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Monday, January 14, 2013

Limited Edition Ritter Sport Amarena Cherry

Ritter Sport Limited Edition Amarena CherryRitter Sport, the German chocolate company, has really stepped up its game in North America. Not only do we get a large array of their inventive and good quality bars, they’re also delivering some of the fun limited editions that were once just for their European consumers.

For winter this year they presented the Limited Edition Ritter Sport Amarena Cherry. The bar features Milk chocolate filled with cherry flavored cream and wafer pieces. The wrapper shows a vanilla and cherry ripple ice cream cone and a couple of ripe cherries next to it.

I’ve recently become more familiar with preserved cherries, as I’ve been introduced to Luxardo Maraschino Cherries. They’re quite good and don’t resemble those strange, translucent pink things that come on top of cheap ice cream Sundaes in the United States. These are tiny little nearly black balls of syrup saturated cherries. They taste like fruit, they taste like sugar and there’s a little alcoholic bite to them (well, that could be because I usually find them at the bottom of a Mahnattan). They’ve changed my mind about preserved cherries and even the origin of the fake cherry flavor.

Ritter Sport Amarena Cherry

While that’s all delightful fun, the reality was a bit less than enticing. The first ingredient is sugar (not chocolate) which is okay when there’s a lot of filling. But the second ingredient is palm oil. Somewhere down near the bottom of the list is real morello cherry puree and morello cherry juice concentrate, which is comforting.

The actual construction of the bar is rather like the ice cream on the wrapper - it’s a firm cream center that has a light cherry flavor to it and then some little freeze dried cherry bits (that are a bit tangy) and the wafer bits which are like a crumbled up wafer cone.

Ritter Sport Amarena Cherry

The bar smells an awful lot like cherry flavor. Good cherry flavor, but still ... not very chocolatey. The milk chocolate shell is smooth and creamy but very sweet. The cream center is less sweet, less smooth but much more cherry. The high point are the little crunchies, which might be the freeze dried fruit or the wafer. Either one is good.

The entire thing is just not for me. Too sweet, too much fat without feeling like it was creamy. Instead it was too cherry. If you’re looking for a very cherry bar, well, this might be yours. I’ll go back to my Espresso bar, which I also bought on the same trip.

Ritter Sport sources their cacao almost exclusively from Central and South America and has several initiatives regarding sustainability for their ingredients and energy usage in manufacturing. The bar itself may contain traces of peanuts and tree nuts and contains soy, wheat and dairy.

Related Candies

  1. Christopher’s Big Cherry - Dark
  2. Ritter Sport 100th Anniversary Edel-Nuss Mix + Bonus Previews
  3. Limited Edition Ritter Sport Winter Kreation + Factory Store
  4. Ritter Sport Milk Chocolate with Strawberry Creme
  5. Nestle Cherry Raisinets
  6. Ritter Sport White Chocolate with Hazelnuts
  7. 3 Musketeers Cherry & Raspberry
  8. Cherry Cordial Creme Kisses


Name: Amarena Cherry Milk Chocolate Bar
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Ritter Sport
Place Purchased: Target (Eagle Rock)
Price: $2.09
Size: 3.5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 164
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Ritter Sport, Chocolate, Cookie, Limited Edition, 6-Tempting, Germany, Target

POSTED BY Cybele AT 3:47 pm     All NaturalCandyReviewRitter SportChocolateCookieLimited Edition6-TemptingGermanyTargetComments (7)

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Sanders Chocolate Covered Gretzels

Sanders Chocolate Covered GretzelsChocolate covered pretzels are nothing new. So Sanders Candy of Michigan has come up with a new twist. They’ve created Sanders Chocolate Covered Gretzels, which are cinnamon graham pretzels drenched in our premium Milk Chocolate.

I picked up my package after Christmas at Cost Plus World Market on the 75% clearance. So instead of the $5.99 price on the tag, it was only $1.50. I should have bought more at that price, even without tasting them. (I have tasted some of their other items at trade shows but not this one.)

The box is far larger than the contents would dictate. There’s six ounces in there, but the box is filled only halfway up (and if you understand geometry of volumes, that’s actually less than half of the possible amount since the box is a square frustum). The candy is protected in a mylar pouch, which is also too big, but at least the extra bag is folder over to give a bit of cushion to the pieces so that none were broken. I get that they have to use the same box for the entire line of confections and that they all have to be the same price point, but it still irked me.

Sanders Chocolate Covered Gretzels

The pieces are nicely coated and look like chocolate covered mini pretzels ... the only thing that’s different is that they actually feel heavier than a pretzel.

The graham at the center is crisp and dense with a light cinnamon scent. The milk chocolate is creamy and sweet and balanced by the salty graham (there’s 200 mg of sodium per serving). The crunch is fantastic. The satisfaction quotient is quite high, with only three or four satisfying my sweet tooth.

Sanders Chocolate Covered Gretzels

Sanders makes a few other varieties in their Snack Box line. They include Pecan-dy (Caramel Popcorn & Nuts with or without Chocolate Drizzle) and Chocolate Covered Potato Chips. On their website the boxes retail for $6.99, so even more expensive than the regular price at Cost Plus World Market.

