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Friday, January 3, 2014

M&Ms Milk Chocolate Red Velvet

M&Ms Milk Chocolate Red VelvetM&Ms Milk Chocolate Red Velvet are a Valentine’s limited edition available only at Walmart this year. (I bought mine on eBay.)

Red Velvet cake is made with buttermilk and vinegar plus some cocoa. It’s not a rich chocolate cake, just a lightly chocolate cake with a tangy note to it. The fact that it’s red is really inconsequential to the flavor. The color can be created naturally or using artificial food coloring. The cake is usually frosted with a cream cheese icing or browned butter icing.

Ingredients:milk chocolate (sugar, chocolate, skim milk, cocoa butter, lactose, milkfat, soy lecithin, salt, artificial flavors) sugar, cornstarch, less than 1% - corn syrup, dextrin, coloring (red 40, blue 2, blue 1, blue2, yellow 6, yellow 5), gum acacia, artificial and natural flavors.

I’m not much of a cake fan in the first place and Red Velvet is so low on my list that I’d probably prefer not to eat anything at all. Just to be really diligent about this, I went to Sprinkles, a cupcake bakery, and picked up a Red Velvet Cupcake to remind myself what the heck this is supposed to taste like. The Sprinkles website says that they’ve added extra cocoa to theirs and chose a cream cheese frosting. 

Sprinkles Red Velvet Cupcake

The cake is moist and bouncy with a good crumb. The cream cheese frosting is what really prevails here. It’s wonderfully smooth and fresh, the only hint of sugary grain is in the crust, but the rest has a pleasant tangy note to the milky sweetness. The cake itself has a sort of corn meal flavor to it, it’s slightly floral, not terribly sweet and overall ... just nice. Not chocolatey, a little on the vanilla side. But nothing I’d get really excited about.

M&Ms Milk Chocolate Red Velvet

Now that I had something to compare it to, I figured I was prepared to complete my review.

The pieces come in three colors: maroon, red and white. They’re the larger, chunky M&Ms, which are inconsistent sizes. Some are the size of regular M&Ms, but most are super-sized.

The centers are milk chocolate with a light tangy note to them. They’re not more chocolatey, and as you can see from the ingredients above, they didn’t alter their milk chocolate recipe to include buttermilk. They seem like they have more of a vanilla note, like poundcake.

M&Ms Milk Chocolate Red Velvet

If someone just gave these to me without any clue about the special flavoring, I wouldn’t have picked Red Velvet. At this point I’m curious about how different this will taste from the upcoming Birthday Cake M&Ms. (I’ll set some aside for comparison when those come out in May 2014.) I think it’s a nice idea for Valentine’s Day, a little less run-of-the-mill, but if Russell Stover has had a Red Velvet seasonal piece on store shelves for two seasons, perhaps they’re not really on trend, just slightly behind it.

Red Velvet M&Ms contain milk and soy and may contain traces of peanuts, almond and wheat (in addition to listed artificial colors and unknown artificial flavors). Though Mars has a plan for certified sourcing of their cacao, M&Ms have not yet been added to that list.

M&Ms Store - Times Square - Wide

Since Mars’ M&Ms team seems to be running out of flavors, let me see if I can make some suggestions: Milk Chocolate Cappuccino, Milk Chocolate Cookies n’ Creme, Milk Chocolate German Chocolate Cake, Milk Chocolate S’mores, Milk Chocolate Banana, Milk Chocolate Chai Latte, Milk Chocolate Creme Brulee, Dark Chocolate Chili Pepper, Dark Chocolate Amaretto, White Chocolate Peanut Butter, White Chocolate Strawberry Cheesecake, White Chocolate Lemon Meringue, White Chocolate Key Lime. All of my previous reviews for M&Ms that actually exist are here.

