Monday, June 21, 2010
Just some generic grocery store candy from Amsterdam. They’re Albert Heijn Tum Tum. Albert Heijn is a grocery chain and the tum tum candies are just an assortment of jellies, gumdrops, chocolate nonpareils and gummis. Mostly they’re fun to look at but there’s usually something for everyone in there.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
This is from a Giant Eagle store in Younstown, OH. I’ve always been so jealous of this candy selection and usually priced at $2.50 a pound it was quite a deal.
I feel like going candy shopping. Where do you get your best deals?
Friday, June 18, 2010
Rain Republic makes small batch chocolate with locally sourced ingredients right in Guatemala. Naturally this means that the cocoa beans are Guatemalan, specifically they’re from Suchitepequez. In addition the other two major ingredients are also Guatemalan, the sugar (evaporated cane juice) is from Retalhuleu and the vanilla beans are from Coban. The only thing that’s not local is the soy lecithin.
I first discovered them at the Fancy Food Show in January 2010, but was intrigued when I saw their first American offering was via wine.woot.com in April.
The idea of single origin is nothing new, but the notion that the product is actually produced in the country of origin is quite appealing. (In many cases cacao farmers in very isolated areas never taste the products made from their beans.)
This triple single origin is packaged quite cleverly. The bar is sealed in a light mylar sleeve. That’s tucked into a paperboard box made of recycled content. the construction of the box makes it easy to put the uneaten chocolate back in and tuck in the tabs to protect the bar. The graphic design is bold and original, focusing on the story of the bar as well as the ingredients - a little line drawing of each item is the main focus and provide the only color.
The bar is 2 ounces and what I’ve found with a lot of these single origin bar is that’s plenty for me. Though most candy portions are about 2 ounces, 1 ounce of very dark chocolate is plenty satisfying for me. That’s probably good because one bar contains 360 calories and 76% of my saturated fat for the day.
That fat is what attracts me to the bar. While it’s 70% cacao, it’s obvious that much of that cacao content isn’t the solids, it’s the silky cocoa butter.
The bar smells smoky and dusty. There are woodsy notes, but mostly it’s like cocoa instead of chocolate. The rather dark and chalky looking exterior fooled me. I was concerned that it would be dry. It has a distinct snap and great tempering. There’s a quick melt on the tongue and it was apparent to me right away that this was smooth stuff. It’s quite silky and rather light on the sugar. There are dark burnt sugar notes (evaporated cane juice often contributes those flavors as it has more molasses in it). It’s woodsy and slightly acidic, so there’s a dry and bitter middle portion in the tasting. The silky cocoa butter covers that very well. A little hint of coffee, licorice and rosemary. But a good, robust flavor profile.
The big question now is where to get more of this! If you’re curious keep an eye on their facebook page. They also have some great photos there of the farmers and cacao trees. The price was $3 per bar on Woot, but I don’t know what the retail will be. $5 would be reasonable.
Do you need to separate your different flavors of candy before you eat them? What if the candies are only different colors, do you still line them up before consuming?
(These are Tiny Chiclets, reviewed here.)
Thursday, June 17, 2010
I hear there’s this bunch of football (soccer) games going on halfway around the world. When I say hear, I mean, hear. Literally, there are people in my neighborhood of have been watching it live and I can hear it in my house.
Fini is a Spanish confectionery company who makes mostly sugar candies like gummis, jellies and novelty gumballs. These World Cup themed gumballs are shaped like a football and feature a flavored liquid filling. They’re just called Bubble Gum Football - Liquid Filled.
The package has just four pieces in it, but each is a good mouthful for chewing, not quite enough for adequate bubble blowing (which is probably preferable to vuvuzela blowing even if it means people will step in gum, they’ll still have their hearing).
Each piece is .75 inches in diameter. I’m accustomed to soccer balls that are black and white with a hexagonal pattern. These are white (well, pink) with a red (well, darker pink) concentric circle pattern.
