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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

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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)

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Theo My Cherry Baby

Theo My Cherry BabyIt’s hard to resist a pretty bit of packaging, especially when, as I mentioned in last week’s review of the Theo’s Love Crunch, a chocolate bar is far better than a greeting card. The bubbly design in reds and pinks is a bit feminine, but the flavors should suit anyone who likes their milk chocolate on the deeper side of the pool.

This Theo bar delivers on the promise of the package, for me. The wrapper for the Theo Chocolate My Cherry Baby bar says, Fall in love with cherries in dreamy 45% milk chocolate - tangy, sweet and yummy.

The bars are made in Seattle with ethically sourced, non GMO, no soy, gluten free, Kosher and in this case, at a darn affordable price. For some reason they weren’t $4 a bar, which Theo is usually priced, but I got mine for $1.50 each.

DSC_8596rb

The bar is a dark milk, which is a nice place to start for a high end bar. The flavor is quite deep with rich coffee notes, but also quite a bit of malt and even a hint of yeast in there. The cherry pieces are tiny and a bit on the leathery side. They’re tangy and chewy, but not freeze dried crispy bits either. The flavor combines well, though both seem to bring out bitter notes in each other - I got the cherry skin bitterness on one hand and the roasted acrid notes from the chocolate.

It’s a tasty bar, easy to eat, but I felt no need to eat more than a large square at a time, even though a half of a bar is the recommended dose.

I do enjoy Theo Chocolate’s seasonal bars quite a bit, much more than their standard just-chocolate. The gold standard for them will probably always be the Dark Chocolate Salted Almond ... but toss in a few cherries for a holiday version, and I might be inclined to revise my opinion.

Related Candies

  1. Theo Chocolate Nutcracker Brittle
  2. Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Cranberry
  3. Cacao Prieto 72% Dark Chocolate Pecan & Sour Cherry
  4. Theo Salted Almond Dark Chocolate
  5. Nestle Cherry Raisinets
  6. Theo 3400 Phinney Bars


Name: My Cherry Baby
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Theo Chocolate
Place Purchased: Whole Foods (Park LaBrea)
Price: $1.50 (on sale)
Size: 3 ounces
Calories per ounce: 147
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Valentines, Theo, Chocolate, Ethically Sourced, Kosher, Organic, 7-Worth It, United States, Whole Foods

POSTED BY Cybele AT 2:03 pm     All NaturalCandyReviewValentinesTheoChocolateEthically SourcedKosherOrganic7-Worth ItUnited StatesWhole FoodsComments (0)

Monday, February 9, 2015

Torie & Howard: Meyer Lemon & Raspberry

Torie & Howard makes organic hard candies in a variety of fruit flavors.

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I got this sample from the Fancy Food Show last month in their newest variety: Meyer Lemon & Raspberry Organic Hard Candy

They come in lovely tins, or can be purchased in bulk to refill the tin as well. There are some elegant touches, such as the inside of the tin is turquoise blue, instead of the default tin color.

As hard candies, the ingredients are pretty simple, so they’re organic, contain no corn syrup or gluten and are also free from GMO, soy and dairy products.

DSC_8174rb

The little wrappers take up a substantial amount of space in the tin, but they do hold 2 ounces of actual candy (more than the discontinued Altoids Sours).

The pieces are small, but fit well in the mouth. There are very few voids and the dissolve yields and intense flavor burst. I can’t quite tell that it’s a Meyer Lemon and not Eureka lemon flavors, but I can say that it’s lemony. The raspberry gives it a little more floral note, kissed with a bit of jam. The zest comes out later, and has a lasting bitter bite to it, so much that I kind of felt burned after eating five in succession (that is the serving size).

These are very refreshing, and I find them most useful in situations where I might want to stay alert, like driving or a long meeting. Since they’re small, they’re quite discreet. I think they’re a lovely gift or special occasion item, something to put in a gift basket for a baby shower or housewarming present. I don’t see buying these for myself except for extraordinary circumstances.

