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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Candyology 101 - Podcast Episode 4 - Christmas

Candyology-Episode-4

In Episode 4 of Candyology 101, we’re talking about candy associations with Christmas. It’s all the good and bad that the season has to offer.

You can also download the MP3 file, subscribe in iTunes or Stitcher.

Check out all the links & show notes on the Candyology 101 website.

 

POSTED BY Cybele AT 3:01 pm     CandyChristmasHighlightFun StuffRadio InterviewsComments (1)

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Trader Joe’s Chocolate Liqueur Cherries

Trader Joe's Chocolate Liqueur CherriesDuring early December, Trader Joe’s becomes a hotspot for decadent hostess gifts. In the store I frequent, there is a table with just gift boxed confections and gift samplers by the dairy case. Many of the items featured are new and quirky treats, but some are tried and true classics.

Since I’m on a cherry cordial kick, I did pick up the Trader Joe’s Chocolate Liqueur Cherries which feature a real boost of alcohol (4.4%). They may not be available in all states, as some areas have stricter alcohol laws. I think you need to be over 21 to purchase these in most places. (Even though you’d need to eat the full 14 ounce box to get the same amount of alcohol as you’d find in a beer.)

Trader Joe's Chocolate Liqueur Cherries

The ingredients are quite decent: it’s 49% cacao dark chocolate (with no added dairy fillers) and a filling made of sugar, alcohol, a full cherry, corn syrup and cherry juice. There are no artificial flavors or colors ... and it appears to be vegan. They’re made in a factory that also processed milk, peanuts, almonds, walnuts and hazelnuts. There’s no statement about gluten and it does contain soy.

The box is serviceable, with some sort of faux wood grain design on the front that verges on old west instead of elegant Christmas gift. The tray inside is plastic, but because it’s metallic gold along with the gold foil wrapping, it’s a good presentation at that point. 

Once the box is open, though, it’s hard to carry it with one hand without tipping the contents out ... but at least they’re wrapped in foil, so they’re easy to retrieve.

Trader Joe's Chocolate Liqueur Cherries

They’re small, at about 12 grams each and about 55 calories.

I found the easiest way to eat these is pretty common. I turn over the little hemisphere and pry the bottom off with my teeth eat the chocolate coin. Then sip the cherry syrup cordial and then eat the soaked cherry with the chocolate in one bite.

In this case the cherry cordial syrup is not quite sweet and has a light acidic note, probably from the cherry juice. The alcohol has no clear attributes of its own, except that it burns a little bit and gives the effect of cough syrup at times. The chocolate is passable - sweet and with some woodsy/brownie notes to it. The cherry at the center was usually small, but crunchy and chewy.

I enjoyed these since they were less sweet than others I’ve been sampling. I don’t know if I’d buy them again, I’d probably stick with the Brandy Beans if I have a hankering for alcohol filled chocolates. I applaud Trader Joe’s for making a reliable product, though, with good quality ingredients with no preservatives (well, sugar and alcohol are preservatives) or artificial colors. It’s certainly more expensive than the others I’ve profiled from Cella’s and Queen Anne, but you’re getting more real ingredients instead of preservatives and colorings ... and pretty gold foil.

I’ve purchased liqueur chocolates before, and I have to stress that you can’t freeze them (don’t leave them in the car overnight if you’re someplace cold) and they will eventually evaporate so they should be eaten within 1 month of purchase, especially if you’ve taken off the plastic overwrap.