Related Candies

  1. Peanut M&Ms Intense 65% Cacao
  2. Russell Stover Red Velvet Santa
  3. Godiva Cake Truffles
  4. Limited Edition Strawberried Peanut Butter M&Ms
  5. M&Ms Premiums
  6. 3 Musketeers Cherry & Raspberry
  7. M&Ms Razzberry - Limited Edition
  8. Cherry Almondine M&Ms


Name: M&Ms Milk Chocolate Red Velvet
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Mars
Place Purchased: eBay seller boorbin
Price: $7.99 including shipping
Size: 9.9 ounces
Calories per ounce: 140
Categories: Candy, Valentines, Mars, Chocolate, Kosher, M&Ms, 6-Tempting, United States

POSTED BY Cybele AT 2:24 pm     CandyReviewValentinesMarsChocolateKosherM&Ms6-TemptingUnited StatesComments (10)

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Justin’s White Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

Justin's White Chocolate Peanut Butter CupsJustin’s White Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups are a limited edition version of their dark and milk chocolate peanut butter cups. They’re available only at Whole Foods this winter.

What sets these apart from other white peanut butter cups is the fact that Justin’s not only uses real white chocolate, it’s also fair trade cacao butter.

All of the ingredients are organic except the sea salt,which is an inorganic item anyway. The palm oil is sustainably sourced and the cacao comes from Rainforest Alliance certified growers. Justin’s is gluten free as well.

Still, with all those qualifiers, they’re still a white chocolate candy, which has a pretty narrow band of fans.

Justin's White Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

The cups are beautiful, a creamy yellow white with a little dollop in the center. The white chocolate has a lot of milk in it (the third ingredient) and has a lot of dairy flavors to it. The peanut butter center is salty, with a grainy crunch but also a smooth roasted flavor to it. From my early taste tests of Justin’s peanut butter cups, they’ve really come a long way in balancing out the texture of the center without being too oily or too dry. The white chocolate bring a lot of creaminess and vanilla flavors, the overall effect is like eating peanut butter cookie dough.

I’m a fan of good white chocolate (and will eat bad white confections against my better judgement) and this is some very well made stuff. Since Reese’s switched to a white confection, as far as I know, these are the only nationally distributed white chocolate peanut butter cups available.

I did notice one odd thing on the package. The cups are 1.4 ounces total and it says that it’s 180 calories. But the rest of the nutrition panel does not support that. There are 16 grams of fat (9 calories per gram) and 19 grams of carbs (4 calories per gram) then 4 grams of protein (4 calories per gram) all tallies up to 236 calories, not 180. (Reese’s Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter cups are 210 calories for 1.5 ounces.) So if these calculations are correct, that’s 169 calories per ounce. Mmm, high fat density.

I like these and I’d probably pick them up again. But Justin, where are those dark chocolate hazelnut butter cups I’ve been longing for?

Related Candies

  1. UNREAL #77 Peanut Butter Cups
  2. Justin’s Peanut and Almond Candy Bars
  3. Justin’s Organic Peanut Butter Cups
  4. Short & Sweet: Summer Bites
  5. Russell Stover White Chocolate Peanut Butter Rabbit
  6. Koeze Cream-Nut Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cluster
  7. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Line


Name: White Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Justin’s Nut Butter
Place Purchased: Whole Foods (Park LaBrea)
Price: $1.99
Size: 1.4 ounces
Calories per ounce: 169
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Justin's Nut Butter, Ethically Sourced, Limited Edition, Organic, Peanuts, White Chocolate, 8-Tasty, United States, Whole Foods
Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Ginger Zingers Blood Orange and Chai

Zingers Blood OrangeI couldn’t resist the look of these tins for Ginger Zingers made by Big Sky Brands. Not only are they a cute format, they also feature one of my favorite flavors: Ginger.

I’ve had quite a few “mints” from Big Sky Brands over the years, and appreciate their approach to their candies even if their flavor combinations don’t align with my tastes. The Ginger Zingers line (called Ginger Delights on their website for some reason) come in four flavors: D’Anjou Pear, Mango, Chai and Blood Orange. I picked up the last two, as they were the most appealing to me.

The back of the tin explains the candy:

We love natural ginger for its distinctive spicy sweetness and invigorating kick.  That’s why our Ginger Zingers candy is packed with genuine ground ginger root & carefully selected natural flavors for a delicious and stimulating on the go treat!

They aren’t kidding when they say it’s packed with ginger. The ingredients list pure cane sugar first, then ground ginger root.

