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All Natural

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Surf Sweets Gummi Swirls

Surf Sweets Gummy SwirlsSurf Sweets has been making fun candies that are also mostly organic and made from non-GMO ingredients for years. What’s fun about them is that other than the ingredients, they don’t look like a compromise to kids. They’re fun shapes and flavors and even the all natural colorings don’t look faded and suspicious.

The Gummi Swirls area also fortified with vitamin C (no big deal there, lots of candies are) and 100% of the RDA of calcium.

Hmm, calcium? That’s stuff tastes pretty nasty sometimes.

The package doesn’t mention it, but these little gum-drop-sized candies come in three flavors: orange, strawberry and cherry.

Surf Sweets Gummy Swirls

The little pieces are truly lovely. The white background color and the little swirls are then graced with crunchy granulated sugar.

The bite is firm, they’re not quite gummis (they’re vegetarian, so actually contain no gelatin, think of them more like jellies or gumdrops since they use fruit pectin) but chewy. The flavor is good, not overly tart or sweet but also not terribly intense. They’re simply nice. There’s a bit of a creamsicle vibe to them, a slight creamy background to the flavor. If I let them dissolve a bit on my tongue I was getting that hint of chalky grain that antacids can have. (But pop & chew and it’s not at all detectable.)

My only real complaint is that I can’t tell the cherry from the strawberry. If they’re different colors, I’m not wise to the subtlety. (Maybe one is cream with pink strips and the other is pink with cream stripes.)

I really like this brand, they’re obviously more expensive than the mass-manufactured options, but the ability to buy without artificial colors and the fact that they don’t look “special” to kids must be a huge relief to parents who keep their kids on a more restricted diet. Surf Sweets has also started making smaller packages (.9 ounces) for lunches, party favors and Halloween treats.

Related Candies

  1. Sunkist Fruit Gummies
  2. Organic Zootons
  3. Shigekix Aha! Brain (Citrus)
  4. Florida’s Natural Sour Fruit Juice String
  5. Adora Calcium Tabs
Name: Gummy Swirls
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Surf Sweets (Surf Sweets)
Place Purchased: sample from Surf Sweets
Price: retail $1.75 a bag
Size: 2.75 ounces
Calories per ounce: 85
Categories: Jelly, United States, Organic

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:33 am     Comments (3)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Ghirardelli Luxe Milk

Ghirardelli Luxe MilkGhirardelli Chocolate introduced their new Luxe Milk line of premium milk chocolate late last year. I started seeing it on store shelves in last fall, especially at Cost Plus World Market, which usually has a great selection of both their bars and the bags of the squares.

I already tried the Luxe Milk Crisp late last year while on my search for the ideal crisped rice bar (it’s pretty good!).

Now I have a full bag of the Premium Assortment which includes Milk Chocolate, Milk chocolate with Almonds, Milk Chocolate with Hazelnuts and the Crisp.

Ghirardelli Luxe Milk Collection

The package explains how Ghirardelli is different, because they control all steps of production, from bean selection, roasting, refining and conching. I’m pretty sure even subpar chocolate goes through controlled steps ... just that the raw materials and standards are a little different.

The all natural formula for Ghirardelli’s Luxe Milk does sound promising: sugar, whole milk powder, cocoa butter, unsweetened chocolate, soy lecithin and vanilla.

The color is creamy and light, much lighter than I usually take my coffee with cream.

The scent is less like chocolate and more like caramelized sugar and meringue (a kind of toasted protein smell).

The bite is rather soft, but not as fudgy as lesser chocolate such as Hershey’s.

The flavor is, well, quite milky. The texture is very smooth and silky and the melt is creamy. However, the flavor has a distinct dried milk taste to it. There’s also a little sour tang to it, not as pronounced as Hershey’s but certainly it leans towards that end instead of the hot chocolate flavors of Dove or Nestle’s Milk Chocolate. The saving grace is that they’re not overly sweet or cloying.

I’ve had quite a few of these squares over the past few months, starting with some sample squares at the Fancy Food Show and I have to say that I don’t care for it much. It worked very well with the malty notes of the Crisp and the texture is certainly great.

Rating: 6 out of 10

Ghirardelli Luxe Milk AlmondWhile I might not have enjoyed the plain milk chocolate, I know that nuts can often completely change the flavor profile of a chocolate bar.

