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Christmas

Monday, December 14, 2009

Florida Tropic Oranges

Florida Tropic Dark Chocolate OrangeI see the Florida Tropic oranges from time to time in the stores, but I haven’t really payed much attention to them until this year. When I attended the convenience store show in Las Vegas (NACS) a while back the folks at SweetWorks, the company that makes the Florida Tropic chocolate product line gave me a set of almost every flavor (I got eight of the nine).

Since there are a lot of flavors of their version of the segmented flavored chocolate “orange”, I’m going to deal with just three of them today: Dark Chocolate Orange, Milk Chocolate Orange and the 70% Cacao.

The boxes are quite simple. A plastic holder for the sphere of chocolate segments, which is wrapped in foil. The boxes are simple and show off the product well, but are frustrating to open. They use so much glue on them that it’s nearly impossible to just flip open the top, instead pulling it apart shreds the usability of the box to store the product.

Florida Tropic Milk Chocolate OrangeWhile Terry’s Chocolate Orange tells us to Whack & Unwrap, the Florida Tropic Orange says “Break then Open” with a little drawing of a hand cupping the orange firmly. As I’ve opened a lot of these in the past few weeks I can say this: don’t whack or smack or break. Just open it up and either break it in half then or use a knife to wedge in and loosen a slice. It’s far less messy, though probably not as satisfying.

The foil wrap is great. I’ve been frustrated with the plastic stuff that Terry’s has been using for a few years now, it’s slightly too small for re-wrapping, and of course it doesn’t actually stay the same way foil does. This foil is great, it’s heavy and of course pretty. It’s also, for the most part, color coded by flavor. (Except for the milk and dark orange flavored ones, which are similar shades of orange.)

Florida Tropic 70% Dark Chocolate Orange

The pieces are a nice two bite size. They have a textured “rind” and one side of each section is designed to look like an orange slice complete with peel and pulp. There’s a distinct ridge on the edge which makes the pieces a little lighter, which might account for the difference in weight between Terry’s Chocolate Oranges and Florida Tropic. (There are 18 slices, so that also accounts for it.)

The orange scent is a mix of orange oil and the smell or orange Tang drink. The dark chocolate is mostly orange flavored with both the citrus zest and a strange bit of juice note. The melt is quite decent, though not quite buttery and smooth, it’s still slick and only slightly gritty and chalky near the end. (I think the cacao content is about 50% on these.)

The orange is a bit too strong for my desires for this product, but when combined with non-oranged items like pretzels, plain almonds and the 70% Cacao version below, it’s quite a nice treat. I ended up using much of this orange for some chocolate pudding over the weekend. I combined 3 cups of milk, 3/4 cup of cocoa, 1/4 cup of corn starch and 7 finely chopped slices instead of sugar (see my earlier experiment with pudding). No, it wasn’t sweet at all, but it was very chocolately. (Next time I may try the milk ones, as they have more sugar.)

The chocolate is actually vegan however it’s processed in a facility that also handles milk products, so may contain traces of dairy.

Florida Tropic Milk Chocolate Orange

The standard Christmas stocking treat, I would guess of all of them, is the Florida Tropic Milk Chocolate Orange.

Florida Tropic Milk Chocolate Orange

What I thought was fun about this one when I opened up the wrapper, besides the lovely look of the puzzle of slices, was how it’s put together. I’ve had oranges before that are made of slices that are then melted onto a plastic stem & disk thing. (I think that was the Droste brand ... can anyone confirm?) What this photo shows pretty simply is that the slices are packed into a ball and then a small amount of molten chocolate is squeezed into the bottom to just hold everything together (you can see from the top dark orange photo that the chocolate anchor only extends about half of the way through the middle). Separating them from the sphere isn’t hard at all.

The dairy scent is easily teased from the orange and sugar. There’s a slight creamsicle vibe to the whole thing, maybe like dunking orange sherbet in hot chocolate. The texture is smooth for less expensive chocolate, but still a little fudgy and grainy for my liking. It’s quite sweet as you can imagine for a milk chocolate. Still, it has a good cocoa vibe to go with the strange orange flavors which are both natural and artificial. 

Florida Tropic Dark Chocolate 70% CacaoThough I have another half a dozen flavors to profile at some point, I decided to include the 70% Cacao here because it’s such a basic and the only in the bunch that’s not flavored or has any inclusions.

The wrapper is a matte toasty brown. One of the things I really enjoyed about all the oranges I had is how stunningly beautiful they are when opened. They way the slices are all stacked neatly then slightly tilted, like some sort of puzzle. From distance it’s like a tightly tucked chocolate armadillo or pillbug.

