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January 2013

Friday, January 11, 2013

Fralinger’s Creamy Mint Sticks

Fralinger's Creamy Mint SticksFralinger’s Salt Water Taffy is a New Jersey favorite, known best for their classic wrapped taffy rods, also makes some excellent peanut chews, fudge and molasses paddle pops. But what I know them for is their Creamy Mint Sticks, which I only seem able to find at trade shows as samples. So, I was pretty pleased to see them, if only seasonally, at Cost Plus World Market this Christmas.

I’m a sucker for butter mints (those soft colored little pillows), and specifically don’t buy them because I will devour them. But in the interest of the blog, I picked up this box of Fralinger’s Creamy Mint Sticks on clearance at Cost Plus World Market after Christmas for review. The mint sticks are similar to the puffy butter mint brethren, except that they’re individually wrapped and less airy.

The ingredients include no artificial colors or flavors. It’s a mix of sugar, invert sugar with a touch of palm oil, emulsifiers, glycerine and cream of tartar along with real peppermint oil.

Fralinger's Creamy Mint Sticks

The sticks are generous for a mint, the same size as Fralinger’s Salt Water Taffy logs. They’re in a clear cellophane wrapper with twisted ends, inside that is the waxed paper with the Fralinger’s logo on it. These also bear a bar code, I don’t know if that’s for internal tracking or if they actually sell these individually. They’re a little over two inches long, are white inside and come out of the wrapping easily.

They’re soft, though I wouldn’t say that they’re damp, they’re not oily either. This is the big difference between these and butter mints, they’re creamier. The texture is like a wad of very smooth, compressed powdered sugar. They dissolve readily and have a powerful amount of mint in them. Though they’re nearly all sugar, they don’t have a throat searing sweetness to them.

The candy is extremely simple and I appreciate that. They’re a little harder to eat than some wrapped candy, it takes two hands to unwrap the ends and then carefully unroll from the waxed paper. But every one of them was in good condition, so it does the job.

I’ve had quite a few other versions of these before: James’ Butter Mint Rolls (photo) which are part of the Fralinger’s family now and Angel Mints. What I’ve noticed is that they’re best when sold in a sealed package. In the case of this box, it was shrink wrapped, and then inside the box the mints were also sealed inside a poly plastic bag. When I’ve bought them as “changemakers” or in a bulk mix they’ve been a bit more chalky and with a bit less of a mint kick. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But in this case I was actually blown away with how fresh these tasted. I can’t imagine paying the full price for these even though I know I would eat them all.

They’re exquisitely simple, and for me they’re quite addictive. Basically, I kept going into Cost Plus World Market all week long, checking to see if they were still on the shelves. I bought one box at 75% off (they were regularly 6.99 a box, but at that discount they came to $1.75) ... but then yesterday they went to 90% off so I bought another two boxes because, well, 70 cents for 12 ounces. They are best before March 2013, but I doubt they’ll last that long.

Related Candies

  1. Katharine Beecher Party Mints
  2. Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Honey Mints
  3. 2012 Fancy Food Show Notes - Day 3
  4. Head to Head: Haviland Thin Mints vs. Maxfield’s Cream Sticks
  5. Christmas Mint Round Up
  6. Molasses Pops
  7. Trader Joe’s English Soft Peppermints


Name: Creamy Mint Sticks
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Fralinger’s & James’
Place Purchased: Cost Plus World Market (Farmers Market)
Price: $1.75 (75% off)
Size: 12 ounces
Calories per ounce: 115
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Christmas, Fondant, Kosher, Mints, 9-Yummy, United States, Cost Plus

POSTED BY Cybele AT 3:07 pm     All NaturalCandyReviewChristmasFondantKosherMints9-YummyUnited StatesCost PlusComments (1)

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Sanders Chocolate Covered Gretzels

Sanders Chocolate Covered GretzelsChocolate covered pretzels are nothing new. So Sanders Candy of Michigan has come up with a new twist. They’ve created Sanders Chocolate Covered Gretzels, which are cinnamon graham pretzels drenched in our premium Milk Chocolate.

I picked up my package after Christmas at Cost Plus World Market on the 75% clearance. So instead of the $5.99 price on the tag, it was only $1.50. I should have bought more at that price, even without tasting them. (I have tasted some of their other items at trade shows but not this one.)

