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Fondant

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Rogers’ Chocolates Victoria Creams

Rogers' Victoria CreamsWhile on vacation I spotted a new store in Cambria, CA called Sweet Offerings. Unlike many other candy shops in the area, they didn’t make anything of their own (no taffy pulling machine, no fudge). It’s just a well curated shop where they have a little of everything and some things that are pretty hard to find.

I was thrilled to see these little gingham wrapped creams from Rogers’ Chocolates of Victoria, British Columbia. I’d never heard of them before, but as you’ll see, it’s easy to see why someone would go through the trouble of importing them.

They come in a huge variety of flavors, at least 16 in the creams. Each wax paper wrapped piece weighs 45 grams (1.59 ounces) - which is like a candy bar. The price was a bit steep ($3.50 each), but I figured I was on vacation (and the Candy Blogger) so I carefully chose what I thought would be a good representation of their products. I got a Vanilla Cream, Coffee Cream, Rum Cream and then two of their other offerings, a Chocolate Almond Brittle and a Dark Empress Square.

Rogers' Vanilla Victoria CreamFirst, the wrapping is exquisite. It’s a simple pink gingham print wax paper. It’s carefully folded and then sealed shut with a little sticker that shows what’s inside as well as the expiry date.

The dark chocolate Vanilla Cream puck has lovely little ripples on top. The chocolate is thick and made the trip rather well (I think this one was actually dropped on the floor while in the shop and was only slightly cracked by it).

The white cream center is interesting. I wasn’t sure what these creams were and the Rogers’ website isn’t much help either. I didn’t know if it would be a fondant, fudge or buttercream.

It’s somewhere between all three. The main ingredient is but the second ingredient in the filling is cream, so it’s a buttery soft center. It’s not at all grainy but not so stiff that it doesn’t sort of “flow”.

The flavor of the vanilla cream is sweet and has a light touch of vanilla ... but mostly the dark chocolate flavor with its smoky semisweet flavor came through.

This is what I’ve always wanted a Cadbury Creme Egg to be.

Rogers' Coffee Victoria Cream

The dark chocolate of the Coffee Cream is well suited.

The center has a pretty mocha color to it. It’s smooth and has a toasted sugar and coffee flavor. The coffee isn’t that intense but comes out as a sweet and mellow flavor eventually. I enjoyed this one since it wasn’t as sticky sweet as the vanilla. 

Rogers' Rum Victoria Cream

The Rum Victoria Cream was quite lovely and had a great texture to the cream center, much smoother than the vanilla one.

However, the flavor was odd. It was fake and was more like some sort of plastic aroma than the woodsy molasses notes of rum. The textures were great, but I couldn’t get over the less than true rum-ness of the whole thing. I ate it rather begrudgingly ... but finished it mostly because it was my last one.

It left me disappointed that I didn’t get a fruit flavored one instead (raspberry sounded nice).

Rogers' Dark Empress SquareThe next item, the Dark Empress Square really doesn’t explain what it is at all. The only thing I was pretty sure about with this light brown gingham wrapped piece was that it was dark chocolate (well, their dark chocolate isn’t completely dark, there’s some milk in it).

Upon opening it I was no wiser. The ingredients were vague enough that it could have been any number of things but it looked like either a toffee or a caramel.

So I was a bit tentative when I bit into it.

Rogers' Dark Empress Square

It was soft ... it was caramel!

The base is a short caramel (not quite grainy but not stringy & chewy). It’s studded with almonds. The flavor is a little on the rum side with good toasted sugar and butter notes and of course the pleasant crunch of crushed almonds. The dark chocolate keeps it all from tasting too sticky sweet.

Rogers' Chocolate Almond BrittleThe final one confused me several times. Black type on brown gingham? Was it some sort of color blindness test?

Chocolate Almond Brittle was at least clear enough for me to know that it was going to be a toffee of some sort studded with nuts.

This was by far the smallest of the pieces I had, though it probably still weighed about the same (there was no weight listed on the wrapper) it was dense and hefty like a chocolate dipped brick.

Rogers' Chocolate Almond Brittle

The brittle center was crispy, a little salty and had a nice buttery flavor to it. The almond pieces were nicely sized, not whole but big chunks that gave a texture variation to it. The dark chocolate went well with the whole thing. The only complaint I had was that the thick chocolate flaked off sometimes when biting it, and when I cut it in half most of it came off completely.

The distinctive and appropriate packaging were what drew me to these, but I appreciate that they are unique - I don’t know if I’ve ever had such good quality and large sized creams before. I’d like to explore the flavor versions a bit more, I have a feeling I’d like their ginger, peppermint and maple ones.

The other butter-based caramel/toffee items were also well done, but not quite as original ... but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t appreciate them and a good candy shop should always have a little something for everyone. (And it’s true that a lot of folks just don’t like creams.)

Roger’s Chocolates has quite a few locations through British Columbia including Victoria where their candy factory is located.

