Monday, August 15, 2005
I think someone needs to start keeping a list of candy bar names that would also make good names for cats.
I posted earlier this month about the Flake bar, which I only kinda liked. I’ve decided that one wasn’t particularly fresh. The Twirl, as near as I can figure it, is just a paired version of Flakes. Only slightly smaller in diameter (about the size of my finger ... I have no idea how big your fingers are) than the Flake, they’re about an inch shorter. Think Twix bars - but with a different center.
Inside are curled flakes of chocolate, then they’re dipped in more milk chocolate to hold it all together. What you end up with is a lot of air, which means that it all melts much quicker and seems to emanate a chocolately aroma. It’s basically more fudgy than creamy.
Revisiting the Flake, this version is filled with white chocolate curls coated in milk chocolate. I’m so glad it wasn’t coated in more white chocolate. Upon opening it I could definitely smell the sweet white chocolate and then a hint of the milk chocolate. It all had a dried milk tinge to it. The bar was much fresher than the one I got from Cost Plus, so that’s a plus. But it was sweet enough to make my throat hurt. It wasn’t really chalky, but it wasn’t really smooth. For some reason the Twirl bar was much more creamy. This one was definitely not old and the store kept them in the fridge ... so I’m guessing that this bar is just like this.
Ratings - Twirl - 7 out of 10
Friday, August 12, 2005
You may recall a while back I got an order from Japan of candies. The last thing I wanted to share with you that came in that box are the two gums from Lotte.
The first is No Time, which is a little gray, dusty cube of gum. It’s got a light mint flavor and is advertised as a replacement for brushing your teeth when you have no time. Handy, eh?
There are quite a few “whitening” gums on the market in the States, most have baking soda in them, so they end up tasting rather salty and soapy. No Time does not have that burning mint flavor that some freshing gums have and though it says it has some sort of scrubbers in it, it’s quite smooth. The chew is a little tough, the flavor slightly medicinal. I’m not a big gum chewer, and though I found this pleasant, it’s not something I would seek.
Many Americans are familiar with Black Black - especially if you frequent truck stops or college campuses. Black Black may be the original caffienated gum. “Hi Technical - Excellent Taste and Flavor.”
They come in the traditional foil wrapped stick. The color is not black, but rather dark. It looks like it should taste like licorice, like a large chewable sen sen. But, it’s actually flavored quite differently. It tastes like cough drops. Hall’s Menthol cough drops. I don’t know if that helps with the caffiene delivery or not.
Though the taste isn’t necessarily enticing, the charge is definitely there. I couldn’t find any info on how much caffiene is in a stick, but I can tell you from experience that I had a terrible headache about two weeks ago. I tried aspirin, then ibuprofen and finally chewed a stick of black black ... whew, sweet relief. Of course I had trouble sleeping later that night (next time, I’ll try the black black first!).
It’s a good thing to keep in your arsenal. Much better than drinking caffienated drinks when driving, if you ask me, because you don’t need as many bathroom breaks.
Ratings - No Time - 5 out of 10
Tuesday, August 09, 2005
Name: Tadelle Wafer
There’s a cookie that’s practically a candy that I really enjoy called Chocolatiers, made by Lu. They’re little wafer sticks with chocolate cream coated in sweet dark chocolate.
This is like that, only instead of just being a chocolate cream, it’s hazelnut cream. Yummy. The description on the package says “compound chocolate coated wafer with crocant filling.” Not as appetizing as it tastes. In fact, the label is in a multitude of languages. The bar itself is made in Turkey, but the ingredients are translated for the entire United Nations: English, German, Russian, Czech, French, Arabic and I think Romanian. They must send this bar everywhere.
The bar feels very light, as it’s mostly air. The wafers are crisp and light and bring a lot of air into the tasting of the bar, which help the hazelnut aroma penetrate the chocolate and sugar. The chocolate is not a highlight here, as it’s not even real, but the crispy wafers are delicate and star in this bar. I’m a sucker for wafers and hazelnuts ... if only it were better chocolate, I would follow this candy to the ends of the earth.
From the wrapper: “none of our products contain pork fat”
Rating - 7 out of 10
Monday, August 08, 2005
Name: Exotic Candy Bars (Red Fire, Black Pearl & Naga)
A kind reader, flickerfly, emailed me a few weeks ago to point me to Vosges, specifically their Red Fire Bar. Their website is sure sassy but the prices are pretty darn, well, pricey. If you have a moment, browse their website. It’s an odd combination of haute, indulgence, health and yoga. I’m not going to be in Chicago or New York for a while, so I figured I’d see what they had at Neiman Marcus in Beverly Hills (I’d actually never been to the Neiman Marcus there before).