Ginger Zingers - Blood Orange & Spice Chai

The Blood Orange Ginger Zingers has a very faint orange cast to it but definitely smells like an orange gelatin dessert. The flavor on the tongue is immediately a sweet orange, but a little later this candy gets intense. The ginger is very warm and has a strong black pepper hotness. I found them too intense and the orange didn’t have any zest or tang, just the sweet juice note.

The Chai Ginger Zingers feature a full list of the spices on the package, which I really appreciated. Star anise (pictured on the box), cinnamon, cardamom, clove and black pepper are the chai to go with the ginger. This combination smells like vanilla at first, or more like a poundcake, with a sweet baked sugar note. The ginger is far from the intensity of the Blood Orange variety, but still warming. I caught a note of the anise, black pepper and a little clove, but it was a nice mellow blend. I found these very easy to eat one after another.

Each tin holds about 30 pieces of candy, about 1 ounce total. I picked mine up for $1.99 a package. They’re a bit pricy for mints, especially if I gobble them up. But the flavors were distinct and uncommon enough that I could see getting the Chai again, especially if I were looking for something to help with motion sickness. In the mean time, the tin is the ideal size for stowing my earbuds.

The package specifies that these are made with a vegetarian sourced magnesium stearate, but there’s no notation on whether the sugar is considered vegan. They are kosher and gluten free.

Related Candies

  1. Trader Joe’s Organic Gingermints
  2. Chimes Orange Ginger Chews
  3. Tea Forte Minteas Lemongrass Yuzu
  4. Maple Ice Mints
  5. Newman’s Own Ginger Mints
  6. VerMints
  7. Jones Soda Grape Carbonated Candy


Name: Ginger Zingers Blood Orange
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Big Sky Brands
Place Purchased: Cost Plus World Market (Farmers Market)
Price: $1.99
Size: 1.07 ounces
Calories per ounce: 110
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Big Sky Brands, Ginger, Kosher, 7-Worth It, Canada, Cost Plus


Name: Ginger Zingers Chai
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Big Sky Brands
Place Purchased: Cost Plus World Market (Farmers Market)
Price: $1.99
Size: 1.07 ounces
Calories per ounce: 110
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Big Sky Brands, Ginger, Kosher, 8-Tasty, Canada, Cost Plus

POSTED BY Cybele AT 12:20 pm     All NaturalCandyReviewBig Sky BrandsGingerKosher7-Worth It8-TastyCanadaCost PlusComments (1)

Monday, December 30, 2013

Nestle Butterfinger Peanut Butter Cups

Nestle Butterfinger Peanut Butter CupsThis fall Nestle announced it was launching Butterfinger Peanut Butter Cups in January 2014. Butterfinger is an iconic American candy bar, combining peanuts and sugar and chocolate. The bar has been adapted into a half a dozen other formats and confections. There’s were Butterfinger BBs, Butterfinger Crisp, Butterfinger Snackerz, Butterfinger Stixx, Butterfinger Bites, Butterfinger Chocolate Bars and even the caffeinated Butterfinger Buzz.

I suppose it was only a matter of time before Nestle decided to take on the cup format and the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. Nestle plans to go big with their launch of the Butterfinger Peanut Butter Cups, with a full ad campaign including a commercial during the 2014 Superbowl.

Nestle Butterfinger Peanut Butter Cups

There’s a couple of curiosities about these cups. First, they have no paper cups. They are fluted, but there’s no paper liner on the tray in the package.

The second thing is that they’re not round. The circular base is far smaller than the top, which is a rounded square. There’s quite an angle towards the top which means that the ratio of chocolate to filling changes at the perimeter versus the center.

The cups are described simply as Smooth & Crunchy on the package.

Nestle Butterfinger Peanut Butter Cups

The filling is quite salty. There’s a creamy component that is very sweet, then the chunky, crunchy bits of Butterfinger centers. There’s a very strong artificial butter flavor to the whole thing, much stronger than an actual Butterfinger bar.  The chocolate profile itself is overshadowed by the butter flavor of the center, so it’s hard for it to contribute anything other than texture. That said, it’s pretty smooth though sweet. It’s certainly better than the coating on a Butterfinger Bar.

