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Monday, December 31, 2007

Cafe Select Chocolate Coffee Trios

Cafe Select Coffee TriosI’ve seen these at the Walgreen’s since this summer but didn’t really feel like paying $3.50 for a bag of something that I can’t quite get my head around. I was hoping to try them at the All Candy Expo, but the Necco booth doesn’t really “do” samples of anything other than their most common products.

Instead I found them last week on sale along with the Christmas items for 50% off. So at $1.75 for 10 ounces, I felt like a fool not buying them.

I believe the product is called Cafe Select Chocolate Coffee Trios but there’s so much going on with the package. Things like “Made with Real Coffee!” and “Espresso - Cappuccino - Latte” and then the disclaimer, “Naturally & Artificially Flavored Crunchy Coffee Centers in Rich Chocolate.”

Cafe Select Coffee Trios

This is one of those occasions where I think my photos look better than the one on the package.

Basically, they’re malted milk balls, only with a coffee flavored center instead of malt. The center is amber colored with an even aerated crisp. There were perhaps two or three “duds” in the whole package (ones that had deflated or weren’t ideally sized, which is really good quality control in my opinion.

Cafe Select Coffee TriosEspresso - a dark chocolate shell and a coffee crunch center. The chocolate shell isn’t very dark or rich, but beyond the “shellac” on the outside, it’s creamy and not grainy or chalky. The crunchy center is a little salty and less like a malted milk “cereal puff” and more like a sponge candy or center of a Cadbury Crunchie. The coffee flavor is mild, but since it’s not very sweet the coffee flavors come through.

Cappuccino - the milk chocolate makes this a little sweeter than the espresso one, but I can’t detect any difference with the crunchy center. I prefer the dark ones.

Latte - these are kind of freaky looking. The color is less “creamy” than I think they intend, it looks more like a rock than some foamed milk. However, they tasted richer than the cappuccino ones. These were my second favorite, but also the rarest in this mix.

Overall, I was really pleased with these. I know there are better upscale versions from Koppers & Marich, but for something I found at the drug store (and at half off), I found them really tasty and a great change of pace. I’ve been hungering for a coffee candy lately, and this just might be it.

Necco makes another variety called Cafe Select Chai Tea Trios, which also sound kind of interesting (but strangely named) but I haven’t run across them yet.

In other news, Necco was purchased by a consortium of investors and it sounds like the company will continue to make candy (I can see where folks might think their assets are more valuable than their products). Here’s a press release with more financials in it and an easier to understand article.

Related Candies

  1. Whoppers Sno-Balls
  2. Shaymee’s Toffee
  3. Coffee Beat
  4. Bulk Balls
  5. Bali’s Best Coffee & United Coffee Candy
Name: Cafe Select Chocolate Coffee Trios
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Necco
Place Purchased: Walgreen's (Echo Park)
Price: $1.75
Size: 10 ounces
Calories per ounce: 128
Categories: Chocolate, Coffee, Cookie, United States, Necco, Kosher

POSTED BY Cybele AT 7:55 am     Comments (3)

Friday, December 28, 2007

Wheat Chocolate

Wheat ChocolateFor a couple of years, over in the snack aisle of the Japanese market, I’ve noticed these larger bags of chocolate covered grains on the bottom shelf. Most are wheat, some are rice. They’re usually in rather generic looking bags and not as demanding of my attention as the other Japanese candies on the other side of the aisle. But last time I just had to pick this up. It was called by the very simple name of Wheat Chocolate (Mugi Chocolate).

It looks like it’s a puffed wheat covered in shiny milk chocolate. And that’s pretty much what it is.

The English nutrition label says that the ingredients are barley puffs, not wheat. These are a little small, about half the size of the wheat puffs you might be familiar with if you eat Sugar Smacks. Of course the idea of barley was pretty appealing to me (I’m a barley nut).

Wheat Chocolate

Whatever grain they are, they’re all perfectly crisped and coated with a thin layer of milk chocolate and then given a shiny confectioners glaze.

They’re all about the size of a green pea, though a few are doubles stuck together. The chocolate is sweet and thin with a pretty strong milky flavor to it. This goes perfectly with the strong malty puffed grain inside. Each is foamy and crisp.

