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March 2008

Monday, March 17, 2008

Ferrero Prestige (Ferrero Garden)

imageFerrero always does a nice job of packaging their chocolates. They’re best known for their clear plastic boxes, which show off the lovely foil wrappings of their spheres of Rocher, Rondnoir and now the Ferrero Garden.

While most of what you’re paying for in these boxes is the box itself, for drug store or discounter fare, the Ferrero line is dependable and unique enough in its offerings that I’m often drawn to it.

Ferrero sent me a box of one of their special packages for Easter. This one is the Prestige assortment, which includes their trio of favorites weighing 4.8 ounces and shaped like an egg. There are five Rochers, four Rondnoir and four Garden (13 pieces total, I don’t know if that’s a comment on the Last Supper or not ... I’m doubting it).

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I’ve reviewed the Rafaello and the Mon Cheri, but not the Garden. Honestly, I thought it was the Rafaello, just thrown inside some silver foil and given a new name. And it pretty much is.

There seems to be a lighter coconut coating, and instead of being completely spherical, these have a little flat bottom. The top has a little dollop & drizzle of a white confection (they call it meringue, but really it’s more like a white chocolate).

Inside is a milky tasting cream and a little sliver of almond. It’s all very sweet but has a nice touch of coconut and the crisp of the wafer cookie sphere balances it all well.

The assortment here has a good balance between the very sweet, mild & nutty and dark intense chocolate. The plastic tray can be popped out and the domed egg container can be reused. (There are no stickers to take off or anything.) The only drawback is that the plastic box doesn’t stay closed very well when tipped up on its side, so it’s more of a display box than a utility one.

They also come in other shapes, like bunnies and a stand-up egg. These should retail for about $5.50. (The non-holiday version of this is $6.99 on the Walgreen’s website for 5.5 ounces.)

Related Candies

  1. Kisses Coconut Creme
  2. Godiva Easter Eggs
  3. Jelly Belly Deluxe Easter Mix
  4. Lake Champlain Hazelnut Eggs
Name: Ferrero Prestige Egg
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Ferrero
Place Purchased: sample from Ferrero
Price: $5.50 retail
Size: 4.8 ounces
Calories per ounce: 163
Categories: Chocolate, Coconut, Cookie, Nuts, Germany, Easter

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:01 am     Comments (8)

Sucre

SucreNew Orleans is known for food, from the Creole and Cajun traditions to confections based on the locally grown pecans and of course the abundant sugar that comes through the port.

What New Orleans may have been lacking was a European-style chocolatier. That changed when Joel Dondis (who already has two restaurants in NOLA) opened Sucre late last year. By the way, I think that’s the perfect proportion - one sweet shop for every two restaurants.  Some cities may approach that, but Los Angeles is certainly woefully under-sweeted. (No, I don’t count frozen yogurt.)

Blake Killian and has been sending samples out to many of the candy, chocolate and food bloggers. (So if you haven’t already seen these reviews, be prepared for others to come.)

Sucre Assortment

Torrone - Double cream milk chocolate ganache paired with a sweet hazelnut wafer crunch

Crispy little hazelnut crunch bits (kind of like corn flakes), sweet and creamy chocolate.

Avery - Caramel and milk chocolate ganache enhanced by salt from the Avery Mines, presented in the shape of a Fleur de Lis

Mine didn’t look quite like a Fleur de Lis, but still, it had some nice burnt sugar notes in a ganache center.

Sucre Dark - Our signature, showcasing our single bean chocolate from the Maracaibo region of Venezuela

Tangy, a bit dry and very dark with some berry and nutty butter notes

Blange - Inspired by Paul Blange’s Bananas Foster, this white chocolate ganache is finished with fresh banana and a hint of rum

A light banana flavor, kind of green with a hint of nutmeg and pudding. Not quite enough bananas or foster for me ... this was the one I was really looking forward to.

Sucre mystery chocolateThe Lavender one ... I couldn’t find a description for this, but basically it felt like a nice dark chocolate ganache with a light violet essence to it. But I could have just been tasting the purple. Later I thought maybe it was jasmine, which is something that I associate with the deep south.

Meunierre - A New Orleans classic made sweeter, a brown butter and toasted almond infused white chocolate ganache (Molded Fleur de Lis)

Nice salty and creamy center with just a little darker undertone

Lemon Confit - A zesty ganache of dark chocolate and lemon

An interesting little cigarette shaped chocolate. The chocolate isn’t the star here, it’s the lemon zest, with a light tang of lemon juice as well. I could have used a bit more chocolate, a bit more creaminess. Really, I didn’t like this one.

