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All Natural

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Nectar Nugget Peanut Butter and Almond Butter Cups

Nectar Nugget CupsWhile I was shopping at Whole Foods outside of Philadelphia back in September, I spotted these Nectar Nuggets Peanut Butter Cups. I’d never seen the before, but there was a little tag next to them that said “They’re Back!” so I figured they must be a local favorite.

There were three varieties on the shelf, and I picked up one of each: Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup, Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup and Almond Butter Cup.

The name Nectar Nugget didn’t ring any bells for me, but with the little picture of a bee in the corner of the wrapper and the word nectar in the name, I thought perhaps these were honey sweetened. That would definitely be interesting!

Nectar Nugget Peanut Butter CupThe packaging is quite spare. It’s just the gold mylar wrapper. There’s no paperboard card that they’re sitting on and they don’t come in a fluted cup.

The cups are of the same proportions that we’re all accustomed to, two inches wide at the top and only one half an inch high.

The chocolate used for Nectar Nugget is Rainforest Alliance certified, so it’s sustainably grown and audited to assure that no child labor or slaves are used.

Nectar Nugget Peanut Butter Cup

It smells a bit grassy, like real peanuts but not dark roasted ones. The chocolate has a nice sheen. There’s a little bit of a cloudy spot on top of the center, but I forgive that with real peanut butter, as the natural oils tend to migrate.

The peanut butter in the Nectar Nuggets is extremely smooth but also quite thick. It has a nice melt, like chocolate or fudge. The salt is light and gives the peanut butter a sort of warm feel as it melts. The milk chocolate is quite sweet but has a much quicker melt than the peanut butter and creates a good backdrop. It’s not particularly milky, but also not very chocolately, just a nice sweet texture.

The package says that it’s Giant Size, which is 1.2 ounces ... a bit bigger than a standard Reese’s, but not what I’d call a King Size. The thick texture of the peanut butter makes it quite filling for me, so much so that I had to space out my review of this set of cups over several days (and I’ve been known to eat a lot of candy in one day).

Nectar Nugget Dark Peanut Butter CupNectar Nugget Dark Peanut Butter Cup is, as the name would indicate, the dark chocolate version.

The ingredients include milk, so it’s not a true dark chocolate (nor vegan) item. Like the other cups, the package says that there are 5 grams of protein in each cup. This makes them rather filling without that too-much-sugar crash later.

Nectar Nugget Dark Peanut Butter Cup

The dark chocolate cup is tough, but in a way it’s worth it. The dark chocolate is smooth and buttery, though it starts a little waxy and stiff if it’s cold. The peanut butter feels drier than the milk chocolate version. The melt of the dark chocolate is quick and really fatty, it rolls around on the tongue quite a bit. The cocoa flavors are very deep, nutty and on the bitter side. It brings a whole smoky flavor to the cup.

Nectar Nugget Almond Butter CupThe Nectar Nugget Almond Butter Cup feels like a bit more of a special item. Chocolate cups made with other nut butters aren’t that easy to find, but are becoming a little more commonplace.

I was wondering if this actually was a nut butter or a marzipan, but it’s definitely nut butter.

Nectar Nugget Almond Butter Cup

The Almond Butter cup is interesting. Most notably, the nut butter interior is quite salty, especially compared to the sweet and smooth chocolate. It’s 80 mg of sodium (same as the peanut butter ones) which is actually less than a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. Like the peanut butter varieties here, the nut butter is a little on the dry side, but not crumbly, quite smooth and fresh. Instead of the roasted and grassy flavors of peanuts, the almond butter is a bit less vivid. Instead, the textures were the focus and the milk chocolate was more noticeable.

It still lacked a pizazz for me, but that’s probably because I was indoctrinated as a child into the peanut butter culture of North America. Even so, since they’re made in a facility with peanut butter, they’re not suitable for those with allergies to peanuts.