Florida Tropic Dark Chocolate Orange

As an unflavored product, it’s the only one in the Florida Tropic line that gives me a chance to really taste the chocolate. They use real vanilla and no butterfat or other dairy extenders - so it’s true dark chocolate. (So it also qualifies as all natural.)

The chocolate flavor is in the middle of all the profile notes: a hint of roasted coffee, a touch of tangy raisin, a little whiff of woodsy smoke and a comforting texture that’s both creamy, not too sweet and a slightly dry finish. There’s a small grit to it from time to time, something I noticed in the dark flavored orange so may just be the style for this brand.

Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate OrangeJust a correction, I reported before that I believed that the Trader Joe’s version was by Ferrara. It’s now quite clear that they’re actually made by SweetWorks. There’s really not that much difference between them. The biggest is that the standard Florida Tropic is 18 slices and 5.3 ounces and the Trader Joe’s is 6.17 ounces and 20 slices. But besides the size, it’s the same product, right down to the sticker on the top and the color of the foil. Just the box is different (and I rather prefer the Trader Joe’s whimsy.)

I’m quite please so far with the Florida Tropic oranges. Overall the product design is great and their attention to detail is quite good. The flavor variety is large, besides those covered here: Key Lime (Milk), Almond (Milk), Peppermint Crunch (Milk), Pina Colada (Milk), Raspbery (Milk) and Toffee Crunch (Milk). The price is good and the fact that they’re made in the USA may be of comfort to some folks instead of the Terry’s Chocolate Oranges which are made in Poland by Kraft.

So while I’m not a fan of Sixlets, which are also made by SweetWorks, the orange line shows that they can do really cost effective, attractive and crowd pleasing candy. (Not that Sixlets aren’t cute as buttons.)

Related Candies

  1. Ferrara Chocolate Oranges
  2. Terry’s Chocolate Toffee Crunch Orange
  3. Slice of Orange Hot Chocolate
  4. Sixlets & Limited Edition Dark Chocolate Flavored Sixlets
  5. Terry’s Chocolate Orange Confection
  6. Terry’s Peppermint Orange
  7. Make This: Christmas Stockings
Name: Small World Chocolates: Select Origin
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Florida Tropic (SweetWorks)
Place Purchased: Samples from SweetWorks at NACS
Price: retail $2.79
Size: 5.3 ounces
Calories per ounce: 142, 142 & 142
Categories: Chocolate, United States, SweetWorks, Kosher

POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:40 am     Comments (3)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Ferrara Chocolate Oranges

Ferrara ChocolateFerrara’s expansion into the midscale chocolate market has been quick. The first items I spotted are their Belgian chocolate bars, conceived to compete with Kraft’s Toblerone products. For the holidays this year they have three initial offerings of chocolate oranges in the style of Terry’s Chocolate Orange.

They come in the standard Milk Chocolate Orange and Dark Chocolate Orange as well as the Milk Chocolate Toffee Crunch Orange. They’re well priced at $2.50 each, and I’m guessing that deeper discounts will be found with holiday sales. I found my set at Walgreen’s, but I’ve also seen them at CVS.

Ferrara Dark Chocolate OrangeThe package is pretty, though not ornate or really much of a standout. The gold foil is a nice touch and the color-coding of the base of the boxes makes it easy to spot the flavor you might be looking for. They’re quite hefty, clocking in at 6.17 ounces (a Terry’s orange is 6.0).

On the front of the box it says that it’s a natural orange flavor so I was hoping the product was all natural, but I found reading the ingredients that it also contains vanillin (an artificial vanilla flavor).

I’ve always found Terry’s Chocolate Orange to be very sweet and I’m grateful that the sections are small because I’m rarely able to eat more than one or two at a sitting. I was hoping the Ferrara would be a little richer.

I started with the Ferrara Dark Chocolate Orange because I’d already had the plain Milk Chocolate from Ferrara and was very eager to try their dark. The bronzy orange foil has a sticker that exalts me to Burst then Enjoy (compared to Terry’s which is Whack and Unwrap). Inside the foil is a sectioned sphere.

Ferrera Dark Orange

The first difference I noticed is that it’s shiny and smooth. Terry’s have an orange rind texture. The second thing I noticed was different from a Terry’s was how solidly crafted this American orange is. When they say Burst, they don’t give me much indication of how much pressure to apply. So it took three fairly substantial smacks on a flat and firm surface to adequately dismantle the thing. (There’s a very good reason there are no photos of the Milk Chocolate Orange sections in this review as my ability to duplicate my success on the dark one was, well, unsuccessful.)

