Monday, February 22, 2016
Easter is a special time in the candy cycle, because it’s really the only time of year that white chocolate is embraced. Fortunately there are some products that are actually good, not just a white confection but actually made with real cocoa butter and lots of milk. (Many white confections are just sugar and tropical oils.)
The new White Strawberry Shortcake M&Ms are a Target exclusive this year, and if you’re a fan of the other white chocolate holiday versions like the Candy Corn M&Ms and the White Peppermint M&Ms, these may be just for you.
The pieces are larger than standard M&Ms, they’re puffier and a little less regular. They’re delicate pastel colors in pleasing creamy pink, eggshell and white, kind of like a strawberry shortcake with a whipped cream dollop. That’s about as far as the shortcake theme goes, which is fine with me. (The Dove Strawberry Shortcake Crisp things were weird.)
The package this year holds 8 ounces. Years ago the limited edition flavors came in a 9.9 ounce bag, they’re reliably shrinking over time.
The pieces are uncolored in the center and not layered like some. The white chocolate is creamy and sweet and has the floral flavor of fresh strawberries. There are no dried strawberry bits in there, like some previous products have included.
The shell is crunchy and the center is sweet but balanced with the more milky flavors. There’s a lot of fat in there, from the cocoa butter, but they didn’t have a greasy texture. (But that could be that it’s kind of chilly, the Candy Corn version they make in the fall comes along when things are still warm in my area, and the cocoa butter can migrate through the shell in the heat. The flavor in this case reminds me quite a bit of the old Nestle Qwik strawberry milk.
I’m keen on these, but they push all my buttons. They’re pretty and not overly colored, they have a good flavor that’s not too artificial and the ingredients (though there are artificial colors and flavors) are petty decent. I hope they return next year with a wider release.
Thursday, February 18, 2016
Easter is a time for the iconic Cadbury Creme Egg. However, it doesn’t come in a lot of flavor variations. So it’s understandable that someone else wants to get into the cream egg marketplace.
I found these Minion Milk Chocolate with Banana Cream Egg at Cost Plus World Market. It was hard to find out who actually makes them, because it’s not Cadbury. The foil wrapper was hard to read, but eventually I was able to flatten it out to see that it’s made by a company called Treat Street, that mostly makes licensed novelty treats.
It’s a great idea, to make a cream egg with a different flavored filling, and in this case it’s brilliant that they’ve picked banana and partnered that with a Minion themed foil wrapping. They’re quite arresting when viewed in the full bin. But the most notable part of this design is that all of the eggs are Stuart, as they all have one eye (I suppose they could also be other one-eyed Minions, but it’d be silly to pay a licensing fee to make candies with a minor character).
My issue with only one design is minor, because the foil itself is quite adorable. The egg inside is completely ordinary looking. It’s the same as a Cadbury egg, except it’s missing a starburst.
The banana center is very yellow, in fact, one might call it Minion Yellow. Before biting the egg just smells like milky chocolate. After biting, well, it’s all banana. The filling is gooey, a little bit thinner than the Cadbury variety and a little less grainy. It is absolutely sweet and has a strong artificial banana flavor, though it’s also a little on the green side. Some banana flavors can have a lot of acetone notes, this one at least seems a little bit more unripe.
The most disappointing part of the egg construction is that there is not one cream compartment in the center. In the case of these knock off eggs, they’re obviously made in halves which actually have a full coating of chocolate that creates a chocolate septum when biting into the whole egg. This means more chocolate and less filling. It also means that there’s no “yolk”. Though the filling is extremely sweet and quite strongly flavored, there’s so much chocolate to balance it.
As far as a knock-off egg, this one is very good. The chocolate is passably good for a novelty item and the filling is distinctive. Since it adds its own twist with the banana as well as the foil design to go with the Minion character, I’d call it a win. However, I can’t imagine ever buying this unless I was specifically looking for a banana Easter item or something for a Minion fan. The price of $1.49 was a bit steep as well for the quality level.
Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Pucker up! In this episode of Candyology 101, Maria and scratch the surface of the wide world of sour candies. Listen in to find out more about the different acids that make our sour candy so tangy and all of our favorites.
Also be sure to check out our show notes.
Saturday, February 13, 2016
I found the share size bag at Target, which is a great size for a new product like this. The bag has no further description aside from advising that they’re good for snacking or decorating. The little window in the bag shows that they are actually tiny hearts that are two layers, one white and the other a pastel.
As far as I can tell, there are five flavors:
The quality of the flavors is so widely varied that I can’t recommend them. It’s hard to tell them apart because they’re small and only colored on one side, so it’s easy to eat the wrong one if you’re avoiding a color.
I’d like to see Brach’s try again with these because the concept shows a lot of promise. But they’re fine for decorating and I only spent a buck on them. I was disappointed to see that they’re made in China, which means that Brach’s or Ferrara Candy Company didn’t actually make them at all.
Wednesday, February 10, 2016
Last year Tic Tac had a Valentine’s flavor called Be Mine Mix. It featured Strawberry & Wild Cherry in one box. The new version for 2016 has a couple of twists. First, there are three colors in the package, though the flavors are still listed as Wild Cherry & Strawberry Flavors. The appealing new feature though is that they’re printed.