They were good and I appreciate the attention to details with the ingredients and the portioning. The ratios are good. They’re not my ideal cup but the fact that they’re ethically sourced and have no artificial preservatives tip my opinion in their favor. So I think I might pick them up again even though they were pricey (I think they were $2.00 each or something close to that) but probably wouldn’t seek them out at a special store. (They contain soy, milk and peanuts or almonds but there’s no statement about gluten.)

Related Candies

  1. UNREAL #77 Peanut Butter Cups
  2. Justin’s Peanut and Almond Candy Bars
  3. Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
  4. The Joycup Co. Peanut Butter Cups
  5. Justin’s Organic Peanut Butter Cups
  6. Sun Cups
  7. Godiva Easter Eggs


Name: Milk and Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Nectar Nugget
Place Purchased: Whole Foods (Philadelphia)
Price: $1.99
Size: 1.2 ounces
Calories per ounce: 158
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Chocolate, Ethically Sourced, Peanuts, 7-Worth It, United States, Whole Foods


Name: Almond Butter Cups
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Nectar Nugget
Place Purchased: Whole Foods (Philadelphia)
Price: $1.99
Size: 1.2
Calories per ounce: 158
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Chocolate, Ethically Sourced, Nuts, 7-Worth It, United States, Whole Foods

POSTED BY Cybele AT 4:05 pm     All NaturalCandyReviewChocolateEthically SourcedNutsPeanuts7-Worth ItUnited StatesWhole FoodsComments (0)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Trader Joe’s Chocolate Covered Sea Salt Butterscotch Caramels

Trader Joe's Chocolate Covered Sea Salt Butterscotch CaramelsOne of the new items at Trader Joe’s candy section is a twist on an old fashioned favorite, a chocolate covered caramel. I’ve always wanted a better Milk Dud and Trader Joe’s as been doing a good job of providing some tantalizing options over the years.

The newest is Trader Joe’s Chocolate Covered Sea Salt Butterscotch Caramels which comes in a 7 ounce gusseted bag with a resealable top. They describe them as Soft and creamy, deeply flavored butterscotch caramels are tinged with sea salt and enrobed in dark, slightly bitter chocolate to offset the sweetness.

Trader Joe's Chocolate Covered Sea Salt Butterscotch Caramels

I was wondering if these were the same as the Dark Chocolate Tahitian Vanilla Caramels sold in the small, single serving lavender bags. The ingredients are remarkably similar, with one difference: the Butterscotch Caramels use tapioca syrup instead of corn syrup. So these are free of corn (or at least don’t have any stated corn ingredients).

Trader Joe's Chocolate Covered Sea Salt Butterscotch Caramels

The flavor is very, well, butterscotchy. They taste like a butter flavor, but not an overtly artificial one like some fake popcorn topping can but more like a maple, woodsy flavor with stronger dairy notes. Instead it’s just rich and a little less sweet than the Tahitian Vanilla variety.

The dark chocolate coating is mild, on the semi-sweet side but has a creamy melt with a little smoky and pipe tobacco profile to it, instead of a dried fruit flavor that some darks can have.

I had wondered when the Tahitian Vanilla Caramels came out whether they’d be available in a bulk bag for serving in a bowl (or creating your own snack mix). This is a pretty good value at $3.49 (which is about $8 per pound) and the ingredients are all natural. I hope these stick around after the holidays, they might make a great travel mix with raw almonds, pretzels and milk chocolate drops. For right now they might just be my go-to candy for sneaking into a movie theater.

There is no statement or any info I can find about the sourcing of the ingredients, specifically the ethical sourcing of the chocolate. They also contain palm kernel oil (though very low on the list). They’re made with milk and soy and may contain traces of wheat, peanuts and tree nuts.

