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October 2008

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Kookaburra Choc Coated Liquorice

Kookaburra Choc Coated LiquoriceI reviewed Kookaburra Liquorice last year and then was intrigued by their chocolate coated variety. There are quite a few licorice companies out there coming out with chocolate varieties, but a lot of them aren’t real chocolate.

I was concerned that was the case with Kookaburra, mostly because it said Choc Coated and thought maybe “choc” was code for not chocolate. But it’s really just short for chocolate. (Sometimes called choccies as well by Brits, Candians & Aussies.) I looked over the ingredients carefully and it’s the real stuff, even includes real vanilla. However the actual licorice contains artificial colors, which is kind of silly when you consider that only folks who bite stuff in half and peer in there are gonna notice.

The package is a stout peg bag with a tufted bottom that allows it to stand up. I liked that it was compact and narrow instead of one of those wide & flat bags that don’t tuck into my fall bag as well.

Kookaburra Choc Coated Liquorice

These are pretty big nuggets, about the size of one of my lesser toes.

The chocolate coating is shiny and smells vaguely of chocolate but mostly of licorice.

It’s pretty thick, which is good for matching the strong woodsy flavors of the licorice and the hearty wheat-based chew.

At first I really didn’t like these. I actually like a bit of anise mixed with dark chocolate, but it didn’t seem to go with the dairy notes I was picking up on the milk chocolate.

But after a few more pieces, it grew on me and over several days I’ve eaten the whole bag. It’s quite satisfying because it had both a creamy component and the chew plus some strong flavors.

It wasn’t cheap though, at $5.99 for a bag that only holds 6 ounces, there are probably more satisfying treats for me. (Like the Venco Skoolkrijt that I bought on the same trip.) But it has intrigued me enough that I’m going to do some more chocolate & licorice sampling.

Related Candies

  1. 3400 Phinney: Fig, Fennel & Almond and Hazelnut Crunch
  2. J Morgan Caramels
  3. Licorice Mentos
  4. Dolfin: Anise and Red Pepper
  5. Bassett’s Licorice Allsorts
  6. Dutch Licorice
Name: Choc Coated Liquorice
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Kookaburra
Place Purchased: Mel & Rose's Wine & Spirits (Los Angeles)
Price: $5.99
Size: 6 ounces
Calories per ounce: 120
Categories: Chocolate, Licorice, Australia, Kookaburra

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:57 am    

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Nestle Milk Chocolate

Nestle Milk ChocolateAs the whole thing about Hershey’s and the swap of chocolate for mockolate came up on other blogs and news sites, I noticed quite a few people expressing a preference for Nestle.

I thought, “What am I missing here?” Well, first of all, plain old Nestle Milk Chocolate bars aren’t that easy to find. But with a bit of persistence I did find this fresh 5 ounce “great to share” size bar.

First, I looked at the wrapper pretty carefully. Though Nestle is a Swiss company, this bar was made in Brazil. The ingredients don’t make it sound great, but I try to keep an open mind: sugar, chocolate, cocoa butter, nonfat milk, lactose, soy lecithin, PGPR & vanillin.

So in this case the milk was much lower on the list than other milk chocolates (M&Ms and Hershey’s Milk Chocolate), so maybe it’s a darker tasting milk chocolate.

The Nestle website reveals this little tidbit about the Nestle Milk Chocolate bar’s past:

Searching far into its European and American records, NESTL? has come as close as possible to the original milk chocolate formula invented in Vevey, Switzerland in 1875 by Henri Nestle. In the U.S. NESTL? has been manufacturing milk chocolate since the early 1900s. In 1984, NESTL? Milk Chocolate candy bars were introduced.

Okay, at least I’m not crazy, because I don’t remember plain Nestle chocolate bars being around when I was a kid. There was another strange line on both Nestle’s corporate page and their chocolate classics website, NESTL? Milk Chocolate tastes the way you expect great chocolate should taste, offering a milk chocolate alternative that the entire family can enjoy any time. So what the blazes is a milk chocolate alternative? Or is it the any time part I should be clued into, is that some sort of code that means that this is a morning chocolate bar?

Nestle Milk Chocolate

It does look a bit darker than many mass-marketed milk chocolate bars. It was even and glossy and has a pleasant powdered milk and chocolate scent.

The bar has a rather soft snap but look well tempered. The melt on the tongue is fudgy, not slick or silky smooth, it’s still pleasant. I got a slight aftertaste, kind of like that from powdered milk.

The taste isn’t very chocolatey. It’s not overly sweet and has a lot of milk taste to it, but really lacks much else. It would go well with inclusions like crisped rice or nuts but as a bar where this is all I had to go on, it really didn’t satisfy at all.

I’m not one to be disrespectful towards other people’s preferences (ya like whatcha like!)  and this bar was certainly inexpensive, but I wouldn’t rank it higher in quality than Hershey’s Milk Chocolate or M&Ms Milk Chocolate. In fact, I think I throw it a notch below Hershey’s, just because I didn’t enjoy the flavor. (That doesn’t make it a bad bar, before you go thinking I’m a hater, I just didn’t like it.)

