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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Ritter Sport Coffee and Hazelnuts (Winter Edition)

Ritter Sport Coffee & HazelnutsRitter Sport has been releasing seasonal variations on their popular square bars for the past few years. Only in the past few years have they appeared reliably on US shelves, and usually for the Winter Editions.

The new Ritter Sport Coffee & Hazelnuts is a new bar, though it combines elements from other existing bars. I found my bar at Cost Plus World Market with the Christmas candies, they had all three varieties for this season, including the return of the Caramelized Almond and the also new Vanilla Crescents. It’s nice to see new bars in the mix, but disappointing that they’re all milk chocolate. This bar was $2.99, a smidge higher than the regulars, which sell for $2.49.

Ritter Sport Coffee & Hazelnuts

The bar looks like all the other Ritter Sport bars ... a 4x4 grid of sections, each with the Ritter Sport logo on top. This is a filled bar, a coffee cream studded with crushed hazelnuts. It’s a simple concept and rather baffling that no one has been doing this all along.

The ingredients, however, were not promising when it comes to cocoa content:

Ingredients: sugar, palm fat, milk, cocoa butter, chocolate liquor, lactose, milk, hazelnuts, skim milk, butterfat, hazelnut paste, coffee powder, soy lecithin, natural flavor, natural coffee flavor.

I’m not against fat, I love the stuff. All that fat made this bar pretty high on the calorie count, 172 calories per ounce ... that’s 600 for the whole bar (for reference the whole hazelnut dark bar has 550 calories for the whole bar). Ritter Sport has been pretty good about the sourcing of its cacao, but they’re not forthcoming about their palm oil. For that reason and others mostly of taste preferences, when buying their bars for just eating, I usually stick to the solid chocolate varieties (or marzipan).

Ritter Sport Coffee & Hazelnuts

It looks great, smells mildly like coffee and cocoa but mostly sweet. The bite is soft, as most of the milk chocolate Ritter Sports are. The cream center has a cool melt and a vague coffee note to it, but it’s not as strong as the Espresso Bar, which is disappointing. The cream center is a little slick and thin, ultimately. The bar is extremely sweet for something that’s supposed to be coffee and hazelnuts. There are some hazelnuts, enough for a crunch and a touch of gianduia in the center. I really wanted a deep roasted experience ... the mix of the hazelnuts and coffee were promising, but ultimately not as deep as I’d hoped. But if you like Ice Cubes, you’ll appreciate the decadence of this bar. Dark chocolate would improve this bar immensely.

It’s not a bad bar, but like many of the bars that Ritter Sport has been making, especially the filled ones, they’re sweet and too oily without enough flavor. I want more dark chocolate options.

Related Candies

  1. Good and DeLISH Morning Rush Coffee Bites
  2. Dove Hazelnut Crisp Dark Chocolate Promises
  3. Trader Joe’s Chocolate Kona Coffee Truffles
  4. Mast Brothers Stumptown Coffee
  5. Ritter Sport Espresso
  6. Meiji Corot & CoffeeBeat
  7. Choceur Coffee & Cream
  8. Short & Sweet: Hazelnut Bites


Name: Coffee and Hazelnuts
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Ritter Sport
Place Purchased: Cost Plus World Market (Farmers Market)
Price: $2.99
Size: 3.5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 149
Categories: Candy, Christmas, Ritter Sport, Chocolate, Coffee, Nuts, 7-Worth It, Germany, Cost Plus

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:45 am     CandyReviewChristmasRitter SportChocolateCoffeeLimited EditionNuts7-Worth ItGermanyCost PlusComments (1)

Candyology 101 - Episode 2 - Peanut Butter

CandyologyHeaderEp2

Listen in with my candy blogging buddies Maria from Sometimes Foodie and Lauren from Candy Bar Reviews on our second episode of Candyology 101. Our topic is Peanut Butter.

You can download the file directly, subscribe in iTunes or Stitcher.

We also have some great show notes up on the Candyology 101 website, if you want to track down anything we were talking about.  Enjoy!

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:21 am     CandyHighlightFun StuffRadio InterviewsComments (2)

Monday, November 3, 2014

See’s Bridge Mix

See's Bridge MixI picked up the Bridge Mix from See’s Candies over the weekend, mostly because the comments from readers were so adamant that it was worth having a try.

