Saturday, July 23, 2005
Here it is, the neatest thing to hit candy since citric acid. That’s right, the ultra-cheap LED technology is now being applied to candy. Malibu Toys has created a whole line of light up candies, with the Finger Lites as the center of the line. They have other products, like clip ons and necklaces, but they’re based around the same center of a battery hooked up to an LED. Personally, of all the formats I prefer the ring, since I really don’t want a slobbery piece of hard candy hanging around my neck and getting lint stuck to it.
The ring comes sealed in a little plastic pouch. To activate the light, you pull out a little paper tab that allows the battery to make contact with the wiring for the LED. Then it starts flashing. And flashing. The package says it will stay lit for at least two hours. Mine is still flashing and it’s been a week since I pulled the tab and ate the lolly.
I picked an orange one, though they come in a large variety of colors/flavors and have themed shapes for different holidays (Easter means bunnies and duckies, Halloween means vampires and pumpkins). The orange one was a little bland, not terribly tart or flavorful, but then again, it’s a novelty.
Would I buy this again? Hell yes, I’m planning my next party around them. I think the cool thing to do is probably figure a way to hang up the eaten ones on a string or something (maybe I’ll do it for a Christmas party and hang them on the tree). Some convenience stores are refusing to carry Finger Lites because they think that kids will chew up the LED/Battery. I’m one of those people who can’t help but chew up my hard candy and had no trouble telling the difference between the candy and the hard plastic housing for the light. In fact, I don’t think I could break it with my teeth if I tried. I’m wondering if those convenience store people tried them.
I know, I know, it’s not a terribly eco-friendly product either. Forgive me, I usually make good choices when it comes to that stuff, but I couldn’t help myself.
This candy gets points mostly for novelty, not taste, but it’s still a winner in my book.
Rating - 8 out of 10
Friday, July 8, 2005
Name: Green Tea and Black Sugar Caramels
I know, you must think me obsessed with caramels. But they are one of the most perfect expressions of sugar and fat. Soft, yielding, bursting with sugary flavor that lingers in the crevices of your mouth. They’re great for summer too, since they’re not subject to the temperature extremes of chocolate.
As promised, I’m ready to share my Japanese finds from my recent shipment.
First is Morinaga’s Kokutou Caramel. This is what’s known as a black sugar caramel, or probably what westerners know of as brown sugar or molasses. This caramel is darker than the milk caramels I’ve tried from Japan. It has a slightly rummy aroma and a definite molasses bite to it when chewing. It’s a really nice, smooth caramel with a good finish. There’s no molasses bitterness either. It’s not sticky, but plenty chewy with a good milky consistency.
Morinaga also makes a Matcha Caramel, which is a green tea flavored caramel. The nugget is definitely green. It smells of green tea and tastes just like green tea ice cream, with that same smooth roasted flavor and slight bitter tinge. Unfortunately after chewing for a while, it feels a little grainy and slightly bitter, like there are real ground up leaves in there. That aside, they’re quite addictive and both caramels complement each other well - so I can just alternate between the two all afternoon.
Rating: Kokutou Caramel - 8 out of 10
Thursday, July 7, 2005
Name: Hershey’s Cookies ‘n’ Mint
I love these bars. Well, I did when they first came out. The thing is, I’m not sure they’re out now. I checked the Hershey’s site and didn’t find any mention of the Cookies ‘n’ Mint being reintroduced ... so is this a very old bar? It was certainly dusty. (Again, I’d love it if Hershey’s started putting freshness dates on their products.) While they’re at it, the packaging is a little deceiving - it’s milk chocolate, not some sort of green stuff like the picture shows.
That aside, when these were out and widely available I preferred the “nuggets” format. I don’t know why, but the flat bar didn’t make the crunchy parts sing as well. I think the surface area isn’t good for the chocolate either, I think it makes it all more prone to temperature changes.
But I digress.
This is a minted milk chocolate bar with small chocolate cookie bits (think of the cookie part of an oreo crumbled into minty chocolate). It’s a great combination. I think the crunch provides a nice contrast, and the fact that the cookie isn’t terribly sweet offsets the sweetness of the milk chocolate.
I hope this bar gets reintroduced or at least the nuggets will be available for a limited time every year. If you like this bar, I suggest the Harry London Cookie Joys as an excellent substitute.
Rating: 8 out of 10 (would be more if the bar were fresher)
UPDATE: See my Cookie Joys and Cookies ‘n’ Mint Nuggets head to head post.
Monday, July 4, 2005
Name: Twix Dark Chocolate
You know what I like about Mars products? They have an expiration date. When I’m buying candy at a place where it might have been sitting around for a while (read: Liquor Store), I kind of like to know if I’m eating something ten years old.
This one was supposedly fresh, but the chocolate seemed slightly chalky. The liquor store had it’s doors wide open and it is now July, so I’m guessing climate control is not as important to them as getting people into the store.
Twix have been around for quite a few years (1979). I remember their introduction and walking to the corner store near the junior high and buying one. I was just mad about the $100,000 Bar and the Marathon Bar at the time and this seemed like a good evolution. But when I eat them they’re always too sweet. I don’t know what it is, I think that the cookie should be a pretzel or something and have a salty element to it. But that’d be a different candy bar and Mars has been very successful with the Twix and who am I to tinker with the recipe?
Well, Dark Chocolate Twix to the rescue! Where the milk chocolate in the classic Twix is cloying, the dark chocolate here has a slight bitter and smoky taste that complements the caramel and sweet cookie very well. I’m sure if the chocolate was fresh it’d taste even better.
