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Thursday, August 31, 2006

Kit Kat Matcha

imageGreen Tea (Matcha) KitKats from Japan have been around for a while, but it took me this long to get my hands on some. I couldn’t even find a single-serving bar so I had to buy this bag of miniatures. At over $6, it’s not something I’m likely to repeat for a mass produced consumer candy.


These little wafer sticks are covered in a white mockolate flavored with real green tea. The color of the coating is real, it’s a pretty shade of creamy green. It smells of sugar and the delicate scent of matcha. The layers are flaky and crisp, just like a KitKat ought to be. The mockolate coating is very sweet though, so the matcha nuances are lost until you reach a saturation point ... at about the second stick.

A little about matcha. Matcha is a style of preparing green tea that starts with preparing the tea leaves before harvest, where they are covered from the sun for a few weeks before they are picked. After drying they are ground into a fine powder to create the matcha. This powder is used to prepare the tea and unlike regular brewed teas, the hot water is added to the powder and it is not strained out. Think of it as the difference between coffee and cocoa. With coffee we brew the beans by passing hot water through the grounds. With cocoa we grind the beans very finely and add them to hot milk. You get more complex flavors when you consume the whole leaf.

While I found these enjoyable, they were a tad sweet, which covered up much of the green tea flavors. The white mockolate had more of a greasy consistency, since the ingredients go: sugar, vegetable oil, lactose, wheat flour, milk powder and the cocoa butter. The American label on the package may or may not be correct, as I found a huge discrepancy in the reported calories for them and I had to puzzle my way through the Japanese listing. Luckily numbers are universal.

I think these are limited edition, as they’re no longer on the Breaktown.com site, maybe someone can read that label and let me know. (Dont’ worry, these weren’t expired candies or anything, the freshness date said 01/2007 on it.)

Name: KitKat Mini Uji Matcha
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Nestle
Place Purchased: Mitsuwa Marketplace (Little Tokyo - LA)
Price: $6.29
Size: 8.09 ounces
Calories per ounce: 160
Categories: White Chocolate, Japan, Nestle, KitKat, Limited Edition

POSTED BY Cybele AT 6:31 am    

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Lava Bar

Sometimes I buy chocolate and it melts. Lately that’s been happening a lot. Why not just buy already melted chocolate?


A dear reader sent me an email telling me about this new product called Lava Bar which is just that, liquid chocolate in a pouch. I wrote to the manufacturer and soon I had a few in my hot little hands to try! And this is one case where my hands being hot was not necessarily a bad thing!

The Lava Bar is billed as the world’s first liquid chocolate bar.

Since you’re probably curious, here are the ingredients: corn syrup, chocolate liquor, sugar, butter, water, high fructose corn syrup, whole dry powdered milk, vanilla extract and salt. Chocolate liquor listed there is not alcoholic, it’s just ground up roasted cocoa beans - it contains both cocoa butter and cocoa solids.

So now that we know what’s in there, what’s it like? Well, it’s like brownie batter. Very, very good brownie batter. It’s smooth and thick, but not sticky. The chocolate is very sweet, which is a little disappointing, but has some nice complex flavors. Mostly it’s woodsy notes and some smoke. There’s a little bitterness to it, but I didn’t mind that at all.

I don’t know if this could ever replace my desire for a chocolate bar, which has other things to recommend it from a sensual point of view - it’s a solid and then a liquid, you can break off pieces of it and share, you can stack the little pieces up or just admire the unwrapped bar.

The dispensing system, which amounts to squeezing the stuff into your mouth is a little odd, too. Unless you squeeze it out and then lick it off, you never really see what you’re eating. The package holds two servings (2.5 ounces) but it’s not that easy to just reseal it for later (I’d recommend a clip or something for that). I think astronauts would love it though (of course M&Ms and Hershey Kisses probably travel well in space, too).

The wrapper and website recommend using it as a sauce or dip, which I found much more satisfying. I squeezed a little on pretzels and almonds and found that to be great because I could control the proportions or each element. You can also add it to ice cream or use it in shakes.

It’s certainly interesting, but lacked the sort of ultrasmooth true chocolate experience that I was looking for. I think it’s because of the lack of enough cocoa butter ... but if there were more cocoa butter it would be a solid and then it wouldn’t be the Lava Bar.