I would be curious to try spice flavors, though. I don’t know if I’ve seen a chai, or cinnamon in organic before.

Related Candies

  1. Simply Gum: Fennel Licorice
  2. Sugarfina Beverly Hills & Trio of Goodies
  3. Raley’s Hand Crafted Rock Hard Candies
  4. Torie & Howard Organic Hard Candies
  5. Newman’s Own Ginger Mints
  6. Gimbal’s Honey Lovers
  7. Organic Zootons
  8. Pure Fun & Yummy Earth Organic Hard Candies
  9. Organic Surf Sweets


Name: Meyer Lemon & Raspberry 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: $6.99
Size: 2 ounces
Calories per ounce: 106
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Hard Candy & Lollipops, Organic, 7-Worth It, Mexico

POSTED BY Cybele AT 4:13 pm     All NaturalCandyReviewTorie & HowardGummi CandyOrganic7-Worth ItMexicoComments (0)

Friday, February 6, 2015

Seely Dark Chocolate Mint Patties

DSC_8534rbI’ve reviewed quite a few mint patties here on Candy Blog over the years. It’s a good candy category and allows for a different variations in size, ratios and fondant/filling styles as well as ingredients.

Today I have the Seely Dark Chocolate Mint Patties which are made by hand with Fair Trade certified 70% chocolate and locally harvested mint.

I first tried some Seely products at the Fancy Food Show last month. The family run farm grows peppermint and spearmint in Oregon. They sell both packaged dried mint for tea and a few confectionery specialties made with their mint oils.

The patties are made by hand. It’s a curious little process, because they’re made like a sandwich, one side at a time. So the bottom is created by creating a puddle of dark chocolate and allowing it to set, then it’s flipped over and a mint cream center is deposited on top of it, then another layer of dark chocolate. Like an Oreo that has a flat unmarked inside and an embossed outside, this pattie has the swirls of the chocolate on both sides.

The box holds only 5 patties, which are one ounce each and packaged in an ordinary thick cellophane sleeve. They’re expensive, the box was $7.99, so each pattie works out to about $1.60 each.

DSC_8210rb

The dark chocolate is creamy and well tempered, it has a good snap but no real flavor of its own in combination with the peppermint center. The cream center is made from confectioners sugar (which contains corn starch), tapioca syrup and egg whites along with their own peppermint oil for flavor.

The center has a wonderful melt. It’s smooth and creamy, not dry but not moist or sticky like a York Peppermint Pattie. The pattie is mostly filling, only the thinnest of chocolate on either side. It’s not an overwhelming mint, but it is quite sweet. Though the chocolate is bittersweet, it could be just a little thicker or a little less sweet on its own. Otherwise, this is a true peppermint pattie.

The patties contain egg whites and soy. There are no other allergen statements on the list.

The other item I tried, but don’t have a photo for, are their Ivory Mint Melts. I’ve been curious about these, conceptually, for a long time. The Ivory Mint Melts are just little white chocolate disks flavored with box peppermint and spearmint. Peppermint and white chocolate is quite common, but the use of spearmint is pretty rare. Spearmint is easy to grow, and the most common mint found at the grocery store in the produce aisle. But when it comes to confectionery, nearly everything mint is going to be peppermint. The Ivory Mint Melts are a combination of white chocolate, made with real cocoa butter, and both peppermint and spearmint flavors.

The white chocolate has its own milky flavor, so it’s an interesting combination because its not a blank canvas. The melt is quite good, very smooth and with an immediate hit of the spearmint notes. It’s peppery and has a grassy note to it, then there’s the peppermint in the background. It’s really refreshing but took some getting used to as it is just so unusual. I would definitely buy these, though they’re expensive and I’d prefer to find them in a store instead of paying both the high price (it’s artisan) and the shipping.



