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9-Yummy

Friday, March 23, 2007

See’s Egg Quartet

DSC09088rWhile I was at See’s a couple of weeks ago on the prowl for the Scotchmallow Eggs, I decided to try some of their other Easter offerings. Like many boxed chocolate companies, they had the regular boxed chocolates in their spring finery. See’s has always been a bit classic looking, a little retro, perhaps even a little stuffy. But most people who’ve had their products know that most of the effort goes into the chocolates themselves. Most of the designs for the holiday packaging, in fact, haven’t change in years. I know I’ve actually bought some of the boxes ten years ago. I find that comforting, as I have trouble buying the same bra as scant six months ... because you know, a good underwire can go out of fashion.

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The tray inside isn’t really that sassy, it’s just a formed piece of thin white plastic, but it does the trick of keeping all the eggs in their place. Note that the Bordeaux, that’s covered in jimmies, was actually wrapped in clear plastic (the only one). I’m guessing that’s to keep the jimmies from going everywhere.

Each Egg weighs about 2 ounces. I ate them by slicing them up, usually into three of four slices. I suppose you could just consider them a big candy bar and eat it all yourself.

DSC09116rPeanut Butter Egg - I’ve never had this before! It’s awesome. It’s not quite like a Reese’s Egg. (Though it is about the same size, but taller.) The center is a very smooth and dense peanut butter, lightly sweet and just a little crumbly. It’s not better or worse than Reese’s (except of course the chocolate is superior), just different. They sell the Peanut Butter Egg separately, and with good reason.

As far as I know, this Egg does not come in a single piece in the mixed boxes. So consider this a seasonal item. (I’ll have to check if they sell regular pieces just at the store, you know, like ordering off the menu.)

DSC09111rBordeaux Egg - I’ve never been quite sure what the Bordeaux See’s piece was until I looked it up on their website. It comes in a round piece in most boxes of chocolates in either milk or dark chocolate, and has some little jimmies on it. This piece was milk chocolate. The jimmies are actually pretty good, instead of being minute waxy rods made to look like chocolate, they might actually be chocolate. The Bordeaux filling is called a brown sugar buttercream. It’s light and creamy, with a cooling feel on the tongue like powdered sugar but a mild caramel taste comes into play.

The Bordeaux is available in mixed boxes and a pre-wrapped “bar” like the Scotchmallow.

DSC09106rCocoanut Egg - I love the cocoanut egg. The dark chocolate on the outside, in my opinion, is different from the Scotchmallow. It tastes milder, maybe a little more buttery. The center is a smooth cream with coconut flakes. It’s not super-dense like a Mounds bar; it’s more delicate and has a nuttier flavor and less texture.

This comes in the mixed box, but I think only in milk chocolate. I did pick up a few of the dark chocolate cocoanut pieces while at the store. I think I prefer the ratio of chocolate to coconut cream center in the singles.

Chocolate Walnut Egg ... oops, I didn’t eat this one. You’ll have to ask my husband how it was. It must have been pretty good, he ate it. They make a version of this without walnuts, but it’s sold separately. Batteries not included.

Overall, I thought these were great quality and a tasty assortment. But I probably wouldn’t buy them again (well, for starters 25% of it was off limits), but I think it makes a great gift and all the flavors are winners. Very fresh and generous.

For the $8.40 I spent here, I think I’d be happier with the Nuts & Chews (dark), but that’s just me. Considering that the Peanut Butter isn’t available otherwise, I might opt for one of those in a single large egg.

See’s is running a contest through the beginning of June, giving away a box of candy a month for a year. Enter once, they announce winners every month.

Name: Egg Quartet: Bordeaux, Cocoanut & Peanut Butter
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: See's
Place Purchased: See's (Newport Beach)
Price: $8.40
Size: 8 ounces
Calories per ounce: 130
Categories: Chocolate, Coconut, Peanuts, Nuts, United States, See's, Easter

POSTED BY Cybele AT 7:22 am     Comments (16)

Monday, March 19, 2007

Lifesavers Jellybeans

DSC09417rI’ve been rather peeved with Lifesavers for a few years. In fact, you might even call my rant about the Five Roll flavors changing my first Candy Blog post.

