Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Peeps Dark Chocolate Covered Marshmallow is pretty much the biggest thing to happen to Peeps. Oh sure, they’ve dabbled with cocoa flavored Peeps or maybe put them inside a chocolate shell, but an actual chocolate dipped Peep made by Just Born is pretty revolutionary.
First thing, they’re singles and they’re individually wrapped. Other Peeps are sold in trays with more than one serving. So each one will be fresh and ready to eat. (This may or may not be a good thing, I’m not sure if Just Born is going to make Chocolate Covered Stale Peeps.)
I’m going to start with the dark chocolate covered version because that’s what I was attracted to first, but I also have the milk chocolate version. They’re nicely priced, I think the regular retail is about 80 cents, but I picked these up at RiteAid at two for a dollar.
The big thing about Peeps in their chick format (not the bunny format) is that they sit upright. A standard array comes in a conjoined row of five weighing 1.5 ounces. In this case a single Peep is covered in chocolate and sits on its side. They’re huge but well detailed for a chocolate enrobed item. (Think about how hard it is to get details on the blanket covering something that’s extruded in the first place.)
Each piece is one ounce and biting into it answers several questions I had:
First, it’s a yellow Peep in there. Unlike a standard Peep which is only colored on the outside sugar crust, this Peep has coloring all the way through the marshmallow. (Not really something I’m fond of, in fact, I prefer the Ghost Peeps for Halloween which have no artificial colorings.)
Second, there is no sugar crust. It’s just a skinless Peep covered in chocolate.
The dark chocolate coating isn’t a terribly complex chocolate or even that dark (there’s no percentage on the package). It has milk fat in it (but it’s not like we had any hopes that a chocolate covered marshmallow was going to be vegan, did we?). The shell is rather thin, perhaps a little thicker than I’m accustomed to with the Russell Stover versions.
The marshmallow texture is airy and far lighter and less latexy than I experience with Peeps. I can put my tongue through it in my mouth, kind of like a smooth sugary foam instead of a marshmallow.
It’s sweet of course but not grainy. The dark chocolate has a bittersweet and dry quality to it that helps round out the fake vanilla flavoring.
The Peeps Milk Chocolate Covered Marshmallow comes in a bright yellow wrapper (kind of violating the unspoken industry standard that blue is milk chocolate). It was extremely easy to spot when I first walked into RiteAid, so they can definitely say that the package fits the brand.
The interesting thing that I noticed about the ingredients is that it doesn’t seem that these are just your regular individual Peeps run through an enrober. These appear to be a different formula. The marshmallow portion goes like this: Sugar, corn syrup, partially hydrogenated palm kernel oil, whey (milk), gelatin, cocoa processed with alkali, and less than .5% of the following: invertase, natural and artificial flavors, soy lecithin, yellow #5 and potassium sorbate.
Regular sugar-crusted Peeps contain: Sugar, corn syrup, gelatin, contains less than 0.5% of the following: potassium sorbate, artificial flavors, yellow #5, carnauba wax. (The wax, I believe, is the eyes.)
The sweetness and moistness of the marshmallow is even more noticeable over the dark chocolate version. The milk chocolate shell has some good dairy notes, but it isn’t quite as creamy as I would have liked. The good thing is that it held together well, I didn’t have big flakes coming off as I bit into the fluffy marshmallow.
The texture differences were rather minor here, not at all like the ordinary sugar crust but not enough of a contrast to provide added interest.
Mostly I found the milk chocolate version too sweet though the fake vanilla was actually kind of fun - like a White Toostie Roll is fun for a while and then I realize that there is food out there with real flavor.
I don’t quite understand why they had to make them yellow inside, I think a lot of parents might have preferred them to leave out the Yellow #5.
I know that many bakeries, candy stores and fudge shops have been dipping Peeps and offering them to their customers for many years, so this version may be a bit of an adjustment and some may prefer the inner sugar crusting.
The package says that they may contain peanuts, tree nuts, egg and coconut - in addition to the ingredients soy and gelatin. They are gluten free.
Choceur Belgian Chocolates. I haven’t much more to say than that.
These were pretty but looked kinda like hedgehogs to me. (Photo of box here.)
Monday, February 22, 2010
Au’some has a line of 3-Dees Gummy candies, that are just what they sound like. They’re three dimensional molded gummy candies and much larger than the standard gummi bear. I reviewed the Super Mario Brothers version a few years ago (along with their Wii controller candy dispenser).
The seasonal versions of the gummis are in special shapes and flavor combinations for the holiday. The Easter 3-Dees Gummy version features two shapes (sitting rabbit and dancing chick) and three flavors (strawberry, orange and mixed berries).
Each package contains six candies, one of each shape in one of each flavors. They’re in a little tray that keeps each one separate and molded to their shape. The fun is when you pop them out of their molds.
The packaging does an excellent job of keeping the candy protected and in the best possible condition for play. I can’t say that it was that compelling when I first looked at it, it really didn’t convey the stunning look of these out of the package. (Here’s another version of the package that you might see in stores.)
I admit that this review is actually more about the pictures, and I also admit that the photos that follow makes these little guys look far larger than they are (blame it on my new camera lens). Each weighs between a quarter of an ounce to a third of an ounce. The rabbits are exactly one inch high and one inch on the longest side of the base.
As a 3D candy they actually stand up, like a little injection-molded plastic toy.
