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October 2010

Monday, October 18, 2010

Kraft & Ferrara Pan Caramels

Kraft CaramelsKraft Caramels are one of those products that transcends the definition of candy. Like chocolate chips, they’re also an ingredient in countless recipes. I’m more likely to see these bags in the baking aisle of the grocery store than the candy section.

Kraft Caramels were introduced in 1933, the same year Kraft brought Miracle Whip into people’s lives. In a strange twist, Kraft decided to sell their industry-standard caramels and spun them off with a few other brands to a new company called Favorite Brands. They made the caramels with the Kraft name for two years under the agreement, but after that they rolled them into their other candy brand, Farley’s and called them Farley’s Original Chewy Caramels. Well, I don’t know if you remember those years of not being able to find Kraft Caramels ... I’m not sure how brand aware I was at that time, but I think I considered myself confused and ended up buying Brach’s Caramels. Kraft got their caramels back in 2000 and I think they learned their lesson. (You can read more here.)

Kraft Caramels

The caramels are packaged simply and perfectly. Each cube is wrapped in clear cellophane, like little gifts with the surprise spoiled with the transparent packaging.

The color is beautiful and mine were fresh, slightly soft and glossy. They smells sweet, like vanilla pudding. The bite is soft and easy, but not a stringy chew. It’s also not quite a fudge texture. This style of caramel is called a short caramel, the sugar and milk is completely emulsified so there are no sugar crystals. The sugar is caramelize, so it has a light toffee note to it along with the mellow dairy flavors of the milk.

Kraft Caramels

The chew is interesting and flavorful, but lacks a bit of the stickiness that I desire in a caramel. I like a complex flavor and silkier texture. They’re sweet but at least have a salty note to balance that out. They stick in my teeth a bit, but don’t bind my molars together like some stale Sugar Babies can do.

The ingredients are decent enough for cheap candy: corn syrup, sugar, skim milk, palm oil, whey, salt, artificial flavor and soy lecithin.

I understand that one of the benefits to this style though is its versatility for recipes. They can be melted and added to other ingredients like swirled into brownies, drizzled on popcorn and of course their most popular use - caramel dipped apples.

There are 32 calories in each caramel cube and they’re still made in the U.S.A. Kosher.

Finally, an early TV commercial for Kraft Caramels:

Ferrara Pan Traditional CaramelsWhile looking for Kraft Caramels these past few weeks, I stumbled on these smaller bags of Ferrara Pan Traditional Caramels. This little 6.75 ounce bag also included sticks for making the classic caramel covered apples.

Ferrara Pan is known for their panned candies (hence the company name) like Lemonheads, Boston Baked Bean and Atomic Fireballs. A boiled sweet like caramels is kind of out of place, but then again Ferrara recently branched out into chocolate, so why not caramel?

Ferrara Pan Caramels

Turning over the bag to compare the ingredients I found something more substantially informative. Ferrara Pan doesn’t make these. They’re made by Embare in Brazil. Embare is a premiere candy maker in South America, known for their dairy-based confections like caramels and pudding mixes. Caramel has a fine tradition in South America, so why not go there for some great ones?

Ferrara Pan CaramelsThey look just like the Kraft version. They’re the same size, and have roughly the same variations. (Some are bigger than others and have little ridges on them from manufacturing.)

The cellophane seems a little heavier and is actually sealed at the ends. They’re soft enough to pinch. They don’t smell like much out of the wrapper.

The bite is much softer and chewier. They’re not quite a stringy caramel, but halfway between. They’re not as sweet as the Kraft variety, quite smooth and have a strong real vanilla flavor profile. The caramel notes are also great - a little toasty with just a hint or rum or molasses.

Each cube has 27 calories. I don’t actually mind that they’re made in Brazil and I appreciate Ferrara Pan saying exactly who is making the product.

Ferrara Pan Caramels & Kraft Caramels

On the left are the Ferrara Pan and on the right are the Kraft. They really do look the same.

The ingredient list on the Ferrara Pan version is longer: Sugar, corn syrup, skim milk, hydrogenated vegetable oil (soybean, cottonseed and/or palm kernel), whey, milk, cream, salt, soy lecithin, mono- & di-glycerides, artificial vanilla flavor.

I can’t say which is better for recipes, but I preferred the texture and flavor profile of the Ferrara Pan. But I can’t say that I really loved either, if I really wanted a bite sized caramel, I’d probably go for Sugar Babies, pay a premium for See’s ... or make my own.