Name: Dark Chocolate Mint Patties
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Seely Family Farm
Place Purchased: Whole Foods (Park LaBrea)
Price: $7.99
Size: 5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 120
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Chocolate, Ethically Sourced, Fondant, Mints, 8-Tasty, United States, Whole Foods

POSTED BY Cybele AT 1:12 pm     All NaturalCandyReviewChocolateEthically SourcedFondantMints8-TastyUnited StatesWhole FoodsComments (0)

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Theo Red Hot Cinnamon Love Crunch

Theo Red Hot Cinnamon Love CrunchValentine’s Day candy is disappointing because it’s usually about the packaging. So, I was pleased at Whole Foods when I spotted two limited edition varieties from Theo Chocolate for Valentine’s Day ... and on sale at 2 bars for $3 (they’re usually $4 each). I’ve often said that a fine chocolate bar is better than a greeting card and in this case, far cheaper. There’s even a “To” and “From” spot on the back of the bar. (But the ideal touch would be to include at least a personalized post it note.)

It’s called Theo Red Hot Cinnamon Love Crunch. The description on the back said: The red-hot crunch of cinnamon brittle in smooth, rich, 70% dark chocolate - spicy and sweet.

Sounds amazing: for $1.50, I was getting a unique bar that combined cinnamon and chocolate, that was also fair trade certified, non-GMO, organic, vegan, soy-free, Kosher and made here in the USA. Goodbye, ordinary candy in a heart shaped package! (The other bar I picked up was the milk chocolate My Cherry Baby.)

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On the tongue at first it’s a little tangy. The melt is a little grainy, I wasn’t sure if it was the crunchy bits or not at first, but it seems that some of it is spices. It became apparent very quickly that this was not just a cinnamon and chocolate bar. My bad for not reading the label fully.

Here’s the deal: the package is pink, the printing on the back is brown. In full light and my reading glasses, I can read it. But not in the dim light and glassesless state I was in at Whole Foods. (My usual trick when I don’t have my glasses and the print is tiny is to take a photo with my phone and then blow it up, but I read the description and thought that was the extent of the flavors.)

The ingredients of interest here are (after you get through the chocolate stuff): cayenne, cinnamon leaf essential oil, black pepper essential oil, nutmeg essential oil and clove essential oil.

I actually like spicy things (curry, cinnamon, black pepper and ginger), but the one I can’t do is red pepper. Capsascin is one of those compounds that people experience differently because of genetic differences. For me, cayenne isn’t fun, there’s a lot of heat that doesn’t seem to dissipate and in higher concentrations it just induces nausea. So, I avoid anything other than mild chili items. While there’s a proliferation of chili peppers in confection, and for the most part they’re tolerable, though not always enjoyable for me.

This was freakishly hot for me. I got the different sensations from the various spices, I could actually discern the difference between the black pepper and the cayenne and the cinnamon. (Clove actually has a bit of a numbing effect.) The cinnamon really only came in at the beginning as a scent. The tangy bite of the chocolate did help to mellow the pepper at first, but once it hit my throat, the one-two punch of black and red pepper was too much. The little brittle crunch pieces were supposed to be cinnamon, and maybe some of them were, but other larger bits seemed flavorless.

I tried this bar twice, eating only one of the large squares each time in small bits. The warming effect from the spices lasts a long time, well over a half an hour. Though it didn’t upset my stomach, it really didn’t please me either and I don’t plan on finishing the bar.

If your loved one is partial to the extremely spicy side of things, this might be a good option, especially if you’re looking for something without dairy or soy (the Lindt dark chocolate products contain milk and soy ingredients). The bar is made in a facility that also handles peanuts, wheat, milk, eggs and soy.