Each section is nicely molded and has a pretty orange peel and pulp design along with a version of the F crest in the center. The other side is blank.

It smells mostly sweet and with a light touch of orange. I didn’t get a lot of cocoa-vibe even from the broken orange. The snap is good, in fact the whole thing is very nicely tempered. It’s immediately sweet and has a strong orange essence to it. The chocolate is a little chalky and dry at the same time it has a cool and immediate melt. The dark chocolate actually has whole milk powder and milk fat in it, so it’s hardly dark chocolate though not milky enough to call it dairy milk chocolate.

For me it was simply too sweet and without some sort of milk flavors or intense cocoa notes, it just bored me. It’s attractive to look at and fun to share, but I would probably be disappointed if I got this in my stocking year after year.

Rating: 6 out of 10

Ferrara Milk Chocolate Toffee Crisp OrangeThe Milk Chocolate Orange is probably the classic of the bunch. It’s handsome and just as expertly made as the dark version (though I was not able to expertly disassemble it - see the milk toffee version below for a reasonable facsimile of what yours would probably look like).

The orange scent from this version was sweet and had a slight milky and caramel note to it. I was looking forward to this one because I rather liked the milk chocolate in the Belgian chocolate bar. However, after eating a few slices, it didn’t seem quite the same. It’s not quite as creamy or milky, though sometimes tempering and flavors can create changes. But I also noted on the box that it didn’t say anywhere that it was made from Belgian chocolate, so maybe it’s not the same at all. (I’d consult the wrapper for the Belgian chocolate bar but I ended up using the box as an impromptu knife sheath on Thanksgiving). My guess is that the Belgian stuff was more expensive and those bars were 3.5 ounces ... this is over 6 ounces for only 50 cents more.

There’s a slight grain to it as it melts and I’m really missing the chocolate flavors. Still, I found it much more munchable than the dark version.

Rating: 6 out of 10

Ferrara Toffee Crunch Orange

The final variety is orange shaped but not orange flavored. The Milk Chocolate Toffee Crunch is a milk chocolate studded with toffee bits. Reading through the ingredients it’s clear that they’re really toffee (made with butter and not cheap butterscotch hard candies. It looks pretty much like the milk chocolate one.

It has a slight cereal scent to it in addition to the milky sweet smell. It’s sweet and slightly grainy with a strong milky component. There are little chips of toffee with a good salty and buttery note. The chips, however, are very small, so there’s no additional texture of crunching them, just the little salty texture change. As with the other varieties, it was so very sweet that I found that two slices were more than enough to give me a sore throat and craving for pretzels or plain almonds.

Rating: 6 out of 10

Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Orange

Based on the above analysis, I believe that the Trader Joe’s Chocolate Oranges (available in dark and milk) are the same. They have similar ingredients, 20 sections and all weigh 6.17 ounces. They’re also priced about the same at $2.49 per orange.

Nope, I was wrong. Turns out the Trader Joe’s are made by SweetWorks who makes the Florida Tropic brand line. See more here.

Overall, I think the Ferrara products are nice quality and are certainly easy to find. I appreciate seeing a product like this that’s American-made (so often fresher and cheaper because they don’t have to import). They’re also Kosher. They’re not quite to my taste, but if I can’t get folks at the office to eat these I’m going to try making them into a decadent orange & chocolate pudding.

Coming up soon, the other chocolate oranges from Florida Tropic (photos of the varieties here).

Related Candies

  1. Ferrara Belgian Milk Chocolate
  2. Terry’s Chocolate Toffee Crunch Orange
  3. Ferrara Dark Chocolate Covered Biscotti
  4. Slice of Orange Hot Chocolate
  5. Cadbury Orange Creme Eggs
  6. Terry’s Peppermint Orange
  7. Terry’s Chocolate Orange
Name: Chocolate Oranges: Dark Chocolate, Milk Chocolate & Milk Chocolate Toffee Crunch
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Ferrara Chocolate
Place Purchased: Walgreen's (Las Vegas, NV)
Price: $2.50
Size: 6.17 ounces
Calories per ounce: 155, 148 & 142
Categories: Chocolate, Toffee, United States, Ferrara Pan, Kosher

POSTED BY Cybele AT 12:10 pm     Comments (5)

Friday, December 4, 2009

Christmas Dots

A couple of month ago I reviewed the set of trio of Dots candies for Halloween: Bat Dots, Candy Corn Dots & Ghost Dots. For Christmas Tootsie can only muster one holiday version: Christmas Dots.