The woman behind the counter was on the phone pretty much the whole time I was there and all I saw of interest were three of the bars that they offered, and even though they were $6.50 each, I picked up all three. The back of each tells me how to eat an exotic candy bar (which is apparently different than eating other bars). You can read that here.
The first is called Naga Bar and is milk chocolate with Sweet Indian curry powder and coconut flakes. Upon opening the mylar package inside the box, the curry is quite pronounced along with a sugary smell and a slight aroma of chocolate. The chocolate itself is very milky and sweet. After sitting on the tongue for a moment, if bursts with the curry. The milk and the muskyness of the curry is a good blend and the choice of milk chocolate over dark is the right impulse. The curry leaves a little burning feeling on the tongue and throat. The coconut added a nice little texture to it, but I never got the flavor of it.
Next was the bar that I was most looking forward to, Red Fire Bar. It’s Mexican ancho and chipotle chili and cinnamon in dark chocolate (55%). The cinnamon is the top note on this bar. I’ve always enjoyed the combination of cinnamon and chocolate and usually use it in my hot chocolate. The next thing I taste is that it’s a very sweet bar, though buttery smooth to melt there’s a slight grain to it, which I must assume are the spices. Then the chili hits. It’s not so much a flavor as a feeling. A burning on the insides of my lips and my throat. There’s a bit of a smoky note to the bar as well. It’s a really nice combination, though not one I could eat a lot of in one sitting because of the fire element. Of the three bars, this is the one I finished first.
Last was a bar I wasn’t quite sure of. Called Black Pearl Bar, it’s Japanese ginger, wasabi and black sesame seeds in dark chocolate (55%). There was little scent to this bar, a slight woodsy note which I figured was the ginger and of course the chocolate. Upon melting in the mouth, this bar had none of the grain that the fire bar had, just a few sesame seeds (which I could have done without, thank you). The ginger is nice and earthy with a slight burn to it - or was it the wasabi. The horseradish notes didn’t really stick out, but the combination of wasabi and ginger is spicy without a painful throat burn.
As with many of these gourmet bars, I found the price to be a bit prohibitive. As a treat, I certainly plan on going to one of their shops in Las Vegas, Chicago or New York (whichever city I get to first). The Aztec truffle collection would be the first thing I’d try. Of course this riot of flavors has inspired me to try some different things in my own candy next time I whip up a batch of truffles.
Ratings - Naga - 6 out of 10
Thursday, August 04, 2005
I was going to save this review until the holidays were upon us and you were begging me for gift suggestions. But BoingBoing posted about it earlier this week, so I figured it was topical. I got this cutesy little sample from Chris at the Candy Warehouse. He gave me my pick of the variations on the theme, there are pooping pigs, pooping cows, pooping bulls and the fun new one is the wind up penguin that leaves little gifts all over the table. Of course, those who’ve known me for more than 30 years know that I have a special fondness for sheep (cuz they’re stupid).
The toy is basically a candy delivery device. You fill up her body cavity through her head (which is hinged) with jelly beans, then when you need a treat you push down on her backside and her tail flips up to expose a hole that delivers two or three. The jelly beans are actually pretty good - cola and I think dulce de leche or something like that because we all like two-tone poop for authenticity.
Would I buy this? Not for myself. But I’d probably be tickled if someone else bought it for me. And gave me an additional bag of poop. Pretty much anything jelly belly sized will work in there. I figure chocolate covered raisins, goobers, M&Ms, maybe even Altoids. I can also think of a few people I might buy this for.
Rating - 7 out of 10
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
I was a little unsure of this bar. I picked it up after seeing it mentioned on stellabites. The bar is basically shavings of milk chocolate curled together into a log and dipped in chocolate. The log is big, like a large, long Tootsie Roll. It’s kind of like the Aero bar, in that they’re introducing air into the chocolate.
At first I found the bar chalky. The extra air seemed to make it taste more like dairy and less like chocolate. But as I got into the bar I found it very compelling and at it all in one sitting. This is Cadbury milk chocolate, so expect it to be very sweet (the package says it’s 22% cocoa solids and 22% milk solids ... I’m guessing the rest is sugar and cocoa butter) and milky.
My only issue with Cadbury and other European-style milk chocolates is that they taste distinctly of powdered milk to me, not a pleasant taste in my view. Because of the extra air in this bar, that milk protein/lactose flavor wasn’t as apparent. The trick with this bar might be to let it melt in your mouth instead of chewing it up.
