Thursday, June 23, 2005
Name: Reese’s Pieces Peanuts and Peanut Butter
Introduced last year, Reese’s Pieces Peanuts and Peanut Butter are a natural evolution of Reese’s Pieces (which have been around since 1978 ... why didn’t they do this sooner?).
They’re just Reese’s Pieces with a whole peanut at the center. The colors are the same RP colors, except for some reason they don’t quite have the consistent sheen to them, they’re slightly speckly. I don’t think it’s bad for the flavor or anything, they just aren’t as pretty as they could be.
I bought these at Target in a “theater box” and they’re a pretty good deal at 89 cents. I’ve not seen them in smaller bags anywhere. Actually, until I saw them at Target I didn’t even know they existed. The Reese’s site says that they’re a limited edition. Reese’s seems to be trying out a lot of different variations on their products lately, the inside out peanut butter cup, the white chocolate peanut butter cup and the Swoops. I still prefer just plain old Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Not just for the nostalgia, but it was just a great combo and sometimes you get it right the first time.
I always found regular RPs just a little too artificial in the peanut butter part, a little too sweet, a little too creamy. Well, that an all the hydrogenated oils. Where these succeed is the pure peanut taste of a real peanut in the center. It really balances out the greasiness of the RP filling and makes a nice combo. I’m still not likely to buy these over Peanut M&Ms for movie snacking, but I’m not sorry I tried them. If I went to the theater and these were available, I might pick them up. Unless they were like, $3 a box, which they’d probably be. Then I’d regret not sneaking them in.
The other thing is that the name is just too long.
Rating: 7 out of 10
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
Name: Licorice Bridge Mix
I can’t believe I’ve been doing this blog for three months and have not posted about licorice. Licorice is one of those candies that I think people either love or hate.
I love it (you knew that, didn’t you). I love Good & Plenty and any kind of licorice pastels. Of course when we start getting into licorice allsorts, things get a little hinky. There always seem to be a bunch of them I don’t like.
This assortment from Confections carries none of those anxieties of allsorts. Inside are some pastels (just smaller versions of good & plenty) some buttons and black jelly bellies. There was also one jelly button with multicolored candy dots.
They’re all good. The pastels were nice, with a good ratio of candy coating to licorice on the inside. The buttons were a little odd. The only thing that I can describe them as is licorice candy corn. You know, whatever that stuff that candy corn is made of, it’s like that only they’re either white or black (they look like game pieces or something). Smooth and very sweet with a good hit of licorice to them. And of course everyone knows that jelly bellies are good, with lots of flavor and no colored tongue to betray that you’ve been snarfing down candy in your office.
They’re a little expensive at $2 for 3 ounces (yes that’s over $10 a pound) but at least I’ll eat everything in this variety pack. I think I’ll stick to my pastels though. It’s just occurred to me that I’ve never tried anise bears and I should probably rectify this.
Rating: 6 out of 10
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
Name: Starburst Chew Pops (Green Apple, Orange & Strawberry)
I’ve got to hand it to Starburst. They’ve always packed their candies with flavor. When Starburst first came on the market, I loved them. They were much more flavorful than other taffy treats available at the time. Easier on the teeth, too.
Starburst now offers lollypops. In the tradition of Charm’s Blow Pops and Tootsie Pops, there are fruit flavored hard candy with a same-flavored Starburst fruit chew center.
I picked these up at the grocery store at the check out counter (thanks Russ!) for ten cents a pop. The orange is by far my favorite. It’s really orangy, and the flavor goes all the way through with the continuation in the chew. Dirt cheap, I know I’d buy these again. In fact, they’re perfect for Halloween (I like to give away a mix of chocolate and non-chocolate/nut treats for the kids).
I wasn’t as keen on the green apple flavor as it had a very unpleasant chemical taste to it. But then again, green apple usually does. The strawberry is good too, but also a little bit on the artificial side. They’re rather tart, which is something I enjoy in a fruit hard candy.
I hope they come out with more flavors. I bet I’d love lemon.
Rating: 9 out of 10.
Monday, June 20, 2005
Name: New Tree Chocolates: Vigor, Forgiveness & Tranquility
I reviewed another of these bars, called Renew a few weeks ago and I wanted to try other flavors. I found these little boxes with tasting bars at the Farmer’s Market and picked up an assortment. The one that had me most intrigued was Tranquility which bills itself as soothing. It’s milk chocolate with Lime Blossom and Lavender in it.
