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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Hotel Chocolat Crostini Fruit & Nut Slab

Crostini Fruit & NutFor at least a year I’ve been reading about Hotel Chocolat on Chocablog. The products seemed inventive, if a little over the top. But the company story, the fact that they’re bean to bar and pride themselves on sourcing their chocolate ethically is pretty compelling. While I love many of the fair trade chocolates that I try, I really want some chocolate candy sometimes.

Hotel Chocolat contacted me a couple of months ago with the news that they were opening a webstore in the US. So I could get my own taste of their product line. At first they offered to send me a sample package with their Peepsters, which were little slabs of chocolate with items mixed in. For some reason that wasn’t possible and they up and sent me the Crostini Fruit & Nut Slab and a bag of Macadamia Turtles. (Neither of these items are available on their website.)

The American website focuses on images of folks with great skin using chocolate as seduction (probably successfully since by the time you get to the Christmas chocolate there’s one image that shows the “couple” with a small child). Their products seem designed to entice with sensuality and abundance. Instead of teensy pieces with cute little images molded into them or imprinted on the top, Hotel Chocolat goes whole hog with clear plastic packages that show off vast real estate of chocolate. Images on the website reinforce this with couples sharing bites of bars of chocolate larger than their head.

Crostini Fruit & Nut (Milk)

While the marketing of their products doesn’t quite mesh with my demographic, I am certainly interested in quality and flavor/texture combinations. I also enjoy innovative styling and packaging.

The Slab of Chocolate comes in a black paper package with a clear plastic front and a carrying handle (though be aware that the package opens on the bottom ... so reseal it completely before swinging it around). A little longer than a size of A4 paper, this is a substantial piece of chocolate. Clocking in at 500 grams (17.5 ounces) the abundance is a selling point.

This beefy slab had some uneven distribution of the mix-ins. It includes: cranberries, sultanas, crunchy crostini, almonds and hazelnuts. (You can see in the photo that the corners are sadly lacking in inclusions. While this gives it an artisan quality, it also meant that sometimes I had to break off more pieces in order to get to the ones with the “stuff.”

At first I was disappointed that they sent me milk chocolate products, but this is pretty dark milk. According to the package it’s 50% cocoa solids and 20% milk. It has an authentic milkiness to it (none of that powdered dairy tastes). It’s middle of the road as chocolate flavors go, not terribly complex, just good chocolatey-chocolate. My candy dream! A nice melt, not too sweet and a good complement to the tangy sultanas & cranberries. The hazelnuts were great, the almond slivers were few and far between but the crostini were fun when I encountered them.

The retail on this product is $25 plus shipping. Not too bad for an upscale chocolate bar.

Macadamia TurtlesThe other product they included was a bag of these cute little Macadamia Turtles. I love turtles! Caramel and nuts are a fantastic combination.

But wait a second ... these aren’t American-style turtles. There’s no caramel in there. Just a macadamia nut at the center and some crisps in the milk chocolate. The whole thing does look rather like a turtle though.

After I got over my resistance to them because of the name, they were fun. The same high cacao milk chocolate, a good bit of crunch and then the fresh macadamias. (I would probably opt for another nut in the future though.)

I’m certainly curious to give some of the other Hotel Chocolat items a try, their gift packages look especially interesting. (They’ve timed their launch for the winter Holidays.) I don’t know if I’d buy the slab though, it’s an awful lot of one thing and I gravitate more towards variety when trying a new brand. It’s certainly an impressive looking gift though! The shipping box was great, nicely packaged for the warmish weather, I have to mention that because some companies just don’t “get” how to ship chocolate products to Los Angeles.

The package says that the product is suitable for vegetarians and is alcohol free.

More on the Hotel Chocolat expansion into the US market here.

Related Candies

  1. Charles Chocolates Bars
  2. Chuao Chocolatier
  3. Jacques Torres
  4. MarieBelle Chocolates
  5. Scharffen Berger - Cacao Nibs
Name: Crostini Fruit & Nut Slab of Chocolate
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Hotel Chocolat
Place Purchased: samples from Hotel Chocolat
Price: $25
Size: 17.5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 156
Categories: Chocolate, Nuts, Cookie, Cookie, United Kingdom

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:36 am     Comments (9)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Peeps Monster Mash Ups

Peeps & SixletsI’ve been planning another Peeps Mash Up for a while and thought that Halloween was the perfect opportunity for a Monster Mash Up.

