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August 2009

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Starbucks Assorted Gum Drops

Starbucks Assorted Gum DropsI was in Starbucks over the weekend, which is pretty rare for me. In this instance I was waiting for a coffee drink I was picking up for The Man, so I looked around at the gift offerings, snacks and candy. It’s rare for me to double back, wait in line and purchase something after I’ve already ordered but here I was, doing just that.

In the case of these Assorted Gum Drops it was a no-brainer. First, they were only one dollar. I had a buck (and no sales tax). Second, they were all natural and came in four flavors: Tangerine, Pineapple, Raspberry and Watermelon.

How often do you see pineapple or watermelon gum drops? I don’t see them often enough, that’s for sure.

Of course I hopped back in the car and put them in the center console and promptly forgot about them until Monday at lunch. I feared they would be a melted blob ... happily even though the car interior was well over a hundred, they looked exactly like the moment I purchased them. Firm and distinctly separated.

Starbucks Assorted Gum Drops

They’re little gum drops. They range from the size of a green pea all the way up to a garbanzo bean. Since they’re a bit artisan (which is code for inconsistent) they varied quite a bit. For some reason all of the pineapple ones were about half the size of the watermelon.

The texture is firm, but not as hard and clingy as something like Dots. They’re also not quite as sticky as jelly candies like Spearmint Leaves.

I chose my bag poorly and most of them were watermelon instead of pineapple and tangerine which I fully expected to love.

Pineapple - were nearly clear. They had a firm bite, they weren’t quite a jelly or pate de fruit. Sweet and fragrant, they’re not tangy and not quite jammy either. It tasted more like a really subtle coating on a candied apple. I was sad to see that I only got four in my package.

Watermelon - these light pink pieces didn’t smell like much, but biting into them they were definitely watermelon. And not that fake watermelon flavor that Jolly Ranchers come in. They had a tangy bite as well, and maybe even a little hint of bitterness towards the end (something that seeds can do sometimes). They were refreshing.

Raspberry - was a dark red. They were quite deep and sweet with a little woody essence of the seeds. It tasted like boiled berries, not quite as fresh and clear as some fruit pate I’ve had.

Tangerine - these were nicely done. Not quite as tangy as I’d hoped but a good blend of juicy sweet and zesty.

Since Starbucks has a reputation for being absurdly expensive, I was pleased overall that these broke that stereotype. It’s a nice portion for one person or to share. The flavors probably go best with an iced tea instead of coffee. Unfortunately the label says that they’re made in a facility with wheat, eggs, soy, nuts and dairy ... so it’s not the perfect substitute for those who can’t touch the rest of the stuff in the pastry case.

I’d love to see a spice version which would go great with coffee or most teas.

Related Candies

  1. Gourmet Gumdrops
  2. Napoleon BonBon
  3. Mike and Ike Italian Ice
  4. Harry & David Fall Leaves Fruit Gels
  5. Kasugai Pineapple Gummy
  6. Judson-Atkinson Sours
  7. Organic Surf Sweets
Name: Assorted Gum Drops
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Starbucks
Place Purchased: Starbucks (Laguna Woods)
Price: $1.00
Size: 1.5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 93
Categories: Jelly, United States, All Natural

POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:32 am     Comments (8)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Puntini Jujubes - Frutti Tropicali

Every once in a while when I’m at an Italian restaurant, I see a bowl of tiny waxed paper candies offered by the hostess desk. They’re usually green and look a bit like confetti. I used to get these in my stocking as a kid (in the eucalyptus version). They’re Italian jujubes called Puntini ... tiny little firm jelly disks that seem to last forever.

I got a whole bag of the Frutti Tropicali (Tropical Fruit) version from Candy Warehouse a few weeks ago and have been enjoying these tiny nibbles that come in five flavors.

Puntini Tropical - PineappleYellow = Pineapple

These are tiny little candies. Think the size of CeDe Smarties. About one half an inch around and a quarter of an inch high, the disk has a slight depression in one side.

Drop one on a hard surface and it sounds like a bit of plastic. Smooth and dry to the touch, it looks more like a piece of unpolished amber than candy.

While it may not look like candy immediately, it tastes like it. This little nubbin of yellow has an immediate flavor of pineapple. Granted, it’s more like canned pineapple, but still tangy & floral.

