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Coconut

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)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Swiss Army Energy Bar Chocolate

Swiss Army Energy Bar ChocolateI found out about Traditional Swiss Army chocolate a couple of years ago, they were a raffle prize for the annual Menu for Hope fundraiser

I was surprised and pleased when I ran into the bars at the nearby Cost Plus World Market.

There are three varieties with a bold package design that keeps in tune with the Swiss Army style of the red shield with a white cross. The bars are larger than most American single-serve chocolate bars, about half the size of the typical 3.5 ounce (100 gram) tablet.

The wrapper calls them Survival Portions though the rest of the package is rather vague about how these help you survive, or what exactly the challenge is that needs a portion for survival.

Swiss Army Energy Bar Chocolate - Milk Chocolate with corn flakes & guaranaI think the design on the wrapper is great. The bold design of the logo caught my eye immediately and the nice placement of the description & statement that it contains caffeine from guarana is easy to see.

It’s billed as Swiss Army Energy Bar Chocolate - Skimmed Milk Chocolate with Cornflakes and Guarana.

Guarana is an Amazonian vine related to the maple tree that produces a little fruit with seeds high in caffeine. In its purest form I understand the roasted fruits/seeds are a bit like cocoa powder, a bit astringent and bitter but also with some pleasant cocoa & coffee flavors. In this instance it’s just a guarana extract and it only makes up 1/2% of the total bar.

Swiss Army Energy Bar Chocolate - Milk Chocolate with corn flakes & guarana

It’s quite a nice looking bar - shiny and nicely molded with scored pieces for easy portioning.

Once I broke the bar it was easy to see the little cornflake bits. It smells rather sweet but also slightly malty, which I attributed to the cornflakes.

The texture is quite smooth, though not quite silky because of the cereal bits. It’s sweet but the slightly salty, mildly malty cornflakes plus the dairy notes of the milk made it all work. I only got the slightest hint of caffeine bitterness that lingered high and light at the finish.

Swiss Army Energy Bar Chocolate - Dark Chocolate with corn flakes & guaranaSwiss Army Energy Bar Chocolate - Dark Chocolate with Cornflakes and Guarana

After the creamy experience with the milk chocolate version, I was thinking perhaps this one would be nice but probably sweet. I was happy to see that the first ingredient is cacao mass and the second sugar then cocoa butter ... so this was going to be pretty chocolatey.

It has the same 1/2% guarana extract content, which amounts to about 42 mgs of caffeine per bar.

Swiss Army Energy Bar Chocolate - Dark Chocolate with corn flakes & guarana

The scent isn’t very complex, just sweet with a woodsy roasted note. The texture is smooth and has a good immediate melt. It’s a bit bitter with an overall fruity and berry note to the chocolate flavors and a little hint of smoke towards the end. I got a similar bitterness at the end as well that was different from the initial bitterness.

Swiss Army Energy Bar Chocolate - White Chocolate with Guarana & CoconutSwiss Army Energy Bar Chocolate - White Chocolate with Coconut and Guarana

The white bar is a bit different, first because it has coconut instead of cornflakes. It’s made with real cocoa butter, and quite a lot of it (the second item on the list of ingredients, right after sugar and followed by skimmed milk powder).

Of course all that fat amps up the calorie count here, this bar is 290 calories versus the 260 for the previous two bars. The other confusing aspect of the nutrition label is that it lists salt as an ingredient but says that there is no sodium in it.

Swiss Army Energy Bar Chocolate - White Chocolate with Guarana & Coconut

The bar is a light yellow, buttery looking block. The little white flecks of coconut are quite small. The overwhelming scent of the bar is coconut.

The bar melts readily and has a smooth texture, except for the soft & chewy coconut flakes. It’s sweet and milky but also has a fair bit of a salty note which keeps it from seeming too sticky like some white chocolates can. I might have preferred it with the cornflakes, but it’s still a fun bar. I didn’t sense any bitter aftertaste here, which may have just been the chocolate and not the guarana in the previous bars.

