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Caramel

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Trader Joe’s Les Chocolats Belgique (Belgian Bars): Caramel, Chocolate Buttercream & Speculoos

Trader Joe's Belgian BarsFor the past few weeks running up to Valentine’s Day I’ve noticed quite a few ads for Cartier, especially in my New Yorker magazines. They feature three rings and extoll the virtues of this trinity: love, friendship and fidelity. Trader Joe’s has done something different with their new trinity, but I think they embody the same attributes.

There are three new petite bars at Trader Joe’s, sold under the banner of Les Chocolats de Belgique. They’re only a dollar each, so I figured why not try all of them. There’s the standard Milk Chocolate {filled with} Caramel, Dark Chocolate {filled with} Chocolate Buttercream and the most intriguing of the set, Dark Chocolate {filled with} Speculoos Cookie Spread. I’m going to go with Chocolate Buttercream representing love, Caramel represents fidelity and Speculoos represents friendship.

Trader Joe's Speculoos Cookie BarI have to be honest, I had no idea what Speculoos was until about a year ago, and now it seems to be as trendy as bacon. In reality I actually knew Speculoos quite well. In the United States and Canada they’re known as Dutch Windmill Cookies. They’re just molded, rather thin, butter cookies that are not quite a shortbread, have more molasses or brown sugar in them and a touch of spices (usually cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and ginger). The variety my grandmother always kept in a tin on her counter usually had sliced almonds in them and were less spicy than the German/Dutch varieties I’ve tried since. The cookies are common in Germany, Belgium, France and the Netherlands, especially before Christmas and the Epiphany.

Trader Joe's Speculoos Cookie Bar

Lately the confectionery trend has been to add crushed cookies to chocolate bars and now Trader Joe’s has a version that employs a spread made with Speculoos (think of it as a cookie version of Nutella).

All of the bars are the same format: a nicely molded long and thick filled chocolate bar. This one clocks in at 1.58 ounces (the others are 1.5 ounces) and a whopping 165 calories per ounce or 260 calories for the full bar.

Trader Joe's Speculoos Cookie Bar

The filling looks much lighter than the package, more like a light peanut butter than a chocolate spread. The filling is made from crushed cookies (so not gluten free) and some palm and coconut oils. It’s quite creamy with only a light grainy note to it of the cookies. The flavor is a lot like ground up shortbread with a light ginger and cinnamon spice note.

It’s comforting and pleasant, the texture is definitely fatty without feeling greasy. The chocolate is silky smooth with some light woodsy bitter notes that make the sweeter filling stand out. It’s a great change of pace for the price, but the calories make this one bar that I’m less likely to pick up.

Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Filled with Chocolate ButtercreamThe Dark Chocolate {filled with} Chocolate Buttercream bar is a little more traditional, but I must note that I was assuming that buttercream was going to be more ganache-like.

The buttercream center is actually made with something called “butter concentrate” and “milk concentrate.” If you’re dairy-adverse, steer clear of this bar. Even though it has lots of fat in it, it’s less calorie laden than the Speculoos bar, coming in at 230 calories for the 1.5 ounces or 153 calories per ounce.

Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Filled with Chocolate Buttercream

The dark chocolate is much more front and center on this bar. It’s silky smooth and melts well. The center is quite soft and reminds me a bit of the middle of a Lindt Lindor Truffle, but less watery tasting. The chocolate buttercream is not quite as intense as the shell but has an excellent full texture. There were a few sugar grains in it, but I didn’t mind (I find the graininess of some buttercream frostings to be a selling point).

Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Filled with CaramelThe puzzling bar in the mix, and judging by how elections in this country go, the most popular is the Milk Chocolate {filled with} Caramel. (I don’t know why I have to keep putting those brackets in there, they were on the wrappers, so now they’re here.)

If you were to pick out one of the three based on calorie count, well, you’d probably opt for the Caramel bar because it’s only (only!) 220 calories and one more gram of sugar than the Speculoos bar. But many folks will like this because it features Belgian milk chocolate. So the concept is sound, but perhaps a little ordinary.