As it is, I would buy this again if it were not more than $4 for the box or something that works out to about $10 per pound. Paying more for what is essentially chocolate covered cookies is absurd unless the ingredients didn’t contain partially hydrogenated oils. But still, I can’t help wishing that the box wasn’t empty.

Related Candies

  1. Chuao Honeycomb & Potato Chip Chocolate Bars
  2. M&Ms Sweet & Salty Snack Mix
  3. Trader Joe’s Milk Chocolate Covered Potato Chips
  4. Trader Joe’s Smashing S’mores
  5. Russell Stover Giant S’mores Bar & Mint Dream
  6. Wonka Exceptionals Scrumdiddlyumptious
  7. Wolfgang Skipjacks & Jungle Jacks


Name: Chocolate Covered Gretzels
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Sanders
Place Purchased: Cost Plus World Market (Farmers Market)
Price: $1.50 (75% off clearance)
Size: 6 ounces
Calories per ounce: 129
Categories: Candy, Sanders, Chocolate, Cookie, Kosher, 7-Worth It, United States, Cost Plus

POSTED BY Cybele AT 1:52 pm     CandyReviewSandersChocolateCookieKosher7-Worth ItUnited StatesCost PlusComments (4)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Nestle Crunch Noisettes

Nestle Crunch NoisettesI was excited to see this Nestle Crunch Noisettes bar in New York at Zabar’s. I scooped it right up from the display basket by the cheeses (and looked in the same basket to see if there were any other exotic flavors).

The bar is made in Italy by Nestle and is a twist on the classic Crunch bar, which is a milk chocolate bar with crisped rice. The exotic twist here is the inclusion of noisettes ... hazelnuts.

Nestle Crunch Noisettes

This bar is very attractive.The mold design is inventive and practical. The sections break easily but instead of a typical grid they’re faceted polygons in a vaguely rectangular format. Even though I carried this all the way across the country, it still came out looking practically pristine.

Nestle Crunch Noisettes

The back of the bar reveals a bit more about the contents. The crisped rice is large and classic looking, unlike the newer cereal rice flour bb’s that are in the current American Crunch bar. There are also a far number of crushed hazelnut pieces.

The bar smells comforting, a mix of sweet milk, cereal and toasted nuts.

Nestle Crunch Noisettes

The snap is crisp and the melt of the chocolate is a little sticky but overall smooth. The texture is on the fudgy side with a lot of milk and a slight grain to it. The milk flavors predominate along with a hint of malt and the fresh and crunchy hazelnuts. The chocolate recipe is a little different from the American Nestle Crunch, this version has whey in it, which is not allowed in American chocolate (if it is to be labeled chocolate), but at least it keeps the mouthfeel similar and adds protein to the bar ... which keeps it from being overly sweet. I wanted more crisped rice, but feel like the ratio of hazelnuts was just perfect.

I liked it and had no trouble eating the whole bar over the period of several days. Given a choice, I’d probably opt for a Ritter Sport bar, as I prefer their milk chocolate profile and more transparent ethical sourcing though they don’t actually have a crisped rice bar (but an excellent milk chocolate with corn flakes will do).

This bar has wheat gluten in it, along with dairy, soy and tree nuts.

Related Candies

  1. Ghirardelli Squares Milk & Hazelnut Crisp
  2. Nestle Crunch - Even More Scrumptious
  3. Ritter Sport Neapolitan Wafers
  4. Pralus Creme de Noisette
  5. Wonka Tinglerz & Nestle Buncha Crunch
  6. 3400 Phinney: Fig, Fennel & Almond and Hazelnut Crunch
  7. Ferrero Rocher


Name: Nestle Crunch Noisettes
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Nestle
Place Purchased: Zabar's (New York City)
Price: $1.99
Size: 3.52 ounces
Calories per ounce: 166
Categories: Candy, Nestle, Chocolate, Cookie, Nuts, 7-Worth It, Italy

POSTED BY Cybele AT 2:11 pm     CandyReviewNestleCookieMockolateNuts7-Worth ItItalyComments (0)

Monday, October 8, 2012

Hershey’s Chocolate World - CreateYour Own Chocolate Bar

Hershey's Chocolate WorldLast month I visited Chocolate World in Hershey, Pennsylvania, as I often do when I’m in the area. The themed space is open year around and adjacent to Hersheypark. It’s free to visit and is mostly a Hershey themed mall with a food court and a ride the includes the story of how Hershey’s makes their chocolate.

One of the new attractions at Chocolate World is Create Your Own Candy Bar. It’s a real, mini candy factory where you can customize a single, large candy bar from an array of options. It’s $14.95, so it’s not cheap, but it is an engaging way to spend 30 to 45 minutes, especially if you love to watch machines.

When buying the ticket, you’re asked for your first and last name plus your zip code. I didn’t realize that this was how the bar was customized as you go through the factory experience (though you’re only addressed by your first name and last initial, in case you’re visiting with your AA group). If I knew this, I could have given my name as CandyBlog as you’ll see later.

