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All Natural

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)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Seeds of Change: Dark Chocolate with Mango and Cashew

Seeds of Change 61% Dark with Mango and CashewsLong before Hershey’s got into the organic chocolate act by buying Dagoba in 2006, Mars bought a small organic & heritage seed company called Seeds of Change in 1999. Since then, Seeds of Change also became an organic food company (sauces, grains & frozen meals) and launched a line of organic chocolate bars.

Seeds of Change is dedicated to preserving food diversity and promoting organic growing techniques and food worldwide, and cacao is definitely one of those plants that needs that sort of nurturing. In addition to using organic ingredients they also donate 1% of their net sales to advance the cause of sustainable organic agriculture worldwide. I tried their bar called Isle of Skye last year, which I thought was an excellent and noteworthy crisped grain in milk chocolate bar.

Seeds of Change 61% Dark with Mango and CashewsThis year, while browsing ExpoWest, a natural & organic products trade show in Anaheim, I found out that Seeds of Change has shifted their product line. They changed the names of their bars, dropped a few of them and added some more classic versions (a plain dark chocolate bar, for instance) and also redesigned all their packages. (I did love their previous wrapper images.)

I was excited to see the new package, which is a wallet style paperboard package with three individually wrapped bars inside. Perfect for portion control, great for keeping all pieces fresh and excellent for sharing. The three bars in a reclosable package may look familiar ... Dove introduced it last year.

The Seeds of Change version has little plastic wrapped bars instead of foil.

I picked their 61% Dark Chocolate with Mango and Cashew as the intro to this new look & product line.

Seeds of Change 61% Dark with Mango and Cashews

The little bars are nicely molded, shiny and with a crisp snap. They’re scored into four pieces - the whole bar weighs only an ounce.

I like the thickness of it, as it allows a nice bite and a slow melt of the bar.

The dark chocolate is smooth and silky, it has a quick melt and a lot of cocoa butter feel on the tongue. Unfortunately it’s not a vegan bar, there’s milkfat in there.

The flavors are pretty simple. It’s rich coffee & woodsy flavored chocolate, a little bit of dark charcoal and then some grassy notes of the cashew pieces. The little dried mango bits are a little fibery but pack a powerful punch of tangy chew - kind of orangy-citrus with a hint of peach and green tea.

The little inclusions are rather small. The cashew pieces weren’t big enough to be crunchy, which is too bad, because I think the buttery crunch of cashews would really bolster this bar.

As it is, the shining star here is the chocolate followed by the mango notes. Aa good, fun taste combination.

The complete list of products in their line is now: Milk Chocolate (43%), Milk Chocolate with Puffed Grains (formerly Isle of Skye), 61% Dark Chocolate, Dark Chocolate with Cherries & Vanilla, Dark Chocolate with Coconut. It’s an interesting array because besides the plain chocolate, the flavors are different from the usual offerings when standing in the chocolate bar aisle. I’ve seen Seeds of Change at drug stores (Long’s Drugs in California). Oddly enough, Seeds of Change also just sent me some of the other new bars, so I’ll have reviews of those soon, too.

In recognition of Earth Day, Seeds of Change is running a contest (deadline July 21, 2009) - submit you video, photo or essay to tell the world what you’re doing to make a difference.

The Grand Prize winner will receive 365 days of Seeds of Change(r) Organic Chocolate, plus a variety of our other Seeds of Change Organic products. The runner-up will receive a sampling of Seeds of Change Organic Chocolate and our other Seeds of Change Organic products.

I buy their sauces and think they’re very tasty and usually well priced for organic products.

Related Candies

  1. Chocolate Dipped Altoids - Creme de Menthe
  2. Organic Zootons
  3. 3400 Phinney: Fig, Fennel & Almond and Hazelnut Crunch
  4. Zotter Candy Bars
  5. Terra Nostra Pocket Bars
  6. Green & Black’s Ginger Chocolate
  7. Dagoba Hazelnut
Name: 61% Dark Chocolate with Mango & Cashew
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Seeds of Change (Mars)
Place Purchased: sample from ExpoWest
Price: retail $3.50 a bar
Size: 2.99 ounces
Calories per ounce: 140
Categories: Chocolate, Nuts, United States, Mars, Kosher, Organic, All Natural

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:01 am     Comments (5)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Gourmet Gumdrops

Gourmet Gumdrops (Whole Foods)This tall tub of Gourmet Gumdrops at Whole Foods simply looked too good. (Here’s a photo of an in store display.)

