Thursday, April 12, 2007
I’ve been a big admirer of Chuao since I found it last year. They use all El Rey chocolate and combine classic and contemporary ingredients for tantalizing and fresh flavor combinations. While you can only get their best items at their shops or online (such as their bon bons) they did introduce their quaint little ChocoPod (review here), which are great little nibbles of chocolate perfect for an accompaniment for your coffee-house fare.
This year they’re expanding their ChocoPod line with their new collection of filled ChocoPod.
Chuao gave me a sampler box (sorry, not available to the public) so I could try all the flavors.
Picante - spicy Cabernet caramel. This one had a lovely tangy and fruity flavor that gave my throat quite a burn. (Dark Chocolate)
Passion - passion fruit and caramel. I’m not usually a big fan of passion fruit (or guava or papaya for that matter), but this was fab. It was sweet and grapey and mellow. It makes we want to give passion fruits another try. (Dark Chocolate)
Modena - strawberry & balsamic caramel. I’ve had this one as a bonbon, it has a great fruity flavor with a very noticeable dark tang to it from the balsamic. What it’s missing, for me, is the caramelized/burnt sugar notes that would bring out the deeper flavors. (Dark Chocolate)
Candela - spicy macadmia praline. Ugh, I did not like this one at all. The texture was great, the praline was a little crunchy from the caramelized sugar, but macadamia are just not a good flavor to me. Since this was a macadamia paste, there wasn’t even the macadamia texture as a reprieve. Again, totally a personal thing. (Dark Chocolate)
Banana - banana brown sugar caramel. This is the flat version of the Cambur bonbon I love so much. Sweet and salty with a wonderful fresh banana flavor. A little on the sweet side, but this one had more in the chocolate department than the bonbon does. (Milk Chocolate)
Dulce de Leche - milk caramel. Wonderfully milky, rather sticky on the tongue but with a good complex cooked milk and sugar taste. (Milk Chocolate)
Since I was a big fan of the Cambur (the bonbon version of the Banana), I’m enthusiastic about the idea of being able to pick these up at a coffee house. (Might I suggest Chuao’s sales staff contact my favorite coffee house, Sabor y Cultura in Hollywood and see about getting them into that cafe?) I know they’re a bit more expensive than some treats, but the size and proportion are just right for me.
YumSugar also gave these a try. She didn’t like the Banana as much as I did, but gave the set a thumbs up. I haven’t seen these in stores yet, but you can order online right now. Banana and Dulce de Leche aren’t available yet. (So if you have to order, just get them in the BonBon version!)
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Das Foods is a curious little company that carries the two essential products for human life: Salt and Caramels. (I keeeed ... everyone knows that chocolate is also essential.) Aside from the heaps of Hawaiian sea salts in a rainbow of colors you’ll find that the Fleur de Sal Caramels are priced about the same (well, a smidge more expensive, but then again they’re individually wrapped ... try that with salt!).
The little boxes are deceptively small. But pick one up and it’s a dense, quarter-pounder with caramels. Each caramel is wrapped tightly in wax paper (folded, not twisted, space is at a premium here). As an artisan product they’re hand cut and vary in shape and size but most are about an inch long and a half an inch square. The flavors lean on the classic side with a few surprises.
These are very soft caramels, smooth, buttery and creamy with a big zap of salt crystals. (I had to re-form the unwrapped one in the picture because it kind of pulled and elongated when I unwrapped it.)
Classic - a smooth and creamy caramel with the lightest touch of honey and lavender.
Chai Latte - a lovely and mild combination of cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom with just a hint of cloves. The creamy buttery flavors blend well with the light spices.
Orange & Honey - these smelled juicy and zesty. The orange was a great addition to a traditional caramel, but the salt here was just too much. I’m not sure if the proportion is different of I just got a batch that had a little too much tipped into it. I didn’t finish these.
Ginger & Pistachio - oh, this was a lovely combo. The green nuttiness of the pistachios went so well with the buttery background of the caramels, and far into the chew the rooty-spicy flavor of the ginger came out (but no burn). Not as salty as the other, just the right hit to make the other flavors noticeable. These were the first to be consumed.
Though Das Foods carries a wide variety of salts, all of these caramels featured Fleur de Sel (Hand Harvested French Sea Salt).
