Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Cadbury is a dominant chocolate brand around the world. (See this article from Business Week that shows it as the #2 chocolate on the planet.)
What’s especially fun about Cadbury chocolate is the little variations depending on the country. One of those is the Australian set of candy bars. I picked up this single serve bar of Dairy Milk Snack after seeing it in Sera’s photo stream last year (I didn’t really want the big size bar).
It’s a simple concept - a segmented bar with different flavored fillings in each piece. (Note that the large bar has only five segments.)
The first thing that sets this little bar apart is that each piece is coded with the contents. Though the package didn’t say what the fillings are (and please, why?) I did figure out the pineapple one immediately and took a good guess at the strawberry and orange.
The flavors in all are: caramel, pineapple, coconut ice (I have no idea what that is), strawberry, Turkish delight and orange.
My bar was fresh, unmarred and in great condition.
Caramel - I thought it’d be like the Caramello, but it’s a little firmer, a little thicker. The chocolate outside is rather strange - it has a good snap, but not a very good melt. It’s a bit stiff, a little chalky. The flavor is recognizably Cadbury with a strong powdered milk flavor and a gentle malty cocoa taste.
Pineapple - has a light tangy pineapple scent. The fondant is thick, it has a good sheen to it, but it doesn’t flow. The flavor is sweet and has a tangy pineapple bite. It’s an odd combination with the musky chocolate, but I enjoyed the change of pace.
Coconut Ice - honestly I don’t know what this is. It’s pink and it’s crumbly and has a slight sweet flavor that I can’t quite place. If it’s supposed to be coconut, it’s missing that completely.
Strawberry - the fondant is smooth, but a little more crumbly than the pineapple. Fragrant and floral, there’s not tart component. Rather authentic tasting and pleasant.
Turkish Delight - wow, they went all out for the rose here. The texture is quite soft, more like a jelly than a firm paste. The floral notes are pungent with a slight tangy middle note that dissipates quickly. I rather liked it, but I can tell that this would be quite off-putting for many Americans and other cultures not accustomed to floral flavors.
Orange - I had hoped this would be the winner piece, but I found it rather bland. The fondant was too firm and lacking a distinctive zest.
Just as a little touchstone, I picked up an American Cadbury Dairy Milk bar to compare the flavors, and I do find that I prefer the stickier, fudgier texture of the Hershey-made version, but that may just be what I’m accustomed to.
It’s a fun bar and honestly I’d probably enjoy a whole bar of the pineapple or Turkish delight, the rest of the flavors just didn’t feel like they were the best that Cadbury could muster. (I know they can do better with the caramel & chocolate combination.) For the money, especially since I’m paying import prices, if I felt like boxed chocolate candy, I’d be better off getting some Russell Stover or finding a See’s or I’d probably even choose a Whitman’s Sampler of this.
One of the best things I can say about Cadbury right now is that they’re making a huge effort to go Fair Trade with their chocolate though it’s going to be a long process.
Monday, June 29, 2009
This new product for the Nuggets line is called Double Chocolate Nuggets:
Hershey’s gives you the best of both worlds with Double Chocolate Nuggets. It’s the perfect combination of Hershey’s Extra Creamy Milk Chocolate and Special Dark Mildly Sweet Chocolate, giving you a delicious taste experience.
I’ve mentioned before that I actually like the nugget format. I like a deep bite, especially for a layered product or one that has inclusions (which is why I thought those Cookies ‘n’ Mint Nuggets were so great).
These little blocks have a distinct scent - it’s both the sweet cocoa smell of the Special Dark and the tangy milk chocolate that made Hershey’s famous.
Biting into it right side up I got the slightly chalky taste of the Special Dark first, which has a dry and mellow chocolate bite to it but a thin & watery melt. Then the “extra creamy” milky chocolate, which has a yogurty dairy flavor that give it more of a fudge taste than a deep milk chocolate note. (I really don’t get how this can be considered extra creamy.)
The effect of it all isn’t good nor bad, it just is. I can’t say that I’ve longed for a combination product before, so it’s not like I was anticipating this.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Yesterday my husband and I took the day off of work and went to Santa Catalina Island. We passed straight through town (well, we grabbed a cup of coffee) and headed up to the Botanical Gardens, looked around the Wrigley Memorial and then hiked up to the top of the ridge.
Don’t worry, all we took were photos, all we made were memories and all we left were footprints.
Friday, June 26, 2009
There are scents that I regard as pleasant and summery and strawberry-banana is pretty high up there. It’s light, fruity & floral but has a sweet kick to it that I can almost taste when I smell it.
Yogen Fruz is a high-concept frozen yogurt & smoothie chain that began in Toronto and now has over 1,000 stores in 20 countries. In this case it’s the smoothies that have been turned into a line of little candies.
