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October 2008

Friday, October 3, 2008

See’s Pumpkin Spice & Root Beer Lollypops

imageOne of the classic and more distinctive products that See’s makes is their line of Lollypops. They’re made with cream and are more like a hard caramel than a normal boiled sugar hard candy pop.

The regular flavors shift around but right now they sell: Butterscotch, Chocolate, Vanilla and Caf? Latt?. I like all of them except for the chocolate. It tends to be grainier and if I have the option of actual chocolate right there at See’s, well that’s what I’m going to go for. But the one thing the pops have going for them is that they’re so darn durable. Summer-safe, creamy candy is pretty hard to find.

Every once in a while they bring out new flavors. This fall they have a limited edition Pumpkin Spice Lollypops that should be available until Thanksgiving.

The ingredients are pretty simple: corn syrup, cream, sugar, natural and artificial flavors, butter and yellow #5. I don’t know why they have to put artificial colors in there, but I guess I’m guessing that they’d look fine without it, maybe they don’t.

The packages are a little box that holds a bag of eight pops. Not a bad price either at only $4.80 for the set (60 cents each). Each paper stick pop is wrapped in orange mylar

image

See’s pops are big blocks. Kind of chunky and perhaps a little big for easy-to-eat suckers. (Sometimes I pull them off the stick and eat them as hard candies.)

These are rather light in color and don’t smell like much other than maybe caramel.

They’re very smooth and melt slowly. Extremely creamy and not overly sweet they’re also a bit bland.

I had the first one and thought maybe it was that my allergies were acting up and I couldn’t taste any of these pumpkin spices, so I waited a few days and checked my sinuses and had another. They sweet and creamy and taste a bit like creme brulee ... but I’m not getting any actual spices I associate with pumpkin custard like cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice or ginger.

I wouldn’t call them bad, just nothing like the name would imply.

See's Root Beer PopsAs a side note, earlier this summer they had a limited edition Root Beer. I got a hold of this while shopping with Sera of The Candy Enthusiast in July. She bought a whole package (the limited edition flavors are not sold individually like the classic ones are) and graciously shared two with me.

I loved them and went back in August to pick up a whole package for myself and was told they were all gone.

These pops were a wonderful mix of creamy smoothness, light sweetness and the spicy bite of root beer. It was kind of like a root beer float, but warmer. Root beer floats often suffer from tasting watered down when the ice cream mixes with the root beer, instead this had all the creaminess of ice cream and the intense flavor of root beer mixed together.

They’ll have Cinnamon Lollypops for Christmas. Each pop is 70 calories and they’re Kosher.

Related Candies

  1. Nips: Caramel & Dulce de Leche
  2. J Morgan Caramels
  3. Melville Candy Company Honey Spoons
  4. Vertigo Pops
  5. Regennas Clear Toys
Name: Pumpkin Spice Lollypops
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: See's Candies
Place Purchased: gift from Russ (thanks!)
Price: $4.80
Size: 5.6 ounces
Calories per ounce: 100
Categories: Hard Candy, United States, See's, Kosher

POSTED BY Cybele AT 8:52 am    

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Harry & David Chocolate Pinecones

Harry & David Hazelnut PineconesHere’s another attractive little treat I picked up at Harry & David. Like the Fall Leaves Fruit Gels, these are not found on their website, just in the stores. The Belgian Chocolate Hazelnut Pinecones are simply too adorable to resist.

Actually, I did resist. I saw them on a recent trip to the Bay Area and didn’t buy them, then went back to the store before I left town, even though $12.95 seemed a bit steep for 7 ounces of not-Caffarel gianduia.

They’re little pine cone shaped chocolates, some milk chocolate and some white chocolate with a filling of hazelnut paste.

They’re about the size of a walnut in its shell, a full dozen packed into the tall bag.

Belgian Pine Cones

They come in three different varieties:

The dark green one has a milk chocolate shell with a smooth hazelnut & chocolate paste filling. They smell like sweet black walnut flavoring. (My hope was that I’m not actually sensitive to walnut flavor, just actual walnuts.)

It’s rather sweet but the nutty flavors blend nicely with the milky smooth shell and filling.

The white chocolate shell with brown speckles has a filling of hazelnut paste with little rice crunchies. The nutty flavors weren’t as apparent, but the crisps gave a nice salty & cereal texture boost.

The orange white chocolate with the reddish airbrushing has a smooth nut paste with a stronger dairy note to it and less of a cocoa flavor.

I preferred the milk chocolate one far and away, the others, while interesting combinations of textures and flavors were just too sweet. Maybe I wouldn’t have minded if the pieces were smaller.

The biggest selling point is that they are so well crafted. The size, shape, molding and airbrushing of the shadows makes these irresistible as a seasonal treat. I can say that because I was unable to resist buying them, but I’ve been able to subsequently resist eating them. Still, if I’m looking for a hit of hazelnut I’d probably prefer Caffarel, Perugina Baci or Ferrero Rocher (in descending order of price) especially since I’ve been able to get Caffarel for about the same price of $1.00 per piece.

Related Candies

  1. Short & Sweet: Hazelnut Bites
  2. Lindt Chocolate Carrots
  3. Ritter Sport White Chocolate with Hazelnuts
  4. Caffarel Figs & Chestnuts (Fico & Castagna)
  5. Caffarel Gianduias
  6. Caffarel Chocolate Truffle Mushrooms
Name: Belgian Chocolate Hazelnut Pinecones
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Harry & David
Place Purchased: Harry & David (Emeryville, CA)
Price: $12.95
Size: 7 ounces
Calories per ounce: 153
Categories: Chocolate, Nuts, White Chocolate, Belgium, Harry & David, Lake Champlain, Christmas

POSTED BY Cybele AT 7:10 am    

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Divine Fair Trade Chocolate

Divine Fair Trade ChocolateOctober is Fair Trade Month, which makes sense since Halloween is the number one candy holiday. A few years ago I’m pretty sure few people, especially candy fans even know what that meant, happily much of that has changed, both through education efforts and the simple ubiquity of the products displaying the logos. Fair Trade guarantees the growers of raw materials & makers of products a fair and liveable wage for their products, you can read more about it here. Luckily all sorts of fair trade products are becoming more available to regular consumers, even at big box stores like Target, grocery & drug store chains.