Related Candies

  1. Bequet Gourmet Caramels
  2. Grandma’s Caramels
  3. Caramel Texture Poll Results
  4. Werther’s Original Chewy Caramels
  5. Sugar Babies
  6. Caramel Previews: Mitchell Sweets & Caramoos


Name: America’s Classic Caramels
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Kraft
Place Purchased: Target (West Hollywood)
Price: $2.49
Size: 14 ounces
Calories per ounce: 111
Categories: Candy, Kraft, Caramel, Kosher, 5-Pleasant, United States, Target


Name: Traditional Caramels
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Ferrara Pan
Place Purchased: Rite Aid (Echo Park)
Price: $.99
Size: 6.75 ounces
Calories per ounce: 113
Categories: Candy, Halloween, Ferrara Pan, Caramel, 6-Tempting, Brazil, Rite Aid

POSTED BY Cybele AT 1:41 pm     CandyReviewHalloweenFerrara PanKraftCaramelKosher6-TemptingBrazilUnited StatesRite AidTargetComments (7)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Halloween 2010 Product Run Down

Since this is the sixth Halloween I’ve covered on Candy Blog, it’s hard to find Halloween candies to feature that I haven’t reviewed before. So I thought I’d do a run down of what I’ve been seeing in stores again this year for the Halloween Season. These are just candies that are special to Halloween, not regular candy in large bags or with special wrappers.

Candy Corn Kisses

HERSHEY’S

  • Caramel Apple Kisses (review)
  • Candy Corn Kisses (review)
  • Pumpkin Spice Kisses (review)
  • Orange colored KitKats
  • Reese’s Pumpkins
  • York Peppermint Patties shaped like Pumpkins with Orange colored filling
  • Sky Bar - Eclipse - Caramel Filled  Milk Chocolate

    NECCO

  • Twilight Eclipse Candies (review)
  • Mary Jane Peanut Butter Kisses (review)
  • Clark Wicked Mix (review)
  • Mary Jane Wicked Mix (review)
  • Mellocreme Zombies (I still haven’t found these)
  • Candy Corn

    FARLEY’S & SATHERS (BRACH’S)

  • Brach’s Milk Maid Caramel Candy Corn (review)
  • Brach’s Autumn Mix (review)
  • Brach’s Halloween Mix (flavored mellocreams in holiday shapes) (review)
  • Brach’s Indian Corn
  • Brach’s Mellocreme Pumpkins
  • Brach’s Gummy Candy Corn (review)
  • Bat Dots

    TOOTSIE

  • Blood Orange Dots (Bats) (review)
  • Ghost Dots (Clear)  (review)
  • Candy Corn Dots (Vanilla)  (review)
  • Orchard Mix Caramel Apple Pops (review)
  • Vanilla Tootsie Rolls
  • Caramel Apple Sugar Babies
  • JUST BORN

  • Peeps Cocoa Cats (review)
  • Peeps Chocolate Pumpkins (review)
  • Peeps Ghosts & Pumpkins
  • NESTLE & WONKA

  • Butterfinger Pumpkins
  • Spooky Nerds
  • Whitman's Candy Corn Marshmallow

    RUSSELL STOVER & WHITMANS

  • Russell Stover Peanut Butter Candy Pumpkins
  • Whitman’s Candy Corn Marshmallows (review)
  • Russell Stover Coconut Dream Pumpkin
  • Russell Stover Chocolate Marshmallow Pumpkin
  • Russell Stover Dark Chocolate covered Marshmallow Pumpkin (review)
  • Russell Stover Strawberry Cream Pumpkin
  • Russell Stover Marshmallow Pumpkin (milk chocolate) (review)
  • Jelly Belly Mellocremes

    JELLY BELLY

  • Jelly Belly Deluxe Halloween Mix (review)
  • Jelly Belly Giant Candy Corn
  • Jelly Belly Sour Gummi Pumpkins
  • Jelly Belly Fall Festival Mix
  • Other

  • Riegelein Confiserie Foil Wrapped Halloween Chocolate (review)
  • What have you seen in stores ... or what have you had trouble finding this year?

    POSTED BY Cybele AT 2:43 pm     CandyHalloweenHighlightFeatured NewsShoppingComments (10)

    Thursday, October 14, 2010

    Eat with your Eyes: Honeycomb Peanut

    Honeycombed Peanut

    Unlike Circus Peanuts, Honeycomb Peanuts are more like you’d expect based on their size, shape and color. They look like peanuts, are about the same size as a small pair of peanuts in teh shell and actually taste like peanutty candy. They’re a light orange colored hard candy filled with a crunchy peanut butter center (kind of like the middle of a Butterfinger Bar).