Swiss Army Energy Bar ChocolateWhat sets these bars apart, besides the Swiss Army branding is the caffeine content. It’s not that much at only 46 mg per bar, the same caffeine content as 1 ounce of espresso or a 4 ounce cup of coffee. And as I mentioned, the portions are quite generous for what is basically an “all chocolate” bar with only a few small inclusions.

They’re well priced for what they are, a quasi-novelty item but also a decent chocolate bar with a unique set of attributes. They’ll probably be very popular stocking stuffers this holiday season.

They have an odd website, it looks great, but feels a little off because of what appears to be a machine translation of the text. The wrappers say Imported into the USA by Cost Plus, Inc. so I’m guessing they’re the exclusive retailer for these here.

Name: Swiss Army Chocolate: Milk Chocolate, Dark Chocolate & White Chocolate
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Swiss Army
Place Purchased: Cost Plus World Market (Farmers Market)
Price: $1.99 each
Size: 1.75 ounces
Calories per ounce: 149, 149 & 166
Categories: Chocolate, Cookie, Coconut, Caffeine, Switzerland

POSTED BY Cybele AT 8:58 am     Comments (11)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Brach’s Indulge Almonds: Coconut & Caramel

Brach's Indulge Almond EscapesBesides the regular chocolate covered nuts that Brach’s has been making for about a hundred years, Brach’s has more recently branched out into more than the old fashioned pick-a-mix items.

the new Indulge gable-box line includes some boxed chocolate items (like Cherry Creme Clusters) as well as the standard bridge mixes and chocolate covered nuts.

I picked out these two from the samples that Farley’s & Sathers sent me: Coconut Almond Escape and Caramel Almond escape because they both have almonds at the center but were definitely outside of the normal panned nuts offerings.

Besides the color coding of the boxes, it’s hard to tell the candies apart from the pictures on the package ... they’ve obviously taken some artistic license or are able to produce identical candies in both dark and milk chocolate. (Click to see it a bit bigger on Flickr.)

Brach's Indulge Coconut Almond Escape

Coconut Almond Escape is called Rich, creamy, coconut covered almonds coated in luscious dark chocolate.

They make it sound simple but it’s really not. There is an almond at the core and there is a “sweet chocolate” coating (which has lactose as the second ingredient after sugar and before chocolate & cocoa butter). But that white stuff in between goes like this:

sugar, vegetable oil (palm & palm kernel), nonfat milk, titanium dioxide, soy lecithin, vanilla, gum arabic, corn syrup, modified food starch, salt, coconut oil, natural and artificial colors

So that “coconut covering” has very little actual coconut in it ... as far as I can tell the smallest dash of coconut oil and maybe that natural flavoring.

They certainly smell coconutty - like suntan lotion. The pieces are glossy and large. The almonds are crunchy and nicely toasted. The white cream is soft and has a good melt on the tongue ... not quite fondant and rather salty. Sometimes I get a fake butter flavor from it, which turns me off. The whole effect is rather good otherwise and rather different.

I was hoping for the elusive Dark Chocolate Almond Joy experience, but without actual coconut flakes, all the chewy texture is provided by the almonds. It tastes rather fake, but the hit of salt gives them a good munchability. But on the other hand I’m hesitant to recommend a candy that has more coloring (titanium dioxide in this case) than salt. But I don’t know what my daily recommend intake of titanium is. Maybe it makes my cell phone reception better. Or makes me impervious to UV radiation.

Brach's Indulge Caramel Almond Escape

Caramel Almond Escape is Rich creamy, caramel covered almonds in luscious milk chocolate.

I should have photographed these two candies together to show the difference in size. Most of these are about the size of a Peanut M&M.

These milk chocolate pieces look great otherwise, very nicely panned they’re shiny and smooth. I was rather surprised when I opened the package that they smell like maple.

I was hoping for a nice chewy caramel, but probably expecting a Brach’s Milk Maid Caramel.

