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8-Tasty

Friday, October 5, 2012

Glee Sugar Free Gum

As I mentioned in some recent reviews, I’ve been chewing more gum lately. It’s hard to find gum that’s doesn’t use artificial sweeteners, but the market has expanded in the past few years as consumers have searched for alternatives to aspartame.

I picked up this package of Glee Gum Sugar Free Peppermint before a recent plane trip but then forgot to take it with me. So I’ve been munching on it at the office.

Glee Sugar Free Gum

Unlike sugared gums and other sugar free gums, chewing gum made with xylitol has an amazing cool feeling on the tongue. The candy coating on the Glee chiclets only enhances that.Glee is also made with all non genetically modified ingredients (including sunflower lecithin) and a natural gum base made from real chicle.

The flavor is a mild peppermint, it’s clean and not too overpowering but also lasts quite a long time. The chew is smooth, and while I’ve had problems with the chicle sticking to my teeth before, I don’t have that issue with the sugarless version (it could also be that I’ve had some of my fillings replaced since I started Candy Blog).

Sometimes I find sugar free gums have a strange, metallic flavor, but in this case I got no strange notes. It was refreshing and simple. Xylitol is not a no-calorie sweetener, it’s a sugar alcohol that has a fraction of the calories of sugar. But mostly it has either no effect on the bacteria that cause cavities or, in some studies, can effectively combat it (but it takes more than just a couple of pieces of gum a few times a month). Xylitol, like most sugar alcohols, can cause stomach distress when consumed in large quantities by some people. Gum is usually not an issue, unless you’re chewing more than one package a day if you happen to be one of those sensitive people.

This is pretty much my go-to gum now. I still prefer real Chiclets because of the satisfaction of chewing the sugar out and then going for three more pieces. But this is probably better for my oral health, the flavor lasts longer and is made with all natural ingredients. Now I’m hoping they’ll come out with more flavors, like cinnamon.

Glee Gum does come in little single-serving boxes for Halloween treating, however, the sugar free varieties are not available yet. As far as I can tell, this would be the perfect item for folks who are nut-free, gluten-free and sugar-free to give out without seeming like stick-in-the-muds. (But it would help if it also came in the bubble gum flavor, too.)

Related Candies

  1. Tea Forte Minteas Lemongrass Yuzu
  2. PUR Gum: Xylitol Sweetened
  3. Wee Glee Gum
  4. Three Pink Bubble Gums
  5. Roca Buttercrunch Thins
  6. All Sugar Free Week (May 5-9)
  7. Glee Gum: If You Like Stuff Stuck to Your Teeth


Name: Sugar Free Gum (Peppermint)
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Verve
Place Purchased: Erewhon Grocery (Park LaBrea)
Price: $1.25
Size: .62 ounces
Calories per ounce: 61
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Verve Inc, Ethically Sourced, Gum, Mints, Sugar Free, 8-Tasty, United States

POSTED BY Cybele AT 12:39 pm     All NaturalCandyReviewVerve IncEthically SourcedGumMints8-TastyUnited StatesComments (5)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Poco Dolce Hazelnut Bar

Poco Dolce Hazelnut BarPoco Dolce is a small confectioner based in San Francisco known mostly for their lovely toffee tiles (really, take a look). A few years ago they started making specialty chocolate bars as well.

The one I picked up in San Francisco was one I was particularly looking forward to. It’s simply called Hazelnut Bar made with bittersweet chocolate. The ingredients are exceptionally simple, chocolate, hazelnut butter and sea salt. Since it’s a dark chocolate, it’s also vegan (though processed where it may have come in contact with milk proteins, other tree nuts or peanuts and there’s no statement about the sourcing of the sugar).

Poco Dolce sources their chocolate from nearby Guittard Chocolate Company, choosing from their Rainforest Alliance certified chocolate. The hazelnut butter comes from Oregon.

Poco Dolce Hazelnut Bar

The bar is not that large, though the box makes it seem like it would be close to one of those 3 ounce tablets. Instead this one is 1.763 ounces ... or what I’d consider a very generous single portion.

The dark bar is nicely tempered and the smooth hazelnut butter is well integrated. The texture is smooth, no hint of hazelnut bits but a strong hazelnut flavor. The bar is bitter, but in a roasted way. The melt is good, though a little firmer than a regular dark bar at first, but has a lighter feel on the tongue than a straight chocolate. It’s lightly sweet and lightly salty, deeply chocolatey and nutty. It’s also exceptionally filling. About two pieces were a great pick me up. So while the bar was expensive and small, I felt like it lasted a long time.

