Wednesday, March 31, 2010
I bought the Christmas edition of Sugar Babies a little over a year ago and was pretty disappointed with them.
I was suckered into them by two things: I was on vacation and they package design was prettier than before. This box shows the shape of the Sugar Babies logo as an egg nestled in stylized blades of grass, complete with a lady bug behind it.
There is something far more fitting about Sugar Babies for Easter. It’s like they’re actual caramel jelly beans. Well, I guess they’re caramel beans. They come in five colors: pink, blue, green, purple and yellow.
The candy coated panning is better this time. The colors are more opaque and consistent and maybe shinier than before.
But beyond the look of them and the packaging, I still wasn’t happy. The extra candy coating made them sweeter, which muted the wonderful milky and toasted flavors of the caramel. It was grainier and had a weird metallic note to it, like baking soda. The centers were a little firmer than I like as well, and these were definitely fresh. Nope, I’m done with the holiday editions. I’m sticking to the plain old caramel colored ones that come in a sealed bag.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Here are some new products just hitting store shelves.
Name: Cherry RAISINETS
Name: Côte d’Or Chocolate Bars - Rainforest Alliance Certified
Name: Sunkist Citrus Burst
Name: Choward’s Guava Candies
Name: Honey Lovers
Name: Mike and Ike RedRageous!
Name: Chimes Ginger Chews Mango & Orange Flavors
All photos courtesy of the candy manufacturers
Lately The Man and I have been searching for a new dog. As we’ve visited quite a few pounds and rescue organizations it’s startling to see how many rabbits there are. Rabbits are great pets, but too many of them are taken home by families that don’t know what’s involved with their care. Easter is a prime impulse season for pet rabbits (and chicks & ducks) so there’s an organization called Make Mine Chocolate that urges people to reconsider live animal gifts and instead keep the pet decisions out of the Easter basket. So make your Easter basket pet a chocolate one.
I am always drawn to RM Palmer’s package and product design. Their products go downhill after that, but how could I resist this cute little chocolate bunny in a little hutch? It plays on a kid’s desire to nurture without resorting to anthropomorphism.
The My Little Bunny is actually a fun little teaching toy. It’s a bit more realistic that the regular seated bunny or cartoon style one carrying a basket. This one is about the size of a little baby bunny or a dwarf. It comes in a small box shaped and designed like a carrying hutch with simulated chicken wire on the plastic window. I picked the blue wood-grained box version, but there’s a pink one as well. Also, I think the rabbits come in different colors, I only saw tan ones at the store.
The foil design makes the bunny look a little bit stylized with its vague smile, but for the most part it’s very bunny-like in the crouched position on all fours. The box is far larger than the candy, which is a good thing for a pet, though kind of wasteful as far as packaging. (The bunny is 5 inches long and 3 inches high, the box is 6.5 inches long and four inches high.)
I liked the little box and thought a clever or motivated child might enjoy making use of it to keep a small stuffed animal or other light toys. Unfortunately it’s poorly designed. The little tab in the top that tucks in comes undone when the little carrying handle is used, even when the box is empty. A little tape will fix that (that’s the way it comes in the store), but a bit more thought would have made this far more useful with probably no extra work or weight in the packaging.
There’s a web page just for the My Little Bunny where kids can download an adoption certificate or play games.
The candy itself is subpar. I’ve had the chocolate flavored rabbit before which looked completely fake, like some sort of vinyl dog toy. This one looks like chocolate and is called chocolatey n’ smooth crisp n’ crunchy candy which I figure is a Nestle Crunch simulation.
Since there are no easily accessible ears, I just smashed the hollow bunny instead.
It smells like caramel and chocolate cake, not actual chocolate. The ingredients are sugar, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil (Palm Kernel and/or Palm Oil), whey, lactose, crisp rice, cocoa, skim milk, soy lecithin and vanillin. My goodness, cocoa is really far down on that list. On top of that look at the second ingredient, palm oil. Nestle has being going through a huge issue recently for not moving to sustainable palm oil - that campaign has targeted the KitKat bar, which uses a little dash of the stuff, for most RM Palmer products it’s a major component. It’s short sighted to encourage kids to “adopt” a chocolate bunny instead of a real one but then not use sustainable ingredients in the product itself. (Save a bunny, trash a rainforest?)