The box is far larger than the contents would dictate. There’s six ounces in there, but the box is filled only halfway up (and if you understand geometry of volumes, that’s actually less than half of the possible amount since the box is a square frustum). The candy is protected in a mylar pouch, which is also too big, but at least the extra bag is folder over to give a bit of cushion to the pieces so that none were broken. I get that they have to use the same box for the entire line of confections and that they all have to be the same price point, but it still irked me.

Sanders Chocolate Covered Gretzels

The pieces are nicely coated and look like chocolate covered mini pretzels ... the only thing that’s different is that they actually feel heavier than a pretzel.

The graham at the center is crisp and dense with a light cinnamon scent. The milk chocolate is creamy and sweet and balanced by the salty graham (there’s 200 mg of sodium per serving). The crunch is fantastic. The satisfaction quotient is quite high, with only three or four satisfying my sweet tooth.

Sanders Chocolate Covered Gretzels

Sanders makes a few other varieties in their Snack Box line. They include Pecan-dy (Caramel Popcorn & Nuts with or without Chocolate Drizzle) and Chocolate Covered Potato Chips. On their website the boxes retail for $6.99, so even more expensive than the regular price at Cost Plus World Market.

As it is, I would buy this again if it were not more than $4 for the box or something that works out to about $10 per pound. Paying more for what is essentially chocolate covered cookies is absurd unless the ingredients didn’t contain partially hydrogenated oils. But still, I can’t help wishing that the box wasn’t empty.

Related Candies

  1. Chuao Honeycomb & Potato Chip Chocolate Bars
  2. M&Ms Sweet & Salty Snack Mix
  3. Trader Joe’s Milk Chocolate Covered Potato Chips
  4. Trader Joe’s Smashing S’mores
  5. Russell Stover Giant S’mores Bar & Mint Dream
  6. Wonka Exceptionals Scrumdiddlyumptious
  7. Wolfgang Skipjacks & Jungle Jacks


Name: Chocolate Covered Gretzels
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Sanders
Place Purchased: Cost Plus World Market (Farmers Market)
Price: $1.50 (75% off clearance)
Size: 6 ounces
Calories per ounce: 129
Categories: Candy, Sanders, Chocolate, Cookie, Kosher, 7-Worth It, United States, Cost Plus

POSTED BY Cybele AT 1:52 pm     CandyReviewSandersChocolateCookieKosher7-Worth ItUnited StatesCost PlusComments (4)

Monday, January 7, 2013

Skittles Darkside

Skittles DarksideThere’s a new flavor variety of Skittles out, they’re called Skittles Darkside.

There have been over a dozen Skittles varieties over the years, and still the original flavor set remains the same in the United States, with good reason. It’s a great variety. But that hasn’t stopped Mars, and now Wrigley’s the present owner, from introducing new items to the market every 18 months or so. Most quietly disappear, but some make the cut and hang around.

I learned of the existence of Skittles Darkside on The Impulsive Buy and over the weekend searched stores for them. The heart on the front led me to believe that this item would be shelved with the Valentine’s Day candy. I did eventually find it at Target, but not in the seasonal aisle (as that was still occupied by a stubborn amount of Christmas decorations) but on an endcap in the frozen food section also populated with clearance holiday blends of coffee.

Skittles Darkside

The flavor set of the new mix is intriguing. The tagline of “The Other Side of the Rainbow” is a little ominous but fits with the quirky branding of Skittles. The flavors are blood orange, forbidden fruit, midnight lime, pomegranate and dark berry. The pomegranate and blood orange were the flavors that really captured my imagination.

Skittles Darkside

Pomegranate (Dark Red) has a deep flavor with a good cherry and berry flavor. It’s tangy, but doesn’t have that tannic bite that real pomegranates do. If I wasn’t told this was pomegranate, I’d just say blackberry. Not that there’s anything wrong with a good blackberry.

Dark Berry (Purple) is a lovely color, just a little more red than the grape in the Fruits Skittles. The flavor is good, it’s well rounded with a floral and berry jam mix of notes and maybe a little blackcurrant.

Forbidden Fruit (Blue) tasted a bit like melon and currant to me. A fruit punch, but less generic.

Blood Orange (Coral) is not a deep red like the juice is. Instead the pieces are more of a dark salmon color. The flavor is nicely juicy, more of the juice flavor of a tangerine than the traditional orange. But it’s missing a note, an orange peel flavor to give it a true roundness. It’s also not that intense.

Midnight Lime is a puzzle. I don’t know what makes it midnight-ish. I have some Fruits Skittles around, so I tried the lime ones as well. They’re lime Skittles. There’s very little difference. The color is a bit more on the medium green side instead of bright light green. There may be less zest, but I wouldn’t say that’s a selling point.