The flavor, I believe, is strawberry. The gum part has a light sugar coating, but it’s only barely crunchy. The grainy sugar of the gum itself is overshadowed by the tangy berry goo in the center. It’s a nice combination and the chew is soft and pliable for quite a while. When all that fades the bubble blowing can begin, but by then I’ve lost interest and have to toss that piece in favor of a new one.
Since Wimbledon is around the corner I thought I’d include another more convincing faux sports ball gum that I got. This was a little Tennis Ball Bubble Gum. The gumball is the one on the left, the one on the right is an actual tennis ball. Even though it doesn’t have a coating of fluffy fuzz, the surface at first glance has that texture and a dead on match for the color. The Fini website shows that these are sold in tubs that look like something a Tennis Club would buy to feed the ball machine. I’m sure they’re also in bulk and seen in vending machines for a quarter.
Because the piece is so large at 1.25 inches in diameter, I couldn’t just pop it in my mouth and chew. It was more of a bite/gnaw in half and then chew item. The innards are not a goo (though that’s what their website shows), it’s a little pile of sour crystals. At first when I opened it, it was like a little confectionery geode.
The flavor is a mild lemon-lime, almost like a Mountain Dew but sometimes I thought it had a green apple note. The chew was fresh and soft, and it got even softer as I chewed it before the sugar dissipated and it became stiffer. The bubble blowing capabilities were okay, not the best I’ve ever had in a gumball, but passable. The flavor didn’t stick around very long, but my style of gum chewing is to discard it after the sugar is gone anyway.
These are adequate as gum, but probably more attractive as a novelty item. For less than a dollar I’d probably pick up the World Cup themed ones, just because they did seem like descent quality and a little special for the event. The tennis ones are just amazing to look at, and for decorative purposes alone they will get many customers.
Going to a wedding this month? Jordan Almonds used to be common as a wedding favor. These were pretty cheap ones I got at the drug store with thick shells (box here). They were very crunchy, more like chewing on rocks (which I enjoy).
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Some treats are just a combination of existing treats. Take a pretzel stick, roll it in caramel and then dip it in chocolate & drizzle with more chocolate. These are Dip Sticks. (I never reviewed these because I ate them when I had a cold and can only comment on their texture, not the flavor.)
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
There are a few summer-safe candies beyond the standard hard candy lollipop. Coconut bars are a great option because they provide a good bit of texture and flavor and a light tropical flavor that’s a change of pace from nuts.
The Blue Ribbon Neapolitan Coconut Bar is pretty simple. It’s a soft and moist coconut plank that comes in three flavors: strawberry, vanilla and chocolate. (Just like the ice cream.)
The bar is pretty big at 2.5 ounces and packs 320 calories, and being coconut that means that it has 75% of your daily allotment of saturated fat. That’s a lot of fat for a bar that doesn’t even have any dairy in it ... 150 calories from fat - and possibly vegan depending on how you feel about invert sugar.
The bar is pretty and easy to eat. The strips are neatly divided and the whole bar smells simply like sweet coconut.
The strawberry layer is lightly floral and strangely sweeter than the others. The pink coloring gives it a little weird metallic note, but I could ignore that as I rarely ate a bite of it without some of the adjacent vanilla.
The vanilla layer is just plain old coconut. It’s a little saltier than the center of a Mounds bar, not quite as moist, but not dry either.
The chocolate layer is kind of toasty with only a hint of cocoa flavor, kind of like chocolate graham crackers aren’t really very chocolatey. The salt here was really noticeable as well. It kept it from being too sweet, but I did have to note that there are 210 mg of sodium in the bar, more than I care for in a serving of my dessert or snack.
They travel very well, and even though it’s uncoated, it’s remarkably un-sticky and easy to eat. The instant boost of calories makes it a good meal replacement (though certainly not balanced). There are not fillers in there either (some bars have corn flakes in there). Not recommended for folks who don’t like coconut, of course.
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.