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March 2011

Monday, March 7, 2011

Helliemae’s Salt Caramels

Caramels are best when they’re made fresh with only a few ingredients. There are decent caramel simulations found in commercial stores, but the true stuff cannot be readily imitated with the shelf life necessary for large scale business.

Helliemae's Classic Salt Caramels

These small boxes from Helliemae’s Caramels contain a half a pound each; they’re like little sugar and dairy bricks. The caramels themselves are made from the classic ingredients and nothing else - sugar, butter, cream, vanilla and sea salt.

Helliemae's Classic Salt Caramels

Each caramel is a large square, about 1.3 inches across and a little less than an inch high. They appear to be molded instead of cut, because they have slightly angled sides, like ice cubes. The Classic Salt Caramels have a generous dusting of flaky sea salt on top.

When I first bit into them I was impressed by the smooth texture, firm chew that wasn’t too tough. They’re a bit sticky but when consumed with some hot tea or coffee that dissolves quickly. But the salt on top was too much for me. The caramel itself was perfectly salted to begin with ... a few grains up there would have done me fine, but it wasn’t a flurry, it was a blizzard with consistent accumulation.

I’m a bit more sensitive to salt than many of my pals, so I handed some off and found the same comment - far too salty. So for the rest of them I found myself scraping the salt off as completely as possible or eating from the bottom and discarding the crusty tops. 7 out of 10

Helliemae's Cardamom Caramels

I was also given a single sample of the Cardamom Caramels. Cardamom is a hard spice to use, especially with a confection like caramel which tends to boil away the intensity of flavors. In this case the cardamom is added as a coarse powder of the seeds of the pod itself. The cardamom has flavor notes of pine, bergamot, lemon, vanilla, nutmeg, cola and eucalyptus. In some candies I’ve had the cardamom seeds can be intense and distracting though still imparting an amazing flavor that still manages to make up for it by being so engaging. In this case the grain was smaller than ground espresso so it was virtually unnoticeable. The flavor was citrusy and really brought out the vanilla and toffee notes.

In this case there was no salt on top, so I was quite pleased. 9 out of 10

Helliemae's Coffee Caramels

The final flavor I tried was another half pound sampling of the Coffee Caramels. These were pure perfection. The coffee flavors were intense but smooth, like a fine espresso with the perfect head of creama. They were bitter and had loads of toffee and roasted java notes but also an appealing tangy note of woodsy coffee that rounded it out.

Since there was no salt on top, I found this to be exactly how I like my caramels. 9 out of 10

Fresh caramels need to be consumed immediately. I ate and shared the majority of these within two weeks of getting them, but the few that I saved for review did kind of lose their mojo after about three weeks - getting sticky and grainy around the edges. I liked that the format that was easy to bite and that the wax paper was easy to unwrap. A chocolate coated version might be stupendous, especially if it was a super dark that offset the sweetness and salt.

They’re a bit expensive for me but for an impulse item if I lived in the area and saw one at the cash register at the store of a cafe, I would definitely go for one even at $3 a pop.

Related Candies

  1. Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Tahitian Vanilla Caramels
  2. Bequet Gourmet Caramels
  3. Grandma’s Caramels
  4. Das French Salted Caramels
  5. Fran’s Gray Salt Caramels


Name: Salt Caramels: Classic Salt, Cardamom & Coffee
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand:
Place Purchased: samples from Helliemae's
Price: $18.00
Size: 8 ounces
Calories per ounce:
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Caramel, 7-Worth It, 9-Yummy, United States

POSTED BY Cybele AT 5:21 pm     All NaturalCandyCaramel7-Worth It9-YummyUnited StatesComments (1)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Eat with your Eyes: Cows

Cows on Candy Wrappers

While I was sorting my candy from the ISM Cologne trade fair, I usually grouped products together in little baggies according to the manufacturer. At one point I found that I had a lot of little cream fudge pieces that had pictures of cows on them.

Luxury Cream Fudge

I reviewed this version of Polish Cream Fudge last summer.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:51 am     CandyISM CologneHighlightPhotographyComments (2)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

HiCHEW Japan vs HiCHEW Taiwan

HiCHEW from Taiwan & JapanOne of the earliest international candy obsessions I developed because of Candy Blog was HiCHEW. They’re made by Morinaga in Japan and come in a wide variety of fruity flavors. The packages are flat, contain only one flavor and feature individually wrapped pieces that are easy to share.

They’ve been popular in Japan for since 1975 (and existed in different formats for at least 40 years before that). Lately they’ve become more widely available in the United States and Canada, starting with large metropolitan areas with large Japanese populations. Now they’re pretty commonplace here in Los Angeles, I can get them at 7-11 or Target and the packaging has been Americanized with English wrapper and full nutrition facts.

The American ones are made in Taiwan and feature slightly smaller packages at 1.76 ounces and sporting a price of about $1.00. The flavor set is rather ordinary with strawberry, orange, green apple, mango, lemon and melon (and sometimes banana) available. The Japanese also come in similar flavors with seasonal or limited edition varieties coming out all the time.

