Wednesday, January 4, 2006
I got two wonderful gifts of salted licorice recently. One from Anne of Anne’s Food and the second for Christmas from our friend Christian.
These little monkey shaped licorice pieces are coated in salt. I was a little bit of a scaredy cat (but overall adventurous lately, so don’t be too hard on me) so I dusted off as much salt as possible. The first thing I noticed upon putting it on my tongue was that the salt was not as “salty” as I was used to. It was like a watered down salt. Very salty by volume, but just slightly less salty by intensity for the amount. And more metallic tasting. I looked at the package and it doesn’t say sodium chloride, it says ammonium chloride. It’s amazing that the pallette can detect the difference between the two mineral salts, but there you have it.
After the salt part melts away the inside is a firm, chewy piece of licorice that is by contrast very creamy tasting. It’s an odd combination, the sweetness of the licorice is also not a sugar sweet like we’re often used to, but the root sweetness of licorice itself (a lot of licorice we eat like in black vines is not actually real licorice root).
These other buttons are actually “double salt” and are from Holland. They’re the size of pennies, only thicker. What’s devilish about them is that they don’t look salty. They don’t look any different from a regular licorice button except for the firm warning letters emblazoned on them…. DZ. They’re firm and rather solid feeling. But put it on your tongue? Shazaam! It’s a powerful jolt. I’m serious, I’ve given it to a few people now and all of them have an immediate and clearly visible reaction.
I was curious what kind of salt this one had as it came in an otherwise unmarked package. Here are the ingredients that I found on one of the internets:
I have to admit that I’ve only eaten three of these. The first one was on Christmas Eve when I got them, and I’d been eating cheese and crackers (and maybe had a glass of wine) and it didn’t seem too overpowering. The licorice taste was readily apparent. I popped another one when photographing a couple of days ago and found it really strong and if I dissolved the salt on the back of my tongue it didn’t seem so bad. Yesterday I made the mistake of chewing it up before the salt dissolved and I was shocked (repulsed) to find that the whole mess suddenly tasted like basement: the basement of a home that has a lot of cats and rarely cleans out the catbox. There was a definite rooty, earthy flavor there and an overwhelming cast of ammonia (this was before I’d researched ammonium salts). I actually went to the bathroom, spit out the rest of the candy and rinsed out my mouth. I’m game for most things, but when it tastes like known poisons, I’m not gonna take that bullet for a blog.
As someone who didn’t grow up on this stuff, I may have missed the boat on appreciating it. I probably shouldn’t have started with double-salted, maybe half-salted. I’m actually rather fond of mixes of savory and sweet, and of course I love licorice so this should be right up my alley. I’ll keep trying. Well, I’ll keep trying with the monkeys, I can’t bring myself to try the Dubbel Zouts again.
Here’s more from Wikipedia on Salmiakki (salted licorice) and Ammonium Chloride. It says that ammonium chloride is a good expectorant and I’m gonna have to agree with that after all the coughing when I was done. Here’s what Bad Candy had to say about Dubbel Zouts.
Monday, July 11, 2005
Name: Vaque Tona (Chocolate and Caramel)
In an attempt to be more international, I picked up these curiosities last week at the Big Lots, after being sent there by a blog posting about ice cream toppings.
Now, I know I said that buying candy at dollar stores is scary. And I don’t think this review should dissaude you from that notion.
I could not get an accurate translation of Vaque Tona on the web. I tried both Spanish and Portuguese (the manufacturer is in Brazil) but didn’t get much out of it. So I’ve decided these are called Cowbells. I think that’s what they’re supposed to look like. Unless they’re udders.
What they are is a little tube that ends in a mesh dome. You press up on the plunger inside the tube to dispense lickable goo ... something akin to frosting. You can suck it right from the plunger or smash the little ring into it and lick it off of that.
The two flavors I picked up were chocolate caramel and caramel.
It’s basically frosting. A cutesy delivery device for frosting. And that’d be okay if it was actually good frosting. Frosting isn’t that hard to make, so it’s beyond me why these can’t be good. First, they’re rather stale tasting. Sure, they’re sweet, but the chocolate one doesn’t really have a cocoa punch to it, more of a cardboard taste to it. It’s mostly smooth and creamy except for a plethora of little chunks of what I think are sugar. They don’t seem to be distributed consistently enough to be a feature, but they were both like that. The caramel one was very strong in its flavor, which I think is kind of an artificial vanilla flavor.