The tickets are for sale in the main lobby, patrons are given a ticket with a scheduled start time. Folks line up and are given hair nets and aprons, asked to remove all visible jewelry (rings and watches) and hopefully washed their hands. (You don’t actually come into contact with any of the equipment or ingredients.) I don’t know what the limit for a group is, but I would guess about 15-18 people.

Hershey's Create Your Own Candy Bar

The event starts with a quick video which shows you how each stage of the process will work. The basic steps are: choosing your formula, the production of the bar, the cooling of the bar, creating a custom wrapper and then the boxing of the bar.

Hershey's Create Your Own Candy Bar

The customizations are:
Choose your chocolate base: milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate
Choose up to three inclusions: butter toffee chips, raspberry bits, chocolate chips, almonds, pretzel pieces, butterscotch chips
Choose sprinkles or no sprinkles

You simply scan your ticket’s bar code at the screen and make your selections.

Through a set of swinging doors, the set up is a real mini factory line with a continuous conveyer through a series of stainless steel machines. It extends along a long exterior wall, so it’s well lit and you can view it from the outside (though a real candy factory wouldn’t allow so much sunlight directly on the process). You can follow along and witness every step of the manufacture. Everything is well within view just behind a plexiglass divider and well marked with what’s going on at each step. 

Hershey's Create Your Own Candy Bar

The process starts with a chocolate base. It’s like a little, short walled box of a bar. I chose dark chocolate and the suction arms picked one up and dropped it onto the conveyer to start. Along the conveyer are the six possible inclusions, when the bar arrived at an inclusion for your bar, the hopper or screw feeder opens up and drops in your items.

At each station, the items are marked and a little bit about the reasons for the type of dispensing is explained. Screw feeders work well for items that might be sticky, like toffee bits and gravity feeders are for dry items like nuts and pretzels.

Once my inclusions, pretzel bits, almonds and butter toffee bits, were inside the little chocolate box, the bar proceeded towards the enrober. All bars were coated in milk chocolate. No choice. My bar, though, was filled unevenly. The corners had nothing in them and the center had a too-high mound. I would have preferred that my bar go over some sort of vibrating bar that would level things before the enrober.

The enrober is a thick curtain of chocolate on an open mesh conveyer. The video above is short, but gives you an idea of the process. The chocolate that isn’t used gets filtered and recycled back into the system. (So do not eat these bars if you’re sensitive to gluten, tree nuts or peanuts, even if you didn’t pick those items.)

Hershey's Create Your Own Candy Bar

After enrobing, bars that get sprinkles will. I didn’t select those. Then the bars go into a cooling tunnel. The cooling process takes about 8 minutes, so it’s off to waste time in the design and marketing department.

Just off the “factory floor” is a room with more touch screens. Waving the little bar code on my ticket got a new series of options. First, I could design my wrapper. (Well, it’s actually a sleeve, it’s not well explained before you get in there that the chocolate bar comes in a box, which is then inside a tin which gets a customized sleeve.) The design options are not extraordinary. You can choose your background as either a solid or gradient of color or a pattern. Then there are the added items - Hershey Logos, Your Name and some icons (mostly Autumnal and Halloween). I made what struck me as a pretty ugly design and pressed print.

Hershey's Create Your Own Candy Bar

After that the screens give you marketing data about your candy bar. All sorts of different graphs that say how popular or common things are and what other people have done.

That process took me about three minutes, and I tried to rush through it since there were only five screens and plenty of people (including some kids which probably wanted more time on the design). Then it was back to watching the cooling tunnel ... which is a tunnel and only had a few little windows to check on the progress of the bars.

 

Once the bars came out of the cooling tunnel they were loaded into little slots and dumped into boxes. The boxes got a little laser printing on the end with everyone’s name, then went down to the wrapping stations. This was the only part of the process that was hands-on with any of the factory workers. They had already printed our labels and were waiting for the bars to come out. They popped the bars into a tin, closed the tin and put on the sleeve wrapper.

P1080370The factory experience gives people the ability to walk through with their own bar, but also enough time to go back and really look at the equipment if they desire. I don’t know how large the groups can get, but it appears that Hershey’s keeps the manageable so that you have enough room to move around and see everything. Photography is permitted. Children are welcome though everyone has to have a ticket (except toddlers under 2) and everyone makes their own bar. They are ADA compliant, and I saw no reason that folks in wheelchairs wouldn’t be able to get the full experience. (Chocolate World as a whole seemed to be very accessible and actually well attended by folks of all abilities.)

It’s extremely clean, as you’d hope. It’s very well run and each person you meet on the Hershey’s staff is eager and seem knowledgeable. (Especially once you get in the factory room.)

I was at the front of the line and ended up being the first bar (I already scoped what I wanted and was ready at the bar selection process). For me it was about 35 minutes, but if you’re slower or at the back of the line, this might be 45 minutes or more. So allow ample time, as well as the fact that once you get there and they issue the ticket, your start time may be more than a half an hour away.