Now, just so you know, Nestle does make other true Swiss chocolate and I have tried that and found it quite tasty, just not American (North or South, as the case may be) and also costs four times as much.

Thank goodness the wrapper tells me it’s great to share, otherwise I wouldn’t know what to do with it.

Related Candies

  1. Carlos V: Dark Knight
  2. Nestle Noir
  3. Nestle Crunch (Now Even Richer Milk Chocolate)
  4. Chunky
  5. Head-to-Head: Smarties vs. M&Ms
Name: Nestle Milk Chocolate
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Nestle
Place Purchased: 99 Cent Only (Silverlake)
Price: $1.00
Size: 5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 138
Categories: Chocolate, Brazil, Nestle, Kosher

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:54 am    

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Necco Slap Stix Caramel

Slap Stix Caramel PopsWay back in the ancient days of the 1920s the Stark Candy Company of Milwaukee (well, Pewaukee to be exact) made an innovative little candy called the Snirkle (photo here). There were a couple of varieties but it was basically a swirled caramel & taffy pop. (They were also sold as individual pieces without the stick.)

Later in the 60s, when the whole world was going day-glow with color TV, Stark came out with the Slap Stix. It was based on the original and popular Snirkle, only this pop was a swirl of vanilla, cherry & banana taffy inside a caramel pop. The Slap Stix are made to this day and come a variety of sizes, a little .7 ounce variety and this attractive 2 ounce version.

Stark, who also made a conversation heart product, sold their company to Necco in 1990. Necco recently closed the Pewaukee Stark Candy Factory but transferred production to their Revere, Mass plant.

Slap Stick

The pop is about the size of a business card and doesn’t really make a slapping sound when thwapped against a hard surface. But it does okay when smacked against the palm.

The pop smells sweet and caramelly. The caramel outside is rather firm, like a Milk Maid Caramel but has slightly more “pull” to it. Once bitten there’s a strong banana flavor. I didn’t really notice the cherry layer at first, but later on there’s a slight bitter aftertaste and a slight cherry flavor. The banana and caramel go well together, the chew is substantial and not too sweet. I could use a little hint of salt in there and would probably prefer strawberry to cherry. It’s not a slick & smooth caramel like a fresh Sugar Daddy, more like Laffy Taffy on a stick.

It’s a fun and really attractive treat. I found it a bit overpriced at $1.25 at Cost Plus World Market, but I’m sure they’re around for a bit less if you look carefully.

I don’t know why Necco doesn’t make the Snirkle any longer. It’s such a great name.

Related Candies

  1. Now & Later
  2. Elvis Reese’s Peanut Butter and Banana Cup
  3. Doscher’s French Chew Taffy
  4. Mary Jane Peanut Butter Kisses
  5. Giant Pixy Stix
Name: Slap Stix Caramel Pop
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Necco
Place Purchased: Cost Plus World Market (Farmers Market LA)
Price: $1.25
Size: 2 ounces
Calories per ounce: unknown
Categories: Caramel, Chew, United States, Necco

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:36 am    

Monday, October 13, 2008

Hammond’s Pantry Candies

With the discontinuation of Reed’s Candies by Wrigley’s, I’ve been searching for similar candies. Hammond’s Candies is based in Colorado and makes hard candies and caramels using traditional methods and equipment. They’re known for their stunning hand twisted lollipops, ribbon and pillow candies. But they also make all sorts of traditional boiled sugar sweets including a line called Pantry Candies.

Each comes in a cute tin with a little clear window on top. Inside they’re tucked into a plastic bag to protect them from moisture.

Cinnamon Drops - these are sizable pieces, bigger than my pinkie toe. They’re sanded with a bit of sugar and have a soft and grainy appearance. The hard candy is smooth and flavorful. Instead of being just straight hot cinnamon, this hard candy has a bit of a touch of the woodsy, powdered spice as well as the burning cinnamon oil.

They have a satisfying crunch or simply dissolve without many voids or holes. It’s not quite the smooth & transcendent experience of Reed’s Cinnamon though.

Sour Balls - these are teensy little drops, smaller than a regular marble but larger than a pea. They come in lemon, lime, orange and cherry flavors. They have the same sanded exterior and a smooth dissolve. The citrus ones are nicely tangy but with a good rounded zest flavor (orange is a bit more muted though). They’re an old-fashioned sour though, don’t expect anything approaching battery acid.

Butterscotch Waffles - these were gorgeous little candies. They’re flattened squares (though some were little rectangles) with a smooth surface and little dimpled waffle pattern on them. They were a creamy, buttery flavor but lacking that little dash of salt though they are the closest I’ve found to the old Reed’s Butterscotch.

Licorice Drops - these definitely look the part. The same format as the Cinnamon Drops, they’re big and black and sanded. They’re made with real licorice root, so it’s a more complex flavor than just “flavored”. The big gripe I have with these, and it’s a huge one, is the large amount of artificial colors in the candy. It made my mouth greenish-black with only one. Not appealing or subtle at all. As much as I liked the taste (and finding licorice hard candies isn’t easy), the bitterness of the Red 40 (to my tongue) added with the unappealing mouth just turned me off and I didn’t finish the tin.