I’ve tried quite a few fair trade candies over the years, including Divine Chocolate. Divine is expanding more in the United States and has a broader range of products now than ever before. One of their representatives sent me a nice sampling of their products, so I’ll be reviewing them over the next month or so. The motto is Heavenly chocolate with a heart.

First, their standard 3.5 ounce chocolate bars. While fair trade chocolate isn’t hard to find, fair trade candy bars are. Yes a nice dark bar is all well and good, but sometimes I want a little more in my decadent treat (without enslaving any children in Africa for it either). With a retail price of about $3 a bar, it’s certainly no hardship for the chocolate aficionado. But of course the larger question is, how do they taste?

70% Dark Divine Fair Trade ChocolateI’m starting with the Divine 70% Dark Chocolate.

I tried this chocolate back in 2005 and while I can’t say whether they’ve changed the formula or way that they’re making the bar, I like it much better than I did then.

The packaging is lovely. Before it was a simple black wrap with their logo. The new package is a matte paper with a foil inner wrap. The decorative icons are fun and attractive, I spotted hearts, turtles, geese and something that’s either a comb or a Menorah.

The bar inside is wonderfully tempered. Shiny, even and no hint of bubbles or bloom. I like the thickness of the pieces and that the bar snaps easily into the little portions.

70% Dark Divine Fair Trade Chocolate

The scent is a little grassy and fruity.

On the tongue the cocoa butter melts quickly into a silky puddle. Flavors are middle of the road, there’s nothing difficult or loud about this bar. I get a little bit of coffee, cherries, olives, woodsy eucalyptus and very little acid. The finish is smooth and with only a slight bitter note but no dryness.

The high fat content makes this very munchable. I like that in a chocolate bar, though I know that some fans prefer a more intense concentration cacao.

99% of the ingredients are fair trade certified for this bar (this includes the sugar, vanilla and cocoa products - only the non-GMO soy lecithin is not).

Rating: 8 out of 10

Divine Milk Chocolate with HazelnutsThe Divine Hazelnut Milk Chocolate is completely new to me. I tried the 27% cocoa plain milk chocolate and was struck by how the milky flavors reflected the European-style.

I think this package is the prettiest of the three. I liked the brown wrapper with gold and cream colored icons, it feels elegant, playful and subtly conveys that this is a milk chocolate product.

The ingredients in this bar, like the dark one go for fair trade when possible, though this one only clocks in at 69% with the cream, soy lecithin and chopped hazelnuts as traditionally sourced.

Divine Milk Chocolate with Hazelnuts

The bar is softer than its dark counterpart. Snapping it in half it’s clear that part of the reason is the plethora of crushed hazelnuts.

The bar smells milky, a little nutty and a little cheesy.

On the tongue it melts quickly but is a little sweet and sticky at first. Then come the flavors, the dairy flavors lean towards powdered milk, have a great smoky cocoa flavor and of course the hazelnut.

It’s not quite giaunduia, but it’s close. The bar overall is a bit sweet for me but fills that gaping hole out there for fair price fair trade candy bars that are more than straight chocolate.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

Divine White Chocolate with StrawberriesI’ve fallen in love with real white chocolate. The Divine White Chocolate with Strawberries bar provides an additional confectionery twist. It has little “strawberry crisps” mixed in.

The cocoa content on this bar is a staggering 25%, which means it’s one quarter cocoa butter. Milk solids make up another 26%. (And the fair trade percentage here is 71%.)

Strangely enough the calcium content on a single serving is 16% of your RDA and 4 grams of protein. I wouldn’t call it a full serving of dairy, but it’s certainly not completely junk food.

Divine White Chocolate with Strawberries

The bar smells like Frankenberry cereal.

The little berry crisps dot the bar and look to be evenly distributed.

The melt of the white chocolate isn’t quite as even as the other two bars, it has a slightly fudgier grain to it, but it is smooth. The strawberry crisps are more than just little dried bits. They’re crunchy and tangy, with the floral scent of berries along with the high pitched tartness. But the tangy part isn’t intergrated into the white chocolate like the Meiji bar I tried recently.

If you have a soft spot for white chocolate and strawberries, I’d suggest giving this bar a try. I enjoyed it a lot more than the Frey but the Green & Black’s White Chocolate (plain) is still the gold standard for me.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

All of the bars are Kosher. I don’t know the full distribution of the bars but you can find some of them places like Whole Foods and other stores that carry natural products. Look for wider distribution soon as well as new products from Divine for the holidays. I saw some little foil wrapped milk chocolates themed for Halloween (available web only) on their site.

Related Candies

  1. Askinosie Chocolate
  2. 3400 Phinney: Fig, Fennel & Almond and Hazelnut Crunch
  3. Zotter Candy Bars
  4. Terra Nostra Pocket Bars
  5. Theo 3400 Phinney Bars
  6. Endangered Species Halloween Treats
Name: 70% Dark Chocolate, Hazelnut Milk Chocolate & White Chocolate with Strawberries
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Divine Chocolate
Place Purchased: samples from Divine
Price: retail ~$3.00
Size: 3.5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 159, 153 & 153
Categories: Chocolate, Strawberry, White Chocolate, Germany, Divine, Kosher, all Natural, Fair Trade

POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:19 am    

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