I hope they add these to their repetoire permanently. I’d actually buy them.
Rating: 8 out of 10.
Friday, July 1, 2005
Name: Almond Joy Chocolate Chocolate
I wholeheartedly support making Almond Joys with dark chocolate. Because the difference between an Almond Joy and a Mounds bar is not just the nut ... it’s the milk chocolate/dark chocolate respectively. In fact, I think the dark chocolate/almond/coconut combo is even better.
This is not that bar though. Because they threw something else in the mix (literally), some chocolate into the coconut center.
You’d hardly know it though. At least I don’t. I’m not sure I can tell that there is anything different with this filling. Maybe it’s a ruse to get me to now buy a regular Almond Joy to do a side-by-side comparison.
Here’s a fun fact though ... this Almond Joy bar has 12% of your daily recommended intake of fiber.
Though they messed around with the perfect simplicity of a classic, this is still a very good bar. I’ve always found the coconut center of the Mounds/Almond Joy family to be sweeter and moister than the Bounty bars (do they still make those).
Rating: 8 out of 10.
Monday, June 27, 2005
Name: London Mint
I’ve seen these bars a few times in the store and didn’t really “get” them. I figured, why buy a candy bar that looks like a $100 bill? But that’s not quite what they are. It’s a package of five little chocolate covered chocolate cream mints.
I also didn’t get the whole London thing and then it’s an American bill. Well, it’s from Harry London chocolates ... duh. Usually boxed chocolate companies don’t even enter my radar, but a few years back Trader Joe’s started carrying the best candy invention ever, the Mint Cookie Joy! Because of that, I’ll give anything with their name on it a try. Okay, now that I’m beyond the name and packaging, I can get to the tasting!
Inside are four square chocolates. Milk chocolate covering a fudgy chocolate/mint cream center. Perfection really.
The snackability on thise is pretty high. If the package were larger, I could probably shovel about a dozen of these down without a problem. They’re not heavy or cloyingly sweet, but friendly-sweet.
If you like really soft centers, just leave it in your un-airconditioned office on an 85 degree day near the window. If you prefer a chocolate with a snappy center, then you might want to stick these in the fridge during the warmer months.
Rating: 8 out of 10.
Friday, June 24, 2005
Name: Nestle’s Original Swiss Chocolate
Nestle is known for their milk chocolate and for good reason, the original Swiss chocolate that made them famous is a great chocolate bar. It’s consistently good with a strong milky flavor, smooth and sweet. It’s not easy to find in the states, and if I’m feeling like a European-style milk chocolate bar I usually pick up a Cadbury.
I found this assortmet at Target. (I actually saw it a few months ago but waited until last weekend to pick it up.) The little box says that it’s the perfect gift to share a perfect expression of authentic Swiss chocolate taste. I’m prone to agree that this is a nice hostess gift for someone that likes milk chocolate. Easy to share, and a good assortment.
Inside are seven different varieties, with what seemed like a majority of them being lavender-wrapped lait-milch. There are also milk with almonds, milk with hazelnuts, extrafine dark chocolate and white chocolate. The other curiosities within were one called Dessert which was milk chocolate with hazelnut creme (kind of like a nutella bar if they made them). I really love the combo of hazelnuts and chocolate (Nestle also owns Baci/Perugina now). The nutty, roasted notes of hazenuts go so well with chocolate. If I had my druthers I’d put more of them in the package than the plain milk bars. The other bar that I loved was the one called Chocmel which had chopped almonds and honey. Well, I don’t think it was just honey, I think it was some sort of honey nougat chips. It was very similar to a Toblerone bar, but the honey notes in the nougat chips was much more pronounced. Very good, in fact much smoother and less waxy than a Toblerone. I might pick up a bigger bar if I see this sometime.
Rating: 8 out of 10
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
Name: Wha Guru Chew
Reading over the ingredients list, I’m wondering what this has to do with the Yogi Bhajan. But I suppose even the most enlightened among us wants a sweet now and then. While there’s nothing bad about these caramel nut bars, they contain no trans fat and use brown rice syrup and evaporated cane juice instead of corn syrup, I’m struggling with the health food aspects of this. Aw hell, let’s just call it candy and be done with it.
These are fab. I can’t tell you how fab these are. The caramel is flavorful and soft, the nuts are fresh and crunchy and the smell is pure buttery sweetness. The only problem I have with them is that they’re very soft, so you taking them out of the package is nearly impossible and even getting the package open without scissors ended up too much of a challenge for me.
Cashew Vanilla - the right sweet notes of vanilla blended with buttery cashews. There are also sunflower seeds in here, which add an extra crunch and earthy taste to the bar to balance the sweetness of the caramel. A little touch of salt balances it all out.
Almond Ginger - it doesn’t smell quite as inviting as the cashew vanilla bar (I don’t think ginger smells that good inherently, as it has a rooty/earthy smell). But biting into this bar wipes away any hesitation that this bar will be as good as the former. The ginger pops out as a spicy base for the sugary caramel and the mild almonds. A slight trace of lemon zest links all the flavors together well.
Peanut Cashew - this one diverges from the recipe of the above two which are sweetened primarily with brown rice syrup and evaporated cane juice. This is sweetened with clover honey (and barley malt syrup). This honey base makes for a less viscous caramel but really amps up the flavor. The first tone you get upon biting into it is a strong orange essence. In addition to the peanuts and cashews are sesame seeds and sunflower seeds. Of the three this was my least favorite, though still worthy of trying.
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.