The packaging, first of all, is delightful. I put a quarter in the photo so you could see how tiny these bars are. New Tree extols itself as all natural, healthful chocolate what eschews genetically modified organisms (I’m not sure if Monsanto has gotten around to modifying the cocoa plant) and infuses their Belgian made chocolate with sometimes incongruous flavors and extra fiber. Turns out the no GMO part applies to the soya lecithin.
The Tranquility bar was very nice. It’s not terribly smooth, which is often what happens when you put dried stuff in chocolate. For Belgian milk chocolate it’s a bit sweet, but it doesn’t have that milky taste. The lavender notes come through loud and clear and leave a pleasantly fragrant note on the tongue long after the chocolate has dissolved. I wasn’t able to detect the lime blossom, but I’ve never eaten lime blossoms before and they might taste just like lavender for all I know.
I had to try the Vigor bar early in the day, as eating a full ounce of this is the equivalent of one cup of coffee (and I’ve already had a cup of coffee). At 73% cocoa, this bar smells unabashedly like pure chocolate. But upon putting it in my mouth, it melted quickly and I tasted only slight hints of rich coffee flavors. Naked coffee and chocolate are a great combo, as they both are roasted and smoky and contain lots of alkaloids. This is a barely sweetened bar that also boasts that it contains extracts of guarana. I’ve had more mocha tasting bars in the past and to be honest, I don’t want a caffienated chocolate bar, because I’d be tempted to eat it later in the day and then curse it as I couldn’t sleep later in the evening. But if you’re good with caffeine at all hours, maybe this is the bar for you. I don’t recommend pairing it with Red Bull or other energy drinks unless you enjoy heart palpitations.
The last bar, Forgiveness, was in the yellow box and was flavored with lemon and said that it helps metabolism. Again, a very dark bar with 73% cocoa. This bar also smells suspicously like chocolate with a slight lemon essence to it that’s more obvious after eating. It’s not a zesty taste, like a lemon bar or anything, just a hint of it. It’s actually very nice, a big difference from the heavily flavored bars from BruCo (don’t get me wrong, I liked those, too). The “helps metabolism” part got me curious though. There are “natural extracts of cactus” in it. Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but there are a lot of cactus out there ... that’s like saying something vague like has “natural nuts” in it. The website says that the cactus is Opuntia ficus-indica. A quick google search reveals that this is a prickly pear, and looks a lot like one I have in my back yard. Further searching reveals that this particular cactus also contains mescaline. I’m sure that my teensy bar that’s less than a third of an ounce does not contain any measurable amounts.
I guess this is where I can get into the topic of candy for snacking and candy for savoring. There are some folks who enjoy wine and drink it for the joy of drinking. Then there are some folks who enjoy wine for all its nuances and savor every sip. I’m somewhere in the middle there when it comes to candy. I love consumer candy, stuff you just eat, that you put in your mouth and you finish and you want more. This New Tree stuff and many of the other gourmet bars are not meant for munching. They’re more complex, like a fine cheese or something. As a reference, I still have a little bit of the Renew bar left and it’s been weeks. This is not candy that calls out to me to be eaten. (Yes, sometimes I hear the candy calling me ... mostly things like maltballs and I can also hear smarties calling from several hundred yards.) Maybe some will accuse me of not being sophisticated enough and I’d be inclined to agree with them. You can dress up my vitamins in gumballs or chewables, but that doesn’t make them candy. Candy is a treat, not a chore.
I feel kind of bad for not liking these bars more, like I’m not sophisticated or stylish. I also feel bad because they’re so hugely expensive. Which I guess goes to prove that good quality candy does not have to be expensive. And expensive candy is not neccesarily great.
I think over the past few months as I’ve been trying more of these bars, my favorite fancy flavored bar has been the Dagoba Milk Chocolate Chai. I ate that, it tasted good and I wanted more. That’s what I want in my candy ... one that gets me addicted.
Friday, June 17, 2005
Name: Malted Milk Balls
As I’ve stated before, I love malt. I will eat spoonfuls of Ovaltine malted milk powder straight from the jar. Good malt balls are not easy to find. First, they have to be covered with real chocolate. Those egg-shaped ones available around Easter are usually some fake chocolate compound and too sweet. The best bet is usually in the bulk candy aisle at the grocer if they carry Harmony Foods bulk chocolate covered malted milk balls.