I even went out and bought the new Peeps Spooky Friends, thinking it’d be so fun to have the variety of the different shapes. Alas, Peeps Spooky Friends are not terribly mashable. However, the Candy Blog Candy Archives is always prepared, and I was able to pull out my trusty Peeps Yellow Bunnies as a stand in. (They also photograph better than the conjoined Peeps Ghosts.)

If you’ve never done a Peeps Mash Up, the recipe is simple. Pull a Peep apart to reveal the sticky innards. Then press that sticky puff into a dish or package of something ... consume.

image

First up is Oreos & Peeps which was a combo I wanted to try for a while. Cookies and Cream is a nice combo that seems to go so well with ice cream, how could it be bad with Peeps? I tried it two different ways, the first was crumbling Oreos, as shown and mashing them into the crumbs. What I found is that I didn’t care for the cream part in there ... the closeness of the texture and graininess to the Peep itself wasn’t distinctive enough. Instead, the way to do a Peep & Oreo Mash is to open your Oreo, scrape the cream off with your teeth, then place the whole Peep on one side, replace the cookie topper, mash down and consume.

The darkness of the cookie, the little hit of salt and of course the sandy crunch of the Peep makes an excellent combination. (And completely redeems my opinion of Oreos after last month’s tasting of the new Cakesters.)

I give them an 8 out of 10.

Cocoa KrispiesHow about more crunchy cocoa for Peeps? I hit upon the idea of breakfast cereals and Peeps. After all, some breakfast cereals already have marbits (marshmallow+bits) in them.

I picked up a mini-mix pack from Kellogg’s (as they seem to be the only company that still makes them). First up, Cocoa Krispies & Peeps.

Cocoa Krispies are ideal for this snack, as they’re small and adhere easily to the exposed sticky marshmallow. They’re lightly crunchy, though a little sweet without enough cocoa contribution. I give them a 6 out of 10.

Peeps & Apple JacksI was never a big fan of Apple Jacks as a cereal as a kid. I so rarely got to eat sweetened cereals, this was pretty far down on my list. (Cap’n Crunch was my favorite, followed by Froot Loops.) Would Apple Jacks & Peeps change my mind?

The simplicity of the flavors Apple Jacks, a little apple, a little cinnamon, actually sets off the flavorless Peep really well. They larger loops though, don’t hang onto the Peep quite as well, so smashing them a little to break the Os is a big help.

It helps that Apple Jacks had a pretty good jingle. (A is for apple, J is for Jacks, Cinnamon-toasty Apple Jacks! You need a complete breakfast, that’s a fact. Start it off with Apple Jacks. Apple Jacks! Apple Jacks! Ten vitamins and minerals-that’s what it packs. Apple-tasty, crunchy, too! Kellogg’s Apple Jacks! Apple Jacks, Apple Jacks ...)

I give them a 5 out of 10.

Peeps & Frosted FlakesWhile Frosted Flakes & Peeps may sound like a pretty mundane treat, I have to say ... they’re great!

Even though the large flakes don’t stick well, the little bits do cling and still provide a good crunch. The thing I like best about this combo is that Corn Flakes have a wonderful dark, malty taste to them, and that sets off the lightly toasted sugar flavors of the marshmallow.

There’s also a little hit of salt in there, which mellows the more overt sugar. I think I might prefer an unfrosted Corn Flake in this case. But plain Rice Krispies are probably a good bet as well.

I give them a 7 out of 10.

It’s not illustrated here with a photo, but I also tried Corn Pops & Peeps. Once Corn Pops are removed from their packaging, even in a desert they immediately become sticky and tacky, so they’re an ideal item to Mash. Though they’re very sweet, their flavor profile matches Peeps really well. They have that lightly toasted flavor, but none of the malty, salty tones of the Corn Flakes. I give them a 7 out of 10.

They make a nice combo, though they don’t really have much of a visual appeal (but then again, neither to the Corn Flakes).

Peeps & Froot LoopsFroot Loops & Peeps has to be the Mash Up I was most looking forward to. Like the Apple Jacks, these loops are a little too big for good stickage, but a little crunching in the bowl helped.