Christmas Dots

Christmas Dots are red and green with white snow caps. So they’re festive looking, but are they festive tasting? Well, they’re Cherry and Lime flavored with Vanilla tops. Neither Cherry nor Lime have ever been considered a Christmas or even Winter flavor as far as I’m concerned (though I think vanilla is a nice touch).

The smell like vanilla. In fact, they smell an awful lot like the Candy Corn Dots, which I thought were more like vanilla pudding Dots (in a good way). These are like Jell-O and Cool Whip Dots in my two least favorite Jell-O flavors.

The lime is tangy and has a good zest note to it, but it also has a severely bitter component. The vanilla offsets it well, kind of like a lime creamsicle.

The cherry is very strong though not as much on the tart side of things, so it’s quite sweet. It’s also bitter, but in a more artificial coloring note than an actual natural citrus oil way. The vanilla balances this rather well, though I still didn’t like them at all, I found eating the vanilla tops to be palatable enough.

It might have been fun to really mix it up with these with something like Spearmint and Cinnamon with Vanilla. As it is, these are pretty enough to eat, but prettier to just decorate with.

In an unrelated story (to Christmas candy), Tootsie and the Orthodox Union announced that Tootsie candies including Tootsie Rolls, Frooties and Dots will be Kosher, with items arriving on store shelves soon.

Related Candies

  1. Halloween Dots: Bat, Candy Corn & Ghost
  2. Gourmet Gumdrops
  3. Dots Elements: Earth, Air, Fire & Water
  4. Dots
Name: Christmas Dots
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Tootsie
Place Purchased: Walgreen's (Echo Park)
Price: $1.00
Size: 7 ounces
Calories per ounce: 92
Categories: Jelly, United States, Tootsie, Christmas

POSTED BY Cybele AT 12:23 pm     Comments (1)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Hershey-ets

Hersheyette's CaneLong before Hershey’s came out with Kissables, they had a product called Hershey-ets. They were introduced in 1954 and were pretty much direct competitors to M&Ms. They never quite took off so by 1978 the machinery for Hershey-ets was turned over to the Reese’s Pieces project and Hershey-ets were only made seasonally.

My personal memories of these candy covered chocolate lentils are pretty vague. I know that I could get them at Hershey Park in little vending machines for a dime or quarter for a handful. (Not to be confused with the machines that dispensed duck food.) The only reliable time, for many years, to find Hershey-ets was around the holidays when they were sold in Christmas colors and found in bags in the baking aisle or in these cute little clear plastic canes.

Then the disappeared in 2006 with the introduction of Kissables (2005)... then Kissables were reformulated from their original candy-coated milk chocolate drops formula into candy-coating mockolate in 2008... then they were quietly discontinued in 2009. Earlier this year Hershey’s announced a new product line called Pieces, which would add to the existing Reese’s Pieces line three new products: York Peppermint Pattie Pieces, Almond Joy Pieces and Hershey’s Special Dark Pieces. One item missing from that list was a classic milk chocolate version ... the Hershey-ets.

Hersheyettes

So I can’t say I was surprised when I stumbled on a display of Hershey’s Canes at Target a few weeks ago. They featured the Hershey’s Canes I remembered from my childhood - a clear plastic tube filled with Hershey-ets (green & red) or Reese’s Pieces (in white, green & red). They were only 99 cents so I picked up a few.

There’s not much to say about the construction of them, as most Earthlings are familiar with this candy construction. Milk chocolate ovoid covered with a brightly colored sugar shell.

Are they just smashed Kissables or are they mini Hershey’s Easter Milk Chocolate Eggs?

Kissables Original (2006) Ingredients:  Milk chocolate (sugar, cocoa butter, chocolate, nonfat milk, milk fat, lactose, soy lecithin, PGPR & artificial flavors), sugar, red #40, yellow #5, yellow #6, blue #1 & carnauba wax.

Hershey-ets (2009) Ingredients: Sugar, milk, cocoa butter, chocolate, contains 2% or less of artificial colors (yellow #5, red #40, blue #1), corn syrup, corn starch, modified food starch, resinous glaze, soy lecithin, carnauba wax, vanillin. (Manufactured on shared equipment with peanuts).

I don’t have a wrapper for the classic Hershey’s Eggs, but just by tasting these I’m going with a mini version of the Hershey’s Eggs. What’s weird is that there’s no PGPR in there.

M&Ms & Hersheyettes

Finally, since they look and act like M&Ms, I also did a little one-to-one comparison. Hershey-ets are little bulkier, a little less tapered at the edges. The shell is also thicker, so there’s more crunch.

