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Monday, July 14, 2014

Ghirardelli Minis - Sweet Dark Chocolate and Cookie Bits

Ghirardelli Minis - Sweet Dark Chocolate and Cookie BitsGhirardelli has a very large and varied line of chocolate bars and individually wrapped squares. This year they also introduced a new line of Ghirardelli minis in five varieties: Milk & Caramel, Milk Chocolate Sea Salt Almond, Milk Chocolate Toffee Crisp, Dark Chocolate minis and Sweet Dark Chocolate Cookie Bits minis.

The package explains that “minis are the sweet way to share your love of chocolate ... anytime, anywhere.” The bag is rather slight at only 4.1 ounces but is priced comparably (per ounce) to the bars. I chose the Sweet Dark Chocolate Cookie Bits because it was a flavor I’d never seen in the bars or the standard squares before. Unfortunately the package doesn’t detail the cacao percentage.

Ghirardelli Minis

The packaging is a beautiful matte, medium blue that I found very appealing. The wrappers are also easy to open, which I appreciate when spending a little more on my candy.

I have to say that I don’t understand the point of these. They squares are 7 grams each, while the regular Ghirardelli Squares are 10.75 - so they’re about 2/3 the size of the original version. They’re a little thicker, but not unwrapped like so many Bites and Minis are these days. (Not that I think they would fare well jumbled in a bag, they’d probably break and get scuffed up instead looking incredibly charming.

Ghirardelli Minis

The little squares are about one inch on each side. The smell is odd for a chocolate product, it reminds me of frosting in a can, overly sweet with more of a cocoa and vanilla extract scent than the complex smell of chocolate.

The bite is easy, and the thickness of the chocolate means that the little cookie bits have space to stack up and provide some texture. The cookie pieces are crunchy and less than sweet overall, which is a welcome change from the chocolate itself. The chocolate is smooth, but like the smell, tastes a bit on the fake side. I know it’s not, that it’s probably the cookies giving off that smell, but it just turned me off from the experience. I was hoping for some sort of deluxe version of the Limited Edition Hershey’s that come out from time to time, but here I found it no better.

I’m still keen to try some of the other flavors, this minis line seems to be a bit more on the comfort candy side of flavor combinations than the regular line, which I think is fun. This one just didn’t work for me.

Related Candies

  1. Walgreen’s Good and Delish Milk Chocolate Cornflake Clusters
  2. Ghirardelli Squares Milk & Hazelnut Crisp
  3. Ghirardelli Intense Dark Sea Salt Soiree
  4. Aldi Chocolate Swiss Assorted Chocolate Squares
  5. Lindt Excellence Dark with a touch of Sea Salt
  6. Lindt Excellence Toffee Crunch
  7. Ghirardelli Holiday Squares
  8. Scharffen Berger Tasting Squares
  9. Head to Head: Cookie Joys vs Cookies n Mint


Name: Sweet Dark Chocolate and Cookie Bits minis
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Ghiradelli
Place Purchased: Target (Eagle Rock)
Price: $3.29
Size: 4.1 ounces
Calories per ounce: 148
Categories: Candy, Ghirardelli, Chocolate, Cookie, Kosher, 6-Tempting, United States, Target

POSTED BY Cybele AT 1:52 pm     CandyReviewGhirardelliChocolateCookieKosher6-TemptingUnited StatesTargetComments (0)

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Twizzlers Mixed Berry

Twizzlers Mixed BerryIn the category of licorice-free extruded starch gels, Twizzlers are at the top of the heap. Though they’re known mostly for the standard hollow Strawberry twist, Twizzlers come in a vast array of flavors, color and formats. One of the newer versions Twizzlers has been expanding is the Pull n Peel varieties. Pull n Peel is basically the old fashioned laces, but formatted in a way that makes them easier to portion and package.

I picked up this king size version of Twizzlers Mixed Berry at Walgreen‘s, mostly because it came in the king size instead of the big nearly-a-pound bag. There are six twists in the package, a mix of three flavors: Cherry, Black Raspberry and Strawberry.
Each serving is two twists, so the package contains three servings - which isn’t bad for a king size package. However, the pricing for king size versus the full sized bag is never in your favor. (In this case, a quick check of the shelf meant knowing I was paying twice as much per ounce over the large bag, even with this on sale.)

