Monday, November 7, 2005
Name: Reese’s Sticks
Years ago Hershey’s made an incredibly good candy bar that I miss very much called Bar None. That has very little to do with this candy bar, but I’d been meaning to mention it. It also had wafers. My grief over the loss of that bar kept me from trying this one for more than five years. (Okay, I really didn’t notice it until about a year ago.)
This package contains two wafer sticks with peanut butter cream filling then covered in milk chocolate. Another really pleasant surprise was that the candy looked EXACTLY like it was shown on the package. The wafers are crisp and substantial and the salty hit of peanut butter is immediate. These are not like a peanut butter KitKat at all, if that’s what you were thinking. The wafers are thicker and crunchier (instead of being crisp). The peanut butter filling is just peanut butter, no fancy creamy stuff and I’m not sure if there’s even any sugar at it (most of the sugar in the bar seems to be in the chocolate).
The crunch is nice and the twin bars are a nice, ample size. The paper tray keeps them intact (I really abuse my candy inside the package before I eat it). It’s very filling and the variation in textures (creamy sweet milk chocolate, crunchy wafers and salty smooth peanut butter) is really satisfying. There are four grams of protein in this candy.
Rating - 8 out of 10
Wednesday, November 2, 2005
Name: Fast Break
I’ve mentioned brand extension before. Mars has done this with M&Ms beautifully in the past ten years with the introduction of Almond, Crispy, Mint, Peanut Butter and now Megas. Reese’s is no exception (part of the Hershey family). The base of the Reese’s brand is Peanut Butter. You can’t make a Reese’s product without it, as far as I know.
I bought four of these new candy bars, this is the first of the reviews of them. The Fast Break. Yes, it’s like Breakfast, only backwards and two words. I’)m eating it for lunch. Hey! It does have a lot of protein in it for a candy bar! (5 grams.)
I’m a nut fan, as many of you know (except for walnuts, to which I’m sadly allergic) so Reese’s have always been a huge favorite of mine. The Fast Break bar package says that it has milk chocolate, peanut butter (duh) and soft nougats.
The soft nougats part confused me. Nougats? More than one? Apparently. The center of the bar is a crumbly log of salted peanut butter. Good roasted flavor and not too creamy so that it sets off the other textures well. The bottom of the bar is soft, bland, light colored nougat that might have a hint of cinnamon flavor in it (though it didn’t say so on the ingredients). Plain old vanilla nougat. The peanut butter log is on top of that, and then there’s a thin layer (you can’t see it in the photo) of a caramelly nougat that drapes over the two before the chocolate enrobement (I just like saying that word). It gives the whole thing a nice texture that things mix up well when you chew it. It has a little chocolately/caramelized taste to it.
It’s a good bar, really. I like the roasted flavors and how it isn’t too cloyingly sweet like a Snickers or Mars bar can be. It’s a good snack because of the salty taste, like a Payday bar is.
Rating - 8 out of 10
Tuesday, November 1, 2005
Name: Barley Sugar
Some folks look down their noses at hard candy. Like it’s not candy or it’s a last resort. What’s great about hard candy is that it’s incredibly portable and comes in huge varieties and is generally pretty cheap. And for the most part it’s pure sugar. While I don’t buy a lot of hard candy, I do enjoy it for particular tasks, like high-velocity noveling, whale watching excursions and long car trips.
When I was a kid we used to get barley sugar pops. They were lollipops shaped like old fashioned toys like trains, teddy bears, little dollhouses and animals. The flavors were delicate, not like a Charms sweet & sour pop, but more like a dreamy honey flavor with a touch of lemon or orange. Some have no flavor at all, like the Valentine’s hearts pops. For some reason most barley sugar candy seems to come in lollies. I have no idea why.
Barley Sugar is kind of like molasses, it’s a rather raw syrup made from germinated grains (usually barley) and is often used along with cane sugar and corn syrup to both add flavor and color to boiled candies.
These little sweets look a little like Clementine orange slices, a rich amber orange hard candy. The flavor is sweet with a nice touch of orange essence and no hint of sour. The candies are very solid and smooth with no voids or bubbles in them. The dissolve evenly and have a nice crunch if you’re one of those (I am, I can’t just let a candy dissolve in my mouth, I will chew it up).