M&Ms milk chocolate is sweet and tastes a bit like cocoa with a light peanut touch and milk. Not intense and the shell is like a light crust. They’re very easy to eat, and keep eating though they never quite fill me up.

Hershey-ets milk chocolate is classic Hershey’s tang. Honestly, sticking my nose in the little tube, it smelled like chevre, or at the very least, chocolate cheesecake. The tangy yogurt note cuts through the sweetness a bit, and the extra crunchy shell provides more than just melting protection. Still, they’re every sweet and after a handful they gave me a sore throat. I enjoy the fact that they’re so different from M&Ms, but they’re not quite the jumbo pop of the Easter version that I prefer which has more shell and more of an uninterrupted fudgy chocolate flavor and texture. I easily ate both tubes I had over two days.

Lately I’ve found that Hershey’s chocolate has tasted a little rancid, a little more like burps than is considered polite for candy. I’ve been blaming it on PGPR, which I think either adds some sort of off flavor or allows the flavors to oxidize quicker. These don’t seem to have that problem. The flavor, though tangy with that slightly caramelized milk note is still there, but either sealing them in the little airtight candy shell or the lack of PGPR gives me back my classic Hershey’s chocolate.

Though I don’t remember them, they were once available in single serve packages just like M&Ms, Candy Wrapper Archive has an image of them from the 60s. Retro Commercials remembers when Hershey-ets were sold by the bucket.

Related Candies

  1. Mentos - Pine Fresh (Pineapple)
  2. Head to Head: M&Ms vs Koppers Milkies
  3. UK Smarties (no artificial colors)
  4. Disney Branded Chocolate Candies
  5. M&Ms Line
  6. Head-to-Head: Smarties vs. M&Ms
  7. Jelly Belly JBz
Name: Hershey-ets
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Hershey's
Place Purchased: Target (Harbor City)
Price: $.99
Size: 1.7 ounces
Calories per ounce: 141
Categories: Chocolate, United States, Hershey's, Kosher

POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:38 am     Comments (46)

Monday, November 30, 2009

Russell Stover Santas

Russell Stover has a large assortment of holiday treats in Santa-themed packaging. What’s nice about them is that they’re always fresh and moderately priced (often on dramatic sale for three for a dollar but usually about 50 cents a piece). I picked up every variety I could find this year:

Russell Stover Santas

What I noticed first was that the packaging is inconsistent in its design. Sure they’re all a mylar wrapper, but beyond that the Santas are different drawing styles with the Maple Cream, Strawberry Cream & Coconut Cream sporting the same Santa holding a gift aloft as he sits in a chimney. But The Peanut Butter Santa is more streamlined, the Marshmallow Santa has some freaky bright red cheeks and insanely short arms and finally the Marshmallow & Caramel Santa is in the style of the European Saint Nicolas complete with staff.

What I also found out is that the definition of “Santa Shaped” is pretty loose in Russell Stover’s world. It’s not quite as egg shaped, and maybe the tapering ends can be a feet/boots and a head. But really, it’d be best to just call these Christmas Lumps or Snow Clods.

Russell Stover Peanut Butter Santa

The Peanut Butter Santa is pure simplicity: a peanut butter bar covered in milk chocolate. The shape of it is kind of figure-like. It’s the smallest of the pack as well, clocking in at only .75 ounces. It smells nutty and sugary and a little bit like peanut butter cookies. The milk chocolate is quite slick and melts easily, it has a light cocoa flavor to it. Most of all the salty peanut butter center is grassy-tasting. It’s a strange green flavor more like edamame than roasted peanuts.

It was tasty enough for me to finish it easily, but being small didn’t hurt either. The center is moister and a bit oilier than the center of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Tree (or Egg or Cup). This wasn’t a bad feature, just different.

Rating: 7 out of 10
Size: .75 ounces

Russell Stover Maple Cream Santa

I thought perhaps I’d tried these before and looked up to find that I reviewed the Maple Cream Egg way back in 2006. But the Russell Stover Maple Cream Santa is actually different. While the Easter version is coated in dark chocolate, the Christmas version is Milk Chocolate.

The amorphous lump didn’t remind me of Santa’s silhouette in the slightest but the maple cream flavor is a bit more Christmassy than Easterish so kudos for that, Russell Stover.

It’s been a while since I’ve had the dark chocolate version so I’ll spare us all comparisons. What I can say is that this is ludicrously sweet. The milk chocolate is sugary and not terribly creamy and the center while moist and fluffy is also throat searingly cloying and sticky. The maple flavor was simply a flavor, not something that felt natural or integrated into the candy itself.

