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Thursday, November 23, 2006

KitKat Pumpkin

Things to be thankful for: I apparently rebound from weariness rather quickly! After my declaration that I will not try any other limited edition KitKat bars, I’ve been sucked back in. And by a Pumpkin version no less.

imageIn honor of American Thanksgiving, I had to review them. So I met Santos, of The Scent of Green Bananas at the Farmers Market yesterday for some lunch and a huge and generous mess ‘o candy (like trick or treating for grown ups! - more on that in the coming week). I rushed home afterwards to photograph them so I could give them a try.

First thing to know about these is that they are Japanese. Second thing to know is that they are pumpkin flavored, not pumpkin pie or pumkpin pie spice or pumpkin custard. They’re pumpkin flavored. Ever eat a pumpkin?

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They’re milk chocolate covering the normal bland wafers with a pumpkin creme inside. Lest you think that they’re subtle, they smell quite distinctly of pumpkin. In fact, when I opened the bag (not even any of the packets, just the bag that they were in) it smelled like baby food.

It takes a little getting used to, but the pumpkin KitKat has a nice toasted, caramelized flavor. It’s not as sweet as the usual grainy sugar cream, so it offsets the cheap and greasy chocolate quite well. I can’t quite put my finger on it, except to say that the flavor is Pumpkin (or perhaps simply squash). The package is all in Japanese.

There is a long and strange aftertaste to this candy, a pumpkin aftertaste and not something I’ve ever experienced in my life before. I kept walking around the house thinking of baby food. Baby food. Look at the package - there’s a family of pumpkins on there. Daddy pumpkin, Momma pumpkin and of course little baby pumpkin with his two front teeth just growing in. (Does he eat this pumpkin puree KitKat?) I keep thinking ... Babies with faces caked with strained squash. Smelling of squash, a smidge of fabric softener and of course that baby smell.

They are, in fact, strangely addictive. I don’t know how, because any gourd and chocolate has never sounded like a good combo to me, but here I am, eating another. I hesitate to give them a high score, but the fact that I continue to eat them means the have to get at least a 7 out of 10.

(Here are Santos’ thoughts on the latest KitKats.)

Final thought: thank you all for reading and commenting in the past year.

Name: KitKat Pumpkin
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Nestle
Place Purchased: gift from Santos (thanks!)
Price: unknown
Size: unknown
Calories per ounce: unknown
Categories: Chocolate, Cookie, Japan, Nestle, KitKat, Limited Edition

POSTED BY Cybele AT 6:58 am     Comments (13)

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Endangered Species: Raspberries & Cherries

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Premium Organic : Smooth Organic Dark Chocolate with Cherry (70% cocoa). Yes, it’s dark. The bar is gorgeously glossy and smells of tart fruit, smoke and coffee. For such a dark bar, it is sweet. It has a nice melt, but a slight chalky feel on the tongue. The black cherry comes across with all the floral fragrance, but without much of the tartness that characterizes the dried fruits.

Though I’ve professed that I don’t like cherry flavor, I have no problem with actual cherries, so this was an agreeable bar.

This bar is organic and fair trade.

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Dark Chocolate with Raspberries (70%). This bar has an equally smoky taste to it, dark and floral with some woodsy notes. It’s not as sweet as the cherry bar, but has the same sort of grain on the tongue towards the end of the melt. There are real bits of raspberries in there (including the seed) which give a little tangy zap every once in a while. The infusion of raspberry flavor wasn’t really there, but the scent lingered over the whole bar. This went really well with coffee or a savory snack like salted almonds or pretzels.

This bar is ethically traded.

I went to Target last night and noticed a nice selection of the Premium Organic line right at the check out stand candy rack. So this brand is getting much easier to find. Have you spotted it anyplace other than the Whole-Foods-style markets?

Name: Premium Organic: Smooth Dark Organic Chocolate with Cherry & Dark Chocolate with Raspberries
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Endangered Species
Place Purchased: samples from Endangered Species
Price: $1.29-2.89 retail
Size: 1.4 & 3 ounces each
Calories per ounce: 143
Categories: Chocolate, United States, Endangered Species, Fair Trade, Kosher, Organic

POSTED BY Cybele AT 7:04 am     Comments (9)

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Apothecary’s Garden: Herbs (and some Bees)

They say that smell is one of the most powerful memory and emotional triggers of the five senses. I’m inclined to believe that, some scents I’m just drawn to because of pleasant associations. The Apothecary’s Garden hard candies, I think, work well with the idea that you can get comfort in a simple reminder of something you have found pleasant in the past.