At $18 a pound it’s about 2.5 times more expensive than the Brach’s Bridge Mix. It also has all natural chocolate and at least lists a sample of what is probably in the mix: Bite-sized pieces of raisins, coconut, caramel, brittles, almonds, pecans, nougats and more covered in milk and dark chocolate.

See's Bridge Mix

The kind folks at See’s actually gave me a little cup of the mix to sample before I made my purchase ... because it just comes in this one pound box. The box has four little sections, which keep the mix from wandering too much. I don’t know if I would necessarily serve it from the box, but the nice thing about Bridge Mix it’s a panned candy, which means that it has a little glaze on each piece to keep it from sticking together and you can put it out in a bowl without worrying that it’ll all melt into a lump.

See's Bridge MixOne of the first things I should mention is that I’m allergic to walnuts. Not deathly allergic, as I’m still alive, but for the most part my reactions to walnut traces lately has been a swollen throat and flushed skin. The See’s Bridge Mix does contain walnuts. One of the items is chocolate covered nougat, which has walnuts in it. It’s hard to tell, in Bridge mix, which pieces are which, so it’s a little difficult for me review these in the normal manner. For any piece that is the right shape to be a nougat, I have to split open first to see what’s in it.

The good part is that most of the pieces are easy to just chomp. The little items that look like raisins or almonds are raisins and almonds. The pillow things that look like molasses chips are molasses chips. The lumpy things that look like pecans are pecans. It was the little cubes I had the trouble with ... which leads to the general complaint with Bridge Mix.

See's Bridge Mix

Dark Chocolate covered Caramel Rectangles had a more stringy, chewy caramel than the little cube ones I found a few times. These were quite nice, but maybe a little heavy on the chocolate.

Dark Chocolate Lump is Rum Raisin Nougat This is the piece that has walnuts in it.

See's Bridge Mix

Milk Chocolate Cube is Caramel The picture makes this one look like it might be a chocolate caramel, but it tasted rather rich but caramelly overall.

Milk Chocolate Rounded Cube is Butterscotch The See’s Butterscotch is one of my favorite pieces. This version is a little drier and has a different set of ratios for the chocolate and center. I prefer the enrobed piece (not the bar), but the creamy melt of the chocolate and sort of buttery brown sugar fudge do work well, especially with the nuts. This and the caramel looked the same to me, and most of the milk cubes were Butterscotch.

Dark Chocolate Cube is Toasted Coconut These are wholly unexpected for this type of mix. You can see from the cross section, these are packed with coconut, so they’re not too sweet and it is nicely toasted to bring out the tropical flavor.

Flat Milk Chocolate Square is Toffee (not pictured) I like the See’s Toffee, it’s crisp and buttery and easy to bite. The toffee notes are good, but for some reason it’s never had that smooth burnt sugar dissolve that I often crave. It’s a personal preference issue.

See's Bridge Mix

Milk Chocolate Pillow is Molasses Crisp. These might have more chocolate on the regular version available by themselves. They’re crisp and crunchy, with just enough aeration to the honey-molasses candy to make them easy to bite. The lingering honey notes of the center goes well with just about everything else in this mix.

See's Bridge Mix

Milk Chocolate Pecans & Almonds - the pecans are fantastic. They’re roasted perfectly, they have a great woodsy maple flavor, so you get a sweet crunch combined with the chocolate. The almonds are very small, if I didn’t know any better, I would have assumed that they were peanuts. They’re well toasted and decent, a good crunch and probably a different variety than the nonpareil almonds I’ve been eating, because they’re less fibery.

Dark Chocolate Covered Raisins are quite niece. The raisins are big, though the chocolate isn’t particularly dark, it is generous.

The mix is very strong, it doesn’t have any items that feel like they’re cheap filler. I did find that the almonds were left at the end, I was picking out the big bits. But I think once I figured out the code, it was easier to mix and match without worrying that I was going to get a “bad piece.” I do not recommend playing roulette if you have a food sensitives when it comes to this sort of thing.

I would prefer an actual guide on the package, or at least a real listing the items that are in i. I’d also like to just make my own mix… but that’s not the way mixes work. I would definitely buy this again. But I play Canasta, not Bridge.

