Wednesday, July 9, 2008
I got it from my Canadian candy source, Amber, along with a bunch of other bars that we simply can’t get here in the States (Oh Henry!). While the Caramilk bar has an American counterpart, the Caramello bar it just doesn’t have the same profile.
It turns out the Caramilk bar is the #3 bar in Canada. Different versions seem like a no-brainer for capturing a bigger market share. (I tried the Caramilk Maple, too.) But they might want to include it on their website (I think it was launched in mid 2007, so you’d think someone might have updated the site since then).
You can tell this is a modern candy launch because Caramilk Deluxe has its own Facebook page.
Instead of the traditional bar format, the Caramilk Deluxe opted for pieces. There are four little milk chocolate molded pieces tucked into a folded paperboard tray. At only 45 grams (1.59 ounces) it’s a bit smaller portion size than a regular candy bar. But don’t worry, it still clocks in with 230 calories.
They’re a little bigger than the regular sized Rolos (which is kind of what I was expecting at that point), more like a hefty Hershey’s Kiss.
The nicely molded pieces have a little swirl on the top. Again, nice touch for something called Deluxe.
As I don’t live in Canada and didn’t think to look for this on Facebook, I just had to muddle through my first tasting. There is no description on the package of what it is, just the picture. And the picture is vague. Sure, I get that there’s a shell and caramel ... but what is that red-brown stuff at the top?
Well, even after the first bite I wasn’t sure.
The caramel is flowing, sweet and extremely smooth. The chocolate is milky and tastes kind of like pudding. The other filling is rather like dark chocolate fudge. But it tastes like Oreo cookies. A very dark, burnt cocoa flavor. While thought the slight chew of the fudge was a little offputting, the flavor it added was pretty good.
Since they seem to be marketing these to women as a little indulgence the packaging and little pieces feel upscale. But the flavor of the product is pretty ordinary. If you’re a Caramilk fan, you might like these, but I’m not going to go placing a special import order or anything.
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
I got both these bars around the same time, both samples. The Dove Beautiful bar is fortified to help promote beautiful-looking skin. The Beauty-Bar from Bloomsberry & Co is formulated to make you feel gorgeous ... on the inside.
Well, I admit, it’s a beautiful bar to look at.
The full array of additives is: tricalcium phosphate (10% of the RDA of calcium), ascorbic acid (10% of the RDA of Vitamin C), vitamin E acetate (10% of the RDA of Vitamin E), niacinamide (10% of the RDA of Niacin), zinc oxide (10% of the RDA of Zinc) and biotin (10% of the RDA).
The bar looks a bit darker than the standard Dove Smooth Milk Chocolate fare. It has the same slightly soft snap. A sweet scent.
The melt is nice, a bit cool on the tongue, milky and less sticky than its unfortified counterpart.
The flavor has some dairy components to it ... and an odd taste as well. I can’t put my finger on it, but I want to say that it tastes like drinking out of a galvanized bucket. Slightly metallic ... not in a bad way, just in a narrowly noticeable way.
I’ve come to understand that I’m not the kind of person who likes to compromise on my candy. My candy is made for enjoyment and mucking around with the taste in order to pump up its nutritional value means that it simply doesn’t fulfill its primary obligation - make me happy. Instead it makes me furrow my brow ... and that’s not beautiful.
Rating: 5 out of 10
Bloomsberry & Co. has made a name for themselves world-wide with their inventive, imaginative and whimsical box designs (flat pack Easter bunny and eat me have made me chuckle - laugh lines are beautiful right?). I have fully advocated using chocolate bars instead of greeting cards, and their line meets most needs with all the major holidays covered and a line with an ultra-modern take on romance (and chocolate obsession).
All that aside, the funky box is fun the first time, but just like the pretty picture on the greeting card, what does it say inside? Well, to start with, the foil inner wrapping is also lovely. It’s a graphic paper with a foiled paper under that ... plus the box. That’s a lot of protection.
And all that protection paid off, the bar was pristine.