The flavor is sweet, the texture is grainy and there aren’t nearly enough crisped rice bits to make each bite crunchy. The cocoa notes are like cardboard and there’s a greasy film on the roof of my mouth by the time I finished three bites.
Blech. At least I can wrap what’s left back up in the foil and put it back in the little box and look at it instead.
Perfectly made and gorgeous Passion Fruit Caramels with a little hat of milk chocolate. (Amella now completely enrobes their caramels, I’ll have a review of the new version after Easter.)
Monday, March 29, 2010
Last year I picked up the Marich Select Easter Mix. While I thought it was a beautiful assortment what I really wanted for that price was something equally cute but with more chocolate. I’ve been so pleased with Marich’s expansion of their line of all natural and organic panned items, it’s also nice to see them doing products more in the novelty area that still fit with that line.
So not only are these new All Natural Holland Mints just the right combo of mint and chocolate, they’re also all natural. So my previous complaint about the artificial flavors and their aftertaste messing with the overall experience is gone completely.
Holland Mints go by a few names, depending on who makes them including Dutch Mints and Wedding Mints. They’re a simple minty fondant ball covered in dark chocolate then a crisp candy shell.
Honestly, I wouldn’t have known that these were all natural if someone didn’t tell me. The colors are cool and muted but still vibrant and appealing: magenta, pale blue, pale yellow and white.
The version I had last year had a polished shell, these are a matte version which I actually prefer. They’re smooth and cool on the tongue at first. I’ve mentioned before that these were what I thought the York Pieces should be like. It leaves me to wonder why I’m trying to make something from Hershey’s into something else when there’s already a product that fits the bill for me (and is priced far better than the York Mints that come in the tins).
I can eat them several ways. Sometimes I let the shell dissolve, then getting a smooth hit of the bittersweet chocolate then a powerful blast of the mint fondant. Other times I cleave the shell off to crunch it up and get to the chocolate quicker. Then there are days where I just feel like chewing the whole morsel up for a crunchy, sweet, chocolately and minty combo.
Marich’s All Natural Chocolate Jordan Almonds are what I’ve always wanted Almond M&Ms to be.
They’re a premium nonpareil almond at the center, fresh and perfectly roasted. Then it’s covered in truly rich dark chocolate then a crispy candy shell.
They’re huge, sometimes twice the size of the Almond M&Ms. They’re also beautifully panned and consistent (something that M&Ms haven’t been in the past 10 years or so).
Instead of the matte shell of the Holland Mints, these are a polished and shiny shell. The colors seem more intense though they’re the same: magenta, yellow, light blue and white. I usually steer away from pink or red candies because of the foul bitter aftertaste of Red Dye #40, but these are all natural so all I taste are almonds, sugar and chocolate.
The chocolate is what stands out here, while it’s not a thick layer, it’s creamy and smooth without a trace of graininess or chalkiness. Yes these are more expensive than M&Ms, but they’re just so much better. I hope these are a year round item from Marich.
I got these half pound samples from The Natural Candy Store but I’ve also seen them at Whole Foods in the candy case. I haven’t seen them in the stand up boxes yet. Though they’re all natural there are no statements about other allergens like Wheat/Gluten and they’re not Kosher.
POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:06 am
This little milk chocolate square is from a collection with names themed to the American Revolution but made in the Swiss style. Package photo here.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
Leonidas used to have many shops around in Southern California. Sometimes I’d pop in and pick up a few pieces, I was hoping to make it through all varieties eventually. Most of them are gone now (thankfully replaced by other sweet shops, so I just have other things to sample now).
The Eve piece is a milk chocolate shell with a thick base with a frothy banana creme inside.
Saturday, March 27, 2010
I ordered a box of Chocolate Crispy Eggs.
It contained a little milky plastic box with four eggs, two in dark chocolate and one in white and one in milk.
The chocolate eggs are about the size of a small chicken egg and are filled with a rich, creamy and not-too-sweet gianduia (chocolate/hazelnut cream) and some little crispies (kind of like corn flakes).
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.