Monday, January 28, 2013
I picked up this Darrell Lea Dark Chocolate Covered Ginger Fudge at Cost Plus World Market last year along with some other Darrell Lea items from Australia. The fudge is sweet, not terribly buttery but has numerous pieces of candied ginger in it. Overall, it was earthy and got a nice boost from the woodsy and smoky dark chocolate.
I don’t have a full review for the item, but after I bought this one, I didn’t see them in the store again until last week. I’m inclined to buy it again, partly because it’s a unique combination. (Full wrapper photo, if you’re on the prowl for it.)
Friday, October 12, 2012
Darrell Lea is an Australian confectionery company founded in 1927. They were known in Australia for their quaint and classic chocolate and licorice products sold at the company’s branded stores. (The company went into administration earlier this year and was bought out by the Quinn family, who also run VIP Petfoods. The shops are closed, but they’re still making candy.)
Here in the United States were get few of their products on our shelves, with their signature item being the Australian style licorice. I’ve even tried another version of their chocolate covered licorice before.
Cost Plus World Market recently had a big display of Australian and specifically a large array of Darrell Lea confections. I picked up a chocolate covered fudge bar and this package of Darrell Lea Dark Choc Liquorice Bullets.
The package holds 7 ounces, but is jam packed with the candies. It’s a heavy bag, like a bean bag filled with lead shot. The pieces are large. Think of a swollen Good & Plenty. Good & Plenty are about 2/3 of an inch long. These are over one inch. They’re consistent, dark and glossy. They smell like sweet chocolate and nothing like licorice.
The chocolate coating is nicely done, shiny and thick. The flavor is, well, thin. It’s like hot cocoa made with hot water instead of milk. The chocolate notes are like chocolate syrup. The licorice nib beneath is hefty and soft with a solid and satisfying chew. The earthy flavors of the licorice go pretty well with the chocolate. It’s almost bitter with lots of notes of dirt and minerals but not a whole lot of anise, more on the green fennel flavors.
The chew leaves behind lots of sticky bits of the licorice in my teeth and has a sort of rib sticking density as well. The ingredients show that this is real chocolate, though it does contain PGPR (an extra emulsifier) and butter (so it’s not vegan ... though it also lists shellac). The licorice base is wheat flour. It was made in a facility that also processes peanuts and tree nuts. There’s no corn syrup though, which I know some people avoid in a licorice.
I found them satisfying as a candy, but not great as a chocolate product or as a licorice product. I ate the whole bag, but it took me well over a month, as I kept losing interest. They also make a Milk Choc variety, which might have a better balance with the added dairy flavors. I don’t know what the financial restructuring will mean to availability of Darrell Lea products outside of Australia.
Friday, July 6, 2012
I’ve tried a few items in the Grandessa line from Aldi over the years and found them to be passable, but not their highest quality brand.
It’s a simple package, a matte plastic bag, rather small but dense. At only 7.5 inches by 4.5 inches it holds nearly a half a pound of soft licorice twists.
The licorice fingers are pretty big, they’re about 1.5 to 1.75 inches long (just a little shy of the size of my pinky finger, but I have very small pinkies).
They’re soft and a bit sticky on the outside. The chewy is doughy and soft and does get stuck on the teeth. The flavor profile is overwhelmingly earthy. There’s a lot of molasses and dark sugars (treacle, brown sugar and molasses are all ingredients). The flavor notes are anise, a light tangy note as some molasses can have, sweet licorice, black pepper, beets, pipe tobacco and coriander. The thick chew is less appealing to me though, because it does have a note of raw wheat flour.
Compared to Panda, it’s has more mineral and earthy flavors. It reminds me a lot of Kookabura Australian Liquorice, and may well be made under contract for Aldi’s Grandessa house brand by Kookabura. The ingredients are similar, though not exactly the same.
They’re made in Australia in a facility that processes peanuts and tree nuts. The ingredients list mono and diglycerides, so I can’t say that these are vegan.
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
I picked up this box of Jila Mints late last year. I was drawn to the box. It’s a cute little flip top box, a little over three inches tall and one inch wide. The design made me think they were Finnish or Swedish for some reason, but it turns out they’re made in Australia by a company called Ferndale Confectionery.
The Spearmint Jila Mints are themed in green. The back of the box has some charming copy: Jila round mints are made to last long, clearing the nose and freshening the breath. Refreshment from natural mint essence and energy from added glucose make them the ideal, modern personal accompaniment in work and social situations.
They’re made from sugar and glucose. Glucose is a little less sweet than sucrose, so I was looking forward to a mintier mint with less of a sticky sweet finish.
They’re a solid panned mint. A very small bead of mint is slowly coated in layers of sugar in a tumbling barrel over hours and days. This method has been used for hundreds of years (usually starting with a fennel seed as the center, like Anis de Flavigny).
They’re beautiful little matte green spheres. They’re about the size of large peas or dried garbanzo beans. They remind me of those small Atomic Fireballs and in a way they’re just a spearmint version.