They’re a little ordinary, but sometimes I like that ... sometimes I don’t want screaming green apple or supersour lemon drops. Sometimes I want a cup of Earl Grey tea and a few demure sweets. They’re not attention grabbers, but they’re a wonderful background music for my other pursuits.
Rating - 8 out of 10 (a little pricey for sugar)
Friday, October 28, 2005
I was really excited about doing this review. While I enjoy candy of all kinds, especially chocolate, it’s hard sometimes to balance that with not destroying the earth and human lives. Fair Trade is only recently developing as a mainstream option for many products. For those of you not familiar with the concept, first you have to remember that cocoa pods from which chocolate is made are grown in tropical regions all over the planet and require a large amount of space and time to cultivate. Those regions also happen to be ones where farmers are particularly poor and have fewer economic opportunities. I cannot claim to be an expert on this subject, but it seems to me that the folks growing cocoa, which is not necessary for life, should at least be paid a living wage for it and not be exposed to terrible working conditions. Since chocolate and candy is a luxury item, it seems to make the most sense to start with it and coffee and teas as a way of changing the lives of those in these areas.
Of course the most important thing about sending a message with your pocketbook is that the product be good. Good intentions are nice, but if the chocolate isn’t good enough for me to want more, I’m not going to buy it just because it’s the right thing to do because wasting food is also bad. (The next step, of course, is to have it easily accessible, too.) So, instead of skipping to the bottom for the verdict, I’ll say that these are worth the trouble of finding them.
The bars are not only fair trade, but made from all organic ingredients, including the sugar (which is organic raw and unrefined cane sugar) and nuts. Also, for those who are wondering, it’s certified Kosher. Inside the plain wrapper (which has some wonderful information inside about Fair Trade and Equal Exchange) the bar itself is sealed in a mylar like white plastic wrapper that seals out odors and keeps the chocolate fresh. The chocolate is made it Switzerland.
Organic Dark Chocolate with Almonds: a wonderful aroma arose when I opened this package. The chocolate is shiny and smooth and has a great snap and smelled chocolately, a little sweet and perfumy. Inside are lightly crushed (chopped?) almonds. The chocolate itself is 55% cocoa mass and has some wonderful fruity notes like you’d find in a good red wine. Not overly smoky or dry, it has a nice smooth finish was the cocoa mass is exceptionally smooth. For me, this bar rivals the Chocovic Ocumare.
Organic Very Dark Chocolate: incredibly dense, with immediate earthy tones, this is a very dark bar with 71% cocoa mass. The bar has a good snap and an incredibly smooth melt. There’s a noticeable acid note as it yields on the tongue and gives up more fruity flavors like apricot and cherry. The finish is dry and not at all sticky or sweet. But like I experienced with the Chocovic Guaranda, there are no middle notes to round out the flavor.
Organic Milk Chocolate: for fans of dairy milk chocolates, such as Cadbury, you’ll be very happy with this bar. It’s very much in keeping with the traditional Swiss milk chocolate. The first ingredient is not chocolate (that’s 38% though), it’s Whole Milk Powder. So, this is milky stuff, kind of sticky and though not overly sweet, it’s not a good association for me. That aside, this chocolate is exceptionally smooth and has nice cocoa undertones give the whole bar a toasty feeling. I think what does that is that one of the ingredients is ground hazelnuts ... not a lot of it, but it’s a nice nutty complement.
Ratings: Milk & Very Dark - 7 out of 10
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
Name: Milk Chocolate filled with Dalecarlian Polkamint Truffle
I got these little cuties as a gift from fellow webmaster, Russ, from NaNoWriMo last month. (Unfortunately the box only had three little minty horses left!)
Inside the box are little individually wrapped candy horses. Made with a molded milk chocolate shell, they’re filled with a pink mint cream:
The detail on them is really nice, the proportions are good (nobody likes to eat what looks like a deformed animal). Not just an ordinary horse, they’re Dala horses, which are a common symbol for Sweden. The chocolate is rather in between a milk chocolate and a semi-sweet. It’s not heavy on the dairy milk notes, which is just fine with me. The chocolate is smooth and the cream filling is not too sweet. It has a nice mild peppermint hit to it that doesn’t overwhelm the chocolate.