Hershey's Make Your Own Chocolate BarSo there’s my lackluster wrapper. Under the stiff printed sleeve, the chocolate bar is inside an embossed tin with the Hershey’s logo on it. It’s a nice tin, one that I can see myself keeping and using for storing small items.

The tin is 7.5” by 4.5” and 1.25” high with rounded corners. There’s a plastic tray inside that holds the boxed chocolate bar with the generic packaging.

Hershey's Make Your Own Chocolate Bar

The bar is pretty big. It’s 5 inches long and 2.75 inches wide and maybe 2/3 of an inch high. I don’t have an approximate weight on it, but it’s well over 6 ounces.

As I noted from the production line while watching it being made, the base is dark chocolate and though the chocolate tray had room, the inclusions didn’t make it into the corners. So it takes a while of biting to get to the interesting part of the bar.

Hershey's Make Your Own Chocolate Bar

I broke my bar open and just as I suspected, the contents spilled out. What’s more, I felt like I was missing the actual inclusiveness ... then enrobing didn’t actually cover my center. So I had my filling adjacent to chocolate, but not actually covered.

Hershey's Make Your Own Chocolate Bar

Aside from the physical mess, I didn’t like the taste. The fillings were dry and even though it was only a week later that I ate it, it was stale. The pretzel pieces weren’t crisp and were really small so had less crunch to them and were more of a grainy texture. The almonds were nice, small pieces but still fresh and crunchy. But what I was really disappointed about was the butter toffee bits. I was hoping for little Heath toffee chips. Instead I got some sort of artificial butter flavored thing that just stunk up the bar.

Though I chose a dark chocolate base, the majority of the chocolate in the bar is still the milk chocolate. It’s rich and sweet, but does have that Hershey’s tang to it. (Some don’t like it, but if you don’t ... why are you at Hershey’s Chocolate World?) The dark chocolate notes came in a bit, especially when I was eating the sides, but really didn’t nothing in the middle.

On the whole, I give myself 5 out of 10. I blame my inexperience and ingredients.

Hershey's Create Your Own Candy Bar

The problem with my fillings is that they’re dry. What I would suggest is either squirting a little chocolate in the base first and then putting the inclusions into it, or putting layers of chocolate into the center between the dispensing of the inclusions. Then do a little jiggling to get it all evened out and get the air out. This solves two problems.

The other thing I might suggest is that the “candy makers” get to try the inclusions first. There should be a little tasting table, maybe after you’ve bought your ticket before you get the “orientation” portion. That way we can really get a sense of what we’re putting in there instead of $15 experiments. The other thing I’d like to see is the ability to go through the process just accompanying someone who bought a ticket. I can see this being a huge expense for a family with many kids. It would be nice if the parents weren’t obligated to also get a ticket and bar.

Hershey's Simple PleasuresChocolate World is fun, and though it’s billed as free, there are some interesting attractions making this a good rainy-day destination for family, friends and couples who live nearby or are traveling through the area.

The stores there carry a huge array of branded merchandise and candy. The candy selection, though there’s a great quantity, isn’t really that diverse. For Hershey’s Dagoba and Scharffen Berger line they carry only three or four items. The prices are about what you’d pay at the drug store or grocery store when the items aren’t on sale, which is too bad. I heard more than one person lamenting that they could do better and not have to haul the stuff home if they just stop by Target or Costco. So I’d suggest focusing on the hats, tee shirts, playing cards, keychains and mugs.

What I would want from a “factory store” is a section where you can get special preview items, items out of season and of course super discounts on factory seconds. Something that I couldn’t get anywhere else. I’d also want better prices, after all, you’re buying direct so if there are no middle men, why are the prices so high? The only item I saw that rose to that level of specialness were green & red Hershey-ets.

Reese's Ice Cream BowlHershey’s Chocolate World
251 Park Boulevard
Hershey, PA 17033
(717) 534-4900

Free parking, free admission. Fees for most special activities. Wheelchair accessible. Their hours vary wildly, so call or check their website. Open every day (except Christmas).

More photos from PennLive of the Create Your Own Chocolate Bar.

Hershey’s Chocolate World gets a 7 out of 10 from me as an adult, I think kids would rank it higher.

My ticket for this experience was comped by Hershey’s. I have not done any of the other classes or movies at Chocolate World, only the free ride and shopped at the stores.

Related Candies

  1. Limited Edition Ritter Sport Winter Kreation + Factory Store
  2. Candy Source: Albanese Candy Factory
  3. Hershey’s Mexican Made Miniatures
  4. Rising Cost of Candy - A Brief Study of Hershey Prices
  5. Daffin’s Candies Factory & World’s Largest Candy Store
  6. Factory Fresh Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
  7. Treat Trip: Scharffen Berger Factory
  8. Treat Trip: Jelly Belly Factory

POSTED BY Cybele AT 1:08 pm     Hershey'sChocolateCookieNutsToffee5-Pleasant7-Worth ItHighlightShoppingComments (8)

Monday, August 6, 2012

Ghirardelli Squares Milk & Hazelnut Crisp

Ghirardelli Squares Milk & Hazelnut CrispI was browsing for new candy at Target and noticed these Ghirardelli Squares Milk & Hazelnut Crisp.