Rating: 5 out of 10
Size: 1.25 ounces

Russell Stover Strawberry Cream Santa

While the Strawberry Cream Santa is also milk chocolate like the Cream Egg, this one lacks the pretty little swirls and curls on the top. It does smell a little like berries, but mostly it smells like milky chocolate. It’s quite sweet and has only a faint hint of strawberry and is rather similar to a Nestle Strawberry Qwik shake. I know it was really sweet, but I like the texture of the cream center that Russell Stover uses for both this one and the Maple Cream. It’s rather like a marshmallow cream, quite smooth and fluffy and moist without being runny.

Rating: 5 out of 10
Size: 1.25 ounces

Russell Stover Coconut Cream Santa

The Coconut Cream Santa is also unlike the Cream Egg in that it’s milk chocolate, not dark chocolate. In this case as well, I think the sugar-laden milk chocolate is simply over the top. I like the coconut flake texture of the cream filling and the nice size of the piece, but the sugary quality of the chocolate with its grainy and fudgy melt is just too much. It’s amazing what a difference dark chocolate can make, but it does.

Rating: 6 out of 10
Size: 1.25 ounces

Russel Stover Marshmallow Santa

Things were looking up when I found the Dark Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Santa. I didn’t really expect this to be terribly different from the Easter Rabbit version, except that one was huge at two ounces and only in milk chocolate where I shopped.

This one was by far the most attractive of my Santa set, a nicely detailed figure of Santa Claus scratching his head. Unfortunately I smashed him somewhere along the way and his face was a little worse for it (or maybe he wasn’t scratching his head, maybe he was holding his hand over his nose and cursing me).

The marshmallow is latexy and has a chewy pull. Not too sweet and with a faint whiff of vanilla flavoring.

Rating: 7 out of 10
Size: 1.00 ounces

Russell Stover Marshmallow & CaramelThe Marshmallow & Caramel Santa Covered in Milk Chocolate is the only other in the collection that estimates the shape of Santa Claus.

Of course this one looks like it could be a Mummy or Generic Figure for Unisex Bathroom Door.

It’s smaller in dimensions from the Dark Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Santa, yet it’s actually heavier, it’s the same 1.25 ounces as the Cream Santas. I’ve had the Caramel and Marshmallow Pumpkin before and found it interesting.

Russell Stover Marshmallow & Caramel Santa

This one seems to be more evenly balanced between the caramel and the marshmallow. It’s dense for a marshmallow product, the marshmallow is fluffy and has a light hint of vanilla to it with a smooth and velvety melt. The caramel isn’t runny nor quite chewy but has a good stringy pull to it.

It’s lacking a punch like the See’s Scotchmallow, but for 50 cents and in the shape of a clothes pin, well, I don’t want to sound too ungrateful for a decent piece of candy especially since this one seems to have the proportions just right. I wish the caramel was a little more chewy, a little more salty, but still a fun piece.

Rating: 7 out of 10
Size: 1.25 ounces

Related Candies

  1. Russell Stover Eggs (2009 edition)
  2. Reese’s Enigma & Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Eggs
  3. Russell Stover Marshmallow Rabbits
  4. Russell Stover Eggs
  5. Russell Stover Eggs (2007 edition)
  6. See’s Scotchmallow Eggs
  7. Russell Stover Coconut Wreath
Name: Santas: Peanut Butter, Maple Cream, Strawberry Cream, Coconut Cream, Marshmallow and Marshmallow & Caramel
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Russell Stover
Place Purchased: Walgreens & Rite Aid (Echo Park)
Price: $.50 each
Size: .75 ounces to 1.25 ounces
Calories per ounce: 130 to 160
Categories: Chocolate, Caramel, Coconut, Fondant, Marshmallow, United States, Russell Stover, Christmas

POSTED BY Cybele AT 1:29 pm     Comments (11)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Trader Joe’s Milk Chocolate Hazelnut Delights

Trader Joe's Milk Chocolate Hazelnut DelightsIt’s that lovely time of year when Trader Joe’s trots out oodles of holiday candies and treats.

I like to cruise the aisles and look at all the great new and returning items. This year my eyes lit on the Milk Chocolate Hazelnut Delights.

The box describes them as a crunchy hazelnut treat surrounded with praline, crispy wafer and milk chocolate. While I assumed that they are like Ferrero Rocher, the image on the box didn’t quite show whether they were flat or round (maybe the wafer is just that, a little disc). The box is also rather deep, and though it holds 7.05 ounces, I wasn’t sure how the items were packaged. Were they individually wrapped and just tossed in there? How many came in a box? Were they in a tray or just stacked up?