The Luxe Milk Almond has crushed almond bits in it. The square is a bit thicker and it’s actually bigger than the plain square (.528 ounces versus .375).

The almonds are pretty big and do go well with the milk flavors of the chocolate. The smooth texture is highlighted well by comparison. The nuts have a dark roast to them so the toasted almond flavors come out well and stand up to the strong dairy component.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Ghirardelli Luxe Milk  HazelnutAmerican made chocolate bars with hazelnuts in them aren’t easy to find. The Luxe Milk Hazelnut comes with a green band on the wrapper to set it apart from the others.

This piece is also .528 ounces. The hazelnuts are wonderfully toasted and have that grassy and buttery crunch to them that goes so well with milk chocolate. No hint of stickiness.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Overall, I like the fact that someone is paying attention to milk chocolate, which has a rather bad rap as being some sort of starter chocolate instead of valid gourmet confection. The plain isn’t my style, but certainly not bad quality ... but it’s also possible that I’m just not a plain chocolate persons ... most times I feel like a nut.

Related Candies

  1. Ghirardelli Holiday Squares
  2. 3400 Phinney: Fig, Fennel & Almond and Hazelnut Crunch
  3. Ritter Sport White Chocolate with Hazelnuts
  4. Lake Champlain Hazelnut Eggs
  5. Dagoba Hazelnut
  6. Ghirardelli Squares
Name: Luxe Milk: Plain, Almonds & Hazelnuts
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Ghirardelli
Place Purchased: samples from CandyWarehouse.com
Price: unknown
Size: 22.38 ounces (50 squares)
Calories per ounce: 149
Categories: Chocolate, Nuts, United States, Ghirardelli, Kosher, All Natural

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:37 am     Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Das Lollipops

Das Foods LollipopsDas Foods which is already known for their cute little caramel morsels has expanded into the gourmet lollipop market. (Did you know there was a gourmet lollipop market?)

Their initial offerings are petite pops that look suspiciously like ordinary lollipops you’d get at the doctor’s office after bravely taking an injection without crying or biting the nurse.

These, however, are made in decidedly grown up flavors and with all natural ingredients.

Naughty GingerNaughty Ginger - Ginger & Lemon

This amber pop looks rather blah, like an all natural candy usually does.

It doesn’t mess around though. It didn’t smell like much, kind of like lemon, but maybe like tea. The first sensation I got when putting it on my tongue was a zap of ginger. Spicy. The tangy lemon entered and brought its companion bitterness with it (I guess that’s the naughty part, bitterness is like a lack of gratitude but sometimes a reminder of what we have).

It was a cross between a cough drop and a ginger hard candy. The spicy feeling on my lips, tongue & throat lasted quite a while.

The ingredients are pretty impressive: sugar, rice syrup, citric acid, crystallized ginger pieces, citric acid, lemon oil, natural ginger extract

Fab-O-PomFab-O-Pom - Orange & Pomegranate

Unlike many pomegranate candies, this is just a light and natural pink, like a garden rose. It smells rather woodsy - like tea in a sandalwood or cedar box.

The flavor is tangy and bit like a mellow cherry or raspberry. But then the orange kicks in. Instead of the juicy flavor it’s all about the zest here. There are little bits of orange zest as well, they give it a less than smooth melt on the tongue but also vibrant pops of flavor.

Caramel Me HappyCaramel Me Happy -Salted Caramel

This dark brown pop was opaque. It smells a bit like a bowl of brown sugar - just lightly toasted.

The texture is just a smidge less smooth but the caramelized sugar flavors come out right away. It’s a little salty and not very sweet overall. The butter or cream components are missing ... so it’s more like a brulee topper for me than an actual hardened caramel. But that still kept me happy.

For an all natural hard candy, they are extremely expensive. Right now the variety pack is going for $3.99 for 4 ounces on the Das Foods website. (Each pop is about a half an ounce and there are 8 in the package. So they’re $16 a pound or 50 cents per pop.)

If you’re going through morning sickness or have motion sickness problems, the ginger pops are an excellent option. The caramel pops are a nice take on the hardened caramel, I appreciated that they weren’t too sweet. The orange & pomegranate didn’t thrill me, but I think I was detecting more bitter citrus oils than most folks probably would. I don’t mind it at first, but it does leave a weird taste in my mouth.