The stand up bag has a little banner across the top that says “now more chocolate in every bag.” I did a little research and it appears that the regular bags used to have 5.25 ounces and now they have 5.58 ounces. Not exactly noteworthy, especially when they don’t spell out the exact amount.

Milk Chocolate with Hazelnut Crisp Filling sounds pretty delicious to me. I wasn’t sure what a hazelnut crisp would actualy be, though the front of the package shows a little bowl of crisped rice and a few hazelnuts. So in my head it was going to be a mix of some sort of hazelnut paste and the crunchies inside the milk chocolate squares.

Ghirardelli Squares Milk & Hazelnut Crisp

The mylar sealed squares are actually aqua, one of those colors that doesn’t photograph well and turns out more like light blue. Even with the heat in Southern California, these were still looking fantastic right out of the package. The chocolate squares are glossy and perfectly molded with the Ghiradelli eagle on top.

The ingredients aren’t great. It’s not a simple hazelnut paste center, instead there are lots of extra ingredients I don’t much care for like palm and palm kernel oil, distilled monoglycerides (well, I ‘m not sure how I feel about those), partially hudrogenated vegetable oils (cottonseed & soybean) plus TBHQ, a preservative. There’s no mention of gluten, other tree nuts or peanuts as possible allergens.

Ghirardelli Squares Milk & Hazelnut Crisp

The squares smell very buttery, less sweet than I expected with a light hint of hazelnuts. The bite is soft, but it’s summer and the chocolates were still tempered well enough that they hadn’t bloomed. The milk chocolate is sweet and sticky but has a good milk and toffee flavor to it. The creamy center is also sweet with more of a milky and malty flavor to it and only a hint of the promised toasted hazelnuts. The crisped rice is in the form of little ball, like bbs. It’s a nice texture, the whole this in very satisfying though doesn’t have quite enough of an intense or defined punch for me. Overall, I liked them, but not enough that I feel like finishing the bag. (I’ve eaten five though, just to be sure.) Something in a darker chocolate might be better suited to me, but if you’re into a sweet that has a bit of texture, this might be your thing.

Related Candies

  1. Dove Cookies and Creme + Ghirardelli Cookies Jubilee
  2. Choceur Dark Hazelnut Crisp
  3. Ferrero Eggs: Hazelnut & Cocoa
  4. Ghirardelli Holiday Squares
  5. Ghirardelli Luxe Milk Crisp
  6. Ferrero Rocher


Name: Milk & Hazelnut Crisp Squares
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Ghiradelli
Place Purchased: Target (Eagle Rock)
Price: $3.49
Size: 5.58 ounces
Calories per ounce: 158
Categories: Candy, Ghirardelli, Chocolate, Cookie, Kosher, Nuts, 7-Worth It, United States, Target

POSTED BY Cybele AT 12:54 pm     CandyReviewGhirardelliChocolateCookieKosherNuts7-Worth ItUnited StatesTargetComments (0)

Monday, July 30, 2012

Flix Candy Flix Mix

Flix Candy Flix MixIn the theater box section at the Big Lots I spotted this package of Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Flix Mix. At only a buck, I figured I should try it, though I was a little taken aback at the lightness of it, only 2.2 ounces, when many other theater boxes can be 6 ounces.

Flix makes a big deal on the back of the box that these are Made in USA. But a large part of the back of the box is also devoted to the extremely long ingredients list. This is explained by the fact that one of the macroingredients is a rice pillow which includes a large number of fortifications such as niaciniamide and thiamin mononitrate.

Flix Candy Flix Mix

One I opened the box I understood why it was so light, there is a cellophane pouch inside that is the appropriate size for the box, these things are just darn airy, so constitute more volume than say, Mike and Ike.

The candy itself is very simple. It’s chocolate covered Rice Chex cereal (or a generic equivalent). The milk chocolate coating seems to have some peanut butter mixed in, though if you gave these to me without saying anything about the peanut butter, I might have missed that nuance. The whole thing is then dusted, unnecessarily, in powdered sugar.

Flix Candy Flix Mix

The rice pillow at the center is crispy and has a large airy center. There’s a hint of malt and a little salt to it, so it give a savory base to the mix that’s sorely needed. The milk chocolate and peanut butter coating is sweet. There’s a mild milky flavor to it, but nothing that can stand up to the flavor of the rice cereal ... yup, the bland Rice Chex are more vibrant than this chocolate. Still, the combination works. It’s a bit on the sweet side but the crispy texture and mild contributions from the peanut butter and chocolate manage to combine well.

I don’t think I’d buy this brand again, but I have to wonder if there are better ones out there. I also have to wonder if someone could do a verified gluten free version of this, because I bet there are a lot of gluten free folks out there longing for a crispy candy mix.

The allergen list is pretty complete and includes soy, dairy, milk, peanuts and may contain wheat, tree nuts and eggs. There’s no indication of the ethical sourcing of Flix Candy’s chocolate. There is also palm oil in there, though very low down on the list.