Part of it might have been because they’re huge. Over an inch in diameter and an inch high, these are mega gumdrops.

And the flavors listed were just as compelling: pomegranate, acai, grapefruit, Meyer lemon, key lime and tangerine.

The price, well, that had me vacillating. The 18 ounce tub was $5.99 ... a great price for an all natural chocolate product, but a bit much for an all sugar candy.

Oh, but the flavors ... grapefruit gumdrops! So I bought them.

The ingredients are pretty simple: Corn syrup, sugar, corn starch (modified - non GMO), natural flavors, malic acid, sodium citrate, citric acid, colored with vegetable extracts (red cabbage, paprika, turmeric), freeze dried acai powder.

Whole Foods Gourmet Gum Drops

I had trouble counting when I took the photo and didn’t notice the difference between the acai and pomegranate drops, so only one is represented here.

The texture of the drops is great. They’re very heavy for their size, quite dense. They have a soft give, but not quite the same bouncy texture of a gummi. The outside is a small grain sugar (not the larger grain that I think most of us are accustomed to with gum drops). Inside, the bite is smooth, the texture of the drop is even ... not super sweet but definitely more intense than most mass marketed brands.

They’re not as firm as something like Dots - more like Chuckles, so even though they do stick a bit in the teeth, it’s not a solid mass, they’re soft and a little drink of water washes away the bits. (Or you know, follow your dentists recommendation and brush after eating.)

Key Lime (colorless) - I have a word for this! It’s fresh. Biting into it is like rubbing the rind of a fresh lime. The flavor is both tart and sweet, not at all bitter. It’s not quite a key lime texture (which is a little dusty and dry) but the flavor is practically perfect.

Meyer Lemon (yellow) - very zesty, almost to the point of melting me with its caustic oils but still a really vibrant piece of flavor. I loved these, but they burned my tongue if I ate too many. And I kept eating too many.

Tangerine (orange) - though this one is the most stereotypical of the lot - it’s part Tang juice drink and part orange zest, it was still one that I pulled out to eat first.

Whole Foods Gourmet Gum Drops (and a regular one)Grapefruit (pink - shown with red regular gumdrop) - peppery and zesty, abrasive oils with a bitter component. Tangy and complex and maybe even a little salty.

Pomegranate (magenta/purple - not shown above) - raspberry and balsamic vinegar. Sweet, sticky with a low bitter afternote. A little high sour bite.

Acai (darkest purple) - cloying, dark and soapy. A little bit violet with a hint of concord grape. There’s no tang or tartness to it. My experience with acai is rather limited.

Each gumdrop weighs about 13 grams (.46 ounces) and has about 47 calories.

I found two different packages of these. The first, as shown above was a big tub. Then yesterday I realized that I didn’t have all flavors for review (I shared my big tub and friends picked out the citrus flavors) so I went back and bought some more. This time they were in the short tubs sold by weight with a generic deli label on them. At least I was able to just pick up a half a pound and compare the different packages to get ones that had fewer of the purples.

These are really great gumdrops. They have the smooth, soothing texture the gives flavor from start to finish. The texture is similar to Turkish Delight, but has a more full bodied flavor that includes more than the fragrance & zest. The colors and shape are appealing and of course the all natural thing is great - I like to taste my fruit flavors, not artificial colors. The price is steep, but then again the Pate de Fruit that I like to pick up every once in a while is more expensive, so these are a nice middle ground.

They appear to be vegan though not peanut/nut free and there’s no statement about gluten.

Related Candies

  1. Russell Stover Pectin Jelly Beans
  2. Jelly Belly Sunkist Citrus Mix
  3. Harry & David Fall Leaves Fruit Gels
  4. Dots Elements: Earth, Air, Fire & Water
  5. Jelly Belly - All Natural
  6. Black Ace Licorice
  7. Organic Surf Sweets
Name: Gourmet Gumdrops
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Whole Foods
Place Purchased: Whole Foods (Glendale)
Price: $5.99
Size: 18 ounces
Calories per ounce: 102
Categories: Jelly, United States, All Natural

POSTED BY Cybele AT 8:55 am    

Monday, April 13, 2009

Scharffen Berger Dark Milk (68%)

Scharffen Berger Dark MilkWhen I first tried Scharffen Berger, years before I started Candy Blog, I didn’t like it much. Granted, all I’d tried was their Semisweet, but I found it rather bitter and acrid, a strong sourness that just didn’t have those qualities that I love about chocolate. 