The spearmint flavor is soft and has a strong herbal flavor that kind of penetrates like menthol. It doesn’t have that “green” or “grassy” flavor that spearmint candies or tea can sometimes get. The flavor goes through and though and is sometimes a little stronger in some layers. The mint lasts a long time and is practically un-crunchable for the first portion of the dissolve, when it gets much smaller, sometimes I can crush it.
They also come in Peppermint. I didn’t buy a box of them, but I did find after taking this photo that I had a sample from some trade show in my archives. Jila Mints Peppermint comes in a similar box, the design is navy blue and the mints themselves have no coloring at all. They’re just a soft white sphere. The flavor of the peppermint is quite woodsy at first but then mellowed out to a soft mint, like a Tic Tac.
I like this style of mint, even though I’m a hard candy cruncher. There was no distinction, really, between the layers as they dissolved, which gave me the sense that they were crafted with care and consistency. The price was pretty good for a box that contained about 1 ounce - the comparable Anis de Flavigny can cost several times this though they do come in a wider variety of flavors. The box is easy to carry and share and of course is easily recycled.
Thursday, May 6, 2010
Back when I was putting together my list of of Essential Candies I realized that I’ve been remiss with many of the Aussie favorites as well as cherry-based candies. So when I saw a Cadbury Cherry Ripe at Mel and Rose on one of my big candy buying trips I picked it up.
All I know about the bar is that it’s coconut and cherry. I’m not keen on cherry flavored things, but real cherries are delicious. The word ripe is pretty enticing and gave me hope that it was real cherries here.
Cherry Ripe is a classic bar, introduced over 85 years ago by MacRobertson’s. It’s the oldest candy bar in Australia. Other variations have come and gone, the Apricot Ripe sounds particularly good to me. (Can you imagine an apricot candy bar being popular?) MacRobertson’s was, for decades, the largest confectioner in Australia. They made products like Freddo Frogs, Old Gold Chocolate and Snack. The company was sold by the founder, Sir Macpherson Robertson, heirs in 1967 to Cadbury. Up until 2002 the Cherry Ripe and many of the old favorites still sported the MacRobertson’s logo but have now migrated over to the Cadbury brand.
It’s an impressive looking bar. A huge plank at 7 inches long, an inch and a quarter wide and a third of an inch thick. The rippled chocolate enrobing is just gorgeous. I wanted to take a close up photo and make format it as my computer desktop.
I was expecting a lot of coconut or cherry scent, but really it smells like candy - a little like chocolate, a little like raspberries.
The center is soft and chewy, not quite as moist as a Mounds bar, but not dry and crumbly. The coconut is sweet and well textured, not too fibery. The cherries are sweet and with a light hint of maraschino but not much else. I was hoping for bits of sour dried cherries but never quite got that. The dark chocolate coating is the lightest sheath of chocolate possible, it merely holds it all together. It has only a whiff of cocoa and woodsy coffee to it. It’s creamy and a little dry.
Overall I understand the appeal of this bar, it’s like a Cherry Mounds (or Cherry Bounty) and that’s a great notion. It’s big, bigger than I think I needed in a bar (but I’m used to my coconut bars in smaller pieces), but since I paid $2.99 for this (really, what was I thinking?) at least it improves the value. Now if only they’d bring back the Apricot Ripe as a limited edition.
Friday, July 31, 2009
The matte beige & powder blue wrapper does give it that classic look, though the mylar/plastic packaging made it feel modern (as did the presence of a web address on the back of the package).
It also comes in a raspberry licorice version, which I also bought but was disappointed to find it crumbled to bits (so I’m not reviewing it now).
The bar is attractive and looks like it could easily be an unsalted pretzel rod covered in milk chocolate.
It smells nice, a bit like anise and chocolate cake.
The bite is soft, the chocolate barely flakes, which is a great relief after the red licorice catastrophe.
The licorice at the center is quite soft and has a strong molasses flavor - the chew is almost jelly like, but has the satisfying rib-sticking of a wheat-based confection. The anise and licorice notes are rather mild and more of a generic spice cookie feel. The chocolate is sweet, not terribly chocolatey but seems to seal in all the flavors well.
It’s nice to see an Aussie licorice being sold at American candy prices. It was a nice change up from Twizzlers, Good & Plenty or Crows, which are really the only plain licorice products sold in single serve packages any longer.
My big hesitations are why they put artificial colors in a chocolate covered item. But my guess is that this licorice is available bald.
Aussie readers, do you recognize this bar? (I was thinking it was RJs but those aren’t real chocolate.)
I’m eager to try the raspberry again and see what else Walgreen’s is going to put in their Candy Classics brand.
Note: The calories made no sense on this package. 220 calories for 1.4 ounces is insane for a chocolate covered licorice. It says 2.5 grams of fat, 22 grams of carbs and 2 grams of protein (that makes 120 calories or so) ... I can’t figure where the rest of the calories are coming from. The ingredients are Sugar, Treacle, Wheat Flour, Molasses, Chocolate, Hydrogenated Coconut Oil, Licorice Extract and then a bunch of less than 2% things.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Cadbury is a dominant chocolate brand around the world. (See this article from Business Week that shows it as the #2 chocolate on the planet.)