In addition to the flavors reviewed here there’s also one called Man Bait which is Bacon & Maple. (I gave it to Amy, who thought it was pretty tasty, much more on the maple & smoke side and not much else from the bacon ... for the record she’s one of those people who doesn’t like her syrup to get on her bacon.)

Expensive but certainly unique. If you’re going for really vibrant flavors and all natural ingredients, these may be a great option. They’re certainly a fun impulse item at a cafe or gift shop but I don’t think I’m crazy enough about them to buy a whole box.

Related Candies

  1. Hammond’s All Natural Lollipops
  2. Melville Candy Company Honey Spoons
  3. Jelly Belly: Lollibeans
  4. Yummy Earth Organic Pops
  5. College Farm Organic Naturepops
Name: Das Lollipops: Naughty Ginger, Fab-O-Pom & Caramel Me Happy
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Das Foods
Place Purchased: samples from Das Foods
Price: $3.99
Size: 4 ounces
Calories per ounce: unknown
Categories: Caramel, Lollipop, Ginger, United States, All Natural

POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:23 am     Comments (2)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Gimme Calcium

Gimme CalciumOne of the new products I was keen on trying that appeared at ExpoWest was Gimme Calcium.

It’s marketed as candy with benefits in this case a bit of fortification with 500 mg of calcium. The candy balls are also made with all natural ingredients, so no artificial colors or flavors.

The package is rather large considering the amount inside. The wrapper is over 6.5” long, that’s an inch longer than an M&M package (so think of this like a King Sized pouch) but only holds one ounce. (However, when I talked to the folks who are just starting up the company, they designed the bag before knowing exactly how big & heavy the portions would be and will probably alter this during their next production run of wrappers.)

That said, I think the package design is nice - it’s bold & seems friendly and appealing.

Gimme CalciumThe candies are the size of a small malted milk ball. The shells are a muted beige, a little on the grey side (again, all natural colorings).

The candy is made of a crisped rice center surrounded by milk chocolate and then a hard candy shell. There are 10-12 per bag.

The most noticeable flavor at first is the cereal notes of the rice then there’s a bit of milky flavor from the chocolate. The chocolate flavors come across as a kind of cocoa breakfast cereal. The calcium part is completely undetectable. Not a hint of unusual graininess, no weird mineral aftertaste. I find it hard to believe that I’m getting half my daily RDA of calcium ... but that’s what it says. They’re sweet and definitely crunchy ...

My only hesitation with them is availability and price. Right now they’re for sale on place online (healthysnackstore.com) and are about $1.70 a package when sold by the dozen. It’s far cheaper to just down Tums for the calcium. However, if you have a kid that you need to get that extra calcium into or are an adult who just needs a little help with boosting your mineral intake the caloric hit isn’t even that bad because of the scant portion size - only 130 calories a bag. I felt pretty satisfied ... and strong.

Related Candies

  1. Goldie’s Premium Carob Bar
  2. CocoaVia Bars
  3. Choco-Omeg
  4. Figamajigs
  5. Adora Calcium Tabs
Name: Gimme Calcium
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Brightspot Brands
Place Purchased: samples from ExpoWest
Price: $1.66 online
Size: 1 ounce
Calories per ounce: 130
Categories: Chocolate, Cookie, United States, Kosher, All Natural

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:05 am     Comments (2)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Sunspire Coconut Bars

Sunspire Coconut barsAt the same time I bought the Sunspire Peppermint Pattie, I also picked up both of their Coconut Bars.

Sunspire makes premium candy with all natural ingredients, nothing artificial. In my experience with their products they tend to use evaporated cane juice instead of refined sugar and often use unsulfured molasses as a sweetener. They also eschew genetically modified sources so most of the products I’ve seen use a rice syrup when needed instead of corn syrup. Besides the malty, earthy flavor that molasses usually adds, I have no problem with sweet & satisfying candy being made from these elements.

Add to that Hershey’s decision to move manufacturing of Mounds, Almond Joy and York Peppermint Patties to Mexico, I thought it’d be cool to find an excellent American-made substitute for folks who want to buy more local. (Though in my case Monterrey, Mexico is a bit closer than Hershey, PA.)

Milk Chocolate & Almond Coconut BarThe Coconut Almond with Premium Milk Chocolate bar looked fabulous. It’s pretty beefy, a wide slab clocking in at 1.75 ounces.