But over the years the Scharffen Berger product line has grown and I have found some superb products among their line that I really enjoy, such as their Chocolate Covered Cacao Nibs.

For years I’ve spent time trying to love what other people love. But most of it is just not for me. Until the Nibby bars came along.

First it was the Nibby Dark Chocolate with Roasted Cacao Nibs (62%). I never reviewed it. The 62% base was rather sweet and melted a bit thin but the nibs are crunchy and have a great nutty and buttery crunch. I still prefer the panned nibs, which are much less sweet by proportion (they also use the 62%) and of course so spectacularly shiny and cute.

Scharffen Berger Dark MilkThen in 2007 I met the Milk Nibby Bar. This was a chocolate bar that was also food. Malty, mellow, caramel notes, a smooth and sticky chocolate background with the crunchy nibs. It was the perfect lunch.

I didn’t think anything ever needed to replace it, top it, or even compete with it.

Then at the Fancy Food Show in January I was walking by the Scharffen Berger booth. I’ve had mixed experiences there and usually just glance over things and move along to other booths. Instead I got a warm welcome and was urged to try their new Dark Milk 68% Cacao.

Oddly enough, it’s not a bar I would have been interested in if I were buying. I already liked the Milk Nibby. What I didn’t know was that the Dark Milk actually has nibs in it too! (Why that’s not really mentioned on the package is beyond me.)

Scharffen Berger Milk Nibby and Dark Milk

Shown above is the Milk Nibby (41%) on the left and the Dark Milk (68%) on the right.

I wanted to compare it to the Milk Nibby and the Dark Milk. One of the things that the wrapper tells me is that the Dark Milk has more fat - 19 grams per serving over the 15 grams per serving from the Milk Nibby (that means 10 more calories per ounce). Sounds like a good start!

As you can see from the photo above, there’s very little difference in the appearance of the bars. The Milk Nibby is only slightly lighter, but if you just handed me one without the other to compare, I doubt I could tell on sight alone.

It doesn’t smell like a milk chocolate bar. It smells woodsy, dark and slightly tangy, a little bit of coffee and a little bit of toffee.

On the tongue though, the milk notes come out pretty quickly. The Scharffen Berger tangy is there, but the milk moderates it. There are some strong bitter elements, they’re dark roasted bitter flavors, like coffee and a sharp cheddar cheese. But there are other nice notes in there too, a sweet toffee, strong vanilla and oak. The malt is not as pronounced as the Milk Nibby bar, but it still makes an appearance.

This is not a morning bar, I think it’s an evening bar. Even though the bitterness lingered, I liked the complex notes and of course the texture. I found myself reaching for pieces of it until it was gone. Every once in a while I do get some bad crunching nibs, ones that seem more like shells than beans (but I find that with most nib products).

I’m still going to stick with the Milk Nibby bar (and just decided to , but this is an excellent high cacao bar for people who probably don’t like high cacao content. But if I can’t find the Milk Nibby, this one will be a more than adequate substitute. I had no trouble finishing the bar.

Related Candies

  1. Isle of Skye Seeds of Change Milk with Crispies
  2. Askinosie Chocolate
  3. Lindt Chocolate Bunnies (Dark & Milk)
  4. Milka Alpenmilch
  5. Theo 3400 Phinney Bars
  6. Equal Exchange: Espresso, Mint & Nibs
  7. Villars Swiss Milk Chocolate
Name: 68% Dark Milk
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Scharffen Berger (Hershey's)
Place Purchased: sample from Scharffen Berger
Price: retail $3.99
Size: 3 ounces
Calories per ounce: 147
Categories: Chocolate, Nibs, United States, Scharffen Berger, Hershey's, Kosher, All Natural

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:32 am     Comments (1)

Monday, March 30, 2009

Bequet Gourmet Caramels

There are some candies I simply eat. Which means that I don’t review them here. This is what I’ve been doing for the past three years or so, eating Bequet Gourmet Caramels without so much as a mention here on Candy Blog. I usually pick them up at a gourmet shop singly but I’ve been given a few by friends and had some samples from trade shows. When Bequet sent me this sample package a few weeks ago, I took it as the signal that I finally needed to photograph & review them.