When they say that they’re three dimensional, they’re not kidding. The rabbits, if you can’t tell so far, were my favorite. The middle seam was nearly undetectable. The nicely formed face even had little buck teeth that I could see when looking carefully. The little tucked back ears are simply charming.
The dancing chick isn’t quite as compelling for me, it was harder to tell what was going on, but the figure reminded me of that penguin in Happy Feet. This little chick is a bit rolly-polly and kicking up one of his feet.
The flavors are right up my alley. In this case that means that red is strawberry instead of cherry. It’s nicely tangy and has a rounded floral berry fragrance. It tastes exactly like strawberry Jell-O.
The texture for these gummis is what I’d call short. Some gummies are stringy - if you pulled on the gummi it’d stretch quite a bit before it pulled apart. These gummis are more like actual gelatin desserts. Biting into them they pull apart into little nuggets. Pull them and they break apart with clean surfaces.
Though they’re not a chewy gummi they are intensely flavored and exceptionally smooth. The blue-green color is Mixed Berries and in this case it actually tastes like berries. There’s a good jammy raspberry flavor. It’s tart, floral and not too much like generic fruit punch. In the case of this one there was a slight note of the blue food coloring (a little metallic) but that didn’t detract from it.
The orange flavor is disappointing, only because Haribo has raised the bar so high. It’s sour in the right way, but the overall flavor is that of orange-ade. There are no zest notes that kind of carry it over into the whole orange flavor. Still, the flavor and texture worked well together.
The hesitation on this product is that it’s made in China. The package says “made responsibly in China and I do believe that there are plenty of ethical and conscientious food makers in China - I just don’t know how to tell who is who. The size of these gummis still means they should not be given to very small children - but you probably already know that.
If there’s a kind of candy that I buy and rarely review, it’s Japanese products. Here’s one of them, it’s called Cucu, it’s a milky hard candy flavored with green tea, and then filled with a little pocket of matcha (green tea powder).
The pieces were just too cute, little cubes, about the size of a hazelnut in the shell but with flat sides. http://www.flickr.com/photos/typetive/324644716/in/photostream” title=“Here’s what the package looked like”>Here’s what the package looked like.
Sunday, February 21, 2010
As Canada is hosting the Winter Olympics, my thoughts have turned to all the wonderful Canadian candies the athletes and spectators must have access to. Canada has great candy, a wonderful mix of American, British and French confectionery traditions along with their own innovations.
Neilson’s Jersey Milk is one of those uniquely Canadian chocolate bars. Here’s a fun peek at a display of them from the 70s at a store.
I photographed this bar and had a bite of it, but several days later before I got a chance to eat it, it got melted. Makes me jealous of Canada and how they don’t have that problem as often as us Southern Californians do.
Saturday, February 20, 2010
Winter holidays mean chocolate money. As a kid I think I was more fascinated with the chocolate coins and the foil impressions than the chocolate itself. (This isn’t surprising as most chocolate coins are just terrible.) I found a cute alternative to the gold foil stuff in the little mesh bags. This Japanese version comes packaged in little plastic sleeves, not foil though. But still, the result out of the wrapper is impressive.
Sadly the product itself, made by Tirol, is mockolate. Pretty to look at, but not terribly tasty. Package photo if you wanted to try to find these.
Friday, February 19, 2010
The product is simple yet unique. A pectin gel stick flavored with wine and then covered in dark chocolate.
The box is a half a tube, rather elegant looking matte black with a swirling puddle of chocolate with three chocolate sticks rising from it. The packages are color coded with colored foil tops. In this case the Port version is red, the Cabernet is silver and Champagne is gold. The box is careful to point out that it’s made with real wine reductions but contains no actual alcohol. (There are also some artificial flavors in there.)
The half round box opens kind of like an envelope (or a car trunk) along one of the long sides. Inside much of the box is empty, with a sealed tray of the sticks nesting on the flat surface. The inner wrapping does a nice job of keeping them fresh and moist. But the chocolate also does a good part of the work as well.
The little fingers are elegant and lovely. The dark chocolate is crisp, smooth and matte. Just opening the box, the scent of “wine” is strong. The notes are yeast, rose petals and grapes plus a little hint of smoky dark chocolate.
The flavor of port is authentic, though a little sweeter than the real thing. It’s a bit grapey but has a nice rounded profile of deep tannins, some soft acids and florals. I’ve have other wine gels before that are several times the price but basically as satisfying. (Those have been straight gels though, covered in sugar instead of chocolate, which I think goes very well and keeps the sweetness down.)
The chocolate itself didn’t wow me. It’s a little bit on the sweet side but vegans will be happy to hear that there’s no milk or any other animal products in here. (Though it is made on shared equipment, so those with allergies to milk, peanuts or tree nuts should steer clear.) It’s also gluten free.
Retail is $4 for a 3.5 ounce package (about 12 sticks) which is a decent price for something that I don’t expect most folks would just sit around shoveling into their mouths like malted milk balls or jelly beans. It’s more of a little accompaniment for other treats, like a cookie plate, bowl of ice cream or dessert. Since it’s mostly a jelly product, it’s a lot lower in calories (less fat) than many other chocolate candies.
I picked up this box at the this year’s Fancy Food Show because I couldn’t actually find them locally.
Easter Candy season is upon us. I’ve spent the past week or so visiting all the drug stores and discounters to see what’s new. (Photos here.)
Hiding Eggs are those huge marshmallow candies like jelly beans but with a fluffed and grainy center. I don’t like eating them, but they’re definitely pretty.
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.