Trader Joe's Caramel Belgian Bar

The sugar is quite apparent. The milk chocolate is smooth and milky but so incredibly sweet that it’s hard to get any actual chocolate flavor from it because it seared my throat so badly. The caramel filling is wonderfully smooth as well and has a strong toffee flavor to it, it’s also salty and, well, sweet. It’s a tough bar for me to love. It’s certainly better than a Caramello, but it makes me realize that I don’t really like these sorts of bars much ... even when done well.

I’m more likely to buy these Belgian bars again than ever be interested in Cartier jewelry, but neither are quite to my style. The quality of ingredients is good and the price is excellent, but they’re just not for me. I’m hoping if they’re popular we’ll get some other variations.



Name: Dark Chocolate Filled with Speculoos Cookie Spread
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Trader Joe’s
Place Purchased: Trader Joe's (Laguna Woods)
Price: $1.00
Size: 1.58 ounces
Calories per ounce: 165
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Trader Joe's, Chocolate, Cookie, 7-Worth It, Belgium


Name: Dark Chocolate Filled with Chocolate Buttercream
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Trader Joe’s
Place Purchased: Trader Joe's (Laguna Woods)
Price: $1.00
Size: 1.5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 153
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Trader Joe's, Chocolate, 7-Worth It, Belgium


Name: Milk Chocolate Filled with Caramel
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Trader Joe’s
Place Purchased: Trader Joe's (Laguna Woods)
Price: $1.00
Size: 1.5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 147
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Trader Joe's, Caramel, Chocolate, 7-Worth It, Belgium

POSTED BY Cybele AT 4:00 pm     All NaturalCandyReviewTrader Joe'sCaramelChocolateCookie7-Worth ItBelgiumComments (6)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Trader Joe’s A Very Merry Mingle

Trader Joe's Merry MingleTrader Joe’s a very Merry Mingle is new for 2011 at Trader Joe’s for the winter Holidays.

I was pleased to see that Trader Joe’s managed to give this candy a name, as so many of their other holiday treats end up with nothing more than a functional description of ingredients or assembly.

The Merry Mingle is described as Cranberries, pecans and caramel don their dark chocolate apparel, creating a heaping helping of holiday candy. The box is large, holding 11 ounces, so it’s a good portion, and should be for the price.

Trader Joe's Merry Mingle

The packaging is interesting, the box is sturdy and the graphics are clear and attractive. The inside is a little less posh: a plastic tray insert with four sections filled with four to five pieces each. While I may not have found the inside very nice to serve from, it did protect the pieces well, as they were all in very good condition when removed from the box. The chocolate was glossy and the pecans and cranberries were intact.

Trader Joe's Merry Mingle

The pieces varied rather widely in size. Some were as small as one and a half inches while others were a full two and a half inches in diameter. The construction is interesting. The nuts and cranberries are held together with a little bit of caramel then they’re partially dipped in dark chocolate. There are a few zags and dribbles of chocolate on top of the pieces as well.

The base is mostly caramel, and it does a good job of keeping everything together. The caramel flavors (salt, burnt sugar) are lost in the toasty maple flavors of the pecans and the tart cranberries. The textures are great though, the caramel is smooth and chewy without being sticky or flowing. The chocolate, as the bottom, hits the tongue first, so it makes a bold impression on me as being deep and dark. There are coffee notes and probably some others but they’re lost in the flavor riot of the turtle.

Everything tasted fresh, each element was distinct (though the caramel a little lost). It also felt lighter then a traditional fully enrobed turtle (which actually do clock in at about 20 more calories per ounce). I get the impression from readers that they don’t look so good in the photos, but I thought they were great. If you’re a fan of Trader Joe’s trail mix but would like it dressed up for company, this might do the trick.

It’s Kosher but with so many ingredients, there are a lot of potential allergens: soy, milk, pecans plus traces of wheat, eggs, peanuts and other tree nuts.

