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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Suss Pecan Maple Caramels

DSC_8512rbAt the Fancy Food Show last month I ran across another small-batch caramel maker. This one is called Suss Sweets. They’re based in New Hampshire and have a line of caramels with an interesting package idea - the caramels are sold in long logs, not individual pieces. So a standard roll is 1/4 of a pound. You slice off however much you want.

I found them at an Italian deli at Americana at Brand mall in Glendale. I had to go through the entire basket of caramel logs to find the only Maple Pecan one, since it was the flavor that I sparked the most with at the show.

There’s a lot of packaging for what looks so simple. The outside is a piece of baking parchment, twisted at the ends with a little sleeve with the label on it. Inside is a box, embossed with the logo (kind of a waste, I didn’t notice this touch until I was throwing it out). Then inside the box, the caramel roll is wrapped in wax paper.

Real maple syrup adds lovely richness to this caramel. A hint of sea salt and crunchy pecans top off this great salty/sweet flavor combination.

Suss Pecan Maple Caramels

The long log was easy to slice into appropriate pieces. The nuts were not as numerous as I’d hoped, so some slices were nutless. However, the maple and pecan flavor was throughout the entire bar. The chew of the caramel was smooth with excellent toasted sugar and fresh butter notes. The salt touch was quite light, enough to balance the sweetness but not so much to make me grab a glass of water. The nuts were fresh and the pecan flavors went very well with the woodsy and vanilla maple notes.

The bar was expensive at $7.50, but of course it was a quarter of a pound. But the fact that they’re not ready to eat meant we couldn’t just try them with our coffee at the store, we had to wait until we got home and got out a knife.

Suss Caramels

I did get to try the full range of flavors, including Pumpkin Seed and the straight Vanilla with Sea Salt. It’s a good caramel, just like I make at home when I have the time and the weather cooperates. It’s a fun item if you’re putting together a gift basket, especially if it’s a themed with coffee, cheese or other sweets. The fact that you can control the size of the pieces will appeal to some consumers, but I think I just want mine individually wrapped.



Name: Pecan Maple Caramels
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Suss Sweets
Place Purchased: Deluca Deli (Glendale)
Price: $7.50
Size: 4 ounces
Calories per ounce: 115
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Caramel, Nuts, 7-Worth It, United States

POSTED BY Cybele AT 4:34 pm     All NaturalCandyReviewCaramelNuts7-Worth ItUnited StatesComments (1)

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Honey Acres Chocolate and Orange Patties

DSC_8231rbHoney Acres in Wisconsin has been keeping bees since 1852. They sell a variety of honeys as well as some very specific honey-based products. I picked up these samples from the Fancy Food Show last month.

One of the lines Honey Acres makes are honey patties which feature an unsweetened chocolate coating around a creamed honey center. This may sound familiar, as I’ve reviewed the Trader Joe’s Mint Honey Patties before. Honey Acres actually makes three varieties of honey patties: the traditional mint, orange and chocolate.

The creamed honey is just honey, that’s been carefully recrystallized in a way that makes it milky looking, spreadable and thick, instead of clear and viscous. There are no additional ingredients, no dairy associated with the creaming process.

DSC_8224rb

The most intriguing of their three patties is the Honey Kissed Dark Chocolate Cocoa. There are two ingredients: chocolate and honey. It’s a little more complicated than that. The chocolate shell is unsweetened chocolate and then the center is honey creamed with unsweetened chocolate.

DSC_8229rb

The pattie comes in a matte gold foil. Snapped in half, the center is a golden brown, set off nicely by they very crisply tempered chocolate.

It’s a very strong chocolate product. The honey melts at a different rate from the chocolate on the outside, so it’s an uneven mix of the honey flavors, the sweetness, the creaminess and then the bitter pop of the chocolate. It’s quite rich and the recommended serving of 3 pieces is very filling. I enjoyed eating them in different ways, sometimes nibbling the chocolate edges so that I had more of a honey proportion for a big bite of the center. Mostly I bit in half and let it all melt together.

Ultimately, I think I prefer a little flavor with it, the chocolate in the honey center did little more than just make the honey less pronounced.

DSC_8234rb

The Honey Kissed Dark Chocolate Orange patty uses Valencia orange extract in the center instead of the peppermint oil for flavoring. This is an interesting combination, because I think that the citrus flavors go far better with honey than peppermint. The oily beeswax feeling on the tongue is cut but the vibrant orange oil. The bitterness of the unsweetened chocolate really shines through all this, with lots more woodsy notes than I noticed when combined with mint.