Magnolia - Pecan ganache finished with a southern pecan half

Sweet and soft filling, nutty notes of pecan that mixes well with the chocolate shell

Sicillian Pistachio cinnamon & vanilla complement the silky white chocolate ganache

Grassy and floral, the white chocolate seems to stand up well to the cinnamon.

I liked the variations in the flavors, the chocolate was well tempered and each piece was lovely. The ingredients tasted fresh and the chocolate was very high quality. I really liked the variations in the shapes of the pieces. There’s nothing wrong with everything being little squares, but in this case I found that the shapes really provided an additional dimension to each tiny experience.

The shop also sells French-style macarons, panned nuts, muscadines, pate de fruits and the cafe experience in the store promises much more from their dessert case.

The box was well packaged for shipping, which I note because of some of my bad experiences lately.

I’m not sure if I would order these up special, but I definitely have them on my list of places to stop at when I’m in New Orleans or check out if I see in another shop. It’s pricey stuff though, so it’s probably reserved for very special ocassions or people with large amounts of disposable income.

Related Candies

  1. BonBonBars: Malt Ganache & Scotch
  2. L’Artisan du Chocolat
  3. Theo Confections
  4. Charles Chocolates
  5. CocoaBella “World’s Best Box”
  6. Recchiuti
Name: New Orleans Collection
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Sucre
Place Purchased: samples from Sucre
Price: $16.00 retail
Size: unknown (8 pieces)
Calories per ounce: unknown
Categories: Chocolate, Nuts, United States, Chocolatier, All-Natural

POSTED BY Cybele AT 7:04 am     Comments (3)

Friday, March 14, 2008

Gimbal’s Gourmet Jelly Beans

Gimbal's Gourmet Jelly BeansGimbal’s is one of those candy companies where you’ve probably had their products, you just don’t realize it because they’re often sold in bulk. They have fun little sour jelly stars, sour sanded bears and licorice scottie dogs.

They also have an extensive line of Gourmet Jelly Beans.

They’re similar to Jelly Belly, they’re a similar smaller size, have different color codings for the flavors and in this instance, come in an assortment of dozens of flavors in one bag (41 in this case). I’ve seen these 7 ounce bags for sale at Walgreen’s, usually for about $2. I know that CandyDirect.com sells single flavors of these (and you may find them in bulk bins that aren’t identified by brand). At only $3.40 a pound online, that’s about a third off to half off the price of Jelly Belly.

Gimbal's Jelly Beans

I don’t have tasting notes for absolutely every flavor, but here are a few of the highlights of what I picked out of the mix over the past week:

Tiramisu - like a caramel coffee creamer.
Wild Cherry - tangy and with those dark woodsy cherry tones ... you know, cough syrup
Roasted Marshmallow - a slightly toasty/caramel vanilla
Bubble Gum - oh yeah, that’s bubble gum, I can almost taste the bad comic printed on wax paper
Strawberry Daquiri - rather nice, like strawberry & lime
Strawberry Cheesecake - like the daquiri without the twist of lime
Watermelon - yes, that’s watermelon
Root Beer - hey, that’s zazzy! I like it, I want a whole bag.
Chocolate - really, what are these doing in here, some things are simply not flavors, chocolate is one of them. Worst part is I kept thinking that they were either licorice or root beer and disappointed every time.
Red Delicious - tasted like a candied apple, not very strong or tart, just a sweet apple flavor.
Cinnamon - not as spicy as the wonderful Lava Balls (but there was supposed to be a sizzling cinnamon in the mix, but I never found it), but still a pleasant mild spice.

Gimbal's Jelly BeansYes, they have a buttered popcorn flavor ... but I picked all of those out and didn’t even taste them. I don’t care for actual buttered popcorn, nor things flavored like buttered popcorn.

Too many reds! There’s cherry, cinnamon, raspberry, fruit punch, red delicious. I had similar problems with the orange/yellow things. But this is an issue with many candies that have too many flavors in one bag.

I’d probably prefer to buy a more narrow mix of these, like just fruits or maybe carnival flavors (toasted marshmallow, bubble gum, red delicious, root beer… maybe someone needs to invent a funnel cake flavor).

The beans are nicely formed and all had an even amount of distinctive flavor.

Gimbal’s is not only Kosher, but also a facility free of most of the major allergens. They are tree nut/peanut, gelatin, gluten, dairy and egg free. So if you like Jelly Belly but have to avoid gluten and peanuts, this would be an excellent option. As a bonus, Gimbal’s are less expensive than Jelly Belly. Just harder to find.

