Friday, April 30, 2010
The Wonka Exceptionals Fruit Jellies are a bit more classic. They’re simple cubes of real fruit jelly made from all natural ingredients in Mexico. They come in single flavor boxes, the initial varieties are Grapefruit, Goji Berry and Red Apple.
They are packaged similarly to the Fruit Marvels. The label sleeve is over an eye-popping magenta and maroon box. Inside the box is an unlabeled purple mylar bag. It’s a lot of layers, and while I enjoy the fancifulness, it’s really wasteful.
The package simply describes them as fantastically flavorful soft jellies dusted with sugar. I also got a press release that said:
The ingredients go like this:
The beta carotene is the only ingredient that isn’t marked as all natural, though it’s certainly not an artificial color.
I’ve had a lot of pate de fruits over the years, which are full fruit jellies. They’re usually thickened with the actual fruit instead of corn starch though sometimes there’s additional pectin (depending on the fruit). Though the new Wonka Fruit Jellies don’t quite rise to the level of pate, they do a good job with the texture and are less sweet than gum drops or fruit jellies like Boston Fruit Slices.
The scent is a beguilingly authentic grapefruit peel. Grapefruit is a favorite smell for me, even clinical testing backs up its use for aromatherapy - the smell of grapefruit soothes, engenders trust and youthfulness (for women being sniffed by men, anyway). I like it because it smells like something I want to eat. It’s a mix of balsam, lavender, lemon and windy beach.
The half inch jelly cubes are rough and dusted with sugar. They’re a little messier than a gum drop but not as dusty as Turkish Delight. They’re soft to the touch but firm enough that they can’t be squeezed flat very easily. The moist jelly has a nice give, it’s not a sticky as a gum drop, these are more of a jam you can eat.
The flavor is mostly about the zest and grapefruit peel but there’s a light juice note with a little tangy snap. They’re not too cloying or sticky sweet, but not quite intense enough for me to call them a true pate de fruits.
The berries are related to tomatoes, peppers and eggplants. They have tiny little seeds in them but they’re edible and provide a little bit of texture, though not quite like, say, kiwi or fig seeds do.
The package says nothing about where the flavor for these comes from, just that it’s natural. The whole point, as far as I can tell, of people eating goji is because of its high antioxidant properties, so just flavoring something with goji seems like a miss.
They’re sweet with a little tangy note. Kind of like raisin and orange. Not really that interesting to me.
Note: the Goji variety of the Fruit Jellies uses cochineal color, so they are not vegan.
The flavor notes are reminiscent of apple cider. There are notes of apple peel, a mellow and honey-like sweetness along with a light tart bite.
My hesitations with these are because of the excessive packaging, but for a natural fruit jelly product they’re priced rather well but still quite a bit steeper than other gummis or jellies. (They’re about twice the price per ounce compared to the Wonka Sploshberries.) The size of the pieces is perfect, I just pop them in my mouth, no messing biting & putting half aside. I do love grapefruit, which is a hard flavor to find, and apple lovers may enjoy a real fruit experience too. Goji can go, hopefully replaced by something really inventive ... maybe we’ll finally find out what a snozzberry is.
I’m not a huge fan of marzipan, but cover it in chocolate and I’ll definitely give it a try.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
The newest variety of M&Ms is just hitting the stores. Pretzel M&Ms were introduced at last year’s NACS (National Association of Convenience Stores) show. I love the fact that they brought back the skittish and paranoid Orange M&M character for these, he used to be the mascot for the discontinued Crispy M&Ms (which also came in a blue package).
The new product is just what it sounds like: a salty pretzel sphere covered in milk chocolate then the colored M&M candy shell.
The little X-ray of the M&M shows the pretzel inside him. Well, it shows a twisted pretzel, what’s inside here is pretzel nugget.