The one thing that disappointed me though, was that Froot Loops have changed so much since I was a kid. Back then we only had three flavors ... Orange, Lemon and Cherry. They went together really well and looked like food. The modern Froot Loops, well, I just can’t get behind blue food. And I don’t like all my flavors mixed up, I just wanted some light citrus fruit flavors, not a whole jumble of a world-traveled fruit stand.

The fruity flavors, though, stood up very well to the sugary sweetness of the Peep.

In the future I’ll probably go with the generic brand of fruity loops that have more limited flavors ... because I’m a fuddy duddy.

I give them a 5 out of 10.

Peeps & Reese's PiecesI couldn’t ignore the wonderful advice on the last Mash Up post when I went looking for other mashable items.

The idea of wiping peanut butter on my Peeps wasn’t quite in the cards, but Reese’s Pieces & Peeps sounded like the perfect Mash Up. I heard that Reese’s has put out minis, but I can’t seem to find them. The larger Reese’s Pieces didn’t stick well to the Peeps, but the flavor combo of the lightly sweet peanut butter, the crunch of the shell and grainy sugar was a solid combo.

The colors also went really well. You’ve gotta give props when it comes to the appearance.

I give them a 8 out of 10.

The photo there at the top of this page is Sixlets, which are mockolate spheres covered in chocolate. Sixlets and Peeps also had a great deal of visual appeal with the muted fall colors and shiny shells. Sixlets have a natural coolness on the tongue, but not a very strong chocolate flavor. They stuck well to the marshmallow, but the overall effect was too sweet and not flavorful enough. I think I’ll stick to the original idea of M&Ms Minis.

I give them a 4 out of 10.

Peeps & Boston Baked BeansSince the nuttyness of the Reese’s Pieces went well, I thought maybe some Boston Baked Beans & Peeps would be a fun change of pace.

It’s been years since I’ve had BBB, and if you aren’t familiar with them, they’re candy coated peanuts. The candy coating is pretty thick, so some of them at first seem like jawbreakers. So the mixing of two vastly different densities has an odd and scary feeling to it. I’m afraid of chomping down too hard, lest the hardness of the BBB be too unyielding, but I also felt like I was practically gumming away the marshmallow and losing the texture and flavor combo.

I give them a 4 out of 10.

Peeps & Candy Cane Pop RocksFinally, even though this is a Christmas item, I was too tickled to contain myself when Pop Rocks sent me some new flavors to try.

Candy Cane Pop Rocks & Peeps seemed like the perfect Mash Up. Peeps is coming out with Peppermint Star Peeps later this year, but I so loved my Pop Rocks and Peeps earlier this year, I thought, what could be better than peppermint Pop Rocks and a nice mellow Peep.

Well, the main problem with this idea is that the Candy Cane Flavor Pop Rocks aren’t actually peppermint!

Say what? Seriously, what would you think if someone handed you this package? If you opened it and dumped out the contents and saw the above pile of pink and white Pop Rocks ... what flavor would you expect?

imageWould you expect Strawberry?

Yeah ... they’re strawberry. I have nothing against strawberry Pop Rocks and thought they rocked my Peep ... but I wanted Peppermint Pop Rocks and I’m completely annoyed that someone out there not only thinks that any pink flavor can be considered candy cane flavored, but that they wouldn’t actually SAY that on the package if it was so.

I give them a 3 out of 10 ... not because it was bad, but because I’m irritated.

The next Mash Up Round Up will focus on Savory & Spicy!

Related Candies

  1. Peeps Mash Ups - Savory
  2. GudFud Stuffed Marshmallows
  3. 2006 Independent Food Awards
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POSTED BY Cybele AT 7:46 am     CandyMash UpPeepsRecipesReviewHalloweenCarbonatedChocolateCookieMarshmallowMockolatePeanutsComments (20)

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Java Twix

Limited Edition Twix JavaOne the much anticipated Limited Edition items at the All Candy Expo (at least for me) was the new Java Twix.

The cookie and caramel covered in chocolate combination is pretty flexible and creating new versions of this doesn’t mess with the essential Twix-ness (just like there are many different cream and chocolate variations for the KitKat).

I’ve been searching for a good coffee flavored candy bar for years, for a country so obsessed with coffee it’s rather surprising that we don’t have one. (Yes, I’m aware of the Coffee Crisp and it just doesn’t do it for me.)

image

The bar is the standard construction: a chocolate cookie with a stripe of coffee-flavored caramel covered in milk chocolate.