The calorie count on the website for Honey Acres listed them as about 11 grams a piece and only 110 calories per 3 piece serving. I don’t think that’s quite right, because it works out to less than 100 calories per ounce, which is not possible for a candy that’s also half fat. So, I’d prefer to go with the accounting for the Trader Joe’s which says 140 calories for 3 patties.

Related Candies

  1. Droga Money on Honey Caramels
  2. Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Honey Mints
  3. Honees Honey Filled Drops
  4. Gimbal’s Honey Lovers
  5. Jelly Belly Honey Beans
  6. Melville Candy Company Honey Spoons


Name: Honey Kissed Dark Chocolate Cocoa
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Honey Acres
Place Purchased: Samples from Honey Acres
Price: $8.50
Size: 6.25 ounces
Calories per ounce: 127
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Chocolate, Kosher, 8-Tasty, United States

POSTED BY Cybele AT 2:53 pm     All NaturalCandyReviewChocolateKosher8-TastyUnited StatesComments (3)

Monday, February 23, 2015

Russell Stover Big Bite Coffee

DSC_8678rbRussell Stover Big Bite House Blend Coffee is a new all-year item from Russell Stover. The 2 ounce pieces are actually big bites, more than a single serving but less than a sharable piece.

The package says: smooth dark chocolate enrobes a robust coffee-flavored center.

This is the first I’ve seen a coffee flavored item from Russell Stover in their single serve line, though I think they do some coffee items in their boxed chocolates.

DSC_8682rb

The dark chocolate coating is pretty thick and sticks to the filling well. The filling is what I’d call a cross between a ganache and a fudge. It’s thick and has a good melt. The base is made from sugar and cream, so it’s like a ganache, but doesn’t have that much chocolate in it. Instead it’s just loaded with coffee. The coffee flavor is woodsy, with a little bitter acidic note to it. It’s definitely strong, and not terribly sweet, considering the amount of sugar in there.

It’s nice. However, it’s big. I don’t want this much chocolate and ganache. I want about half as much, and maybe in more of a stick or plank format than a big patty. Or maybe a smaller patty, like a Peppermint Patty format, but with a coffee ganache center.

DSC_8675rbRussell Stover Big Bite Cappuccino is similar to the House Blend Coffee, instead of a dark chocolate shell, it has a white chocolate shell, kind of like a cappuccino has a milk foam topping.

The package says: Rich coffee-flavored filling surrounded by creamy white chocolate & dusted with cocoa.

My photo didn’t turn out very well, partly because it’s actually a low contrast wrapper. It’s a light gold foil with other darker gold accents and a mix of brown and white text. Not easy to read on the front and even worse on the back.

DSC_8686rb

It smells similarly coffee-ish to the House Blend Coffee, only there’s a more sweet note from the white coating. The combination wasn’t appealing to me on paper, as I was expecting it to be cloyingly sweet. However, the bitterness of the center can actually accept quite a bit of sweetness from the white chocolate coating, which is especially thick at the middle. It never quite mixes to create a good approximation of a cappuccino or latte, but does give me more of a coffee ice cream note to the whole thing.

On the whole, Russell Stover has done an excellent job with their coffee flavoring for the center. It has a lot of the right flavor elements without tasting too much like instant coffee or including actual coffee grounds in the center. I wouldn’t mind seeing these in the seasonal varieties, mostly because those are a bit smaller than the Big Bite line, but I think this is a good addition to their line. Since there aren’t many coffee flavored chocolates out on the market, it’s a nice option.

Related Candies

  1. Russell Stover Big Bite Pecan Pie
  2. Good and DeLISH Morning Rush Coffee Bites
  3. Trader Joe’s Chocolate Kona Coffee Truffles
  4. Russell Stover Big Bite Caramel Apple
  5. Russell Stover Big Bite Dark Chocolate S’Mores
  6. Meiji Corot & CoffeeBeat
  7. Javaz - Milk & Dark Chocolate Covered Coffee Beans


Name: Big Bite House Blend Coffee
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Russell Stover
Place Purchased: Walgreen's (Glendale)
Price: $1.00
Size: 2 ounces
Calories per ounce: 150
Categories: Candy, Russell Stover, Chocolate, Coffee, 7-Worth It, United States, Walgreen's


Name: Big Bite Cappuccino
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Russell Stover
Place Purchased: Walgreen's (Glendale)
Price: $1.00
Size: 2 ounces
Calories per ounce: 150
Categories: Candy, Russell Stover, Coffee, White Chocolate, 7-Worth It, United States, Walgreen's

POSTED BY Cybele AT 4:51 pm     CandyReviewRussell StoverChocolateCoffeeWhite Chocolate7-Worth ItUnited StatesWalgreen'sComments (3)

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Candyology 101 - Podcast Episode 8 -  Pick a Mix

pick-a-mix-ep8

Maria and I went to the store and picked up 15 items from the pick a mix ... you can listen to the results.