Twizzlers Mixed Berry

The twists look kind of like a swollen version of what you’d find if you stripped the insulation off a phone cable. There are nine different colored “wires” in each bundle. The effect is quite appealing, as they twist gently and stick together lightly in the package. It’s kind of like a wheat-based package of mozzarella cheese sticks.

The texture is much more smooth and pliable than the regular Twizzlers, which I find a bit on the stuff and crumbly side of the plastic realm. My twists stuck together quite a bit, so it was hard to just pull off a single lace to eat separately. Cherry was the most discernible of the flavors. It had a deep medicinal note. It was smooth, not too sweet but also had a hint of salt to it. Strawberry was very mild and more sweet than Cherry. It didn’t have any tangy note, which I didn’t expect, but was also missing that fresh floral hint that usually evokes cotton candy in many other strawberry candies. The Black Raspberry (the blue strand) didn’t do much for me, it wasn’t distinct as a raspberry flavor on its own, but it definitely wasn’t the same as the other two.

Twizzlers Mixed Berry

Eaten as a whole bite of multiple strands, it works well. None of them stand out, it’s just a generic fruity-berry flavor. There’s a bitter note towards the end though, which I’d guess are the artificial colors or flavors.

I could say that one twist is satisfying enough (about .7 ounces), since I didn’t want to eat another after that. But if you’re the kind of person who misses that period of life known as kindergarten when it was socially acceptable to eat PlayDoh, then the Twizzlers Pull n Peel are probably right up your alley. (I’m not making that up, either. The ingredients of Play Doh are also largely starch based, though it’s not sold as a food item and Hasbro dissuades people from eating it, it’s really the salt that might make that a bad idea and the fact that it contains wheat so it’s not gluten free.)

Related Candies

  1. Twizzlers Chocolate Twists
  2. Limited Edition Twizzlers Pull ‘n’ Peel Grape
  3. Crazy Candy Co Candy Laces
  4. Sour Punch Bits - Tangerine-Lemonade
  5. Twizzlers (Strawberry)
  6. Red Vines
  7. Cinnamon Fire Twizzlers


Name: Twizzlers Mixed Berry
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Hershey’s
Place Purchased: Walgreen's (Echo Park)
Price: $1.50
Size: 4.2 ounces
Calories per ounce: 99
Categories: Candy, Hershey's, Chews, Kosher, 5-Pleasant, United States, Walgreen's

POSTED BY Cybele AT 12:55 pm     CandyReviewHershey'sChewsKosher5-PleasantUnited StatesWalgreen'sComments (2)

Monday, July 7, 2014

Good and DeLISH Morning Rush Coffee Bites

Delish (Walgreen's) Morning Rush Coffee BitesI’ve often wondered why more confections weren’t made from roasting and conching. What would happen if you roasted and conched almonds or hazelnuts in the same way we make chocolate? What about coffee?

Since coffee doesn’t have its own natural oils like cocoa that are solid at room temperature, it only makes sense to add a dash of them to make a chocolate-like confection to create these Morning Rush Coffee Bites. These are from the Walgreen’s store-brand called deLISH, but I did see a review of a product called Coffee Thins on Candy Bar Review that sounds like it might be the maker.

They came in three varieties, I picked out the simplest version, the plain coffee bites (Elegant Hazelnut and Vanilla Delight were the others). There are 14 in the package, but the serving size is a little strange to decode. There’s 4.9 ounces in the package and it holds 3.5 servings. So a serving is 4 pieces. Though the package doesn’t say anything about caffeine, the Coffee Thins website does say that one piece equals a quarter of a cup of coffee. (I’m unclear if they mean an actual fourth of an 8 ounce cup and how much caffeine that cup had, as it does vary quite a bit but I’ll stick with the estimate that even eating the whole bag will probably not result it an overdose of caffeine. The front of the package is no help either, as it shows one piece equaling a cup of coffee ... though the cup is the same size as the chocolate piece.)

Delish (Walgreen's) Morning Rush Coffee Bites

They’re packaged just like a Ghirardelli Square. The pieces are about 1.6 inches square. The molding is nice, it’s a generic mold but a good thickness for biting and getting a nice aroma off of it while eating.