When I got the box home and opened it, most of my questions were answered.

Trader Joe's Milk Chocolate Hazelnut Delights

Inside the trapezoidal box are two trays. Each tray is sealed in cellophane and has eight sections. (16 candies total in the box.) Each little spot holds a Hazelnut Delight. At this point I confirmed that there were a heck of a lot like a Ferrero Rocher. They’re also made in Germany, which is one of the locations that Ferrero has manufacturing facilities.

The ingredients are impressive at first. The first item on the list is hazelnuts. After that it gets a little less enchanting. Ingredient #2 is sugar, which is absolutely expected in candy. #3 is vegetable oil (palm, rapeeseed and sunflower) and only after that do we get to the cocoa butter, wheat flour, chocolate liquor, whole milk powder, nonfat dry milk and cocoa ... then a bunch more stuff including more oils.

Trader Joe's Milk Chocolate Hazelnut Delights

The pieces are slightly larger than one bite. It’s a lumpy, bumpy ball and most had a little drizzle of white chocolate across them. What’s nice is that they’re not individually wrapped in foil, so it smells amazing, like roasted hazelnuts and hot chocolate.

Biting into one, the construction will seem similar. It’s a milk chocolate shell covering crushed hazelnuts stuck to a hollow wafer sphere. Inside is a chocolate and hazelnut paste ... somewhere in there is a whole hazelnut.

The amazing part though is the hazenuttiness. It’s just packed with them. It’s a sweet treat, but there’s both the whole hazelnut at the center plus the crushed hazelnuts then that hazelnut paste in the middle. There must be the equivalent of three or four hazelnuts in there.

The chocolate coating is sweet and melts easily. The paste in the center is, well, pasty. It’s sticky and has a good cocoa flavor but not much on the hazelnut side, not a problem there, because the whole hazelnut pretty much takes care of that at some point. (In the photo cross-section I obviously hadn’t found it yet.) The wafer is crunchy and has a light caramelized sugar note to it, like good ice cream cones do. The crushed hazelnuts steal the show though, so crunchy and with such a distinctive roasted nut flavor I was quite enamored of these little delights.

The price is a bit steeper than Ferrero Rocher (which I’ve seen on sale at drug stores for less than 1/2 the price from time to time). But there are far more hazelnuts here and of course they were extremely fresh. I might buy them again as a hostess gift for someone I was certain is a hazel-nut. I think I’d prefer a dark chocolate version for myself.

Other items returning for 2009:
Dark Chocolate Covered Mint Joe Joe’s
Trader Joe’s French Truffles
Trader Joe’s Irish Cream Chocolates
Trader Joe’s Peppermint Bark White Chocolate Bar
Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels (different box this year)
Trader Joe’s Fleur de Sel Caramels
(I’ve also picked up their Belgian Chocolate Fancies, Dark Chocolate Orange and the Dark Chocolate Crisps to review in the next few weeks. Brandy Beans are also back this year, I didn’t pick them up when I was in Oakland - the first place I’ve seen the this year - but I’ll try to find them again.)

Related Candies

  1. Hachez Edel Vollmilch Nuss (Milk Chocolate with Hazelnuts)
  2. Doulton Liqueur Chocolates (Cointreau & Teacher’s)
  3. Short & Sweet: Hazelnut Bites
  4. Ferrero Prestige (Ferrero Garden)
  5. Ferrero Rocher
  6. Ferrero Mon Cheri
Name: Milk Chocolate Hazelnut Delights
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Trader Joe's
Place Purchased: Trader Joe's (LaBrea & 3rd)
Price: $3.99
Size: 7.05 ounces
Calories per ounce: 164
Categories: Chocolate, Nuts, Cookie, Germany, Trader Joe's, Christmas, All Natural

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:36 am     Comments (12)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Herhey’s Kisses filled with Irish Creme

Hershey's Kisses filled with Irish CremeI love it when the Candy Blog community points me to something new. We have a little conversation going on in the Candy Blog Forums about the 2009 holiday candy offerings. One that ruffy mentioned was Hershey’s Kisses Filled with Irish Creme. I found them at Target as well and I suspect since no one else has seen them anywhere else that they may be a Target exclusive this year.

Irish Cream is a combination of flavors and textures; it’s usually heavy cream, whiskey and coffee. Kisses filled with Irish Creme are less of that. There’s no actual whiskey in there, for starters. It’s a molded chocolate shell filled with a sugar and oil paste with some milk products (nonfat milk and whey) and artificial flavoring. So maybe a more accurate name would be Kisses filled with Sweet Flavored Whey Paste.