Related Candies

  1. Dove Sea Salt Caramel Dark Chocolate Promises
  2. Trader Joe’s 70% Dark with Caramel and Black Sea Salt
  3. Helliemae’s Salt Caramels
  4. Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Almond Toffee
  5. Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Tahitian Vanilla Caramels
  6. Short & Sweet: Dollar Store
  7. Milky Way Simply Caramel


Name: Chocolate Covered Sea Salt Butterscotch Caramels
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Trader Joe’s
Place Purchased: Trader Joe's (Park LaBrea)
Price: $3.49
Size: 7 ounces
Calories per ounce: 142
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Trader Joe's, Caramel, Chocolate, Kosher, 8-Tasty, United States

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:22 am     All NaturalCandyReviewTrader Joe'sCaramelChocolateKosher8-TastyUnited StatesComments (3)

Monday, December 10, 2012

Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Salted Caramel Truffles

Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Salted Caramel TrufflesLet’s see, if I was going to make my own candy, what would be the most popular ingredients to include? Dark Chocolate. Peanut Butter. Caramel. So it’s not surprising that I bought this gable box of Trader Joe’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Salted Caramel Truffles.

The box holds about 15 individually wrapped bon bons filled with layers of caramel and peanut butter all covered in dark chocolate.

The front of the box says that there are no artificial flavors or colors, but that doesn’t mean that the ingredients are simple. There are things like malto-dextrin, fractionated palm oil (organic) and tocopherol (Vitamin E). But part of what makes the list so long is also how many of the items are preceded by “organic” such as the caramel (organic milk, organic sugar, etc).

Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Salted Caramel Truffles

The bronzy twisted mylar wrappers hold the bon bons well. They’re glossy and nicely domed, about 1.125 inches in diameter. They’re about 12 grams each, which is approximately the same size as a Lindt Lindor Truffle (though not spherical).

Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Salted Caramel Truffles

The shell yields easily to the soft interior. The burst of caramel comes first, as it’s more of a syrup than a firm chewy variety. The flavor is good, a little hint of burnt sugar but mostly a salted sweetness. The peanut butter base is very smooth with a smoky flavor for the most part and a light burst of salt as well. There’s a bit of chocolate in the filling as well, it looks like maybe a layer between the caramel and peanut butter - probably to keep them from mingling. The melt of it all is less than stellar, the chocolate is quite firm but the peanut butter is soft but slightly waxy (is that what fractionated palm oil is like?). Overall, it just never came together for me as a decadent whole. I’ll probably finish the package at some point but I’ve passed them over plenty of times when looking in my goody drawer over the past week, which is a rating in and of itself.

I still might consider these as a hostess gift, especially if you know the person is inclined towards the elements of caramel, dark chocolate and peanut butter. Even though they’re not as flashy, I prefer Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups (which I’ve been eating by the tub-full for extra calories).

There is no ethical sourcing statement for the chocolate on the box, though the organic status of many of the ingredients bodes well for the attention the makers pay to sourcing ingredients. The truffles contain soy, peanuts and milk. They’re made in a facility that also processes wheat, eggs and tree nuts.

See also Rosa’s review at ZOMG! Candy.

Related Candies

  1. Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
  2. Trader Joe’s A Very Merry Mingle
  3. Madelaine Duets
  4. Snickers Peanut Butter Santas
  5. Lindt Lindor Truffle Eggs
  6. Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels


Name: Chocolate Peanut Butter Salted Caramel Truffles
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Trader Joe’s
Place Purchased: Trader Joe's (3rd & Fairfax)
Price: $3.99
Size: 6.34 ounces
Calories per ounce: 158
Categories: All Natural, Christmas, Trader Joe's, Caramel, Chocolate, Kosher, Peanuts, 7-Worth It, Canada

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:06 am     All NaturalCandyReviewChristmasTrader Joe'sCaramelChocolateKosherPeanuts7-Worth ItCanadaComments (2)

Friday, November 16, 2012

Torie & Howard Organic Hard Candies

It’s winter, which means it’s time for hard candies. Nothing is as soothing and easy to carry as individually wrapped hard candies. We live in a wonderful era in human development where not can hard candies be ubiquitous and cheap, they can also be devilishly hard to find and expensive. Something for everyone!

Torie & Howard

For the past few months I haven’t been feeling well, including a recent and prolonged medically-induced sore throat. So, some intense hard candies that are also free of allergens might be just what the doctor ordered. (They weren’t actually, I haven’t spoken to my doctor about my Candy Blog, just my dentist.)