HiCHEW from Taiwan & Japan

I decided to pick up a package of each and really put them to the test.

Major differences:
Size: Japanese is 2.01 ounces - Taiwanese is 1.76 ounces
Pieces: Japanese have 12 pieces in a package - Taiwanese have 10 pieces
Inner Wrapper: Japanese have foil wrapper with Morinaga logo - Taiwanese have blank waxed paper wrapper
Ingredients: Japanese have all natural colors, artificial flavoring and use Agar-Agar as a jelling agent - Taiwanese use natural coloring (carmine), natural flavors and gelatin as a jelling agent.

HiCHEW - Taiwan & Japan

The Taiwanese version is more intensely pink in the center. The chew is stiff at first, but still smooth. It’s slightly tangy and has a good strawberry flavor that errs more on the tart side than the floral sweetness though it does get a little jammy towards the end with cooked strawberry notes. The chew lasts a long time and never gets grainy.

The Japanese version is a little softer and chewier. The flavor is also a well rounded berry with good sweet and sour notes, a little hint of floral and a creamy component (which might be attributed to a splash of yogurt in there). Instead of strawberry jam it was more like a strawberry smoothie.

A Few HiCHEW

Given a choice, I would pick up the Japanese version. Yes, I like to be able read my packages, but I also like my flavors bold and as authentic as they were originally conceived. I feel like the Taiwanese HiCHEW is like the Turkish Haribo Gummi Bear, not as good as those made in their homeland. However, I love the fact that this candy is able to get a wider audience. It’s a good introduction and perhaps die hard fans will work towards getting the real thing released in North America.

Related Candies

  1. HiCHEW World Fruit: Dragonfruit, CamuCamu, Durian & White Peach
  2. Festival HiCHEW: Candied Apple & Cotton Candy
  3. HiCHEW Aloe Yogurt
  4. HiCHEW Yuzu & Valencia
  5. HiCHEW Assortment
  6. HiCHEW Grapefruit


Name: HiCHEW Strawberry
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Morinaga
Place Purchased: Mitsuwa Marketplace (Little Tokyo, Los Angeles)
Price: $.99
Size: 2.0 ounces
Calories per ounce: 115
Categories: Candy, HiCHEW, Morinaga, Chews, 7-Worth It, Japan, Taiwan

POSTED BY Cybele AT 2:43 pm     CandyHiCHEWReviewMorinagaChews8-TastyJapanTaiwanHead to HeadComments (9)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Candy Tease: Nostalgia in 2011

imageName: Hershey’s Kisses Air Delight
Brand: Hershey’s
Description: Its light and airy texture causes the chocolate to melt with ease over your tongue, making it the ultimate chocolate indulgence. Comprising the launch will be 1.44-ounce Air Delight single serve bars and Air Delight Kisses packed in 9.4-ounce bags.
Introduction Date: June 2011
Notes: Aerated chocolate isn’t anything new, but it’s certainly not a product that’s gotten a lot of traction in the United States over the past 75 years. It will be interesting to see how the public will react. I found it odd that this news article I saw concentrated on how much money it saves confectioners to stuff air in their candy when ingredient prices are rising. I’d like to think that confectioners are doing it because it creates a different taste sensation; I’d like to think that candy companies actually want to make candy that consumers like, not just things that are profitable.

imageName: Bosco Milk Chocolate Bar
Brand: Bosco
Description: A bit of nostalgia lies in the all-new, all-natural Bosco chocolate bar. The 3.5-ounce bar is available in milk chocolate with a suggested retail price of $1.99-$2.49. The Bosco Products Co. is also the manufacturer of the iconic Hollywood Bosco Chocolate Syrup.
Introduction Date: In stores now (I’ve only seen them on the internet though).
Notes: I was more of an Ovaltine kid than a consumer of Nestle’s Quik, Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup or Bosco. So the allure of the bar is lost on me except for the fact that Bosco does have malt in it ... so maybe I need to get a hold of one of these bars.

imageName: Black Cow
Brand: Classic Caramel (Warrell Corporation)
Description: Traditionally a caramel dipped into chocolate, Black Cow was discontinued over two decades ago because the company that purchased the product did not have the ability to dip it into chocolate. Although these newer Black Cow bars will also not be chocolate-coated, Richard Warrell says that the chocolate caramel mix Classic Caramel has created should stir up redolent experiences.
In tandem with the reintroduction of Black Cow, the company announced the arrival of Slo Poke bars to the Classic Caramel family. Both varieties of 1.5-ounce bars have a SRP of 89 cents. Bite-size, 0.33-ounce, twist-wrapped varieties are also available.