But if I was complaining before that the five flavor roll changed to accommodate new flavors, I should be pleased that the Lifesavers Jellybeans actually have all my favorite flavors (well, no tangerine, but orange will do nicely). My other pet peeve is that the colors on their logo no longer match the flavors. If you look at the package it lists the flavors on a different color stripe, but the color of the stripe doesn’t match the flavor. Oh well.

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The Lifesavers Jelly Beans are about the size of Jelly Belly, but a little fatter around the middle. The colors are bold and appealing and the quality control was very good - the beans were very consistent.

Grape - has tones of both fake grape and a little smidge of concord in there, just like grape soda.
Strawberry - sweet and floral with a tangy bite.
Cherry - tastes like a cherry Lifesavers ... it’s kind of growing on me ... oh wait, it’s bitter now, never mind.
Orange - zesty and tart like it should be.
Peach - surprisingly round in its flavor, still I pick them out (but they look a lot like the orange).
Lemon - like the orange, a good balanced citrus flavor.
Green Apple - artificial tasting, through and through.
Pineapple - sassy and tart with a good flowery note and a touch of cotton candy ... just like it should be.

Overall, with only two flavors I didn’t much care for (cherry & peach), this is an excellent assortment. They’re not quite Jelly Belly (which pack flavor through and through), but for a fraction of the price they’re admirable. I actually liked them much better than the Starburst ones I tried last year. There’s another pastel mix of flavors as well: Red Raspberry, Mango Medley, Cotton Candy, Watermelon, Blueberry, Pina Colada, Strawberry-Kiwi, and Banana which also sounds pretty tasty. (I’ll probably give those a try if they’re sitting around after Easter on sale.)

Name: Lifesavers Jellybeans
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Lifesavers (Wrigley)
Place Purchased: Walgreen's
Price: $1.59
Size: 14 ounces
Calories per ounce: 106
Categories: Jelly, United States, Wrigley, Easter

POSTED BY Cybele AT 6:08 am     Comments (27)

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

KitKat Bitter & White

Japan is known for cars, Japan is known for electronics. Japan is known for cute. Japan is also home to some of the best KitKats in the world (okay, and some of the worst, but this is the price of innovation and an example of the bell curve).

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What else can I say except that the KitKat Bitter is what a KitKat should be all day, every day.

Upon opening one of the two packets that have two-finger sticks, it’s obvious this candy is real. The chocolate is dark and glossy and smells like ... chocolate! The package says, in English, “High Grade Cacaomass”, which I’m guessing is their way of saying that’s it’s authentically dark chocolate.

The American dark chocolate KitKats were not nearly as good as these (not that it matters, as they’re long gone). The Canadian dark KitKats are close in flavor but lacking in the high-quality chocolate texture.

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The wafers are crisp and have that light touch of sweet filling. Yes, the chocolate here is rich and dark and actually slightly bitter as the label advertises. It’s a little dry as well. But it’s just so real tasting, it just spoils me for any other KitKats.

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The White KitKat says that it has Nasu Highland Milk. I’m not sure what that is, but I’m sure it’s a selling point.

It smells very milky and has a light milky look to it. Though it’s sweet, it’s not throat-burningly so. The crispy wafers are good and offset the sweetness of the milky coating. As white chocolate KitKats go, I prefer this one to the Matcha from last year that seemed excessively sweet and a bit greasy feeling.

I can’t see myself eating this regularly, but I finished the bar, which is a good recommendation for anything containing white chocolate for me (I have a tendency to like them at first but lose interest after a serving). The wafers seemed to be more of a highlight than in the Bitter bar, perhaps a little crispier or maybe I’m better able to discern the flavor of them without the overwhelming chocolate.