Instead of the two piece style of Almond Joy or Bounty this is a long, one-piece bar, a bit thinner. The rippled milk chocolate enrobing is glossy and appealing.

The almonds in this bar are not whole ones popped on top like Almond Joy, they’re crushed & mixed in with the moist coconut flakes.

Milk Chocolate & Almond Coconut Bar

I didn’t really see the almond bits in there, but the color was a bit more on the cream-colored side than the dark chocolate & no almond version (see below.)

The bar smells pleasantly like coconut and unpleasantly like Hershey’s Milk Chocolate often does - a bit gamey & sour ... rather like baby vomit.

But I pushed on, because I actually like the taste of Hershey’s milk chocolate, even though I can’t take the smell of it for very long.

The flavor of the milk chocolate is tangy, it’s like acid reflux but in the convenience of a pre-packaged bar. It’s terrible. I can’t eat it. I tried several times, it’s just too awful for me to stomach. (I even waited a couple of days, just in case I was the one who wasn’t feeling well.)

Then, as some sort of deja vu, I lured Amy into my office to try it. (Remember, not only does Amy have no problem spitting things out, she also has a hate-hate relationship with Sunspire’s Sundrops.)

I understand personal preferences for certain flavors, it’s rare for any candy product to induce a verified gag reflex.

Rating: 1 out of 10

Dark Chocolate Coconut BarBut to get back to the happy hiatus of Sunspire mistrust that was the Peppermint Pattie ... an unrelated bad night’s sleep and I tried the Coconut Premium Dark Chocolate.

It’s a simpler bar, just a firm coconut center, lightly sweetened and some dark chocolate enrobing.

The enrobing on this one looked similar, though there were a few bloomed spots. As the expiration date was March 2010, I felt pretty safe eating it.

The chocolate is slightly bitter, not extremely creamy but has its own decent flavor. The center is firm and chewy, more like an uncoated coconut bar than something soft & moist like a Mounds.

This tastes like no compromise candy. All natural ingredients, not organic but at least not genetically modified or overprocessed. The ingredients are vegan however they were made in a plant that processes wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs and soy. Kosher.

The price is a bit steep and to be honest, if I’m going for a candy bar when at Whole Foods or similar stores, there’s very little that could pry me away from the Q.Bel wafer bars. But if I was in the mood for coconut, the dark bar is notable.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Related Candies

  1. Atkinson’s Coconut Long Boys
  2. Regional Flavors: Key Lime, Pina Colada & Huckleberries
  3. Kisses Coconut Creme
  4. 100 Grand Coconut
  5. Mounds Island Orange
  6. Cup-O-Gold
Name: Coconut Almond Bar (Milk Chocolate) & Coconut Bar (Dark Chocolate)
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Sunspire (nSpired Natural Food)
Place Purchased: Henry's (Laguna Niguel)
Price: $1.25 (on sale)
Size: 1.75 ounces
Calories per ounce: 149
Categories: Chocolate, Coconut, Nuts, United States, Sunspire, Kosher, All-Natural

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:13 am     Comments (6)

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Compartes Chocolates

Though I wouldn’t call Los Angeles a candy city, we certainly have our share of sweet spots. I’m more likely to go to San Francisco for candy adventures than the west side, but after promising for several years I finally made it to Compartes Chocolatier to pick up some items for Candy Blog.

Compartes Assortment

This wasn’t actually my first visit to the Brentwood shop, but certainly the first one in this century (I was a D-Girl in the 90s and my office was not far from there). I had to see the place since the new generation, Jonathan Grahm expanded the classic line of stuffed fruits & novelty molded chocolates with truffles & ganaches with inventive flavor combinations.

The shop is compact but has a lovely display area on the wall of the chocolates and the main counter that appears to be divided in to two areas: classic offerings and modern. (My distinctions, not theirs.) They serve gelato so there are a few tables inside and out front. (For those who follow Compartes on Twitter, I did spot Jonathan at his laptop tucked in the corner at one of the tables.)

Compartes Ginger Medallions & Orange Peels

The classic products are sold by the pound (as fruits & nuts tend to come in various sizes) while the truffles & bonbons are sold by the piece. The classics were $35 a pound and the bonbons were $2 each. I left the shop with $50 worth of chocolate in one rather large & heavy box.