Related Candies

  1. Snack Mix for Traveling
  2. M&Ms Sweet & Salty Snack Mix
  3. See’s Double Caramel
  4. Cedrinca Gran Mix
  5. Eat with your Eyes: See’s Butterscotch
  6. Recchiuti Asphalt Jungle Mix
  7. Leaf Schoolchalk, Allsorts & Pipes
  8. Marich Easter Select Mix
  9. Licorice Bridge Mix


Name: See’s Bridge Mix
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: See’s
Place Purchased: See's (Glendale)
Price: $18.00
Size: 16 ounces
Calories per ounce: 145
Categories: Candy, Morselization, See's, Caramel, Chocolate, Coconut, Nougat, Nuts, Toffee, 8-Tasty, United States

POSTED BY Cybele AT 2:40 pm     CandyMorselizationReviewSee'sCaramelChocolateCoconutNutsToffee8-TastyUnited StatesComments (5)

Friday, October 31, 2014

Brach’s Bridge Mix

Brach's Bridge MixYou might wonder why my Halloween review is of Bridge Mix. It’s because it’s actually the scariest candy on the market today. Every maker has a different set of what they include in their mix, and because everything is coated in chocolate, it’s a game of Russian Roulette if you’re a picky eater. 

If I were to rank candies according to age demographics, most results would land where I expected. Super sour candies are targeted to tweens, dark chocolate to adult women and sweet and savory candies to men who love sports. And the sales data pretty much bears that out. Then there’s Bridge Mix. First of all, Bridge Mix doesn’t seem to have any sort of marketing campaign associated with it. But if you were to find out how old the average buyer is, I’m going to guess somewhere around 73.

I picked up the Brach’s Bridge Mix because the package made it look appealing and compared to some of the other chocolate bag offerings lately, it seemed like a good value. The package is vague, but it mentions that it’s a mix of all natural milk and dark chocolate. However, there was no listing on the back of the package as to what the actual items inside would be. The front just showed the coated pieces ... the ingredients were so long, all I could say for sure is that I could expect raisins, peanuts, sugar and Brazil nuts inside the chocolate.

Brach's Bridge Mix

My first impression upon opening the bag was good. It’s a resealable bag that holds a 8.7 ounces which makes for a full cereal bowl of candy. The pieces look good, they’re shiny and for the most part distinctive. I thought I could tell which were peanuts and raisins, though the larger spheres were a mystery.

The ingredients listed Brazil nuts and the picture on the front shows a piece that really looks like a chocolate covered Brazil nut. No such item appears in the bag. Maybe my mix was missing the Brazil nuts ... it was certainly not sufficiently randomized for my tastes.

Ingredients: Milk Chocolate (Sugar, Cocoa Butter, Whole Milk, Chocolate Liquor, Lactose, Soy Lecithin, Butter Oil, Salt, Vanillin, Ethyl Vanillin), Sugar, Corn Syrup, Peanuts with TBHQ and Citric Acid (preservative), Sweet Chocolate (Sugar, Chocolate Liquor, Cocoa Butter, Soy Lecithin, Vanilla Extract), Raisins, Sweetened Condensed Skim Milk (Sugar, Nonfat Milk, Buttermilk, Whey Solids), Corn Syrup Solids, Brazil Nuts, Malted Milk (Milk, Barley Malt, Wheat Flour, Salt, Sodium and Potassium Carbonate), Modified Food Starch (Corn), Malt Extract (Barley Malt, Wheat Flour), High Fructose Corn Syrup, Partially Hydrogenated Oil (Soybean, Cottonseed, Palm Kernel), Salt, Pectin, Baking Soda, Citric Acid, contains 2% or less of the following ingredients: Tapioca Flour, Soy Lecithin, Red 40, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Mono and Diglycerides, Hydrogenated Palm Kernel Oil, Gelatin, Confectioner’s Glaze, Acacia (Gum Arabic), Coconut Oil, Calcium Carbonate. [Contains: Milk, Brazil Nuts, Peanuts, Wheat and Soy]

Though it’s all natural chocolate, there are a lot of not-so-natural items in there, too. There’s also gelatin, which was hard to find on the list if you’re vegetarian.

Brach's Bridge Mix

Cherry Jelly Ball covered in Dark Chocolate were one of two that I could reliably pick out of the mix. It’s a big, very strongly cherry flavored jelly ball covered in dark chocolate. I was hoping there would be other flavors, but this was it. The jelly center is nice, dense and very floral. However, there’s a grainy sugar layer in there that messed with the texture and sweetness level. I don’t like cherry candies, but I thought this was a refreshing item to have in a mix ... and it was easy for me to avoid.