Instead it’s more like a maple fudge instead of anything resembling a caramel. And it’s an awful like like fake maple.

The nuts are crunchy, but their tiny size leaves the proportions here a bit off as well. I’ve been eating the, but I have a hard time believing that I’d buy them.

Rating: 4 out of 10

It’s nice to see Brach’s bringing production back to the United States, but I’d like to see some less convoluted recipes ... or I’ll just stick to the Bridge Mix, Candy Corn and Spearmint Leaves that they do so well.

Related Candies

  1. Brach’s Indulge Cookie Nibbles
  2. Marich Easter Select Mix
  3. Brach’s Chocolate Candy Corn & Halloween Mix
  4. Almond Joy
  5. World’s Finest Continental Chocolate Almonds
  6. Sconza 70% Dark Chocolate Toffee Almonds
  7. Dove Caramels & Chocolate Covered Almonds
Name: Brach's Indulge Almonds: Coconut & Caramel
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Brach's (Farley's & Sathers)
Place Purchased: samples from Farley's & Sathers
Price: retail $3.49
Size: 6 ounces
Calories per ounce: 156
Categories: Chocolate, Caramel, Coconut, Nuts, United States, Brach's

POSTED BY Cybele AT 2:19 pm     Comments (2)

Monday, June 1, 2009

Limited Edition M&Ms Coconut

M&Ms Limited Edition CoconutHot on the tails of the Limited Edition Strawberried Peanut Butter M&Ms will be the release of Limited Edition Coconut M&Ms in August. (More here)

The cream colored packet holds 1.5 ounces of green, white and brown milk chocolate morsels flavored with coconut.

As with most limited editions, the package is a bit slighter than the regular products. This one clocks in at 1.5 ounces instead of the normal 1.69 in a Milk Chocolate M&Ms pack.

Coconut M&Ms

The package is cute and playful, featuring Ms. Green reclining in the sand, leaning against a coconut filled with coconut M&Ms. In the background the Yellow Peanut M&M is falling out of a coconut palm laden with more coconuts.

The contents smell much like most M&Ms, sweet and slightly woodsy but only the slightest whiff of coconut.

M&Ms Limited Edition Coconut

The individual lentils are a bit puffier than regular M&Ms, though not as big as the Peanut Butter variety.

Inside they’re just milk chocolate but with an added touch of coconut flavoring (but no actual coconut to be found in the ingredients).

The chocolate is fudgy, the flavor is a little salty and tropical but with a strange yogurty tang (kind of like Hershey’s) ... the crunch of the shell is crisp.

On the whole, it’s a nice change-up, very appealing. It’s not something that I think deserves to be made part of the regular repertoire. But see the review on Hershey’s Almond Joy Pieces.

UPDATE 9/29/2009: Mars has announced that M&MS Coconut will become part of their permanent line of candies. You can expect them in stores starting in December 2009.

Related Candies

  1. Hershey’s Almond Joy Pieces
  2. M&Ms Premiums
  3. M&Ms Razzberry - Limited Edition
  4. Cherry Almondine M&Ms
  5. Kisses Coconut Creme
  6. Russell Stover Coconut Wreath
  7. M&Ms Line
Name: Limited Edition Coconut M&Ms
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Mars
Place Purchased: samples from All Candy Expo
Price: $.79 retail
Size: 1.5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 147
Categories: Chocolate, Coconut, United States, Mars, M&Ms, Limited Edition

POSTED BY Cybele AT 6:27 am     Comments (137)

Hershey’s Almond Joy Pieces

Almond Joy PiecesIt’s sad in a way that I’m writing about these now, since they’re not due in stores until December, but I really couldn’t wait. (I know Candy Addict was also too excited for them to hit store shelves.)

The new line of Pieces is the expansion of the Reese’s Pieces line after a mere thirty one years since their introduction. (More here)

The choice of Almond Joy as one of the first lentilized Hershey’s bars in this line is kind of odd, but a welcome one as far as I’m concerned - coconut candies are few and far between.