Torie and Howard is a new line of organic hard candies that feature interesting flavor combinations as well as carefully sourced ingredients. I tried them back in January at the Fancy Food Show, and though I usually like to find candy on store shelves before writing about it, I was kind of keen on trying them so accepted a full array of samples from the company.

They’re made from complicated yet simple stuff:

Organic Sugar, Organic Rice Syrup, Non-GMO Citric Acid, Natural Flavors, Colored with: Red Cabbage, Purple Carrots, Organic Black Carrot, Organic Blackcurrant, Organic Apple, Annatto.

No Artificial dyes, nut free, no GMOs, no corn syrup, wheat and gluten free, casein free, soy free and dairy free. (So, yes, vegan.) They currently come in four flavors. The cutest part of their packaging is the two ounce tin, which retails for about five bucks, which is steep. They also have a little “purse” mixed bag which can help you find your favorite because the five pound bulk bags they also sell online are the best value as long as you know you really, really like them.

Tory & Howard - Pink Grapefruit & Tupelo Honey

I was really excited to find a Pink Grapefruit and Tupelo Honey hard candy. The flavor is tart but with a bitter note from the grapefruit oils. I didn’t catch the honey, but did notice that it wasn’t overtly sweet like some citrus candies can be to compensate for the sourness. The oily zest notes lasted for quite a while, not in a bad way, more as a kind of background freshness for about 15 minutes.

The pieces are quite small, about half the weight of a regular Starlight Mint. But they’re exquisite, imprinted with a little raspberry design and the company’s logo.

Torie & Howard Pear & Cinnamon

Pear & Cinnamon is an interesting combination, much like apple pie. The pear flavor is mild, as actual pears are, it’s almost a baked banana flavor with a light tang to it. The cinnamon is like the spice and not the hotness of a Hot Tamale candy or anything like that. It’s pleasant and unassuming, though a little evocative of a holiday candle.

Torie & Howard Pomegranate & Nectarine

Pomegranate & Nectarine is not a flavor combination I would have expected. It’s strong and deep. The nectarine notes are like a peachy flavor, a little fuzzy and tropical with that woodsy note that stonefruits can have. Then there’s the pomegranate, which is like a raspberry mixed with cranberry, a little tannic and floral.

Torie & Howard Blood Orange & Honey

Blood Orange & Honey was more like a strong tangerine flavor with a lot of zest to it. The honey came out a bit later, as the citrusy parts faded away, there was a malty, honey sweetness that had a bit more staying power than a simple sugar.

Overall, they’re quite tasty with grown up flavors. They don’t do much to soothe my throat, but did give me a flavor boost I was craving after consuming most of my calories for a week in liquid form.

They are really expensive, which is odd for a hard candy. The labor is the same for organic and conventional candies, it’s just the ingredients that differ. In this case the candy, even in the bulk bags, is $11 a pound with a five pound minimum. (The tins come out to $40 a pound.) For that price I’d like to know that it was made right here in America, but these are made in Mexico (which is not that uncommon with organic hard candies these days).

Related Candies

  1. Newman’s Own Licorice
  2. Trader Joe’s Jelly Beans & Citrus Gum Drops
  3. Surf Sweets Gummi Swirls
  4. Gourmet Gumdrops
  5. VerMints
  6. Pure Fun & Yummy Earth Organic Hard Candies
  7. Yummy Earth Organic Pops


Name: Organic Hard Candies
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Torie & Howard
Place Purchased: Samples from Torie & Howard
Price: $4.99
Size: 2 ounces
Calories per ounce: 106
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Hard Candy & Lollipops, Organic, 7-Worth It, Mexico

POSTED BY Cybele AT 2:56 pm     All NaturalCandyReviewHard Candy & LollipopsOrganic7-Worth ItMexicoComments (2)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Clark Bites

Clark BitesThe Clark Bar is one of the oldest still existing combination candy bars in the United States. It was introduced in 1917 and is now made by Necco. (You can read lots more here.) The bar is a simple layered peanut butter crunch center similar to Butterfinger & 5th Avenue (head to head review) or Reese’s Crispy Crunchy and the Chick-o-Stick.