Related Candies

  1. DeMet’s Turtles: Pecan & Cashew
  2. Fannie May Pixie
  3. Robitaille’s Presidential Inaugural Mints & Turtles
  4. Nestle Cranberry Raisinets
  5. Christopher Elbow: No. 6 - Dark Rocks
  6. Sweet Earth Chocolate Cups
  7. Hotel Chocolat Crostini Fruit & Nut Slab


Name: A Very Merry Mingle
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Trader Joe’s
Place Purchased: Trader Joe's (Silver Lake)
Price: $7.99
Size: 11 ounces
Calories per ounce: 127
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Christmas, Trader Joe's, Caramel, Chocolate, Kosher, Nuts, 8-Tasty, United States

POSTED BY Cybele AT 12:59 pm     All NaturalCandyReviewChristmasTrader Joe'sCaramelChocolateKosherNuts8-TastyUnited StatesComments (7)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Snickers Slice n’ Share (1 Pound)

Snickers Slice n' ShareAt Christmas one of the great gifts is an excessive version of something mundane but much-loved. For candy this means colossal proportions. Oh sure, you could just get a wholesale sized bag of M&Ms or Skittles. But there’s something special about a version that’s substantially larger than the norm: Giant Hershey’s Kisses, Giant Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bars, World’s Largest Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Giant Candy Canes and Giant Gummi Bears.

Mars is in the game this year with their Snickers Slice n’ Share bar. This year it’s exclusive to CVS stores. I found mine after going to several stores and it was even on sale for $7.99, regular price is $9.99.

Snickers Slice n' Share

The Snickers Slice ‘n Share is 16 ounces, while a standard Snickers bar is 2.07 ounces (so 8 times bigger). It’s also 9 times the price. The best value is probably to buy the snack size, which are about $1.25 for eight little bars totally 5 ounces - which comes out to $4.00 a pound instead of $7.99 a pound. But that’s simply not magnificent enough for gifting or wowing your guests. (See this 1925 ad for Oh Henry! that features the suggestion to slice and serve.)

Snickers Slice n' Share

The bar is protected in a paperboard tray and came out looking pretty good. It’s 9.5 inches long, about one inch high and 2.5” wide. A standard Snickers is only 1” wide.

Snickers Slice n' Share

There’s simply no way to depict how massive this thing is with photos because it’s dense and heavy. Honestly, I expected one pound of candy to have a bit more volume, but Snickers are certainly compact.

Snickers Slice n' Share

Like the old advertising slogan, this Snickers is packed with peanuts. The caramel envelops them completely and they’re jam packed in there all the way through the bar. The caramel and nougat layers are completely distinct and the chocolate is very thick, especially on the sides and the ripple on the top. It does flake off easily, but usually in big chunks that are easy to pick up and pop in your mouth.

Snickers Slice n' Share

The serving size suggested is a 1 inch slice (which is about 1.75 ounces - less than the 2.07 ounce regular bar). I found that to be a bit too thick and unwieldy, so I usually went for something about a 1/2 inch slice. It slices quite easily without falling apart, as long as you have a good, wide knife. A butter knife or steak knife are too small and narrow. A chef’s knife or even a clever does a much better job. Anything less than a half an inch though and the piece will not hold together well.

Also, I found that cutting straight down, with even pressure (chopping) was better than trying to angle it. The pieces came out cleaner and with less chocolate loss.

Snickers Slice n' Share

I loved the bar. I actually think I enjoyed it more than any other Snickers I’ve had in years. The peanuts were fresh, the caramel was thick, distinct and chewy plus the nougat was soft, slightly salty with a nice peanut butter toffee flavor. The layers are much more defined and folks who like to eat particular parts separately will have a great time.

Giant candy has always struck me as the kind of gift a kid would give to a parent or other relative. Not that I’d complain if my niece or nephew came me a giant version of a beloved candy. It’s a way to make a favorite special. But they’re not for everyday consumption. The specialness of the price assures that. But I expect because it’s under $10, it should find its way into many stockings this year, or because of its size, it will be adjacent to the stocking ... and featured heavily on early nights of Hanukkah.

Snickers Slice n' Share Snickers Slice n' Share Snickers Slice n' Share Snickers Slice n' Share

The bar has all the same ingredients as the smaller versions. It’s hard to compare the nutritional value because of the difference in serving sizes, but the calories per ounce are greater for the Slice n’ Share than the regular size, so I’m going to guess that there’s more chocolate per bite on the small one since that’s where the densest calories are.

At a certain point something so large that it requires implements ceases to be candy. Candy is ready to eat, requires no knives or assembly.