Instead of a lot of crazy additions, this is simply dark chocolate (sugar, chcoolate liquor, cocoa butter, soy lecithin & vanilla). It doesn’t say what the cacao percentage is.
If I understand it correctly the idea goes like this: if dark chocolate is what you want and if you get what you want, you’ll be happy and happy people are beautiful. Or something like that.
The bar is thick and has a profound snap to it. The flavor is well rounded, if a little bland. It satisfies a craving, but doesn’t really do much else to make me swoon. As the bars usually retail for $4 to $5, unless the box is just so spot on, I’m going to pass. There are some wonderful bars that not only come in nice packages (that say more about the chocolate than my desires, of course) but area also tasty on the inside.
Rating: 6 out of 10
Both bars are Kosher.
Monday, July 7, 2008
Earlier this year I attended ExpoWest, a trade show which highlights natural products. It’s actually a great place to find candy, though most of the time the products were advocating what they put in them. There were candies with added vitamins, minerals others fortified with omega3 fatty acids, exotic gums & algae and still others made from completely raw ingredients or buying carbon offsets. Instead, Zootons are highlighting what they don’t put in them.
Zootons is a line of soft, chewy jelly candies that are organic and vegan. That’s it.
I know that many parents (and adult candy fans) can be frustrated with sweets that say they’re healthy but then fail to match the appeal of the unnatural counterparts that are so ubiquitous (and let’s face it, less expensive).
At first glance Zootons seem to narrow the gap. The packaging is kid friendly - black boxes that each have a different big-mouthed monster icon on them. They also have a little window that lets you see the candy. Inside the box are two sealed packages (50 grams each) which counts as a full serving.
While I hesitate to call them healthy, they’re certainly easy to add to a kids diet as a treat.
Cute little star shapes with a coating of coarse granulated sugar. They come in four flavors: strawberry (pink), pineapple (yellow), blackcurrant (dark red) and lemon (also yellow).
The distinction between the flavors wasn’t that significant. I was able to tell the pineapple and the blackcurrant from the others, but it all kind of blended together. They’re not terribly tangy, just sweet and fruity.
The texture is fun, the sugary coating gives them a little crunch and the smooth jelly center is moist.
Rating: 4 out of 10
I was hoping the Sours would give me the pop that I was looking for in the Jellies.
The Sours come in strawberry, orange, raspberry and lemon. Again, not easy to tell apart visually.
These were much moister than the Jelly stars. The sour started with the sugary coating. Not super-tangy, just a little sizzle of flavor on the tongue.
The lemon was quite nice, not as zesty as I might have liked, but very authentic tasting, like a lemonade jelly. Strawberry was amazingly vivid, both fragrant and tangy, it was like an intense slice of strawberry jam. Raspberry felt very flavored and less like distilled fruits. But it was tingly-tart and satisfying.
These are quite a winner. They’re not too sour for littler kids, I think the only ones who would be disappointed are older kids who are obsessed with the tongue-blistering-super-dare sours.
Rating: 7 out of 10
This was where things went a little strange. I’m kind of a purist when it comes to using the word gummi. Gummis should have a jelling agent in them like gelatin or agar-agar. In this case, they do not have either of those. I was hoping there was some innovation or technique not evident in the ingredients that would give them that inimitable bouncy gummi texture that any child who has had the real thing will expect. Sadly, no. These are just fruit jellies.
The surface is a bit dry, but not covered in the granulated sugar like the other Jellies and Sours. They say they come in four flavors: pineapple, blackcurrant, orange and raspberry. Honestly, I had a hard time telling them apart visually. They were sweet and fruity, but not terribly tangy. Soft and quite moist once I bit into them, they did have a bit of a bounce. Of the set, I think they were my least favorite. Just not enough zip for me.
Rating: 4 out of 10
This was the most exciting concept of the whole line. I’ve had organic jelly candies before (and have written about Surf Sweets). But so few companies - traditional or organic - make anything cola flavored. I just had to try these.
