Monday, November 30, 2015
This Winter Edition of the classic square Ritter Sport is a cream filled chocolate bar with 16 little squares. I found mine at Cost Plus World Market, which has been a pretty reliable source for the winter versions (though less often the summer ones). They’re a smidge more expensive than the regular Ritter bars at $2.99, but they’re also placed with the Christmas candy, not the ordinary candy bars.
The bar is described as milk chocolate filled with hazelnut creme and hazelnut cookie pieces. I love the hazelnut bars that Ritter Sport makes, so this was a really enticing idea.
The bar, once broken, looks an awful lot like the chai one, no real perceptible nuts or nut paste or cookie bits, just off white cream.
The bar smells milky but with an actual hazelnut note to it. The cream center is a bit on the greasy side, but does actually have crunches of cookies and some small hazelnut bits. That roasted hazelnut smell, that Nutella scent, takes over the chocolate though. While the coating is milk chocolate, it definitely tastes more like gianduia.
The bar is decent, but not special enough for me. It’s a little on the bland side, and the greasy cream filling doesn’t have enough of the hazelnut punch I’d hoped for. The cookie bits are too few and of course the cream filling is really high in palm fat.
Monday, November 23, 2015
Ritter Sport has introduced seasonal varieties for the past five years or so (or at least that I’ve been able to get a hold of). The newest set for Winter include a new version called Ritter Sport Vanilla Chai Latte.
The description on the English label on the back says that it’s milk chocolate filled with vanilla cream, spices and black tea extract.
The ingredients are actually a little less creamy and a bit more oily:
Like other Ritter Sport cream filled bars, this one clocks in at 164 calories per ounce, which definitely on the high side, especially when it has 9 grams of saturated fat per a 38 gram serving.
It smells a bit like a pumpkin cheesecake. There’s a spice note, which is pleasant but not terribly distinct, just some generic nutmeg, clove and cinnamon. I’ve actually had my fair share of spiced chai over the years, so I know that the spices vary quite a bit. But they’re not that dissimilar to Pumpkin Spice or Gingerbread Spices. What sets it apart here is the black tea extract. Or at least it should.
The milk chocolate bar is very sweet, the chocolate part is milky and creamy but not at all intense, it’s quite overpowered by the spices in the cream. The filling is a little more fudgy and thick, but not at all grainy or oily. The black tea part gives a little tannic note, but mostly the flavors are nutmeg and clove with maybe a little allspice.
It’s an interesting bar because of the warming spices and the cream filling, but I’ve mentioned before that I don’t think that the cream bars that Ritter makes are their strongest item. The flavoring overpowers the chocolate experience, which is usually very good for the price point (much better than Toblerone). I’ll pass on this one if it comes back again next winter.
Wednesday, November 18, 2015
The Lakerol pastille is a simple, soft lozenge made in Sweden. They were first introduced in 1909 as a combination of eucalyptus and menthol in a gum arabic base. The effect is a slightly chewy drop that’s both soothing and takes a long time to dissolve.
Lakerol lozenges are now made by Cloetta, a large Swedish company with a pretty diverse set of confectionery holdings like Kex, Red Band, Malaco (Swedish Fish) and Xilifresh.
I’ve seen the little boxes of Lakerol at import shops, delis and drug stores all my life. They have a very diverse array of flavors, with licorice and black currant as their most popular. I saw this version, which is not sugar free, in Yuzu Citrus at Cost Plus World Market. I’ve had a bit of a hoarse throat since getting over a cold a few weeks ago, so this is exactly the sort of lozenge I like to pick up.
The box holds about 2 dozen little disks, which is only .88 ounces. The pieces are a little larger than shirt buttons with a starburst pattern and the letter A at the center (for Adolf Ahlgren, who started the company). The package says they’re sugar free, they’re made with a combination of maltitol, sorbitol and stevia, but no artificial sweeteners. (The licorice variety contains acesulfame-K, so I’ve avoided Lakerol for many years.)
The texture is firm, but bendable. They have a good citrus flavor with a light note of menthol. The yuzu is a little like a mix of grapefruit and tangerine, and in this case the ingredients list quite a few citruses: grapefruit, orange, sanginello and yuzu. The dissolve is very smooth but it makes a thick, glycerine sort-of-syrupy coating. This is great for a dry throat, and the citrus flavor is fresh without being cloying or too minty (which can burn my sinuses if I’ve taken a decongestant).
They’re pretty nice, the box is small and easy to carry and each little piece lasts for quite a while. I always enjoy these firm gum lozenges, like Grethers Pastilles or Pine Bros around this time of year. I’m glad that Lakerol has some that aren’t artificially sweetened.
Monday, November 16, 2015
Of course there should be Christmas gummis! And not just red and green gummi bears, they should be fully conceived holiday gummis. So, I was really intrigued with Vidal Gummi Gingerbread Men.
The package has all the holiday icons: ornaments, holly with berries, red background and of course a little gingerbread house for the gingerbread man. The gingerbread man looks extremely happy to be there, too. Like he wants to run and jump in your mouth.
The gummis are cookies n’ creme flavor, which is not quite what I was hoping for, especially since I’m not sure what that flavor actually is, it’s more of a thing with textures.
They’re cute little guys, actually they’re pretty big for gummis (but small for cookies). They’re about 2 inches tall and an armspan of about 1.25 inches. Unlike real gingerbread cookies, these are “iced” on the bottom. There’s a foamy white layer base on the pieces and then a tan caramel colored gummi layer for the gingerbread. The actual flavor difference between the layers is negligible, it’s really about textures. The bottom is a little lighter, not quite marshmallow but foamy with a slight creamy touch. The top layer is a little smoother, but about the same flavor.