I’m curious to try their white chocolate bar, too.
Interesting fact from the package: this bar was made in South Africa.
Rating - 7 out of 10
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
One of the best things about this blog is finding out about completely new varieties of candies I’d never heard of. One of these is Japanese Black Sugar Candy. Known as kuro sato, black sugar is basically brown sugar/molasses.
True brown sugar is basically sugar made from the whole boiled cane instead of just the cane juice that keeps the molasses. Molasses and black sugar is high in potassium as well as traces of iron, calcium and even a little salt. The taste of black sugar is similar to muscovado and has a salty, smokey taste to it. In the States, most brown sugar that you buy in the grocery store is just white sugar that has a bit of molasses added back into it.
Some Japanese just eat nuggets of black sugar as a treat (similar to maple sugar candies or Mexican panela). In fact, I used to eat brown sugar right out of the box as a kid. I loved the flavor of it. Many doctors and pharmacists have for years used muscovado-type sugars for medicinal use, either as a base for cough remedies or added to make medicinal syrups.
The Japanese use the bold taste of kuro sato to full effect in a lot of candies. Most are hard candies which are either for eating or for use as cough drops (often with the addition of honey or menthol).
Here are a few I found:
Name: Kuro Ame
from JBox - “A wonderful traditional Japanese hard candy, this is “Kuro-Ame” (Black Candy), a famous Japanese treat loved by everyone since the 1860’s. With a long history and a unique brown-sugar taste, this is a classical Japanese treat. One bag includes 22+ individual wrapped candies.”
Name: Pocket Black Sugar Throat Treatment Candy
In the tradition of a cough drop (similar to Ludens), this black sugar candy is packaged to carry easily in your pocket. Each piece is individually wrapped and has the distinctive taste of black sugar mellowed with a tinge of honey and menthol.
Name: Kasugai Honey & Black Sugar Candy
Shaped like little gems, these black sugar hard candies are individually sealed and packed with a little silica gel pack to keep them dry. They have a very smooth, sweet taste because of the honey. Not as smokey tasting as the Kuro Ame made by the same company, these are probably a great one to carry as a little pick me up and throat soother. Of the three products I bought, this is the one that is already gone.
Ratings - Kuro Ame - 6 out of 10
Also - see previous review of Asahi Drops (I didn’t know what Japanese black sugar was when I reviewed them)
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
Name: Starburst Sours
I love sour stuff, though I must admit that as I get older, I’m not really into the tortuous super-sours that I pursued as a kid. So, basically what I look for in a sour is something that gets my salivary glands to tingle, but also delivers flavor and hopefully doesn’t trash my tongue too bad.
The issue I run into with many of the more modern sours is that they’ve gone off and created rather chemical tasting candies. I’m kind of a fan of citrus sours, but the new sour flavors like green apple just taste like something I’d clean my windows with. The Starburst Sours are green apple, blue raspberry, cherry and watermelon. Now, I don’t think I’ve ever had a sour watermelon in my life, so that one was especially puzzling. But perhaps I should drop logic and reality from this review.
First flavor was watermelon. It’s got a nice sour bit to it without overwhelming the watermelon flavor. Green apple is chemical through and through. Very sour and creates (sorry to be gross) some pretty unpleasant burps for me. Blue Raspberry reminded me of blue highlighter pens (and a bit like those scented markers we also had as kids) - the flavor is just like what I’d expect for a red raspberry, but I think that’d be too many pink things in the package, so they made it blue. I think the most successful flavor in the package is the cherry one - though I’m not a big fan on the flavor cherry (mostly because I associate it with poison because the red dye #2 thing back in the 70s) but this has a lot of flavors within it. It’s got a good sour bite to it that goes on through the whole chew, a nice woodsy cherry flavor and then a sweet maraschino topnote.
On the whole, I think Starbursts are great. They were a great addition to the market when they first came out because they filled that hole - they’re chewy like taffy but not likely to pull out your fillings (or as a kid it seemed like I was always losing a tooth or a new one was growing in so taffy was pretty hard to eat). Starbursts have that great chew but are forgiving and not so rubbery as to pull on anything. Don’t get me wrong, they can get plenty stuck in your teeth, they’re just not taking your teeth out.
These are not a flavor pack that I’m likely to buy again (I really love the originals though and will continue to buy them or Skittles) but I appreciate the addition to the line for those that like artificial sours.
Rating - 7 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.