The package warns that there are traces of tree nuts and wheat, plus it contains eggs, soy, peanuts and milk. Mars does not use fair trade or certified ethically traded chocolate for this product (though they’re working on it - their Maltesers malted milk balls will be Fair Trade next year in the UK).

UPDATE 12/5/2012: Snickers Slice n Share are back in stores for the holidays. They’re found in a much wider array of stores, I’ve seen them at Target, CVS, IT’SUGAR and a few others as well as on internet stores. Discount chains usually have them for $10-12, while the other stores like IT’SUGAR have them for about $20.

Related Candies

  1. Giant York Peppermint Patties (1 Pound)
  2. Big Bite Gummy Rocking Horse Ornament
  3. World’s Largest Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
  4. Big Tex Giant Jelly Beans
  5. Big Bite Gummy Bear
  6. Daffin’s Candies Factory & World’s Largest Candy Store
  7. Mega Smarties
  8. Giant Pixy Stix


Name: Snickers Slice n’ Share
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Mars
Place Purchased: CVS (Carson, CA)
Price: $7.99
Size: 16 ounces
Calories per ounce: 130
Categories: Candy, Mars, Caramel, Chocolate, Kosher, Nougat, Peanuts, 8-Tasty, United States, Sav-On/CVS

POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:59 am     CandyReviewMarsCaramelChocolateKosherNougatPeanuts8-TastyUnited StatesSav-On/CVSComments (10)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Russell Stover “Day of the Dead” Skeletons

Russell Stovers "Day of the Dead" Chocolate Covered CaramelRussell Stover has epitomized Americana for as long as I can remember. They’re a safe and unassuming brand. Their boxed chocolates are dependably sweet and bland but have a nice flair for dependable and fresh holiday themed chocolate novelties.

I was a little surprised when I saw these new Russell Stover Day of the Dead Skeletons at the drug store.

They have two varieties, one chocolate covered caramel and one chocolate covered marshmallow - but what’s interesting about them is the South of the Border design on the package (bilingual as well).

I’ll start with the Russell Stover Caramel Covered in Milk Chocolate (Caramelo Cubierto en el Chocolate con Leche).

They’re large skeleton shaped caramel planks covered in milk chocolate, the package features a brightly clad skeleton. There are at least three different designs per confection. For the Caramel I chose this lady skeleton wearing a red blouse with poofy sleeves, a green full skirt, a yellow yat with dingleberries and holding maracas. It’s quite a sight, especially when designed with bright flat colors and accents of purple, orange and silver foil.

Russell Stovers "Day of the Dead" Chocolate Covered Caramel

The pieces are large, about twice the size as the regular Pumpkin products they make. The Caramel was 2.5 ounces and about 4.5 inches long.

The design of the actual candy is not quite as impressive as the package. In fact, once I pulled it out of the wrapper, you could have easily convinced me this was a Halloween Saguaro Cactus. But shape aside, it’s a really lovely piece of candy. The chocolate is nicely tempered, it’s shiny and had very few scuffs and no leaks. The ripples were also nice to look at and gave a feeling that this was a piece of candy made by people.

Russell Stovers "Day of the Dead" Chocolate Covered Caramel

The caramel is soft, but not runny. The bite is easy and the caramel has a good pull but not a lot of chew to it. It’s smooth and has a lot of toffee notes and very little grain. The milk chocolate is sweet and has a lot of dairy notes though not much going on other than that.

It’s a lot of candy - I couldn’t eat more than a third in one sitting, so it’s not an easy piece to have a little and then put it away.

It’s not an innovative piece, they make a similar product for Easter, but it’s fresh and I really loved the package.

Russell Stover "Day of the Dead" Chocolate Covered MarshmallowThe Russell Stover Marshmallow Covered in Milk Chocolate (Malvavisco Cubierto en el Chocolate con Leche) has an equally vibrant package design. I chose a skeleton wearing a sombrero and bright poncho beating on a magenta and yellow drum.

This piece is only 2.25 ounces, missing a quarter of an ounce because the marshmallow is so fluffy, but probably about 50% thicker than the Caramel version.

The shape is similarly blocky and poorly defined, but still has glossy rippled milk chocolate enrobing.