One of my complaints about hazelnut paste (gianduia) as I’ve gotten older is that it’s too sticky and too sweet. This bar has none of those issues, yet still remains decadent.

Related Candies

  1. Poco Dolce Popcorn Toffee
  2. Pernigotti Gianduia: Piedmont Hazelnut Paste
  3. William diCarlo Perle di dolcezza
  4. Eat with your Eyes: Poco Dolce
  5. Guittard Akoma Fair Trade Chocolate Chips
  6. Ice Cubes
  7. Caffarel Gianduias
  8. Scharffen Berger Gianduja


Name: Bittersweet Hazelnut Bar
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Poco Dolce
Place Purchased: Fog City News (San Francisco)
Price: $5.75
Size: 1.763 ounces
Calories per ounce:
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Poco Dolce, Chocolate, Ethically Sourced, Nuts, 8-Tasty, United States

POSTED BY Cybele AT 12:51 pm     All NaturalCandyReviewPoco DolceChocolateEthically SourcedNuts8-TastyUnited StatesComments (0)

Monday, July 9, 2012

See’s Marshmallows

See's MarshmallowsSee’s Candies makes several of my favorite candies. It’s hard to imagine that they could come up with something new that I’d like better, but I’m always willing to give it a try.

During the holidays they do a few just marshmallow pieces, like a large marshmallow heart for Valentine’s. But I’ve found that they’re not the same honey flavor or the same dense texture.

I picked up their new box of See’s Milk and Dark Marshmallow. At the moment they’re sold in the single format, there are six marshmallows in the box, three of the milk chocolate covered variety and three of the dark chocolate covered.

See's Marshmallows

They’re the same size and shape as the Scotchmallow, but instead of a single twirl of chocolate on top, these have three rows of chocolate swirls. Each piece is about 60 calories, so a pair might make a good treat yet still pretty spare on the calorie side.

See's Marshmallows

The first is the Milk Chocolate Marshmallow. The chocolate is a pleasant, rich chocolate color. The Guittard-made chocolate is good, it’s smooth and has a strong dairy and deep roasted cocoa flavor to it.

The marshmallow is bouncy and dense. It’s hard to photograph because it looks like a solid white mass, but it’s actually filled with tiny, tiny bubbles, instead of big ones. The marshmallow is smooth, it has no starchy or chalky flavor like the extruded ones for toasting. The vanilla flavors are subtle and there’s a light note of honey, but it’s very mild.

I’ve usually shied away from the milk chocolate version of the Scotchmallow, but in this case the simple balance of the sweet milk chocolate and the frothy marshmallow is well done.

See's Marshmallows

The Dark Chocolate covered Marshmallow starts off a little, well, underwhelming. It looks great, it’s glossy and because I bought these in a box, they weren’t all scuffed up like the stuff I pick out at the store that they toss in a bag.

But it smells a little, well, sweet and kind of fake.

After cracking the chocolate shell though, that changes. The real vanilla notes come out right away. They’re thick and like dark rum. The honey notes comes to the front, like a floral syrup in my nose. The chocolate is not overwhelmingly dark, but it has enough bitter notes that play against the sweetness of the honey and vanilla. The vanilla is soft and cushy, like the marshmallow texture. The chocolate has a dry finish that’s swept away by the thick honey.

I love the play of this. Mostly I liked eating the sides of chocolate off, and having a more marshmallow and less chocolate. I look forward to seeing these in the candy case so I can just get one or two of them.

See's Marshmallows

One of my favorite of the boxed pieces is the Scotchmallow. It’s a layered piece, a base of chewy caramel then a layer of fluffy yet dense honey marshmallow, all covered in dark chocolate. They’ve even started selling them in “quick to go” packages in the store of half pound bags. I’ve always loved See’s caramel, as it was the first commercial caramel I found that reminded me of my grandmother’s homemade. But for this piece it’s the honey flavors of the marshmallow that really sell it.

See’s chocolate are made on shared equipment that may contain traces of peanuts and tree nuts. It also contains milk, eggs, soy and gelatin.



Name: Milk and Dark Marshmallow
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: See’s
Place Purchased: See's Candy (Glendale)
Price: $3.95
Size: 2.8 ounces
Calories per ounce: 129
Categories: Candy, See's, Chocolate, Marshmallow, 8-Tasty, United States

POSTED BY Cybele AT 5:52 pm     CandyReviewSee'sChocolateMarshmallow8-TastyUnited StatesComments (1)

Monday, June 25, 2012

UNREAL #41 & #54 Candy Coated Chocolates

Unreal 41 Candy Coated Chocolates UnjunkedCandy coated chocolates are so simple, yet so many folks find many of the commercial ingredients objectionable. It seems like it would be easy to make a good chocolate lentil with all natural, wholesome ingredient. Yet, here we are in 2012, and I can’t say that I like any of the alternatives to M&Ms very much.