It smells sweet and a bit like caramel and graham crackers but not much like coffee at first.

Once broken in half and the caramel revealed it has a pleasant roasted-coffee aroma. The caramel is a bit salty with an actual authentic-tasting coffee flavor to it (in addition to the natural and artificial flavors they list espresso ground coffee as an ingredient). The chocolate cookie is crumbly and crunchy with it’s own salty contribution. The milk chocolate on the outside is super sweet but pulls it together.

I didn’t like the bar much when I first tried it out on the floor (I split a package with Ginny). But I have to admit that it was day two and I’d really only been eating candy for 36 hours (except for an awesome pile of shrimp at a party the night before).

Chocolate Twix MixBut with the clarity of a lone bar on my desk without the clutter of a gagillion other flavors in my mouth and a billion other conversations flitting by on the show floor ... I really like this bar. I think it’s the best Twix bar I’ve ever had. Yes, it’s still a little sweet for me, but in combination with some nearly black coffee, it’s growing on me.

You can expect these to start showing up later this year (reported release date is December 2007). In other news, if you were a fan of the Triple Chocolate Twix, it’s actually back in the miniature form. Mars released a few “autumn mixes” this year (that included the Vanilla, Strawberry & Mocha 3 Musketeers). The Twix one has regular Twix, Twix Dark Chocolate and Twix Triple Chocolate. I found them at RiteAid in the Halloween candy aisle.

I hope the Twix Java at least finds its way into a seasonal bag ... and in dark chocolate please!

UPDATE 9/29/2009: Mars has announced that TWIX Java will become part of their permanent line of candies. You can expect them in stores starting in April 2010.

Related Candies

  1. Candy Teases - New Products
  2. Trader Joe’s Espresso Chocolate
  3. Twix PB
  4. Twix Triple Chocolate
  5. Coffee Beat
Name: Limited Edition Java Twix
    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: $.75 retail
Size: 2 ounces
Calories per ounce: 140
Categories: Chocolate, Caramel, Cookie, Coffee, Marsr, United States, Limited Edition, Kosher

POSTED BY Cybele AT 7:11 am     Comments (27)

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Candy Source: Chocolates a la Carte

Novelty Molded ChocolatesThough my recent vacation was not as candy-filled as some other trips I’ve taken, I did get to stop at an actual candy factory outlet store. Unlike other “company stores” such as Hershey’s and M&Ms World in Times Square, this store features many factory seconds at hugely discounted prices.

Chocolates a la Carte is located in Valencia, CA in a non-descript industrial park just on the other side of route 126 from Six Flags Magic Mountain and a stone’s throw from I5. The store is only open two days a week and for rather brief hours to boot, but the timing of my trip couldn’t have been more perfect. The company makes a wide variety of chocolate products. Many of them you’d never know were theirs, they make little chocolate pieces that are used as accents on desserts and bakery goods or found served with coffee service at fine hotels and restaurants. Some of their other lines are manufactured for other companies as well as for their own brand called Signature Chocolates by Rena.

Odds and EndsGetting into the store is more like a private shopping appointment. We entered the two story reception area and were greeted by the receptionist who called for the marketing person who operates the store. She unlocked the little room which was the sum total of their outlet store. I’m guessing in cooler months it’s probably open more continuously ... it was 98 degrees at 4:00 when we stopped there last week ... not really chocolate weather

The store however, does not disappoint in both its breadth of inventory nor in savings.

The products I was most interested in were the Truffle Tiles (which are so much like the ones at Choxie it makes me wonder) and Truffle Pops (which I saw at Bristol Farms but somehow couldn’t pony up the $6 for the set of 3). But of course there was plenty to choose from.

The truffle tile selection was a little sparse - so I picked up their classic trio collection for $3.50. I was also pleased to find the truffle pops available individually, though only in the Brut Dark Chocolate variety (which I figured was the best anyway) for only $.50 each. Holy Moly! Those puppies are $2 each in stores! So I bought $2 worth (four of them).

Trio of Truffle TilesTruffle Tiles ($3.50 for a box of 3) - well, I’m never as keen on molded truffles as I am on dipped ones, so there’s a strike there (but hey, I’m the one who bought them so I can hardly hold it against them). The proportion of chocolate to filling in the tiles, as you can see from the photo is heavy on the chocolate coating, light on the filling. This means that either the filling is intense or so washed out that it really only contributes a speck of texture. These were middle of the road for me. Not intense, but certainly fresh and fun.