The samples I got were directly from Hershey’s and came in little “for sales samples only” packets of only .7 ounces each. I’m not certain what the final packaging sizes will be.

The nutrition information is missing but the ingredients are here:

Milk Chocolate (sugar, cocoa butter, chocolate, milk, corn syrup solids, milk fat, nonfat milk, soy lecithin, PGPR), sugar, coconut, almonds (roasted in cocoa butter and.or sunflower oil) contains 2% or less of artificial color (blue 1, red 40, yellow 5, blue 2, yellow 6), resinous glaze, gum acacia, modified cornstarch & carnauba wax.

Almond Joy Pieces

The pieces are similar in size & proportion to M&Ms, perhaps a little thicker. The sizes and manufacturing are quite consistent. The colors are blue, dark brown and tan.

The candy shells are rather thick & crunchy, the candy center is a milk chocolate base studded with coconut bits and crushed almonds.

They’re quite sweet and taste mostly of coconut, but the texture combinations are fantastic - the light crunch of the candy shell combined with the chew of the coconut bits and the occasional appearance by an almond bit. The flavors are a bit mild but I enjoyed these quite a bit and if I had an opportunity to chose them for a snack at a movie or while at my desk, I certainly would, mostly because they are unique, there are no other candies like this.

There’s no Kosher status listed on the package (though that may be because this is not final packaging), and it also says that it’s not nut, peanut, wheat, egg or soy free. Further, the use of resinous glaze means that this is not a vegetarian product.

Related Candies

  1. Limited Edition M&Ms Coconut
  2. Sunspire Coconut Bars
  3. Atkinson’s Coconut Long Boys
  4. Reese’s Pieces
  5. Almond Joy Cookies
  6. Reese’s Pieces with Peanuts
Name: Almond Joy Pieces
    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: samples from Hershey's
Price: unknown
Size: unknown
Calories per ounce: unknown
Categories: Chocolate, Coconut, Nuts, United States, Hershey's, Kosher

POSTED BY Cybele AT 6:18 am     Comments (16)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Sunspire Coconut Bars

Sunspire Coconut barsAt the same time I bought the Sunspire Peppermint Pattie, I also picked up both of their Coconut Bars.

Sunspire makes premium candy with all natural ingredients, nothing artificial. In my experience with their products they tend to use evaporated cane juice instead of refined sugar and often use unsulfured molasses as a sweetener. They also eschew genetically modified sources so most of the products I’ve seen use a rice syrup when needed instead of corn syrup. Besides the malty, earthy flavor that molasses usually adds, I have no problem with sweet & satisfying candy being made from these elements.

Add to that Hershey’s decision to move manufacturing of Mounds, Almond Joy and York Peppermint Patties to Mexico, I thought it’d be cool to find an excellent American-made substitute for folks who want to buy more local. (Though in my case Monterrey, Mexico is a bit closer than Hershey, PA.)

Milk Chocolate & Almond Coconut BarThe Coconut Almond with Premium Milk Chocolate bar looked fabulous. It’s pretty beefy, a wide slab clocking in at 1.75 ounces.

Instead of the two piece style of Almond Joy or Bounty this is a long, one-piece bar, a bit thinner. The rippled milk chocolate enrobing is glossy and appealing.

The almonds in this bar are not whole ones popped on top like Almond Joy, they’re crushed & mixed in with the moist coconut flakes.

Milk Chocolate & Almond Coconut Bar

I didn’t really see the almond bits in there, but the color was a bit more on the cream-colored side than the dark chocolate & no almond version (see below.)

The bar smells pleasantly like coconut and unpleasantly like Hershey’s Milk Chocolate often does - a bit gamey & sour ... rather like baby vomit.

But I pushed on, because I actually like the taste of Hershey’s milk chocolate, even though I can’t take the smell of it for very long.