They make two other varieties I didn’t try: Chocolate Walnut and Lemon & Honey. The website says that they source their ingredients locally (except that sea salt) to their Highwood, IL kitchen. My only complaint was how devilishly hard it was to get the waxed wrapper off some of them. It was easier if they were chilled slightly, but then that made them firmer in the mouth. Somewhere in the cool of the morning there was a compromise of a low room temperature that meant I could take the wrapper off but still chew the caramel. (I have to say that as wrappers go, if I end up eating waxed paper it’s not nearly as bad as eating cellophane or, the worst, foil.)
I don’t think these are available in stores, but Das has a webstore.
Thursday, April 5, 2007
This is a great little assortment provided by Amber (via Bronwen) all the way from Toronto. I’m not sure why they don’t sell bags of these in the United States. Inside are four different items. There are little solid foil wrapped eggs of Dairy Milk chocolate, then there are mini Caramilk Eggs (Caramilk Oeuf) and mini Creme Eggs (Oeuf Fondant).
This way there’s something for everyone, and not too much of anything (because they’re the minis). The wrappings aren’t exactly Easter-ish, but maybe I’m locked into thinking that Easter is a pastel holiday.
All of the items are slightly different in side. I’ll go from smallest to largest.
Dairy Milk eggs - smooth and creamy with a rather noticeable caramelized milk taste to it. It’s slightly different from the American Cadbury chocolate, just a little less crumbly, a little more fudgy.
Caramilk Eggs (Caramilk Oeuf) - these are wrapped in pretty little orange and brown foil. Under the wrapping is a texturized surface, kind of like crocodile. Inside the chocolate shell are two halves that have been pressed together to form the egg. They’re filled with the sticky Caramilk caramel, which again is like a cross between a syrupy flowing caramel and a dulce de leche. Not too sweet, just a really thick texture that just about sticks to the roof of my mouth, and definitely to my ribs.
Creme Eggs (Oeuf Fondant) - this is the largest of the three and cloaked in the gaudiest of purple, red and yellow foil. These do not have the septum of the Caramilk eggs, so biting into them is a pure fondant experience. The filling on these is a saffron yellow and much thicker than the flowing stuff I’m accustomed to with the larger eggs I’ve had from the States. This fondant has a slight crumbly look to it, but the same flavor ... sweet. The texture reminds me a little bit of Oreos and the larger ratio of chocolate helps me to keep from going completely batty on sugar overload.
None of them are particularly pretty after de-foiling (come on, that Caramilk one looks like the progeny of The Thing!), the surface of many of them doesn’t have that bright unspoiled sheen of, oh, the Godiva ones. But at about 80% of the price, I’m willing to just look at them fully clothed.
These aren’t bad but I’m not sure if they’re better than the American ones available, since I didn’t taste the mini ones that are available here (and it’s been a whole year). I certainly liked this set of ratios better than the large ones. Cadbury Canada does not use PGPR in their chocolate (but then again, neither do the American creme eggs).
Friday, March 23, 2007
I think it must be Egg Day here at Candy Blog! Russell Stover makes a lot of different Eggs. I covered some last year and was pleasantly surprised.
This egg wins the award for “color of center that I’d most like to have as a cashmere sweater”. It’s a delicate dusty pearl pink. It’s light and fluffy (the cream, not the imaginary sweater) and the first thing that hits me is a little bit of salt, then the sweet floral flavors of the rapsberry. It’s not tangy ... all sweet and berry. Then it starts to sink in ... it’s really really sweet. Even the mild dark chocolate shell can’t cut through it.
It smells good, but it’s just not quite for me (I’ll gladly swap it for a Strawberry though). There are real raspberry seeds in there.
I reviewed the Organic Pecan Delight last month and found it a decent candy. So I thought I’d give the original a try in the form of the Pecan Delight Egg. It has to be good, there’s gold on the wrapper, right.
Well, color me disappointed. Mostly because one of the major elements promised in the name of the candy is missing ... the pecans. While the Organic Pecan Delight had quite a few, it was as if they used the same amount of pecans for this whole egg as they did in those smaller candies. The caramel is nice and smooth with a light chew to it and the chocolate was okay, without the woodsy crunch of the pecans, this just wasn’t my thing.
Peanut Butter Egg is a milk chocolate egg with a peanut butter crumble filling. It’s dark tasting, smoky and nutty.
It’s rough when I eat candies similar to See’s around the same time, because they suffer by comparison. However, I have to say that this is a rather different peanut butter egg and good in its own right. It’s not a Reese’s, not a See’s, it’s a Russell Stover. More roasty tasting, a little salty and really quite good.