See all KitKat reviews to date here. I also have several others prepping for review: Red Bean, Fruit Parfait, Chestnut & Inside Out (various flavors) thanks to Amy & Santos.

Name: KitKat Bitter & White
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Nestle
Place Purchased: gift (thanks Amy!)
Price: unknown
Size: 50 grams
Calories per ounce: unknown
Categories: Chocolate, White Chocolate, Cookie, Japan, Nestle, Limited Edition, KitKat

POSTED BY Cybele AT 7:49 am     Comments (9)

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Theo Confections

Theo Chocolate is a new company that makes fair trade, organic chocolate from bean to bar (and bonbon) right in Seattle. Think about it ... they start with the raw materials and create not only the chocolate but go on to craft the fine ganaches and couveture - all without the use of pesticides, hormones or chemical fertilizers and giving the cacao folks a fair price for their beans. There are very few chocolate makers out there that do that, anywhere in the world, let alone here in the states. The only one that even comes close in the bean to bonbon arena Michel Cluizel in France.

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I got to try just about everything Theo Chocolates makes at the Fancy Food Show last month including their Confections Collection.

Earl Grey - a beautifully smooth ganache with a rich and dark blend of tea and bergamot flavors in equally rich chocolate.

Ivory Coast - the essential chocolate truffle, dark and smooth with a buttery feel that helps with the woodsy and bitter notes of the chocolate.

Peanut Butter & Jelly - yes, right next to the most upscale of all chocolate expressions is the PB&J except this peanut butter is a praline (kind of crystallized) with a raspberry fruit paste to die for.

Fig Fennel - this has to be the homerun hit of the entire box. Not just because it’s so wonderfully flavorful, but because I’ve never had this combination in quite this way before.

Mint - it’s like it was muddled just for me only moments ago ... the mint tastes that fresh.

Peanut Butter - like the PB&J, this one has a peanut butter praline that’s not sweet at all but has a wonderful woodsy, nutty crunch to it. A little dry.

Scotch - exceptional with its savory smoky notes like tobacco and leather mixed in with the butter and raisin notes of the chocolate.

Burnt Sugar - I’ve had several of these now, the effect is rather like a light creme brulee, with all the flavor of the crusty sugar top and all the creaminess of chocolate and heavy cream in the truffle.

Lemon - the white truffle of the pack, it’s really lemony without being sticky white-chocolate sweet. It has both the tangy notes and the zesty flavors.

Vanilla - very vanilla, with little flecks of it in the ultra-smooth ganache and an overall bourbon note.

(I shared this box with my husband and he ate the Ginger truffle.)

These might be my new favorite chocolates, if only they were easier to get a hold of. I’ve not been to the factory, so I don’t know if you can just go in there and buy singles (or a whole box of one flavor). No compromises ... that’s what it’s all about. It’s still a guilty pleasure, but fewer things to feel guilty about.

I also have a complete assortment of their bars that I’m working my way through, so stay tuned for the reviews of those.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 12:38 pm     CandyChocolatierReviewTheoChocolateCoffeeEthically SourcedMintsOrganicPeanuts9-YummyUnited StatesComments (8)

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Soubeyran Array

Soubeyran ArrayThis is just an excuse to brag about a great recent gift that I just finished consuming. It was a gift box of Arnaud Soubeyran treats. It featured an assortment of nougats, chocolate covered almonds and marzipan. (I dropped some heavy hints about this in the holiday sales post.)

The large, flat box displayed the candy to great effect. The box itself is pretty nice too, a red linen with the Arnaud Soubeyran logo only lightly embossed on the front.

If you recall, I fell in love with the Soubeyran Nougat de Montelimar last year.

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There were three different kinds of nougat here. The first was the plain with lavender honey, almonds and pistachios. The second is the same covered in dark chocolate. The third is orange covered in milk chocolate. The classic and dark chocolate were fantastic, as usual. I love the small, individually wrapped pieces. The orange was a bit too sweet for me, the milk chocolate wasn’t really chocolatey enough for me but the idea of orange nougat is pretty compelling. I’m not saying that I didn’t like it well enough to eat them all, I’d just have the others before and after.