Russell Stovers "Day of the Dead" Chocolate Covered Marshmallow

The Russell Stover marshmallow is always moist and smooth, fluffy but not too foamy. It doesn’t have much flavor, no honey notes but a good vanilla extract finish. It’s a clean tasting candy - everything tastes real - real sugar, real milk, real vanilla. It’s comforting and homey.

The Day of the Dead celebrations of Mexico are vibrant, social and life-affirming. It’s fun to see a confection here in the United States that feels like it’s appealing to those who want to join in the celebration without feeling like it’s exclusionary or pandering. I don’t know if these are going to be sold everywhere, I picked them up in the Echo Park neighborhood RiteAid, one of the denser areas of Mexican-Americans in the country and over 6 million people of Mexican descent in the Southern California metropolitan counties. Next, I’d like to see the inclusion of some real Mexican confectionery traditions.

Related Candies

  1. Russell Stover Marshmallow & Caramel
  2. Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Tahitian Vanilla Caramels
  3. Russell Stover Giant S’mores Bar & Mint Dream
  4. CVS Marshmallow Pop
  5. Russell Stover Dark Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Pumpkin
  6. Russell Stover Marshmallow Rabbits
  7. Russell Stover Orange Marshmallow Pumpkin
  8. Littlejohn Caramel Marshmallows


Name: Day of the Dead Skeleton Carmel covered in Milk Chocolate
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Russell Stover
Place Purchased: Rite Aid (Echo Park)
Price: $1.00
Size: 2.50 ounces
Calories per ounce: 136
Categories: Candy, Halloween, Russell Stover, Caramel, Chocolate, 7-Worth It, United States, Rite Aid


Name: Day of the Dead Skeleton Marshmallow covered in Milk Chocolate
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Russell Stover
Place Purchased: Rite Aid (Echo Park)
Price: $1.00
Size: 2.50 ounces
Calories per ounce: 120
Categories: Candy, Halloween, Russell Stover, Chocolate, Marshmallow, 7-Worth It, United States, Rite Aid

POSTED BY Cybele AT 1:06 pm     CandyReviewHalloweenRussell StoverCaramelChocolateMarshmallow7-Worth ItUnited StatesRite AidComments (5)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Abdallah Caramels

Abdallah CaramelsAbdallah Candies was founded in 1909 by Albert Abdallah in Minneapolis. The company still run by the family using traditional recipes and focusing on classic candy products like caramels, dipped fruit and chocolates.

I picked up an assortment of Abdallah’s Wrapped Caramels while on vacation here in California. They’re cute little two bite pieces that I thought were reasonably priced at 60 cents each.

Their varieties go beyond the typical vanilla, chocolate and nut versions. They offer about a dozen different kinds. They’re wrapped in clear cellophane, which shows of the candy very nicely.

Abdallah Caramels

I tried three different varieties:

Vanilla Caramels I started with the classic, as this is the base of the other caramel candies. The color is a pleasing creamy brown. The pull of the caramel was good, stringy without being too tough or grainy. The flavor was sweet with milky notes ... I tend to prefer a little more salt in my caramel these days, but this was still a great classic vanilla caramel.

Abdallah Caramels

Pecan Caramel Nougat is, as you can probably tell from the photo, a layer of pecan nougat sandwiched between two layers of the vanilla caramel. The pecans were soft but crunchy with a woodsy maple flavor. The nougat didn’t do much for me in the way of actual flavor (no honey notes) but the chewy and denser texture was interesting compared to the softer, quicker dissolve of the caramel.

I wouldn’t call it a complete win for me, but I loved the addition of the nuts.

Abdallah Caramels

Pecan Alligator Caramels are another layered caramel. The top is a chocolate caramel and the bottom is a pecan vanilla caramel. It’s great. It’s soft and chewy, the chocolate gives it a little smoky and salty edge, the nuts are fresh and ample, the caramelized sugar notes are perceptible ... I loved this one. It was a little grainier, could have just been that I ate them last of my little set, so they might have gotten a little humid.

I’m absolutely intrigued by Abdallah now. I want to order more of their candy directly but I’m a little hesitant as I sent them an email with a question on Monday and they still haven’t responded. But their prices are very reasonable. I had no trouble plunking down 60 cents for each of these.