Related Candies

  1. Cella’s Dark Chocolate Cherries
  2. Queen Anne Chocolate Cordial Cherries
  3. Trader Joe’s Holiday Roundup 2012
  4. Fazer Vodka Filled Chocolates
  5. Die Besten von Ferrero: Mon Cheri, Kusschen & Rondnoir
  6. Doulton Liqueur Chocolates (Cointreau & Teacher’s)
  7. Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels
  8. Cherry Cordial Creme Kisses


Name: Chocolate Liqueur Cherries
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Trader Joe’s
Place Purchased: Trader Joe's (Silver Lake)
Price: $5.99
Size: 14.1 ounces
Calories per ounce: 126
Categories: Candy, Christmas, Trader Joe's, Alcohol, Chocolate, 7-Worth It, Hungary

POSTED BY Cybele AT 2:18 pm     CandyReviewChristmasTrader Joe'sAlcoholChocolate7-Worth ItHungaryComments (2)

Monday, December 8, 2014

Cella’s Dark Chocolate Cherries

Cella's Dark Chocolate CherriesCella’s has been making chocolate covered cherries since 1864. The company was bought by Tootsie in 1985 and enjoys wide distribution at drug stores and mass marketing chains all over North America.

Since I tried the an array of Queen Anne chocolate cherries, I though it would only be proper to try the best-known cordial cherries. Luckily they were on sale at Target yesterday for only $1.39 for a box of 10 cherries ... less than I paid for the lowest priced version of Queen Anne.

Cella’s Cherries come in a variety of packages, I’m most familiar with the boxes that feature individually foil wrapped versions. They come in both Milk Chocolate and Dark Chocolate versions. I chose dark.

Cella's Dark Chocolate Cherries

This box of Cella’s was minimalist and efficient. The box was about half the size (flatter) than the Queen Anne and still held 10 pieces. (Though the total box only holds 5 ounces, not 6.6 ounces, so they’re smaller.) The tray plastic, but it’s easy to pull the chocolate’s out. They were all flawless, though I heard from a reader who also bought some over the weekend and half were cracked.

Cella's Dark Chocolate Cherries

They’re well molded, shiny and fresh. Cella’s feature a 100% cordial center, which means no sugary fondant, it’ll all syrup and cherry in there. Cella’s are also made in a peanut free and gluten free facility, so these are appropriate for a wide range of sweet-lovers. Sadly, even though this is a dark chocolate product, there is some dairy in there (and soy). It would have been nice to find a vegan cherry candy. The cherries are treated with sulfur dioxide, sodium benzoate and calcium chloride and they add red dye #40.

Cella's Dark Chocolate Cherries

They do smell like cherry. So much that it really overpowers the chocolate, but in general I consider the chocolate in a cordial cherry to be only a delivery vessel. The syrupy center is sweet, but certainly less so than the Queen Anne. The cherry is firm and crunchy and has just a slight tart note to it and a wholly maraschino flavor.

I was never really a cordial cherry fan, but I’ve been coming around. For the price, I really can’t complain about this product. The chocolate was creamy and had some toasted notes, though could certainly be darker. It was excellently tempered and these would be a lovely treat to serve with dessert to folks at the holidays. Because there’s a lot of water in the center, these are quite low in calories per ounce, so if you’re looking for a little treat without breaking your diet, this is also a nice change as the flavors are intense and linger. There are better looking packages, though, if you’re looking for a hostess gift.

Some people prefer the fondant style center to the syrup cordial, so it’s good to know what kind of person you are going in. SugarPressure did a comparison of Brach’s, Cella’s and Queen Anne and preferred the Queen Anne.

Related Candies

  1. Queen Anne Chocolate Cordial Cherries
  2. Cacao Prieto 72% Dark Chocolate Pecan & Sour Cherry
  3. Limited Edition Ritter Sport Amarena Cherry
  4. Nestle Cherry Raisinets
  5. Cherry Almondine M&Ms
  6. Cherry Cordial Creme Kisses
  7. ChocoCherries


Name: Dark Chocolate Cherries
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Tootsie
Place Purchased: Target (Eagle Rock)
Price: $1.39
Size: 5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 100
Categories: Candy, Tootsie, Chocolate, Kosher, 7-Worth It, United States, Target

POSTED BY Cybele AT 2:15 pm     CandyReviewTootsieChocolateKosher7-Worth ItUnited StatesTargetComments (2)

Friday, December 5, 2014

Queen Anne Chocolate Cordial Cherries

Queen Anne Dark Chocolate CherriesI have nothing against cherries. In fact, I love fresh cherries. I’m not fond of cherry flavored candies, so it stands to reason that I should actually like chocolate covered cherry cordials since they do have a real glace cherry at the center.