It dissolves slowly, and as it melts away it has a bit of a glycerin texture that I find soothing to my throat. Of course if you’re not patient enough to let it dissolve, it can get stuck in the teeth.

Puntini Tropical - PinkPink = Passion Fruit

The candies are mostly all natural. They’re naturally colored and flavored with some artificial flavors as well.

What I surprised about, since this was the first time I’ve had them with an actual packaged to check the ingredients, was that there is no gelatin in them. They’re thickened with Gum Arabic and starch. So these are completely vegan (the pink color comes from elderberry juice not cochineal).

The passion fruit was kind of like a punch flavor with a little hint of hibiscus ... not quite like the passion fruit flavors I’m used to. But what worked really well here was the texture, that smooth and gooey style works to sell the passion fruit as that’s what the fresh seeds are like.

Puntini Tropical - BlueBlue = Guava

Guava was my least favorite, but that’s a personal thing. I’m not that keen on fresh guavas and this has that same musky flavor to it - kind of like a really potent cantaloupe rind. It’s tangy and sweet and definitely fragrant.

Besides taking rather long to eat, these are ridiculously low in calories for a candy that’s not made with any low cal sweeteners. They clock in at less than 3 calories a piece ... yeah ... you can eat a whole ounce of them (which would be about 30 of them) and only take in 75 calories.

Puntini Tropical - LimeGreen = Key Lime

Tangy and zesty. I didn’t really get that key lime chalky note, but the zest seems true and more on the grapefruit side of things to keep it from going into bathroom cleaner territory.

The zest actually gives a lingering bitterness to it, but also means that the flavor lasts as well, giving this a good freshening aspect.

One of the other things I enjoyed, besides having a jar of them in my office with their bright & summery colors was the size. There’s a place in this world for a tiny candy. They’re pretty discreet to, so it’s easy to suck on one in a meeting without having a big bulge in your cheek if you need to talk.

Puntini Tropical - TangerineOrange = Mandarin Orange

This one was rather vividly colored orange.

Before I looked up what the flavors were supposed to be, I thought this was tangerine. But Mandarin Orange is probably a better description.

It’s tangy and has a zesty pop to it. It tastes a little like marmalade from time to time, less like an orange hard candy or a Tang drink mix.

I was really pleased with these, far more than I thought I’d be. They’re rather enduring. Simply packaged, compelling and probably a flavor for everyone in the mix. (I definitely want to try the Sambuca or Licorice version.)

I actually saw these for sale in little tins at Starbucks on Sunday, so they’re available in more reasonably sized packages than the internet ... but once you fall in love with them, the investment for a 3.3 pound bag might be worth it.

Note: the importer’s website says they are Gluten Free. Unfortunately there is no listing that says they’re Kosher.

Related Candies

  1. Short & Sweet: Tropical Flavors
  2. Gourmet Gumdrops
  3. Dr. Doolittle’s Pastilles (Lemon, Grapefruit & Wild Berry)
  4. Licorice Assortment
  5. Jujyfruits & Jujubes
  6. Starburst Baja California & Tropical
  7. Pastiglie Leone
Name: Puntini Frutti Tropicali
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Chipurnoi Inc.
Place Purchased: samples from Candy Warehouse
Price: $50.00
Size: 54.5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 75
Categories: Jelly, Italy

POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:34 am     Comments (3)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Short & Sweet: Summer Bites

Blood Orange HiCHEWYou may be disappointed to hear that I only cover about half of the candy I eat hear on Candy Blog. For some reason I can’t always muster a whole review on every candy.

Here are a few of those items that I can at least tell you a little about.

Blood Orange HiCHEW from Morinaga are tasty little taffy-like chews I picked up in Little Tokyo about a month ago.

Like most HiCHEW, they’re individually wrapped and come in a single flavor pack. They also have a different color center.

The blood orange flavor wasn’t distinctively different from the other orange flavors I’ve had like Tangerine and Orange. It was juicy and had a nice mix of zest and tang ... but ultimately it wasn’t quite as exotic as I’d hoped.