6 out of 10

Truffle PopsTruffle Pops (50 cents each) -  here’s a home run at 50 cents each. The shell is much thicker on these than a regular truffle, but the filling is definitely intense and creamy (and not even runny given its exposure to 85+ degree heat in the evening in my house). While I’m not usually keen on “painted” chocolates, especially ones that have sparkles or luminous metallic colors (mostly because I have no idea what I’m eating) this looked edibly appealing and smelled pleasantly of woodsy chocolate.

8 out of 10 at this price, they’d make a wonderful wedding or party favor, but probably down to a 6 out of 10 at four times the price.

Brandy Disks Brandy Disks ($2.50 for a bag of 6) - these little dark chocolate disks with white chocolate squiggles were exquisite. If I were to go back there and find a huge bag of them on sale, I’d jump at them. The center is a Florentine-style caramelized cookie thing and then the chocolate coating. The center was crisp and crunchy and a little chewy like toffee can be ... a touch of salt and dark caramelized sugar flavors. The dark chocolate offset it nicely. I ate three in one night after I photographed them.

Seriously addictive ... I give them a 9 out of 10.

Dark Salted Caramel TrufflesSalted Caramel Truffles ($3.00 for a bag of 8 “seconds”) - these little guys may not have been the prettiest thing I purchased, but they were tasty. The center was part truffle cream and part caramel. It was a bit on the custardy side, smooth and creamy but without much flavor but a nice little hint of salt. I wasn’t wild about them, but liked them well enough to eat them after the Brandy Disks were gone.

I give them a 6 out of 10.

As for the prices, they’re sometimes less than half the retail price charged on their own website:

Monet’s Palate(TM) Chocolate Couture $26.95 on website - $12.50 in person
Cigar Box filled with 5 chocolate Cigars $29.95 on website - $24.95 in person
20 Piece Truffle Box $18.95 on website - $13.95 in person

Truffle PopsWhile most of the the prices are great, as an outlet store you never know what you’ll find there. Also, some of the items they sell are retail quality, others are slightly flawed. I was told that the truffle pops weren’t quite up to snuff in their bronzy coating, but they looked fine to me. But the little salted caramel truffles did have some aesthetic and functional problems (some of them had little coverage holes in them), so they’re fine for eating but I don’t know if I’d give them as gifts or use them as a wedding favor or anything.

The chocolate they use for their creations is a combination of Callebaut, Guittard and Valrhona (usually marked as such).

I guess the caveat is if you see something while you’re there, buy it because you don’t know if it’ll be there when you go bag. You could probably buy one and try it right there in order to decide if you want more. (Seeing how the Truffle Pops are only 50 cents, how could that be a bad idea?) I would have bought more of the Brandy Disks if I followed my own advice.

Chocolates ? la Carte
28455 Livingston Ave
Valencia, CA 91355
(map)

(661) 257-3700
Store open Wednesday and Friday afternoons (call to confirm)

As outlet shopping goes, I give this an 8 out of 10, I’ll definitely go back when the opportunity presents itself.

Related Candies

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  3. Ethel Holiday Assortment
  4. Cha-Cha-Cha Choxie

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:20 am     CandyChocolatierLos AngelesReviewCaramelChocolateCookie8-TastyUnited StatesShoppingComments (2)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Ritter Schokowurfel

Ritter SchokowurfelNo, it’s not German candy week ... it’s purely a coincidence that I bought those Katjes and then my husband picked up this cool box of Ritter Sport Schockowurfel on a recent trip to New York City.

Instead of the regular sized bars, these miniatures are about the size of a regular Ritter Sport “section” ... and they’re filled as well! Kind of like little truffles. The variety is called in 6 pralingen Sorten ... which I’m guessing means an assortment of six pralines.

Ritter SchokowurfelThe bottom of the box is folded in such a way that when I removed the top the bottom expands to make more of a bowl ... which makes it easier to rifle through the assortment to see what they all are. Luckily there was also an inventory with images on the side of the box to guide me through them all.

The wrappers are all distinctive enough in color combos that I got good at telling what they were at a glance.