Bequet Caramels

Bequet are classically made from all natural, fresh ingredients in Montana. They’ve stuck, for the most part, to the tried and true flavors of caramels and package them simply in clear cellophane wrappers. The pieces are about an inch and a quarter long.

Bequet Classic CaramelChewy (caramel tan) - they smell sweet and buttery. The chew is soft, easy to bite (as shown). The pieces can be eaten whole or bitten in half. I found a full one just slightly more than what I wanted at once. The flavor is dark and rich, as they use brown sugar as their base instead of white sugar. There’s no hint of grain to it at all.

Soft (caramel tan) - I can see the appeal of a soft caramel, but Bequet are already soft. This one was a little too soft for my tastes, I like a bit of a chew to mine. The flavor was very good though.

Celtic Sea Salt  (caramel brown) - soft with a strong buttery scent. The salt is present in the form of small crystals that give the candy a bit of a crunch. I found the salt overpowering and far too strong. The caramel seemed a bit softer than the others (except the soft one).

Espresso  (medium brown) - smooth chew, sweet and milky with a slight hint of coffee, which really just makes it less sweet than the others.

Maple  (dark brown) - buttery and sweet with a definite maple flavor. A little softer but extremely smooth. I had to eat this one first, as it was infecting the whole bag with its scent.

Chipotle (caramel tan with flecks) - the smoked pepper flavors emerge slowly. At first it’s just a slight pepper burn, then the smoke emerges ... then the burn gets stronger. I think a more toasted sugar flavor would go better with the charcoal-like chipotle. As a hot pepper confection, it was spicy and flavorful without being painful for me. (I am a wuss when it comes to hot peppers.)

Chocolate  (dark brown) - this one has a mellow cocoa scent to it, a little like brownies. The flavor is rather complex for a chocolate caramel, a little coconut, some hot cocoa flavors and the buttery smooth chew. I was surprised with this one, it’s definitely richer than I would have thought and not at all like the empty flavor of a Tootsie Roll.

Salt Chocolate  (dark brown) - like the Celtic Sea Salt one, this had the little flecks of salt in it and like the Chocolate, it had some coconut flavors as well. It was too salty for me, but I recognize that my tastes are a bit off in that department.

Pomegranate (caramel tan) - I consider pomegranate to be a bit of a novelty flavor and though I like to eat the actual fruit, I realize that beyond a bit of juice now and then, it’s not really a great flavor when compared to something like wild blackberries. This one smelled a bit like raspberries and butter. The flavor has only the slightest bit of tang, a little like yogurt and strawberries with some caramel sauce.

Licorice (caramel brown) - this soft caramel smelled woodsy and fresh, like figs and molasses. The caramel flavors blended well with the light and sweet anise. I enjoyed the fact that these didn’t get the food coloring treatment that so many companies seem to think that licorice products need. This was definitely a star for me.

As far as caramels go, I prefer a slightly stiffer product, but that may be because that’s what I was raised on (see Grandma’s Caramels), and I like the texture of a tough chew. These are soft, pliable and provide an immediate release of flavors.

On the whole, they’re an excellent quality product. Though they’re fresh and artisan, they have a pretty good shelf life of 2-3 months. At about $18.00 a pound, they’re not cheap but they’re also very satisfying so they may last a while. They also have a flexible ordering system so you can get flavor mixes so you can try them all out and later just order the flavors you like in a custom mix.

Bequet Gourmet Caramels are Kosher, no artificial colors, flavorings or preservatives. There’s no statement on the package or their website about any allergens though it doesn’t appear that they make anything with nuts (but could be made in a shared space).

Related Candies

  1. J Morgan Caramels
  2. Cowgirl Chocolates Buckin’ Hot Habanero Caramels
  3. Werther’s Original Chewy Caramels
  4. Das French Salted Caramels
  5. Caramel Previews: Mitchell Sweets & Caramoos
  6. Trader Joe’s Fleur de Sel Caramels
  7. Fran’s Gray Salt Caramels
Name: Bequet Gourmet Caramels
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Bequet Confections
Place Purchased: samples from Bequet
Price: $17.95 per pound
Size: varies
Calories per ounce: 120
Categories: Chocolate, Caramel, United States, Kosher, All Natural

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:29 am     Comments (9)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Sunbursts Natural Mix

Ever since I tried my first candy-coated chocolate sunflower seed, I was hooked. (And I wondered why these haven’t been around all my life.)