Earlier this week I placed a bulk order from Wilbur and one of the items was their Malted Milk Balls. These are not simply malted milk balls covered with a thin layer of chocolate, they’re super thick with high-quality milk chocolate. The malt inside is crisp, large and very malty with a touch of salt.
They are by far the best malted milk balls I’ve had in my life. My big question is if anyone knows if naked malt balls exist, you know, just the malt balls without the chocolate coating.
Rating: 9 out of 10.
Thursday, June 16, 2005
Name: Emperor’s Ginger Tea Chocolate
A few months ago I reviewed another flavor of this chocolate, the Jasmine Green Tea. To refresh your memory, these are cute little foil-wrapped medallions of rich milk chocolate infused with tea and stacked in a little can. This version is green tea and ginger. If you’ve been reading candy blog at all, you know I’m a huge chocolate and ginger fan. This take on the combination however, is disappointing.
The chocolate is sweet and smooth, there is not grainyness like I’ve experienced with other infused chocolates. The bite of the ginger comes across quite quickly, but has less woodsy bite to it than just a slow burn. Don’t get me wrong, the peppery feeling is really refreshing, but it tastes more like ginger powder than fresh ginger. I get no hints of tea to it at all.
I do like that there aren’t ginger pieces in it, just the pure essence. This is not snacking chocolate, but something to enjoy in small pieces, perhaps with some tea and shortbread. The packaging is really nice and my purchases of this brand have always been fresh, but the price is a bit high.
Rating: 7 out of 10
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
I’ve seen these bars before, usually in import stores, and as I recall I picked up one or something similar in London when I was there. It’s basically a milk chocolate Nestle bar that’s been whipped into a froth and then quickly molded into a bar. It creates a bit of a lighter feeling treat than a dense chocolate bar.
What’s amazing about this is when you look at the bar unwrapped, it looks like a king sized bar, but it weighs about the same as a regular bar. It’s overwhelmingly sweet and chocolately smelling. Upon biting into it, it yields easily, more like marshmallow or fudge than chocolate. In fact, that’s what it resembles most to me, fudge. It’s definitely very chocolatey, a little sticky feeling in the mouth, but because of all the air, it melts fast, bursting on the tongue.
Note that because of the bubbles, I suspect that it’s a little more prone to softening in the summer warmth than other bars, so you might want to store this one in the fridge. In fact, I’ve heard that some folks prefer it that way.
On the whole, it was a pleasant bar. The chocolate is very milky, as European chocolate usually is and if you like that, you won’t be disappointed. I find European milk chocolate tastes a little like powdered milk to me which is not an entirely pleasant reminder.
My rating: 6 out of 10.
See also - taquitos.net review.
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
Name: Wha Guru Chew
Reading over the ingredients list, I’m wondering what this has to do with the Yogi Bhajan. But I suppose even the most enlightened among us wants a sweet now and then. While there’s nothing bad about these caramel nut bars, they contain no trans fat and use brown rice syrup and evaporated cane juice instead of corn syrup, I’m struggling with the health food aspects of this. Aw hell, let’s just call it candy and be done with it.
These are fab. I can’t tell you how fab these are. The caramel is flavorful and soft, the nuts are fresh and crunchy and the smell is pure buttery sweetness. The only problem I have with them is that they’re very soft, so you taking them out of the package is nearly impossible and even getting the package open without scissors ended up too much of a challenge for me.
Cashew Vanilla - the right sweet notes of vanilla blended with buttery cashews. There are also sunflower seeds in here, which add an extra crunch and earthy taste to the bar to balance the sweetness of the caramel. A little touch of salt balances it all out.
Almond Ginger - it doesn’t smell quite as inviting as the cashew vanilla bar (I don’t think ginger smells that good inherently, as it has a rooty/earthy smell). But biting into this bar wipes away any hesitation that this bar will be as good as the former. The ginger pops out as a spicy base for the sugary caramel and the mild almonds. A slight trace of lemon zest links all the flavors together well.
Peanut Cashew - this one diverges from the recipe of the above two which are sweetened primarily with brown rice syrup and evaporated cane juice. This is sweetened with clover honey (and barley malt syrup). This honey base makes for a less viscous caramel but really amps up the flavor. The first tone you get upon biting into it is a strong orange essence. In addition to the peanuts and cashews are sesame seeds and sunflower seeds. Of the three this was my least favorite, though still worthy of trying.
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