These candies contain alcohol in more than just a minute quantity. Candies that are simply flavored like an alcoholic drink are not included.
Thursday, January 8, 2015
Combining spirits with chocolate is pretty common. There’s a new genre, though, the combination of brewed drinks added to chocolate. I picked up the Guinness Luxury Milk Chocolate Caramel Bar at an after Christmas sale, when it was only $1.49 for the Ireland-made bar.
I’m not a beer drinker, as I don’t care for very bitter things, so Guinness has long been on my list of things that I don’t drink. Guinness is a dry stout introduced in Ireland in 1759. It’s quite dark and has a very distinctive look and long history.
Flowing caramel skilfully handcrafted in small batches, flavoured with GUINNESS and set in a creamy milk chocolate shell to create a unique bitter sweet chocolate experience.
So, as is the case with most alcohol-infused chocolates, the stout is mixed with the caramel, not the chocolate itself.
The bar is nicely crafted. It’s a long bar, with domed segments. The indentations between the segments are pretty thin, so my bar was broken in several places, but along those margins. The good news is that the caramel does not enter those segment breaks, so it didn’t become an oozy mess.
It smells distinctly of beer and milk, which really isn’t a pleasant smell in itself, only by association with pleasant experience with actual beer products. The yeasty notes reminded me more of bread, which is a nice combination with chocolate. The milk chocolate is quite sweet, though smooth and a bit on the fudgy side. The caramel filling dominated the flavors, though.
There’s not a lot of caramel in there, but certainly flavorful stuff. It’s the flowing kind, with bready, malty flavors and a definite bitter hop note that wasn’t too distracting. There’s a smidge of salt, but not a lot of toffee or toasted sugar.
I’m curious to try their Guinness Fudge, if it’s done with a lot of butter, because I think the yeasty flavors might go well. I’ll pass on the beer, caramel and chocolate here, though. It’s just too sweet, which is exactly what I wouldn’t want with beer.
Tuesday, December 9, 2014
During early December, Trader Joe’s becomes a hotspot for decadent hostess gifts. In the store I frequent, there is a table with just gift boxed confections and gift samplers by the dairy case. Many of the items featured are new and quirky treats, but some are tried and true classics.
Since I’m on a cherry cordial kick, I did pick up the Trader Joe’s Chocolate Liqueur Cherries which feature a real boost of alcohol (4.4%). They may not be available in all states, as some areas have stricter alcohol laws. I think you need to be over 21 to purchase these in most places. (Even though you’d need to eat the full 14 ounce box to get the same amount of alcohol as you’d find in a beer.)
The ingredients are quite decent: it’s 49% cacao dark chocolate (with no added dairy fillers) and a filling made of sugar, alcohol, a full cherry, corn syrup and cherry juice. There are no artificial flavors or colors ... and it appears to be vegan. They’re made in a factory that also processed milk, peanuts, almonds, walnuts and hazelnuts. There’s no statement about gluten and it does contain soy.
The box is serviceable, with some sort of faux wood grain design on the front that verges on old west instead of elegant Christmas gift. The tray inside is plastic, but because it’s metallic gold along with the gold foil wrapping, it’s a good presentation at that point.
Once the box is open, though, it’s hard to carry it with one hand without tipping the contents out ... but at least they’re wrapped in foil, so they’re easy to retrieve.
They’re small, at about 12 grams each and about 55 calories.
I found the easiest way to eat these is pretty common. I turn over the little hemisphere and pry the bottom off with my teeth eat the chocolate coin. Then sip the cherry syrup cordial and then eat the soaked cherry with the chocolate in one bite.
In this case the cherry cordial syrup is not quite sweet and has a light acidic note, probably from the cherry juice. The alcohol has no clear attributes of its own, except that it burns a little bit and gives the effect of cough syrup at times. The chocolate is passable - sweet and with some woodsy/brownie notes to it. The cherry at the center was usually small, but crunchy and chewy.