The bag held 5.46 ounces and I ate it in two days. Seriously addictive stuff. I couldn’t stop popping them in my mouth and I have to wonder why I can’t get an American version of these. The package was really charming too, mostly clear cellophane to display the lovely chocolate and bordered with pink and some little drawings of people and houses. (It felt kind of Dutch to me, honestly.)
As far as nutrition goes, there are 3 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber in each 35 gram serving. Because they’re so filled with air, 35 grams is about half a cup ... it looks like a lot. (Okay, there are also 9 grams of fat in there, too.)

Kinder CountryOddly enough I also had another puffed grain candy from the other side of the world recently too. It’s called Kinder Country made by Ferrero. It’s a small bar (23 grams - a little more than 3/4 of an ounce), about half the size of a regular Hershey’s (though a bit thicker). I got this at Mel & Rose’s Wine & Spirits on Melrose in Los Angeles.

The outside is a milk chocolate shell, which is that really sticky sweet milk chocolate that Kinder is known for. Inside is a smooth and buttery cream filling. It’s not quite white chocolate, much more dairy flavored and not too sweet. The fun part is that it’s studded with puffed rice. (Not crisped rice.) The flavor combination is like cereal and milk. The puffs are so light and airy, it makes this tiny bar pretty satisfying. (Sera also reviewed it this week - her wrapper looked different than this import though.)

It’s a tasty bar. Not quite as addictive as the Wheat Chocolate, but certainly different from our usual American crisped rice goodies.

Related Candies

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  2. 100 Grand Dark
  3. Balisto
  4. Malted Crisped Rice Squares
  5. Ritter Sport Assortment
Name: Wheat Chocolate
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Japan Confectionery Co.
Place Purchased: Mitsuwa (Little Tokyo)
Price: $2.39
Size: 5.46 ounces
Calories per ounce: 138
Categories: Chocolate, Cookie, Japan

POSTED BY Cybele AT 8:05 am     Comments (9)

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Hershey’s with Crisp Corn Bits

Hershey's with Crisp Corn BitsI keep seeing this bar, but only in its jumbo form shown here. It clocks in at 4.5 ounces, no mere chocolate bar, this is a plank. Like the Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Filled with Creamy Peanut Butter that’s also found in this size, I was hoping I’d run across a King Size or perhaps single serve size at some point. It’s like it barely exists. It’s never shown up on the Hershey’s official Hershey’s Milk Chocolate page.

But it’s clear it exists, not only because I have photos, but also independent corroboration from Nicole at Baking Bites with her review. For a while I saw the bar at the Dollar Tree so I though there must be something wrong with it, maybe it was old, maybe it was an import. But when I saw it at Ralph’s and flipped over the package to see that it expired in September 2008, it was made in the United States and it was on sale for a dollar, I figured it was time to give it a try.

Hershey's with Crisp Corn Bits

It’s a lovely looking bar. It looks like a Hershey bar, a light caramely brown with 16 segments each with the Hershey’s name on them. It smells like, well, a Hershey bar. A little sweet, a little tangy. That Hershey’s tang isn’t quite as noticeable when you eat it though. What’s noticeable is a mellow malty note from the actual corn flake bits in there. They’re pretty dense and solidly crunchy. The malty corn flake flavors develop more as the chocolate dissolves away. I could use more corn flakes.

It’s in no way as good as the Ritter Sport Knusperflakes bar, but I ate the whole thing ... all 4.5 ounces of it (I got it on Sunday) so it has to be pretty good.

It’s a nice combo. It’s a terrible name for a candy bar though. I think they should have just called it an extension of the Krackel line and called it Corn Krackel. Or maybe Mr. Cornbar.

Thanks to Patti for being the first to alert me to this possible domestic contender for Ritter Sport Knusperflake’s place in my heart.

Related Candies

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  2. Milk Maid Caramel Candy Corn
  3. Paskesz Klik
  4. Ritter Sport Assortment
Name: Hershey's with Crisp Corn Bits
    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: Ralph's (Glendale)
Price: $1.00
Size: 4.5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 141
Categories: Chocolate, Cookie, United States, Hershey's, Kosher

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:24 am     Comments (10)

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

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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

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  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

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  3. Twix PB
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  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

  1. Candy Source: Jelly Bean Factory
  2. 2006 Chocolate Gift Guide
  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)

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