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.
Saturday, October 31, 2015
I’ve got something for everyone if you come knocking at my front gate this year: Justin’s Peanut Butter Cups, Payday Bars, Airheads Minis, Charms Sweet & Sour Pops, assorted Wrigley’s sugar free gums, and some lemon drops.
If you’re curious what Halloween in Los Angeles is like, one of my digital buds has been tracking what he gives out and what costumes the kids appear with going back 10 years.
Happy Halloween! Stay safe, eat lots.
Thursday, October 29, 2015
It’s the Candyology 101 podcast anniversary. Our first episode was also about Halloween. This year we talked about some of the new products we’ve seen, recommended candies for dietary restrictions (allergies) and the goofiest candy poll we’ve seen in years.
Happy Halloween, sweet friends!
Monday, October 26, 2015
Peeps are made for all the holidays now: Valentine’s, Christmas, Halloween, your Birthday and, of course, Easter. The newest Halloween edition of the Peeps chicks come in new flavors with the addition of a little cream dip.
The Caramel Apple Peeps are described as apple flavored marshmallow dipped in caramel fudge. This brings me to the fact that fudge has no actual definition, kind of like frosting. It’s just a sugary thing that’s not caramel or chocolate ... so they called it fudge. The package shows apple trees and a basket of all colors of apples. It might have been fun if the Peeps themselves were different colors, like pink and yellow and green. But they’re all just green.
They do smell like fake green apple. The bite is sweet but has a green apple candle note to it, it’s all scent and no real tart flavor. The caramel fudge is actually kind of believable in this instance, as it does have a hint of salt and butter flavoring.
The overall effect isn’t very successful. There are really no textural elements of an actual caramel apple: no crunch, no tart juice, no chewy caramel. The color is oddly soft and minty, not something I would expect to be fruity and the caramel fudge is full of palm kernel oil.
This flavor seemed pretty promising, as I did like the Gingerbread Peeps I had some years ago. The idea of adding a touch of spice to a marshmallow and something resembling white chocolate was solid.
The Peeps are lightly orange or creamy brown. The spice is very mild, less potent than those Gingerbread Peeps. There’s a coconut note from the fudge dipped base and a creamy sweetness to the whole thing. It’s not a revelation of deliciousness, it’s just kind of plain. There was a weird bitterness to the marshmallow which I can only guess is the artificial color, which goes all the way through instead of just on the sugar coating.
The Candy Corn Peeps were a disappointment in concept, but the execution is decent. First, I wanted a layered triangle shape, not a yellow peeps with some orange sprinkles on it. That is not candy corn. Candy corn is layers, candy corn is triangles.
The Candy Corn Peeps smell a little popcorny, a little sweet and buttery, but there’s a floral strawberry note that takes the greasy notes of diacetyl away. They’re basically okay, they might smell a little buttery, but they mostly taste like a fake honey. They’re sweet and the white fudge base makes them sweeter. They’re just really sweet, to the point where I can’t even leave the package open near me because they’re just too sweet. (But so is Candy Corn, so that’s authenticity.)
Overall, these are not Peeps for me. They’re too mild, and the fake fudge stuff is just waxy and disappointing. The flavors are certainly on trend, but lacking the oomph needed to cut through the seasonal flavor noise.
Friday, October 23, 2015
Have you ever wished that you could get American-made Ferrero Rocher? You know, a whole hazelnut with some crispy crunch and milk chocolate? Well, keep wishing, because Hershey’s Kisses Deluxe do not fill that hazelnut-flavored hole in your heart.
The new Hershey’s Kisses Deluxe are definitely a step above the regular Milk Chocolate Hershey’s Kiss. They’re twice the size of a regular Kiss and feature a whole roasted hazelnut, creamy layers and delicate crisps. They’re just as expensive as Ferrero Rocher and come in little gold foil wrappers. This goofy plastic tray that I picked up at Walgreen’s holds four pieces, cost $1.59 but is only 1.2 ounces. That comes to $21 for a pound. And like many Hershey’s products, they’re also made in Mexico.
So, I went into this with very low expectations because of the price and the packaging and the reputation of the brand.
Out of the flimsy tray the bronzy gold foil is quite nice, and the grand size is actually very appealing. The chocolate shell is glossy and has a balanced sweet and nutty scent.
The bite is quite nice, the milk chocolate is much creamier than the standard Hershey’s Kiss and the whole hazelnut in the center was perfect. The light crispies are not a huge flavor component, but a very good addition to the texture. The sweetness is a little strong, but because the pieces aren’t very big, it didn’t seem too cloying. The overwhelming note afterwards was the roasted hazelnut.
The package says there’s only 170 calories, which is easy to explain when it’s only 1.2 ounces, but they’re still only 142 calories per ounce ... or 43 calories for each deluxe Kiss.
I didn’t think I was going to like these, I was prepared to mock them, but they turned out to be pretty good candy. However, as far as hazelnut candies wrapped in foil goes? I’m still going to pick up Perugina Baci if it’s an option (and it seems they’re similarly priced). I’m most curious to see if Hershey’s will introduce a dark chocolate version, or perhaps expand with some other varieties, such as marzipan or pistachio.
These are made with milk, soy and hazelnuts and also may contain pecans and almonds. The package states that Kisses Deluxe are gluten-free.
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