Though the bulk of the package is similar to the Peanut ones, the weight is not. There were 16 candies in my package but it weighs only 1.14 ounces. (Milk Chocolate M&Ms are 1.69 ounces.) The front of the package has the new “what’s inside” nutritional info: 150 calories. That’s a great tally - a respectable and filling snack but not so many calories to displace a nutritionally balanced diet. The back of the package says that there’s 30% less fat than the average of the leading chocolate brands. This appears true, there are 132 calories per ounce, where most of the chocolate candies I review are between 142 and 160 calories per ounce. The pretzels are a lot of air and of course made of flour, a carbohydrate.
The candies vary in size; they’re about 2/3 to 3/4 of an inch in diameter. They come in five colors: Red, Green, Blue, Brown and Orange. (Milk Chocolate and Peanut M&Ms also come in Yellow.) As near-spheres they’re vexing for snacking at my desk. When I tried to line them up and separate by color they just rolled around ... the Milk Chocolate obloid spheres definitely have the advantage there.
They’re crunchy, a little salty and sweet. The crunches are different - there’s the candy shell which is light and sweet, then the malty and salty pretzel center. The milk chocolate gives a little cocoa and milk flavor along with a creamy note.
I didn’t love them completely, I don’t know what was missing for me, maybe it was that there wasn’t enough chocolate for me. I also prefer dark chocolate on my pretzels to milk chocolate. Still, they’re a great addition to the line and more snack than dessert. They’re an excellent movie candy since they’re not too filling, have a savory and sweet mix and of course the are easy to share. They should be placed in every movie concession stand for the summer season.
Pretzel M&Ms are available at WalMart now, they’ll be in wider distribution starting in June 2010.
A co-worker brought these back from Spain for me last year. They came in a tall box, but what was fascinating about them was how they did actually look like black truffles.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
As with many sour iterations of popular products the package went for yellow and green, the seemingly universal colors of tartness.
The package design is cute. In this case the blue Dots logo dominates to give cohesion with the other boxes on the shelf (currently I’ve been seeing classic Dots, Yogurt Dots and Tropical). The little Dots themselves are depicted in each of the five colors with puckery faces. They’re called The Dot that bites back!
The flavor assortment is middle of the road, though not just a sour dusted version of the regular fruit Dots (which come in Strawberry, Cherry, Lemon, Lime & Orange), these are Grape, Orange, Lemon, Green Apple and Cherry
The Dots are a traditional smooth jelly center with a sour coating that includes citric acid and malic acid. Dots boxes are wrapped in cellophane so they’re soft and fresh.
The sour coating is definitely tart, the kind of sour that makes the back of my jaw tingle.
Grape - very sour and quite artificial but ultimately a chewy gum drop version of Pixy Stix.
Orange - so sour it’s almost salty at first, but the zesty notes of the gum drop give this a flavor depth that few other sour citrus candies have.
Lemon - really more like lemon peel than lemon juice, it’s fresh, bitter and tangy all at once. It really gave the feeling of those shaken lemonades from the fair.
Green Apple - not quite a Jolly Rancher, it’s far too tart. It’s more than just the chemical green apple, there is a hint of apple juice in there.
Cherry - this one was simply caustic. The cherry flavors were artificial and buried beneath the sourness, it was like fruity/woodsy toilet cleaner. I do admit that the cherry notes, once the sour is gone are rather deep, but still not my thing.
The smooth gum drop centers set these apart from other sour dusted jelly candies like Sour Patch Kids. They’re chewy, but kind of a slick smoothness that the others don’t have, there’s no graininess after the sour sanding dissipates. They don’t even stick to the teeth in the quite the same way as regular Dots. They’re a great value for only a dollar and some nice deep flavors. I found myself avoiding the cherry and green apple, but I’m sure that I could find friends (or husbands) to share those with.
I bought a bag of Caramel Creams just so I could take photos of them. (Review here.)
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Here in the United States we have as many as 16 different Ritter Sport chocolate bars to choose from. In the United Kingdom the regular offerings number 19 and in Germany, the home of Ritter there are 23. But what Germany has in addition to their wide variety are the seasonal editions.
I picked up the three Spring Specialties, called Frühlingsspezialitäten 2010, at Mel & Rose Wine and Spirits last week on a lark. (In Europe the Summer Specialties are already available.) The three limited editions are Haselnuss Krokant, Cashew in Alpenmilch and Bourbon Vanille. They’re all milk chocolate bars.