It’s not the best mix I’ve had, partly because it’s lacking the versatility of pairings. The combinations don’t zing like the classic Fruits do and the Pomegranate and Dark Berry are too similar while the Blood Orange and Midnight Lime are too bland for something billed as Darkside. I’ll probably finish the bag, but it appears that the regular Fruits that I picked up for comparison will disappear first.

I liked the idea there are more Skittles flavor varieties to explore. I’d like to offer up a few more suggestions:

Skittles FruitsSkittles Soda Pop - root beer, cola, lemon-lime, ginger ale, and whatever that flavor Dr. Pepper is. Other possibilities would be Mt. Dew, Squirt (grapefruit), cherry cola, cream soda. Of all of my flavor mixes I’ve been mentioning, I think this one has the strongest shot. It would depend largely on whether they spend the money on licensing the soda names (like Jelly Belly does) or if they go generic. With generic names they can play more with flavors and of course keep more of the profit for themselves.

Caffeinated Skittles - these would be sold in small packages only to prevent caffeine overdose. Flavors might be coffee themed, or maybe more like energy drinks. One package would equal to about 100 mg of caffeine, this would mean that the taste would be affected too much. There would be an instant outcry from parents about the inappropriateness of the product for children ... gamers and college students would hoard them.

Ice Cream SkittlesSkittles Citrus Mix - I’ve mentioned this before, it’s not like they’ve never existed before, there was a version in Australia for a few years that had Lemon, Mandarin, Pink Grapefruit, Lime, Orange. I would tweak that a bit and have Yuzu, Pink Grapefruit, Tangerine, Meyer Lemon and Kalamansi. Yeah, that’s going to happen.

Skittles Spicy - this is a wide open area. It could be something like the popular combination of Mango and Chili, or more like the classic spice jelly beans: spearmint, peppermint, cinnamon, licorice and clove. I predict these would be a huge failure.

Skittles Fruits (Germany)Skittles Pies - you know, the flavors of popular pies, only in chewy lentil form! Banana Cream, Spicy Apple, Lemon Meringue, Cherry, Chocolate Cream.

Skittles Intense - just more flavored than the regular Skittles. Not more sour, just 20% more flavoring.

Skittles Natural - all natural colorings and flavors. Or maybe just blank Skittles, with no colorings at all. Then you don’t know which flavor is which.

Skittles are gluten free and gelatin free.

Related Candies

  1. Skittles Blenders
  2. Skittles Fizzl’d Fruits
  3. Skittles Crazy Cores
  4. Skittles Chocolate Mix
  5. Skittles Carnival Flavors
  6. Skittles (Fruits, Wild Berry, Tropical, Smoothies & Sour)
  7. Skittles Fresh Mint
  8. Skittles Ice Cream


Name: Skittles Darkside
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Wrigley’s
Place Purchased: Target (Eagle Rock)
Price: $2.69
Size: 10.5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 114
Categories: Candy, Skittles, Mars, Wrigley's, Chews, 6-Tempting, United States, Target

POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:50 am     CandyReviewSkittlesMarsWrigley'sChews6-TemptingUnited StatesTargetComments (28)

Friday, January 4, 2013

Gardini Bitter Chocolate and Gianduia with Sea Salt

Gardini Extra Fondente Gianduia SalataWhen I was shopping at The Meadow, a quirky store in New York City that sells carefully curated selection of three things (salt, bitters and chocolate), I asked what was the best bar for munching. The gal at the counter suggested Gardini Extra Fondente Gianduia Salata. The bar was pricey at $12 for 3.5 ounces, but I’d come all that way and we’d already talked quite a bit about the glory of Venezuelan beans, so I was ready to trust her. It certainly sounded good: Bitter Chocolate and Gianduia with Sweet Sea Salt.

I’ve become spoiled over the years, though I love hazelnut paste (gianduia), I don’t care for the sticky sweetness of some of the cheaper varieties. This bar boasted a robust 54% cacao chocolate shell with hazelnuts as a the next ingredient after the chocolate (not sugar or oil). There is no listing of the nutritional value on the package, but I’m going to guess that there’s lots of fat in there to make up for the lack of sugar.

The bar is made by Gardini Chocolato in Italy and has won a few awards. If I might tease the end of this review, they’re well earned.

Gianduia Salata

The bar is impressive and feels large and substantial. The segments are domed and shiny and even though the packaging is pretty much just a cellophane wrapper, it’s largely unmarred.