To expand the line, Necco recently introduced Clark Bites, which as the name would imply, are bite sized, unwrapped pieces instead of a full bar. There’s a strange campaign going on to promote them, called Where’s Zipper, which uses a cartoon character called Zipper the Squirrel based on the Squirrel Nut Zippers candy also made by Necco. There’s a website and a poorly attended Facebook page for it. But there’s lots of info there about the new Clark Bites, the fact that they come in stand up snack bags, individual bags plus these theater boxes.

A while back I reviewed the re-introduced Butterfinger Bites, which I thought were terrible. The coating was greasy and waxy and overly sweet with no chocolate notes whatsoever. The center was too stiff or dense and lacked an easy crunch. Since I prefer the new Real Chocolate Clark Bars already, I had high hopes for these.

Clark Bites

The box is interesting, it feels masculine and utilitarian. All the info is there. They’re made with real chocolate, the image on the front shows what the candy looks like and they’re made in the United Sates. The box is a bit big for the contents, there are only 3.5 ounces in there, but I’d say it’s a good value for a buck for an all natural product. Inside the box, the candy is inside an unmarked cellophane pouch.

There are no preservatives in the candy, so it’s all natural. It’s a milk chocolate coating and there’s a confectioners glaze on it, so it’s not appropriate for vegans or even strict vegetarians. (There’s also soy, peanuts and milk in it for those with allergies and processed in a plant that also has tree nuts, egg and wheat.)

Clark Bites

The nuggets are well proportioned. They vary in size, some are sort of square shapes, other are more rectangular versions. They’re between three quarters to almost an inch long.

The center is light and crispy with lots of layers. The flavor isn’t strongly peanutty and the chocolate coating is rather thick. So the whole thing is pretty sweet though there is a small touch of salt in the center. The flaky crunch has a little bit of rustic peanut butter in it, but mostly notes of molasses.

One the whole, they’re quite poppable. They’re a lot lighter and crunchier than the Butterfinger version and of course the chocolate is real. There’s no partially or fully hydrogenated oils in here, but plenty of real chocolate, milk products, sugar and peanuts. A serving is a half of the package (1.75 ounces) which comes in at 240 calories but does have 4 grams of protein and even 4% of your calcium and 2% of your iron.

I really hope these become more widely available. I was so optimistic after reading the label when I bought them that I picked up three boxes and I’m glad I did.

Related Candies

  1. Nestle Butterfinger Bites
  2. Treat Trip: Bevan’s Own Make Candy - Peanut Butter Sticks & Molasses Chips
  3. Clark Bar Wicked Mix
  4. Nestle Butterfinger Snackerz
  5. Head to Head: Clark, Butterfinger & 5th Avenue
  6. Clark Bar (Get Real - Milk & Dark)
  7. Mary Jane Peanut Butter Kisses
  8. Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews


Name: Clark Bites
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Necco
Place Purchased: Dollar Tree (Echo Park)
Price: $1.00
Size: 3.5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 137
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Necco, Chocolate, Peanuts, 8-Tasty, United States, Dollar Tree

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:30 am     All NaturalCandyMorselizationReviewNeccoChocolatePeanuts8-TastyUnited StatesDollar TreeComments (3)

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Trick or Treat 2012

What are you giving out to Trick or Treaters this year?

Halloween 2012

The kids in my neighborhood seem to like Airheads, so this will be the third year I’m giving those out. As a change this year I’m also giving out Unreal Candy, since it’s sustainably sourced and has no artificial ingredients. I have their peanut nougat bars and the peanut butter cups. We’ll see how that goes over. Judging by the density of Priuses on my block, it should be well received. In all, I have over 80 pieces of candy for what I expect will be about 35 kids ... so maybe I need a little more.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 8:17 am     All NaturalCandyHighlightFun StuffComments (14)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Chuao Honeycomb & Potato Chip Chocolate Bars

Chuao Honeycomb 60% CacaoI’m quite fond of Chuao Chocolatier’s bars, which are made in Southern California. The packaging is spare but eye-catching and distinct. I’ve come to know the brand well enough to be able to spot a new bar on the shelf easily because of the color-coding. One that I’d been looking forward to finding is the Chuao Honeycomb 60% Cacao. The bar is a Dark Chocolate Bar with Caramelize Honey.