Lemon Drops - for those who don’t want to pick the lemon drops out of the Sour Ball assortment, here they are all alone. These large drops are perhaps a little muted in flavor, but the flavor goes all the way through and has a nice barley sugar tone to it.

Root Beer Drops - as with the cinnamon, I was hoping for a Reed’s experience here. Instead it’s rather more like a Root Beer Float than a plain old Root Beer Soda. These two-toned drops have the mellow woodsy flavor of root beer along with a creamy vanilla component. They’re smooth and flavorful but not quite spicy enough for my desires. Well, I take that back. This was the second tin I finished. (Butterscotch was the first.)

Ginger Drops (not pictured) - these little opaque candies were kind of peach/flesh colored. They didn’t smell like much and really didn’t taste like much at first either. Then the longer it dissolved the warmer it got, a light woodsy and rooty flavor, it was definitely ginger.

The offering in this line also includes Horehound, which I refuse to believe is a candy flavor but also suffers from over-coloring like the licorice.

They’re expensive, but nicely crafted and packaged and make a nice hostess gift or something to keep on your desk for those moments where you just have to have something. I like them much better than their lollipops which are exquisite to look at but don’t have the density of flavor and smooth texture of these.

Related Candies

  1. See’s Pumpkin Spice & Root Beer Lollypops
  2. Brach’s Soda Poppers
  3. Jelly Belly: Lollibeans
  4. The Apothecary’s Garden: Spices
  5. Goodbye Reed’s
  6. Pure Fun Candy Floss
Name: Pantry Candies
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Hammond's Candies
Place Purchased: samples from Candy Warehouse
Price: $9.99 a tin
Size: 12 ounces
Calories per ounce: 95
Categories: Hard Candy, Cinnamon, Ginger, Sour, Licorice, United States, Hammond's Candies

POSTED BY Cybele AT 8:46 am    

Friday, October 10, 2008

Andes Fall Harvest Mix

Andes Fall HarvestWhile I’m probably painted as something of an anti-mockolate crusader, I don’t hate all quasi-chocolate products. Things like Andes Mints and Goldenberg’s Peanut Chew are pretty good even though they’re not quite real chocolate candies.

So I thought I’d give the Andes Fall Harvet limited edition mix a try.

It includes three flavors: toffee, orange and cocoa. Each little plank of candy is individually wrapped and comes in a nicely designed bag with orange leaf outlines all over it. Instead of the usual Andes logo on each piece of candy, these have three random embossed harvest themed designs.

The ingredients aren’t promising: Sugar, partially hydrogenated vegetable oils (palm kernel & palm), nonfat milk, cocoa, lactose, milk protein concentrate, cocoa processed wtih alkalai, corn syrup solids, soy lecithin, salt, baking soda, molasses, orange oil, natural and artificial flavors, artificial colors (yellow 5 & 6).

Andes Fall Harvest ToffeeThe burnt yellow wrapper makes me think more of mustard than Toffee. It smells of butter and sugar, which is a very encouraging sign.

This piece is the only one of the set that’s not layered like Andes Mints. Instead it’s a milk chocolatey confection with toffee bits mixed in.

The toffee bits are very crisp and crunchy and remind me more of a brittle (which is often a bit foamy but not quite a honeycomb or sponge candy). The crunches are a little salty as well. The mockolate confection is very sweet but doesn’t have much cocoa flavor to it. A little on the waxy side at room temperature, it does okay texture-wise in the mouth.

Andes Fall Harvest OrangeI love the combo of orange and chocolate. The Orange was really what got me to buy this bag.

It smells like orange confection, kind of like a cheap version of Terry’s Chocolate Orange.

It’s quite sweet and a little grainy on the tongue (kind of like a Terry’s Chocolate Orange). The orange essence is quite pronounced with a strong zest and slight bitterness to it. To balance that there’s plenty of sugar. But don’t expect any dash of chocolate flavor in there. It might be a cocoa colored confection on the top and bottom, but the orange flavor goes straight through.

Andes Fall Harvest CocoaThe least appealing of the assortment was Cocoa.

It’s the same light colored mockolate confection as the other two, this time with a darker mockolate sandwiched in the middle.

It’s a little saltier than the orange one, which helps. It does taste a bit like hot cocoa, but also a little like cardboard and Tootsie Rolls.

Four pieces provided 50% of my daily intake of saturated fat ... and not even a good one like cocoa butter.

I think I’ll stick with the original from now on.

Related Candies

  1. Goldie’s Premium Carob Bar
  2. Bel Chocolatey Bars
  3. Kissables (Reformulated)
  4. M&Ms Premiums
  5. Dove Silky Smooth Milk Chocolate Bars
  6. Roca Buttercrunch Thins
Name: Andes Fall Harvest
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Tootsie
Place Purchased: Albertson's (Los Feliz)
Price: $2.50
Size: 9.5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 150
Categories: Mockolate, Toffee, United States, Tootsie, Kosher, Limited Edition

POSTED BY Cybele AT 8:07 am    

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Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.





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