You can imagine that I greeted the new UNREAL candy line with a bit of trepidation and suspicion. After all, if it could be done, why isn’t it done? (Try Sundrops.)

The UNREAL line uses all natural ingredients, specifically no artificial colors, no preservatives, no GMOs and no hydrogenated oils. The two elements that are interest in the instance of M&Ms would be artificial colors (which can make some colors taste bad to some consumers and have been linked with hyperactivity and other sensitivities with some kids) and genetically modified organism.

M&Ms Milk Chocolate Ingredients: Milk Chocolate (sugar, chocolate, skim milk, cocoa butter, lactose, milkfat, soy lecithin, salt, artificial flavors), sugar, cornstarch, less than 1% corn syrup, gum acacia, coloring (includes Red 40 Lake, Yellow 5 Lake, Yellow 6, Red 40, Blue 2 Lake, Yellow 5, Yellow 6 Lake, Blue 1, Blue 1 Lake, Blue 2), Dextrin.

Unreal 41 Candy Coated Chocolates

Part of what irritates me is their positioning of this candy on their website. They compare the candy to M&Ms and to a fresh peach. The listing of qualities below the specs for #41 Candy Coated Chocolates is:
No Corn Syrup
No Partially Hydrogenated Oil
No Artificial Ingredients
No GMOs
No Preservatives

Okay, that’s great. But to be fair, M&Ms do not have any partially hydrogenated oils and no preservatives. And a peach also has none of those (though I’d say that somewhere out there, there are GMO peaches, I don’t think they’re commercial at this time.) The comparisons are also a little skewed by the portion sizes. M&Ms are sold in bags of 1.69 ounces (47.9 grams) and UNREAL #41 are 1.5 ounces (42 grams). So the grid is not converted to a one to one comparison.

The little candies are pretty, and I appreciate that they don’t look as unnatural as I ofter regard M&Ms to be (the blue and red ones, especially). However, the colors are a little on the dark and morose side. Honestly, I don’t know why they have to be so dark, why couldn’t it just be a touch of color, instead of some sort of thick slathering of turmeric extract?

The lentils are slightly smaller than M&Ms but consistent for the most part and well made. The package protects them, they weren’t crushed or cracked.

Unreal 41 Candy Coated Chocolates

The flavor is interesting and far different from the wide appeal of M&Ms. They’re creamy and smooth, the melt is great and only slightly sticky. The crunchy shell is crisp and has a great dissolve, depending on your eating style. But the chocolate is where these little lentils are completely different from M&Ms or any other chocolate candy lentils.

The chocolate is smoky, rather dark and has a toffee and charcoal note from both the cocoa and milk. I get a lot of bitterness from it, something I noticed in the peanut butter cups, but it was well moderated by the peanut butter center. Here, it’s just the chocolate and the candy shell. I didn’t care for the intensity, however, I recognize that not all people detect bitterness in the same way. So some folks may find these delightful, I found they required a little more effort on my part to appreciate.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Unreal 54 Candy Coated Chocolates with Peanuts UnjunkedThe UNREAL #54 Candy Coated Chocolates with Peanuts have a consistent package with the rest of the UNREAL line, this one with a neon or highlighter green and yellow logo and little candies scattered across the front of the package.

This packet also holds 1.5 ounces with the same sticker price as the non-natural M&Ms which are 1.74 ounces.

Unreal 54 Candy Coated Chocolates with Peanuts

I’ve often found that Peanut M&Ms, though good, are not my favorite when given a choice. In this case, I preferred the UNREAL #54 to the UNREAL #41. The nuts were fresh, big and not roasted too dark. The bitterness of the chocolate was still there, but moderated by the savory characteristics of the peanuts.