You can also download the MP3 directly. Check out the show notes on Candyology101.com.

 

POSTED BY Cybele AT 2:21 pm     CandyHighlightRadio InterviewsComments (0)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Trader Joe’s Milk Chocolate Jumbles

Trader Joe's Milk Chocolate JumblesTrader Joe’s always has a quirky take on a standard candy. Their new Trader Joe’s Milk Chocolate Jumbles are sold in little nearly-half-pound tubs and are similar to Pecan Turtles.

The description is: crunchy pecans & toasted quinoa with soft & buttery caramel enrobed in chocolate and topped with Himalaya pink sea salt. They’re Kosher and made with mostly organic dairy ingredients as well. Though they use quinoa for the crunchy bits, they’re not a gluten-free candy as they may contain wheat. Also, they’re made in a facility with other tree nuts, eggs and peanuts. Too bad, because a gluten free and peanut free notation would really set these apart.

DSC_8696rb

The patties are about 1.5 inches across, so either one big bite or two small bites. The nutritional listing is a little odd, as it says that 3 pieces are 36 grams and come to 140 calories. That’s just ridiculous for something with so much chocolate and full dairy caramel ingredients. So, my calculations say that it’s 102 calories per ounce, I’m going to say that they’re at least 125.

DSC_8699rb

They smell like a sweet milk chocolate with a hint of earthy cereal notes. The patties are very flat and turning them over reveals that the inclusions are small. So the pecans are really not crunchy pecans but actually crunched pecans along with the quinoa.

The chew of the caramel is good, with some excellent buttery notes and toasted sugar flavors. The quinoa is crunchy, but not overly so. The pecans were barely evident, to the point that some pieces seemed to be lacking pecans entirely. But when I did get them, they had a wonderful woodsy, maple note. I would have preferred much more in the pecan front, even if they were just small pieces, or even just the quinoa and leave out the pecans entirely.

I don’t know if I would pick these up again, but I enjoyed the package I had. If I saw that they had a dark version or mucked around with the proportions, I’d give them another go. But there are other Trader Joe’s items that I much prefer over this, including the Butterscotch Sea Salt Caramels. The price point seemed a bit high, but is far better than DeMet’s Pecan Turtles which are usually about twice the price per pound and use inferior ingredients.

Related Candies

  1. Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Speculoos Cookie Butter Cups
  2. Short & Sweet: Figs
  3. Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Salted Caramel Truffles
  4. Trader Joe’s A Very Merry Mingle
  5. Trader Joe’s 70% Dark with Caramel and Black Sea Salt
  6. DeMet’s Turtles: Pecan & Cashew
  7. Texas Chewy Pralines
  8. GooGoo Supreme


Name: Milk Chocolate Jumbles
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Trader Joe’s
Place Purchased: Trader Joe's (Park LaBrea)
Price: $3.99
Size: 7.5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 102
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Trader Joe's, Caramel, Chocolate, Cookie, Nuts, 7-Worth It, United States

POSTED BY Cybele AT 2:53 pm     All NaturalCandyReviewTrader Joe'sCaramelChocolateCookieNuts7-Worth ItUnited StatesComments (1)

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Droga Money on Honey Caramels

DSC_8601rbAt the Fancy Food Show last month I tried an array of the offerings from Droga Chocolates, based her in Southern California.

The most standout among their confections, for me, is their Money on Honey Wildflower Honey Caramels. They’re a square caramel patty covered in Guittard dark chocolate and sprinkled with fleur de sel. But the big thing to note is that the caramel part is made with California wildflower honey and no corn syrup. So the center is just sugar, honey, cream and butter.

They’re made in a gluten free facility with non-gmo ingredients and are Kosher.

I picked up this box of four half-ounce or so caramels at Lolli & Pops. It’s a bit pricey for 2.4 ounces at $8.25.

DSC_8607rb

There’s a lot of packaging. There’s a tray where the caramels sit in fluted cups, which is then inside a box, which is then covered with a sleeve.

Each little piece, though, is quite perfect looking.

They smell of chocolate, with perhaps a floral note of the heavy beeswax scent.

DSC_8612rb

The caramel itself has a good chew, a gentle pull but is stiff enough to hold itself together with the chocolate. The chocolate is bittersweet, not terribly dark or bitter, more on the fruity and woodsy side of things. The caramel has a long lasting chew with a sort of oily nature to it towards the end that honey can impart. The honey flavors are strong and deep, with notes of malt and beeswax.