The little stars don’t look like much in the package, but take them out and they’re quite lovely. The dark amber is spot on correct for Cola.
The flavor is absolutely cola - it has that tangy, almost lemon flavor at first, then that ... whatever cola flavor is ... a bit of cinnamon a bit of rum and a bit of caramel. They’re not intense, none of the Zootons are, but they’re pleasant.
Rating: 6 out of 10
I’m not sure where these are being sold so far, but keep your eyes peeled if you have a picky kid or are trying to get only candies with natural colorings in them. They don’t wow me like some pate de fruits, but they’re not intended to ... it’s just a fun candy treat.
Candy Addict also did a taste test of these last month.
Friday, July 4, 2008
Whether you’re spending it with friends, family or just snuggling down to watch the fireworks by yourself, I hope you take great joy in marking the birthday of our country.
I’ll be washing the dog, taking some candy photos and grilling with the neighbors then piling onto the roof to watch whatever fireworks the other neighbors in Los Angeles throw up in the air for us.
I’ll be taking the day off as well, but please amuse yourself with the new Candy Forums.
Thursday, July 3, 2008
Just yesterday at a newsstand I saw them selling Mini Mentos from a little tub. I love the tiny rolls, even if it means they have smaller pieces in them.
I didn’t pick any up then, instead I pulled out the Mini Mentos collection Santos brought me from the Pacific. These are by no means exotic, just your standard Mentos fruit fare. I had an assortment of Grape, Apple & Watermelon before as well.
The package design is simple and has no fruits on it, just a field of orange dragees.
Unlike some of the other specialty flavored Mentos like Pink Grapefruit or Fuji Apple, this one is rather bland. It’s a pleasant enough orange, but not terribly punchy. It’s like an orange-ade flavor instead of taking advantage of the sweet, tangy and zesty flavors of real oranges.
Orange can be found in the regular Fruits Mix Mentos rolls.
I was expecting the typical American green apple flavor.
Instead the flavor was very grassy at first. It tasted like green! Then they typical artificial apple kicked in, a little tangy and a little like apple juice.
It doesn’t hold a candle to the Japanese Fuji Apple Mentos, so it’s hard to find these exceptional.
Apple is also availble in single flavor large rolls, but not in the Fruit Mix Mentos.
These were delicately colored, almost peach. This was the first one of the set that actually had a scent, and it reminded me of lemon merignue pie (you know, that toasted smell of the meringue mixed with lemon zest).
The shell was sweet and fragrant, the chewy innards were slightly tangy and had a little wiff of zest that develops during the chew.
My favorite of the set.
Lemon are part of the Fruit Mix Mentos rolls.
It didn’t smell like much but one crunch of the shell and the perfumey strawberry was quite evident. Like summer, yellow jackets and cotton candy.
The chewy itself is quite tart, more than any of the others. It was the most flavorful and after the lemon one, another favorite. It also left a pleasant aftertaste and freshened my mouth (which is good for a candy called The Freshmaker.)
I’ll probably always prefer the larger format rolls, but the minis are certainly fun for a bit of variety and if you find them in the “changemaker” tubs, it’s a quick little cheap treat. I’d be all over these if I got them in my Trick-or-Treat bag.
Mentos have converted from using gelatin to gellan gum, so they are now considered vegan-safe (but keep an eye on the colors on other varieties, I’ve seen carmine crop up in the Strawberry Yoghurt).
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Stainer is an Italian chocolate maker based in Pontremoli. They’re known for their vast collection of chocolate bars that range from traditional to single origin to alcohol infused to organic and even a line of six different chili infused bars. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, Stainer is moving into the North American market, so you can expect to see these more often at high end grocers and chocolate shops.
They come in smart little boxes with 50 gram bars tucked into orange-tinted cellophane wrappers.
I wanted to taste what Stainer’s dark chocolate was like without any other additions. I was drawn to this lovely box with a little hummingbird on the front. 65% Cacao Peru says it’s intenso & fruttato which I translated as cognates to mean intense and fruity.