So a few years ago I tried the European version of Ferrero Mon Cheri ... which features a whole cherry in alcohol. That went well. But still, I’ve been hesitant to try some other varieties I see at drug store chains.

Queen Anne Cordial Cherries

Though it seems odd, I thought I’d start at the bottom. I picked up the cheapest, but most widely available line I could find: Queen Anne Cordial Cherries which are made by World’s Finest Chocolate.

The boxes varied in price between $1.50 and $2.49 for a box that holds 10 cordial cherries totaling 6.6 ounces. Queen Anne makes cherries in a few versions: Milk Chocolate and Dark Chocolate as well as newer versions in French Vanilla and Black Cherry Cola. They also make a cordial blueberry, but I’ll save that for another time.

DSC_7593rb

The packaging is far from elegant, but it is serviceable. There are ten candies in the box, each tray has five little plastic cups and the whole thing is sealed with a plastic film on top. The two trays are stacked in the box. The chocolates were in good shape, even though I’m guessing they get tossed around a bit en route.

Queen Anne Dark Chocolate Cherries

Queen Anne Dark Chocolate Cordial Cherries were a good place to start. The chocolate can’t be particularly dark, as sugar is the first ingredient and the chocolate itself also contains anhydrous milk fat and PGPR. The cherries are souped up in high fructose corn syrup, citric acid and some extra Red Dye #40. The ingredients also mention another “dark coating” made from partially hydrogenated soybean and cottonseed oils and cocoa along with sugar.

They do look quite good and smell like, well, cherries but the cocoa notes of the chocolate do actually come through.

They’re a messy affair if one who likes to bite and not pop. I like to grab the cherry in the first bite to make sure I get it with the least amount of sugar ... leaving the syrup behind in the remaining hemisphere. The cherry is crisp and chewy with only a lightly tart note. But it tastes realistic and not quite as strongly of maraschino as some others.

It’s all overly sweet though, especially if I was going to eat the other half that didn’t have a cherry. The chocolate is passable, not overly sweet but also lacking a good quality creamy smooth note.

DSC_7611rb
Queen Anne French Vanilla Cordial Cherries have a softer scent, definitely a hint of vanilla to them. Since it’s a milk chocolate shell, there’s less of a cocoa note to it but a little bit of sweet dairy.

Though the nutrition panel says there’s only one more gram of sugar in this version over the dark, it’s astronomically sweeter. It’s pretty much inedible for me, though I’m sure some folks will enjoy the sugary vanilla blast. The cherry flavor is completely lost on me, which is too bad because the texture was spot on.

Queen Anne Cherry Cola
Queen Anne Black Cherry Cola Cordial Cherries are

Oddly enough, this was the version I was looking forward to most. A bit of extra spicy flavor from the cola might help, and it actually did. The textures were the same, the cherries were firm and of good quality. The cola flavor was extremely mild, though. It was a little hint in the smell, and then maybe a whiff of it in the second bite. This one had the most maraschino flavor to it.

None are ever going to pass my lips again, not because they’re necessarily bad candy, but they’re certainly not the candy for me. There are better chocolate covered cordial cherries out there. A starting place will be finding better quality chocolate, as it should not just be treated like a container, but a gateway. So if I’m going to reset my brain to enjoy them, I think I should spend some time finding better ones.

Related Candies

  1. Sugarfina: The Chocolates
  2. Christopher’s Big Cherry - Dark
  3. Brach’s Cherry Cordial Nougats
  4. Gimbal’s Cherry Lovers
  5. Cherry Almondine M&Ms
  6. Wawel Chocolates
  7. Cherry Cordial Creme Kisses
  8. Pop Rocks Cherry Cola


Name: Cordial Cherries: Dark Chocolate
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: World’s Finest Chocolate
Place Purchased: KMart (Park LaBrea)
Price: $1.50 (on sale)
Size: 6.6 ounces
Calories per ounce: 113
Categories: Candy, Queen Anne, World's Finest Chocolate, Chocolate, 5-Pleasant, United States, Kmart