Related Candies

  1. Gimbal’s Lavaballs
  2. Lifesavers Jellybeans
  3. Cadbury Dairy Milk Whispers
  4. Starburst and Jelly Belly Jelly Beans
  5. Jelly Belly - Full Line
Name: Gourmet Jelly Beans
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Gimbal's Fine Candies
Place Purchased: samples from All Candy Expo
Price: retail $2.00
Size: 7 ounces
Calories per ounce: unknown
Categories: Jelly, United States, Easter, Kosher

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:57 am     Comments (9)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Smarties Jelly Beans

Smartie Jelly BeansAnother new brand of jelly beans from an old favorite, Smarties Jelly Beans.

Just to make things clear, the package says, “Tangy Fruit Flavors” ... just in case people thought they were some other assortment of flavors associated with Smarties. They never actually say which fruits they are, though.

Actually, I think Smarties are an ideal Easter candy, with their pastel colors and light flavors. I like Smarties. I like their lack of flavor, the way they dissolve so quickly and smoothly. I like their tiny tablet size, their light colors and complete indistinguishableness from one another.

These jelly beans were about the same price as others are these days, retail of $1.99.

Smartie Jelly BeansThe Smarties come in five flavors/colors.

The shell is a dry and a little crumbly and cool on the tongue (as dextrose usually is). The shells have a tangy and flavorful layer. The flavors aren’t very strong or complex. Grape is the most vivid, in that grape soda way. Green apple is pretty mild. Blue tastes like ball point pen ink smells (I think it’s raspberry). Cherry is very tart and then very sweet but less bitter than most pink/red cherry candies. Lemon was probably the sweetest of the bunch.

What was missing was the white Smarties, you know, that one that we all think is pineapple and is by far the best. (What? You don’t think so, too?)

The colors are bright and opaque, rather like highlighter pens. The funny part is that Smarties actually makes their lack of color in their compressed dextrose tablets a selling point. From their website:

Our candy is intentionally made in pastel colors so that our customers will be eating more candy and less artificial colors. Don’t be fooled by candies like ours with bright colors, you can taste the dye!

In the case of these little jelly beans, I think they’re using just as much dye as everyone else. Most of all I noticed the similarities between the Smarties Jelly Bean and the SweeTarts Jelly Beans.

Smartie Jelly BeansSo I gathered up an assortment of both and put them side by side. The SweeTarts Jelly Beans are on the left and the Smarties Jelly Beans are on the right. They are extremely close in colors, although the Smarties are missing the orange one completely.

The beans were essentially identical with the Smarties being slightly more flavorful, mostly in the tangy layer. The colors very little but the purple and the green are the easiest to tell apart by looking at them and the blue in the SweeTarts version is punch flavor, not raspberry.

I really don’t have a preference of one over the other. If you have a choice, I say go with whichever is cheaper or whichever brand you feel you prefer to support.

They’re both made in Canada and come in 14 ounce bags, though their ingredients label differs slightly ... so it’s entirely possible that this factory churns both out under contract with Nestle or CeDe Candy.

While all of the Smarties compressed dextrose products are gluten, nut and milk free, the Smarties Jelly Beans are made in Canada and are made in a facility that processes all the hit-list allergens: peanuts, nuts, milk products, soy products, wheat, eggs and sesame seeds.

Related Candies

  1. Wonka Nerds Jelly Beans
  2. Blueberry Hill Spice Jelly Beans
  3. Jelly Belly Deluxe Easter Mix
  4. Smarties Bubble Gum
  5. Starburst and Jelly Belly Jelly Beans
Name: Smarties Jelly Beans
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Smarties (CeDe Candies)
Place Purchased: Walgreen's (Echo Park)
Price: $1.99
Size: 14 ounces
Calories per ounce: 92
Categories: Jelly, Sour, Canada, Smarties, Easter

POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:53 am     Comments (4)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Candy Blog had a Little Downtime

Surf Sweets Organic & Vegan Sour WormsNo, I was not in some sort of sugar-shock. Just a little site difficulties today with some nasty spammers clogging up the works. My apologies to anyone who was trying to visit earlier today and had trouble reaching the site.

I’ve disabled a few things while I wait for it to abate, so I’ll turn comments back on soon and the search will be back shortly after that.

Many thanks to the folks at Nexcess.net and Travis at Hop Studios talking me through the problems from the airport on his way back from SWSX!

All I can say is that I really, really want some chocolate now. (The photo is of some organic gummi worms ... it’s intended to reflect how I felt about my recent spam infestation and in no way reflects my affection for the actual candy.)

POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:59 am     CandyFeatured News

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