    I usually pick them up in bulk bins. They’re also considered a vegan candy.

    POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:26 am     CandyHighlightFeatured NewsComments (8)

    Wednesday, October 13, 2010

    Equal Exchange Dark Chocolate: 65%, 71% & 80%

    Equal Exchange Dark ChocolateThe first experience I had with fair trade chocolate as Equal Exchange exactly five years ago. I was in love with their ethics and their product. Fair Trade as a concept means that everyone in the chain to create a product for sale gets a fair payment. It also means that working conditions are safe and that child labor or slaves are not engaged.

    The bars are now much easier to find and the breadth of the program and the product line has expanded over the years. I was sent this assortment of their darkest bars: Ecuador 65%, Very Dark 71% and Panama 80%. First of all, they’ve redesigned their packaging to great effect. The wrappers are simple and compelling and distinctive in the now cluttered world of chocolate bars. The focus is on the product and the producers, the inside of the wrapper details Equal Exchange’s programs.

    Each bar is 3.5 ounces and is certified organic and Kosher. Unlike some Fair Trade bars, all of the ingredients in Equal Exchange’s dark bars are Fair Trade content.

    Equal Exchange Dark Chocolate

    The Organic & fairly traded Dark chocolate from Ecuador (the bar on the top of the pile) is 65% cacao content. The bar looks crisp and perfect, right down to the snap when I broke it in half. Each bar is sealed inside an opaque plastic sleeve to keep it fresh.

    This silky, 65% cacao content origin bar is reminiscent of baked brownies fresh out of the pan. Highlighting the work of cacao farmers in Ecuador, the bar’s sweet, fudgy richness is balanced by hints of citrus and floral notes.

    This bar did have a crunch to it, the tempering was crisper than the other two bars. It smelled of toffee and stewed fruits. It was sweet on the tongue at first but had a lot of flavors going on immediately, a light tangy note of apricots and then some more fudgy flavors like the tasting notes predicted. It was sweet and didn’t have the puddly melt like the others but still had a very fine texture.

    Equal Exchange Dark Chocolate

    The Organic & fairly traded Very Dark chocolate is 71% cacao content but doesn’t list the origin beyond “Latin America.” The bar was nicely molded, shiny and with no voids or bubbles. It had a slight red cast to it.

    71% has a great blend of flavor characteristics. It has a rich scent, very woodsy with coffee and cherry notes. On the tongue I was getting more green notes, like olives and asparagus plus a little hint of charcoal. It’s bitter but also has a silky melt that’s also a little sticky.

    Equal Exchange Dark Chocolate

    The Organic & fairly traded Extra Dark chocolate from Panama is 80% cacao content. This bar was more of a smoky brown and had less of the red color that the other two had.

    This 80% cacao content bar is Equal Exchange’s darkest yet. Unlike many high cacao content bars that are dominated by a bitter or sour note, this bar is perfectly balanced in a way that allows the true chocolate flavor of the Panamanian beans to shine.

    This bar smells distinctly like raisins, tangy and fruity with a little wine note to it. The flavor is the same: a strong tannin base but with berry and cherry notes. It’s a little tangy but with a great soft melt on the tongue and a light dry bite. For a very dark bar this is incredibly munchable, smooth and not too bitter or chalky.

    I found myself drawn to both the 80% and the 65% for wildly different reasons, they were all distinct but those two fit my desire for rich chocolate at the moment. I liked the wrappers and the plastic sleeve that held its own (I was able to put the uneaten portions back in there without making a crumbly mess or melting it by handling too much).

    Equal Exchange has also made some more “candy” version of their bars such as Organic Chocolate Caramel Crunch with Sea Salt and Orange Dark Chocolate. I’ll have reviews of those soon. All of their chocolate is a pretty good value, retail for these bars is around $4.00 which is less than some of the more upscale bars but more than your standard Lindt or Ghirardelli.

    They’re vegan, soy free and gluten free. They may contain traces of tree nuts, milk and peanuts.