Each domed section is filled with a salted hazelnut paste. The paste, according to the ingredients, is made from ground hazelnuts, whole milk powder and sea salt.

Gianduia Salata

The dark chocolate is in the semi-sweet range, it’s not terrifically dark but still has a lot of oomph to it. The melt is smooth and creamy with its own woodsy profile and a light hint of figs or cherries. The hazelnut center is fascinating. It’s also buttery and very smooth without that sticky feeling that some gianduias can have. The salt provides little sparks of flavor as well. The roasted profile is perfect.

This is an incredible bar, very well made and presented with nothing fussy about it except for the price. I could see eating these regularly as it’s a great combination in the perfect ratios. I would like to try other bars in the Gardini range, but part of me wonders what else could be better than this?

Related Candies

  1. Pernigotti Gianduia: Piedmont Hazelnut Paste
  2. Real Eggshell filled with Hazelnut Chocolate Truffle
  3. Choceur Nougat Bites & Marzipan Bites
  4. Laica & Caffarel Chocolate Eggs
  5. Short & Sweet: Hazelnut Bites
  6. Caffarel Gianduias
  7. Caffarel Gianduia 1865


Name: Extra Fondente Gianduia Salata
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Gardini Chocolato
Place Purchased: The Meadow (New York City)
Price: $12.00
Size: 3.5 ounces
Calories per ounce:
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Chocolate, Nuts, 9-Yummy, Italy

POSTED BY Cybele AT 3:07 pm     All NaturalCandyReviewChocolateNuts9-YummyItalyComments (6)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Soma Black Science Carenero Superior

Soma Black Science Carenero SuperiorI’ve been looking forward to trying SOMA Chocolatemaker‘s microbatch, single origin chocolate for quite a few years. They’re based in Toronto, Canada and are sold at some fine chocolate shops across North America but they don’t ship to the US.

So I’ve scoured every chocolate bar shop that I’ve come across and was happy to see that a few of their varieties were on sale at The Meadow in New York City.

The tiny bars, which are less than an ounce, are very expensive. I paid $7.00 for my .88 ounce bar. I was hoping to find their highly regarded Chuao, but since that was not available, I consoled myself with another Venezuelan single origin. Their Black Science Carenero Superior is a 70% bar. Other than that, I know nothing. There are no ingredients listed on the package, and if the information is on the Soma Chocolate site, I could not find it easily. From The Meadow website, it appears that the ingredients are just cacao, cocoa butter and organic sugar (no emulsifiers and no vanilla).

When we first opened Soma in 2003, the very first bags of cocoa beans we received were Carenero Superior from Veneuzuela, a Trinitario cacao that has shipped from the port of Carenero since colonial times. Fast forward to 2012 with this years crop we produced a chocolate that is earthy, malty and has hints of cream and caramel.

Soma Black Science Carenero Superior

Smoke, molasses and toffee are the first notes from the scent. The melt is slow but consistent, owing to the fine conch of the beans. The toasted notes are even stronger as it melts, with a lot of cereal and bread flavors coming through. The finish is dry with a slight acidic twang and some dried cherry flavors. It’s a little chalky at the end as well.

I’m a huge fan of Venezuelan beans and appreciate the flavor profile on this bar. But it’s missing a delightful melt, the dry texture and acidity at the end seem to erase the entire experience from my mouth. I’m still interested in trying the Soma Chuao, but for now, I’ll stick to Ocumare from Coppeneur and Amano.

Related Candies

  1. Six Kilos of Felchlin Arriba 72% Chocolate
  2. Chuao Venezuelan Origin Chocolate
  3. Rain Republic 70% Cacao from Guatemala
  4. Askinosie Chocolate
  5. Domori Cru
  6. Amano Single Origin Bars: Madagascar & Ocumare
  7. E. Guittard Single Origin Tasting Kit


Name: Black Science Carenero Superior
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Soma Chocolatemaker
Place Purchased: The Meadow (New York City)
Price: $6.95
Size: .88 ounces
Calories per ounce:
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Chocolate, Single Origin, 7-Worth It, Canada

POSTED BY Cybele AT 12:53 pm     All NaturalCandyReviewChocolateSingle Origin7-Worth ItCanadaComments (1)

Page 2 of 3 pages  < 1 2 3 > 

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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Choose one or more:

  •   Halloween
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ON DECK

These candies will be reviewed shortly:

• Hachez Braune Blatter (Chocolate Leaves)

• Dandelion Chocolate

• Trader Joe’s Holiday Roundup 2014

 

 

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