Classic Chocolates

Compartes Glace Fig in Dark ChocolateChocolate Dipped Glace Fig

The fig is glossy is and sticky. It looks like a light fig (green) like a Kalamata. I prefer black figs (Mission) mostly because they have darker flavors ... it’s like the difference between golden raisins & regular raisins. It’s very sweet at first, the figgy flavors are tangy, a little grassy from the seeds with some raspberry & floral-like green tea flavors. The dark chocolate offsets this well, especially by bringing in the creamy melt.

It’s definitely show-stopping beautiful. Best eaten fresh & quickly.

Compartes Candied Orange Peel Dipped in ChcoolateCandied Orange Peel dipped in Dark Chocolate

These tiny little fingers were wonderfully shiny on the peel edge. It was all peel, too, cooked in sugar syrup to a light and translucent tenderness - no trace of acrid & foamy white pith. The dark chocolate looked silken brown. Each piece was a combination of bitterness from the orange oils and dark chocolate, vibrant zest and sweet citrus & cocoa flavors. The texture was chewy & a buttery creaminess. Perfection.

Hazelnut & Orange in Dark Chocolate (not pictured)

These were simple little dark chocolate cups that could have easily been coconut haystacks. I was hoping that the combo of the chocolate & nuts with those awesome orange pieces would work ... sadly the whole thing tasted a bit “cheesy” and I couldn’t figure out why ... something about the hazelnuts lacking their nuttiness. I’ll pass on these in the future.

Compartes Ginger Medallions

Ginger Medallions

The ginger coins are tender and soft, a bit juicy. With citrus notes and a warm woodsy burn, the sweet candied ginger goes well with the bittersweet chocolate that has a slightly dry finish. There’s no trace of sugary grain here, it’s more of a smooth jelly texture. Beautiful to look and and expertly made.

I would buy a pound of these. Ginger is a root vegetable, right?

Compartes Assortment

Modern Chocolate

Mexican Hot - (skull & crossbones)

A strong mix of cayenne & black pepper notes in dark chocolate. The ganache is smooth while the dark chocolate flavors are woodsy with a slight tannin to go with the earthy pepper flavors.

Compartes Classic Dark Chocolate Truffle

Original - (blue stripes)

I try to buy these wherever I go. It’s always good to try the base for everything else. The chocolate enrobing was perfect, the little design on top was cute and easy to remember. The dark chocolate flavors were mild, the ganache was very buttery with a good smooth and quick melt.

Vanilla & Black Pepper - (stripes with dots)

I should have taken a photo of this, I didn’t realize it would be a white cream center until I bit into it far from the camera. The immediate hit was of vanilla and butter, in a cupcake sort of vibe. Then the peppercorns kicked in, giving the vanilla more of a rum & woodsy moderation. Rather sweet, but with a lingering brightness from the pepper & vanilla pods.

Jasmine Tea (pink flowers & blue lines)

The dark chocolate takes a back seat to the strong & musky floral notes of the jasmine. The tea adds a little pop of acidity to it that gives a fresh lingering feeling to this. The ganache is silky smooth and not too sweet.

Blackberry & Sage (blue & purple square mosaic)

The blackberry is a dark and jammy flavor with a light tangy touch, the sage brings it back around with an herbal splash - a bit on the strong side, so much so that I’m not sure I’d know that it was blackberry without a key. Still, a sage truffle is great.

Compates Candied Fennel Chocolate

Candied Fennel

This little ganache center was topped with some lightly candied (glazed) fennel seeds (instead of the brightly colored candy shells that most of us are familiar with). Fennel on its own has a light sweetness and anise flavor. These brought out the dark licorice and molasses notes of the chocolate. Smooth and satiny with a curious fibery crunch from the seeds.

Compartes Lavender Marshmallow

Lavender Marshmallow in Dark Chocolate

Yes, it’s a bit jarring to see that bright lavender center. The marshmallow was moist, fluffy but dense. Sweet but not sticky, it had a good bite. The flavor was woodsy & floral - but a bit odd combined with the chocolate. The whole thing reminded me of bug spray ... though not in a bad way, just that the floral notes weren’t quite as balsam-ish as I’d hoped.

Compartes Coffee & Cacao Nib and Coffee Chocolate

Coffee & Cacao Nib and Coffee

The ganache in this pair is flavored with real coffee, so there’s a slight grain to the otherwise silky center. The flavor was good, rich & bold. I liked the crunchy nibs but I’m not that fond of eating coffee beans when it messes up the texture of well-tempered chocolate.

