Thursday, July 15, 2010
When I take my long walks early in the morning with the dog, I often see Passion Vines (photo of flowers). The variety here in Southern California is mostly ornamental, the fruits are edible but not as good as the true passion fruits grown for consumption.
These are Passion Fruit Caramels made with cocoa butter and covered in chocolate from Amella.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Their new Scottie Dogs licorice are also all natural. That means real licorice and anise extract and no artificial colors in there to muck up the flavor.
The package is classy and kind of European. The description on the front talks about the history of licorice and how the Pontefract Monastery in England spread the popularity of licorice candies. There’s a picture of the English castle, but then there’s some tartan there on the side, you know, for the Scottie dog. A little confusing. But hey, it’s candy, not a documentary.
When I got a black dog earlier this year, I resisted the temptation to give her a licorice themed name. Scottie would have been my choice (we had a cat named licorice when I was a kid). Of course she’s not a Scottie dog, nor a male and not even close to looking like James Doohan. Which probably would have been perfect. We named her Maya instead.
The pieces are thick and well molded. They’re about 1 inch tall (when they’re standing on their feet) and 1.25 inches from nose to tail.
This version of licorice isn’t based on wheat or molasses, so it’s a bit more one note. The base is corn syrup and sugar with a bit of starch for thickener. The texture is quite smooth when they’re dissolved as a lozenge. But they’re soft enough to chew, and soft enough to stick in my teeth.
The flavor is mostly anise but there’s a little hint of the woodsy and glycerin smooth licorice. They’re fresh and not filling or bitter. I enjoyed them, but it took several months for me to get through the bag, especially when I had other licorice items to choose from.
The classic bag of Gimbal’s Scottie Dogs is easy to identify as well, though I really liked the new all natural version’s packaging. I don’t think there’s actually any difference in the product itself, Gimbal’s didn’t use artificial colors or flavors in them before.
On the whole, I think I prefer my licorice with either more texture or more of a meaty bite. It’s purely a preference, but I like molasses with my licorice. These are certainly cute and great for themed parties and favors. They’re also a nice shape and size for snacking at movies (why don’t they come in theater boxes?). Obviously they’re a great choice for folks who like licorice but can’t tolerate the gluten in the more common wheat-based chews like Twizzlers or Red Vines.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
NewTree is one of those feel good chocolate companies that balances the desires of the chocolatiers with nutritionists. Most of their products that I’ve tried until now have been their standard Belgian dark or milk chocolate blended with herbs or spices. Things like ginger, coffee, mint or lavender.
More recently they’ve been doing herbal infusions with alpha omega 3 fatty acids - so going more towards a nutraceutical than a simple decadent indulgence. One of the bars that seemed more mainstream is this NewTree Dark Milk 51% Cocoa I found at Target.
It boasts 3x more fiber, a full 51% cacao content and 30% less sugar than regular milk chocolate. I don’t usually expect my chocolate to do anything other than be chocolatey, but I thought I’d give it a try.
The box is simple, an easy to open tab top with a thin silver foil around the bar itself.
The first thing I noticed was that the bar didn’t look anything like the package image. It doesn’t say New Tree on the pieces. It’s just a generic bar.
It’s a thin tablet, six by four. The snap is good, a little softer than a straight dark but not as soft as some fudgier milks I’ve had. The color is between a dark and a milk.
There’s a definite dairy scent to it, more than a cocoa note. The texture is smooth for the most part and rather light on the tongue. It’s a little sticky and has a cooling effect as it melts. It’s slightly chalky and every once in a while there’s a little fiber to it, or maybe it’s grit.
The cocoa notes are smoky and toasted, a light caramel tone and quite a bit of dairy.
The ingredients list is quite long: sugar, cacao mass, pure cacao butter, (inulin & oligofructose, dextrin) added for fiber, whole milk powder, natural vanilla flavor, vanilla bean powder extract, soy lecithin.
The trick with this bar is that the fiber takes up space that would ordinarily be occupied by sugar, milk or chocolate. The sweetness level of the chocolate is perfect, so the only reason to add more sugar would be because it’s cheaper than chocolate or milk. It doesn’t need more milk and any more chocolate and it wouldn’t really be milk chocolate any longer.
For folks watching their sugar intake, this is an impressive fete. There are 13 grams of sugar in a 40 gram serving, but also 2 grams of protein, 7 grams of fiber & 14 grams of fat and only 170 calories (about 20 fewer per ounce than standard milk chocolate). It doesn’t taste like a compromise and is actually a nice, less sweet but still rich experience. I ended up eating the whole bar, and not just because I was reviewing it.
It’s a bit expensive, but again, for something that’s slightly better for you than the usual candy aisle fare that doesn’t taste like “healthy candy” it would be a nice option.
With a name like Hedonist Chocolates I expected decadence. Yeah, it was that.
This was from the tea collection.
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.