The cool part about them being encapsulated in candies is that you don’t have to light any incense or candles. The scent is self contained and if it’s not something everyone likes, well, they’re probably less likely to even catch a whiff of it if it’s in your mouth (well, unless you know them very well). I’ve been traveling around this month working on my novel and selecting these as I go along to match my prose.

imageLavender (soothes, balances and harmonises) - these little oblong pieces match the blossoms best of all of the candies in this line. The flat lozenges look like a sprig of lavender, or perhaps an itty bitty light purple corn cob. The little ribs and bumps on the candy were kind of fun to run my tongue over (though they dissolved rather quickly). There was less of a floral taste to the candy and more of a balsam and pine taste with that oily menthol note that fresh lavender blossoms have. It was definitely soothing, and I’d probably reach for these when I have a tickle in the throat.

These would be great for novel scenes that involve morgues, streets with open sewers, and long bus trips where the characters are forced to sit in the back next to the toilet and around the chain smokers.

imageRose (helps maintain balance and harmony) - I was expecting a soapy floral candy and was pleasantly surprised at how mellow this candy is. It has a hint of acidity to it that gives it a roundness, kind of a like a touch of honey or a barley sugar candy. The rose isn’t very strong, but reminded me quite a bit of some of the better Turkish Delight I’ve had over the years.

I’m not quite sure what the prescription difference is between the Rose and Lavender, but it’s nice to have the same effect but not the same flavor, I suppose.

This candy would go best with pastoral scenes of mother and baby bonding, main characters grappling with losing a parent, and after scenes of characters taking late-night public transportation after a rave or evening of clubbing.

imageRosemary (helps maintain mental alertness) - I have to admit I wasn’t sure if rosemary could make a good candy flavor. It’s a rather strong herb, with a distinct and rather acrid flavor if you chew the fresh needles. (If you chew the dried ones, well, you may as well kiss a porcupine.)

This one reminded me of a woodsy cough drop, kind of a menthol and spearmint flavor mixed in with a pine wreath. They little candies are quite cute, the smallest of all that I tried, with two different designs in there, one a geometric pattern and the other a little flower medallion.

These would be great when writing scenes where there is a conceit of a ticking clock of some sort and the main character must diffuse a bomb. It’s also good for courtroom dramas and jury deliberations and any novel that involves delicate surgery or analysis of lines of computer code.

imageHoney Bees - this may be good for nothing that ails you except a hankerin’ for honey. It truly tastes like an ample drop of honey and feature a pleasant honey bee on either side of the piece.

They really do soothe the throat and were, along with the Licorice and Anise, my favorite of all the Apothecary’s Garden candies.

These would be perfect for novels set in orchards or with fields of flowers as well as Gothic tales featuring mysterious tribes with ancient ways. Other novels that would be a good accompaniment include those with erotic passages involving food and adventurous quests across great expanses of land and sea.

Name: Lavender, Rose, Rosemary & Honey Bees
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: The Apothecary's Garden by Sweet Botanicals
Place Purchased: samples from ArtisanSweets.com
Price: $6.50
Size: 5.29 ounces
Calories per ounce: unknown
Categories: Hard Candy, United Kingdom

POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:36 am     Comments (9)

Monday, November 20, 2006

Caffarel Chocolate Truffle Mushrooms

Early this year I fell in love with guanduia. A friend brought back some Caffarel Guanduia from Torino (a special version to commemorate the Winter Olympics). It was smooth, creamy, nutty and utterly addictive. And of course it’s also long gone.

So I jumped at a handful of samples of another Caffarel product, these are called Chocolate Truffle Mushrooms.

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These cute little chocolates would be excellent, edible motivation in a game of checkers or chess. They’re taller than a Hershey’s Kiss, but weigh about the same (they’re narrow). The little foil wrap on them is cute and detailed. Each one has a little root and grass coming up around the sides and then the mushroom cap is a different color. The milk chocolate shell had a little Caffarel script logo emblazoned on it to match the one printed on the foil wrap. Inside there were two different varieties to go with the four different color combos.