I enjoyed these since they were less sweet than others I’ve been sampling. I don’t know if I’d buy them again, I’d probably stick with the Brandy Beans if I have a hankering for alcohol filled chocolates. I applaud Trader Joe’s for making a reliable product, though, with good quality ingredients with no preservatives (well, sugar and alcohol are preservatives) or artificial colors. It’s certainly more expensive than the others I’ve profiled from Cella’s and Queen Anne, but you’re getting more real ingredients instead of preservatives and colorings ... and pretty gold foil.
I’ve purchased liqueur chocolates before, and I have to stress that you can’t freeze them (don’t leave them in the car overnight if you’re someplace cold) and they will eventually evaporate so they should be eaten within 1 month of purchase, especially if you’ve taken off the plastic overwrap.
Tuesday, January 7, 2014
In my candy swap late last year with Kristian of CandyBrain.de in Germany, I got a few unexpected treats. This Milka Amavel Konkitorei Schokoladen Torte was among them.
I appreciate how easy to find and inexpensive Milka is, but for my tastes it’s too sweet and relies too much on tropical oil laden fillings than actual cacao content. Fun for kids, but not necessarily the decadent treat I’m usually willing to pay the import premium for.
The Milka Amavel, if Google translate is to be trusted, is Loose cocoa cream on fine chocolate cake, covered with delicate Milka Alpine milk chocolate. I’m going to guess that loose cocoa cream (Lockere Kakaocrème) is actually something along the lines of a chocolate mousse (going with the alternate meaning of fluffy instead).
Inside the box are two individually-wrapped pieces. They’re 60 grams each (about 2.12 ounces). They’re thick, chunky squares of about 2.5 inches. It’s a weird size, because it’s more than a single portion, but less than two.
The domed pieces are nicely made, nicely molded with six sections and some little drizzly effects on them. They do smell rich and cakey, like brownies.
The bite is soft, inside is a base of a sort of dry cake base and a chocolate cream. There’s an immediate note of rum; I did notice the ingredients listed Alkohol, so I wasn’t surprised. The effect of the different textures is great. The cream of the filling makes up for the dryness of the cake and the rather fudgy Milka chocolate, with its note of hazelnut, does a good job pulling it together.
So, even though I said one piece was more than one serving ... I ate it in one sitting.
Nicely done, Milka. I have no idea if these are available in the United States, but you may see them in airports as Kraft (or Mondelez) is doing a pretty good job of getting these into gift shops in larger metro airports.
Contains milk and lactose, eggs, nuts, gluten, soy plus alcohol. No statement about other allergens like peanuts.
Friday, April 26, 2013
One of my favorite items I picked up for Candy Blog review early on were some chocolate sticks from Japan. I thought their packaging was so clever and chic, I’ve been hoping to find them again. (Mostly I find they package their chocolate in little squares like the US.)
I was excited to see Meiji Dark Rum Milk Chocolate on eBay, so when my friends Robin & Amy were going to Japan, I put it on my wishlist. I got two boxes, which is good, because I ate the whole first box before even doing this review.
The box has a curious design, featuring a cut crystal goblet with rum as the main element below a medallion with the name of the candy. I’m not that familiar with how to serve rum straight, as I usually mix it, but in a goblet or even a more petite appertif size would still not be the way I’d go. (I’d probably serve it in a snifter or a lowball.)
Inside the box, each stick of chocolate is in a little individual wrapper. The box is not really full, they’re loosely packed in there and the whole thing weighs barely more than an ounce, so there’s no way to overindulge here.
Most of the package is in Japanese, so I can’t say for sure what the weight actually is but the figure 2.2% is mentioned on the front, I’m guessing that’s the alcohol content ... and there is real alcohol in here.
The sticks are three inches long and an ideal size (about 3.3 grams) for a very light treat.
One of my favorite candy bars is the Ritter Sport Rum Trauben Nuss, which also has real rum in it. This is a bit more pure, as it doesn’t have any fussy nuts or dried fruit in it. The sticks have a soft bite to them, this is not a dense or intense chocolate, though the rum notes are quite apparent when I opened it.
