Tuesday, February 9, 2010
I’m not generally keen on cherry flavors, but I do love real cherries and I’m generally a fan of Gimbal’s products. This bag of little heart shaped jelly bean type objects boast nine different cherry flavors plus vitamin C and real cherry juice. Gimbal’s makes their candies in the USA in a factory that’s Kosher, peanut free, tree nut free, dairy free, gluten free, gelatin free and soy free. So for allergic folks these are pretty special. (Sorry vegans, though the colors are artificial they do use beeswax and confectioners glaze.)
They’re drop dead gorgeous. A riot of reds, pinks and purples they seem to go beyond the frilly satin hearts of the season. They’re a little rustic because each heart is unique and not quite perfect.
Wild Cherry - plain red - you know, cherry. Tart, sweet, floral and deep woodsy notes. But not quite that good. The medicine flavors are kept pretty faint here.
Cherry Vanilla - white with red speckles - like a cherry marshmallow, mostly a soft flavor with a strong fake vanilla flavor to it. Pretty much pleasant.
Black Cherry - deep red - tastes mostly like red. The cherry flavor is pretty intense as far as these hearts go, more on the woodsy side compared to the Bing Cherry.
Chocolate Cherry - brown - oh, this is quite a tragic flavor, not quite cherry and mostly empty cocoa flavors. It’s like a very bad Cherry Tootsie Pop.
Cherry Cheesecake - pink with red speckles - a tangier version of the Cherry Vanilla, this one had a yogurty twang to it and but still a marshmallowy flavor.
Cherry Daiquiri - deep pink with red speckles - this one was rather fun, kind of a lime and vanilla with a hint of cherry cough syrup. A little bit like aftershave though.
Bing Cherry - lighter red - Tangy and sweet, a well rounded cherry flavor. A little chemical aftertaste from the food colorings, but about as good as the Jelly Belly I usually avoid.
Cherry Cola - dark red - at first I liked the cherry cola, because it tasted like cola, even had a weird effervescent quality to it (maybe that was just the tangy part playing with my mind) but then the cherry kicked in and ruined it for me. But that’s just me.
Kiwi Cherry - pink with green speckles - this was just terrible. Maybe it’s because I had a recent run in with fresh Durian, but I just couldn’t get that out of my head when it came to this one. The kiwi flavors were more like melon and onions than kiwi, though the cherry seemed about average.
The didn’t do a thing for me. The colors were pretty, the shapes and distinctiveness of the flavors was actually pretty good. But I wouldn’t consider these a breakthrough candy so I found it odd that the National Confectionery Sales Association awarded Cherry Lovers best new Premium/Gourmet product:
Robby at Candy Addict had a better opinion of these. I’ll just consider them very pretty Valentine’s decorations in a bowl.
While I might complain of some candies being too sweet, I love candies made from straight boiled sugar. The Japanese traditional candies of Juntsuyu and this Ogontoh are gorgeous examples.
These little pieces are like gems or beads. They taste like toasted sugar. They dissolve slowly and have an exceptionally smooth texture with no voids or bubbles at all. The yellow color is all natural, simply the result of the sugar boiling to the not-quite-caramelized state.
Monday, February 8, 2010
Most candy coated licorice is the same. They’re little snips of licorice laces covered in a hard candy shell. The exception might be Good & Plenty, which uses a thicker and softer licorice nib for coating. Now there’s a new version on the marketing called Wiley Wallaby Outback Beans with Chewy Black Licorice Centers.
Wiley Wallaby is the Australian Style licorice brand from American maker Kenny’s Candy. They’re known for making licorice twists in a rainbow of flavors, from Root Beer to Spearmint to Pina Colada.
I picked these up at the Fancy Food Show and was told they should be hitting the stores via wholesalers sometime later this month. This format is a generous 13 ounce tub, which makes it easy to serve right from the package then seal it back up.
The short little rods are about one half to three quarters of an inch long. They’re matte and bright - a mix of purple, hot pink and a slightly lavender white. The shell is not quite crispy and becomes grainy and cool when chewed. It has a light anise flavor to it, but the real licorice impact comes with the black licorice center. It’s a soft and chewy mix of molasses woodsy notes and clean and sweet licorice. (There’s real licorice extract in there plus anise oil.)
My only hesitation with these is that the pink ones use Red 40, and I just couldn’t stand the bitter aftertaste. (There was a hint of it in the purple ones, but not enough to dissuade me from eating them after I’d gone through the white ones.)
The consistently soft chew and well rounded flavor put these right up there with Good & Plenty. Even after keeping the tub around for several weeks with the seal broken, they were still fresh (try that with a theater box of Good & Plenty). The good news for vegans is that it’s all artificial colors and no glazes in there (and mostly natural every thing else).
Since Hershey’s created their new version of Good & Fruity, which is no more than a crazy neon jelly bean, I’ve mentioned to more than one candy maker that there are still plenty of candy fans who long for a candy coated red licorice.