Red Cap with White Speckles and Tan Cap - a light hazelnut cream filling with crunchies (like those bland wafer cookies) and crushed hazelnuts - very sweet, exceptionally smooth with a great caramelized sugar flavor throughout.

Black Cap and Brown Cap - light and sweet milk chocolate on the outside, rich smooth guandujia on the inside. This one was the closest in taste and texture to the Caffarel Gundujia hats from the Olympics early this year.

These puppies are freakishly expensive (as were those Torino ones), but the effect of getting them in a premium holiday basket or you Christmas stocking would be well ... exquisite.

Let me know if you find them anywhere else in smaller quantities, but if you’re looking to do a big buy for your Christmas needs, they’re sold in bulk pack weighing 1kg (2.2 lbs) for $59.50 (that works out to $27.05/lb).

Name: Chocolate Truffle Mushrooms
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Caffarel
Place Purchased: samples from CandyWarehouse.com
Price: $59.50
Size: 1 kg (2.2 lbs)
Calories per ounce: unknown
Categories: Chocolate, Nuts, Cookie, Italy, Caffarel

POSTED BY Cybele AT 5:16 pm     Comments (8)

Sunday, November 19, 2006

I Miss: Bar None

There once was a fantastic chocolate bar that surpassed KitKat in crispiness, that exuded such a creamy sweet experience that Hershey promptly mucked around with the formula and then discontinued the bar.

I’m talking about the Bar None.

It was a cocoa wafer, chocolate filling, peanuts and a milk chocolate coating and was introduced nationally in 1987. It was a wide bar, about the size of the current Whatchamacallit bar. The series of light chocolate wafers were filled with chocolate cream, covered with a light coating of crushed peanuts and then a coating of darker than normal milk chocolate.

I was irritated at the time that Hershey had just mucked up the Whatchamacallit bar by adding lame caramel to it. I’m faithful to bars that are faithful to me.

With Bar None I was immediately smitten.  I would buy them at the convenience store just over the bridge from campus where I was going to college. I would buy them in vending machines, I would buy them in the six pack at the grocery store. I would buy them whenever I could. If there was a reason that they didn’t succeed, it couldn’t be attributed to my lack of evangelical devotion.

Later in 1993 Hershey’s reformulated the bar and added caramel but also divided them into two bars (kind of like the Reese’s Sticks). While they were tasty, they weren’t the same and I lost interest in them entirely.

I wasn’t alone and at some point they stopped making them in the United States. The retooled version is still made in Mexico.

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I’ve heard that they’re okay, and I’m actually curious to try the Mexican version, because maybe I was wrong about the new Bar None. But I’m not curious enough to take that drive south of the border in search of it.

Instead, sometime in the late eighties I also discovered the Le Chocolatier cookies made by Pim’s.

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These are flavorless wafers with a chocolate cream and covered in real chocolate. What’s even better is they’re sold in boxes so while they weren’t wide and ample bars, there was an ample supply of them. If you were a fan of Bar None and have pined for it all these years, try the Le Chocolatier. Or take a trip to Mexico and let me know how those are.

UPDATE 2/6/2009: Look what I found! This is exactly what I remember, it’s a magazine ad from 1988 or 1989. Also, check in here with this photos set I have of a fan newsletter I used to get called Chocolatetown USA! from 1990 that profiles that launch of the Bar None.

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UPDATE 2/18/2009: I think I found a pretty good replacement for the Bar None. It’s called the Q.Bel Crispy Wafer Bars. They come in Dark Chocolate, Milk Chocolate & Milk Chocolate with Peanut Butter and have no artificial ingredients or hydrogenated oils. I love the dark chocolate version. They’re currently being sold at Whole Foods. Though they don’t have the crunchy peanuts in them, they do have some crisped rice in the chocolate enrobing!

Bar None (Revived by Iconic Candy)

UPDATE 6/12/2013: The Bar None has returned, made by Iconic Candy Company, it’s a pretty good replica of the original. You can read the full review here.

Related Candies

  1. Q.Bel Crispy Wafer Bars
  2. ReeseSticks (Revisit)
  3. Hershey’s Miniatures
  4. Nestle Crunch Crisp
  5. Elvis Reese’s Peanut Butter and Banana Cup
  6. I Miss: Marathon

POSTED BY Cybele AT 8:12 pm     CandyI MissHershey'sCaramelChocolateDiscontinuedNuts10-SuperbMexicoUnited StatesComments (181)

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