    Related Candies

    1. TCHO Fruity
    2. Sweet Earth Chocolate Cups
    3. 3400 Phinney: Fig, Fennel & Almond and Hazelnut Crunch
    4. Equal Exchange: Espresso, Mint & Nibs
    5. Equal Exchange Miniatures
    6. Divine Chocolate: Fair Trade
    7. Equal Exchange Chocolate


    Name: Dark Chocolate: Ecuador 65%
      RATING:
    • SUPERB
    • YUMMY
    • TASTY
    • WORTH IT
    • TEMPTING
    • PLEASANT
    • BENIGN
    • UNAPPEALING
    • APPALLING
    • INEDIBLE
    Brand: Equal Exchange
    Place Purchased: samples from Equal Exchange
    Price: $4.00 retail
    Size: 3.5 ounces
    Calories per ounce: 156
    Categories: All Natural, Candy, Green Halloween, Equal Exchange, Chocolate, Ethically Sourced, Kosher, Single Origin, 8-Tasty, Switzerland


    Name: Very Dark Chocolate 71%
      RATING:
    • SUPERB
    • YUMMY
    • TASTY
    • WORTH IT
    • TEMPTING
    • PLEASANT
    • BENIGN
    • UNAPPEALING
    • APPALLING
    • INEDIBLE
    Brand: Equal Exchange
    Place Purchased: samples from Equal Exchange
    Price: $4.00 retail
    Size: 3.5 ounces
    Calories per ounce: 156
    Categories: All Natural, Candy, Green Halloween, Equal Exchange, Chocolate, Ethically Sourced, Kosher, Single Origin, 8-Tasty, Switzerland


    Name: Extra Dark Chocolate Panama 80%
      RATING:
    • SUPERB
    • YUMMY
    • TASTY
    • WORTH IT
    • TEMPTING
    • PLEASANT
    • BENIGN
    • UNAPPEALING
    • APPALLING
    • INEDIBLE
    Brand: Equal Exchange
    Place Purchased: samples from Equal Exchange
    Price: $4.00 retail
    Size: 3.5 ounces
    Calories per ounce: 163
    Categories: All Natural, Candy, Green Halloween, Equal Exchange, Chocolate, Ethically Sourced, Kosher, Single Origin, 8-Tasty, Switzerland

    POSTED BY Cybele AT 4:42 pm     All NaturalCandyGreen HalloweenEqual ExchangeChocolateEthically SourcedKosherOrganicSingle Origin8-TastySwitzerlandComments (2)

    Tuesday, October 12, 2010

    Storck Merci

    Merci Chocolate AssortmentStorck Merci were introduced 45 years ago by the German candy maker. It was always position as a hostess item, small individually wrapped pieces of chocolate in flavors to suit everyone.

    The package calls it the Finest Assortment of European Chocolates. They’re priced pretty well for an upscale styled hostess gift, I paid $5.29 for my box that weighs 8.8 ounces (that’s less than $10 a pound). The ingredients are heavy on the sugar and milk and a bit lighter on the cacao content, but it’s all real chocolate in there.

    I picked these up mostly because I’ve never reviewed them. But I was also curious if there was a difference between these and the newer Werther’s Chocolates.

    Merci Chocolate Assortment

    The assortment comes in a smart and spare little box. It’s made of thin card but styled to fit the sticks perfectly. There are 20 but only 7 varieties ... so the breakdown was a little odd for my tastes:
    4 x Milk Chocolate
    3 x Hazelnut-Creme, Dark Mousse, Hazelnut-Almond & Praline-Creme
    2 x Coffee and Cream & Dark Cream

    The little bars are three inches long and 3/4 of an inch wide. There’s a little score in the center to snap them in half easily. All are imprinted with the word Merci on each segment.

    Merci Chocolate Stick Assortment

    Praline-Creme

    I didn’t take an individual shot of this one. It’s a milk chocolate bar, the wrapper has a purple band on it. The filling is a sweet cocoa paste that’s rather truffle like. It’s all quite buttery and melts well, there’s even a slight hint of salt to it. It didn’t do much for me, there’s something missing, probably a stronger chocolate note.

    Merci Milk Chocolate Creme

    Milk Chocolate

    The focus on this piece is milk. Actually, it’s more like butter. The melt is silky smooth and quick with a slight grain to it. The dominant flavors are powdered milk, caramelized sugar and a light note of cocoa.

    Merci Hazelnut Creme

    Hazelnut Creme

    It’s a milk chocolate bar with a filling of sweet, milky hazelnut paste. It’s very sweet but has a good grassy and roasted flavor of hazelnuts to it. I’d probably prefer it in dark chocolate ... but then again if I were really looking for a gianduia fix I’d go for some Caffarel. It’s definitely rib-sticking.