The Wiley Wallaby Outback Beans with Chewy Red Licorice Centers may fit that hole in the confectionery pantheon quite well.
The short little pieces come in three colors, a festive mix of orange, green and yellow. At the center of each grainy and not quite crunchy candy coating is a piece or red licorice.
I don’t know what flavor this red center is. At times I think it’s strawberry, but other times it’s a mild cherry. Whatever it is, it has a nice soft chew, a pleasant smoothness and a light tangy note of berries. The candy shell is very much like that on Good & Plenty. It’s smooth on the outside but not quite a hard crunchy shell, instead it becomes grainy and sweet. They’re quite satisfying and addictive to keep popping.
I expect these to be well-priced, as the Wiley Wallaby brand is usually less expensive than the true Australian imports. I also expect these to show up in bulk bins and probably stores that already carry the Wiley Wallaby line.
On a cold winter morning we can all use a little toasty comfort.
ClaireSquares are a triple layer sandwich starting with a block of buttery shortbread, a layer or chewy caramel and a thick topping of dark chocolate. It was a big three inch by four inch block.
Sunday, February 7, 2010
My mother sent me these Milk Chocolate Domino Cubes from Aldi before the holidays.
The package says: Gingerbread cookies with apple jelly and persipan coated with milk chocolate. I didn’t know what persipan was, but when I tasted it, it was a lot like marzipan. I looked it up and it pretty much is marzipan except it’s made with apricot kernels instead of almonds. Ultimately I wasn’t sure if these were candy or petit fours. I preferred the dark chocolate ones, the milk version (which photographed better) were very sweet and the gingerbread cake part just wasn’t spicy enough for me.
Saturday, February 6, 2010
When I was at Miette Confiserie late last year I picked up a handful of little individually wrapped candies. One was a licorice caramel called Krema Batna.
I liked the idea of a licorice caramel, especially one that wasn’t artificially black. I also liked the wrapper, you can’t really see in the picture that it has a picture of a cougar on it (or some other large cat) that reminded me of some kind of high school mascot. (We were the Wildcats in Mechanicsburg.)
The chew was stiff and smooth with a great toasted sugar flavor mixed with a light anise. I’d love to have more, I’ve looked around on the internet and can’t find anyplace that carries them. I was even hoping to run into them at the Fancy Food Show.
Friday, February 5, 2010
Warning: today’s review contains a lot of math.
Whole Foods has been carrying Bissinger’s candies, they even have their own custom display in the bakery area of the Whole Foods I frequent. One of the items that caught my eye was this 100 Calorie Bar of Solid Milk Chocolate 38% Cocoa which sounded intriguing. It was only a dollar, so it’s a very low risk investment, especially at Whole Foods.
I knew going in that 100 calories of chocolate is a very small portion. In this case it’s only .63 ounces (18 grams). What I didn’t expect was how misleading the box would be about the actual size of the contents. The bar inside is in a cellophane sleeve that’s too big for it, so it’s crumpled at the sides - which kind of anchors it inside the box. When I shook it, it felt like the bar was taking up the whole box because it didn’t rattle around.
Here are some facts:
Dimensions of box: 4.25” long - 1.75” wide - .33” high = volume of 2.454375 cubic inches
Yes, 2/3 of that box is empty.
Aside from that, it’s an attractive bar. It’s segmented into four pieces, each marked with the 38, which I’m guessing is to represent the cacao content, not the fullness of the box.
The shiny and nicely molded milk chocolate has a soft bite with a powdered milk and sugar scent, maybe a little cheese twang to it. The melt is a little fudgy and sweet with a strong sour yogurt bite. The cocoa flavors are woodsy and rather limited. The sweetness burned my throat. The aftertaste is rather familiar, like Hershey’s Milk Chocolate. So if you love Hershey’s and wish you could pay twice as much for it but at least get all natural ingredients, this might be the stuff for you.
At about $25 a pound, I expect better chocolate.
The box also mentioned it has an ORAC value of 46 per gram (828 for the full bar). If you don’t know about Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity, you can read more on Wikipedia. For reference, the ORAC value of 100 calories of red beans is 13,727.
The box says that it’s Gluten Free, but it also says that it’s processed in a facility that uses milk, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat and eggs. (Soy and Milk are present in the milk chocolate, of course.) This package does not say it’s Kosher. (You may recall my run-in with them last year about the Kosher status of their gummis.)
E. Guittard Orinoco Milk Chocolate, a petite 2 ounce bar that comes in a pretty purple wrapper.
I’ve bought this bar several times now but I keep eating it instead of reviewing it. In short: it’s smooth and munchable. Much more on the side of fresh dairy flavors than the caramelized and dried milk notes of European dairy milk chocolate.
Eat with your Eyes is a recurring feature where I just show you stuff I’ve photographed but probably won’t get around to reviewing. Feel free to share your reviews here of the candy if you’ve had it.
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.