The flavor of the milk chocolate is tangy, it’s like acid reflux but in the convenience of a pre-packaged bar. It’s terrible. I can’t eat it. I tried several times, it’s just too awful for me to stomach. (I even waited a couple of days, just in case I was the one who wasn’t feeling well.)

Then, as some sort of deja vu, I lured Amy into my office to try it. (Remember, not only does Amy have no problem spitting things out, she also has a hate-hate relationship with Sunspire’s Sundrops.)

I understand personal preferences for certain flavors, it’s rare for any candy product to induce a verified gag reflex.

Rating: 1 out of 10

Dark Chocolate Coconut BarBut to get back to the happy hiatus of Sunspire mistrust that was the Peppermint Pattie ... an unrelated bad night’s sleep and I tried the Coconut Premium Dark Chocolate.

It’s a simpler bar, just a firm coconut center, lightly sweetened and some dark chocolate enrobing.

The enrobing on this one looked similar, though there were a few bloomed spots. As the expiration date was March 2010, I felt pretty safe eating it.

The chocolate is slightly bitter, not extremely creamy but has its own decent flavor. The center is firm and chewy, more like an uncoated coconut bar than something soft & moist like a Mounds.

This tastes like no compromise candy. All natural ingredients, not organic but at least not genetically modified or overprocessed. The ingredients are vegan however they were made in a plant that processes wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs and soy. Kosher.

The price is a bit steep and to be honest, if I’m going for a candy bar when at Whole Foods or similar stores, there’s very little that could pry me away from the Q.Bel wafer bars. But if I was in the mood for coconut, the dark bar is notable.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Related Candies

  1. Atkinson’s Coconut Long Boys
  2. Regional Flavors: Key Lime, Pina Colada & Huckleberries
  3. Kisses Coconut Creme
  4. 100 Grand Coconut
  5. Mounds Island Orange
  6. Cup-O-Gold
Name: Coconut Almond Bar (Milk Chocolate) & Coconut Bar (Dark Chocolate)
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Sunspire (nSpired Natural Food)
Place Purchased: Henry's (Laguna Niguel)
Price: $1.25 (on sale)
Size: 1.75 ounces
Calories per ounce: 149
Categories: Chocolate, Coconut, Nuts, United States, Sunspire, Kosher, All-Natural

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:13 am     Comments (6)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Rosa’s Fudge

Rosa's FudgeI don’t know much about fudge. What I do know is that when I accepted an offer of fudge samples from Rosa’s Fudge last month I became the proud recipient of more fudge than I have ever possessed before.

The box pictured is over 6 inches long, 4 and a half inches wide and almost three inches deep. Inside were 24 1.25 ounce squares. Yes, the box weighed about two pounds (counting the weight of the box itself).

This was an ideal time for me to get over my fudge ambivalence. It’s not that I don’t like fudge, it’s that I don’t know fudge.

For the most part I find fudge tasty, but difficult. After all, it usually requires implements to eat ... cutting it with a knife, storing it awkwardly, it dries out easily. Candy should be low fuss.

Rosa's FudgeRosa’s Fudge, based in Springfield, Massachusetts makes 22 flavors. They sent me 16 of them to try (no walnut or cherry for me!). It took me two weeks to get through them. 

Their fudge is sold in these little cubes, one serving, each stays fresh and they’re easy to eat, store & share.

They’re made with mostly wholesome ingredients: milk, butter, sugar but also a dash of hydrogenated palm kernel oil (can’t be much based on how far down on the list it comes) plus chocolate or nuts as dictated by the flavor then some potassium sorbate to keep it all fresh.