Compartes - Fleur de Sel Caramels (milk & dark)

Fleur de Sel Caramels

I’ve made it pretty well known that I favor “wet” caramels, that’s the chewy stuff that has a good stringy pull and long, smooth chew. These were the “short” caramel style and have a strong butter flavor. I wasn’t fond of the texture, which was a cross between fudge & caramel and the lack of toasted sugar notes.

Compartes - Exotics

Shichimi - (the spice dusted one) this is made of seven spices: red chili pepper, roasted orange peel, yellow and black sesame seeds, Japanese pepper, seaweed, and ginger. The spices here angle towards the toasted sesame and chili peppers. I didn’t get much citrus out of it. The whole thing kind of left my lips burning, but the chocolate & fatty ganache balanced it well. The only issue here was that the spices kind of got out of their cup and I caught a few of these flavors in the other chocolates I ate.

Smoked Salt - (square with black crystals on top) delicate and light chocolate ganache with an earthy & metallic aftertaste to the salt. I’m beginning to think that I don’t care for smoked salts. Often they remind me of a campground in the morning, that lingering scent of a fire gone out mixed with damp sleeping bags from the morning dew & coffee made in an aluminum pot.

Cashew Fruit - (gold sphere) - this wasn’t a ganache but a bit of gooey cream center, kind of like a runny creme brulee. The flavor was a bit like green bananas. Smooth, a touch of grassy brightness and sweet milk.

Compartes Candied Orange Peel Dipped in ChcoolateI loved the classic items. I’d go back and buy the orange peels (some of the best I’ve ever had), figs (though I’d like to have some candied figs too) and ginger medallions in a heartbeat. I thought the price was really competitive and fair ($30 when sold in full pound boxes) for a line that is so labor intensive and requires top quality ingredients.

The truffles & bonbons were good and I enjoyed some of the flavor combos and of course the plain one. The price was a bit higher than I’m willing to do for such small items unless they’re particularly unique. The great option though is that it’s a fun shop to visit, they’re very knowledgeable about their products (they’re made right there, after all). They also have a line of African-themed bonbons called Chocolate for a Cause that are made with African-sourced flavors (mango, coconut, cardamom, plantain, grains of paradise, red rooibus tea). They’re a fundraiser for Relief International and their projects in Darfur and include a bead bracelet. After getting emails about these for year and pretty much going there to pick up a box ... they were sold out.

If I’m in the area, I will definitely visit again. The bonbons change constantly as new produce comes into season & Jonathan experiments with new combinations so I give them a 7 out of 10. I’ll probably continue to taste the bonbons but will go home with the fruits/ginger so they get a 9 out of 10.

Compartes Brentwood Boutique Chocolate Lounge
912 South Barrington Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90049

310-826-3380

Related Candies

  1. Pete’s Gourmet Confections: Marshmallows
  2. Valerie Confections: Pour Homme and Pour Elle
  3. L’Artisan du Chocolat
  4. Valerie Lemon Hazelnut Nougat
  5. Chuao Chocolatier
  6. K Chocolatier
  7. Jacques Torres
  8. Boule Chocolates and Fruit Pate
Name: Candied Fruits & Chocolate Bonbons
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Compartes Chocolates
Place Purchased: Compartes (Brentwood)
Price: $50.00
Size: approximately 22 ounces
Calories per ounce: unknown
Categories: Chocolate,Caramel, Coffee, Ginger, Marshmallow, Nuts, United States, Chocolatier, All Natural, Los Angeles

POSTED BY Cybele AT 8:30 am     Comments (8)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Hammond’s All Natural Lollipops

Hammond's All Natural LollipopsThey say we eat with our eyes first. If there’s one candy that capitalizes on our attraction to bright and shiny things, it has to be lollipops.

I love lollipops in the sense that I love looking at them, I like buying them and I enjoying having them. But I’d have to guess that I only eat about half of the lollipops I ever have.

Part of it is that lollipops are simply hard candy. And I’m pretty sure that most people don’t actually like hard candy ... in the sense that they’d be willing to pay three times as much for it simply because it includes an inedible holder with it. But this is part of the amazing enigma of lollipops.

Hammond's All Natural Lollipops

If I were a sculptor, I would probably wish to make things of spun, twisted & boiled sugar.