Creme CocoCreme Coco isn’t something chocolatey ... nope, it’s milk chocolate with a coconut center. The coconut is certainly sweet, as is the milk chocolate, but the small size makes it pretty agreeable. It reminded me a little bit of the limited edition Hershey’s Coconut Creme Kisses, in a good way. This coconut was a little firmer, a little crispier.

Cappuccino & Amarettini was not one I was looking forward to, since I assumed it was going to be heavy on the amaretto (as the marzipan bar is), but it was much more focused on the coffee notes. Very sweet, so sweet it made my throat burn for a bit.

Tiramisu on the other hand had that amaretto flavor, but distinctive marscapone note.

EdelnugatEdelnugat is a hazelnut paste inside milk chocolate. The consistency is thick, sticky and smooth with a great roasted nut flavor.

Caramel Crisp was kind of odd ... the filling was light in color but reminded more of the yogurt Ritter Sports. There were some dark caramelized sugar flavors in there and some light crispies that kind of redeemed the cloying sweetness.

Crocant reminds me of the great Knusperflakes that Ritter makes, though I think it’s actually crisped rice ... the little crispy bits are inside a softer cocoa cream center. Simple, fun, tasty.

The assortment had some nice variation and is a pleasant change from the monotony of buying a whole bar and being force to consume it before you can move on to another flavor (okay, maybe no one forces me). It’s easy to share them and they look pretty sassy in their simple little wrappers. I’d love it if some were dark chocolate though, as I think Ritter is making great strides in the dark department for a mass-consumer chocolate company. I have no idea how much my husband paid for this ... I can’t even find it on the Ritter website. I did see that they have another morsel-sized chocolate simply called Rum; if it’s anything like the Rum Trauben Nuss, I’m sold.

Related Candies

  1. Ritter Sport Fruhlingsspezialitaten 2010
  2. Ritter Sport Neapolitan Wafers
  3. Milka Alpenmilch
  4. Hachez Chocolates
  5. Ritter Sport Capuccino and Rum Trauben Nuss
  6. Ritter Sport Assortment
  7. The Real Nestle Swiss
Name: Ritter Sport Schokowurfel
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Ritter Sport
Place Purchased: gift (gourmet shop in NYC)
Price: unknown
Size: 8.4 ounces
Calories per ounce: unknown
Categories: Chocolate, Coconut, Coffee, Cookie, Nuts,Germany, Ritter

POSTED BY Cybele AT 6:30 am     Comments (6)

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Ferrero Raffaello & Rondnoir

imageHere’s a little fun for the Summer. Some white and some dark.

Ferrero makes quite few different little two bite confections besides their Rocher and Mon Cheri. The one that I’ve kind of avoided all these years is the Ferrero Raffaello. Why? It looks kind of like a snowball, and I was afraid there’d be some marshmallow in there. But a kind reader set me straight.

Each package contains three little coconut covered spheres. Unlike everything else in the Ferrero line, these are not individually wrapped ... unless coconut flakes count as wrapping.

imageI rather admire Ferrero. They really seem to understand their marketing segment. An upscale chocolate in sophisticated wrappings that you can buy at the drug store or grocer. Not terribly expensive, decent quality and in flavor/texture combinations you just don’t get in other American chocolates.

I bought a single serving package, which is a small tray with three little candies in it, each in a little white fluted cup. They’re a little messy, with a lot of dislodged coconut coming out of the package along with them.

They smell like summer: like coconut and a sweet hit of sugar.

They’re not terribly big, at about a third of an ounce each they don’t feel very dense. I guessed at what they’d be like inside from the ingredients, that there would be a wafer sphere with a cream filling.

imageSure enough, I got it right. The coconut gave way to a crisp but bland wheat wafer shell and a milky flavored cream inside (think buttercream frosting). That must be a lot of dairy in there, it contains 6% of your RDA of Calcium!

The cream had some strong dairy flavors and a pretty smooth texture. It wasn’t as sweet as I’d expected. In the very center was a little nut that at first I thought was a hazelnut but then found out was an almond when I read the description on the back of the package that called these: Almond Coconut Treat

It was a nice little refreshing treat, but I didn’t find them very satisfying on their own. As part of a mix, they’d be nice as a little change of pace, but I don’t see myself sitting down with a package.