Related Candies

  1. Cadbury Dairy Milk Snack
  2. Sunspire Peppermint Pattie
  3. Koeze Cream-Nut Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cluster
  4. Ritter Sport Peppermint
  5. Cream Drops versus Creme Drops
  6. Cadbury Raspberry Bunny
  7. Cadbury Eggs: Creme & Caramel
Name: Victoria Creams, Empress Square & Chocolate Almond Brittle
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Roger's Chocolates
Place Purchased: Sweet Confectionery Offerings (Cambria, CA)
Price: $3.50 each
Size: 1.59 ounces
Calories per ounce: unknown
Categories: Chocolate, Caramel, Coffeel, Fondant, Nuts, Toffee, Canada, Kosher

POSTED BY Cybele AT 7:53 am     Comments (10)

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Cadbury Dairy Milk Snack

Dairy Milk SnackCadbury is a dominant chocolate brand around the world. (See this article from Business Week that shows it as the #2 chocolate on the planet.)

What’s especially fun about Cadbury chocolate is the little variations depending on the country. One of those is the Australian set of candy bars. I picked up this single serve bar of Dairy Milk Snack after seeing it in Sera’s photo stream last year (I didn’t really want the big size bar).

It’s a simple concept - a segmented bar with different flavored fillings in each piece. (Note that the large bar has only five segments.)

Dairy Milk SnackThe first thing that sets this little bar apart is that each piece is coded with the contents. Though the package didn’t say what the fillings are (and please, why?) I did figure out the pineapple one immediately and took a good guess at the strawberry and orange.

The flavors in all are: caramel, pineapple, coconut ice (I have no idea what that is), strawberry, Turkish delight and orange.

My bar was fresh, unmarred and in great condition.

Dairy Milk Snack

Caramel - I thought it’d be like the Caramello, but it’s a little firmer, a little thicker. The chocolate outside is rather strange - it has a good snap, but not a very good melt. It’s a bit stiff, a little chalky. The flavor is recognizably Cadbury with a strong powdered milk flavor and a gentle malty cocoa taste.

Pineapple - has a light tangy pineapple scent. The fondant is thick, it has a good sheen to it, but it doesn’t flow. The flavor is sweet and has a tangy pineapple bite. It’s an odd combination with the musky chocolate, but I enjoyed the change of pace.

Coconut Ice - honestly I don’t know what this is. It’s pink and it’s crumbly and has a slight sweet flavor that I can’t quite place. If it’s supposed to be coconut, it’s missing that completely.

Strawberry - the fondant is smooth, but a little more crumbly than the pineapple. Fragrant and floral, there’s not tart component. Rather authentic tasting and pleasant.

Turkish Delight - wow, they went all out for the rose here. The texture is quite soft, more like a jelly than a firm paste. The floral notes are pungent with a slight tangy middle note that dissipates quickly. I rather liked it, but I can tell that this would be quite off-putting for many Americans and other cultures not accustomed to floral flavors.

Orange - I had hoped this would be the winner piece, but I found it rather bland. The fondant was too firm and lacking a distinctive zest.

Just as a little touchstone, I picked up an American Cadbury Dairy Milk bar to compare the flavors, and I do find that I prefer the stickier, fudgier texture of the Hershey-made version, but that may just be what I’m accustomed to.

It’s a fun bar and honestly I’d probably enjoy a whole bar of the pineapple or Turkish delight, the rest of the flavors just didn’t feel like they were the best that Cadbury could muster. (I know they can do better with the caramel & chocolate combination.) For the money, especially since I’m paying import prices, if I felt like boxed chocolate candy, I’d be better off getting some Russell Stover or finding a See’s or I’d probably even choose a Whitman’s Sampler of this.

One of the best things I can say about Cadbury right now is that they’re making a huge effort to go Fair Trade with their chocolate though it’s going to be a long process.

Some other reviews: Jim’s Chocolate Mission, Chocolate Reviews,  Sera at The Candy Enthusiast.

Related Candies

  1. Cadbury Crunchie
  2. KitKat Temptations: Hazelnut & Coconut
  3. Cadbury Eggs: Creme & Caramel
  4. Necco Sky Bar
  5. Cadbury Twirl and Snow Flake
  6. Violet Crumble
Name: Dairy Milk Snack
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Cadbury
Place Purchased: Mel & Rose (Los Angeles)
Price: $1.59
Size: 1.94 ounces
Calories per ounce: unknown
Categories: Chocolate, Fondant, Caramel, Australia, Cadbury

POSTED BY Cybele AT 12:29 pm     Comments (24)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Sunspire Peppermint Pattie

Sunspire Peppermint PattieThe first time I tried a Sunspire product, I thought it was terrible. I was also rather irritated that they thought that their candy coated chocolate lentils were better just because they were all-natural, when they actually had more “sugar” in them than M&Ms. (Not that I subscribe to the belief that sugar is unhealthy in moderation.)

I was at Henry’s Market over the weekend and all the Sunspire candy bars were on sale, so I grabbed a bunch ... because if there’s one thing that makes me reconsider my opinion, it’s a reduced price. (Oddly enough free samples have less influence.) This Sunspire Peppermint Pattie was $1.25 (they’re usually $1.69).

On the front it says that it’s premium dark chocolate - all natural / nothing artificial.

