Thursday, January 20, 2011
Hawaiian Host is one of the better known macadamia nut companies in Hawaii (the other would be Mauna Loa, which is now owned by Hershey’s). They make a variety of macadamia products, including the best iteration possible, the Hawaiian Host Dark Chocolate Whole Macadamias. Hawaiian Host even says that they invented the chocolate covered macadamia nut, though I’d say it was an inevitable thing like radio, skateboards and hot cocoa mix.
Macadamias were known as the premium nut when I was a kid. The most expensive, the most exotic and the most decadent. (And probably the most fattening.) I have to say that I never really cared that much for them. I’d treasure them when I’d have them, but I never went out of my way to request them or acquire them.
They come in a little, single serve package that holds two chocolate covered macadamias. It weighs only .74 ounces and at about a buck a package, that’s a bit on the expensive side, but it also keeps you from eating too many and there’s only 110 calories in the package.
The nuts are big and generously coated with dark chocolate. They’re about 1.25 inches around at the base. It smells like dark, rich hot chocolate.
The macadamias are fresh. They’re crunchy, crispy and have a light coconut and pine nut flavor to them. The chocolate is rich but a little chalky in flavor but not texture, it’s hard to describe, but it had a powdery note to it, like the difference between cocoa and chocolate. It’s not particular dark but also not overly sweet or sticky. It strikes the right note and ratio with the nuts.
They’re little bites of Hawaii. A fun little treat and a lovely gift to bring back to your dog sitter or coworkers.
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
I picked up this box of Jila Mints late last year. I was drawn to the box. It’s a cute little flip top box, a little over three inches tall and one inch wide. The design made me think they were Finnish or Swedish for some reason, but it turns out they’re made in Australia by a company called Ferndale Confectionery.
The Spearmint Jila Mints are themed in green. The back of the box has some charming copy: Jila round mints are made to last long, clearing the nose and freshening the breath. Refreshment from natural mint essence and energy from added glucose make them the ideal, modern personal accompaniment in work and social situations.
They’re made from sugar and glucose. Glucose is a little less sweet than sucrose, so I was looking forward to a mintier mint with less of a sticky sweet finish.
They’re a solid panned mint. A very small bead of mint is slowly coated in layers of sugar in a tumbling barrel over hours and days. This method has been used for hundreds of years (usually starting with a fennel seed as the center, like Anis de Flavigny).
They’re beautiful little matte green spheres. They’re about the size of large peas or dried garbanzo beans. They remind me of those small Atomic Fireballs and in a way they’re just a spearmint version.
The spearmint flavor is soft and has a strong herbal flavor that kind of penetrates like menthol. It doesn’t have that “green” or “grassy” flavor that spearmint candies or tea can sometimes get. The flavor goes through and though and is sometimes a little stronger in some layers. The mint lasts a long time and is practically un-crunchable for the first portion of the dissolve, when it gets much smaller, sometimes I can crush it.
They also come in Peppermint. I didn’t buy a box of them, but I did find after taking this photo that I had a sample from some trade show in my archives. Jila Mints Peppermint comes in a similar box, the design is navy blue and the mints themselves have no coloring at all. They’re just a soft white sphere. The flavor of the peppermint is quite woodsy at first but then mellowed out to a soft mint, like a Tic Tac.
I like this style of mint, even though I’m a hard candy cruncher. There was no distinction, really, between the layers as they dissolved, which gave me the sense that they were crafted with care and consistency. The price was pretty good for a box that contained about 1 ounce - the comparable Anis de Flavigny can cost several times this though they do come in a wider variety of flavors. The box is easy to carry and share and of course is easily recycled.
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
NEWTREE is a Belgian chocolate company with a different take on the decadent chocolate traditions of their country. They make chocolate bars with interesting flavor combinations (like milk chocolate with lavender or dark chocolate with thyme). They also make bars that are fortified with healthy ingredients.
I picked up their new petite bar called NEWTREE Belgian Biscuit. It’s cute and just a little over an ounce.
Last year I reviewed their dark milk chocolate bar which has added fiber and less sugar. This bar also boast a reduced amount of sugar, though it doesn’t really save much in calories for a petite bar like this (about 5 calories as far as I can tell).
It’s a really nice looking bar - lovely molding and I like the shape for eating. It’s shiny and has a good cocoa aroma with a fresh woodsy note to it. It’s a long block with five thick sections.