White Sugar Cream covered in Dark Chocolate - if you’ve ever wanted a York Peppermint Pattie without the mint flavor, this might be your candy. But the fondant in the center is hard and grainy ... so it’s not really a good texture combination at all. The dark chocolate outside is in a much larger ratio than most other mint candies, which is fine because that’s the only flavor you’re going to get out of this thing. I felt like about 1/4 of my bag was filled with these. I would bite them in half to see if it was a large peanut or something else and then toss the other half when I found it was the fondant ball.

Milk Chocolate Malted Milk Ball - I’d like to have a long and wonderful commentary here, but that photo of the one bitten in half is the only one I got in this bag. I’ve been searching for Brach’s Milk Chocolate Milk Balls for a couple of years, and found that this Bridge Mix is the only place I can find them ... and I got one lousy one. I didn’t savor it enough to be able to review it.

Dark Chocolate Covered Peanut - excellent. The peanuts have skins on them, which I enjoy. It highlighted the bitterness of the chocolate. The peanut had a light touch of salt, and though not large, they were crunchy and deeply roasted.

Milk Chocolate Covered Peanut - not as good as the dark one, the milk chocolate hides the peanut notes somehow, but after stumbling across so many of those fondant balls, I was happy to have these.

Milk Chocolate Brown Sugar Ball - I have no idea what this is. The center was not grainy, not smooth, not flavorful, not appealing. It tasted sweet, but also dusty. I just have no idea what the point was, except to fool me into thinking that I was going to get a Malted Milk Ball.

Milk Chocolate Covered Raisins - pretty good. The raisins were soft and chewy, not tough or tacky. The raisins dominated, the chocolate was sweeter than the actual dried fruit but didn’t contribute more than texture to the experience.

Brach's Bridge

The one item that was easy to pick out were the little flattened bullets that came in both milk and dark chocolate.

Milk Chocolate Covered Nut Brittle - the chocolate coating isn’t as thick as the other candies, but that didn’t matter. The center of this little morsel is a nicely made, crispy nut brittle. There may be Brazil nuts in there, but definitely peanuts. It’s salty, it’s barely sweet and I’d like to just buy a bag of these.

Dark Chocolate Covered Nut Brittle - the dark chocolate version was even better, as it enhanced the roasted nut flavors.

I’ve come away with an appreciation for people who simply throw caution to the wind and pop a handful of candy pieces in their mouth. I’m not a Bridge Mix person. In fact, this bag of candy made me angry. There were good things in it, but too many horrible things. There’s no listing anywhere that I can find that says what kind of candy is even in the bag ... it’s as if Brach’s is evasive and doesn’t want to commit to what they might put in there on any given day. I ended up with a pile of half bitten candies on my desk after I determined what I did and didn’t like ... I spit out the other halves in the trash. It was, in the end, a bad value for me, since I ate so little of it, though, technically, I finished the bag.

I really just wanted some Malted Milk Balls.

Related Candies

  1. Cacao Prieto 72% Dark Chocolate Pecan & Sour Cherry
  2. Brach’s Dark Chocolate Blueberry Acai
  3. Christopher’s Big Cherry - Dark
  4. RJ’s Licorice Allsorts
  5. Trader Joe’s Allsorts -a- Licorice
  6. Jelly Belly Chocolate Dips
  7. Licorice Bridge Mix


Name: Bridge Mix
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Brach’s
Place Purchased: Target (Eagle Rock)
Price: $3.49
Size: 8.7 ounces
Calories per ounce: 133
Categories: Candy, Brach's, Ferrara Pan, Brittle, Chocolate, Fondant, Jelly Candy, Malt, Nuts, Peanuts, Toffee, 5-Pleasant, United States, Target

POSTED BY Cybele AT 12:55 pm     CandyMorselizationReviewBrach'sFerrara PanBrittleChocolateFondantJelly CandyMaltNutsPeanutsToffee5-PleasantUnited StatesTargetComments (11)

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Brach’s Royals: Caramel Apple and Sea Salt Caramel

Brach's Apple Caramel RoyalsThe Brach’s Milk Maid Royals candies were always quite special looking. I remember seeing them in the pick-a-mix assortments at the dime store as a kid. I was attracted to the bold foil wrappers that each little flavored caramel rod sported. The looked expensive and sophisticated. The are a lot more caramel choices in the stores now and it seems harder to find the Brach’s individually wrapped candies since the bins of the candy disappeared from many grocery store candy aisles.

Royals Caramels are a layered candy, a flavored center chew is surrounded by caramel. It’s a simple construction that’s helped by the fact that caramel goes with just about everything.