I’m gonna have to give this one a resounding thumbs down. Though the packaging and concept is sound, the execution is, well, unappealing.
Rating: 3 out of 10
Tuesday, July 5, 2005
Name: Hershey’s Double Chocolate
I’m not sure what Hershey’s is up to with this one. It’s just a bad idea. There are plenty of good filled candy bars, but I’m not sure I understand how you’d go so wrong with this one.
Inside on the little white cardboard tray is a bar with four square segments of milk chocolate. Inside those is something that looks like Hershey’s chocolate syrup. Which we all know isn’t chocolate, it’s just cocoa/sugar/water. So what you end up with is a very sweet milk chocolate outside and a sickly sweet cardboard tasting sugar goo. It’s messy, it’s sticky.
I hope that this edition is very limited because this bar is just sad and cheap. I ate two out of the four squares and threw the other half out. Don’t get me wrong, I think that Hershey’s makes good product. It’s consistent and fresh and I applaud their use of the “Limited Edition” to try out new flavor combinations, but I’m not sure how this one made it past the test stage. I would also suggest the use of freshness dating.
Rating - 3 out of 10.
Monday, May 9, 2005
Name: Neon Lasers
I had high hopes for these, though I’ve steered clear of pixie stix and smarties for some years. I love the pure sugar rush, but of course hate the crash. I consider pixie sticks and smarties to pretty much be candy cocaine.
Pixie stix are notoriously expensive, which baffles me. They’re sugar and some sour stuff, probably citric acid or malic acid. That’s it. Maybe they’re hard to produce, stuffing them into those little paper tubes.
These Neon Lasers are in plastic tubes and are they ever tough to open. If you’re lucky, you get one that opens when you crack the seal at one end by pressing the little seal the opposite direction that it’s flattened. Otherwise, just keep some scissors handy.
Upon pouring about a third of a laser into my mouth, I found that it was not power, but little grains, well, really large grains. A cross between sea salt and kosher salt. The crunchy part is just sugar and the little grit around it is the flavor. Will seemed only slightly more pleased with them than I was, but given the opportunity to take them home, he declined. I’d venture that meant a low rating from him too.
I’m wholly unpressed. It’s not really that they taste bad, they just aren’t worth the trouble.
Rating: 3 out of 10.
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
In some ways I think that the Jelly Belly candies created after the flavors in the Harry Potter Books are more easily recommended than these candies. Those are meant to have an alarming taste. These, I think are supposed to be delectable.
For the record I like Jelly Bellies. Though not all the flavors. I like that I can buy just the flavors I like and that the flavor goes through and through, not just in the outside.
The candies, when tipped out of their little box, are a riot of dingy colors. I’m not a flavored chocolate snob. I like combinations of chocolate with such things as mint, fruit flavors, nuts, liquors - really just about anything can be combined with chocolate. The color coding is not terribly clear. The colors depicted on the box are not true to life, so the yellow they show for banana on the box is more like a caramel color in real life. Sometimes they’re supposed to have speckles on them, but I didn’t always get them on mine. They vary widely in size, too. I’m not saying that’s a good or bad thing, but I’m used to my plain M&Ms being the same size.
The flavors are not alarming in and of themselves - blueberry, apricot, grape, *raspberry, *cappuccino, *honey graham cracker, strawberry cheesecake, *orange juice, tutti-frutti, green apple, buttered popcorn, sizzling cinnamon, *coconut, cotton candy, toasted marshmallow, ice blue mint, juicy pear, licorice, very cherry and top banana. I’ve marked those that I thought were tasty with a star.
Mostly they’re too sweet, grainy and the flavorings are overtly plastic. There’s no essence to them, just a hint of artificiality to them in the candy shell and some ordinary cheap milk chocolate in the center. The snackability is lost because I really wouldn’t want to inadvertently combine a juicy pear with a licorice.
Thank you, I’ll stick to my M&Ms.
Rating: 3 out of 10
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.