Unreal 54 Candy Coated Chocolates with Peanuts

A curious item on the nutrition panel says that the Peanut variety has 45% of your daily value of Calcium and the Milk Chocolate one has 50% of your daily value. The full ingredients list shows that it’s not the milk that’s contributing that (M&Ms have about 4% of your DV), it’s Calcium Carbonate. (No source is given for that, is it oyster shell? Egg shells? Bone meal?) Full ingredients:

Ingredients: Milk Chocolate (chocolate, skim milk, cane sugar, cocoa butter, milk powder, organic blue agave inulin, soy lecithin, vanilla extract), Peanuts, Cane Sugar, Calcium Carbonate, Peanut Oil, Colored with (beetroot juice, turmeric root extract, purple cabbage juice), Gum Arabic, Vanilla Extract, Carnauba Wax & Beeswax

So, it still has that inulin stuff in it that I remarked about in the #77 Peanut Butter Cup review. It’s basically a nice, clean candy that has some nutritional fortification. Personally, I’d prefer just clean candy and let me get my nutrition elsewhere.

Rating: 8 out of 10

I like the line. I’m annoyed at the marketing and lack of true information (but they’re new and I’m still waiting for a response to my email on Saturday). But the candy is good, they’re on the right track and I’m excited about it. It would be fun to see where they go with it, if they create a few candies that are vegan as well, or at least dairy free.

UPDATE 9/17/2012: After many months and more than a half a dozen attempts to get answers from UNREAL, I did get a reply. Here is what I can tell you:
UNREAL works closely with a broker to secure cacao from co-ops in Ecuador and Ghana. They said, “Our Brokers on the ground work with them daily to ensure the best quality of product and that people and planet are not being damaged in the process.” There is no third party certification for any of this, so it is not certified fair trade or sustainable but they did say that there is an auditing process by the buyers.
UNREAL sources their milk from California (using no hormones or antibiotics) and the dried milk products from New Zealand.
UNREAL’s chocolate is made in the United States by “a family owned and operated chocolate company.” They declined to give an actual source.
UNREAL defended its use of inulin (which can cause digestive upset in some people and is considered a filler and may actually disqualify their chocolate coating from being called chocolate by FDA standards) saying that it lowers the glycemic load of the product.

Related Candies

  1. UNREAL #77 Peanut Butter Cups
  2. Nestle Skinny Cow Heavenly Crisp
  3. NewTree Dark Milk
  4. Hershey’s Drops: Milk Chocolate & Cookies n Creme
  5. Hershey-ets
  6. Sunspire Coconut Bars
  7. UK Smarties (no artificial colors)
  8. Best Intentions: Sun Drops
  9. Chocolate Sunflower Seed Drops


Name: #41 Candy Coated Chocolates
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: UNREAL
Place Purchased: CVS (Silver Lake)
Price: $1.19
Size: 1.5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 133
Categories: All Natural, UNREAL, Chocolate, Kosher, 7-Worth It, United States, Sav-On/CVS


Name: #54 Candy Coated Chocolates with Peanuts
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: UNREAL
Place Purchased: CVS (Silver Lake)
Price: $1.19
Size: 1.5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 127
Categories: All Natural, Candy, UNREAL, Chocolate, Kosher, Peanuts, 8-Tasty, United States, Sav-On/CVS

POSTED BY Cybele AT 1:42 pm     All NaturalCandyReviewUNREALChocolateKosherPeanuts7-Worth It8-TastyUnited StatesSav-On/CVSComments (11)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Milka Bars, Milka Drops and some Li’l Milka

Milka Chopped HazelnutMilka is an old German chocolate candy brand that dates back to 1901. The Milka brand fell under Suchard, a popular chocolate bar maker which also made powdered cocoa. The bar was their milk chocolate and named by combining the German words milch (milk) and kakao (cocoa). The earliest chocolate bars sported the lavender wrapper that is still one of the distinguishing marks of their branding.

Milka is now owned by multinational conglomerate Kraft, which also makes Toblerone, Marabou, Cadbury, Cote d’Or, Freia and here in the United States, Baker’s Chocolate. Milka bars are known for their high milk content, soft and sweet melt and favoring of hazelnuts.

They’re far more available in the United States in the past 5 years than I think any other time in history. I’ve been seeing Milka products reliably at discounters like Target. This particular Milka Chopped Hazelnut bar was purchased at the 99 Cent Only Store. For only a buck, for a 3.5 ounce bar. Not a bad deal.

Now I must state that Milka is not chocolate by current American definitions, because it contains additional dairy whey. But the coolest additive they use is hazelnut paste, which more than makes up for it.

Milka with Crushed Hazelnuts

The bar is soft and extremely sweet. The only thing that moderates that sweetness are the crushed hazelnuts. They’re well distributed though I’d probably want more of them (but I understand that this is a bargain bar). The nuts are fresh and crunchy. The dairy flavors are on the toffee and toasted sugar side, instead of tasting like powdered milk Cadbury sometimes can.

