Friday, March 26, 2010
In my attempt to try everything this Easter I bought some pretty stupid candies. The Jumbo Gum Ball Eggs are pretty high up there. It wasn’t so much that it’s a stupid purchase (it was only 99 cents) but that it’s a stupid product.
But let me go backwards a bit. I have a definition for candy. It’s kind of long and includes a list of criteria. One of them is that the product needs to be ready-to-eat. This means it doesn’t need assembly (though might benefit from it) and doesn’t require implements or tools, especially ones not provided.
They are 2.25 inches tall and weigh about 1.75 ounces each. Yes, they’re hollow but they’re about a third of an inch thick.
A gumball the size of a small chicken egg requires tools. I used a saw.
I was able to stand on one of them without smashing it. After chewing the slice I’d cut off the top I did manage to smash and pull apart the larger piece by stomping on it and then prying it apart. It’s tough stuff. The package says that a single serving is half an egg, but of course gives no clue about how to sever it yourself.
The candy shell is thick and crunchy and the gum inside is rough and leathery, kind of like playing with thick rawhide. It smells slightly like Juicyfruit gum. The overall flavor is sweet with a light fruity and tangy note that disappears quickly as the sugar dissolves with chewing. The flavor is inconsistent and has cinnamon and bubble gum notes from time to time. It’s an all sugar gum, which tend to lose their flavor quicker than the artificially sweetened ones. That’s fine with me, I like to chew mine up, make a few bubbles then toss it out and put in a new piece.
It does work as a bubble gum, but certainly not very well.
They’re fun to look at and would make nice decorations. For a child they’d be a frustrating mess. If you lick it the blue colored shell will run (and could stain clothing or upholstery). A parent or older child would need to help with creating manageable bites - so really I don’t recommend this for anyone under the age of 14 and of course must caution folks when using tools like saws or a serrated knife to cut this open.
Again I come back to saying that these are probably better than plastic stuff for decorating, though obviously they’re not waterproof.
They’re made in China under the house brand of CVS. They also came in pink (photo of them on store shelf here). I admit that I’m concerned about the safety of the food colorings because of the origin of the product but I have no facts to support that.
An all natural Hammond’s lollipop. How simple, just a little boiled sugar and corn syrup and a lot of work. (Review was here.)
Thursday, March 25, 2010
After a long and very white winter I’m guessing some folks are looking for a colorful spring rebirth with their Easter candy. Godiva sent me a few of their extensive Easter candy offerings and I do say that they have a great aesthetic.
I like to play with my candy, so the item I was most interested in getting a hold of is their Spring Pearls bag. The new Milk Chocolate Pearls come in two versions. The all orange candy coated milk chocolate spheres inside a cone shaped bag to look like a carrot. It’s not original but their version is drop-dead cute even if I find the ideas of carrots appearing as a spring or Easter motif hilarious. Carrots are a root vegetable and are planted in the spring but not harvested until the fall.
Even if the carrot is vexing I was still far more interested in the Spring Pearls because of the soft colors (less food coloring). There are three colors in this assortment: pale yellow, light green and soft pink.
The bag holds four ounces but the tag says that a single portion is 1.4 ounces (about 23 pearls) - which means that there are 2.86 servings in the package. Each pearl is approximately 1.74 grams and provides 8.26 calories.
But yeah, they’re $8.00 for a four ounce bag, which makes them $32 a pound or $2.00 for a single ounce.
This would be a serving size.
Just look at them! They’re so pretty. How can you argue with $2.00 an ounce when you’d get such enjoyment out of simply looking at them?
I found a Sixlet to photograph with one of the Orange Pearls as a comparison. The Pearl is on the left and the Sixlet is on the right. The colors are practically identical. Of course the difference is inside, Sixlets are a chocolate flavored candy and Pearls are actual milk chocolate.
The color of the M&M is a smidge darker if you’re trying to imagine the shade of orange the Pearls are.