Not that it kept me from finishing the package.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Paskesz Nutty Chews

I went to Munchies on Pico a few weeks ago looking for some Israeli candy (reviews to come). I was pleased to find these little Paskesz Nutty Chews which were available in the bulk bins in these little individually wrapped pieces. I thought, How cool! They sound like Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews! (They were also available in a “bar format” which held I think five or six of these in a package.)

At about 25 cents each, it was a nice little chewy morsel, a vegan caramel with a good note of molasses with very dark roasted peanuts all covered in a dark mockolate.

After reading the ingredients, and noting that they’re made in the United States I’ve concluded that these ARE simply repackaged Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews. sigh

Rating: 8 out of 10 (same as Goldenberg’s)

Littlejohn Pecan Praline

I’ve been craving butter and sugar ever since my vacation when I started thinking about Bananas Foster. What doesn’t help is that Littlejohn Toffee is at the Farmers Market ... walking distance from my office.

So one day I was over there and decided to pick up a couple of their Pecan Pralines for review. They’re large puddles over four inches across (shaped in a shallow fluted cup) studded with pecans. Instead of the chewy style of praline, these are the sandy style. The recipe tastes pretty simple, butter, sugar and pecans (though I can’t be sure).

They melt in my mouth and the pecan provide a nice chewy, even fattier punch to the whole thing. You’d think it’d be too sweet, but the nuts seem to moderate it. It sandy and crumbly and doesn’t even look that good, but it smells like sweet buttery caramel sauce. Something about the texture wins me over.

After my first purchase of them (and failed photo shoot because I had my camera settings wrong) I had to go back and buy another one. And I’m sure it won’t be the last - it sounds like they’re expensive at $2.50 each, but after having one I’d probably pay double.

Rating: 9 out of 10

White Confection shaped like a deviled egg

This was an impulse purchase at Robitaille’s Fine Candies while on vacation.

As you can see, it’s a deviled egg ... made of white confection. It was packaged in a tiny plastic bag with a curl of ribbon. No name, no ingredients ... the appearance was really all I needed. (I think I paid $1.85 for it ... more than I think I’d pay for a real deviled egg.)

The egg white is really white, something now found in real white chocolate (and knowing what they put into their Inaugural Mints, I’m going to guess that I’ve been eating all sorts of partially hydrogenated tropical oils). It’s smooth and rather pleasant.

The egg white is sweet, sweet with a touch of fake vanilla. The yolk cream is minted (with a few little nonpariels).

The only issue with the verisimilitude is the half egg doesn’t actually have a little depression for the yolk ... small quibble.

The Cafe Society - Candy Girls reviewed a similar version of this made with a crisped rice mixed in, which sounds much better. Of course best would be some really good quality white chocolate ... but I’m still swooning over my LEGOLAND white chocolate blocks and savoring the last few.

Rating: 4 out of 10

Related Candies

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  3. Lindt Lindor Truffle Eggs
  4. HiCHEW Yuzu & Valencia
  5. Paskesz Milk Munch
  6. Texas Chewy Pralines
  7. Charleston Pralines
  8. Littlejohn Caramel Marshmallows

POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:22 am     CandyReviewMorinagaPaskeszCaramelChewsKosherMockolatePeanuts4-Benign7-Worth It8-Tasty9-YummyJapanUnited StatesComments (13)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Chuao Chocolate Blocks from LEGOLAND

Legoland Chocolate from ChuaoIn the last of my vacation candy theme week, I’ve got something that I didn’t actually get on my vacation last week. But it’s something that you might.

The Man went to LEGOLAND in Carlsbad, CA yesterday, and I asked him to check in the gift shop while he was there to see if they had anything LEGO-ish to complete my week.

He called me from the store and said, “Guess what chocolate LEGOLAND has?”

He just about dropped the phone when I excitedly said, “Chuao!” (It’s not like I actually knew that, but I know his love of Chuao and their proximity to LEGOLAND.)

So he picked up a nice package of the “not quite LEGO branded” blocks. (There’s no actual name on the package of the product, it never uses the name LEGO and it’s not on Chuao’s website, so I’m guessing it’s something that’s only available at the theme park.)

There were three varieties to chose from: all milk, all white or a half & half mix. Each sleeve holds 16 blocks.

Legoland Chocolate from Chuao

Each little block is sized to approximate real LEGO.