Kimmie Candy offered to send me their new varieties of All Natural Sunbursts, including their new dark chocolate version.

Sunbursts Natural Mix Milk Chocolate

Kimmie Candy is rather new to the candy game, founded in 1999, they focus on panned candies. Based in Reno, Nevada (Free factory tours if you’re in the area.), they seem to have found a niche with some novel products and “better for you snacks.”

Their original Sunbursts come in a huge array of colors and are described as a candy coated, cocoa covered sunflower kernels. So yeah, it’s a mockolate product. I’ve had them, and they are pleasant, but I’ve been on the prowl for something that parents can really get behind for their kids.

All Natural Sunburst (shown above) fit that bill. They come in a mix of seven colors which are made from all natural colorings, plus the chocolate coating is real milk chocolate. At the center is a flavorful sunflower seed. Watch a video tour of how they’re made.

The colorings aren’t quite a vibrant as the unnatural varieties, but are definitely eye-catching and don’t feel muted and old like some candies can. The yellow, green and brown are especially nice. The pieces vary in size quite a bit, just like most nuts and seeds do. The shell is sweet and has a light crunch. The milk chocolate imparts a slight dairy flavor but not much of a chocolate punch, just a creamy background. The highlight is the sunflower flavor, which is bright and fresh - I didn’t come across a bad seed in the handfuls that I ate.

Sunbursts Natural Mix Dark Chocolate

Their newest product (not even listed on the website) is Sunburst Natural Mix Dark Chocolate. This blend came with two colors in it, green and yellow. I really liked the combination, as it of course reminded me of sunflowers.

The smell upon opening the package was of brownies, toasty hot brownies.

On the tongue the candies have a slight bitter snap to them, but like the milk chocolate counterpart, the shell is sweet and crunchy. The dark chocolate coating is quite strong with smoke and coffee tones to it - they’re rather intense. The roasted nut flavors come through nicely. But the candy is really different from the milk chocolate variety.

The Kimmie Candy website sells direct to consumers and has some excellent prices (especially if you’re willing to take a chance on their “oops” items). They also make ChocoRocks and other panned candies. The original Sunbursts have a wide variety of package options (single serve to 8 ounce bags) at retail stores. I hope they’ll ramp up production of these and maybe do the snack sized portion package in large bags for Halloween. It might actually make them a trick-or-treat item that doesn’t break the bank but satisfies both picky parents and picky kids.

Michelle G of Candy Addict has a write up of the ChocoRocks & regular Sunbursts with photos.

Related Candies

  1. Short & Sweet: Bites & Bites
  2. Q.Bel Crispy Wafer Bars
  3. Mint Chocolate M&Ms
  4. Sconza Jordanettes
  5. M&Ms Premiums
  6. Organic Surf Sweets
Name: All Natural Sunbursts
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Kimmie Candy Company
Place Purchased: samples from Kimmie Candy Company
Price: $8.50 per pound
Size: 8 ounces
Calories per ounce: unknown
Categories: Chocolate, Nuts, United States, All Natural

POSTED BY Cybele AT 8:39 am     Comments (6)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Amano Jembrana

Amano JembranaAmano introduced one of their most exotic single origin bars early this year with their Jembrana 70%. It’s made only from beans from the Jembrana regency of the island of Bali, Indonesia and surrounding areas.

I’ve tried Amano’s other bars: Madagascar, Ocumare and Cuyagua. I loved the Ocumare (in fact, I love just about every Ocumare bar I come across, the flavor profile of the beans just suits me) and really love the style of the bars & overall quality.

The ingredients are simple: Cocoa Beans, Pure Cane Sugar, Cocoa Butter and Whole Vanilla Beans. I was sampling lot number 3/4/97 with a best by date of October 2010.

No lecithin is listed (though those with soy, peanut & tree nut allergies are notified that this is a share equipment environment).

Amano Jembrana

The bars are always packaged nicely. Amano just changed the boxes slightly, they’re a glossy coated paperboard & feature new artwork. (I preferred the matte stuff, but I understand the need to differentiate on the shelves.) Inside the bar is wrapped in a heavy gold-colored foil. This is great compared to the tissue-thin foil many high-end bar makers use that makes it impossible to re-close.

I found with Amano before that I liked the bars after they’ve aged for a little while. I picked this one up in January at Food Fete (a press event for food writers) but put it away for a month after photographing it.