Nestle Butterfinger Peanut Butter Cups

The ingredients are interesting, notably that they’ve removed the artificial colorings from this candy. (Butterfinger Bars have artificial yellow and red food coloring in them.)

Nestle Butterfinger Peanut Butter Cups Ingredients: Milk chocolate (Sugar, chocolate, cocoa butter, nonfat milk, milkfat, lactose, soy lecithin, vanillin), sugar, peanuts, peanut toffee pieces (sugar, corn syrup, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, peanut butter [peanuts, dextrose, hydrogenated rapeseed and cottonseed oil, salt], peanuts, butter, salt, soy lecithin, paprika extract color), fractionated palm kernel oil, partially hydrogenated palm kernel oil, less than 2% of milk, nonfat milk, salt, cocoa butter, hydrogenated palm oil, natural and artificial flavor, hydrogenated rapeseed and cottonseed oil, soy lecithin, soybean oil, TBHQ, annatto and paprika extract color.

Contains milk, soy and peanuts, may contain nuts. No mention of gluten.

The package has the Cocoa Plan logo on the front. This is Nestle’s new initiative to bring sustainable practices to their cocoa growers through education programs. The programs are to help growers use better practices to increase yields, reduce losses as well as creating schools for the children in their communities. It’s an internal program that Nestle operates that does not, as far as I know, have any external audits or benchmarks, though they do also buy from Fairtrade and UTZ certified sources in quantities to match certain products so that they can bear their logo.

Nestle Butterfinger Peanut Butter Cups & Reese's Peanut Butter Cups

There are a lot of similarities between the Butterfinger Peanut Butter Cups and the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. It’s probably not a coincidence. Each cup is .75 ounces, with the package holding two totaling 1.5 ounces.

Nestle Butterfinger Peanut Butter Cups & Reese's Peanut Butter Cups

From the above you can see the long and complicated ingredient list for the Butterfinger Cups. The Reese’s cups are far simpler.

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups Ingredients: Milk chocolate (sugar, cocoa butter, chocolate, nonfat milk, milkfat, lactose, soy lecithin, PGPR), peanuts, sugar, dextrose, salt, TBHQ.

Simpler does not necessarily mean better. Both cups have TBHQ in them, which is a preservative (keeps the peanut oil from getting rancid). But both are rather small in mass for a candy bar these days. A Snickers Bar or Butterfinger Bar is over 2 ounces. These cups are kind of puny.

But in the ingredients list, you’ll notice that the Reese’s have no added oils, no fractionated palm kernel oil or hydrogenated rapeseed oil. But I’ve got to admire the bang for the buck I get with the Butterfinger, it has 20 more calories from fat than the Reese’s. Here’s the comparison of the nutritional panels for both cups:

Butterfinger Reese Comparison

So, the Butterfinger is less salty and just slightly fattier - some of the protein grams of the Reese’s are fat grams in the Butterfinger. This is an odd observation, since the Reese’s Cups I know and love usually have a soft, greasy spot in the center of the chocolate on each cup where the peanut oils have migrated from the peanut butter into the chocolate. As far as I can tell, the Butterfinger Cups are far more stable and consistent.

Nestle Butterfinger Peanut Butter Cups & Reese's Peanut Butter Cups

They’re different candies. They share some of their format and the basic flavors but the textural experience is different. I still prefer the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, but that’s probably because I’ve grown up with it. I don’t care for the fake, overly sweet butter flavor of the Butterfinger Bar or these Cups. But I do appreciate the variation in the textures. Overall, I usually go for the smaller ingredients list and I prefer my candy to have the innate oils from the flavor ingredients, not added ones. But it’s a good candy and I think they’ll probably last longer than Butterfinger Stixx.