The most vexing thing about these Pearls is the fact that they’re shiny spheres. They roll. So lining them up on the desk according to color isn’t easy. I’d need a special tray but I improvised by putting them between my F keys and number keys on my keyboard. (This doesn’t work so well on my laptop, which gets warmer. When sugar shelled panned chocolates get warm the shells tend to crack.)
The flavor is great. The shell is crunchy and the chocolate inside is smooth and creamy with a good dairy milk chocolate flavor. So much better than M&Ms which I sampled at the same time. But they actually weren’t better than the new Russell Stover Color Me Candies which are only 37 cents per ounce. (Yes, that’s 80% less.) The pretty bag simply isn’t worth that much.
I honestly had no trouble eating all of them. They are really well made and the fact that they’re spherical, I think, keeps them from chipping like the lentil shaped candy coated chocolate kin. I just can’t rationalize the price unless you simply must have a sphere - then I would definitely pay the difference instead of Sixlets. But hey, it’s Godiva, and giving a gift that has such an esteemed logo attached to it also means something. If you’re in the shop picking up something else that they do better than anyone else (and that’s always worth it), then it might be a nice addition. (I really vacillated between a 6 and a 7 out of 10 but let the price sway me towards the lower number.)
I bought a bunch of Japanese KitKats recently. (Photo here.)
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
A good malted milk ball is hard to find. Even worse, the good ones are hard to get. I don’t know why I expect to get some tasty malted milk at my nearest drug store or grocery, perhaps it’s because so many other quality candies are available these days.
But the mass-produced malted milk balls have been getting worse and worse while the gourmet styles seem to have branched out into novelty flavor combinations to the point that the classic is hardly available. There is a season for malted milk balls and it’s Easter.
Trader Joe’s has a milk carton package of Milk Chocolate Malted Milk Eggs that gave me hope. I also loved the price: $2.49 for 10 ounces of real chocolate malt balls.
The carton is cute, it’s the same base dimensions as a half gallon, but obviously shorter (I’m guessing it’d hold a quart). It’s 10 ounces of beefy malted milk eggs made with real milk chocolate. They lack the outer candy coating that most Easter varieties have, but that’s not the end of the world. It’s the center and the chocolate that count.
These eggs are large, about the size of a shelled pecan. They’re glossy and consistent. When I stick my nose into the spout of the carton they certainly smell like a sweet chocolate malt.
I think they have the perfect ratio of malt center to chocolate coating, so that’s a good start. The chocolate is soft but not gummy and though there’s a glaze on the outside (to keep them from sticking together) it doesn’t make the chocolate waxy.
But then there’s the center. The center is a good density - not too dense so that it feels like I’m eating styrofoam insulation and not too flaky so it feels like I’m eating yeast sprinkles. It’s crisp and has a mild malty and milky flavor ... but it also tastes like smoke to me. It’s as if all the air bubbles have some sort of burning plastic smoke trapped in them. Maybe I got a bad batch, but I just can’t get over it. I’ve tried, and I figure the fact that I’ve had these for about 10 days and haven’t finished them is a sign.
I might pick them up again (or have you tried them?) but since they’re seasonal I might just let it go. No sense falling in love with something that’s not going to be around.
I’ve often lamented the fact that I can’t just eat the center of the malted milk balls. After all, I don’t need the chocolate, that’s not what attracts me to them. So after years of looking I found a place online (via some helpful readers) that sells the uncoated malted milk ball centers.
I ordered two one pound bags from Nuts Online. (The shipping got a little screwed up and I had to wait ten days to get them, apparently there was some sort of snow storm back on the Eastern Seaboard in February, they really should have said something in the papers about it.)
These are quite lovely. They’re crispy and dissolve quickly on the tongue. The malt flavors are intense and well rounded with a bit of a yeasty note and a little salt. I went through a one pound bag in the matter of a week. I still have a second bag that I’m hanging onto for those severe cravings that come after Easter.
They’re probably great for baking or desserts. They’re definitely good for munching. I can see them as a great movie treat because they’re not too sweet. Like most crispy candies you have to be very careful not to leave them out in humid conditions, they deflate and get tacky (I think we’ve all gotten the malted milk ball that’s just a gooey puddle inside.)
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.