Pine Fresh. Can I just say that I’m sorry I only ordered three?
The package is so funny. Usually the upper corner above the local says “Chewy Dragee” or “Chewy Mint”. In this case it says “The Chewy Pine Fresh.”
The color is a delicate and soft yellow. They don’t smell like much, but Mentos rarely do.
Upon biting into them I get a nice burst of floral fruitiness - it reminds me of freesias (which remind me of Froot Loops).
Then there’s a tart bite and a good rounded flavor of pineapple.
I love ‘em. I’m out of ‘em.
Monday, November 12, 2007
First, the package. It’s a 3 ounce bar in a pretty tab-top box. The printing is elegant, with a matte-gold background with a little wallpaper pattern and an embossed gold logo for their new Private Reserve line. The bar inside is wrapped in gold foil.
The Vanilla Bean Brulee with 70% Cacao Dark Chocolate boasts on the front that it contains Madagascar Vanilla Beans. (On the back in far smaller print it mentions additional artificial flavor in the filling.)
The bar consists of eight squares. It’s dark and shiny and really a stunningly lovely bar. It has a pleasant but not overwhelmingly sweet smell of chocolate, mostly the cherry fruit notes and some smoke with just a light wiff of bourbon once snapped in half.
Though the package shows the filling as being thick and rather yellow, it’s actually a creamy white and thin. The chocolate has a good snap and a creamy melt for a 70%. Not too bitter with mostly woodsy notes of sandalwood and smoke. Though not a lot of filling, the white chocolate and vanilla center is wonderfully buttery and smooth and does have a good vanilla note to it. It also has a little salt, which really makes it pop, giving each set of flavors and textures distinctiveness.
I was impressed! I ate the whole thing. The price is pretty good for something that you find a drug store. If faced with this and the more standard candy bar fare, I might dig deep for this more expensive bar. It still wouldn’t replace an exceptional chocolate bar, but as something to compete with Hershey’s Cacao Reserve or Ghirardelli, I think it holds its own. It also holds a distinct place, I don’t think anyone else makes a bar like this in this price range.
UPDATE: Since some others have commented about the little tasting squares, I’ve gotten a hold of some of those and have to agree, they’re not the same! They taste tired and weak and a little waxy.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
(I miss Tom Baker as Dr. Who and his Jelly Babies.)
Saturday, November 10, 2007
I’ve been spending my spare time toiling away on my bad novel. I’m still shy of my fundraising goals for the Write-a-Thon next weekend for National Novel Writing Month. So if you’ve been thinking about donating to the cause (and possibly winning some limited edition candies for your trouble), please, please do it soon.
My donation to the cause will be a candy buffet for the other writers to enjoy. Don’t worry, I’ll have photos and hopefully lots more to say about candy buffets and candy favors for weddings and other parties.
I’ve also been prowling around in the post-Halloween bargain bins. I’ve been horribly disappointed. My best buys were Ghost Peeps for 9 cents a package and some Wonka Donutz that have some sort of red goo at the center for 13 cents each. (I’m not sure if they’re from this year or not.) The better news is that the Christmas candy is out and I’m seeing the Junior Mints Deluxe at RiteAid already.
Here’s the week in review:
Monday: Boston Baked Beans (5 out of 10)
Tuesday: Cowgirl Chocolates Buckin’ Hot Habanero Caramels (6 out of 10)
Wednesday: Melville Honey Spoons (6 out of 10)
Thursday: Sour Patch Extreme (5 out of 10)
Friday: Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Filled with Creamy Peanut Butter (5 out of 10)
Average rating 5.4 for the week with a 20% chocolate content.
Friday, November 9, 2007
I’ve seen the Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Filled with Creamy Peanut Butter at the stores for over a year now, but only in the super-duper 4.5 ounce slab bars. I didn’t really want that much of a bar and I figured it’d come around to the smaller size at some point. Sure enough I finally found them in the King Size. (I’m guessing they couldn’t quite swing a regular sized bar because of the proportions involved in making a filled bar like this.)
The bar puzzles me. It’s a Hershey’s product, just as Reese’s are, but it’s not branded under the Reese’s name, which is where most peanut butter products go (except for the Peanut Butter Kisses). I just couldn’d figure out what would be better about this bar compared to all the other Reese’s products in their line.
I’m not sure why I was so surprised at how it looked when I took it out of the wrapper. It’s downright unattractive. The five rounded rectangular segments have a “default font” look to them. The bar is long and thick, a little narrower than the traditional Hershey bar and of course triple the thickness to hold the “creamy peanut butter” filling.