    Merci Coffee Creme

    Coffee and Cream

    This was far and away my favorite. It smells like freshly ground coffee. There are two layers, a dark chocolate and a white chocolate base. The coffee is far and away the strongest flavor, so much so that I couldn’t really detect any chocolate notes in there. The texture is smooth and has an excellent melt that’s a bit firmer than the milk chocolate varieties. The coffee is bold with a light acidic note and a hint of charcoal and toffee.

    Merci Dark Mousse

    Dark Mousse

    The Dark Mousse is dark chocolate filled with a chocolate cream. The bar was beautiful looking, glossy and nicely tempered. The chocolate has strong berry notes with a little hint of black pepper and raisins. The mousse filling was a little more of a paste than a cream but wasn’t very sweet, it was like a good chocolate frosting. The whole thing had a lightly dry finish to it.


    Merci Dark Cream

    Dark Cream

    I was confused at this point about the difference between Dark Cream and Dark Mousse. Dark Cream was more like a dark bar, no filling as far as I could tell.

    The flavor was like a dark milk chocolate, there were strong dairy notes, something I didn’t get at all from the Dark Mousse. It wasn’t as sticky or sweet as the milk chocolate and also had a hint of a dry finish to it without being chalky. It was firmer than the nut and milk versions of the little bars, but it was still pretty soft and melted quickly into a puddle in my mouth. (It was not swirled though like the Werther’s Dark Cream was.)

    Merci Hazelnut Almond Milk Chocolate

    Hazelnut Almond

    This was my second favorite variety. As far as I can tell it’s just the milk chocolate with crushed almonds and hazelnuts. The scent is still sweet and milky but has a great roasted nut flavor. The little nibs of nuts are chewy and fresh - mostly hazelnut comes through.

    I enjoyed these, though I hesitate to say that they’d satisfy any of my strong chocolate cravings. This had a wonderful texture and luxurious melt, but not a lot of cocoa punch. I see them more as accompaniments than stand alone treats.

    Each stick is about 73 calories (it does depend on the variety) and features 14% of your recommended daily allowance of saturated fats. (But there’s also a bit of protein, calcium & iron in there.) There are also a lot of allergens in here. The only ones that aren’t listed are eggs and of course shellfish.

    As for the Werther’s Chocolates that Storck also makes ... I don’t see any reason to pick those up instead of these unless you’re only going by price. The ingredients seem a bit better, I like the packaging and the fact that you get a variety in the box is a plus in my mind (though if you don’t like all the flavors that’s a negative). They really are a great hostess gift and a nice item to have on hand to serve with coffee or dessert. A little stack along with some cookies would make an excellent little treat without being too fussy. And the word Merci doesn’t hurt, everyone enjoys a little thank you.

    Related Candies

    1. Storck Toffifay
    2. Choceur Coffee & Cream
    3. Ice Cubes
    4. Milka Alpenmilch
    5. Storck Chocolate Riesen


    Name: Merci
      RATING:
    • SUPERB
    • YUMMY
    • TASTY
    • WORTH IT
    • TEMPTING
    • PLEASANT
    • BENIGN
    • UNAPPEALING
    • APPALLING
    • INEDIBLE
    Brand: Storck
    Place Purchased: Target (West Hollywood)
    Price: $5.29
    Size: 8.8 ounces
    Calories per ounce: 164
    Categories: Candy, Storck, Chocolate, Coffee, Nuts, White Chocolate, 7-Worth It, Germany, Target

    POSTED BY Cybele AT 3:30 pm     CandyStorckChocolateCoffeeNutsWhite Chocolate7-Worth ItGermanyTargetComments (3)

    Page 2 of 4 pages  < 1 2 3 4 > 

    Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.

     

     

     

     

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    COUNTDOWN

    Halloween Candy Season Ends

    -25 days

    Read previous coverage

     

     

    Which seasonal candy selection do you prefer?

    Choose one or more:

    •   Halloween
    •   Christmas
    •   Valentine's Day
    •   Easter

     

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    ON DECK

    These candies will be reviewed shortly:

    • Theo Chocolate Nutcracker Brittle

    • Orgran Molasses Licorice

    • Rogue Chocolatier

    • Godiva Chef Inspirations

    • Hachez Braune Blatter (Chocolate Leaves)

     

     

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