I can see this being a great thing to hike with. You don’t have to worry about it melting, because it already is. As a nutritional replacement ala Chocolate Cliff Shots, it’s got a lot of fat: half the calories are from fat, some solid chocolate have 2/3 of their calories from fat. So if you use it as a sauce to satisfy a craving, this could be a way to keep on a diet.

I could see the flavor extensions on this being quite interesting: mint, coffee & dulce de leche. Lava Bars should be showing up in stores soon, or if you can’t wait you can order online.

Name: Lava Bar
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Lava Chocolate
Place Purchased: samples from Lava Chocolate
Price: $1.95 retail
Size: 2.5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 112
Categories: Chocolate, United States, Kosher

POSTED BY Cybele AT 6:29 am     Comments (15)

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

HiCHEW Grapefruit

I’ve been a little depressed lately and I figured the thing to cheer me up would be some bouncy candy. So I headed down to Little Tokyo over the weekend to buy myself some candy. I was lucky enough to find the Juntsuyu that I love so much (they were out the last time I was in there) so I bought two packages. I also scoured the aisles for something new to lift my spirits.


I enjoyed the Strawberry Hi-CHEW I had last year and a friend at the office recently gave me some green apple ones that were equally lifting. I found a new variety I hadn’t seen before, Grapefruit!

Flavored with real grapefruit juice, I figured I couldn’t go wrong. They’d be like a super soft version of the Pampelmousse Mentos.

These did not disappoint. The chew is soft and smooth and has a sort of pleasant rubbery quality that I can only report as ‘bounce’. The flavor is complex, with sweet and tart notes and some of the grapefruit oil essence in there, too.

If you’re ever confused about Japanese candy, so far I can say that the Morinaga brand is one that doesn’t disappoint. The candy has always been of high quality, the flavors good and the packaging is great. So if you’re standing in front of a big display of Japanese candy, try something Morinaga. (I like Meiji, too.)

If you wanted to try the Pink Grapefruit Mentos but you’re a vegetarian, you’ll be happy to hear that there is no gelatin in Hi-CHEW, it’s all vegatable ingredients in there!

Name: Grapefruit Hi-CHEW
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Morinaga
Place Purchased: Mitsuwa (Little Tokyo, LA)
Price: $.99
Size: 2.0 ounces
Calories per ounce: 110
Categories: Chew, Japan, Morinaga

POSTED BY Cybele AT 6:14 am     Comments (28)

Monday, August 28, 2006

Giveaway! $50 Chuao Gift Certificate

It’s time for another giveway ... click here for entry details!

Deadline to enter is Monday, September 4th at 11:59 PM Pacific. Regular reviews will continue below as usual.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 12:09 pm    

Chuao Giveaway!

I’ve got to spread my sweet wealth around. I’ve got $50 worth of gift cards for Chuao Chocolatier and I’d like to share them with my sweet readers.


All you have to do is leave a comment here with a working email address (don’t worry, no one else sees it but me) and I’ll do a random drawing from the entries (one per person please) on Tuesday, September 5th.

The winner will recieve two $25 gift cards for Chuao Chocolatier (my review here) that I can send anywhere in the world but their products can only be shipped in the US. You can visit one of their shops in person or use the gift cards to order online. $50 should get you a nice assortment. I highly recommend the Cambur (banana and caramel in milk chocolate).

I’ll accept entries until Monday, September 4th at 11:59 PM Pacific Time.

When leaving a comment, be sure to unclick the “notify me of follow-up comments” or else you’ll get an email every time someone enters ... which will clog up your email box and that’s no fun ... unless you want up-to-the-minute notification of your current odds of winning. 

UPDATE: I know that it looks like your recent comments (entries) are not showing up on the site. For some reason I never thought that I’d ever get more than 100 comments on any post, so the site doesn’t display them all. No worries! I get both an email and I have a record of all comments posted in the system - so rest assured you’re entered! I’m overwhelmed by all the kind (and funny) things everyone is saying and I’m so glad I can spread the chocolate wealth.

UPDATED UPDATE: The drawing is now closed, I’ll announce a winner late in the day.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 12:06 pm     Fun StuffNews

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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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