Monday, April 26, 2010
The box for Mint Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites says New! in the corner, but I know these have been around for at least 18 months. There’s no expiry date on the package, but the fact that I haven’t seen them at the drug store before gives me hope that they’re fresh. They certainly looked and smelled fresh.
The product itself references several other confections. The original Cookie Dough Bites are little soft and chewy bits of “cookie”, like eating uncooked dough without the chance of salmonella since they’re egg free. To make them a little easier to eat they’re covered in chocolate. In this new version they’re Mint Chocolate Chip, which is not a cookie flavor but is actually an ice cream flavor. Of course cookie dough is also an ice cream flavor now. Everything is an ice cream flavor now. If it’s not, watch some Iron Chef, I’m sure it’ll turn up there.
The box isn’t very attractive, though at least it stood out from the other Cookie Dough Bites varieties because this one is green, which means mint. I don’t care for the sheer number of fonts on the front (at least 6) while the back is even worse.
The nuggets are little discs of “cookie dough” covered in milk chocolate. They’re nicely panned but not so highly glazed so they’re waxy (though there is a little shellac coat on there that’s hardly noticeable). They’re about the size of a peanut but of course some are larger or smaller - some are conjoined twins.
They’re called mint chocolate chip and the image on the package shows the cookie middles with little chocolate chips but I never saw any. I bit many in half, but there was no indication of chocolate chips in mine. They’re covered in a milk chocolate and smell rather minty, kind of like ice cream. The centers are a little grainy, they way that cookie dough is, a great texture. The slightly gritty and minty center goes well with the sweet and milky chocolate outside. There’s no real cocoa flavor to it, but the mouthfeel is good. They’re sweet and the center is just a little salty, but they’re just lacking something.
I know that there are lots of folks who just love Cookie Dough Bites, but they’re just not my thing. I prefer a more substantial textural difference and better quality chocolate. I don’t need partially hydrogenated vegetable oils in my candy.
Another perfectly molded bar from Ritter Sport.
Sunday, April 25, 2010
Trader Joe’s searches far and wide for candy suppliers, these little all natural Jelly Beans are from Ireland.
Saturday, April 24, 2010
It’s a simple confection, just sugar with some food coloring and a dash of mint oil then molded into the shape of a leaf.
As you can imagine, it’s very sweet.
Friday, April 23, 2010
While most candy is fruit or spice flavored there are a few that are floral. Parma Violets, made by Swizzels Matlow, are probably one of the best known, perhaps because they’re widely available in the UK and pretty cheap.
They come in little rolls of tablets, similar to another Swizzels Matlow product, Swizzels Fizzers. (Those in North America are probably more familiar with Ce De Smarties, also known as Rockets in Canada.)
The name Parma Violet is for the city of Parma in Italy. Starting in the 1500s the violet plants (possibly originating in Africa or East Asia) were grown, hybridized and traded by the ruling elite. They spread through Europe in manicured gardens as well as greenhouses and sunporches in cooler climates. The flowers themselves, besides being cut and used in bouquets, were candied and used as decorations and eaten. Violet flavoring was common in candies like chocolate creams, fondants and dragees through World War I when it eventually fell out of favor. Of course it’s still around, but certainly not as ubiquitous.
Parma Violets a compressed sugar tablet flavored like violet. The roll holds 14 little tablets that are 1/2 inch in diameter. They’re a soft lavender color and are now made with all natural colorings (since 2008).
The big difference I noticed in the ingredients is that they’re made with sugar (sucrose), not dextrose. Dextrose or glucose is the sugar of choice for Smarties and SweeTarts in the US, it’s a monosaccharide that is actually less sweet than sucrose (which is a disaccharide). Parma Violets are made from sucrose. So they’re quite sweet, sweeter than I expected from a “chalky” candy. The texture is the same as most other compressed sugar candies, it’s soft on the tongue and has a slow and sugary, slightly grainier melt.
Of course the overriding flavor of the candy is violet. Yes, the flowery kind. A honey-sweet smell of violets - cloying and definitely not nuanced. Violet for me is a humid flavor, moist and sticky like syrup. Part of this is probably because I gathered bouquets of violets in the yard as a kid and associate the smell of the real thing with dewy grass. These are dry and don’t stimulate a whole lot of saliva from me.