Introduction Date: March 2011
Notes: Black Cow chocolate caramels disappeared from stores back in the 80s. I’m curious to try them, as I never cared for the original (the chocolate was waxy) but perhaps this new version is better quality. Classic Caramel also re-introduced Bonomo’s Turkish Taffy last year.

imageName: DryScream ~ Ice Cream Candy
Brand: Ferrara Pan
Description: Eat It With Your Hand, It Never Melts!
DryScream is an exciting and innovative new candy made from 100% real ice cream that you can eat with your hands and never melts! Made with the highly successful IttiBitz “Little Bitz of Ice Cream Fun!”, DryScream is sure to be a hit with kids, parents, and even grandparents. -Two Flavors: Vanilla Ice Cream with Chocolate Bits and Chocolate Ice Cream with Chocolate Bits

Introduction Date: available now
Notes: I included this one because it reminded me of Astronaut Ice Cream, which I had for the first time on a field trip to the Air & Space Museum in Washington, DC when I was in middle school. My guess is it’s like Dippin’ Dots at room temperature.

imageName: Pine Bros. Throat Drops
Brand: Pine Brothers
Description: Four classic flavors: Honey, Licorice, Lemon Citrus and Wild Cherry
Introduction Date: available now
Notes: I’ve been hoping that these would make a comeback. They’re a glycerin based throat drop, stiff but soft and with a smooth and soothing melt. I ate these like candy when I was a kid. Right now I’ve only seen them at Vermont Country Store sold in round packages instead of the classic box with a waxed paper liner.

imageName: Chocobloc Air
Brand: Chocolat Frey
Description: Made of top quality milk chocolate, Chocobloc Air is infused with airy bubbles and contains almond, honey and nougat. 
Introduction Date: on shelves in Europe
Notes: Think of these as an aerated version of the Toblerone bar. Frey chocolate used to be sold at Target, but I haven’t seen them there for a couple of years. They are popular at Duty Free shops in airports though, so keep an eye out for them there.

Related Candies

  1. Candy Tease- October 2010
  2. Bonomo’s Turkish Taffy - Chocolate, Vanilla & Strawberry
  3. Bubble Chocolate (2010)
  4. Frey Supreme: White, Lemon & Lime and Citron & Poivre
  5. Space Food Sticks

POSTED BY Cybele AT 12:49 pm     CandyNew Product AnnouncementHighlightFeatured NewsComments (5)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Christopher’s Good News

Christopher's Good NewsChristopher’s Good News bar is something of a mystery to me. It’s currently made locally in Los Angeles by Adams-Brooks but before that it was created back in the late thirties by Ben Myerson for his newly founded Ben Myerson Candy Company. In 1955 the Ben Myerson Candy Company acquired Christopher’s Candy which was already a venerable confectioner in Southern California since 1887. In 2006 Ben Myerson was bought up by Jelly Belly, who quickly gobbled up the Sunkist Fruit Gems brand and spun off the chocolate products like the Good News bar and Christopher’s Big Cherry to Adams-Brooks.

The bars were extremely popular as a gift parents would hand out to friends heralding the birth of their baby. The package design to this day looks like a newspaper masthead and my bar even had a little sticker that said “it’s a girl”. But the curious thing about this bar was instead of going national, as other brands within Ben Myerson’s company did, the Good News bar became hyper-regional. In fact, the only place it’s still sold widely is in Hawaii. I happened to find my bar at Marukai Market in Torrance, CA which is a Japanese grocery store that also carries a lot of Hawaiian favorites (as many Southern California Japanese folks either immigrated through Hawaii or have relatives there).

Christopher's Good News

The bar’s description is rich milk chocolate, peanuts, caramel. What the description doesn’t mention is that there’s also crisped rice in there. Looking at all that, you can see that it’s actually a unique bar, there are no other nationally distributed bars that match this element combination.

The bar is beautifully enrobed in a rippled, dark looking milk chocolate. The center is a combination of caramel, peanuts and crisped rice. The ingredients are wholesome and easy to understand and probably the worse thing on the list is a little bit of hydrogenated cottonseed oil towards the end.

Christopher's Good News

The chew is firm and light with a good balance of crisped rice. There weren’t that many peanuts in my bar, enough to impart a nutty flavor but the cereal flavors of the crisped rice definitely won out. The caramel had a milky flavor that was far stronger than the chocolate, which was passable and well-tempered. I was afraid the bar would be messy to eat, as sometimes chocolate coatings flake off, but this was easy to bite even slice.

I’m not sure why these bars aren’t more popular. The elements are similar to a 100 Grand but with a few peanuts tossed in (and an extra quarter ounce for the same price).

Related Candies

  1. Sunkist Fruit Gems
  2. Snickers Xtreme
  3. Nestle Lion
  4. 100 Grand with Peanuts
  5. Christopher’s Big Cherry is Big Peanuts


Name: Good News
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Adams & Brooks
Place Purchased: Marukai Marketplace (Torrance)
Price: $.85
Size: 1.75 ounces
Calories per ounce: 131
Categories: Candy, Adams & Brooks, Caramel, Chocolate, Cookie, Kosher, Peanuts, 7-Worth It, United States

POSTED BY Cybele AT 3:24 pm     CandyReviewAdams & BrooksCaramelChocolateCookieKosherPeanuts7-Worth ItUnited StatesComments (9)

Page 3 of 3 pages  < 1 2 3

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