The thickness let me really get the crunch of the biscuit bits. They were kind of like graham crackers, but not quite so sandy. They were small but well distributed. Then there were whole flax seeds. I like the idea of flax, but in reality they’re slimy little seeds that taste like fish to me. I’ll eat them and they’re just fine for savory crackers but I’ve decided they don’t belong in my chocolate.
The chocolate itself was strange. It was stiff and was lacking something in the melt, it wasn’t waxy but it also wasn’t quite the silky quick melt that I wanted. The flavor was rich but not deep.
I think I’ll stick to the more traditional Belgian chocolates and have an extra helping of green beans at dinner instead.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
The Judson-Atkinson Candies Tropical Sours are called the original soft center sour. They’re kind of like giant sour jelly beans, each is about the size of a hazelnut in the shell.
This theater box holds 4.5 ounces. Like many of Judson-Atkinson’s other candies, the packaging isn’t exactly compelling, but it’s at least easy to spot.
White is Pina Colada. It starts out with a light sweet coconut flavor, once I cracked the grainy candy shell I got a little burst of floral and lightly tangy pineapple. It’s not a sour candy at all, but it’s still like a great, mellow gourmet jelly bean.
Pink is watermelon. I don’t consider it to be a tropical flavor and it certainly wasn’t a sour flavor either. It was sweet and about as powerfully flavored as real watermelon is. I wasn’t disappointed that there were only five of these in the box.
Orange is some sort of tropical fruit like Mango. It’s hard to tell without a guide, but there was a peachy note to it and a light tangy flavor as well with some woodsy elements that remind me of mangoes.
Yellow is a mystery. It’s tart but not overly so, it’s not citrus flavor as far as I can tell and not pineapple. It was pleasant but not vibrant enough to go in a package called Sours.
Red is Fruit Punch and is quite a refreshing sort of berry flavor. I liked it, it was tart without the tangy notes completely blasting away the red raspberry flavors.
All of the flavors were nice enough but none qualified for a the category of Sour. They were barely on the range of “hint of tangy”. As giant jelly beans in tropical flavors, they’re decent enough. I paid far too much for these. I see the regular boxes of Sours at the drug store for a buck which I think is quite fair for pure sugar candy made in the States.
The candies aren’t marked Kosher and is tree nut free (though is processed in a facility that utilizes milk, soy and peanuts). There’s no gluten statement and they’re not vegetarian/vegan because of the presence of carmine.
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Yes, I’m the type of person who eats sugar straight. Mostly brown sugar, but sometimes raw sugar and of course honey. Then there’s maple sugar. That’s a kind of sugar that’s actually marketed in little molded shapes to be eaten straight by non-sugar-obsessed folks.
Big Sky Brands of Canada is known for their little compressed sugar candies like Jones Soda Carbonated Candies and Yogen Fruz Smoothies. Their new Maple Ice Mints Original are far more subtle and dare I say, elegant.
The tin is rather ordinary but does the job. It has all the convincing faux wood grain of a early 1980s station wagon. It’s about 3.25 inches long and 1.75 inches wide.
Inside the tin are 30 little mints, each is about the size of an extra strength aspirin. They have a small maple leaf on one side. They smooth but leave a little powdery residue. They smell woodsy and sweet, like maple. The ingredients list both cane sugar and maple sugar, the color of them is a light sandy white and since there are no artificial colors in there, I’m guessing that’s the maple sugar that does that.
They’re sweet and have a light fresh mint hint far in the back, but mostly they’re a soft maple flavor. The great thing about the maple flavor is that it’s not sticky like the syrup and other sugar candies.
The problem with them is the price, I suppose. They were about $2 for less than an ounce. It’s tough in a Tic Tac and Altoids world to sink twice as much money into these. They’re not minty enough for me to consider them a mint, in that mints are consumed one or two at a time and then set aside for another day. Nope, I wanted to eat the whole box of them at once. I succeeded in eating them in three separate sittings. They still leave my mouth fresh and were wonderful with tea or just as a little delight in the middle of computer frustrations.
The package doesn’t say anything about the gluten status or nuts but they do appear to be all natural and probably vegan. (There’s calcium stearate in there, but I’ve never seen a candy that uses an animal source for the ingredient since the vegetable version is so cheap.)
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.