The back of the box has no purple prose setting the stage for the tasting, it’s just the ingredients in four different languages (Italian, English, Spanish and German).
The bar is lovely. It’s rather thick, with easy to break domed segments. The color is a bit on the red side of brown. The scent is woodsy and sweet.
It has a slightly chalky bite, it has a very distinct snap. But it’s quite smooth and melts easily. The first notes are fruity, like figs and raisins. Later it becomes more woodsy, like cedar with some light coffee notes. Not sweet, but pleasant, there’s a light bitter tone over the finish but very little dryness.
Though it gives the regional origin of the beans, it doesn’t mention the types of beans in the bar or where in Peru they’re from, so I’m hesitant to call it a single origin bar.
I’ve had quite a bit of chili infused chocolate over the past couple of years, but this may be the first time I’ve had a white chocolate with pepper.
This bar, Cioccolato Bianco Peperoncino e Vaniglia Bourbon features red chili and bourbon vanilla (in case you couldn’t figure that out from the name). It has a 30% cacao content, and since this is white chocolate that means all that cacao is just cacao fat. (The king of vegetable fats.)
The squares are dotted with chili bits and vanilla seeds. It smells less sweet than many white chocolates, a little milky and kind of cheesy.
It’s also not terribly soft to bite, so it has a nice temper and breaks easily instead of bending like some heavily milky white chocolates do.
The first taste, however, is overwhelmingly hot. The burn of the chili comes out right away, then a smooth and creamy sweetness with a touch of vanilla, then a throat searing heat. Letting it melt instead of chewing it up a bit seems to mellow out the heat, but it’s still a lot hotter than I expected.
I don’t think it’s really my thing, I tempered it with some pretzels and almonds just to get through half the bar. I liked it, but it was kind of throat choking at times. (I must admit that I’m a bit of a wuss when it comes to anything that’s hotter than “medium” in the chili family, I do great with curries & wasabi/horseradish, but pepper really gets me).
The boxes are compelling and I want to cute them apart and make the fronts into trading cards or something. But at about $8 for a 50 gram bar, it’s among the most expensive chocolate bars I’ve bought to date ... I won’t be making a habit of it. I do plan to try a few more of the vast collection before I make a final determination about them. I picked these up at Chocolate Covered in San Francisco’s Noe Valley. I haven’t seen them at any of my regular chocolate suppliers (but they may be coming soon as chocolate weather returns this fall).
Here are some other thoughts on Stainer’s bars: Chocablog tasted Curry & White Chocolate and Honey & Ginseng Dark, Talkalota Chocolate has Scotchbonnet Pepper and Rum & Masai Spice and finally, Lissbliss tried the 100% Venezuela.
I’ve got forums and you want candy.
So let’s make a deal: simply register and create a profile on the new Candy Forums between now and July 15, 2008 and you’ll be eligible to win an exceptional package of summer-safe candies shipped right to your door.
It may include (depending on your tastes):
And whatever else I may have hanging around that you might fancy. I guarantee at least 5 lbs of candy to one new forum member! Should there be more than 200 new registrations before July 15th, I’ll add another prize package, so tell your friends! Candy shipping can only be done in the US & Canada ... however if the winner is not in North America, I think we can work out a prize package (a gift certificate to an online candy shop in your area).
So just go to CandyForums.net and register. Be sure to fill in at least some of your profile with your general location and chose a zippy avatar (I created 50 default ones to chose from). You can also add a photo (I even added one to mine), tell everyone a little about yourself and link to your website.
As CandyForums.net grows I’ll be adding features and it will get a top to bottom redesign with special candy themed profile pages, but I was so excited to start the community this summer. This way you can give feedback on what you want and it will become some place special for all of us.
UPDATE 7/6/2008: Looks like there are over 200 members now! This means the giveaway has rolled over and there are now two prize packages! (Still to be drawn at random from eligible members, and by eligible I mean you can’t be married to me or one of my siblings.)
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
POSTED BY Cybele AT 7:50 pm
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.