A true LEGO 8 block (two rows of four pegs) is 9.6 mm by 32 mm by 16 mm and are basically hollow.

The Chuao version takes some liberties and is 15 mm by 35 mm by 19 mm - which as far as I’m concerned means more chocolate!

Legoland Chocolate from ChuaoI noticed that the sides are not straight verticals, the block is slightly trapezoidal. This is likely an engineering issue - chocolate is rarely injection molded as plastic LEGO blocks are. In order to get most chocolates out of a stiff mold, a little angle can make all the difference.

Also, injection molding means that the item is molded in three dimensions, in the case of chocolate blocks, the bottom is not molded, just leveled flat by gravity when the chocolate is molten.

Each block weighed 10 grams (.35 ounces) ... see, being solid has its advantages.

As I mentioned before, the packaging was so spare and minimalist it didn’t even say what kind of chocolate this is so I’m going to guess. (Hopefully I’ll get a response from Chuao soon and can revise this.)

Legoland Chocolate from Chuao

The Milk Chocolate blocks were practically flawless. The molding was excellent with no voids. The color is a deep, milky brown ... so dark that I wasn’t sure if this was milk chocolate at first.

I suspect that this is El Rey’s beautiful dark milk called Caoba which Chuao is known to favor (though they may have a custom blend done for them).

The chocolate has a beautiful snap. Mine smelled rather milky, but that might be because it was intermingled with the white.

The flavors are dark but the melt is clean and only slightly sweet. There’s a wonderful smokiness to it with a slight background bitterness. It’s quite smooth and has a thinner melt that keeps it from feeling sticky or milky-cloying. It’s good munched up for an immediate bolt of flavor or a lingering melt on the tongue.

Legoland Chocolate from ChuaoChuao’s White Chocolate is dreamy.

The color is a crisp ivory. The molding is precise and the snap is good.

It smells like milky cocoa and pound cake.

The texture is pure, solid silk. It’s sweet but has a consistent melt that is neither greasy nor watery. The sugar is ultrafine so the vanilla flavor as well as some of the cocoa-ness comes through. It’s cool on the tongue so it feels like a great, refreshing summer version of chocolate.

I suspect that this is El Rey ICOA, which is a premium un-deodorized white chocolate.

The final thing to tell you about these adorable, well made and great-tasting chocolates is the price. It was $14.95 for the sleeve. Yes, that’s nearly $1 for each block. At this point I’m just going to buy El Rey or Chuao bars (which are more widely available at grocery and gourmet stores anyway). As it is, these are not kid treats ... they’re a grown-up way to revisit a childhood favorite. Since the only place to get them is LEGOLAND, if you’ve paid $65 just to get in the gate, may as well go for broke (and satisfied).

LEGOLAND - California
One LEGOLAND Drive
Carlsbad, CA 92008
(760) 918-LEGO
(List of Legoland Stores)

Related Candies

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  5. Askinosie White Chocolate (Plain, Nibble & Pistachio)
  6. Disneyland for Candy Bloggers
  7. Candy Blox
Name: Chocolate Blocks from LEGOLAND
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Chuao Chocolatier
Place Purchased: LEGOLAND (Carlsbad, CA)
Price: $14.95
Size: ~5.6 ounces
Calories per ounce: unknown
Categories: Chocolate, White Chocolate, United States, Chuao, Fair Trade, All Natural

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:50 am     Comments (7)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Sweet Earth Chocolates

Sweet Earth ChocolatesLast year I made a trip up interstate 101 from Los Angeles to San Francisco. Yes, it’s actually longer than taking I5, but I thought it would be interesting to stop at a few candy shops along the way. One that I was interested in was Sweet Earth Chocolate at about the halfway point of San Luis Obispo.

At that time they were operating out of a space in Splash Cafe in SLO. A few months ago they moved into their own candy kitchen and cafe space just down the street. (More about that here.) I was eager to see the expanded offerings from this unique confectioner that uses organic and fair trade chocolate.

Their new storefront is charming and inviting ... and large! You can get coffee drinks, sit and enjoy your purchases but I was there for the chocolate to take on my vacation.

Sweet Earth ChocolatesTheir candy cases had a nice mix of both comfort candies (chocolate dipped pretzels, house-made jellies, chocolate covered cookies, turtles and marshmallows) and truffles. What sets them apart from many chocolatiers is their line of vegan items. (Here’s the in store menu.)