The chocolate has a quick and oily melt, a smooth and slick texture and a strange warm and cold sensation all at once. The oils in the chocolate (I suspect there are some other tropical oils in there) give it a cooling effect on the tongue, but the rum has a sort of warming effect on my throat. The chocolate isn’t very strong, it’s not terribly sweet and has a well rounded woodsy and milky profile.
I like my rum dark, I go for blackstrap because it has more of the smoky and toffee flavors. The rum here was more medicinal, more light, not quite smooth.
It’s not a candy for everyone, I find them pretty indulgent and a little weird, but I also enjoy rum balls.
Friday, February 3, 2012
While in San Francisco I made sure to pick up some chocolates from Michael Mischer Chocolates which is based in Oakland. I’ve been to the shop before and have picked up both bars and bon bons. But it’s about time I did a full review.
For All Alcohol Week, I have Michael Mischer Kentucky Bourbon Whisky Truffles which is a set of six dark chocolate truffles filled with a soft bourbon infused ganache and dusted with cocoa.
The box is simple, just a set of truffles in fluted cups sealed up with a transparent plastic top. If I had one complaint, it was that most of the truffles touched the lid and got a little smashed against it. It didn’t break the shell, but did make smudges on the lid and take off some of the cocoa.
The truffles are exquisitely formed and picture perfect. The dusting of cocoa was exactly the right amount. It coated the surface, but not so much that it came off on me as I ate it. It was like a coating of velvet.
The center is a soft but not quite flowing ganache. It’s almost like a pudding, it was thick and rich with a silky melt. The bourbon flavors were not as strong in this truffle as some of the other alcohol infused confections I’ve had this week. The bourbon flavors are well rounded, a little on the rummy side with notes of leather, vanilla, toffee and cedar. The chocolate is also excellent, some of the best chocolate of all the confections I’ve had with the alcohol. It was dark, a little bitter, absolutely slick and smooth on the tongue and well matched with woodsy and coffee notes to the bourbon.
Michael Mischer Chocolates are available in a few locations in the Bay Area and on the web. His assortments are interesting, with a lot of influences from Asia and classic confectionery with a little bit of an amusing American twist with flavors like Root Beer. Like most fine confections, they’re pricey. There’s no statement on the website about the ethical sourcing of the chocolate itself, but Mischer notes that he uses only the finest premium beans, many sourced from the Americas, not Africa where slavery issues still exist.
Thursday, February 2, 2012
While in San Francisco for the Fancy Food Show, I was introduced to Twice the Vice Spirited Chocolates at a PR event called Food Fete (photo).
The confections are made with Callebaut chocolate from Belgium with an extra helping of premium spirits. In fact, there’s so much alcohol in there that they can’t be sold to folks under the age of 21 and are prohibited in most states.
I got to try about six different varieties while chatting with the founder and chief chocolatier, Craig Boreth. The two varieties I have for review are from different chocolate collections.
The big selling point with these infused chocolates is the specificity of the spirits. For example, it’s not just Scotch, oh no, the Single Malt collection has The Macallan 12 Year, Glenlivet 15 Year, Lagavulin 16 Year and Tomatin 18 Year.
The Glenlivet 18 Year Single Malt Scotch is a lovely piece. I like that they’re clearly marked on the tops. (Well, they’re clear when you’re sober.)
They’re very large pieces, probably 1/3 larger than I’m accustomed to these days. (1.25” square and .75” high and about .7 ounces.) That’s not a bad thing, think of them as the generous pour.
The ganache is creamy and soft at room temperature. That helps the aromatics and volatiles come to the nose much quicker. The first notes I got were smoke and a lot of leather. There are also some rather unpleasant aspects of the smoke that I notice, a little like burnt broccoli. But that’s Scotch for you. There’s a lot of vanilla and a little touch of honey as well. It’s an intense piece of chocolate and really does warm my throat, without the searing medicinal heat that straight Scotch can provide.
The Chocolate Martini bonbon is from the The Chick Drinks Collection (gah, what a terrible name) and features vodka and chocolate liquor in the rich chocolate ganache. The Chicks collection is all about those sweet things that are so popular on Sex and the City and reality shows. The others in the box would be Cosmopolitan, White Russian and Margarita.