DSC08259The other item in the assortment worth mentioning are the chocolate covered almonds (Olivettes). The almonds were crisp, fresh and crunchy. The chocolate was good quality and not too sweet. The olive colored one was a “white” chocolate on the outside and dark chocolate on the inside. I thought they were pretty sassy looking and ended up putting them in a jar just so I could admire them before I ate them.

The last element in the box were two rows of marzipan called Calissons. They were pretty little leaf shaped wedges of firm marzipan with a bit of sugar glaze on them. I found them tasty, if a little dry. They didn’t taste like poison quite as much as most other marzipans do to me, so I might consider that a plus. My husband enjoyed them quite a bit, so I felt a little better that I was sharing.

You can get an assortment of these nougats sans extras from ArtisanSweets.com (scroll down to the Montelimar Nougats Gift Bag) for $11. Yes, it’s expensive stuff. I really shouldn’t have been sharing it.

Name: Assortment by Arnaud Soubeyran
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Arnaud Soubeyran
Place Purchased: gift (thanks Ruth & Emil!)
Price: unknown
Size: unknown
Calories per ounce: unknown
Categories: Chocolate, Nougat, Nuts, France

POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:05 am     Comments (7)

Monday, February 26, 2007

Snickers Dark

Snickers Dark in PackageI’d heard that this Limited Edition Snickers Dark bar was out several months ago, but as usual, it took a while for me to find it. (At the 7-11.) While Hershey’s seems to have a blanket method (“change everything in everything”) for Limited Editions, Mars seems to take a very measured approach to them, sticking to simple little changes. I doubt we’ll see a Wild Cherry Milky Way or Twix Caramel Espresso (though that sound pretty good, come to think of it).

The Limited Edition versions by Mars usually have either changed one ingredient or left one out. The most recent one was the Snickers Xtreme, which had no nougat. This one is just a plain old Snickers with a dark chocolate coating.

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I’m a big fan of Snickers, though I rarely buy them. When I do, I find them so substantialicious that I can’t finish it in one sitting. It’s a big bar at 2.07 ounces.

The Dark however, is only 1.83 ounces.

It’s a good bar. I found the dark chocolate tasty, it tastes like actual dark chocolate ... it’s creamy, a little dry a little smoky and is able to hold up to the peanutness of the bar. The darkness of the chocolate is less sweet than the regular bar and actually supports the true peanut flavors much better. However, the dark chocolate does overpower the caramel. The caramel texture still comes through, but the salty sugar notes are completely lost. I don’t think that’s such a bad thing.

I think this is an excellent change up of the tried and true Snickers and I think I could see myself buying this far more often than the regular Snickers. I really hope they consider making this a permanent part of their repertoire.

David at CandyAddict reviewed it and found it too chocolatey.

Name: Snickers Dark (Limited Edition)
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Mars
Place Purchased: 7-11 (Hollywood)
Price: $.89
Size: 1.83 ounces
Calories per ounce: 137
Categories: Chocolate, Caramel, Nougat, Peanut, United States, Mars, Kosher, Limited Edition

POSTED BY Cybele AT 6:55 am     Comments (25)

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Leonardi Cioccolatini

I hinted heavily after Christmas to my husband (well, via the blog anyway) that I was pretty keen on trying some of the sale items from Dean & Deluca. He came through with every one of them. This is the Leonardi Cioccolatini Aceto Balsamico di Modena (Chocolates with a glaze of Balsamic Vinegar from Modena).

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Balsamic vinegar seems like a new thing to throw in chocolates and I’ve had a few of them now. Often they’re quite tart or acrid, I don’t think the acidity of the vinegar always goes well with chocolate. These came in a pearly paper tube with a sealed plastic bag inside holding the individually red mylar wrapped pieces. They smell of smoky chocolate and carnations.

imageThese are generous two bite pieces. The outside shell is a nice mild bittersweet chocolate that holds a wonderful dense creamy classic truffle center (there are eggs in here).