The store is more than just chocolate though, there’s also information about how fair trade directly affects the communities that participate and some other fun and unique gifts.

Bakers will also enjoy access to fair trade baking chips & cocoa. For those in a hurry who don’t want to select their own box, there are also packages of pre-packed candy cups, chocolate covered goodies and of course their line of chocolate bars.

Sweet Earth Vegan Truffles

I picked up quite a bit of stuff. First, I selected a few items from the “comfort candies” section for me to munch on while on vacation. This included their chocolate dipped pretzels, toffee & chocolate dipped pretzels and some turtles. Since those weren’t for review I also got a box of nine truffles.

The truffles are well priced at 1.50 each though I found them a tad on the small size but mercifully free of the “too hot for the box” styles that chocolatiers have been using lately with artificial colors & cocoa butter ink transfers.

The Espresso truffle was one of those rare modern truffles that actually looks like a truffle. The small sphere smelled woodsy and sweet. The bittersweet chocolate shell gave way to a smooth center with a good pop of espresso flavor. A little acidic but a crisp finish with a little fruity twang. There were a few fibery bits of the coffee beans though at the end.

Sweet Earth Ginger CreamGinger Cream

This dark chocolate triangular piece holds a sweet if slightly grainy cream with a light touch of ginger.

I liked the texture and the woodsy flavor of the ginger. It didn’t have a warming burn, but a pleasant note of the root mixed with a not-too-sweet fondant-like cream. The dark chocolate shell was thick enough that there was no leakage and also provided a bittersweet background to the earthy flavors.

It was a good sized piece as well.

Sweet Earth Cardamom & GingerGinger & Cardamom Truffle

This was definitely one I was looking forward to. I love the combination of cardamom and chocolate.

The center of this truffle also had a bit of a graininess to it, I think, because of the crystallized ginger.

The cardamom was quite overwhelmed by the chocolate & ginger flavors at first, but emerged later and gave me a fresh & lingering aftertaste.

Malt Milk ChocolateMalted Milk Chocolate Truffle

I admit that I was confused by this one. I couldn’t for the life of me remember what it was when I got home. I don’t think it did well on the trip either, something about the central coast being very humid this time of year made the outside tacky.

So when I took it out to photograph it, I was puzzled. So I bit into it and yes, the flavor did remind me a bit of a Milky Way, but I still didn’t put it together until days later when I was trying to write this up and looked at the Sweet Earth Chocolates website.

Anyway, it was sweet and milky and yes, it did have a little malty hit to it. But the outside was like the sticky, stale inside of a seafoam candy so the whole thing was a bit chewy. Not unpleasant, but not “truffle-like.” I’ll give it another go though, as I’m always game for some malt.

Sweet Earth HazelnutMilk Chocolate Hazelnut Truffle

Sweet & slightly grassy tasting center with little bits of hazelnuts. Milky and entirely addictive.

This would make an excellent chocolate cup too, I would love a bigger bite ... or more of them. And maybe some in dark chocolate. Yes, a true winner. (I’m wondering if you can make a dark chocolate gianduia that’s vegan.)

Sweet Earth Vegan Truffle & Classic Truffle

Finally, I got two of the classic dark chocolate truffles. They come in a full cream version and a vegan version.

The Vegan Dark Chocolate truffle is cute, a small hand rolled sphere with a flurry of zigzags of chocolate for decoration. The aroma is dark and woodsy chocolate. The bite is soft and the center is smooth. It’s barely sweet and has a strong woodsy & tangy flavor that comes through ... then a note of coconut and a rather bitter & dry finish.

The dairy Dark Chocolate truffle has a similar look, with its decoration mostly parallel stripes. The center seemed just a bit softer but also a bit smoother. The tangy bite wasn’t there at all. The chocolate flavors seemed more pronounced, though the chocolate shell still participated with quite a bitter chocolate bite & dry finish.

Sweet Earth ChocolatesOn the whole, I find the Sweet Earth Chocolates 65% dark chocolate a bit on the astringent side. The dairy cream centers worked well with this and some of the flavors combined well to tip it more towards woodsy or berry/raisin.