The bar is wonderfully glossy and well-tempered. It has a slight reddish cast to it and smells of coffee, olive oil, beeswax and wood shavings.

I like the thickness of the bar, it means that the little pieces are thick enough to bite, but not so thick that I worry about hurting myself.

I found it melted quite easily once I popped a piece in my mouth. The immediate flavors were grassy, more notes of green olives and matcha. Then it turned darker, to roasted pecans, toffee, anise and cedar but on the tangy side with some hibiscus in there. There was a definite dry finish to it that brought things back around to the greenness of the flavors.

Overall it’s an intriguing bar. Though it’s dark and complex, it’s not hard to just munch - though the lingering dryness kind of begs for a glass of water or some crackers. This bar certainly keeps me engaged with Amano and I’ll keep trying whatever they put out.

Amano is now Kosher.

Related Candies

  1. Askinosie Chocolate
  2. Amadei
  3. Domori Cru
  4. Malie Kai: Waialua Estate Chocolate
  5. Michel Cluizel Les 1ers Crus de Plantation
  6. Dagoba Single Origin
  7. Single Origin Chocolate
Name: Jembrana 70%
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Amano Chocolate
Place Purchased: samples from Amano
Price: retail $6.95
Size: 2 ounces
Calories per ounce: 145
Categories: Chocolate, United States, Single Origin

POSTED BY Cybele AT 8:48 am     Comments (1)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Short & Sweet: Bites & Bites

I have more candy than I will ever be able to review at my pace of 5-7 products a week. Here are a few items I’ve tasted recently and some notes on them (most gratuitous photos). So here are some small bites of a whole week’s worth of candy. Get ready to scroll!

New Packaging & Marshmallow Size for Plush PuffsI visited with Anne Hickey and the Plush Puffs’ crew when I was at the Fancy Food Show. At closing time they gave me a box of their Vanilla Bean Marshmallows. It’s new packaging for them, which I really like. It’s still spare and highlights the product well.

But what I liked best is that they’ve made the marshmallows a bit smaller. Now they’re 1” cubes instead of the larger version I tried several years ago. This means that when toasted the center gets molten before the outside catches on fire. (There are important physical laws that even marshmallows must obey.)

The box has been sitting next to my stove top and some evenings I’ll toast up two or three for dessert on the gas burner. It makes the house smell wonderful.

(Original review.)

Seth Ellis Chocolatier Candied LemonsSeth Ellis Chocolatier Candied Lemons

I visited a few times with Seth Ellis Chocolatier while at the Fancy Food Show. They had a lovely array of samples, but for some reason I eschewed their truffles and became obsessed with their Candied Lemons.

Seth Ellis Chocolatier Candied LemonsIt’ might be because they’re so beautiful.

Perhaps it’s because of this little nugget from their website, “We candy the freshest organic lemon slices slowly, over twenty-five days, using a traditional European method to preserve the intense lemon flavors.”

The box contains one full lemon slice plus and extra quarter. Special bonus, the packaging is made with wind power (well, that and some tree pulp).

The candying doesn’t make the peel as soft as some others, but then again, sometimes that makes them gummy and flavorless. This definitely has a bitter bite and because the pulp is also still there, it’s quite tangy. The dark chocolate is creamy and also has a woodsy bite to it.

(Website.)

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I must have been obsessed with lemon and lemongrass at the Fancy Food Expo because the other item I knew I had to bring home was L’Estasi Dolce Sweet Ecstasy Lemongrass Ginger Truffles.

Lemongrass is a bit of a strange flavor. I love it in Thai cooking (hot & sour soup especially). It imparts the zesty notes of lemon peel, but it has a soft side to it as well, that I can only compare to bubble gum.

These nicely sized truffles are a real ganache made with lots of real cream.

The center is soft and silky with an immediate soft flavor of lemongrass. Then there’s the warming power of the ginger. The woodsy ginger flavors never come forward, it’s just that little burn in the background. This all combines well with the slight dairy flavor of the cream and the mellow dark chocolate.

Rubicon Bakery CocoaBerriesOne of the Fancy Food Show items I mentioned in my show notes was Rubicon Bakery.

They not only make all natural, wholesome products right here in the United States, their mission is to help people in need by giving job training, jobs placement assistance to work their way out of poverty.

The package pictured here is a mock up used for the distribution of the samples, the real thing is much nicer.