I think my fave of the Russell Stover Eggs is still the dark chocolate coconut (which I picked up in Heart form at Valentine’s), but it was fun to give these a go. They’re often on sale for 50 cents each, perhaps a fun change-up from the drudgery of regular candy bars (and because they’re only an ounce, perhaps a little savings of calories).
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Eek! The end of the week is coming and I still have oodles of Easter candy left to review. Time to double up!
The eggs themselves are about half the size of an actual chicken egg (sliced longways), so they don’t sit quite right in the egg carton. In fact, if you don’t carry the carton horizontally, they’ll all roll out of their little pockets. But not with the messy effect of real eggs. At 45 calories per egg and only 1.5 grams of fat they’re not a bad little treat for someone looking for a little chocolate and a bit more interaction satisfaction than 45 calories of straight chocolate can give.
The marshmallow inside is bouncy and light, not terribly moist. The chocolate outside wasn’t eggciting, just a rather unremarkable coating of plain dark sweet chocolate. The first one I ate (the one pictured) tasted rather like the carton they were in ... a little chemical-y. So for my next tasting I took them out of the carton and left them on a little plate for a half an hour. You know, “to breathe.” That little airing out helped. Now they taste sweet and flavorless. Not bad ... not eggstraodinary by any means, but I only paid 99 cents for the carton of twelve ... what could I have been eggspecting?
Rating: 4 out of 10
After I picked up the carton of Marshmallow Eggs, I found more of the Melster marshmallow line at the 99 Cent Only Store. They had the plain eggs in individually wrapped packets like this as well as these Caramel Marshmallow Eggs. There are only 6 eggs in this package and it doesn’t even weigh as much. But I still considered the price more than reasonable.
Where the plain eggs were only 45 calories each, the addition of caramel here makes them 60 calories though still only a gram of fat. I’m guessing the difference is that the caramel eggs are just a little denser (though the same size).
While I wanted to like these, they had a latexy quality ... and I don’t mean the texture. They tasted like someone had just painted my mouth. That fresh paint smell was coupled with the taste of cereal, maybe corn flakes.
So, maybe these needed the same “airing out” ... and that’s what I did. A half an hour out of the package. Ugh, it still tasted like a can of latex wall paint (maybe ceiling paint, my palette isn’t that sophisticated when it comes to interior coatings).
Now, I recognize that I’ve not reviewed candies for fans of paint fumes, so consider this your first whole hearted recommendation.
For those of you who are not fans of sitting around smelling the paint dry, well, I’d advise sticking to the plain eggs or splurge for Russell Stover or even better See’s.
Rating: 2 out of 10
More about the history of the Melster Company which is now owned by Impact Confections (makers of Warheads).
Thursday, March 8, 2007
Oh, goodness, what do we have here? See’s makes a lot of seasonal treats and I think I’ve discovered my new favorite: The Scotchmallow Egg. I’ve reviewed the Scotchmallow Bar before, which is milk chocolate, but this one is more like the piece you get in the store (or a box of See’s). It’s dark chocolate (Guittard, thankyouverymuch) with marshmallow and caramel in the center.
The box has six eggs in them, which are about twice the size of a regular piece of Scotchmallow - about 2.25” long and 1.5” across at the widest. The box lists two eggs as a serving size, which works out to 200 calories ... so that’d make each egg one of those fashionable “100 calorie snacks.”
Diehard Scotchmallow fans know what’s wrong with this picture. The candy center is upside down. In the Scotchmallow Bar and the pieces the caramel is on the bottom and the marshmallow is on the top. The proportions area also a little different, with the marshmallow being 2/3 and the caramel 1/3. It looks to be halfsies here (or maybe more caramel).
Here’s my best guess on how this happened. (And this is just a guess, the extent of my research amounts to seeing California’s Gold tour the factory.) The Scotchmallow is a stacked candy - they make sheets of caramel and sheets of marshmallow and then cut out the little rounds and stack them up and enrobe them (for both the bar and the piece). That wouldn’t work for the egg because of the domed top. So they pour the caramel into molds (just a guess here, folks). Then the marshmallow is poured on top, they’re flipped over and out of the mold and enrobed. Some settling occurs.
That’s the thing, the marshmallow on these is not quite as fluffy. But who cares? It tastes great. The spectacular thing about the See’s marshmallow is that it has honey in it ... you know, something that gives it flavor. It’s also a moist marshmallow, not a dry one (Peeps would be somewhere in between, when they’re fresh). The dark chocolate is rich and not too sweet. The honey touch in the marshmallow is the first flavor and then the caramel kicks in with its dark burnt sugar flavors and buttery notes.