What’s so refreshing about the shop & the chocolates is that they’re so approachable and fresh-tasting. I didn’t feel assaulted by political messages about fair trade and organics - for the most part the shop is about the wholesome enjoyment of freshly made chocolates ... that happen to be organic and fair trade.

I reviewed their mainstream offerings of foil wrapped candy cups last year.

If you’re in San Luis Obispo or passing through during business hours, give it a try:

Sweet Earth Chocolates
1445 Monterey St
San Luis Obispo, CA
Hours: 10 AM to 6 PM (call to confirm)
805-782-9868
Twitter: @slochocolate

Related Candies

  1. Divine Fair Trade Chocolate
  2. Askinosie Chocolate
  3. 3400 Phinney: Fig, Fennel & Almond and Hazelnut Crunch
  4. Zotter Candy Bars
  5. Sjaak’s Vegan Chocolate Assortment
  6. Terra Nostra Pocket Bars
  7. CocoaVino
Name: Fair Trade Organic Truffles
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Sweet Earth Chocolates
Place Purchased: Sweet Earth Chocolates (San Luis Obispo)
Price: $1.50 each
Size: unknown
Calories per ounce: unknown
Categories: Chocolate, Nuts, Coffee, Ginger, United States, Organic, Chocolatier, Fair Trade, All Natural, Shopping

POSTED BY Cybele AT 12:15 pm     Comments (1)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Astor Chocolate Lobsters

Astor Chocolate LobstersIf you haven’t noticed yet, this week is about vacation candy.

This box of Chocolate Lobsters from Astor Chocolate are not from my vacation but someone else’s ... this is the kind of product that friends bring home to the folks who didn’t go on the trip.

The package calls it A Sweet Taste of Boston and features a vista of Boston Harbor with sailboats & puffy white clouds. (At least I hope that’s Boston ... as I mentioned, I’m not the one who took the trip. My only trip to Boston was on a frigid weekend in February and all I did was go see a play, share a hotel room with a half a dozen other grad students and then get back in our rented van and drive back to Pittsburgh.)

It’s a big box, eight inches by eleven. After taking off the shrink wrap the sleeve of the box slides to reveal a tray of 14 solid milk chocolate pieces shaped like lobsters.

Made by Astor Chocolate of Lakewood, New Jersey, they’re part of their line of Premium Gourmet Souvenir Chocolate. This one, I think, is from their Destination Chocolates for Travel Retail (wide variety of cities to choose from).

Astor Chocolate Lobsters

Unlike real lobsters, these are Kosher.

It seems like a bit of over-packaging at first. The lobsters are tucked into little sections in the tray but there’s a good 2 inches of space around the perimeter. But then I figured that maybe this was to protect the candies on what was assumed to be some travel. Stuffed into a suitcase, perhaps left in a hot car. All in all, it did its job because these arrived pristine.

Each lobster weighs about 10 grams (.35 ounces), is a little over two inches long and is basically two bites ... unless you want to be squirrelly and nibble off each of the claws and the tail separately.

They smell quite sweet and mostly like fake vanilla (though the ingredients say real vanilla).

The snap is clean and distinct.

The texture is smooth, not quite silky as there’s a slight grain to it, but quite pleasing. It has a bit of a cooling effect on the tongue but is quite sweet throughout. It seems a bit easier & more satisfying to chew than let melt.

The cocoa & milk flavors were mild, a little nutty and a little woodsy ... mostly what sold this was the texture - even though it’s atypical it was still munchable, which is the whole point of a novelty shaped chocolate gift.

As a fun little treat from afar, they’re admirable, certainly decent quality ... though not quite the gourmet chocolate promised on the website. The mold was cute and each one was really well done - no voids or bubbles and with a good sheen.

Related Candies

  1. Madelaine’s Foiled Milk Chocolate
  2. Riegelein Confiserie Hollow Chocolate
  3. All Gummies Gourmet Fruity Fish (Swedish Fish knock-off)
  4. Lake Champlain & See’s Bunny Battle
  5. Palmer Bee Mine
  6. Boston Baked Beans
Name: Chocolate Lobsters
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Astor Chocolate
Place Purchased: gift
Price: unknown
Size: 5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 156
Categories: Chocolate, United States, Kosher

POSTED BY Cybele AT 8:55 am     Comments (4)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Rogers’ Chocolates Victoria Creams

Rogers' Victoria CreamsWhile on vacation I spotted a new store in Cambria, CA called Sweet Offerings. Unlike many other candy shops in the area, they didn’t make anything of their own (no taffy pulling machine, no fudge). It’s just a well curated shop where they have a little of everything and some things that are pretty hard to find.