Their Strawberry CocoaBerries may put them on the map even without the amazing backstory.
Rubicon Bakery CocoaBerries

They’re little meringue kisses, a little larger than a Hershey’s Kiss. The center is a crunchy fluffed egg white made flavorful by the addition of gobs of real freeze dried strawberries. To seal in the crispness, they’re dipped in bittersweet Guittard chocolate.

The freaky part about the whole combination is that it’s so tasty & satisfying yet so low in calories. They say that a serving of five is only 90 calories (about 100 calories per ounce, amazing for a chocolate product). So even if you ate a whole box of 15 bites, you’re still under the 300 mark of most king sized candy bars.

SFGate wrote about them last week too, those lucky dogs, it’s a local company for them.

Andes Mocha Mint IndulgenceLest you think that everything is a rave and everything is from the Fancy Food Show, I thought I’d mention the Limited Edition Andes Mocha Mint Indulgence.

These candies have single-handedly caused me to swear off of all Andes products except for the original Creme de Menthe.

While I rail against mockolate, I recognize it has its place and there are a few products that I like and still eat that have it. (Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews & Hershey’s 5 Avenue.)

The Mocha Mint Indulgence is a freak product. I don’t even know what it is. The pieces are ugly (sorry, no photo of the interior, this is supposed to be a tantalizing post). Putty brown mockolate over a layer of mint green confection like the center of the regular Andes.

It smells like minted cardboard. The texture is like grainy wax. The flavor is like musty Christmas candles found in a drawer at an estate sale.

Ococoa Nut Butter CupsTo close is something to restore our confidence in nuts: Ococoa Nut Butter Cups made right here in Los Angeles by Diana Malouf. I picked them up from her in person before Christmas but never go around to posting the review.

More than just gourmet peanut butter cups, these are tall cups filled with exotic nut butters & fruits. The flavor array is: Classic Peanut Butter, Pistachio Date, Sesame Fig, Hazelnut Chocolate, Almond Cherry, Cashew Apricot, Marzipan Truffle, Macadamia Guava, and Sunflower Honey.

The box is elegant and substantial.

Ococoa Nut Butter Cups

The cups are about an inch high with a cute ruffle of chocolate around the collar and an inch in diameter at the top.

Ococoa Guava & Peanut Butter CupThey were a bugger to photograph the interior, luckily their website has the fantastic and accurate cross sections that you can peruse. This one is Guava jam & macadamia nut butter. Probably the best experience I’ve had with macadamias & guava, which aren’t really my fave, but done very well here.

I was attracted most to the Sesame Fig, which I gobbled up after taking a photo. The sesame paste is combined with chocolate to create a sesame Nutella of sorts, though quite firm. Inside the center was a reservoir of fig jam. The toasted & grassy flavors of the sesame went well with the fresh & slightly tangy notes of the fig. Sunflower Honey was next on my hit list. Sunflower seeds have such a distinctive taste. This center was like a creamed honey with sunflower flavors.

Cashew Apricot was really decadent, as the apricot’s pine-notes were offset by the deep toasted butter flavors of the cashews. The hazelnut was also stellar, the freshness of the nut butter was so different from many other guianduias I have regularly. (I shared some others and didn’t take complete notes on the rest.)

Unlike many nut creations that rely on salt to bring the nut flavors forward, Ococoa lets the sweetness of the nuts come through. The only problem I had with these, if it could be called that, was the construction. The chocolate cap on the top was very thick, so biting the pieces in half wasn’t very easy. While I don’t think it’s imperative that all chocolates be dissected, it meant that there was always a larger reservoir of chocolate at the end when sometimes I really wanted to end on a nut note.

They’ll set you back $22 for a 9 piece box.

Candy Addict also had an excellent write up on these back in December.

Related Candies

  1. Fling: Milk Chocolate, Dark Chocolate & Hazelnut
  2. Andes Fall Harvest Mix
  3. Candy Dump 2008 part 2
  4. Caffarel Figs & Chestnuts (Fico & Castagna)
  5. CocoaBella “World’s Best Box”
  6. Jacques Torres
  7. Chocolate Sunflower Seed Drops

POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:38 am     All NaturalCandyChocolatierFancy Food ShowReviewChocolateGingerLimited EditionMarshmallowMockolateNutsPeanuts7-Worth ItUnited StatesComments (6)

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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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