Tic Tac introduced printed little pieces last year with the Minions promotion (which was pretty genius in appearance, though in the States the flavor was not banana as expected, instead it was Passion Fruit). Since Tic Tac invested in this new printer technology, they’re trotting it out for other versions, including the Candy Cane version for Christmas, which were just peppermint Tic Tacs with little red candy canes printed on them.
There are only three conversation starters here: I (heart) You, Hug Me and Be Mine. The type is quite wee, very hard for me to read without my reading glasses on, but love is for the young and able-eyed.
The lightest pink tastes a bit like Strawberry Cake. I have no idea what it’s supposed to be but the shell part is smooth and sweet with very little flavor at first, the next layer down has a tartness and a definite strawberry flavor note. The center is softer and has more strawberry flavor but a really pronounce “cream flavor” which is not to say that it’s actually creamy, it just has a vanilla and maybe even touch of butter note. I don’t like it much.
The medium pink is Strawberry, but this one, instead of the weird vanilla, the center has a menthol note on top of the berry.
The red is Wild Cherry. This is well done. The outside is slick on the tongue with a very mild cherry sweetness. The next level down introduces the more varied cherry notes, a deeper jammy flavor and of course the tart bite. The center has a bit more chalky tartness. As a whole, it’s pretty good. I’m not usually fond of cherry, but this was the best one in the mix ... but it could be because I really didn’t like the others.
All three go together pretty well, but as mints they’re not very refreshing as breath fresheners. The box is cute, but not distinctive as a Valentine’s item. I’d really only get this for someone as a gift or myself if I knew that I liked the flavors. The printing is certainly a novel addition to the brand, but it does decrease the enjoyment of the texture (the printing does not dissolve in the same way as the regular coating does).
Wednesday, February 3, 2016
Tuesday, February 2, 2016
This year Russell Stover jumped on the strawberry trend quite well. They already make a Strawberry Cream Heart for Valentine’s Day, but this year they’ve also added at least three new items with the strawberry theme. I picked up two. The first is the Russell Stover Strawberries & Cream Mix which the package says is strawberry and white pastelle hearts combine for a rich strawberry and cream taste.
The pink package sports lots and lots of hearts, including a few that show the size and shape of the candies. And it’s actually pretty accurate, they do look like little drawings of hearts colored in off white and palest pink. It’s a white confection version of the iddy biddy Santas and Bunnies they do in milk chocolate. (Though they mercifully sell those in little single-serve packages.)
The pieces do smell rather sweet, mild and with a decent strawberry note. They’re soft and matte and kind of strange because they’re very quiet. They’re light and have no candy shell, so pouring them from the package means more sound from the bag than the tumbling of the candy.
When Russell Stover says pastelle, they really mean a combination of sugar, fractionated palm kernel oil, partially hydrogenated palm oil, some milk solids & fats plus a few dabs of food coloring and flavor.
The effect is pretty much what you might think. Mostly waxy, rather sweet, a smidge milky and vaguely strawberry. The white pieces are supposed to be vanilla, but are really just less strawberry because of their proximity in the bag.
They’re not as sweet as I feared they would be. Mostly I’m disappointed that they’re so expensive when Mars was able to make actual white chocolate strawberry M&Ms for less for Easter this year. The one thing they have going for them is that they are pretty darn cute and would be great as a decorative element for a cake or cupcakes or just scattered on a dessert plate. Because they’re a mockolate product, not a coated candy, the colors won’t run and they’re not as likely to melt in most serving situations.
Wednesday, January 27, 2016
There’s not much of a description on the package, just that the squares are filled with strawberry filling. The filling appears to be made from sugar, high fructose corn syrup, palm oil and freeze dried strawberries and colored with fruit and vegetable juice (very vague). It also has some added TBHQ as a preservative. There’s no indication of the cacao content of the chocolate itself, but I’d guess it’s somewhere in the low 60% range. Each square is 70 calories.
The squares are elegant and simple. They’re 1.75 inches square and sport the Ghirardelli logo in a beveled field. In my experience the packaging protects the pieces well and they usually look stunningly gorgeous.
If there’s an issue with the filled squares from Ghirardelli is that they temper their chocolate to be very crisp and snappy ... so the filled pieces can be messy to eat when the chocolate breaks apart upon biting and the filling dribbles out. So, make an effort to bite on the diagonal, or pop the whole thing in your mouth at once.
The chocolate is sweet but with a nice dry woodsy note to it, which goes well with the strawberry flavors. The strawberry filling is quite like a finely pureed strawberry sauce. It’s not overly sweet, has a strong tangy note and just a touch of seed flavor to it (and some actual seeds).
Because the edges are so thick and the chocolate in the center is so thin, there’s a large variation in the proportion of filling to chocolate in any given bite.
I liked them quite a bit, it was the best imitation of a chocolate covered strawberry that doesn’t spoil that I think I’ve had. Ghirardelli Strawberry Squares contain soy and milk and may also contain traces of tree nuts. There’s no statement about gluten.
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