The sea salt on the top is concentrated kind of at the center, it could be a little better distributed across the surface. It does provide a nice counterpoint to the sweetness of the chocolate and caramel. But generally the chocolate caramel is not that sweet at all. Honey is sweet, for sure, but not as sweet as plain old sugar, it just has a longer ring to it, a longer finish that has a sort of malt and jasmine tea aftertaste to it.

I would definitely buy these again, but probably only for a special occasion because of the price. If there were a smaller single serving size of just one or two caramel, I think I’d be more inclined to indulge.

Related Candies

  1. Seely Dark Chocolate Mint Patties
  2. Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Honey Mints
  3. Bees & Beans Honey Bar
  4. Zitrone Honig Tic Tac
  5. Zeke’s Butterscotch
  6. Honees Honey Filled Drops
  7. Eat with your Eyes: Honey Caramel
  8. Gimbal’s Honey Lovers


Name: Money on Honey Caramels
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Droga Chocolates
Place Purchased: Lolli & Pops (Glendale)
Price: $8.25
Size: 2.4 ounces
Calories per ounce: 117
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Caramel, Chocolate, 8-Tasty, United States

POSTED BY Cybele AT 4:09 pm     All NaturalCandyReviewCaramelChocolate8-TastyUnited StatesComments (0)

Monday, February 16, 2015

Ritter Sport Fine Extra Dark Chocolate

Ritter Sport Fine Extra Dark Chocolate 73% CocoaRitter Sport has an amazingly diverse product line of bars that include solid bars, bars with nuts or cookies, and others with flavored fillings.

One of their new introductions is the Ritter Sport Fine Extra Dark Chocolate 73% Cocoa (also called Amargo Extrafino).

The bar is much darker than their regular bars at 73% and is made from West Africa and Ecuadorian-sourced cocoa beans. Though the format of this bar is new I’m not sure if the concept really is, I’ve had a very dark bar from Ritter Sport before, though my tasting notes reveal it’s a bit different.

DSC_8297rb

Generally, I love Ritter Sport’s milk chocolate. They make a very creamy product, and actually work with several different recipes for use in different bars. Their dark bars, for the most part, are one of the better at the price point, but I don’t eat the plain dark bars, I go for the bars that have nuts or marzipan. So, the idea of picking up a Ritter Sport over the many other very dark bars out there means that it’s going to need something special to turn my head.

The format for this bar is different from their usual 16 squares. Instead, it’s 36 pieces (a 6 x 6 instead of a 4 x 4 array).

DSC_8317rb

The deep scoring makes the pieces easy to snap off. They’re nearly pyramidic, so a little awkward in shape in the mouth. There’s a fair amount of cocoa butter, so it has an easy and quick melt. For the most part the particle size is small, so it’s smooth ... but there were the odd gritty bits from time to time.

The cocoa flavors are overwhelmingly earthy. There are not fruit notes, except for perhaps a little green banana. The rest was like coffee, brownies and toasted coconut. It’s woodsy and deep. It’s satisfying and not at all bitter, though there’s a dry bite to it, but the cocoa butter covers up at the very end.

When I ran the numbers for the calories per ounce, I was a little shocked that it came out so high, though cacao content also includes cocoa butter for that percentage. So this bar has a lot of cocoa butter, far more than most dark bars.

This feels very much like the texture that Dove lovers might gravitate towards. I might buy it again, but I really want some nuts in it, maybe even a little salt hint somewhere. But if Ritter Sport starts using this chocolate base for other bars, I’d be very interested in going down that road with them.

Related Candies

  1. Ritter Sport Coffee and Hazelnuts (Winter Edition)
  2. Dove 71% Cacao Silky Smooth Dark Chocolate (Rainforest Alliance)
  3. Ritter Sport 100th Anniversary Edel-Nuss Mix + Bonus Previews
  4. Limited Edition Ritter Sport Winter Kreation + Factory Store
  5. Lindt Excellence Dark with a touch of Sea Salt
  6. Ghirardelli Intense Dark
  7. Ritter Darks


Name: Fine Extra Dark Chocolate 73%
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Ritter Sport
Place Purchased: Cost Plus World Market (Farmers Market)
Price: $2.99
Size: 3.5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 172
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Ritter Sport, Chocolate, 7-Worth It, Germany, Cost Plus

POSTED BY Cybele AT 3:25 pm     All NaturalCandyReviewRitter SportChocolate7-Worth ItGermanyCost PlusComments (1)

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Eat with Your Eyes: Pernigotti

DSC_8130rb

There’s more to hazelnuts and chocolate than Nutella. There are quite a few makers of gianduia, the paste made from combining chocolate and ground hazelnuts, in Italy. Pernigotti is one of the finest, creating lovely little foil wrapped treats since 1860.

You can read some previous reviews of their product line here.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 1:17 pm     CandyItalyHighlightPhotographyComments (2)

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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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