The other items on their website include other caramel and nut combinations called Alligators (completely chocolate dipped nut caramels) and Grizzlies (caramels with whole nuts and dollops of chocolate). The confectioner has a factory store in Burnsville, Minnesota that you can get fresh candy and even watch the factory floor where they dip their chocolates (photos on their facebook page).

Related Candies

  1. See’s Double Caramel
  2. Trader Joe’s 70% Dark with Caramel and Black Sea Salt
  3. Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Tahitian Vanilla Caramels
  4. Eat with your Eyes: Asher’s Salted Caramel
  5. Bequet Gourmet Caramels
  6. J Morgan Caramels
  7. Grandma’s Caramels
  8. Cowgirl Chocolates Buckin’ Hot Habanero Caramels


Name: Vanilla Caramel, Caramel Pecan Nougat & Pecan Alligator Caramel
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Abdallah Candies
Place Purchased: Candy Counter (Cayucos, CA)
Price: $.60 each
Size: unknown
Calories per ounce:
Categories: Candy, Caramel, Nougat, Nuts, 8-Tasty, United States

POSTED BY Cybele AT 5:01 pm     CandyReviewCaramelNougatNuts8-TastyUnited StatesComments (2)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Sweet Earth Bittersweet Chocolate Drops & Coffee Caramels

Sweet Earth Bittersweet Chocolate Drops - Fair Trade & OrganicWhile on vacation on the central coast earlier this month I made my regular stop at Sweet Earth Chocolates in San Luis Obispo to pick up some rations for our vacation rental.

I bought some turtles and some other items for immediate consumption and then a few items to bring back to Los Angeles for review. One item that I sampled in the store is their Fair Trade Certified & Certified Organic Bittersweet Chocolate Drops. Yup, I went on vacation and I brought back a bag of chocolate chips.

It’s 12 ounces of 65% dark chocolate with only three ingredients - organic cacao (liquor, cocoa butter & cocoa powder), organic sugar and organic vanilla.

Sweet Earth Bittersweet Chocolate Drops - Fair Trade & Organic

I love the bag. It’s simple, the same sort of wax lined kraft paper bag with a wire-fold closure that you get fresh roasted coffee beans in. It has the same bean bag heft and satisfying crunch when squeezed.

The pieces are small, some as large as a dime but most the size of a flattened standard baking chocolate chip (2/3 of an inch). The smooth disk shape makes them easy to eat and melt in the mouth, no spiky top.

Sweet Earth Bittersweet Chocolate Drops - Fair Trade & Organic

There’s a light tangy note to the pieces upon melting with a slightly dry finish. It’s much sweeter than I would have expected for a 65% chocolate. The flavors are woodsy and smokey with notes of figs and molasses, they’re on the coffee side of the rich flavors. In fact, the package was sitting on my desk one morning and a co-worker said “Your coffee smells really good today.” I didn’t actually have any coffee, it was the open bag of chocolate that smelled like that. On another day the smell was so distracting, I had to close the package up and put it away.

I’m sure this would be great for baking, hot chocolate or pudding. But I was content to just snack away on them. It was no compromise, in the sense that these were organically grown, fair trade certified and not overpackaged. It was $9.50 for the bag, but for 12 ounces, I thought it was a pretty good deal compared to some of the chocolate bars that I buy for the same price but only get 3.5 ounces.

They’re made without soy or dairy (so they’re vegan) but are processed in a facility that has both.

Sweet Earth Chocolate Coffee CaramelsAs more of a novelty item I tried their new caramels. They’re like gourmet milk duds. I picked out the Coffee Caramel. The little quarter pound bag is very simply done. A cellophane bag sealed with a little twist tie. (They had samples in the store, I tried the orange and chili one and found it a little too spicy for me, so I opted for the coffee.)

Instead of a glossy coating of chocolate on the house-made caramel nibs, these are coated in chocolate and then rolled in cocoa. They’re lumpy and mis-shapen, some are flat and others are rustically spherical.

Sweet Earth Chocolate Coffee Caramels

The chew is smooth and sweet with some good flavors. The primary flavors are woodsy, a combination of the dark chocolate and cocoa coating plus a little note of coffee. The caramel itself is interesting, the toasted and burnt sugar flavors are missing, are are the butter notes, but still it doesn’t end up tasting like syrup. There’s a little note of cinnamon and coconut in there, but that could be my imagination.