Rosa's Fudge - ChocolateChocolate - the bite is soft and the chocolate flavor is immediate (chocolate is the second ingredient in this flavor). It’s rich and has both the cocoa flavors and some nice fatty “melt” going on with the slight sugary grain. It was appealing and went especially well with salty/crunchy snacks like pretzels or plain almonds. *

Peanut Butter - this is a classic flavor and I find that fudge made from peanut butter to be one of the ideal ways to use peanuts in confection (along with peanut butter cups & peanut brittle). It smells dark and a little bitter. The stuff is fatty, but not greasy ... though it did make the little waxed paperboard bottom label a clear translucent. It has a softer and crumblier bite than the chocolate. The nut flavors were wonderful with a mellow not-too-sweet powdery quality that kept it together without giving me that “sticky” feeling on the tongue. *

Rosa's Fudge - Chocolate Peanut ButterChocolate & Peanut Butter - this block is a combination of the first two flavors, about 25% is chocolate on the top and the 75% on the bottom is peanut butter. The variation between the two textures is awesome, and of course chocolate and peanut butter are a natural fit. *

Chocolate Mint - this piece could have gone a few ways. It could have been a vanilla piece flavored with mint and then a layer of chocolate fudge. Instead this is a chocolate fudge with a creme de menthe flavor to it. It was quite cool, not too strong and refreshing with a good authentic peppermint note (it does have peppermint oil in it). The mint made it seem a bit less sweet but the mint wasn’t so overpowering that it infected the neighboring pieces. *

Rosa's FudgeVanilla - I was a bit lost on what this should be. It’s just butter and sugar, right? Well, this isn’t quite grandma’s recipe. Sugar, milk, butter, partially hydrogenated palm kernel and cottonseed oils, cream, corn syrup, maltodextrins, natural and artificial flavors, invert sugar, soy lecithin, potassium sorbate and salt. Maybe it needs some real vanilla bean in there.

Penuche - I love the idea of penuche and sometimes get a version of it I love at the local shop by my office. Penuche is basically a brown sugar fudge. It’s grainy and maybe even a bit greasy, but I love it. This one was smooth and had the brown sugar notes, but mostly it just tasted like a good cooked buttercream frosting would.

Rosa's Fudge - MapleMaple - was much softer than the other pieces. Not so soft that it lost its shape once out of the wrapper, but definitely a little droopy. The flavor also seemed smoother, very strong in the woodsy pecan end of things. Sweet, aromatic and definitely one of my favorites. *

Butterscotch - I wasn’t sure what butterscotch would be like, I assumed it’d be like butterscotch pudding. Instead, when I opened the package I was greeted with an aroma like putting my head into a bucket of butterscotch disks (the hard candy). The fake “flavorishness” aside, I enjoyed it. It was artificial and throat-searingly sugary, but the texture was nice and I really knew that this was supposed to be butterscotch.

Rosa's FudgeCoffee - looked a lot like the Maple or Penuche. Instead the texture was quite different once I bit into it. It has the same grainy consistency that melts in the mouth that I like about fudge. The coffee flavors were mild but sweet and milky. It reminded me of coffee ice cream. This was my top pick of the whole assortment. *

Coffee & Chocolate - this one is rather simple, just a coffee fudge with a layer of chocolate fudge. But I didn’t like the addition of the chocolate much. It didn’t give it a chocolate punch, but did lessen the coffee flavors. The two fudges had a slight consistency difference as well, the chocolate was firmer with a tighter grain (is that a way to describe fudge or hardwood?).

Amaretto - my appreciation of amaretto is pretty shallow. I like almonds but I don’t care for marzipan because of the strong amaretto notes, which I associate with the same fake flavor that butterscotch is to true toffee. This smelled, to me, like a fine bath product. Sweet, a little floral and a lot like amaretto. It was actually pretty good ... nothing I’d eat, but I think amaretto fans would like it.

Irish Creme - is a combination of three flavors: Irish Whiskey, coffee and cream. Instead this tastes like coconut, butterscotch and maple. I’m missing the deep woodsy tones that whiskey can bring ... and I’m definitely not getting any coffee in there, but there’s a creamy flavor. I’d definitely keep eating it, if I didn’t have a bunch of other fruit & nut flavors to get to.