Overall, this is one of the more satisfying bars I’ve had from Milka. I prefer the use of palpable nuts in addition to the hazelnut paste and of course the price can’t be beat. Though Kraft and Milka may have sustainability and ethical sourcing plans, they’re not noted on the package or their website.

Milka White Chocolate ConfectionThe Milka White Chocolate Confection was equally cheap, also a 99 Cent Only Store find.

I’m a fan of good quality white chocolate. I like cocoa butter a lot and this bar does use the real thing. Again, the only reason it’s not considered true white chocolate in the United States is the use of additional dairy whey.

The bar is nicely sized and the little domed pieces are easy to break off.

In the world of white chocolate, this is probably the best deal you’re going to find for a dollar that doesn’t include other fats besides cocoa butter and milk products. The use of whey doesn’t actually bother me that much. I understand it’s a filler but it allows things like chocolate to maintain their texture without becoming overly fatty or too sweet.Of course I would only endorse it for “candy” type applications, not fine chocolates.

Milka White

It’s a sweet bar, but not very complex. It’s a bit grainy and fudgy, not a lot of vanilla flavors and the even the fresh dairy taste isn’t that distinctive. I found this wasn’t very interesting eaten plain, but went well with other candy. It’s best with a good chocolate cookie (like an Oreo) or a salty item like nuts or pretzels. (Even tortilla chips.)

Milka Schoko Drops

While in Germany last December I also picked up a few other Milka items, because of their novelty. One of them was this box of Milka Schoko Drops. I know I’ll probably never see these again, which is too bad because they’re certainly a distinctive product. I think they were about one Euro but the little box only has 25 grams (.88 ounces). It’s a rather different price point for a brand that’s usually dirt cheap.

Milka Schoko Drops

The pieces are large, almost the size of a quarter in diameter and a beautiful purple or pearly white.

Milka Schoko Drops

The center is Milka’s hazelnut milk chocolate, the outer layer is white chocolate and then a crunchy shell. The box didn’t hold much, but I didn’t need much. I liked them quite a bit. They’re not better than M&Ms, just different. BTW - why doesn’t Mars make Hazelnut M&Ms?

Milka und Oreo

My favorite of the European Milka Bars was this one I picked up at a Kaufland grocery store (on a big sale display that I think was .59 Euro, or about 80 cents American) in Schmalkalden, Germany. It’s the Milka und Oreo which is a natural combination, since Kraft owns both brands.

Milka Oreo

If there was a disappointment with this bar, it was the use of that cream in the center instead of just more Oreo Cookies. The cream was okay, more on the yogurt side, though less sweet than the actual filling of Oreos. But without the filling, I suppose there’s nothing to distinguish it from regular Chocolate & Cookies bars.

Milka Oreo

I would buy this again, though I’m not sure if they’re sold in the United States.

Milka L'il Stars CrispeesI was pretty excited to see these Milka L’il Stars bags at the 99 Cent Only Store on a more recent visit. The reignited my interest in Milka, and spurred me to dig out these photos from earlier this year and finish this write up.

Again, for only a dollar, it’s a great deal for a chocolate hazelnut product. Think of them as giant, shell-less Crispy M&Ms.

The Milka L’il Stars Crispees look completely different than anything else on the American market and fill that hole I often have for a cereal and chocolate combination. The bag is a decent deal for a buck, it holds 3.88 ounces of little spheres of wheat crisps covered in Milka chocolate coating.

Milka L'il Stars Crispees

The pieces are a bit rugged and uneven. The good part about that is that they don’t roll around as well as a Malted Milk Ball would.

Milka L'il Stars Crispees

The crispy center is airy and light. It’s a little crunchier and less honeycomb/foamy than a malted milk ball. The flavor is also delicate and cereal-like. It’s a rice puff, made with rice malt and malted barley syrup. It’s not very malty, not like a malted milk, but has the hints like Corn Flakes do.

Of course there’s gluten in there and hazelnuts, dairy and soy. They’re made in Slovakia.

Milka L'il Stars HazelnutsThe Milka L’il Stars Hazelnuts are a simpler product, and kind of loop me back to the first one in this list.

They’re just single, whole roasted hazelnuts covered in the Milka chocolate which has hazelnut paste in it.

This bag (also made in Slovakia) also has 3.88 ounces in it, though not as much volume as the Crispees because of the density of the nuts.

Milka L'il Stars Hazelnuts

They’re crazily simple, but really well done. The nuts are well chosen, good quality and lightly roasted. The coating is soft and sweet, a little on the fudgy side but the dairy flavors come out more than I noticed them in the bar. The roasted hazelnuts are crunchy and satisfying.