The packaging is obviously for the English-speaking market and I think they probably should have consulted some English-speaking folks to comment on their catch phrase of “A Nice Taste of Sweden!” I’m not sure if other tastes of Sweden are foul and they’re trying to differentiate themselves or if perhaps it’s a catch phrase from their popular culture that just didn’t make it in translation. I think they could also work on the name of the candy. I like to know what to call the things in conversation ... Dalamints? Horsetruffles? Milk Chocolate filled with Dalecarlian Polkamint Truffle, well, you’ve already dozed off reading that, haven’t you?
That aside, it’s nice stuff and if someone gave me a full box of these, I’d be pleased. I was pleased to get 3/10ths of a box ... it can only get better than that!
Rating - 8 out of 10 (I’m a fan of mint and chocolate)
Thursday, October 13, 2005
If you were to take out the brand awareness of Jelly Bellies and introduce a product called Sport Beans, I think you’re looking at a surefire flop. However, Jelly Belly seems to know what they’re doing and they’ve recognized that there were folks out there popping jelly beans for energy while exercising, so why not give them the stuff that they’re getting in a sports drink or gel.
Tangerine Jelly Bellies are far and away my favorites however Sport Beans only come in two flavors, Orange and Lemon-Lime. Could have been worse, they could only come in chocolate and buttered popcorn, so I think I lucked out. I was worried that it would taste salty and sweaty like Gatorade, but it didn’t. They tasted like really zesty orange jelly beans with a slight salty cast to them. The electrolytes provided are not nearly at the levels you’d find in a dietary supplement, but at comparable levels according to the chart on the website to GU plus added vitamin C & E. They’re actually more flavorful than regular Jelly Bellies, which I think is a good feature, as the tartness gets the salivary glands going so your mouth isn’t as dry.
The only drawback I see to these is eating them when you’re not working out. After all, they’re salted up, and if you’re someone who should be avoiding sodium these probably aren’t something you should have around. But, having had Gatorade and Powerade before, Sport Beans are far easier to carry around and meter out how much you want. Putting an open packet of Cliff Shots in your pocket or bag is a surefire sticky disaster in the making.
Rating - 8 out of 10
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
Name: Almond Joy Cookies
I know they say they’re cookies, but if something is coated in real chocolate and has a creamy filling, it’s probably a candy. I mean, no one calls Twix a cookie.
I tried the York version of these over the summer and absolutely loved them. They fixed everything that’s wrong with the Girl Scout Thin Mints ... York Peppermint Patty cookies have no trans fats and real chocolate. The Almond Joy cookies aren’t quite as revolutionary, but they’re dang tasty.
It starts with a crisp chocolate cookie on the bottom then is slathered in a lighter coconut cream (not as dense as the center of an Almond Joy) that has some crushed almonds mixed in. The whole thing is dipped in real milk chocolate.
It was very coco-nutty tasting, very smooth. Sweet, but with a lot of different textures including a little hit of salt from the cookie.
They’re really pricey for a cookie, but only slightly more expensive than a regular candy bar. The serving size on the package says all four cookies, but I was pretty satisfied with only two of them.
Rating - 8 out of 10
Monday, October 10, 2005
Name: Turkish Delight
I’ve included a couple of reviews here for Turkish Delight (or Turkish Paste), which is a rather obscure kind of candy in the States. I found this chocolate covered Turkish delight bar at Cost Plus. It’s a little smaller than a deck of cards.
What intrigued me at first was the quote on it that said that it was “Full of Eastern Promise.” At first I thought it said Easter, so I was confused enough to pick it up and look closer.
The bar is basically a delicately rose flavored jelly center covered with sweet milk chocolate. I happen to like flowery flavors, so it’s a big hit with me. It isn’t heavy and cloying like some fruit, minty or nut flavors can be and it has a pleasant aftertaste that lingers, like I’ve eaten a bouquet.
Being chocolate covered it also solves a common problem I have with Turkish delight, in that it’s usually covered in corn starch, which is just freakishly messy. I just wish it weren’t so danged expensive. Turkish Paste is usually about $8.00 a pound, but this stuff would end up being over $15 a pound. But the cool thing is that most other Turkish Paste is sold in 1/2 pound boxes and I don’t usually want that much, so I guess there is a middle ground in there.
Rating - 8 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.