As proportions go, this is more about the chocolate than the peanut butter - there’s probably a 2 to 1 ratio of chocolate to peanut butter here. The chocolate on this bar doesn’t quite taste like Hershey’s. There’s no familiar yogurty tang to it, but it does have that sort of soft & fudgy texture. The peanut butter filling isn’t an ultra-smooth cream as I was expecting, but not the dry crumble of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup either. I wouldn’t call it creamy. It didn’t have much of a salty hit to it, though the package did say that it has 140 mg, about half of what you’d find in a Reese’s.
It’s a nice tasting bar, it seems designed for the market of people who don’t want too much peanut butter in their chocolate and seem perfectly happy with a recommended portion of 2.3 ounces and 370 calories (the recommended portion when eating the jumbo bar is more responsibly set at about 1.5 ounces). The other difference between this bar and a Reese’s is that this one contains partially hydrogenated oils ... I’m not saying that’s a selling point.
Thursday, November 8, 2007
I don’t think I’ve ever thought that Sour Patch Kids needed to be sourer. Perhaps some sour enthusiasts did, but there are lots of super-sour, tongue-burning candies out there.
What I think is interesting about the new Sour Patch Extreme candies is that they didn’t just make them more sour. They mixed the flavors up a bit.
Each candy is a mix of two flavors. The head is one flavor and the shock of hair is a second flavor. I don’t think they looked too much like faces, more like feet with different colored toes to me.
Watermelon Grape (purple hair and pink head) - I was surprised, these went together pretty well. The fake grape has a little concord snap to it and the watermelon, though pretty much a straight high pitched sour also has that slight note of the rind in there.
Orange Blue Raspberry (blue hair and orange head) - I would have preferred my citrus together - maybe a little lemon and orange, but this was okay. The orange seemed to overpower the raspberry in the sour department, but after chewing to the point where it gets sweet, that’s when the raspberry kicked in.
Sour Apple Strawberry (red hair and green head) - This combo was quite as abundant in the mix and that was fine by me. The flavors were so distinct they didn’t seem to go together.
I rather prefer my flavors separate. The good thing is that you can just bite off the half that you feel like eating, but of course you can’t throw the other half back into the bag for later (well, maybe you could, but I wouldn’t).
While they are more sour, they’re also a smidge less flavorful. I think I’ll stick with the regular ones.
I got these as a sample at All Candy Expo, but I spotted them at Target and 7-11.
Unlike gummis, Sour Patch products contain no gelatin (they’re technically a “jelly” product). For that reason they are suitable for vegetarians.
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Ah, foggy fall days have returned to Los Angeles. The chill in the air leads me to tea. While I’m a huge fan of honey, I prefer to either eat it straight or with something like plain toast or dip saltines in it. I rarely put it in my tea, but here’s a product that’s both a sweetener for your drinks and a lollipop.
Melville specializes in making lollipops in the classic tradition of the molded barley sugar pops. But they also have a line of Honey Spoons, clever little lollies shaped like a spoonful of honey on a pretty wooden stick.
They make two different varieties of Honey Spoons: Clover and Tupelo. Clover is light and fresh tasting. The spoons themselves are smooth and look like a little piece of light amber glass. The texture is smooth and slick on the tongue, no voids here. The candy is ever so slightly soft and can be bent slowly when it’s warm and thin.
The flavor is light and sweet, a little dollop of honey in mostly a sweet sugar base.
The difference between the Tupelo (which is prized because it doesn’t crystallize like some other honeys) and Clover isn’t really that discernible. They’re both extremely pleasant.
Just as an experiment I put one in a fresh cup of Earl Grey Tea (hot), and after about thirty seconds the spoon had melted enough that it fused to the bottom of my cup. A little wiggling and then stirring with it and I probably reduced its mass by half. I tasted the tea, which at that point was plenty sweet for me (again, not a sweet tea fan) ... so one pop will do just fine for most people. The one drink I can see this being especially good in would be a spiced chai.
I was really looking forward to the Lavender Honey Spoon. Earlier this year I ordered some Spanish lavender honey from Artisan Sweets and I love the stuff. It’s murky and musky with a dark oily feel on the tongue that reminds me of Rosemary.
The Lavender Honey Spoons, on the other hand, aren’t quite as deep and complex. Yes, there’s a light floral note there, but no real lavender note. Still, they’re pretty.
They’re expensive for just lollipops ($1.50 each), but really good honey hard candies are hard to find. They don’t quite rival the Juntsuyu I love so much from Japan, but they’d make a lovely hostess gift over the holidays with some fine tea or stocking stuffers. Sometimes I just like pretty candy (okay, I always like pretty candy if it’s tasty). I might pick one up as an impulse item at a coffee house, but I doubt I’d buy a whole package.
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.