The ingredients are a little vague:

Sugar, Coffee Liquor (mixed fats & oils*, coffee) dairy solids, (whey powder, lactose), maltodextrins, soy lecithin, PGPR, natural vanilla flavoring, salt

The oils are a blend of cocoa butter, palm oil, illipe butter, shea butter, mango butter, sunflower oil and/or safflower oil. It’s also unclear if the coffee is the whole bean or brewed coffee. (I’m guessing whole bean.)

Delish (Walgreen's) Morning Rush Coffee Bites

The mouthfeel is pretty good. It’s not quite the silky melt of a good dark chocolate, but it’s passable. The coffee flavors are very strong and well rounded, more on the woodsy and cocoa end of the flavors than the nutty, toffee or berry notes that some beans have. The sugar is quite prominent, which is too bad, because I don’t mind a strong coffee. If it were less sweet, I’d be a lot happier, but when you remove sugar, it has to be replaced by something else. There’s a buttery, cream note to the whole thing too that I thought was a little strong for something that I didn’t think was in the milk drink zone. It’s a balancing act, if you take out sugar, do you put in more milk solids or more coffee? More coffee would make it much stronger, but that might not make it better because the bitterness or perhaps even the caffeine would be too high.

The end result is that I’m satisfied with these as a curiosity. I don’t see myself buying them again ... unless they were actually blended in with dark chocolate. However, if your a sweet coffee fan, these might be the ticket.

Related Candies

  1. Mast Brothers Stumptown Coffee
  2. Feodora Mocca’s Dark and Milk
  3. Meiji Corot & CoffeeBeat
  4. Jitterbeans vs GoGo Beans
  5. Javaz - Milk & Dark Chocolate Covered Coffee Beans
  6. Coffee Rio
  7. Caffe Acapella - Coffee Confections
  8. Pocket Coffee
  9. Bali’s Best Coffee & United Coffee Candy


Name: Morning Rush Coffee Bites
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Good and Delish
Place Purchased: Walgreen's (Echo Park)
Price: $3.79
Size: 4.9 ounces
Calories per ounce: 150
Categories: Candy, Coffee, Kosher, 7-Worth It, United States, Walgreen's

POSTED BY Cybele AT 1:01 pm     CandyReviewCaffeinatedCoffeeKosher7-Worth ItUnited StatesWalgreen'sComments (1)

Monday, June 30, 2014

Marks and Spencer Percy Pig

Marks and Spencer Percy PigThough most of the confectioners I was searching for in London were chocolate related, I knew I needed to pick up a package of Percy Pig Soft Gums from Marks & Spencer. It wasn’t hard to find them, as it was hard to walk more than three blocks in central London and not run across one of their food stops.

They’re described as Soft gums made with fruit juice. Made without artificial colors or flavorings. Though they call them gums, they’re actually gummis, as in, they’re made with gelatin. The texture is a hybrid between marshmallow and gummi.

Marks and Spencer came up with the idea for Percy Pig in conjunction with one of their contract manufacturers, Katjes, in Germany. Marks & Spencer wanted something fruity and foamy. The look of the candy was based off of the existing Tappsy panda-faced licorice line from Katjes. 

Marks and Spencer Percy Pig

The color is definitely close to what I’d call pig skin pink. It’s a light color that’s more like putty than actual artificial pink common in most candies here in the United States. The scent is rather berry-like, a little floral with a tangy sort of yogurt note.

The texture is soft and easy to bite, they’re not too tacky or stiff. The flavor is much more intense than the similar Haribo foamy gummis I’ve had over the years. They’re wonderfully well done, good tartness, good jammy berry flavors (strawberry and raspberry). The ears are a little more tart and less creamy (marshmallowy) than the face.

It’s a great product and I can see why Brits are so fond of them. There are plenty of similar products on the market now, but for a long time they really occupied a niche that was not well served by the existing candies available. I would love more flavor variations, but since I know that Katjes makes them, they have lots of other yogurt gums and other foamy gummi candies in their repertoire ... some also in amazingly cute shapes.

For some more history on Percy Pig, you can read up at this feature article on The Independent.