Name: Cordial Cherries: French Vanilla
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: World’s Finest Chocolate
Place Purchased: Walgreen's (Hollywood)
Price: $2.49
Size: 6.6 ounces
Calories per ounce: 113
Categories: Candy, Queen Anne, World's Finest Chocolate, Chocolate, 5-Pleasant, United States, Walgreen's


Name: Cordial Cherries: Black Cherry Cola
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: World’s Finest Chocolate
Place Purchased: Walgreen's (Hollywood)
Price: $2.49
Size: 6.6 ounces
Calories per ounce: 113
Categories: Candy, Queen Anne, World's Finest Chocolate, Chocolate, Cola, 6-Tempting, United States, Walgreen's

POSTED BY Cybele AT 3:12 pm     CandyReviewQueen AnneWorld's Finest ChocolateChocolateColaMockolate5-Pleasant6-TemptingUnited StatesKmartWalgreen'sComments (1)

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Spangler Marshmallow Peppermint Circus Peanuts

Spangler Marshmallow Circus Peanuts PeppermintSpangler has the strangest new holiday item I think I’ve seen in years: Peppermint Marshmallow Circus Peanuts.

Their website lays out their attributes succinctly: They are white in color, peanut in shape, peppermint in flavor.

Spangler is already one of the best known makers of Circus Peanuts, the ordinarily orange colored, peanut shaped but banana flavored confection. This new version puts Circus Peanuts in play as a new product line for Holiday theming, especially since they made a Halloween version themed for Candy Corn.

DSC_7659rb

They’re white, so they’re difficult to photograph. They’re about two inches long and don’t smell like much at first.

Upon my first bite, I did find that they’re quite minty. The texture of the marshmallow, when fresh, is light though a bit on the grainy side. They’re not the puffs you’d associate with Campfire or JetPuffed brands. Instead these are dense with a little bit of a sugar grain and get quite chewy and tacky when stale.

The mint is mild but definitely refreshing. It cuts the otherwise too-sweet notes of the marshmallow quite a bit. There’s only a smidge of salt in there (10mg) but what’s actually nice about these is that they’re, as far as I can tell, all natural. No artificial colors, because they’re not colored at all.

Ingredients: Sugar, Corn Syrup, Gelatin, Pectin, Natural Flavor

Out of curiosity, I added a peanut to my hot chocolate. I pulled it into “marbits” and tossed it on top. They do float, even though they’re a denser fluff than a Peep. The outside does become a little creamy and definitely imparts a minty note. But the center stays a bit grainy and starts to remind me of a wad of toothpaste. Still, it didn’t ruin a perfectly fine cup of hot chocolate. Now I’m wondering if I’d like a classic banana Circus Peanut in my hot chocolate.

Related Candies

  1. Spangler Candy Corn Circus Peanuts
  2. Kraft Jet-Puffed Peppermint Mini Mallows
  3. Peeps Gingerbread Men
  4. Peeps Chocolate Dipped Sugar Cookie & Candy Cane
  5. Brach’s Chicks & Rabbits Marshmallow Candy
  6. Kraft Jet-Puffed Marshmallows + Vanilla, Cinnamon Bun, Strawberry, Chocolate Royale, Gingerbread
  7. Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Minty Mallows
  8. Circus Peanuts


Name: Peppermint Marshmallow Circus Peanuts
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Spangler Candy
Place Purchased: Samples from CandyWarehouse.com
Price: $4.00
Size:
Calories per ounce: 112
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Christmas, Spangler Candy, Marshmallow, Mints, 6-Tempting, United States

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:42 am     All NaturalCandyReviewChristmasSpangler CandyMarshmallowMints6-TemptingUnited StatesComments (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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COUNTDOWN.

Halloween Candy Season Ends

-56 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:

• Lindt Chocolate Cookie

• Hachez Braune Blatter (Chocolate Leaves)

• Dandelion Chocolate

• Trader Joe’s Holiday Roundup 2014

 

 

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