I was thrilled to see these little gingham wrapped creams from Rogers’ Chocolates of Victoria, British Columbia. I’d never heard of them before, but as you’ll see, it’s easy to see why someone would go through the trouble of importing them.

They come in a huge variety of flavors, at least 16 in the creams. Each wax paper wrapped piece weighs 45 grams (1.59 ounces) - which is like a candy bar. The price was a bit steep ($3.50 each), but I figured I was on vacation (and the Candy Blogger) so I carefully chose what I thought would be a good representation of their products. I got a Vanilla Cream, Coffee Cream, Rum Cream and then two of their other offerings, a Chocolate Almond Brittle and a Dark Empress Square.

Rogers' Vanilla Victoria CreamFirst, the wrapping is exquisite. It’s a simple pink gingham print wax paper. It’s carefully folded and then sealed shut with a little sticker that shows what’s inside as well as the expiry date.

The dark chocolate Vanilla Cream puck has lovely little ripples on top. The chocolate is thick and made the trip rather well (I think this one was actually dropped on the floor while in the shop and was only slightly cracked by it).

The white cream center is interesting. I wasn’t sure what these creams were and the Rogers’ website isn’t much help either. I didn’t know if it would be a fondant, fudge or buttercream.

It’s somewhere between all three. The main ingredient is but the second ingredient in the filling is cream, so it’s a buttery soft center. It’s not at all grainy but not so stiff that it doesn’t sort of “flow”.

The flavor of the vanilla cream is sweet and has a light touch of vanilla ... but mostly the dark chocolate flavor with its smoky semisweet flavor came through.

This is what I’ve always wanted a Cadbury Creme Egg to be.

Rogers' Coffee Victoria Cream

The dark chocolate of the Coffee Cream is well suited.

The center has a pretty mocha color to it. It’s smooth and has a toasted sugar and coffee flavor. The coffee isn’t that intense but comes out as a sweet and mellow flavor eventually. I enjoyed this one since it wasn’t as sticky sweet as the vanilla. 

Rogers' Rum Victoria Cream

The Rum Victoria Cream was quite lovely and had a great texture to the cream center, much smoother than the vanilla one.

However, the flavor was odd. It was fake and was more like some sort of plastic aroma than the woodsy molasses notes of rum. The textures were great, but I couldn’t get over the less than true rum-ness of the whole thing. I ate it rather begrudgingly ... but finished it mostly because it was my last one.

It left me disappointed that I didn’t get a fruit flavored one instead (raspberry sounded nice).

Rogers' Dark Empress SquareThe next item, the Dark Empress Square really doesn’t explain what it is at all. The only thing I was pretty sure about with this light brown gingham wrapped piece was that it was dark chocolate (well, their dark chocolate isn’t completely dark, there’s some milk in it).

Upon opening it I was no wiser. The ingredients were vague enough that it could have been any number of things but it looked like either a toffee or a caramel.

So I was a bit tentative when I bit into it.

Rogers' Dark Empress Square

It was soft ... it was caramel!

The base is a short caramel (not quite grainy but not stringy & chewy). It’s studded with almonds. The flavor is a little on the rum side with good toasted sugar and butter notes and of course the pleasant crunch of crushed almonds. The dark chocolate keeps it all from tasting too sticky sweet.

Rogers' Chocolate Almond BrittleThe final one confused me several times. Black type on brown gingham? Was it some sort of color blindness test?

Chocolate Almond Brittle was at least clear enough for me to know that it was going to be a toffee of some sort studded with nuts.

This was by far the smallest of the pieces I had, though it probably still weighed about the same (there was no weight listed on the wrapper) it was dense and hefty like a chocolate dipped brick.

Rogers' Chocolate Almond Brittle

The brittle center was crispy, a little salty and had a nice buttery flavor to it. The almond pieces were nicely sized, not whole but big chunks that gave a texture variation to it. The dark chocolate went well with the whole thing. The only complaint I had was that the thick chocolate flaked off sometimes when biting it, and when I cut it in half most of it came off completely.