UPDATED to ADD: Yes, there is a homemade version of this called Puppy Chow. Probably the best option if you want better ingredients.

Related Candies

  1. Ice Cream Flavored Dippin’ Candy - Banana Split
  2. Flix Sour Gummy Pop Corn
  3. Grave Grabber Gummy Candy
  4. Hershey’s Whatchamacallit & Thingamajig
  5. Wonka Tinglerz & Nestle Buncha Crunch
  6. Crispy Cat
  7. Gummy Fishies


Name: Flix Mix
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Flix Candy
Place Purchased: Big Lots (La Canada Flintridge)
Price: $1.00
Size: 2.2 ounces
Calories per ounce: 142
Categories: Candy, Flix, Chocolate, Cookie, Peanuts, 6-Tempting, United States

POSTED BY Cybele AT 12:09 pm     CandyReviewFlixChocolateCookiePeanuts6-TemptingUnited StatesComments (5)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Dove Cookies and Creme + Ghirardelli Cookies Jubilee

I’m a huge fan of Oreos. I love them. For my 16th birthday my little brother gave me a package of Oreos, and though some people would think, “What a cheap gift!” It was in reality just what I wanted. My love of the cookies is all about the cookie part, not the cream filling. It’s salty and barely sweet, slightly sandy in its crunch and has a deep, dark chocolate flavor that borders on charcoal.

Cookies and Creme

Now Kraft has their own Oreo candy bars, of course not in the United States, spawning ground of Oreos. Instead the best Oreo Bars came from Japan. So Americans have to eat Cookies and Cream candy (which is based on the awesome Cookies and Cream Ice Cream). It’s a white chocolate base with crushed chocolate. The thing about Oreos is that there is no substitute. People who like other brands of chocolate cream cookies (such as Hydrox) prefer them. I happen to prefer Oreos and find anything that’s like an Oreo but not an Oreo slightly disappointing. (But still usually delicious.)

Dove Cookies & CremeWhile Hershey’s has a 22 year head start in the Cookies and Cream arms race, Dove has an advantage when it comes to ingredients and texture.

The new Dove Silky Smooth Promises Cookies & Creme are the newest in Dove’s recent entry into white chocolate products. For a while everyone was going extra dark and all of sudden white chocolate is legitimate decadence. (Personally, I think we can have it both ways, they’re not mutually exclusive.)

Dove Cookies & Creme

I got a handful of these as a sample from Mars last month. I didn’t think it was the final packaging because of the rather generic looking black and white foil. (This wouldn’t be the first time I got samples from Mars in temporary packaging.) Well, when I opened the bag after picking them up at Target last weekend, it was clear that this was what the wrapper was supposed to look like.

Dove Cookies and Creme

I really wanted to love these, but as I mentioned before at the top, I love the cookie part of cream sandwich cookies. So I want a lot of cookie. The white chocolate Dove uses is very creamy, very smooth but also has a bit of a cocoa flavor of its own. It may not be deodorized cocoa (where the cocoa butter is filtered completely to remove any traces of cocoa solids or anything that makes it smell like chocolate). It’s not as sweet as some other white chocolates, especially those at this price point. But it’s still sweet and lacks that moderation that a larger proportion of cookie bits would bring.

The cookie bits themselves are okay, they’re crunchy, but missing a really dark and lightly salty note to them.

They’re okay eaten one at a time and with something else in between. I don’t find myself wanting more after I finish one.

Ghirardelli Sublime White Cookies JubileeI was on the lookout for the Dove Cookies & Creme but had no idea that Ghirardelli had their own new version. The Ghirardelli Sublime White Cookies Jubilee was far more expensive per ounce, at $2.79 for the 3.17 ounce bar.

The box is nicely made and protects the bar well, at paperboard sleeve over a foil wrapped bar. The price per ounce is 88 cents per ounce while the Dove is half that at 44 cents per ounce. So it should be twice as good. It should be all natural. It should be fair trade. It should complement my skin tone and make my eyes sparkle. (Candy doesn’t work that way, or so I’ve been told.)

What Ghirardelli does with there bar is actually different and sounds really good. They describe it on the front of the box as rich layers of chocolate with crunchy cookie bits..

Ghirardelli Cookies Jubilee

The ingredients are weird and the photo on the package (and physical examination of the opened bar) looks like there’s a milk chocolate base then a white chocolate layer filled with cookie bits.

But what it smells like is chocolate cupcakes. Not good chocolate cupcakes but those cupcakes that people buy at the grocery store bakery, that smell of automation and mixes. The ingredients list cocoa butter as the second ingredient, so that’s not a problem, the chocolate content seems all good. The cookie though seems to be made from rice flour, tapioca starch and corn starch. There’s no wheat flour in there, not that I need it to be made with wheat flour, but this isn’t a gluten free product. (Or is it?)

