Wednesday, September 15, 2010
This mix has three different varieties, one for each of the main characters in Eclipse: Peanut Butter filled Milk Chocolate (Jacob), Chocolate Truffle filled Milk Chocolate (Bella) and Caramel filled Milk Chocolate (Edward). The bag contains 20 pieces and weighs 10 ounces. As the Halloween candy was just being placed on the shelves in stores over the weekend, I didn’t get this on sale, so yes, I paid $3.99 for less than a pound of chocolate candy from the drug store.
The package design is rather nice, I like the new deco style Sky Bar logo design, it’s not completely subservient to the Twilight logos & look, but does well in combination. The artwork on the package shows what’s inside very well, and describes the product accurately. It’s a peeve of mine when makers of licensed products just think they can slap a logo and movie key art on there and folks don’t care what’s actually inside.
The Bella themed piece is Chocolate Truffle filled Milk Chocolate. The shape is of a large heart with the Bella name on it. Each piece is a half an ounce, so it’s a pretty large bite of chocolate. It’s about an inch and a half long and over a half an inch thick.
Necco is very helpful on the back of the package and lists the ingredients and nutrition information for each variety, so I was able to see that the ingredients were actually pretty good. It’s made with real chocolate for the shell and the center “truffle” is also real chocolate with a small boost of partially hydrogenated palm kernel oil (not that much though based on how low it is on the list, right before soy lecithin).
The center isn’t quite crumbly, but is dry and has a melt like a Frango. It has some cocoa flavors, but mostly it’s a sweet balance of vanilla and the milk of the chocolate coating. There’s a slight grain to it, which is made of salt. This definitely gave it some interest and kept it all from being sickeningly sweet. It wasn’t very strong on the chocolate front and definitely didn’t have the vibe of an actual chocolate truffle.
80 calories each.
The Caramel filled Milk Chocolate piece for Edward Cullen is very nicely crafted. It’s the Cullen crest in milk chocolate.
I opened a few pieces and they were all in excellent condition, glossy and with nicely created details.
So for the vampire character, inside his family crest is a salty, caramelized sugar syrup. This was by far the saltiest piece of the set (though only 25 mg per piece). The milk chocolate smells sweet and milky. The piece has a good snap and gooey bite because of the syrupy nature of the caramel filling.
The first thing I got from the caramel was a salty hit, the second thing was a cereal flavor note. I can’t quite describe it, it’s like a combination of butter flavoring and Cheerios or Sugar Pops.
It’s very sweet, a little too much for me as it gives me a sore throat, but it is a mercifully appropriately sized piece.
Peanut Butter filled Milk Chocolate is the piece themed for Jacob, the werewolf. I guess peanuts are earthy and wolves are wild animals, so maybe that’s the connection.
The little medallion is cute, it’s a oval with a howling wolf relief and full moon.
The whole piece is soft. It has a good roasted peanut scent that has a light floral and grassy note. The filling however, disappoints. It’s missing something, it’s like it’s been watered down (or perhaps oiled up with some partially hydrogenated palm oil). The center is smoother than a Reese’s PB Cup and less crumbly, but it needs to melt a bit to get the flavor out. So it’s greasy and just unsatisfying. The only thing I can say is that the piece is balanced well on the sweetness and didn’t really need more salt in it.
80 calories each.
10 of the pieces in the package if 20 were Peanut Butter. The breakdown for the others as 6 for Caramel and 4 for Truffle. So it’s either random assortments, or the peanut butter is deemed to be the most popular (or possibly cheapest).
I’m not fond of the Sky Bar, but these strike me as much better than that. First, everything was fresh (and I’m pretty sure that every Sky Bar I’ve ever bought was three years old) - even when a candy is on the cheap side, freshness does wonders. I wasn’t keen on the use of partially hydrogenated palm kernel oil, but I don’t think it comprised a large amount of the product. I like the choice of these flavor variations, the vanilla cream piece I tried last year was simply uninspired. These feel like they could stand on their own without the licensing tie-in. I would never spend this much on this quality of chocolate if I didn’t have this blog, so if you’re interested in these, I wouldn’t spend more than $2.99 - hopefully you can find them for $2.00 or so on sale.
I couldn’t find any statement about gluten on the package, though no wheat ingredients are mentioned. It has all the other allergens though - soy, dairy & peanuts plus processed on equipment with eggs & tree nuts.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Earlier this year one of America’s largest licorice companies introduced something radically different for them. American Licorice launched Natural Vines. They come in black licorice (true licorice) and strawberry licorice (red licorice).
I liked the package, it’s a sharp looking kraft brown with black vine swirls. It stands up well, with a gusset on the bottom. It looked pretty small but each bag is a half a pound. I was a little aghast at the price though. I paid $2.99 for mine. I’d been looking for it in stores for a while and finally found it at the grocery store and it wasn’t on sale. I bought a half a pound of Red Vines last month for a dollar, so this stuff is three times the price.
As the name implies, they’re all natural and feature real licorice extract. The style is America, with its soft chew and molasses and wheat flour base.
Yes, they’re slick looking and shiny. They’re also sticky; far too sticky for my liking as they’re almost moist.
The smell lightly spicy like a cup of chai or a gingerbread cookie. Each nub is about an inch long and a big bite or two small bites.