Since chocolate covered hazelnuts are so hard to find, I can see myself picking these up again, especially if I wanted to combine them with the Crispees and some other savory items for a little bit of trail mix to create the perfect movie snack.

The touch of hazelnut paste in Milka products distinguished them from other dairy milk chocolate products like Cadbury. Though it’s not great quality chocolate, it is satisfying candy.

Related Candies

  1. Ferrero Eggs: Hazelnut & Cocoa
  2. Oreo Bitter Bar (Japan)
  3. Crispy M&Ms
  4. Milka L’il Scoops
  5. Milka NAPS Mix (Assortment)
  6. Trader Joe’s Mint Joe Joe’s versus Mint Oreos
  7. Ritter Sport White Chocolate with Hazelnuts
  8. Milka Alpenmilch

POSTED BY Cybele AT 12:18 pm     CandyReviewKraftCookieMockolateNuts7-Worth It8-TastyGermany99 Cent Only StoreComments (12)

Monday, June 4, 2012

Hot Tamales 3 Alarm

Hot Tamales 3 AlarmOne of my favorite candies, especially lately, has been Hot Tamales. They’re incredibly simple, basically just spicy cinnamon jelly rods. They’re cheap and easy to find. I have been buying the five pound bags at places like Smart & Final and at Jack’s Wholesale Candy in downtown Los Angeles. They look great in a candy jar and are an excellent pick-me up in the middle of the day or during long car trips.

Just Born, makers of Hot Tamales, recently introduced a new twist to their standard box. It’s called Hot Tamales 3 Alarm and as you might imagine, has three different spice levels inside:

The heat index is off the charts with the new HOT TAMALES® 3 ALARM candies, featuring three increasing levels of heat – hot, hotter, hottest! Test your taste buds’ boundaries with the hottest HOT TAMALES® bean ever. Just remember, you’ve been warned.

Hot Tamales 3 Alarm

The Hot level is orange. It’s mild but still a good mix of spicy and sweet.

The Hotter level is red. It’s warming but it’s just in the shell and dissipates pretty quickly. The flavor is well rounded, the woodsy bark flavors of cassia (sometimes sold as cinnamon but with a slightly more floral note to it), the sweetness of the bark and then the burn. There’s some throat tingling, but pretty much the normal Hot Tamale experience.

The Hottest level is maroon. It’s hard to tell these apart from the Hotter level sometimes, unless they’re side by side. But make no mistake, there’s a difference in flavor. The hotness is obvious. It’s more than just cinnamon hot, I could swear there’s some sort of capsaicin (hot peppers) in there. It burned my throat quite a bit. If I ate it with another level of hotness, I could take it, but otherwise I found it unpleasant.

I like the Hot Tamales Fire and I like the Hot Tamales classic. But I’m not so keen on this Hottest level in Hot Tamales 3 Alarm and find the Hot level a little too tame. Seems like Just Born got it right the first time, so that’s what I’ll stick with. This is fun, but nothing that will become a go-to candy for me.

Related Candies

  1. Ferrara Pan White Hot Red Hots Jelly Beans
  2. Mentos Cinnamon
  3. Brach’s Cinnamon Jelly Hearts
  4. Good & Fiery
  5. See’s Cinnamon (Hearts & Lollypops)
  6. Cinnamon Fire Twizzlers
  7. Hot Tamales Spice Jelly Beans
  8. Cinnamon Imperial Hearts
  9. Hot Tamales and Hotter Tamales


Name: Hot Tamales 3 Alarm
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Just Born
Place Purchased: 99 Cent Only (Silver Lake)
Price: $1.00
Size: 5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 99
Categories: Candy, Just Born, Cinnamon, Jelly Candy, Kosher, 8-Tasty, United States, 99 Cent Only Store

POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:48 am     CandyJust BornCinnamonJelly CandyKosher8-TastyUnited States99 Cent Only StoreComments (0)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Wafer Cookies

Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Wafer CookiesMy weaknesses are cream filled wafers, peanut butter and dark chocolate. (Well, I have more weaknesses than that.) So it’s only natural that I picked up Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Wafer Cookies last weekend.

The package promises that they’d be Crunchy, Creamy, Salty, Sweet!

The gusseted bag is rather small, but predicts 8 full servings, if each serving is only four pieces. Not so easy. These are also calorie bombs, if I believe the Trader Joe’s Nutrition Facts label. It shows that that serving of four pieces is 26 grams (.92 ounces) and clock in at 160 calories. That’s 174 calories per ounce. I’m not sure that’s possible when the third ingredient is flour. But there you have it, one of the most calorie dense products I’ve ever reviewed.

Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Wafer Cookies

The pieces are pretty small, a little shy of a quarter of an ounce each and a little under one inch square and half an inch high. They don’t smell like much, I expected roasted peanut scent when I opened the package. I liked that, I liked that the dark chocolate must have sealed it all in.

Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Wafer Cookies

The dark chocolate is quite dark but has a good, immediate melt. It’s a little on the bitter side but has strong woody and charcoal flavors. The wafers are pretty thick, much thicker and airier than I expected. Their flavor is mild, but has a light malt note to it. The cream between the wafers is part peanut butter with a little milk or coconut oil to make it smoother. The texture combination is fantastic. The size of each piece makes it easy to cleave the layers apart with my teeth, or just eat it whole. (Eating it in two pieces can be messy, as some of the chocolate may fall off.)

I found them filling, but not heavy like some peanut butter products can be. Each element was well balanced. The chocolate filled its role without overwhelming the peanut butter flavors, the peanut butter wasn’t so thick and sticky and the wafers were light and airy without getting gummy or tacky.

Really what I wish they had was a better name that didn’t use 9 words.

The pieces are great for sharing and munching as a snack. (Though be careful of that calorie count.) They look good in a small bowl, but I’d wager it’d be empty pretty soon. I would buy these again and would love to see them in other varieties.

There’s no notice on the package or Trader Joe’s website about the origin or ethical sourcing of the chocolate and other ingredients. It’s all natural with no preservatives. Contains soy, wheat, milk and peanuts.

Related Candies

  1. Fujiya Look Wafers & Crepes
  2. Christopher’s Good News
  3. Tunnock’s Caramel Milk Chocolate Wafer
  4. Nestle Butterfinger Snackerz
  5. Q.Bel Double Dark Chocolate Wafer Bar
  6. Baby Ruth Crisp & Nestle Crisp Bars
  7. Q.Bel Wafer Rolls


Name: Dark Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Wafer Cookies
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Trader Joe’s
Place Purchased: Trader Joe's (Silver Lake)
Price: $2.99
Size: 7 ounces
Calories per ounce: 174
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Trader Joe's, Chocolate, Cookie, Kosher, Peanuts, 8-Tasty, United States

POSTED BY Cybele AT 1:06 pm     All NaturalCandyReviewTrader Joe'sChocolateCookieKosherPeanuts8-TastyUnited StatesComments (4)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Madre Chocolate: Dominican, Jaguar & Rosita de Cacao

Madre Chocolate DominicanMadre Chocolate is a newer bean to bar chocolate maker based on O’ahu in Hawaii. The logo for Madre Chocolate tells a lot: it’s the Maya glyph for cacao. You can see a larger version in this Archeology magazine article. I don’t know if it’s supposed to be “smiling” on the Madre version, but that’s the way it looks to me.

Madre makes their chocolate in Hawaii, but uses personally sourced beans from Central America, where chocolate was born. The Madre Chocolate Dominican Dark Chocolate bar is made with fair trade beans, and is 70% chocolate using organic sugar and Mexican vanilla. There are no emulsifiers.

The bars are absolutely beautiful. They’re wrapped well, too. The bars come in a tough and really re-usable foil then inside a printed kraft paper sleeve. Many bars come in foil, but the foil tends to protect the bars only in the store, not after they’re opened. Here I was able to open the wrapper and rewrap the bar without any difficulty or mess.

Madre Chocolate

The bar itself has a beautiful mold, with designs inspired by Central America art and iconography. The Dominican Dark Chocolate bar is a deep reddish brown color with an excellent, crisp snap.

The bar has a strong dried cherry note to it and some deep, oaky smoked flavors. It’s on the bitter side with a lot of berry and spice to it, there are notes of hibiscus, black pepper, chipotle and black tea.

The melt is smooth, there’s some slight grit every once in a while, but for a chocolate with no emulsifiers, it’s exceptionally smooth with a crisp and brief dry finish.

Madre Chocolate Jaguar CacaoMadre Chocolate: Jaguar Cacao Chocolate from Central America was the bar that spurred me to get to know Madre Chocolate.