The flavor balance is weird, it’s like fake buttered popcorn. The little cookie bits have a nice crunch, but little dark toasted cocoa goodness of their own. The chocolate layers are smooth, far smoother than the Dove. It was weirdly greasy at the end and melted too quickly to become thin and watery. It’s just weird and I found it really unpleasant. (For the record, I have liked a lot of Ghirardelli’s other white chocolate products.)

Hershey's Cookies & CremeIn order to completely review a Cookie and Creme candy, I had to revisit the one that pretty much dominates the market, the Hershey’s Cookies ‘n’ Creme.

I love the idea of the Hershey’s and there’s so many things that are right with this bar, but the primary reason I can’t or don’t eat it is because of the ingredients. Instead of real cocoa butter the Hershey’s version uses, well, it’s hard to tell, because the ingredients list is vague. The second ingredient, after sugar, is vegetable oil. It says then, parenthetically, that it may include cocoa butter, palm, shea, sunflower and/or safflower. So there’s really no telling which or any of those are in there.

Hershey's Cookies 'n' Creme

It’s extremely sweet and slightly grainy and I think not quite milky enough for a white chocolate style product. But then I get to the cookies. There are so many of them, they’re so consistently crunchy and salty and sandy and really exquisite. They balance out the sickeningly sweet white confection exceptionally well.

This purchase was the King Size bar, which was well priced, but far too much of this for me to eat and really, really smelly. The Drops version introduced more recently is a better portioning, though doesn’t have quite the same cookie density and satisfaction.

Cookies & Creme: Dove, Hershey's & Ghirardelli

I have to say, after all these years, I still haven’t found a Cookies and Cream candy I actually like enough to keep eating. Dove is pretty close, it needs more cookies, it needs better cookies. Or Hershey’s could go back to a real white chocolate with cocoa butter and a little less sugar. Instead I’ll probably just keep eating Oreos.

Related Candies

  1. Milka Bars, Milka Drops and some Li’l Milka
  2. Cookies ‘n’ Cream Bites
  3. KitKat Otonano Amasa (Adult Taste)
  4. Oreo Bitter Bar (Japan)
  5. Cookies ‘n’ Creme Showdown
  6. Trader Joe’s Mint Joe Joe’s versus Mint Oreos
  7. Hershey’s Cookies ‘n’ Mint


Name: Dove Cookies & Creme Silky Smooth Promises
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Mars
Place Purchased: Target (Eagle Rock)
Price: $3.49
Size: 8 ounces
Calories per ounce: 153
Categories: Candy, Mars, Cookie, Kosher, White Chocolate, 6-Tempting, United States, Target


Name: Sublime White Cookies Jubliee
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Ghiradelli
Place Purchased: Target (Eagle Rock)
Price: $2.79
Size: 3.17 ounces
Calories per ounce: 157
Categories: Candy, Ghirardelli, Chocolate, Cookie, Kosher, White Chocolate, 6-Tempting, United States, Target

POSTED BY Cybele AT 2:41 pm     CandyReviewGhirardelliMarsChocolateCookieKosherWhite Chocolate6-TemptingUnited StatesTargetComments (5)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Milka Bars, Milka Drops and some Li’l Milka

Milka Chopped HazelnutMilka is an old German chocolate candy brand that dates back to 1901. The Milka brand fell under Suchard, a popular chocolate bar maker which also made powdered cocoa. The bar was their milk chocolate and named by combining the German words milch (milk) and kakao (cocoa). The earliest chocolate bars sported the lavender wrapper that is still one of the distinguishing marks of their branding.

Milka is now owned by multinational conglomerate Kraft, which also makes Toblerone, Marabou, Cadbury, Cote d’Or, Freia and here in the United States, Baker’s Chocolate. Milka bars are known for their high milk content, soft and sweet melt and favoring of hazelnuts.

They’re far more available in the United States in the past 5 years than I think any other time in history. I’ve been seeing Milka products reliably at discounters like Target. This particular Milka Chopped Hazelnut bar was purchased at the 99 Cent Only Store. For only a buck, for a 3.5 ounce bar. Not a bad deal.

Now I must state that Milka is not chocolate by current American definitions, because it contains additional dairy whey. But the coolest additive they use is hazelnut paste, which more than makes up for it.

Milka with Crushed Hazelnuts

The bar is soft and extremely sweet. The only thing that moderates that sweetness are the crushed hazelnuts. They’re well distributed though I’d probably want more of them (but I understand that this is a bargain bar). The nuts are fresh and crunchy. The dairy flavors are on the toffee and toasted sugar side, instead of tasting like powdered milk Cadbury sometimes can.

Overall, this is one of the more satisfying bars I’ve had from Milka. I prefer the use of palpable nuts in addition to the hazelnut paste and of course the price can’t be beat. Though Kraft and Milka may have sustainability and ethical sourcing plans, they’re not noted on the package or their website.

Milka White Chocolate ConfectionThe Milka White Chocolate Confection was equally cheap, also a 99 Cent Only Store find.

I’m a fan of good quality white chocolate. I like cocoa butter a lot and this bar does use the real thing. Again, the only reason it’s not considered true white chocolate in the United States is the use of additional dairy whey.