The chew is soft and a little bouncy. It doesn’t stick at all to my teeth and has a mild flavor overall. The molasses is woodsy, but not bitter. There are notes of toffee and of course anise. There’s also that true natural licorice flavor, which is light and sweet and a little slick on the back of the throat.
The flavor is fresh but also not very intense. I found it easy to eat but not actually satisfying to my cravings for really intense licorice and deep molasses. They’re better than regular Black Vines (or Red Vines Black Twists as they’re officially called), I can’t give them a higher rating. The stickiness, mildness and vastly higher price didn’t really balance it all out.
The ingredients are considered vegan (although there’s cane sugar in there). Also of note, there’s no artificial colors or corn syrup (they use rice syrup). The only hinky ingredient is palm oil, though it’s not much as each 1.41 ounce serving contains only one gram of fat. There’s also 15% of your RDA or iron, 6% of your calcium and a gram of fiber & protein.
Monday, September 13, 2010
When Bonomo’s Turkish Taffy was discontinued by Tootsie back in the late eighties, candy fans searched far and wide for an adequate simulation. For years candy stores suggested Doschers Famous French Chew Taffy. (I even tried it.) But earlier this year Bonomo’s Turkish Taffy returned. I tried the other flavors: Vanilla, Chocolate & Strawberry, but when I picked them up, I also decided to get a package of the Banana in both the Bonomo & Doscher’s brand to compare head-to-head.
As far as the stats go, they’re a little different on a few fronts. I paid $1.99 for the Bonomo and only 99 cents for the Doscher’s. The Bonomo bar is slightly smaller at 1.5 ounces to the Doscher’s 1.62. The ingredients are similar, both are basically corn syrup, sugar and egg whites. The Bonomo uses mono- & di-glycerides while the Doscher’s uses hydrogenated soybean oil (only 1 gram of fat for the bar, so it’s not that much) and a dash of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda).
Both bars are artificially colored. The Doscher’s is a little more dusty yellow than the Bonomo. Doscher’s feels lighter and fluffier, in fact, when I bend it, it’s more pliable. It’s like it has a little air folded in, more like a nougat than a taffy.
The Bonomo is very smooth. It’s a bit stiff at first to chew, but the flavor is bold and consistent. The banana is a bit artificial, relying only on that circus peanut note instead of some other things like vanilla to round it out.
The Doscher’s tastes a little more starchy in comparison, like a Nilla Wafer with banana flavoring. The airy texture seems to make it dissolve quicker, so I actually went through the bars in about the same amount of time. The flavor wasn’t as intense but also seemed friendlier.
On the whole, they’re different but similar enough for me to lump them into a list of taffy products that are descent enough but just not my thing. If you’re a die hard fan of either, I can see why you can’t just swap one for the other.
Thursday, September 9, 2010
For a long time I’ve thought that Arcor candy is some of the worst in the world. Arcor is a huge company and makes candy for many Central and South American countries and actually has quite a big presence in the United States as well. I find their chocolate products disappointing, as well as those with cookies or nuts in them. So I was rather surprised at how much I liked these filled hard candy fruit rods I picked up in July. They little wrappers call them Veni.
They’re made in the Italian tradition of fruity filled hard candies. The wrappers are also nice, a heavy foil with a wax paper lining. The anana (pineapple) was particularly good.
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
I like the bag, it’s a little gusseted mylar/plastic bag that stands up easily. There’s not a lot of extra air or weight to it, so it seems efficient but still inviting and durable.
The package says that they’re Soft Creamy Caramel that Melts in Your Mouth. I didn’t know what that meant because the image on the front was just a drawing, not a photo of the actual product. The ingredients list didn’t actually sound that tasty: Sugar, Vegetable Fat (from one or more of the following: Sheanut Oil, Illipe Butter, Mango Oil, Sal Oil, Palm Oil), Cream Powder, Sweet Whey Powder, Butter Fat, Maltodextrin, Skim Milk Powder, Fat Reduced Cocoa, Soy Lecithin, Caramel Sugar Syrup, Artificial Flavor, Salt.
It sounds like some sort of artificial coffee creamer.
The pieces inside are individually wrapped and look a lot like other Werther’s Original Caramel products. Each was well protected and emerged looking in good condition.
The pieces are odd. They’re stocky oval swirls of solid “white confection” in some sort of butter toffee flavor. I was thinking they’d be like butterscotch baking chips. The color is kind of dead - it’s not yellow (or even artificially colored at all) but more of a that grayish color that some people turn before they faint. They’re shiny, but not slick looking. The color reminds me of support stockings.
The smell is, well, buttery. It’s fake but not like the Buttered Popcorn Jelly Belly. It’s pleasant and not overwhelming. There’s a lot of milky dairy notes to it, and guessing from the ingredients that’s an authentic scent. The bite is like a white chocolate confection. It’s quite smooth but lacks a good melt - it’s like the melting point is a little too high for the human mouth. So it’s vaguely waxy and greasy at the same time. The flavor is lightly salted and buttery with a toffee and caramel note.
I just can’t figure out why I’d want to eat these, unless I was looking to put on weight and perhaps get some calcium (8% of your RDA in 7 pieces). They’re not too sweet, but also just not very satisfying for any of the cravings I get on a regular basis.
I like the classic Werther’s products, but their diversion into chocolate products (I don’t know what to even call this) is hugely disappointing. I think the best caramel product Storck makes is Reisen.
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.