Thursday, July 07, 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 04, 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 01, 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.
Monday, June 13, 2005
Name: Chimes Ginger Chews
How could you not love something that comes in this nifty tin? Chimes has three different kinds of ginger chews, Peppermint (this review), Peanut Butter Ginger (previous review) and Ginger. I believe that The Ginger People also have the same repetoire and that these are all probably made in the same factory somewhere in Indonesia.
There are about 14 of these individually wrapped chews stuffed into this tin. The lid slides back for dispensing, though they’re jammed in there pretty good and not that easy to just dump out. Further, when opening the little individual wrappers, the chews sometimes get stuck to the plastic.
Beyond that, once you’ve got on in your mouth, it’s instantly minty. The chew is soft and sticky with a distinct barley sugar note to it (I like that). As you chew, the spicy notes of the ginger come through and as you’re done with the chew, the burn of the ginger lasts for quite a while. They’re very satisfying but as snacks, I think the packaging is great because I don’t think you’d want more than two or three of these at any given time (the peanut butter ones, however, I think lend themselves to greater consumption).
On the whole, now that I’ve tried all three of these flavor combinations I think I prefer the plain ginger, then the peanut butter and then these. Not that these aren’t good, but I don’t really think that mint and ginger are the best of all possible flavor matches. The Ginger People also make an Apple Ginger chew that I think I’m going to have to seek out now.
Rating: 8 out of 10.
Wednesday, June 08, 2005
From the back of the package:
This is fine Belgian dark chocolate (73% cocoa) infused with black currant and grape flavors. Instead of just candy or a sweet treat, New Tree seems to be pushing the health benefits of chocolate, because it contains more antioxidants than a glass of red wine and 10% of your daily vaulue of vitamin D and phosphorous, 6% of the RDA for zinc and E, 15% of your iron and 20% of your magnesium. In addition, there’s a whopping 5 grams of fiber - 22% of the daily requirement!
But health benefits and nutrition aside, unless you want to call these chewable vitamins and make them a chore (and expensive vitamins at that!), taste is what it’s all about…
The scent of black currant and grape is quite evident upon opening the inner mylar pouch. The chocolate was a dense, glossy black and heavy for its size. While the scent of the currants is there, the taste isn’t. The taste is all chocolate. A strong bitter start with a good melt on the tongue yields a slighly grainy feeling to the chocolate, but not an unpleasant one. Then the grape essence returns as the sweetness develops. It has a very dry finish, much like wine, but sometimes (not always) a bitter lingering note.
The snackability of such a rich combination of flavors isn’t really there. I can’t see myself munching on this bar, but definitely sampling it, probably in combination with some nuts or pretzels. It would probably go well with an after dinner plate of cheese and dried fruits as well (and wine or cognac).
The New Tree site heralds the other versions of their chocolate, all with enigmatic power names and functions. Pleasure is just pure chocolate. Vigor is chocolate with a boost of coffee and caffeine with guarana. Forgiveness is chocolate with lemon essence and added fiber and purports to halt absorption of fat. Tranquility is milk chocolate (more sugar than the other chocolates) with lime and lavender. Rejoice is milk chocolate flavored with orange and lime and crisped rice added.
They sell these in 2.8 oz bars or in little boxes with 3 x .9 oz bars of the same flavor. What I’d like to see is one box that has one of each for tasting. You can’t buy from their website and I haven’t seen them anywhere in the stores yet, but I’ll keep my eyes open. If you’re interested you can email them from the website about availability.
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.