As a gourmet Milk Dud, I was happy, though they are certainly more expensive, don’t have quite the shelf life and are kind of messy with the cocoa coating.

I will continue to visit the Sweet Earth Chocolate shops in San Luis Obispo when I’m in the area. It’s easy on and off the 101 if you’re traveling through the area. My previous review of the shop is here (with photos).

UPDATE: Sweet Earth changed the name of their company to Mama Ganache.

Related Candies

  1. Sweet Earth Chocolates
  2. Meiji Pokka Coffee Caramel
  3. Ginger Chews: Hot Coffee
  4. Javaz - Milk & Dark Chocolate Covered Coffee Beans
  5. Divine Fair Trade Chocolate
  6. Coffee Nips
  7. Sweet Earth Chocolate Cups
  8. Guittard Akoma Fair Trade Chocolate Chips


Name: 65% Bittersweet Chocolate Drops
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Sweet Earth Chocolates
Place Purchased: Sweet Earth Chocolates (San Luis Obispo)
Price: $9.50
Size: 12 ounces
Calories per ounce: 152
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Sweet Earth Chocolate, Chocolate, Ethically Sourced, 9-Yummy, United States


Name: Coffee Caramels
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Sweet Earth Chocolates
Place Purchased: Sweet Earth Chocolates (San Luis Obispo)
Price: $3.00
Size: 4 ounces
Calories per ounce:
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Sweet Earth Chocolate, Chocolate, Coffee, Ethically Sourced, 7-Worth It, United States

POSTED BY Cybele AT 4:00 pm     All NaturalCandyReviewSweet Earth ChocolateCaramelChocolateCoffeeEthically Sourced7-Worth It9-YummyUnited StatesComments (2)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Black Cow Chocolate Caramel

When the classic Slo Poke Caramel was revived earlier this year, its chocolatey partner Black Cow was also on the slate for reboot by the Classic Caramel Company.

Black Cow Delicious Chocolate Caramel

Originally released back in the 1920s by Holloway, makers of Milk Duds, the Black Cow was just a chocolate covered Slo Poke (not that dissimilar from the Sugar Mama which was a chocolate covered Sugar Daddy.) In this new version the Black Cow becomes an actual chocolate infused caramel.

The candy now comes in two formats, a large bar (in this case mine is 20% larger at 1.6 ounces instead of the standard 1.5 ounce) and the little individually wrapped pieces.

Black Cow Delicious Chocolate Caramel

Unlike Tootsie Rolls which only have cocoa in them, Black Cow uses whole chocolate (cocoa liquor which includes cocoa butter) in their recipe.

The chew is quite soft. Though you can whack it to make bite sized pieces, I found I had to refrigerate mine. (And once I had broken it into pieces, they reformed into the bar after they came back to room temperature.)

Slo Poke & Black CowThe chew is not quite as smooth as the Slo Poke or even Tootsie Rolls. But the flavor is actually very well rounded - the chocolate notes are rich and woodsy thought not entirely chocolatey. It’s kind of nutty with creamy dairy flavors that are authentic without a greasy partially hydrogenated taste. Still, the ingredients aren’t exactly wholesome, which is sad because real caramel doesn’t really have a lot of expensive ingredients and is relatively shelf stable. This one has both high fructose corn sweetener and partially hydrogenated coconut oil in the list (though very far down, not as predominant ingredients).

For a really satisfying, very chocolatey caramel, you really can’t beat the Storck Chocolate Riesen, which is an actual real chocolate covered chocolate caramel. However, these are far and away better than a Tootsie Roll, which never ceases to bring chewable cardboard to my mind unless encased in hard candy and on a stick.

Trivia: back its heyday the Holloway Black Cow came in a lot of other flavors, including Purple Cow, Pink Cow and Orange Cow, plus the tantalizing Banana Cow.