The little tin I picked up of the Yogen Fruz Smoothies Strawberry Banana smelled very strong. Even before I took off the plastic overwrap, I had to keep it in a ziploc bag.
Aside from the blastingly strong scent, the ingredients are pretty positive: pure cane sugar, yogurt, tartaric acid, malic acid, natural strawberry and banana flavors, ascorbic acid and natural color.
Though they’re made with nice ingredients, they’re basically a “tablet candy”, much like a SweeTart though not dextrose-based. They come in a tin, the same one, as far as I can tell, that Godiva uses for their Chocoiste Pearls but in this case I had no trouble with opening & closing it.
The little tablets have the umlauted U on them (that conveniently looks like a very big smile) with a light pink speckling. They’re immediately tangy on the tongue and dissolve a little unevenly. It’s both lightly sour and has that yogurt twang.
I thought the taste was vibrant and even a bit unique. If you’re looking for an all-natural SweeTart-like product then this is a nice idea though certainly quite expensive.
These are made in Canada by Big Sky Brands, who also make the Jones Soda candies.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Such was my experience with The Wild Thing chocolate bar from Lillie Belle Farms. So after eating my sample from Jeff at Lillie Belle Farms that I got at the Fancy Food Show in January, I finally found a store the stocks them: Mel & Rose here in Los Angeles.
The Wild Thing is a variety of chocolate known as cru sauvage which, conveniently enough means, wild vintage (or wild source). The beans are from feral cacao trees from old plantation properties in Bolivia that have been harvested. Like many “volunteer” plants that pop up long after a garden or farm is untended, they possess all the crucial characteristics of the well tended trees, but a little something else. Perhaps a little more of the true essence of cacao that made it so attractive to the ancient Americans.
The bar itself is wonderfully molded, I like a thick bar. It has the Lillie Belle logo on it, and though that’s pretty too, it doesn’t really make for easy portioning.
It’s a moderately dark bar at 68%. The wrapper mentions that the beans are roasted a low temperatures and then refined for nearly three days.
The color is a nice, solid brown with a hint of deep red. The thick pieces give a lot of room for developing the texture on the tongue. It’s sweet at first, but the melt is smooth and immediate. The primary notes that hit me first were brown sugar and raisin, but as the flavor develops there’s a slight dry bite that holds some cherry, tobacco and coffee notes.
The texture was really what blew me away on this bar. I love the extra silky melt, bright snap and shiny molding.
The bar is made with only three ingredients: cocoa mass, cocoa butter and sugar. No vanilla, no soy. (Though made in facility that does have soy, so not for soy allergic folks - same goes for nuts & dairy.) As far as I know, this chocolate is the Max Felchlin Cru Sauvage, just remelted (and nicely priced, if you ask me).
My only hesitation with the bar (besides the fact that I don’t like falling in love with things in short supply) is the packaging. While it looks nice, the wrapper is a bit thin, as is the foil. The paper overwrap is excessively glued, and pasted to the foil at that, so I never had any luck with either bar in rewrapping it. (That’s why I have a bunch of zip lock bags.)
If you’re a chocolate fan who enjoys single origins, this is definitely one to experience.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Here are two new super charged coffee bean candies. GoGo Beans are made by How Do You Take Your Coffee and feature “The Eating Roast” coffee, which are beans that are chosen & roasted to be tastier for consuming than for brewing (I already reviewed their JAVAZ). Jitterbeans are the overclocked version of Crackheads (review here) from Osmanium ... and when I say overclocked I mean it, each piece contains about 20 mg of caffeine so the package has as much as 6 small cups of coffee.
GoGo Beans are super-fortified and offer both the caffeine inherent in the bean plus an addition kick added to the candy shell plus some special B vitamins, taurine and ginseng. The format is an bean at the center (specially roasted for eating) then a mockolate coating all covered in a thick candy shell.
The shell has a pretty immediate light bitterness which may be the fortification or may be the food coloring. That fades away pretty quickly for me. The inside has a mellow cocoa flavor but not a huge kick for me. The texture is soft and has a decent melt, but at times felt a little waxy. The bean at the center was lovely, just as I found with the Javaz - crunchy and crisp with a strong coffee flavor but no oily bitterness.
The Jitterbeans follow the tried and true format of chocolate over an espresso bean and adds a candy shell. Like the original Crackheads, these are in the classic tuxedo colors of black and white, though there’s no actual white chocolate in there.
The candy shell is rather thin and offers a sandy crunch. Inside the chocolate is sweet and has a bit of a spicy woodsy ginger flavor to it along with the mellow coffee notes. The extra caffeine isn’t bitter at all though some of the beans in the center had a bitter kick. The whole thing is rather tasty and probably very dangerous for those who don’t know that there’s a lot of caffeine in these and consumes a whole box. I limited myself to three beans in the three different times I tried these. That said, I have a hard time believing they have that much caffeine in them without so much bitterness that I’ve found in other caffeinated candies - maybe someone can comment on the caffeine in “guarana seed extract.”