Hershey's Kisses filled with Irish Creme

While my confidence level in them was low, I was also plenty curious. The dark green bag and gold wrappers with green fireworks on them were certainly appealing.

The smell, when I pushed my face into the bag, is actually mildly alcoholic. I don’t know how they did that, but it definitely has a bit of a whiskey note.

Out of the foil it’s even more noticeable - more than just bourbon vanilla, this smells like strong stuff. The chocolate flavors of the molded shell aren’t much. It’s smooth enough, with a slight fudgy grain that’s definitely candy-like. The center is a bit of a paste, thicker than the cordial creme in some of the Kisses. It’s not quite grainy and rather like a fondant. The center is a little bit salty so it has an immediate difference from the chocolate shell. The whiskey flavors of woodsy alcohol are there along with a slightly warm and cozy background note.

The liquor flavor though has an odd medicinal quality, especially later on. It’s like the after effects of Cepacol or some other throat anesthetic. Eating another one kind of gets rid of the benzocaine & menthol aftertaste by introducing the primary tastes of sugar, milk and whiskey flavored cheesecake.

I’m not blown away, but they are different than the last few flavors. But a true coffee flavored Kiss might be a nice change one of these days or an Egg Nog for the holidays.

Related Candies

  1. Hershey’s Kisses: Chocolate Meltaway
  2. Candy Tease: All Candy Expo 2009 - Hershey
  3. Nestle Treasures 50% Cacao Dark Chocolate Truffle
  4. Hershey’s Pumpkin Spice Kisses
  5. Candy Corn Kisses
  6. Honey Roasted Peanut Roca
  7. The Mint Kisses: Chocolate Mint & Candy Cane
  8. Choxies in Boxies
Name: Irish Creme Kisses
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Hershey's
Place Purchased: Target (Harbor City)
Price: $2.99
Size: 10 ounces
Calories per ounce: 145
Categories: Chocolate, United States, Hershey's, Kosher, Christmas

POSTED BY Cybele AT 1:52 pm     Comments (6)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Fannie May Pixie

Fannie May PixieI know some folks may have been worried that I wasn’t going to give Fannie May another chance after the disappointing Mint Meltaway yesterday. Well, no worries, as I also found the Fannie May Pixie at Walgreen’s on the same trip.

Again, it’s a pricey piece of candy - at $1.39 for a 1.5 ounce candy billed as Crunchy pecans in smooth caramel, drenched in rich milk chocolate. But a careful shopper might notice that Pixies go for $22.99 per pound on the Fannie May website yet these individually wrapped pieces work out to $14.83 per pound. (But they’re also available in dark chocolate on the website.)

Fannie May is famous for these turtle-like candies and I’m a huge fan of turtle-like candies. The ingredients look much better. There’s real chocolate, 50 fewer calories and no trans fats make it into the listing. (There is some hydrogenated vegetable oil on the list, but it’s very far down.)

Fannie May Pixie

Honestly, it’s a huge turtle. Far larger than I’m accustomed to. The ratios are a bit off from smaller ones, as far as I can tell. There’s a lot of caramel here and what seems like a lot of chocolate and not a lot of pecans.

The crunch of the pecans at the base is good, they’re crisp and fresh without that trace of fibery chew or rancid oily taste that some drug store turtles can get. The chocolate is creamy, not terribly milky but has a good snap to it and stays on the caramel center well. The caramel has a nice buttery flavor. It’s not quite a stiff chew but still has a good stringy pull and smoothness.

So while I thought it was a bit too large at first, I had no trouble finishing it (though I did it in two sittings).

Related Candies

  1. Robitaille’s Presidential Inaugural Mints & Turtles
  2. Disneyland Candy Palace - Candy Case Chocolates
  3. Theo Confections
  4. Nestle Turtles
  5. Choxies in Boxies
Name: Mint Meltaway
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Fannie May (1-800-FLOWERS)
Place Purchased: Walgreen's (Echo Park)
Price: $1.39
Size: 1.5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 140
Categories: Chocolate, Caramel, Nuts, United States, Christmas

POSTED BY Cybele AT 1:43 pm     Comments (5)

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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.

Halloween Candy Season Ends

-57 days

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Which seasonal candy selection do you prefer?

Choose one or more:

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ON DECK

These candies will be reviewed shortly:

• Lindt Chocolate Cookie

• Hachez Braune Blatter (Chocolate Leaves)

• Dandelion Chocolate

• Trader Joe’s Holiday Roundup 2014

 

 

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