Made in Belgium. Rating: 6 out of 10

imageThe item I was really interested in was something that I saw announced on the All Candy Expo website several weeks ago. Ferrero Rondnoir which sounded like a it would be a dark chocolate Ferrero Rocher. Well, they’re not quite that, but still quite a nice extension of the Rocher line.

I didn’t expect to see these until the ACE next month, so imagine my surprise at finding them at the RiteAid (the same RiteAid that seemed to have the Elvis Cups out three weeks early).

imageThe trio of candies are wrapped in an elegant bronze/brown foil with a little sticker on top that confirms that they are the Rondnoir (in case you get them in a mixed box). They’re further packaged in little brown fluted cups ... perhaps packaging overkill, but they’re a little wafer sphere in a skimpy little paperboard tray ... they probably need the protection.

Again, I’m bad at reading directions or press releases, so all I knew was that these were dark chocolate. I fully expected them to be just like the Rocher.

imageThey’re not at all like Rochers. First, the outer coating is a chocolate crumble - think really rich Oreo cookie bits. Inside that is the wafer shell. Inside that is the dark chocolate cream. It’s light and buttery with some nice but not overwhelming chocolate flavors. Think hot chocolate, not quite rich ganache.

Then at the center is not a nut but a little sphere of super buttery dark chocolate. In fact, it tastes very little like chocolate, but it is like a little ball of cocoa butter (or perhaps something worse that I prefer not to think about). Eaten alone, it’s a little too slippery. Eaten with the whole sphere at once, it’s the perfect little creamy burst.

I’m rather fond of this new Ferrero product and I plan to stuff my sample bag with them at All Candy Expo next month and even consider buying them in the future. The small package makes portion control pretty easy and it’s hard to just rush right through them, considering all the packaging (hey, my city takes aluminum foil in the recycling bin!). At 1 ounce it’s 160 calories, so yes, it’s calorie rich for its size, but then again, if you only bought one package you’re safe.

They remind me of the Lindt Lindor Truffles ... which is a good thing.

This variety is made in Germany. Rating: 8 out of 10

Related Candies

  1. Ferrero Rocher
  2. Ferrero Mon Cheri
  3. Tronky
  4. Nestle Crunch Dark Stixx
Name: Raffaello & Rondnoir
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Ferrero
Place Purchased: RiteAid (Vermonica)
Price: $.69
Size: 1 ounce
Calories per ounce: 180 & 160
Categories: Chocolate, Cookie, Nuts, Coconut, Ferrero, Germany, Belgium

POSTED BY Cybele AT 6:24 am     Comments (22)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

KitKat Inside Out

imageThese are from Japan and come in a few different varieties. They’re called Inside Out KitKats. I was calling them Naked KitKats for a while until I found out the real name.

They’re a KitKat without the coating. The bar is longer (about 5.5”) and generally larger. The center filling is lightly flavored. I think the one pictured is Chestnut.

A few KitKat variations out there seem to be breaking the rules of KitKats ... KitKats are supposed to be multi-bars that can be snapped into fingers to share or enjoy slowly. (I’ve never met anyone who just chomps on a whole KitKat.)

But this comes down to the discussion of what should be included under a particular candy “brand”. When I think of Reese’s, the essential element is peanut butter and the secondary element is cups ... the third element is chocolate. You can add things in there, but but taking away more than one of those essentials just mucks with it so much that it ceases to be a Reese’s.

The same goes with KitKat. It has to be fingers (even if the fingers are sold individually), it has to have crispy wafers and it has to have some sort of chocolate coating (be it white, milk or dark). Here we’ve lost the coating and the “fingers” have become as large as rods.

image

Okay, so maybe they’re not KitKats. What are they? They’re cookies. Cookie wafers with a cream filling and I dare say it, they’re no longer candy. They fall into the confectionery category, but out of my realm of specialization.

Naming and placement on the taxonomic chart of candy aside, these are okay. The wafers are certainly crispy, but they’re also dry. There’s not enough cream filling to give them much of a flavor, and subtle is fine, but there’s so little going on here. I’d say they’re the perfect summer candy bar because there’s no worries about melting, but there’s also so little moisture here I’m worried about dehydration and these sucking what little fluids I have left out of my system.