Rosa's FudgeChocolate & Coconut - looking at the side of this, it was evident that this was more than a coconut flavored chocolate fudge, there’s coconut flakes all through it. It smells woodsy, herby and a little bit like granola. Biting into it, it has a lot of chew from the coconut but the biggest flavor hit here is chocolate. The chocolate tastes deeper, richer and less sweet than the other versions I tried singularly and in combination earlier. This stuff is awesome. It reminds me of a less-sweet Mounds bar. *

This was where I reached a stumbling block. While I usually like bright colors & fun incorporated into my candy, something about these fruit ones just seemed wrong. So I picked around them in the box.

Pina Colada - this was bright yellow. While I was hesitant because of the color and the idea of pineapple and coconut in fudge didn’t sound like a good idea, the chocolate coconut was a pleasant surprise. This one doesn’t have as much coconut in it as the chocolate version, but there’s still a fair bit. It smells sweet and like a floral/peppery pineapple. The bite is soft, dry but with a very small grain (besides the bits of coconut). There’s a lot of pineapple flavor, but no tang to it. The coconut gives a lot of texture and a fair bit of authentic coconut butter flavor. It’s better than I expected, but still far too sweet.

Rosa's Fudge - Raspberry ChocolateChocolate Raspberry - the bright pink and malleable texture makes this look something I made with Playdoh. The raspberry flavor is all fragrance and food coloring. I ate that one bite shown and didn’t want to go back for more even if it meant a scathing paragraph here.

Chocolate Strawberry - this smelled like strawberry ice cream and kind of tasted like it too. It was very sugary and the chocolate kind of brought it down a notch, but then the bitter taste of the food coloring kicked in. I know some folks probably like this, but it’s not my thing.

Even though it ended on a down note, the tasting experience with Rosa’s Fudge was fun. I found out that there are some specific flavors that I think go well with fudge. (I also think nuts go great with fudge, so if you’re a walnut person, I wholeheartedly recommend it even though I’ve never tried theirs.)

Rosa's FudgeRosa’s offers custom packed boxes based on your flavor preferences, so you’ll never end up with a block you don’t want. My choices (marked with a *) now ranked in order: Chocolate & Coconut, Coffee, Peanut Butter, Chocolate, Chocolate & Mint and Maple.

The whole thing gets a 7 out of 10 rating. Good price, spare packaging & excellent shipping. The flavors were distinct, classic and well executed.

Rosa’s Fudge is sold on their website ($12 for 12 pieces - 15 ounces) as well as at some candy counters in the northeastern United States.

Related Candies

  1. Spoonfudge
  2. Mint Chocolate M&Ms
  3. Caffe Acapella - Coffee Confections
  4. Trader Joe’s Irish Cream Chocolates
  5. Flippin’ Fudge
  6. Jim Beam Fudge
  7. Coffee Beat
Name: Rosa's Fudge Assortment
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Rosa's Fudge
Place Purchased: samples from Rosa's Fudge
Price: $17 for 24 pieces (30 ounces)
Size: 30 ounces
Calories per ounce: 112-140 (varies)
Categories: Chocolate, Coffee, coconut, Mint, Peanuts, United States

POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:18 am     Comments (15)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Almond Joy

Almond JoyThe Almond Joy candy bar was introduced in 1946, just after the World War II, when sugar, tropical coconuts and chocolate became more available. The Peter Paul Manufacturing Co was based in New Haven, Connecticut and was already known for its popular Mounds bar.

Peter Paul, then producing out of their facility in Nagatuck, Connecticut was bought up by Cadbury back in 1978, and in a deal ten years later, Hershey’s purchased Cadbury’s American operations. Even though the company has gone through a few hands, the bars are still known by their original brand of Peter Paul. The Nagatuck plant that produced Almond Joy’s from 1948 forward closed last year and production was consolidated to a Virginia factory.

Mounds and Almond Joy enjoy a bit of a corner on the chocolate covered coconut market here in the United States. For a while Mars tried to push into the arena with their already popular Bounty bars from Europe, but they never quite made it.