The 100 gram (3.5 ounces) bars are the same square format made of a grid of 16 blocks of chocolate. The Haselnuss Krokant or Hazelnut Brittle isn’t exactly a brittle (a crunchy caramelized sugar).
The package, being an import, is all in German: Gefuillte Vollmilchschokolade mit einer Haselnuss-Creme (36%), Haselnuss- und Mandel-Krokant (6%) und Reis-Flakes (3%). A little online translation help and I think it’s: Milk chocolate filled with a hazelnut cream (36%), hazelnut and almond crunch (6%) and rice flakes (3%).
It’s a stunning bar with a sweet and nutty scent. It’s less about the milk chocolate and more about the textures and flavors of the center. It’s creamy and sweet with a milky hazelnut paste. Dotted in that are little rice flakes, kind of like the cornflake bar, but a little crunchier with less of a malty-corn note. Though it mentions hazelnut and almond crunch, I never quite got that specifically, but maybe I was confusing that crunch with the cereal.
It’s sweet and decadent, really fatty and creamy but with enough of a flavor punch from the nuts that I was satisfied with a row of four blocks. It’s too bad that this is a seasonal variety and most readers are unlikely to come across it. There was a similar piece in the Ritter Schokowurfel assortment called Crocant, which was just a hazelnut paste with crispies.
The next bar has a great spring flair. The Cashew in Alpenmilkch is a simple alpine milk chocolate (30% cacao) with cashews (14%). It’s not quite as nutty as the dark chocolate hazelnut bar that I’m accustomed to; the cashews here are crushed instead of whole.
Even the underside of the bar didn’t display much when it came to the nutty contents. (The hazelnut bars are distinct with their nubbly bottoms showing off the large, whole hazelnuts.)
I’ve noticed alpenmilch bars often have a softer texture and bend more than break because of all the milk. This one wasn’t soft or fudgy, it had the same satisfying snap to it.
It smells sweet and nutty and a little like yellow cake. The chocolate notes are just a hint of caramel and a lot of dairy milk. The cashews give it a fresh crunch, a little soft and grassy without the floral notes that pistachios often bring. The overall flavor notes I get though are much more on the bakery side of things than chocolate - honey and fresh angel food cake.
A touch of salt might add a little more dimension to this, but then again this bar stands out as different from the other nutty Ritter Sport bars I’ve had. They hit on something that’s not just a different set of ingredients but a different taste profile that might just win some different fans.
This bar uses the full milk chocolate as does the Haselnuss Krokant instead of the alpine milk of the Cashew in Alpenmilch.
I was hoping this bar would be a straight vanilla cream version of the Yogurt bar or perhaps if that center is too tangy, maybe like the Cappuccino bar. The scent was a bit more like the former than the latter. The format is the same, a firm cream center inside a molded milk chocolate bar. I was hoping for something that approached the vanilla experience of the Green & Black White Chocolate bar but a ganache.
I can’t say that the smell gave me much hope for the bar, and it went downhill from there. It was sweet and it did have some deep oaky and tobacco notes that I like when I stuff my nose into a bundle of whole vanilla beans. But the milky/yogurt notes also gave it a spoiled vibe, it reminded me of Gouda, actually more like Play Doh. Completely non-toxic but not exactly mouth watering. The texture is good, the center is soft and though not silky smooth, it’s not too grainy either. It’s a bit like a super-smooth fudge but not fatty enough to be a ganache. The chocolate is overpowered by the cheese and vanilla to the point where all I got was the sweetness and melt.
It’s like someone made a vanilla flavor from reading about what it’s supposed to taste like instead of the actual stuff. Maybe if someone gave this to me and didn’t say it was supposed to be bourbon vanilla I’d say, “Wow, this is the best Ritter Sport maple syrup and chevre bar I’ve ever had.” But it didn’t go down like that. It just turned me off. This was the one bar in the assortment that I didn’t finish.
Au’some’s 3-Dees gummis are like little glass figurines. That you can eat.
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.