So, the flavor is, well, not cookies and cream. It’s more like honey sweetened yogurt. It’s sweet but there are no cookie or vanilla notes. There are certainly no spice notes, but it was clear that these aren’t gingerbread flavored. Instead they’re lightly tangy and just bland. I found them absolutely unappealing. The only good thing was that they didn’t smell weird, like some gummis can.
I think that there’s a market out there for non-fruity gummis. There are some licorice types around, but it would be fun to expand the flavors to things like mint and butterscotch or caramel or maybe even peanut butter. As far as these go, though, they’re purely for decoration and non-discriminating people. They are not tasty candy.
Vidal gummis are gluten free. They contain gelatin so they’re not vegetarian or kosher. There’s no statement on the label about soy or nuts, but they do contain coconut oil.
Friday, November 13, 2015
I have often desired a better version of the Almond Joy. I love the combination of chocolate and almonds and coconut, but the classic Almond Joy is just a little too sweet and well, has a lot of unnecessary ingredients.
Theo Chocolate of Seattle has been making organic and ethically sourced chocolate for quite a while, and even make one of my favorite bars, their Salted Almond Dark Chocolate. Their newest product expansion has been in the arena of traditional candy bars made with better ingredients (liked their peanut butter cups). The newest is Theo Coconut Salted Almond Bites. They’re part of a full line of coconut bites that come in milk or dark chocolate as well, but the twist here that combined an already well-loved bar was too enticing to resist, even at $2.39 for a scant 1.3 ounce package.
The ingredients are non-GMO, fair trade, palm oil free, soy free and organic. It’s also vegan (but made on shared equipment, so not necessarily for folks with dairy or egg allergies.)
The little squares do not look like Almond Joy. The almonds are actually little slivers and chips within the coconut filling, not a couple of whole almonds on top with the chocolate coating.
The smell is comforting, a clean coconut scent, but not quite as sweet and perfumey as suntan oil. The bite is soft, the filling is chewy but not at all sticky. The coconut is moist and distinct. The best part of the whole thing though is the dark touch of the chocolate shell. It’s deep and has a light sweetness that really isn’t found in the coconut. The salt really isn’t evident as a discrete element, but the whole thing isn’t sweet or cloying. The almond provide a different crunch over the chewy coconut.
It’s a very light treat, with really strong flavors and textures. This could become a regular habit ... actually, it has, this is the third bar I’ve purchased since they came out. It took me a while to control myself long enough to take photos.
Thursday, November 12, 2015
Tuesday, November 10, 2015
The package for Nestle Toll House DelightFulls - Dark Chocolate Morsels with Mint Filling says that they’re a baking product. But we all know that chocolate chips are just candy you put in baked goods.
Nestle’s new twist, introduced last year, are filled morsels that come in a variety of combinations for baking. The pieces are just slightly larger than a standard Toll House Dark Chocolate Morsel, so they easy to add to cookies or just eat as candy. The current varieties are dark chocolate with cherry flavored filling, milk chocolate with caramel or peanut butter filling. And then of course, the version I picked up.
The pieces are actually better looking than regular morsels, they were less scuffed up, some were downright glossy. The package only holds 9 ounces, not the usual 12, but for 3.29, I thought they were a pretty good price. The chocolate is real, but the mint filling is made with palm oil, milk, sugar, peppermint oil and food coloring. I was hoping they’d be a better version of Andes Mints, which I love but really aren’t very good quality.
The dark chocolate outside isn’t very complex or even very dark. The cacao content isn’t listed, but it’s pretty sweet. The filling is a little fudgier, a little grainier but also lightly salty. The mint flavor is clean and I didn’t get any notes from the artificial coloring.
The difference between these and any old mint flavored dark chocolate morsel is that the filling makes these a softer bite. It’s not really obvious when I eat them that they’re filled, per se, but there’s definitely a change in the intensity of the flavors based on melting them on the tongue (lots of chocolate, then lots of mint) versus chewing them to get a balance of chocolate and soft mint.
Monday, November 2, 2015
The Spearmint Mix Tic Tac is pretty simple, and not that different than the classic Peppermint.
Spearmint is a less common mint flavor when it comes to candy (though an easier herb to grow than peppermint, strange how that happens). The package holds equal quantities of medium and light green mints. I picked these up at Target a little over a month ago, but no I can’t seem to find them again.
If there’s a difference in the flavor between the two colors, I’m not sure I ever figured it out. It’s possible the darker color was stronger but both were suitably flavorful.
The nice thing about Tic Tacs are the smoothness. The coating on the outside is slick and kind of eases me into the minty notes. I’m a cruncher, so I get to the very minty core pretty quickly. They’re quite strong for such a small mint, though not as caustic as Altoids can be.
But here’s where things go awry. As I was preparing this review, I wanted to make sure I knew what all the allergen specifications were and noticed that the ingredients on the package said that this variety includes sucralose (sold as Splenda in yellow packets). I rechecked old reviews and packages posted online to confirm that this is not the case with other varieties. I specifically avoid artificial sweeteners and some are actually called out on the labels like allergens, but in this case the sucralose was just in the list way at the end and the word resembles sucrose at first glance. (And there’s some printing in a different direction on that part of the label that’s rather confusing, design-wise.)
Basically, I’m bummed. I have never experienced a reaction to sucralose specifically (my problems are with Aspartame, but I’m tarring a lot of other sweeteners with that brush, because, well, why not, it’s a big world and I should be able to get candies with sugar in them.) At first experience I was very enthusiastic about this variety, now I don’t care to eat Tic Tacs any longer. They were my go-to mint for full sugar and shareability.
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.