Both of these are great, durable & portable caffeine supplements. They’re tasty and what’s most important - portionable so you can control exactly how much caffeine you take in. That said, I much prefer the more sedate and non-fortified versions and will stick with the JAVAZ for my candy, coffee & caffeine combination. The addition of artificial colors wasn’t enough of selling point.
Jitterbeans and GoGo Beans get a 6 out of 10 - not bad candy, but not for me.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
A few months ago I stumbled on the Blue Razz Wazoo bar. I knew that there was a companion flavor, the Wild Berriez Wazoo but I had no luck finding it.
Finally on one of my candy jaunts a few weeks ago I found it at IT’SUGAR at Universal City Walk (they’re also a few webstores). The bar is rather sought after ... Topps introduced them with a big marketing campaign including TV commercials, then the company that ran the factory that was making them went under. Hopefully Topps will find someone else to gear up to make the bars soon to combat their elusiveness before interest wanes.
This bar is My Little Pony Lilac.
The berry scent is actually pretty good, it does smell like raspberry flavor, right down to that woodsy smell that the seeds tend to give jam.
The pink layer is sweet and tastes a bit like cherries & strawberries. It’s soft and chewy and has only the slightest grain to it with a barely perceptible bitter aftertaste (coloring).
The yellow layer, well, I had trouble getting it well separated but it tasted about the same, maybe a more yogurty tang to it.
The lilac coating is similarly yogurty - sweet but with a slight fruity tartness.
Overall, as odd as the bar is, it’s a nice change from the heaviness of chocolate and the lack of a creamy component from fruit chews. The little beads are kind of messy, but as a candy it’s a pretty good new interpretation of the standard bar. I admit, it’s growing on me. The only real disappointment is that the flavor wasn’t that distinct from the Blue Razz. I think for a line of bars like this they should be really different - an orange & lemon one might be fun (kind of like a creamsicle) and probably a cherry one along with the Razz. Or go really off the deep end with a mint bar.
Monday, June 22, 2009
the new Indulge gable-box line includes some boxed chocolate items (like Cherry Creme Clusters) as well as the standard bridge mixes and chocolate covered nuts.
I picked out these two from the samples that Farley’s & Sathers sent me: Coconut Almond Escape and Caramel Almond escape because they both have almonds at the center but were definitely outside of the normal panned nuts offerings.
Besides the color coding of the boxes, it’s hard to tell the candies apart from the pictures on the package ... they’ve obviously taken some artistic license or are able to produce identical candies in both dark and milk chocolate. (Click to see it a bit bigger on Flickr.)
Coconut Almond Escape is called Rich, creamy, coconut covered almonds coated in luscious dark chocolate.
They make it sound simple but it’s really not. There is an almond at the core and there is a “sweet chocolate” coating (which has lactose as the second ingredient after sugar and before chocolate & cocoa butter). But that white stuff in between goes like this:
So that “coconut covering” has very little actual coconut in it ... as far as I can tell the smallest dash of coconut oil and maybe that natural flavoring.
They certainly smell coconutty - like suntan lotion. The pieces are glossy and large. The almonds are crunchy and nicely toasted. The white cream is soft and has a good melt on the tongue ... not quite fondant and rather salty. Sometimes I get a fake butter flavor from it, which turns me off. The whole effect is rather good otherwise and rather different.
I was hoping for the elusive Dark Chocolate Almond Joy experience, but without actual coconut flakes, all the chewy texture is provided by the almonds. It tastes rather fake, but the hit of salt gives them a good munchability. But on the other hand I’m hesitant to recommend a candy that has more coloring (titanium dioxide in this case) than salt. But I don’t know what my daily recommend intake of titanium is. Maybe it makes my cell phone reception better. Or makes me impervious to UV radiation.
Caramel Almond Escape is Rich creamy, caramel covered almonds in luscious milk chocolate.
I should have photographed these two candies together to show the difference in size. Most of these are about the size of a Peanut M&M.
These milk chocolate pieces look great otherwise, very nicely panned they’re shiny and smooth. I was rather surprised when I opened the package that they smell like maple.
I was hoping for a nice chewy caramel, but probably expecting a Brach’s Milk Maid Caramel.
Instead it’s more like a maple fudge instead of anything resembling a caramel. And it’s an awful like like fake maple.
The nuts are crunchy, but their tiny size leaves the proportions here a bit off as well. I’ve been eating the, but I have a hard time believing that I’d buy them.
Rating: 4 out of 10
It’s nice to see Brach’s bringing production back to the United States, but I’d like to see some less convoluted recipes ... or I’ll just stick to the Bridge Mix, Candy Corn and Spearmint Leaves that they do so well.
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.