It’s a nice looking piece and as far as a chocolate it’s quite good. The alcohol was much more sedate and the filling had a lot of chocolate notes. Part of it was a strong vanilla as well as a sort of chocolate frosting flavor, like it was a flavoring (probably a chocolate liqueur) instead of the actual chocolate. The texture is wonderfully smooth and mercifully less sweet than an actual chocolate martini. There’s still the light burn of alcohol in the back of my throat from it.
They’re a little on the pricey side (the equivalent of $71 a pound for their small box) and I’d suggest that they have a short shelf life, since alcohol tends to evaporate even from chocolates within about 3 months. The source chocolate, Callebaut, can be purchased by chocolatiers with certifications about sustainability and ethical standards, but there was no indication on the website about that type of sourcing.
The other current collections are The Kentucky Bourbon Collection, Top Shelf Spirits Collection and The Classic Cocktails Collection. The cocktails don’t interest me much, but the idea of going with high quality chocolate and then infusing it with distinctive Bourbons and Scotch Whiskeys is quite intriguing. From my tastings at the event, I really could tell the difference between the flavor profile of a 16 and an 18 by different makers. If you’re looking for a gift for Valentines or really for anyone that enjoys the hard stuff, this might be the thing. Just be sure to check if they ship to your state.
Tuesday, January 31, 2012
This Zotter Scotch Whisky bar has everything that I would want in the perfect decadent candy bar. It’s made by Zotter in Austria from fair trade, bean to bar chocolate. The ingredient list is mercifully short and virtually all organic with more than a smidge of Scotch Whisky (9%).
The things that make it hard to give the bar my fullest recommendation would be how difficult it is to actually buy it (I picked mine up while in Germany) and when purchased in the US, it’s rather expensive at about $6 to $8 for the 2.47 bar. (There’s also a little bit of a question about one ingredient, fructose-glucose syrup, which sounds like high fructose corn syrup, though since it’s organic it’s not from GMO sources.)
I’ve had a few Zotter bars over the years and have read plenty more reviews of their products as well. They have a weird twist to a lot of their flavors, some that I think work well in unexpected ways, and others that seem strange simply for the sake of it. I’m talking about combinations like Coffee-Plum with Caramelized Bacon or Cheese-Walnuts-Grapes to just a little unorthodox like Pear Cardamom to the downright unthinkable like Cornelian Cherries and Pig’s Blood. Think of them as the Jones Soda of fair trade candy bars.
The bar is the same format as all the others I’ve ever had. It’s about 5 inches long and about 2.3 inches wide. It’s not a thick bar but it is filled. They call them hand-scooped bars but they’re rather angular and always rectangular. This bar is enrobed, which is my preferred construction method. (My second favorite is panned, third is molded - that’s the kind of lists Candy Bloggers keep.)
The full name of the bar on the front is Scotch Whisky “Highland Harvest”. There’s no other information on what kind of Whisky it is. The bar is glossy and has the slightest ripples across the top. The chocolate is 70% for the shell, the center uses the same but with he addition of the whiskey, milk, cream and fructose-glucose syrup.
It smells a lot like Scotch, leathery and smoky with notes of vanilla, tobacco and of course the deep cocoa flavors.
The coating is thin, but still has a bold flavor, a smooth melt and woodsy flavor profile with a touch of coffee notes. The center is like a truffle, soft and with a silky melt. It’s barely sweet, with more than a touch of salt to it as well. The whiskey is quite evident, with a light burn on the tongue and throat. There’s a dryness and sort of acidity to the filling that’s unlike the profile of the chocolate in the coating. The leathery and smoky notes are strong and for some, probably, repulsive. I enjoy the pipe tobacco flavors to it, the mix of vanilla, red berries, oak and a touch of black walnut.
I loved the bar. It’s completely decadent and I found it difficult to eat more than a third in one sitting. The 9%alcohol is pretty intense, too. I would buy this bar again, most definitely. I think I prefer Zotter’s more traditional formulations. I like their spirit though I don’t care much for the pork products in my chocolate, even if they’re not in this particular bar. (I know, I’m a hypocrite since I eat gummis, which also contain gelatin.) I haven’t been able to find Zotter bars in Los Angeles, so there’s little hope of these becoming my weekly habit.