The balsamic vinegar is not overwhelming, instead it provides a smooth sherry-like background. A little sweeter but also with a slight almost alcoholic bite.

These are really good.

They were originally $42 but are still on sale at $10.50 for the 8.8 ounce container. (Mine are good until March 13, 2007 ... as if they’ll make it to the end of the week.) This might be the deal of the season for Valentine’s Day.

Name: Chocolates with Balsamic Vinegar
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Leonardi
Place Purchased: gift (Dean & Deluca)
Price: $10.50
Size: 8.8 ounces
Calories per ounce: unknown
Categories: Chocolate, Italy

POSTED BY Cybele AT 7:49 am     Comments (3)

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Recipe: Peppermint Stick Layer Cake

This was my traditional birthday cake throughout my teen years: The Peppermint Stick Layer Cake. My mother came up with it as a way to use up the remaining candy canes from Christmas but it’s a great cake to make any time of year. The whipped cream is lighter tasting and less sweet than a buttercream or sugar frosting, but you’re free to create your own adaptation with your favorite frosting recipe. When the cake is well chilled it’s almost like an ice cream cake.

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I like mine as a four layer cake because it means that the ratio of whipped cream to cake is about equal.

Ingredients:

2 8” Round Chocolate Layers (I make mine from Devil’s Food cake mix - use any recipe or mix you like)
1 pint of heavy whipping cream (well chilled)
1/2 cup of crushed peppermint candy canes (or starlight mints)

Allow your cake layers to cool completely before assembly.

Whipped Cream

Chilling is essential to great whipped cream. I make mine using a two bowl method.

Take a large pasta pot and fill the bottom with ice and then a bit of water. Fit a mixing bowl over it (I have a lipped bowl that fits inside my pasta pot well). Make sure the ice water mixture comes up to at least 1/3 of the side of the mixing bowl.

Pour in your pint of whipping cream. Add a dash of salt.

Whip using an electric mixer or whisk well.

At about the halfway mark (when the whipped cream starts to hold its shape) start adding your crushed peppermint candy.

Continue to whip and taste as needed.

I prefer my whipped cream a little less sweet but your mileage may vary depending on how chunky your candy is and how sweet you want it. Be prepared to add between 1/4 to 1/2 cup of crushed candy. If you want it really minty, add some peppermint extract. If you want it really pink, add some red food coloring.

Assembly

Once your cake layers have cooled, make sure that they are flat (cut off any mounding).

Either cut carefully or use dental floss to split each of the layers into two. (I’ve found cutting them easier if the cake is frozen.)

Place first layer on cake plate. Mound some whipped cream on layer and spread evenly.

Place next layer on top of that, repeat with as many layers as you have.

Frost top. Depending on how generous you’ve been with your whipped cream, you can also ice the sides, I kind of like being able to see all the layers without it being cut.

Dust the top with some remaining chunks of candy canes or whole starlight mints. Don’t add them until you’re ready to serve, they get a bit runny after about an hour in the whipped cream.

Chill cake if you’re not serving immediately. You can even freeze it and serve it that way.

Other variations:

● Use Cinnamon Candies instead of Peppermint
● Use white cake instead of chocolate
● Use a square cake pan and divide in half both in height and width to create stack
● Sunset magazine featured a Candy Cane Cake too, they used a bundt shaped Angel Food cake, which means no layers. So as a whipped cream delivery device it’s sadly lacking. But if you’re looking for, you know, a balance and perhaps something that’s not quite as fatty as eating a half a pint of whipped cream yourself, then go for it!
● Make cupcakes and use pastry bag to fill them with minty whipped cream and then frost them with it as well

Related: How to make Candy Cane Sugar and 33 Things to do with Leftover Candy Canes

POSTED BY Cybele AT 7:43 am     CandyRecipesReviewChristmasChocolateHard Candy & LollipopsMints9-YummyComments (14)

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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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