Almond Joy

The standard single serving package includes two small bars. The moist coconut and fondant center is covered in milk chocolate and studded with two almonds each. They’re tucked into a tray to protect them.

The bars smell sweet and a whole lot like coconut. The bite is soft and moist, the mockolate is a bit grainy and fudgy and doesn’t really add much flavorwise but does keep things a little creamier (overall I’d say it’s not back mockolate and the ingredients to indicate there’s real chocolate in there). The almonds, though usually small, are good quality and nicely toasted.

I prefer the Mounds (though I’ve always wished they’d do a Mounds with Almonds) just for the counterpoint of the bittersweet chocolate and the sweet coconut. But the coconut is always a good texture and chew with a nice tropical flavor and satisfying tropical fat content. But it is sweet, a bit too much for me.

Almond Joy holds a place in many American’s hearts because of a very popular advertising campaign in the 80s and their jingle that says, “sometimes you feel like a nut and sometimes you don’t” to distinguish between their two coconut bars. Even though that campaign is long gone, the phrase “sometimes you feel like a nut” still knocks around as a cultural reference.

Sometimes you feel like a nut.
Sometimes you don’t.
Almond Joy’s got nuts.
Mounds don’t.

Almond Joy’s got rich milk chocolate
Coconut and crunch nuts, too.
Mounds’ got deep dark chocolate
And chewy coconut ...oooh.

Snack Size Almond JoyAlmond Joy are also available in a few other formats. They have snack pack size, which is slightly smaller than a single from the regular sized. (A two almond one weights approximately .8 ounces while the snack pack size weights about .6 ounces and sports only one almond.)

There is a third size called fun size, which I only see around Halloween, which looks like it’s from a box of candy. (See Wikipeda for an example.) That also has only one almond, though probably the highest almond to center & chocolate ratio of the three varieties. Easter also brings a large egg shaped version which also sports a solo almond (reviewed here at Candy Addict).

Almond Joy + Almond Joy Snack Size

Out of curiosity (mostly because there was a Consumerist posting yesterday), I picked up the Snack Pack and a regular Almond Joy just to see if there was some sort of shenanigan going on here. Consumerist alleged that there was false advertising because there are two little almonds on the package and the description lists “almonds” instead of almond. I can’t really say what the legal situation would be, but I would probably expect that the Snack Pack would simply be the same as a single from regular size.

I can say that this is not a new development. I found this shot from 2005 (back when it was real chocolate too) that shows the single nut on the Snack Pack Almond Joy, so if it were a big deal, I would have expected it to be addressed long before now. While the use of the plural almonds does create a sense of expectation, I’m not sure we also expect a half a coconut’s worth of shreds in there too, even though that’s also depicted in the artwork.

The Snack Pack, which I picked up at the 99 Cent Only Store, as far as I was concerned, was a very good value. Eight of these smaller bars for only 99 cents. They have 80 calories each. The regular sized ones have 110 calories each. It’s pretty obvious that the Snack Pack, even with its decreased almond density is a far better deal than a single bar purchase.

Almond Joy has enjoyed a few alternative varieties through Hershey’s limited editions including Key Lime, Passion Fruit, Chocolate Chocolate and Toasted Coconut (my personal favorite over the classic Almond Joy).

UPDATE 9/30/2008: Almond Joy was briefly made with mockolate but after consumer feedback, Hershey’s switched back to the original chocolate formula.

Related Candies

  1. Atkinson’s Coconut Long Boys
  2. Kisses Coconut Creme
  3. Russell Stover Coconut Wreath
  4. Mounds Island Orange
  5. Almond Joy Cookies
Name: Almond Joy
    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: Hansen's Market & 99 Cent Only (Los Angeles)
Price: $.85 & $.99
Size: 1.61 ounces & 4.8 ounces
Calories per ounce: 136
Categories: Mockolate, Coconut, Nuts, United States, Hershey's, Kosher

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:44 am     Comments (20)

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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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