The distinctive and appropriate packaging were what drew me to these, but I appreciate that they are unique - I don’t know if I’ve ever had such good quality and large sized creams before. I’d like to explore the flavor versions a bit more, I have a feeling I’d like their ginger, peppermint and maple ones.

The other butter-based caramel/toffee items were also well done, but not quite as original ... but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t appreciate them and a good candy shop should always have a little something for everyone. (And it’s true that a lot of folks just don’t like creams.)

Roger’s Chocolates has quite a few locations through British Columbia including Victoria where their candy factory is located.

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Name: Victoria Creams, Empress Square & Chocolate Almond Brittle
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Roger's Chocolates
Place Purchased: Sweet Confectionery Offerings (Cambria, CA)
Price: $3.50 each
Size: 1.59 ounces
Calories per ounce: unknown
Categories: Chocolate, Caramel, Coffeel, Fondant, Nuts, Toffee, Canada, Kosher

POSTED BY Cybele AT 7:53 am     Comments (10)

Candy Source: Sweet Offerings - Cambria

Sweet Confectionery Offerings in CambriaI was delighted to find this new candy shop in Cambria, CA last week while I was on vacation.

Sweet Offerings is a quaint and well designed shop. It’s on Burton Drive in the eastern section of town, just down from the famous glass shop called Seekers.

The simple interior is classic & clean. A black and white theme with a brick red painted floor, it’s crisp and inviting and allows the chaos of colors of the different candies to pop.

Most of the candy offered is prepackaged. There’s a wide variety of mass-manufactured and hard to find favorites like Sky Bar, Mallo Cups, Chuckles and Fizzies but also higher end items like Marich panned nuts, Vosges & Lake Champlain chocolate bars.

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For the most part the candy collection appears aimed at adults. Sure they have some kid-appealing items like some novelties and of course candies for all ages. But many of the items look like they’re just for grown ups, like a collections of caramels, licorice, Jelly Belly confections, Brix chocolate designed to pair with wine or fruit pate and even some honey.

The bulk candy wall was devoted almost entirely to Koppers items - their gourmet Malted Milk Balls and Cordials were prominently featured. The bulk wall was priced at $2.95 per quarter pound, which isn’t too bad for chocolate these days.

Gifts & CandyThey also had a large glass enclosed counter with two cases where they featured several different brands of fine chocolates. Roger’s Chocolates took up one full case and the other had a mix of classic candy items like chocolate dipped orange peels, dipped pretzels, truffles and some novelty shaped candies.

The prices were higher than a drug store, but less than some other tourist traps I’ve been in. The candy I got there was all fresh (I bought my Victoria Creams, a Pecan Divinity Bar and a package of Marich Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Cashews) and in good condition.

While they don’t have everything I could possibly be looking for, the collection of products was well curated - there was something there to satisfy just about every craving, whether it was for sizzling cinnamon, root beer, chocolate, salty sweets, super sours, chewy, nutty, gummi, cracklin’, gum, a lollipop or just something new.

It’s definitely a shop that I’ll make a point to come back to when I’m in the area.

Sweet Offerings
4070 Burton Dr
Cambria, CA 93428
(805) 927-9300

UPDATE 9/13/2011 - I stopped by the shop again last week while vacationing in the area. The first time I stopped by in the middle of the afternoon, they were inexplicably closed, with just a note on the door saying that they would be open the following day. I returned later in the week and they were indeed open. The offerings in the store have changed since my last visit. The inventory did not seem quite as lush or diverse, but they still had the bulk items and lots of nostalgic classics. My biggest disappointment was the fact that they no longer carry Roger’s Creams. Their chocolate counter is now populated with some unbranded chocolates. I purchased some chocolate covered candied orange peels and a couple of pieces of honeycomb. Both were good and at $19.99 a pound I thought they were well priced. I still missed picking up the Roger’s Creams though.

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POSTED BY Cybele AT 7:49 am     CandyFeatured NewsShoppingComments (3)

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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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• Candy Rant: Stimulants are not Energy

• Candy Encyclopedia: The Difference Between Gummi and Jelly

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