Related Candies

  1. Slo Poke Caramel
  2. See’s Double Caramel
  3. Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Tahitian Vanilla Caramels
  4. Storck Chocolate Riesen
  5. Twix Triple Chocolate
  6. Sugar Mama
  7. Chocolate Covered Sugar Babies
  8. Junior Caramels


Name: Black Cow Delicious Chocolate Caramel
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Warrell Corp
Place Purchased: Dollar Tree (Morro Bay, CA)
Price: $1.00
Size: 1.6 ounces
Calories per ounce: 138
Categories: Candy, Caramel, 7-Worth It, United States, Dollar Tree

POSTED BY Cybele AT 3:36 pm     CandyReviewWarrell CorpCaramelKosher7-Worth ItUnited StatesDollar TreeComments (4)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Slo Poke Caramel

The Slo Poke Caramel Pop was introduced in 1926 by the Holloway Candy Company. It was a simple, firm, rectangular caramel lollipop. It was sold for the first time the year after the Sugar Daddy made its debut (as the Papa Sucker). As the name might imply, the Slo Poke was a candy to savor and enjoy over a long time. The sucker format meant that kids would either allow it to dissolve or nibble off bites to chew.

Slo Poke Delicious Caramel

As with most candy products of this age, it’s been through many owners. MJ Holloway, also the maker of Milk Duds, sold out to Beatrice Foods in 1960. Beatrice later sold off their confectionery division to Leaf and Leaf divested its candy lines to several different companies. Milk Duds went to Hershey’s and Slo Pokes and their chocolate brethren, Black Cow, went to the Gilliam Candy company in 1998. For a brief time in this century, Slo Pokes stopped being made until the Warrell Corporation acquired the brand and recipe and began making them again last year under their new Classic Caramel Company (which also reintroduced Bonomo’s Turkish Taffy).

Slo Poke Caramel

The new format of the revived Slo Poke is the 1.8 ounce bar. It’s a big plank of caramel. Like Turkish Taffy and other taffy/nougat candies, the simplest way to serve yourself is to whack the package on a hard surface to break it into bite sized pieces. I chose to eat mine in all of its chewy wholeness.

The texture is soft, much softer than a Sugar Daddy, which is the closest approximation to this candy. Like the Sugar Daddy, this is a true caramel. The first ingredient is corn syrup, followed by sweetened condensed milk and then more sugar. The color is dark and authentically toasted sugar. The flavor is quite sweet and the texture is mostly smooth. There’s a slight grain to it towards the end that I can only equate with a Sugar Baby or a poorly made fudge.

The flavor is almost exactly like the center of a Milk Dud (as you can imagine). It’s not quite as tough or smooth a chew as the Duds though.

Slo Poke & Black CowThe ingredients aren’t as pure as I’d like. Far down on the list is high fructose corn syrup, which an extremely rare ingredient in candy as well as partially hydrogenated coconut oil, calcium caseinate, distilled monoglycerides and artificial flavors. For something that’s labeled as Real Caramel I have to wonder what that actually means.

I liked the bar, mostly because it was soft and easy to eat. I don’t recall buying these much as a kid, I really was more of a Sugar Daddy fan, though those are certainly more threatening to teeth and dental work. I think my favorite easy-to-eat caramel is still Sugar Babies though, partly because they’re a bit neater and partly because they’re so cute but mostly because I prefer the mix of the smooth texture of the caramel center with the grainy jelly bean style coating. But if I was really going to satisfy my caramel cravings I’d have to go with Walkers’ Nonsuch Toffee.

The candies are no longer made in their original lollipop format. They’re sold in bars or the little, individually wrapped bite sized pieces. I don’t think those who loved the original are going to be disappointed with this resurrected version.

Related Candies

  1. Helliemae’s Salt Caramels
  2. Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Tahitian Vanilla Caramels
  3. Kraft & Ferrara Pan Caramels
  4. Bonomo’s Turkish Taffy - Chocolate, Vanilla & Strawberry
  5. Short & Sweet: Dollar Store
  6. Walkers Nonsuch Roasted Hazelnut Toffee
  7. Kits & BB Bats
  8. Grandma’s Caramels
  9. Sugar Babies


Name: Slo Poke Delicious Caramel
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Warrell Corp
Place Purchased: Dollar Tree (Morro Bay, CA)
Price: $1.00
Size: 1.6 ounces
Calories per ounce: 131
Categories: Candy, Caramel, 7-Worth It, United States, Dollar Tree

POSTED BY Cybele AT 1:14 pm     CandyReviewWarrell CorpCaramel7-Worth ItUnited StatesDollar TreeComments (11)

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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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