I was excited about this bar because Chuao used to make a fantastic item for local Whole Foods markets. It was a thick bar with large chunks of sponge candy (here they’re calling it honeycomb). I haven’t seen it in the market for several years, so I was hoping this bar would be a more widely available version.

The back of the package has a more enticing bit of marketing copy: The Honeycomb bar is a sweet bouquet of silky dark chocolate and crunchy, caramelized honey. Its pleasing layers of tropical flavors and contrasting textures seduce chocolate lovers like bees to a flower.

Chuao Honeycomb 60% CacaoChuao uses non-GMO ingredients, including the soy lecithin and the corn syrup for the honeycomb. chuao also sourced their chocolate through a project called Aguasanta Growth Initiative in Venezuela.

The bar has a wonderful decorative design for its mold. They’re changing their packaging yet again, so keep an eye out for the newer designs. Here’s a peek at the ChocoPod version. (Here’s what they looked like back in 2006 when I first tried them.) While it’s fun to look at, it is a little more problematic for portioning. The bar doesn’t break evenly around the “pod” pieces and of course it’s harder to tell how much of the bar you have eaten. (Besides all of it. That’s easy no matter the shape.)

There were a few little voids at the bottom where the mold didn’t fill properly and the same on the bottom of the bar where there were bubbles.

Chuao Honeycomb 60% Cacao

The bar is deep and toasty. The chocolate has a coffee note to it but is complemented by the burnt sugar flavors of the sponge candy. It’s a clean toffee note, with no hint of butter, just the scorched honeycomb. There are some hints of minerals and an earthiness to it. The honeycomb provides a little texture, though it has a bit of a crunch, it also dissolves quickly, like shards of cotton candy.

I was hoping for a bit more differentiation between the chocolate and the honeycomb, at least as far as the textures.

Chuao Potato Chips in Chocolate 41% CacaoIt’s funny that I had to go all the way to Pennsylvania to find a bar that’s made right here in California (and that I’ve been looking for in local stores). But it makes sense that Pennsylvania would be the target market, they’re the folks that make such fantastic pretzels and have innovated so much in the sweet and salty combination. I think I found the Chuao Potato Chips in Chocolate 41% Cacao bar at Wegman’s, and it was even on sale.

The package says that it’s an Ultra Premium Milk Chocolate Bar with Kettle Cooked Potato Chips.

The bar is made from all natural ingredients, the potato chips are made with sunflower/corn and/or canola oil and this wrapper does not say anything about GMO ingredients.

Chuao Potato Chips in Chocolate 41% Cacao

This is an odd bar. I can’t quite put my finger on it. Part of it may be the inclusions. As you can see from the photo, the bits of the potato chips are quite small, I’d call them potato slivers or shards. So the texture doesn’t allow for a full bite of potato chip, but more of the flavor without the crunch. The chocolate smells milky and has a wonderful, silky melt. The chips are at once light and dense. They have a strong crunch, even for their small size. They’re salty and earthy, with a rooty, potato skin flavor to the that’s common to the kettle cooked variety of chips.

In both bars I wanted more of the inclusions ... but it’s hard to fault these bars when the chocolate is so good as well. Chuao never disappoints me with their chocolate. I think my favorite bars are still the Chinita Nibs and their Coffee and Anise bars, which are both rather hard for me to find as well.