I’ve noticed that Brach’s has recently started repackaging their standard line of candy and sprucing up the flavor assortments to match current tastes. The new Brach’s Apple Caramel Royals come in a stand-up gusset bag and are positioned right next to M&Ms and the new morsel sized candies like York Minis and Snickers Bites.

DSC_6901rb

The package is a lovely apple red but the candies inside are wrapped in neon green waxed paper. It’s kind of an odd, especially because I had two flavors sitting around at one time and I kept grabbing the wrong package. However, Brach’s did use red for their Caramel Apple Candy Corn, so the flavor colors do match on the outside at least.

Unlike the foil-wrapped ancestors, these candies don’t look like much in the wrapper. They’re the kind of candy that would probably sit around with the Tootsie Rolls at the end of Trick-or-Treat until I was desperate.

DSC_6902rb

The look of the candies unwrapped is odd, the caramel looks good - an opaque medium brown color. But the green center is on the blue side, which makes it look a little more like a caramel filled with toothpaste than a green apple candy. Luckily the smell aligns everything again. It’s sweet and with a light apple peel and milk scent. The chew is soft, the caramel and sort of taffy center mix well. It could use a little bit of salt to bring it together. It’s never quite a smooth and creamy caramel, but much more satisfying than the Brach’s Candy Corn Nougats I tried last week.

The ingredients list actual apples plus buttermilk as an ingredient in these, which really makes them one of the closest candies on drug store shelves to actual caramel apples.

Brach's Salted Caramel RoyalsThe Brach’s Sea Salt Caramel Royals come in the same style of gusset bag. It’s a more sedate design, as the colors are more subdued.

While caramel apple candies are quite trendy right now for fall, the general salted caramel rage is a year round thing and still going strong. It only makes sense that Brach’s, now owned by the Ferrara Candy Company, would expand into some of these mainstream trends.

While they say sea salt on the front of the package, the ingredients list only salt. The nutrition panel shows that there are 180 mgs of salt per serving of 6 pieces. As a point of reference, the Apple Caramel Royals have only 75 mgs.

DSC_6893rb

The Sea Salt Caramel Royals are, well, quite nice! The chew is soft with a little difference between the caramel outside and the sort of pasty chew inside. They’re definitely salty, but it does highlight the brown sugar notes of the caramel. I wouldn’t be likely to buy these again, especially at the price when I can get some really good sea salt caramels from Trader Joe’s or just some Sugar Babies ... but I will finish this bag.

These candies are made in Mexico. The contain milk, soy and egg ingredients. There’s no notation about nuts or gluten, though.

DSC00847rBrach’s Milk Maid Royals have been made since the late 1920s (though I’m sure the wrappers have changed over the years). The flavors are probably also cyclical with changing tastes. The last time I had them I enjoyed the extra-sweet Maple and Butter Rum, but didn’t care for the sherbet flavored Orange. The Chocolate is softer than a Tootsie Roll but didn’t have the reliably long chew.

Related Candies

  1. 15 Caramel Apple Candies I’ve Reviewed
  2. Ghirardelli Milk Chocolate Sea Salt Cashew
  3. See’s Caramel Apple Lollypops
  4. Pearson’s Sea Salt Caramel Nut Goodies
  5. Trader Joe’s Chocolate Covered Sea Salt Butterscotch Caramels
  6. Werther’s Original Caramel Apple Filled
  7. Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels


Name: Apple Caramel Royals
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Brach’s
Place Purchased: Samples from CandyWarehouse.com
Price: $6.00
Size: 10 ounces
Calories per ounce: 112
Categories: Candy, Halloween, Brach's, Ferrara Pan, Caramel, 6-Tempting, Mexico


Name: Sea Salt Caramel Royals
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Brach’s
Place Purchased: Samples from CandyWarehouse.com
Price: $6.00
Size: 10 ounces
Calories per ounce: 112
Categories: Candy, Brach's, Ferrara Pan, Caramel, 7-Worth It, Mexico

POSTED BY Cybele AT 2:19 pm     CandyReviewHalloweenBrach'sFerrara PanCaramel6-Tempting7-Worth ItMexicoComments (2)

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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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COUNTDOWN.

Halloween Candy Season Ends

-47 days

Read previous coverage

 

 

Which seasonal candy selection do you prefer?

Choose one or more:

  •   Halloween
  •   Christmas
  •   Valentine's Day
  •   Easter

 

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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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