I’ve often wondered about the plants that chocolate comes from, like the diversity of citrus fruits. Theobroma is in the same family as the Mallows - which includes things like Kola Nut, Marshmallow, Okra and Cotton. Most chocolate aficinados already know about the three varieties of beans: criollo, forastero, and trinitario. So I was really excited to see that Madre Chocolate uses jaguar cacao, or mocambo which comes from the plant Theobroma bicolor. It’s another species of Theobroma and fruits in a similar fashion, in a large pod. The tree looks remarkably different but the beans can be treated in the same way: fermented, dried, roasted and conched. You can see more about all the Theobroma species on Wikipedia and pictures of the Mocambo on Fruitipedia.

The ingredients are organic cacao beans, organic sugar, organic cocoa butter, jaguar cacao and vanilla. So this is not a pure jaguar bar, but a combination. It is definitely lighter than the Dominican, looking almost like a milk chocolate bar.

Madre Jaguar

The texture is softer, almost lighter on the tongue than the Dominican. The flavors are also rather strange. There’s the standard cocoa notes, it’s woodsy and a smidge grassy. But then there are other flavors like ginger but also something more savory. I want to say leeks, but it’s not as obvious as something like onions, it’s just something faint in the background that isn’t quite “chocolate” in the traditional sense.

The melt is smooth, a little sticky but not sweet. There’s a milky quality to it, but of course there’s no milk in it at all. For folks looking for a dark chocolate or a dairy-less chocolate that’s not so bitter or astringent, this is that bar.

Madre Chocolate Rosita de CacaoThe final bar I have is the Madre Chocolate Rosita de Cacao which features cacahuaxochitl blossoms. The plant, Quararibea funebris, is also in the mallow family so distantly related to cacao. The blossoms were used to flavor the original Mayan chocolate drinks.

This bar also features the Dominican cacao of the first one I tried. The ingredients are the same: organic cacao beans, organic sugar, organic cocoa butter and then rosita de cacao and Mexican whole vanilla.

Madre Jaguar

That’s the Jaguar on top and the Dominican bar on the bottom, to show the difference in the color.

I’d read that rosita de cacao smells like maple sugar and I found it’s absolutely true. The woodsy, sweet notes of maple syrup were front and center when I unwrapped the foil.

This bar was a little grittier than the plain Dominican, but had a very different flavor profile. The dried berry notes were still evident, but the woodsy profile was much stronger. It was very oaky, very vanilla with strong bourbon, leather and pipe tobacco flavors. The texture did have a little fibery grit to it, which I’m guessing is the flower. At times it was like fig seeds and seemed to intensify the soft florals if I chewed them.

As part of a drink, I think I’d enjoy them more than in a bar. It wasn’t just the texture but the strength of the very perfumey vanilla that seemed to overwhelm some of the deep chocolate notes. It really softened the profile overall of the intense Dominican beans.

This exploration into the flavors and influences of modern chocolate was fascinating. It provided a lot more than just the few lines in books and articles that talk about the more savory foamy chocolate drink that was first served to Westerners.

Like many of the new bean to bar artisan chocolate makers, Madre is interested in many of the historical and sociological aspects of chocolate, responsible sourcing as well as exploring and recreating the rich history of chocolate for modern humans. It’s more expensive than buying a history book to try them all, but I guarantee you won’t forget it. I got my bars because I sponsored the group’s initiative to source Mexican cacao on Kickstarter. You can buy them on their website and they list stores that also carry the bars there.

Related Candies

  1. Zotter Scotch Whisky
  2. European Bars in Brief
  3. Amano Dos Rios 70% Chocolate
  4. Askinosie White Chocolate (Plain, Nibble & Pistachio)
  5. TCHO Fruity
  6. Amano Single Origin Bars: Madagascar & Ocumare
  7. Theo 3400 Phinney Bars


Name: Dominican Chocolate
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Madre Chocolate
Place Purchased: Madre Chocolate (via Kickstarter)
Price: $8.00 retail
Size: 1.5 ounces
Calories per ounce:
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Chocolate, Ethically Sourced, Organic, 8-Tasty, United States


Name: Jaguar Chocolate
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Madre Chocolate
Place Purchased: Madre Chocolate (via Kickstarter)
Price: $8.00 retail
Size: 1.5 ounces
Calories per ounce:
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Chocolate, Ethically Sourced, Organic, 7-Worth It, United States


Name: Rosita de Cacao Chocolate
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Madre Chocolate
Place Purchased: Madre Chocolate (via Kickstarter)
Price: $8.00 retail
Size: 1.5 ounces
Calories per ounce:
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Chocolate, Ethically Sourced, Organic, 7-Worth It, United States

POSTED BY Cybele AT 3:46 pm     All NaturalCandyReviewChocolateEthically SourcedOrganic7-Worth It8-TastyUnited StatesComments (3)

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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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