Related Candies

  1. Katjes Tappsy mit Schoko-Geschmack
  2. Sugarpova: Sporty & Splashy
  3. 12 European Licorices
  4. Katjes Tappsy
  5. Puffy Candy Corn
  6. Van Slooten - Autodrop Total Loss
  7. Katjes Tropical Gummis & Yogurt Gums


Name: Percy Pig
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Katjes
Place Purchased: Marks & Spencer (London)
Price: £0.90 ($1.50)
Size: 3.5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 96
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Katjes, Gummi Candy, 8-Tasty, Germany

POSTED BY Cybele AT 3:27 pm     All NaturalCandyReviewKatjesGummi Candy8-TastyGermanyComments (3)

Monday, June 23, 2014

Simply Balanced Dark Chocolate Mixed Berry (Target)

Simply Balanced Dark Chocolate Mixed BerryTarget has a variety of house brands on their shelves right now, though not that many in the candy aisle any longer. I did spot this new variety of little fruity chocolate morsels and picked up Simply Balanced Mixed Berry Fruit Juice Pieces Covered in Dark Chocolate. I don’t actually know what these are supposed to be called, since that sounds more like a description than a name. The brand called Simply Balanced is also new to me, the package says that its goodness guarantee takes the guesswork out of eating well.

As far as I can tell, a Canadian confectioner called Brookside invented the concept of a little antioxidant-themed jelly morsel covered in dark chocolate back in late 2010. They grew quickly enough that Hershey’s decided to purchase the company and of course knock-off versions have emerged over the intervening years. This version from Target has some interesting elements to it.

They’re made with Rainforest Alliance certified cacao from Ecuador. Though it’s nice dark chocolate, it’s only 60%. The package also calls them fruit juice pieces, similar to the language used by Brookside for their jelly thingies. In reality they’re jellies. They’re made from glucose, water, fruit juice from concentrate, citric acid, pectin and corn starch. So, it’s less fruit juice and mostly sugar. Honestly, I would mind something called dark chocolate covered fruit jellies (those already exist, and they’re usually raspberry or orange flavored and usually sticks). But this new genre of candy is trying to paint itself with the fine qualities of antioxidant rich berries, when the reality is they’re made from not just blueberry, pomegranate and cranberry juice, but also apple and lemon.

Simply Balanced Dark Chocolate Mixed Berries

As much as I may make fun of their marketing materials, it is a list of ingredients that I could put together in my kitchen (though the end product wouldn’t look as nice). The pieces are large, like Peanut M&Ms instead of the smaller pieces from Brookside. The coats are not quite as smooth, a little dinged up, I think, from getting jostled around. But still shiny.

They smell a little fruity, with some woodsy notes of chocolate. The bite is pretty soft, the jelly center is springy and dissolves quickly. Some had a small hint of grainy sugar to them, but most were smooth. The chocolate is creamy and has a good, quick melt and soft bite. The fruity centers were tangy with a strong blueberry and cranberry flavor to them. There’s a light bitter note towards the end that reminded me of cranberries.

Simply Balanced Dark Chocolate Mixed Berries

The pieces are easy to eat and a nice change from nut and chocolate combinations. They’re not innovative, but nicely done. The ingredients are pretty clean and the use of Rainforest Alliance cacao and labeling it as being made with non-GMO ingredients is a nice touch.

The candies contain soy and are made in a facility that also processes milk, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and eggs. (Too bad, it would be nice if these were at least free of some of the major allergens.) They’re kind of expensive at $3.59 for only 7 ounces, but comparable to the Trader Joe’s, Brookside and Brach’s versions price wise, but I actually prefer them.

Related Candies

  1. Brach’s Dark Chocolate Blueberry Acai
  2. Brookside Dark Chocolate Pomegranate
  3. Necco Wafers SmartFruits
  4. Wonka Exceptionals Fruit Jellies: Grapefruit, Goji Berry & Red Apple
  5. Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Powerberries
  6. Nestle Cranberry Raisinets


Name: Mixed Berry Fruit Juice Pieces Covered in Dark Chocolate
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Target
Place Purchased: Target (West Hollywood)
Price: $3.59
Size: 7 ounces
Calories per ounce: 148
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Chocolate, Ethically Sourced, Jelly Candy, 8-Tasty, United States, Target

POSTED BY Cybele AT 12:34 pm     All NaturalCandyReviewChocolateEthically SourcedJelly Candy8-TastyTargetComments (0)

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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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