The aftertaste is mellow and long-lasting. For folks who like jasmine, rose or orange blossom over mint as a breath freshener, violet might be for you.
The good news (at least for me) is that the package contained the smell adequately. Since I tend to carry around a lot of candy at once, it would have been a travesty to contaminate my Mast Chocolate Bars with violet.
They’re a curiosity for me, I ate three packages without complaint but only because they were in front of me. I can’t see buying them again, but I guess I’ll have to see if a craving kicks in. I prefer the panned layering of Anis de Flavigny.
Just another shot of the mild Panda Soft Herb Licorice. (Review here.)
Thursday, April 22, 2010
The Girl Scout Handbook is the first recorded transcription of the recipe. For the uninitiated, S’mores are constructed like this: a fresh toasted marshmallow is mashed on top of a piece of milk chocolate between two graham crackers. Three great tastes are made better by their association.
I don’t consider S’mores themselves to be a candy, because they violate one of the primary rules of candy: it must be ready to eat and require no cooking or assembly.
The Russell Stover Giant S’mores Bar takes the assembly and toasting out of the equation.
I had to buy my bars online at the Russell Stover webstore because I couldn’t find them in any of the shops near me. At $1.49 it’s a bit more expensive than other candy bars, but it’s also unique so I figured it was worth it.
The bar looks exactly as it’s depicted on the wrapper. The 2.5” graham cracker squares sandwich a large square of milk chocolate covered marshmallow.
In all instances at least one of my graham crackers wasn’t quite stuck to my marshmallow, but reassembly was simple.
It was messy, biting into the corners was fine, but the deeper I got into the bar the more crumbling of the graham cracker and flaking of the chocolate I got. The marshmallow center was moist and fluffy, just like all the other chocolate marshmallow products from Russell Stover. The chocolate tasted milky and fresh. The graham cracker tasted like cereal and kept it all from being too sickly sweet.
In case you’re wondering, yes, you can microwave it. I put it in the microwave for 15 seconds, but took it out at 12 when the innards came oozing out. It makes a horrible gooey mess and the marshmallow deflates into a sticky latex bonding agent that gets dry and tacky. I lost a lot of it to the plate.
I’d say in the future I will just lay in a stockpile of whatever seasonal marshmallow product is around, like the Marshmallow Egg and then get my own graham crackers to make my own since these are so hard to find. It’s a great idea and pretty well executed with good quality ingredients.
The other item that prompted me to do my web order was the Russell Stover Dark Chocolate Mint Dream. They’ve been out for about a year, but I hadn’t seen them in stores. (I thought for sure they’d do an Easter version.)
The dark chocolate puck is a fluffy mint cream covered in dark chocolate.
It’s about the same size as the holiday Eggs, at 1.125 ounces it’s a nicely sized portion and rather economical on the calorie front with only 140 calories.
I bought three of them and all of them had cracks with innards leaking out. But still, they’re handsome and well proportioned at about two inches in diameter and about 1.25 inches high.
I feel a little bad reviewing these because of the cracking problem. I can’t say for sure what the filling is supposed to be, as I wasn’t sure if the leaking problem meant that the texture changed. The inside was similar in texture to the Raspberry Whip, but perhaps smoother. It’s almost a marshmallow, just as fluffy but the ingredients list no gelatin.
The mint is light and fresh, the center has a little salty note to it to even out the sugary sweetness. The dark chocolate isn’t terribly rich but it’s still creamy and not so sweet that it makes it all too cloying. It’s different from the fondant style of a Junior Mint, far fluffier and creamier. It’s enrobed instead of panned with a light glaze, so the chocolate melt is better. I would probably buy these again and would be willing to re-evaluate the breakage and seeping issue at that time.
These look great, smell woodsy and wonderful. I wasn’t as keen on the actual flavor, I’m guessing it’s because there are artificial colors in there.
The ideal for me is still the Walker’s Nonsuch.
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.