Related Candies

  1. Trader Joe’s Milk Chocolate Covered Potato Chips
  2. Eat with your Eyes: Anise & Coffee
  3. Chuao Panko
  4. Chuao Chocolate Blocks from LEGOLAND
  5. Parkside Candy Sponge Candy
  6. Chuao ChocoPods
  7. Chuao Chocolatier


Name: Honeycomb 60% Cacao
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Chuao Chocolatier
Place Purchased: Ralph's (Glendale)
Price: $3.99
Size: 2.8 ounces
Calories per ounce: 136
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Chuao Chocolatier, Chocolate, Ethically Sourced, 7-Worth It, United States, Ralph's


Name: Potato Chips in Milk Chocolate
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Chuao Chocolatier
Place Purchased: Wegman's (Mechanicsburg, PA)
Price: $3.99
Size: 2.8 ounces
Calories per ounce: 150
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Chuao Chocolatier, Chocolate, Ethically Sourced, 7-Worth It, United States

POSTED BY Cybele AT 2:00 pm     All NaturalCandyReviewChuao ChocolatierChocolateEthically Sourced7-Worth ItUnited StatesRalph'sComments (1)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Taza Stone Ground Chocolate Mexicano

Taza StackTaza Chocolate makes their chocolate from bean to bar in Somerville, Mass. What sets them apart from the many other small batch chocolate makers that have sprung up in the last 10 years is that they stone grind their chocolate in the rustic, classic Mexican tradition. Taza sources their cacao through direct trade sources to assure quality and ethical practices.

They make a wide variety of products but the ones of most interest to me are the Mexicano Discs. They make 10 different varieties, but I got samples of two that I thought would represent the style best: Cacao Puro Chocolate Mexicano 70% and Taza Salted Almond Chocolate Mexicano. I also noticed recently that Trader Joe’s has started carrying a strikingly similar set of chocolate discs, so I’ll throw in some notes about that.

Taza Stone Ground Chocolate

The Taza website describes the Taza Discs as Rustic, round dark chocolate discs with a distinctively gritty texture, some sweet, some savory, some spicy. The packages have two discs in them, 2.7 ounces total (1.35 ounces each).

The discs are either for eating straight from the package or making into a drink by mixing with a whisk (or molinillo if you want to be authentic) and some hot milk (or water).

Taza Cacao Puro Chocolate MexicanoThe packaging is extremely simple. It’s a printed, stiff parchment style paper that’s folded around the chocolate and sealed on the bottom with a large sticky label.

The Cacao Puro Chocolate Mexicano 70% is organic, gluten free, soy free and dairy free plus Kosher and made with only two ingredients: organic cacao beans and organic cane sugar.

The process for making the chocolate is very simple. The roasted cacao is placed in the stone mills and ground, then ground a second time with the sugar added. As noted on their website, it’s not a lot of processing, no conching and no emulsifiers are used. The chocolate is then tempered and molded into the discs.

Taza Salted Almond

(My photos for the Puro turned out poorly, so just imagine this Salted Almond is the Puro. It really looks the same, just a smidge darker.)

The look of the bars is a little dusty, less than glossy. The snap is solid, these are tough and dense bars. The melt is, well, not very smooth. It’s described as rustic and rustic is what it is.

The overwhelming flavor note I had was green wood, it’s a little like black tea, with other notes of lemon peel, raisins and a hint of figs and leather.

The texture is grainy, there are grains of sugar, which are interesting because they dissolve quickly. Then the is the grit of the large cacao particles. This gives the overall flavor of the chocolate a sort of variation, there are parts where the flavors might start as citrusy but then after chewing (yes, later because of the grit, there is more chewing than a really smooth dark chocolate might obligate me) some other flavors come out, like the tobacco and tea.

Taza Salted Almond Chocolate MexicanoIt was really looking forward to the Salted Almond Chocolate Mexicano.

The chocolate here is only 40% cacao, with a larger proportion of sugar plus the almonds and salt taking up the other 60%. I really expected the cross section of this one to look more rustic, with more bits of almond in there, but it’s really well integrated.

It’s quite sweet, the graininess is taken up with the sugary grains with a hint of salt. I didn’t catch much from the almonds, except that they gave it a more creamy and mellow flavor that moderated the bitterness of the cacao better than the sugar. The chocolate flavors were also evened out, so I just got a sort of fudge brownie flavor from the whole thing.