The bar is nicely sized and the little domed pieces are easy to break off.

In the world of white chocolate, this is probably the best deal you’re going to find for a dollar that doesn’t include other fats besides cocoa butter and milk products. The use of whey doesn’t actually bother me that much. I understand it’s a filler but it allows things like chocolate to maintain their texture without becoming overly fatty or too sweet.Of course I would only endorse it for “candy” type applications, not fine chocolates.

Milka White

It’s a sweet bar, but not very complex. It’s a bit grainy and fudgy, not a lot of vanilla flavors and the even the fresh dairy taste isn’t that distinctive. I found this wasn’t very interesting eaten plain, but went well with other candy. It’s best with a good chocolate cookie (like an Oreo) or a salty item like nuts or pretzels. (Even tortilla chips.)

Milka Schoko Drops

While in Germany last December I also picked up a few other Milka items, because of their novelty. One of them was this box of Milka Schoko Drops. I know I’ll probably never see these again, which is too bad because they’re certainly a distinctive product. I think they were about one Euro but the little box only has 25 grams (.88 ounces). It’s a rather different price point for a brand that’s usually dirt cheap.

Milka Schoko Drops

The pieces are large, almost the size of a quarter in diameter and a beautiful purple or pearly white.

Milka Schoko Drops

The center is Milka’s hazelnut milk chocolate, the outer layer is white chocolate and then a crunchy shell. The box didn’t hold much, but I didn’t need much. I liked them quite a bit. They’re not better than M&Ms, just different. BTW - why doesn’t Mars make Hazelnut M&Ms?

Milka und Oreo

My favorite of the European Milka Bars was this one I picked up at a Kaufland grocery store (on a big sale display that I think was .59 Euro, or about 80 cents American) in Schmalkalden, Germany. It’s the Milka und Oreo which is a natural combination, since Kraft owns both brands.

Milka Oreo

If there was a disappointment with this bar, it was the use of that cream in the center instead of just more Oreo Cookies. The cream was okay, more on the yogurt side, though less sweet than the actual filling of Oreos. But without the filling, I suppose there’s nothing to distinguish it from regular Chocolate & Cookies bars.

Milka Oreo

I would buy this again, though I’m not sure if they’re sold in the United States.

Milka L'il Stars CrispeesI was pretty excited to see these Milka L’il Stars bags at the 99 Cent Only Store on a more recent visit. The reignited my interest in Milka, and spurred me to dig out these photos from earlier this year and finish this write up.

Again, for only a dollar, it’s a great deal for a chocolate hazelnut product. Think of them as giant, shell-less Crispy M&Ms.

The Milka L’il Stars Crispees look completely different than anything else on the American market and fill that hole I often have for a cereal and chocolate combination. The bag is a decent deal for a buck, it holds 3.88 ounces of little spheres of wheat crisps covered in Milka chocolate coating.

Milka L'il Stars Crispees

The pieces are a bit rugged and uneven. The good part about that is that they don’t roll around as well as a Malted Milk Ball would.

Milka L'il Stars Crispees

The crispy center is airy and light. It’s a little crunchier and less honeycomb/foamy than a malted milk ball. The flavor is also delicate and cereal-like. It’s a rice puff, made with rice malt and malted barley syrup. It’s not very malty, not like a malted milk, but has the hints like Corn Flakes do.

Of course there’s gluten in there and hazelnuts, dairy and soy. They’re made in Slovakia.

Milka L'il Stars HazelnutsThe Milka L’il Stars Hazelnuts are a simpler product, and kind of loop me back to the first one in this list.

They’re just single, whole roasted hazelnuts covered in the Milka chocolate which has hazelnut paste in it.

This bag (also made in Slovakia) also has 3.88 ounces in it, though not as much volume as the Crispees because of the density of the nuts.

Milka L'il Stars Hazelnuts

They’re crazily simple, but really well done. The nuts are well chosen, good quality and lightly roasted. The coating is soft and sweet, a little on the fudgy side but the dairy flavors come out more than I noticed them in the bar. The roasted hazelnuts are crunchy and satisfying.

Since chocolate covered hazelnuts are so hard to find, I can see myself picking these up again, especially if I wanted to combine them with the Crispees and some other savory items for a little bit of trail mix to create the perfect movie snack.

The touch of hazelnut paste in Milka products distinguished them from other dairy milk chocolate products like Cadbury. Though it’s not great quality chocolate, it is satisfying candy.

Related Candies

  1. Ferrero Eggs: Hazelnut & Cocoa
  2. Oreo Bitter Bar (Japan)
  3. Crispy M&Ms
  4. Milka L’il Scoops
  5. Milka NAPS Mix (Assortment)
  6. Trader Joe’s Mint Joe Joe’s versus Mint Oreos
  7. Ritter Sport White Chocolate with Hazelnuts
  8. Milka Alpenmilch

POSTED BY Cybele AT 12:18 pm     CandyReviewKraftCookieMockolateNuts7-Worth It8-TastyGermany99 Cent Only StoreComments (12)

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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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