What’s especially fun about Cadbury chocolate is the little variations depending on the country. One of those is the Australian set of candy bars. I picked up this single serve bar of Dairy Milk Snack after seeing it in Sera’s photo stream last year (I didn’t really want the big size bar).
It’s a simple concept - a segmented bar with different flavored fillings in each piece. (Note that the large bar has only five segments.)
The first thing that sets this little bar apart is that each piece is coded with the contents. Though the package didn’t say what the fillings are (and please, why?) I did figure out the pineapple one immediately and took a good guess at the strawberry and orange.
The flavors in all are: caramel, pineapple, coconut ice (I have no idea what that is), strawberry, Turkish delight and orange.
My bar was fresh, unmarred and in great condition.
Caramel - I thought it’d be like the Caramello, but it’s a little firmer, a little thicker. The chocolate outside is rather strange - it has a good snap, but not a very good melt. It’s a bit stiff, a little chalky. The flavor is recognizably Cadbury with a strong powdered milk flavor and a gentle malty cocoa taste.
Pineapple - has a light tangy pineapple scent. The fondant is thick, it has a good sheen to it, but it doesn’t flow. The flavor is sweet and has a tangy pineapple bite. It’s an odd combination with the musky chocolate, but I enjoyed the change of pace.
Coconut Ice - honestly I don’t know what this is. It’s pink and it’s crumbly and has a slight sweet flavor that I can’t quite place. If it’s supposed to be coconut, it’s missing that completely.
Strawberry - the fondant is smooth, but a little more crumbly than the pineapple. Fragrant and floral, there’s not tart component. Rather authentic tasting and pleasant.
Turkish Delight - wow, they went all out for the rose here. The texture is quite soft, more like a jelly than a firm paste. The floral notes are pungent with a slight tangy middle note that dissipates quickly. I rather liked it, but I can tell that this would be quite off-putting for many Americans and other cultures not accustomed to floral flavors.
Orange - I had hoped this would be the winner piece, but I found it rather bland. The fondant was too firm and lacking a distinctive zest.
Just as a little touchstone, I picked up an American Cadbury Dairy Milk bar to compare the flavors, and I do find that I prefer the stickier, fudgier texture of the Hershey-made version, but that may just be what I’m accustomed to.
It’s a fun bar and honestly I’d probably enjoy a whole bar of the pineapple or Turkish delight, the rest of the flavors just didn’t feel like they were the best that Cadbury could muster. (I know they can do better with the caramel & chocolate combination.) For the money, especially since I’m paying import prices, if I felt like boxed chocolate candy, I’d be better off getting some Russell Stover or finding a See’s or I’d probably even choose a Whitman’s Sampler of this.
One of the best things I can say about Cadbury right now is that they’re making a huge effort to go Fair Trade with their chocolate though it’s going to be a long process.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
A few months ago I reviewed Darrell Lea Soft Eating Liquorice from Australia. I enjoyed it quite a bit and now that the weather should be turning chillier (though we’ve had our ups and downs in Los Angeles lately), I was keen to try more chocolate covered licorice varieties.
The Kookaburra variety I tried used milk chocolate, the Darrell Lea Dark Chocolate Covered Liquorice is made with dark chocolate. (Well, it’s not vegan, as it does have butterfat in it.)
Anise and chocolate are a natural pairing, quite common in Italian and Greek confections but pretty rare here in the United States.
There are not a chocolate covered version of the Soft Eating variety I reviewed before. Instead these have artificial colors in them, which makes even less sense since it’s covered in chocolate. They’re also a bit thicker and have a twisted band to the shape.
The scent is nice, a mix of the woodsy and coffee notes of the chocolate and the mellow molasses and anise of the licorice.
The bite is soft and the chocolate melts easily. The overwhelming flavors are of molasses with those hints of sweet licorice, fennel and some cedar and spice notes. It’s not at all like the Indian curry and coriander I noticed with the Soft Eating variety.
Overall, even though these have the senseless addition of my nemesis Red 40 food coloring, it’s satisfying stuff. The price difference for the addition of chocolate is substantial. The regular bags are $2.99, the chocolate variety at Cost Plus World Market are $4.99.
Rating: 7 out of 10
I also like the packages. They’re simple, but the striped color coding makes it pretty easy at a glance to tell which is which (and this is the fifth package of Darrell Lea I’ve had).
Like the Licorice, this strawberry variety is also not all-natural like the Soft Eating variety. But it’s still a generous 7 ounce bag with a clear expiration date, which I always appreciate.
I found these much more attractive than the black licorice counterparts. The pieces are slightly smaller, just narrower, but still have the little twist in them. The chocolate was glossier, but that could simply be attributed to handling.
The bag smelled like bubble gum and chocolate. Sweet and summery. The strawberry flavor of the licorice is mild with a good combination of the floral notes and the light tangy berry flavor. The chew is a bit stickier than the black variety, leading to some glops stuck to the sides of my molars.
The chocolate sets off the sweet elements well and melts smoothly to a creamy syrup to go with the strawberry chew. I liked it a lot more than I thought I would.
Rating: 7 out of 10
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.