Monday, January 30, 2012
On my trip to Europe last month I was eager to see what sort of interesting candies were at the airport shops. I departed from Stuttgart, Germany late enough in the morning that the stores were open. (My layover in Paris was a bust, as I had barely enough time to get from one terminal to the other, go back through security and only glance at the Maison du Chocolat kiosk and buy two macaron at the Lauderee cart.)
Even though I was in Germany, there were quite a few varieties of Fazer confections. Fazer is a huge Finnish brand that’s also available in the United States. The sets there were rather reasonably priced boxes for 5.95 Euro (a little less than $8.00) that held about 11 ounces. They had a mix called Geisha, which was themed with lots of Japanese elements but had little milk chocolates with various hazelnut and almond fillings. The other mix was of the classic Fazermints and the third was the one I chose to buy for review: Fazer Liqueur Fills Vodka. I figured Finland is known for Vodka, so this should be something they do well.
It’s a long box that was nicely textured and looked like a good size and shape for gifting but easy enough to tuck into my carry on luggage (I left lots of room in case I saw things at the airport.)
The box has a lid to it that lifts to reveal a perforated opening sealed with plastic, so they’re well protected from evaporation. It’s kind of like poking out that little piece of cardboard on a tissue box. The pieces are individually wrapped in color coded mylar.
The Vodka Liqueur Fills Chocolates come in three flavors: Original, Cranberry and Lemon-Lime.
Inside the mild dark chocolate shell is an inner grainy sugar shell and then a full liquid vodka syrup filling.
Each piece is long and nicely formed. They’re not quite shiny but still well tempered and all were in good condition. However, I noticed the longer I went after opening the package the more likely it was that the underside would be a little dented as the alcohol filling had evaporated.
It’s like a little geode. The chocolate shell cracked well, usually uniformly where I bit it. I liked to bite off a little bit of the end, keep it tipped up so that I could sip out the vodka instead of eating it all at once. The inside of the chocolate was lined with large sugar crystals.
The vodka filling is not very strong, though certainly the real thing. The sugar lining keeps the vodka from leaking out.
Cranberry is sweet and fragrant without any hint of tartness of actual berries. The sugar inner shell is grainy and extremely sweet. The vodka is a little syrupy but also doesn’t have the throat burning bite of full proof alcohol. I liked this one least of all.
Lemon-Lime is mild. It doesn’t have a lot of zest or any bitterness, it’s just lightly citrusy and vaguely generic.
Original is slightly medicinal, like there’s a touch of gin in there. It’s okay, sweet but at least in this version the chocolate flavors come through. I liked this one best, though it seemed I had the fewest of these in the assortment.
For the most part, I found the sugar shell to be far too prominent. It was grainy and sweet and distracted from the other textures and flavors. I’ve had plenty of other alcohol filled chocolates, and I don’t think any had this much sugar by proportion. I’ll finish the box, but I don’t see myself buying these again. It might that I prefer an liqueur that’s more distinctive than vodka, as I do enjoy brandy beans and other flavored liqueurs. I also wanted better quality chocolate. As you’ll see in the other reviews this week, what alcohol does well is help reveal the flavors in good dark chocolate. It does nothing for mediocre chocolate.
As a little bonus review, I picked up a handful of Fazer’s classic Fazermint while at the Fancy Food Show in San Francisco, since I’ve never reviewed them before. They’re a simple candy. It’s a dark chocolate shell with a flowing fondant with a light touch of peppermint. I had six of them and tried photographing all of them by biting into it and taking a photo. In all instances I only ended up cracking the thing into sticky pieces. So take my word for it, there’s a flowing white filling, like a Junior Mint. The chocolate is better than a Junior Mint though not fantastic either. The mint is fresh and it’s not all too sweet. It’s really only a one bite item, so it’s a good little treat after a meal or with coffee or tea.
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.