I tried two flavor sets: chestnut and mango. Chestnut is pleasant because the sweet nutty flavors go with the cream sweetness. The mango was just weird, the pine-type flavors of the cream just seemed to fight with the bar on the whole. Perhaps if it had a bit of a tang to it or recognized more of the juiciness of the fruit instead of just the flavor, it might have worked more. Of course that would be an even larger departure from the KitKat-ness.

I still have a few of these left (and I’ve had them since January - both Amy in Japan and Santos gave them to me) and even when I eat them and find them okay, I keep forgetting I have them and when I see them sitting there I have no impulse to eat them.

Related Candies

  1. KitKat Temptations: Hazelnut & Coconut
  2. KitKat Pumpkin
  3. I Miss: Bar None
  4. Men’s Pocky
Name: Inside Out KitKat
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Nestle
Place Purchased: gift (thanks Amy & Santos!)
Price: unknown
Size: unknown
Calories per ounce: unknown
Categories: Cookie, Japan, Nestle, KitKat

POSTED BY Cybele AT 6:10 am     Comments (11)

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Nestle Crunch Crisp

Crunch CrispI had really high hopes for the new Nestle Crunch Crisp bar. I found it on Friday while I was filling my gas tank and wandered into the convenience store because it was so freakishly hot. (Okay, maybe it’s not freakishly hot, it was the end of June in Southern California, what should I have been expecting at four in the afternoon?)

The blue metallic wrapper is promising and describes this as “Crispy Wafers, Chocolate Creme.” Sadly, it also doesn’t list chocolate as an ingredient. Which leads me to wonder what the essential element is to be called part of the Nestle Crunch line of products ... apparently it’s not chocolate, it’s crisped rice. I’m sure there are volumes of marketing research that prove this.

image

The bar consists of sturdy planks of bland wafers filled with a greasy and grainy chocolate cream, topped with some crisped rice and a slurry of thin mockolate (63% of your daily value of saturated fats!).

Here are the ingredients:

Sugar, Wheat Flour, Hydrogenated Coconut Oil, Hydrogenated Palm Kernel Oil, Alkalized Cocoa, Nonfat Milk, Crisped Rice (rice flour, sugar, barley malt, salt) and 1% or less of High Fructose Corn Syrup, Soy Lecithin, Artificial Vanilla Flavor, Salt, Baking Soda, Lactic Acid Esters, TBHC and Citric Acid, Ground Peanuts.

While this all comes off as rather negative, I think I might find this tasty when the ambient temperature is below 90 degrees. Even at 85 degrees, however, the bar was a slippery mess (this is one of the differences between mockolate and most chocolate). It was certainly creamy and the crispy wafers were distinct and crunchy. But the mockolate and chocolate creme just weren’t up to delivering any flavor to the mix. It wasn’t too sweet though, as the bland wafer and crispies were a good counterbalance to the mockolates. Honestly, the crispy wafers were good.

This would be an awesome bar if it were real. If there were some sort of real chocolate on there, something with character and depth, I could completely get behind it. In the mean time, I’m going to stick to my also-high-in-full-hydrogenated-oils Chocolatiers.

Candy companies are still getting the hang of this internet thing, so you can go to the website listed on the package, ForTheKidInYou.com, but I couldn’t find any mention of this bar there. On a slightly related note on the mockolate front, here’s an article from Reuters ... that Cebele May they mention, that’s me (plus Emily from Chocolate in Context!).

Related Candies

  1. Baby Ruth Crisp & Nestle Crisp Bars
  2. Q.Bel Crispy Wafer Bars
  3. Wonka Tinglerz & Nestle Buncha Crunch
  4. Nestle Milk Chocolate
  5. Nestle Crunch (Now Even Richer Milk Chocolate)
  6. I Miss: Bar None
Name: Crunch Crisp
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Nestle
Place Purchased: Shell station (Hollywood)
Price: $.85
Size: 1.74 ounces
Calories per ounce: 137
Categories: Mockolate, Cookie, United States, Nestle

POSTED BY Cybele AT 7:08 am     Comments (22)

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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.

Candy Season Ends

-113 days

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Which seasonal candy selection do you prefer?

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  •   Halloween
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ON DECK

These candies will be reviewed shortly:

• Hershey’s Dark Chocolate Caramels

• Hachez Braune Blatter (Chocolate Leaves)

• Rogue Chocolatier

• Dandelion Chocolate

• Candy Rant: If your Licorice isn’t black, it isn’t Licorice

 

 

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