Monday, October 20, 2008
De la Rosa Mazapan is a dulce de cacahuate or peanut confection. It seems like one of the most common candies to every culture is some sort of sweetened nut paste. Halvah, marzipan and if you throw in a little chocolate, gianduia, and all of their different variations.
I see these little disks of mazapan at the grocery stores all the time in Los Angeles, but this was the first time I saw them with their complete packaging with full ingredients & nutrition labeling. I picture them as something that a mom would tuck into their child’s lunch bag as a special little treat.
The ingredients are pretty simple and two thirds wholesome: peanuts and sugar and artificial flavors.
So first, I’ll tell you what I expected: I thought it’d be a sweet peanut butter disk. I thought it’d be like halvah, a little more crumbly than almond marzipan.
Here’s what it was actually like:
It was crumbly. When I opened the package it cracked into several large pieces easily. It smells wonderful, like peanut butter cookie dough.
But instead of being spiky and crystalline like halvah, it was smooth and cool on the tongue, dissolving like peanut butter flavored icing sugar.
Oh, it’s sweet. It’s absolutely more sugar than peanuts. The peanut flavor is throughout with some little crunchy chunks here and there.
I love the texture, though definitely not the mess. (Someday I’ll compile a list of “not keyboard friendly” candies and this will certainly be on it.) I wish it was just a little fattier, but far be it from me to mess with a traditional candy. Or maybe a little salt added, but again, that’s a personal preference, I like a bit of salt with my peanuts.
It strikes me that this would be a great hiking candy, a good mix of straight and easily accessible sugars and some satisfying protein. But again, it’s so very sweet and far too dry.
But I can’t really get behind it. Maybe I’ll give out the rest for Halloween. Or maybe try stuffing some into some crescent rolls to see what kind of a treat that makes.
Friday, October 17, 2008
I’m still on my quest to replace the Krackel bar and have been finding all sorts of chocolate and crisped rice bars that area actually better than I remember the Krackel ever being.
Not to spoil the ending of this review but I’ll say right now that the Ghiaradelli Luxe Milk Crisp bar vaults to the second slot on that list. Not that there are a lot of bars on the list at the moment. (Seeds of Change Isle of Skye is above it, seeing how it’s similarly priced and organic.)
This bar is new, part of Ghirardelli new expanded line of gourmet bars. It comes at a gourmet price though, I paid $2.99 for this 2.81 ounce bar. It is all natural, Kosher and made in the USA.
This rich and creamy milk chocolate made from the finest cocoa beans is perfectly complemented with lightly toasted crisped rice. Take in the heavenly aroma and let the ultimate chocolate pleasure linger.
(Bold emphasis theirs, really!)
The bar certainly does look awesome. It was near perfect, without the scrapes and nicks that many of the bars I pick up have.
What pleased me most at first glance was how many crispies there are in the bar.
So I took a photo of the bar flipped over so you could see it, too. Instead of those little engineered ball bearing sized ones that Nestle uses for their Crunch bar these days, these look like actual crisped rice grains (made with millled rice, sugar, salt and barley malt).
There’s another thing that this photo also shows, how thin the bar is. What I like about the Hershey’s Miniatures and the World’s Finest W.F. Crisp bar was how thick they were, it allowed the rice to be completely enveloped by the chocolate. Here the rice floats almost as a separate layer from the chocolate, not blanketed by it instead just a thin sheet of chocolate.
It smells more like breakfast cereal or toast than chocolate. Kind of like milk or mozzarella and fresh baked bread.
That aside, this crisped rice is insanely crispy and fresh. Rarely do I have a chocolate bar that makes so much noise in my head.
The milk chocolate is exquisitely smooth and creamy with a strong powdered milk flavor (whole milk powder is the only dairy ingredient). It’s hearty and sweet at the same time. Notes of caramel, yeast and malt.
I was all set to give this an 8 out of 10 because of the price, but then I looked it up on the Walgreen’s website and they list it at $2.29 ... which I find much more reasonable. I’d be torn at that price though between eating this and the Ritter Sport Corn Flakes (Knusperflakes) bar. This milk chocolate is better, but I love the malty crisp of the corn flakes. I prefer the thicker bite of the Isle of Skye as well. The other option for the same price is the Wheat Chocolate I found in Little Tokyo. What a happy day to have so many choices!
I do hope that Ghirardelli comes out with these in the little individual squares, since no one else is making a single bite version of a crisped rice & milk chocolate these days.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
I 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.
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.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
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:
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?
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.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Way 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.
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.
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.