I tried making a hot chocolate with this, since that’s part of the appeal of the Mexican-style of rustic chocolate. I didn’t put a lot of chocolate into it - about half of a disc for about 6 ounces of whole milk, I’ll probably add more next time. It’s best to use a whisk for this, all I had was a fork, so there was a lot of stirring (and a good thing that I didn’t fill up the cup all the way). The flavor is much more nutty and the sugar dissolves completely. The grittiness of the cocoa part goes away (until you get to the sludge at the bottom which is then a mix of almond bits and cacao nibs, which is also great).

I prefer this as a hot drink to a bar for eating, but that’s just me. It’s a bit expensive and requires a lot more work than just dumping a powder into some hot water, but I appreciate good ingredients and can take that extra minute for the stirring. (And now that the weather is getting cooler, I need a sort of whisk that’s ideal for one cup of chocolate.)

Trader Joe's Salt & Pepper

The final one I have notes on is the Trader Joe’s special version, Organic Salt & Pepper. It has 54% cacao, so it’s a bit darker than the Almond version. The only real difference between this disc set and the Taza branded ones is the fact that there are no little letters T A Z A on the molded sections.

It smells dark and peppery with some rum notes. The salt is much more forward than the Salted Almond. The gritty texture seemed to go well with the rustic flavors of salt and pepper and the grainy sugar. The cocoa flavors were a bit lost though did remind me of brownie batter. Of the three that I tried, this was my least favorite, but mostly because of the overall sandiness. The heat of the black pepper takes a while to warm up, but lends some nice tones.

The style of chocolate is interesting and definitely different from the standard fare and novelty chocolates these days. Really, I think this chocolate will shine as a drinking product, not for straight eating. But that’s a personal preference. If you’re looking for a chocolate that’s easy to portion, made with vegan ingredients, that has no GMO ingredients, emulsifiers or gluten or added vanilla bean then this is a fantastic option.

Update 10/29/2012: Per the suggestions of readers that I should drink this as hot chocolate, I did just that with one tablet of the Salted Almond. I found it a little bland, but very rich. So for the remaining discs, I made chocolate pudding. The recipe was 1/4 cup of corn starch, 3 cups of milk and three discs (about 3.5 ounces) of chopped chocolate. I warmed the mixture on the stove over low heat while I used a whisk to completely incorporate the corn starch, then as the chocolate melted to emulsify it. Then turned it up to medium heat, stirred constantly until it just started to thicken and boil. I added some vanilla extract (optional). It’s very rich, not at all sweet.

For my mix I had one disc of Salted Almond and two of the Cacao Puro. I wasn’t interested in the Salt & Pepper as pudding.

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Name: Chocolate Mexicano: Cacao Puro 70%
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Taza Chocolate
Place Purchased: Samples from Taza Chocolate
Price: $4.50 retail
Size: 2.7 ounces
Calories per ounce: 148
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Taza Chocolate, Chocolate, Ethically Sourced, Kosher, Organic, 7-Worth It, United States


Name: Chocolate Mexicano: Salted Almond
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Taza Chocolate
Place Purchased: Samples from Taza Chocolate
Price: $4.50 retail
Size: 2.7 ounces
Calories per ounce: 148
Categories: Candy, Taza Chocolate, Chocolate, Ethically Sourced, Kosher, Nuts, Organic, 7-Worth It, United States


Name: Salt & Pepper Dark Chocolate
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Trader Joe’s
Place Purchased: Trader Joe's (3rd & Fairfax)
Price: $3.99
Size: 2.6 ounces
Calories per ounce: 148
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Trader Joe's, Chocolate, Ethically Sourced, Kosher, Organic, 7-Worth It, United States

POSTED BY Cybele AT 2:40 pm     All NaturalCandyTaza ChocolateTrader Joe'sChocolateEthically SourcedKosherNutsOrganic7-Worth ItUnited StatesComments (5)

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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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