I have to mention that some of my eggs had caramel that was a little more grainy than I’m accustomed to. I’m not sure what caused that, but even though the texture was a little different, the taste was exactly the same. I think I still prefer the traditional chocolate box piece, partly because it’s not as messy, but also because I like to nibble the chocolate off the sides and top and then eat the marshmallow ... then the caramel. But I have to love the fact that I can just pop in a store and grab one of these boxes (and my free sample) without much fuss.
The box costs $4.80 and contains a half a dozen eggs ... that works out to about $14.25 a pound ... a regular pre-packed pound of See’s is $14.50. See, it’s a deal! And no pieces you don’t like! For those of you into just marshmallow they also do a Marshmallow Egg (but in milk chocolate).
Wednesday, March 7, 2007
After the luscious experience of the Snickers Dark, I was pretty determined to find the fabled Snickers Almond Dark.
I couldn’t find it in the regular bar, but did stumbled across this bag of minis called the Snickers Dark Mix which has miniature versions of Snickers, Snickers Dark and Snickers Almond Dark. Frankly, by putting the milk version in there they should have called it a Dark & Milk Mix.
The proportion in the bag, unfortunately, leaned towards the Snickers end of things, but there were enough of Snickers Almond for me to get a good sense of the candy. One of the things I enjoy about the minis, which are much smaller than the snack size, is that you could take them out of their little wrappers and drop them into a fluted candy cup and pretend they’re from a box of chocolates.
The Snickers Almond Dark mini certainly makes a convincing appearance as a fine chocolate. It has a good chocolatey scent mixed with less peanut than the Snickers. Each little mini that I ate had at least one whole almond in it, which gave it a good convincing almond crunch. The peanuts were not as obvious in this version as they are in the large bar but that may be that the dark chocolate goes so well with this iteration.
Like the Snickers Dark, I would definitely opt for this one over the regular milk chocolate version. While Nestle has been introducing dark versions of their regular bars (Crunch, 100 Grand & Raisinets), their chocolate has a waxy feeling on the tongue and no real chocolate taste. The KitKat Bitter shows that Nestle knows what dark chocolate is supposed to be, they just can’t be bothered with actually delivering it in their bars. Mars, on the other hand, did a good job of putting something that tastes like chocolate on their chocolate bar. Are we going to get a 3 Musketeers with dark chocolate soon? Pretty please!
Friday, March 2, 2007
In the movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Veruca Salt is lured to her doom by her desire for the Golden Egg (after giving a grand performance with her musical number “I Want it Now!”). In her final flourish she stands on the educated Eggdicator and is judged to be a Bad Egg and sent to the incinerator. This particular scene was not in the book (which instead featured squirrels and their ability to detect bad nuts, which I find far scarier, having been attacked by a squirrel before. Well, I’ve also been attacked by geese, but that’s no really relevant here).
The Wonka Golden Creme Egg is taking full advantage of that famous scene some thirty-six years later. But instead of the solid chocolate egg the size of the Elephant Man’s head, it’s a chocolate egg filled with a firm chocolate filling studded with graham cookie bits and then a slight reservoir of flowing caramel. I take issue with the caramel filling being called “creme” but this candy has bigger problems.
It’s only slightly smaller (1.1 ounces) than a Cadbury Creme Egg (1.2 ounces). The outside the egg has no Wonka branding on it, instead some squiggly lines and the Nestle logo on both sides. It makes me wonder if this is sold under different names in different places.
The chocolate creme inside isn’t very different than plain old milk chocolate, a little softer, kind of like a ganache only not as buttery smooth. The whole thing is very sweet - throat-burningly sweet. The chocolate itself isn’t particularly smooth or creamy. I have to admit that I’ve been very disappointed with Nestle chocolate lately and this Wonka sub-brand is no different. I’m not getting those CHOCOLATE flavors here. The crumbly crunches of the graham bits are nice (rather like the little Wonka bars) but the caramel is the only thing that saves these eggs - it’s smooth and salty, with just enough of it to cut through the rest of the sweet mess.
If you’re a Cadbury Creme Egg fan and used to very sweet egg-shaped chocolate products, you may do okay with this. But the chocolate is just substandard.
Rebecca at SugarHog.net also reviewed these and gave them a smidge higher rating that I did (but had them before the Cadbury Eggs).
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.