Related Candies

  1. Theo Chocolate Nutcracker Brittle
  2. Artisan du Chocolat Black Cardamom
  3. Limited Edition M&Ms Cinnamon Milk Chocolate
  4. Cowgirl Chocolates Mild Milk Chocolate Sarsaparilla
  5. See’s Cinnamon (Hearts & Lollypops)
  6. Theo 3400 Phinney Bars
  7. Chuao ChocoPods


Name: Red Hot Cinnamon Love Crunch
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Theo Chocolate
Place Purchased: Whole Foods (Park LaBrea)
Price: $1.50 (on sale)
Size: 3 ounces
Calories per ounce: 140
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Valentines, Theo, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Ethically Sourced, Kosher, Organic, 5-Pleasant, United States, Whole Foods

POSTED BY Cybele AT 1:57 pm     All NaturalCandyReviewValentinesTheoBrittleChocolateCinnamonEthically SourcedKosherOrganic5-PleasantUnited StatesWhole FoodsComments (0)

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Brach’s Red Velvet Candy Corn & Candyology Episode 7

Brach's Red Velvet Candy CornBrach’s Red Velvet Candy Corn is one of the newest in Brach’s wide-ranging attempt to create a Candy Corn for every flavor under the sun. Many of their flavors are inspired by desserts, like Apple Pie and Carrot Cake ... it’s not surprising that they went for Red Velvet Cake, and certainly appropriate for a Valentine’s-themed candy.

It’s no secret if you’ve been reading Candy Blog that I think Red Velvet as a flavor is stupid. So, you can guess where this review is going to end up, if you’re not the kind of person who scrolls to the bottom to see the rating before reading.

Sprinkles Red Velvet CupcakeFor those who are blissfully unaware, Red Velvet Cake is a yellow cake made with a touch of cocoa (classically with some vinegar to bring out the red) and buttermilk and then topped with ermine icing or the easier-to-make cream cheese frosting. So the flavor has become it’s a not-quite-chocolate cake with some cream cheese. For the most part the appeal of the cake is the stunning visual appeal of the layers of velvety dark red (usually enhanced with colorings) and the creamy white frosting. Sadly, most people experience it as a cupcake.

DSC_8378rb

Since Red Velvet Cake is a layered item, making a Candy Corn variety is actually kind of logical. The layers, however, make no sense. It’s like they took the ingredients and used those, instead of an assembled cake. The base is dark brown, and like Red Velvet Cake, it’s not actually chocolatey, simply less sweet. The middle layer is just red food coloring in otherwise unflavored fondant. So, for me, it’s bitter. The top is white, and has a more crumbly texture and even less flavor. There’s a general vanilla note, especially when I smelled the candy in the bag.

One of the things I like about classic candy corn is the honey note and the light hint of salt. There’s 70 mg of sodium in each serving (19 pieces) but I didn’t really get any pleasure from it.

They’re fine, but not as good as regular candy corn, and not inventive enough to make me either loathe it or love it.

If you’d like other thoughts on Red Velvet, listen in as Episode 7 of Candyology101 covers Valentine’s Day candy ... and Maria and I get to rant about our pet peeves.

Download MP3 directly. and read our full show notes.

Candyology_Episode_7

Related Candies

  1. Dove Milk Chocolate & Red Velvet Swirl Promises
  2. Red Velvet Peeps
  3. Brach’s Candy Cane Candy Corn
  4. Brach’s Carrot Cake Candy Corn
  5. M&Ms Milk Chocolate Red Velvet
  6. Brach’s S’mores Candy Corn
  7. Russell Stover Red Velvet Santa


Name: Red Velvet Candy Corn
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Brach’s
Place Purchased: Target (Eagle Rock)
Price: $2.79
Size: 14 ounces
Calories per ounce: 102
Categories: Candy, Valentines, Brach's, Ferrara Pan, Fondant, 5-Pleasant, Mexico, Target

POSTED BY Cybele AT 3:43 pm     CandyReviewValentinesBrach'sFerrara PanFondant5-PleasantMexicoTargetComments (0)

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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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COUNTDOWN.

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Which seasonal candy selection do you prefer?

Choose one or more:

  •   Halloween
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ON DECK

These candies will be reviewed shortly:

• Mike and Ike Cotton Candy

• Strawberry Cajillions

• Candy Tease: Sweets & Snacks Part 1

• Hachez Braune Blatter (Chocolate Leaves)

• Rogue Chocolatier

 

 

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