If I were to have my wedding all over again today, I’d probably just carry a bunch of lollipops instead of a bouquet of flowers. (Or maybe some of those wondrous flowers made from sugar.)

At the moment though I just take photos of lollipops when I get a hold of them.

Today, however, I’m also eating them.

I have a set of Hammond’s Candies All Natural Lollipops.

They’re made without artificial flavors or colors and are hand crafted. They come in a variety of flavors, I have six that I’m going to profile

These are the middle-sized pops - they’re one ounce each and about two to two and a half inches across. (Honestly, I think some of these were more than generously oversized.)

Hammond's All Natural Lollipops

The pops feature thick wooden sticks and are wrapped simply in little cellophane bags with a sticker on the back that lists the flavor, ingredients & nutritional info. The front is all about the look of these hand-crafted medallions.

Cross Section of Strawberry LollipopStrawberry - magenta/red background with orange & cream stripes. (cross section above of broken pop)

The ropes of candy are built in layers, at the center is a slightly aerated hard candy center. The outer layers are smooth and for the most part “clear” boiled sugar candy. The slight aeration of the core means that it’s very easy to crunch & chew it up and has no noticeable voids. It also means the the candy has a slightly lighter feel to it than I think I would have guessed just looking at it.

The flavor is light and bright - a touch of tartness but mostly a floral berry flavor like cotton candy.

Pomegranate - satiny cream background with pink/red stripes.

This had a very light floral flavor at first, all sweetness on the outside. The core, though, has a bit of a yogurty tang to it and a mellow cherry flavor with a stronger pop of sourness towards the end. It’s not a very intense flavor - just a light and rather nondescript berry note. It’s more like a fruit punch and is an overall positive.

Hammond's Cherry LollipopCherry - alternating large stripes of bright pink and medium red with a small strip of cream between.

This was a big test for me, because for the most part I don’t like cherry flavored candies because I don’t like the aftertaste of the most commonly used red food coloring, Red 40.

The outside was sweet and has a little toasted sugar flavor to it. The interior has a nice, zesty sour pop to it along with the cherry flavor. It’s not the dark, black cherry flavor - more like a cherry pie note. I’d call it positive and definitely has no weird poisonous aftertaste. Call it a win for cherry haters.

Peppermint - deep red with a series of amber stripes inside cream bands.

The coloring on this one wasn’t what I would have picked out of the bunch as the mint flavored one.

The mint flavor is clean and crisp - fresh and cooling with a long-lasting aftertaste. The texture of the candy is a little odd at first. The outside is smooth and with few voids, but can be kind of sharp if you break or crunch it.

Hammond's Pear Lollipop
Pear - satiny light green with cream stripes (with inset green stripes)

Most of the pops at this point I was eating by breaking them first, eating the pieces and then whatever was left on the stick. For the Pear, which was just slightly smaller than the others, I ate it whole.

The outer layer was mild & sweet and had a light orchard fruit scent. In this case the center is the same ... kind of like an apple kissed toasted marshmallow. For the most part I love fresh pears but have never cared for pear flavored candies ... but this isn’t very “pear-flavored” so I give it a thumbs up.

Lemon - yellow bands with cream mini stripes

The outside is zesty but just a kiss of sweetness to it. The center is only slightly tangy. The whole thing reminds me of the flavor combination of a lemon bar. It’s not going to burn holes in my tongue, so I’ll definitely eat the whole thing.

The size of these pops was just a smidge too large for placing in the mouth whole. The texture and smoothness of the outside & inside meant that they were both interesting and pleasant from start to finish. In most cases the outside & inside also offered different flavor variations, which was a good feature to offer when selling at a premium price. They also come in a huge variety of sizes, from this one ounce version to a 4 ounce (saucer) to a full pound (dinner plate).

When not in “review mode” I found that these were definitely an all day sucker for me. The price is a bit steep - at about $2.50 to $3.00 per pop (depending on where you buy them). I’ve seen these at department stores around Christmas (in cinnamon!), at Cost Plus World Market (they also have Root Beer, but I don’t think it’s all natural) plus upscale candy shops and of course on the internet at CandyWarehouse.com, NaturalCandyStore.com and direct from Hammond’s.

Hard candy has its place, it’s durable and can be packed with flavor or just sweet comfort. Mostly it’s an amazing concoction because it can be beautiful.