Related Candies

  1. UNREAL #77 Peanut Butter Cups
  2. Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
  3. RM Palmer Giant 1/4 Lb. Peanut Butter Cup
  4. Justin’s Organic Peanut Butter Cups
  5. Nestle Butterfinger Pumpkin
  6. Nestle Butterfinger Snackerz
  7. Head to Head: Clark, Butterfinger & 5th Avenue
  8. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Line


Name: Butterfinger Peanut Butter Cups
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Nestle
Place Purchased: Dollar Tree (Torrance)
Price: $.79
Size: 1.5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 153
Categories: Candy, Nestle, Chocolate, Kosher, Peanuts, 7-Worth It, United States, Dollar Tree

POSTED BY Cybele AT 8:54 am     CandyReviewNestleChocolateKosherPeanuts7-Worth ItUnited StatesDollar TreeComments (8)

Friday, December 27, 2013

Malaco Pastellfiskar (Swedish Fish)

Swedish Fish from SwedenA favorite candy in the United States are the Swedish Fish. Today they’re made by Cadbury Adams in Canada. Though they come in multiple flavors, the favorite is the red lingonberry flavored fish with the word Swedish embossed on the side.

The original, however, is still made in Sweden by the Malaco company under the name of Malaco Pastellfiskar. (Malaco is now owned by the Cloetta company, which also makes Fazer chocolates.) They’re actually quite different from the North American variety.

They do come in four flavors: lemon, orange, pear and berry. They are also a winegum-style of jelly candy, not a gummi. The Swedish version has a different texture and recipe. This assortment was sent to me by Swede Sweets, but I’ve also seen them for sale at Sugarfina and Sockerbit.

Glucose-fructose syrup, sugar, cornstarch, water, acid (E330 - citric acid), vegetable oil, acidity regulator (E52 - sodium hydroxide), flavorings, glazing agents (E901 - beeswax), colors (E141 - natural green, E160a - carotene, E160e - apocarotenal).

Swedish Fish from Sweden

The fish are thick and fresh, soft but a little stiffer chew than the Cadbury Adams version. The texture is more like Dots. They’re a smooth chew with a vibrant flavor profile but they do stick in the teeth.

Yellow is Lemon has a wonderful note of the lemon rind along with a sort of marmalade or honey syrup note to the lemon juice flavors.

Orange is Orange and quite zesty. It’s tangy and juicy but mostly it’s truly like a fresh peeled orange.

Green may be Pear or Green Apple, though I thought it tasted a lot like pineapple, but green wouldn’t make much sense for that. It’s tangy and floral and sweet, it was actually my favorite of the assortment. (Which is weird because I’m not much of a fan of pear or apple flavored things.)

Red is the famous Swedish Berry or Lingonberry. It’s great to taste this without the distraction of the artificial colors in the North American version. This is a little more tart, a little more fragrant. The berry flavor is the same though, that strange blueberry meets pomegranate meets black currant that is the profile of Lingonberry. It’s great and has a well deserved reputation.

The only thing I don’t like about these is the fact that they stick so much to my teeth. The little nuggets just get stuck in between all of my molars. I found eating some crunchy crackers between helped and then some hot tea. (I suppose actually brushing my teeth would help as well.) They’re worth seeking out, especially if you’ve been looking for a version without artificial colors.

Related Candies

  1. Marabou Noblesse Crisps: Original, Dark & Orange
  2. Sugarfina: The Gummis
  3. Swedish Fish Jelly Beans
  4. Sockerbit Swedish Candy Selections
  5. All Gummies Gourmet Fruity Fish (Swedish Fish knock-off)
  6. Swedish Aqua Life
  7. Salted Licorices: Djungelvral and Dubbel Zout


Name: Pastellfiskar (Swedish Fish)
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Cloetta
Place Purchased: samples from Swede Sweets
Price: $6.00 retail
Size: 8 ounces
Calories per ounce: 113
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Cloetta, Jelly Candy, 7-Worth It, Sweden

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:26 am     All NaturalCandyReviewCloettaJelly Candy7-Worth ItSwedenComments (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

Sweets & Snacks Expo Starts

-62 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:

• Wonka Randoms (and some Rowntree)

• Eat with your Eyes: Nougat

• Orgran Molasses Licorice

• Rogue Chocolatier

• Hachez Braune Blatter (Chocolate Leaves)

 

 

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