To finish this off, have a look at how they make some of their hand-crafted creations:

Related Candies

  1. Melville Candy Company Tea Spoons
  2. Hammond’s Pantry Candies
  3. Disneyland Candy Novelties
  4. Peeps Lollipop Rings
  5. Miette Patisserie
Name: All Natural Handmade Twist Lollipops
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Hammond's Candies
Place Purchased: samples from CandyWarehouse.com
Price: retail $2.50-$3.00 each
Size: 1 ounce
Calories per ounce: 120
Categories: Hard Candy, Mint, United States, Hammond's Candies, Kosher

POSTED BY Cybele AT 2:53 pm     Comments (8)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Madelaine’s Foiled Milk Chocolate

Madelaine Milk Chocolate PopsOne of the great balancing acts of candy is making it appealing as well as affordable.

As a kid I experienced many disappointments with candy that fell on both sides - candy that cost too much, but mostly candy that was no good (no matter what the price). I think the biggest candy category that has this issue is foil covered chocolates.

Think about how many times you’ve gotten a chocolate coin and thought it was far better just to keep it than to eat it ... because of all those times when you peeled back the beautifully stamped & shiny metal to find a piece of sweet & greasy mockolate.

Madelaine's Milk Chocolate PopsBack when I started Candy Blog I discovered Madelaine Chocolate Novelties via their cute & tasty poker chips & mint meltaway playing cards.

Their entire line of chocolate confections is extensive, built on a strong foundation of stunningly pretty items as well as some interesting innovations like celebratory color palettes of malted milk balls and realistic looking chocolate coins.

All of their products are Kosher (made in Rockaway Beach, NY) and some are all natural: including the little milk chocolate pops pictured here.

In the case of these cartoon animal pops, they’re quite simple. They’re .375 ounces each, plain milk chocolate on a stick.

The flavor is mild and sweet. The chocolate is quite firm and has a good snap. This means an easy and crisp bite. It’s not a lot of candy, so it’s a decent looking treat for a kid but not so much that it’d spoil anyone’s dinner.

Madelaine Milk Chocolate ButterfliesBut my favorites when it comes to Madelaine’s is to look at all their foil wrapped molded chocolates. Especially for anyone who’s planning a party ... it is wedding season, right?

They have a huge selection, not just for Easter (and their rabbits & egg array is huge): hearts, daisies, coins, balls, stars, medals, bells, poker chips, crayons, fish, bees, beetles, cars, cigars, leaves & lips.

These Solid Milk Chocolate Butterflies are huge. Each is a half ounce and measures 1.5 inches across, 1 inch wide and a half an inch high. They come in a variety of colors (they package them in these little 35 piece tubs as well as smaller sleeves).

image

The molding is lovely, the detail on the little butterfly is quite nice, with a little depth to it (because it’s such a massive piece). They’re unlikely to chip or break because of the brick-like ratios.

The chocolate for these is not in the all natural line (because they use vanillin instead of vanilla). The melt is smooth & creamy, soft & silky on the tongue. There’s a bit of a malty overtone and some light European dairy flavors unlike the American style. It’s a little darker tasting and not quite as sweet as the all natural version.

I find the chocolate extremely pleasant, very munchable and of course beautiful to just have sitting in front of me before I eat it. The foil is nice and thick as well, easy to peel off (and fold too, if you’re one of those origami at the wedding reception people).

As a party favor or something to keep in an elegant candy dish, these are an excellent option. I’ve seen these sold at upscale delis, both as single pieces for about 75 cents each or in the little tubs for about $20-25. They’re a bit more expensive, but then again it’s the kind of chocolate that adults actually want to eat, so for that I consider them a very good value.

Related Candies

  1. Molasses Pops
  2. Hershey’s Bliss
  3. Plain and Fancy Laces
  4. Caffarel Figs & Chestnuts (Fico & Castagna)
  5. Rabbit Change
Name: All Natural Milk Chocolate Pops & Solid Milk Chocolate Butterflies
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Madelaine Chocolate Novelties
Place Purchased: samples from All Candy Expo & CandyWarehouse.com
Price: varies
Size: 1.5 ounces & 17.5 ounces
Calories per ounce: unknown
Categories: Chocolate, United States, All Natural, Kosher

POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:58 am     Comments (4)

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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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These candies will be reviewed shortly:

• 10 Candies that Shouldn’t Be So Disappointing

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