The little mylar wrapper holds a 1.4 ounce pattie.

Sunspire Peppermint Pattie

It’s a rustic looking pattie, a little thicker than a York Peppermint Pattie but also smaller in diameter. Still, they’re the exact same weight as a York. (No, that’s not a trick of the light, the center is actually a light amber color.)

The ingredients are impressive, if only for the adjectives involved in simple ingredients:

Center: evaporated cane juice, water, white rice syrup, butter, egg albumen, natural peppermint oil. Dark Chocolate Coating: evaporated cane juice, unsulfured molasses, unsweetened chocolate, cocoa butter, soy lecithin (nonGMO), pure natural vanilla.

So while the ingredients are pretty wholesome, they’re not vegan and not processed in a facility that’s gluten free (nor peanut/nut free).

But for me it’s all about the taste. I was a bit worried that the dark chocolate would be too sweet, what with two sweeteners listed before the cocoa solids.

The chocolate shell is pretty thick, it has a nice toasted cocoa aroma with a hint of the minty sweetness within. It’s nicely tempered and has a good break but happily the little bits adhere to the fondant center.

The chocolate is much like chocolate chips as far as texture. Not extremely smooth, but with good flavor ... just a smidge on the dry and chalky side of things.

The fondant center is smooth, with a slight but consistent grain to it but overall it has a cool dissolve on the tongue. It’s a cross between the texture of the York Peppermint Pattie and Junior Mints. The peppermint isn’t that strong and there’s a pretty noticeable whiff of molasses in the whole thing. It makes it all seem rather “hearty.” There’s also a lot more chocolate to this than a York has (so there’s also more fat and more calories).

My opinion of Sunspire is a-changin’ ... this is a really good product. Yes, more expensive but also made in the USA. (But if I had my druthers for non-York mints, I’d probably go for the Ritter Sport Peppermint bar ... except it’s seasonal.)

Related Candies

  1. Ritter Sport Peppermint
  2. Christmas Mint Round Up
  3. Junior Mints Deluxe
  4. Best Intentions: Sun Drops
  5. York Pinkermint Patties
Name: Peppermint Pattie
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Sunspire (nSpired Natural Food)
Place Purchased: Henry's (Laguna Niguel)
Price: $1.25
Size: 1.4 ounces
Calories per ounce: 121
Categories: Chocolate, Mint, Fondant, United States, Sunspire, Kosher

POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:23 am     Comments (3)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Leaf Schoolchalk, Allsorts & Pipes

Leaf SchoolchalkI got an email from Leaf to try their new fruit Schoolchalk licorice.

I’ve had my fair share of skoolkrijt (schoolchalk) licorice on the past few years, after being given some by a coworker returning from a vacation. Since then I’ve bought pounds and pounds of the stuff to eat over and above the normal Candy Blog review queue. For those who have never had it, it’s a mild fondant/cream inside a black licorice tube, then covered in a crunchy, slightly minted candy shell. The little pieces look like blackboard chalk.

The idea of fruit flavored licorice was more than intriguing. I had no idea what it’d be like ... would it be flavored licorice, like Red Vines/Twizzlers or the traditional black stuff? Would it be white?

Leaf SchoolchalkThe answers came quickly as the box arrived and I opened it up.

The package explains it all pretty well - the candy coating outside is pastel colored and lightly flavored, then a black licorice rope filled with a creamy flavored center. There were three flavors: Lemon, Apple and Raspberry.

I am accustomed to the Venco brand of licorice chalk, but this was pretty much the same shape and size. One inch long and about one half an inch in diameter.

Leaf Schoolchalk

The pieces look an awful lot like chalk. They smell an awful lot like raspberry flavor ... doesn’t matter which piece I pick out of the assortment, they all smell like sticky, sweet, floral raspberry body wash. I separated out the pieces and dove in.

Raspberry is pink, of course. The crunchy shell is all sweetness, the cream center is more sweetness of a deeper more jam-flavor. The licorice is hard to discern, it contributes a slight woodsy and molasses note to the whole thing, but chewing quickly means missing it entirely.

Apple is light green. These were rather vague on the outside, perhaps because of the strong raspberry thing going on. On the inside though, the cream center is very strong and tastes of apple juice. The licorice is a nice texture variation, but there is no anise, no molasses, not beet-like root notes. I did not like apple.

Lemon in the lightest yellow is the redeemer here. The shell has a kiss of sweet lemon essence, like lemon balm. The cream center, though, is like a regular Skoolkrijt, a bit minty/menthol. The black licorice notes aren’t very strong, but dark and tasty.

I would buy just Yellow Chalk. I would not buy this fruit Schoolchalk. As it is, I’m just picking out the yellow stuff to eat. Eating the other flavors last week gave me a tummy ache and spoiled my appetite for dinner.

Made in Slovakia. I gave the Lemon a 7 out of 10, the rest a 5 out of 10.

Leaf Liquorice AllsortsThe nice thing about the Leaf folks was that they were happy send along some of their other classic products to give me a sense of their product line. So after the Schoolchalk, I visited with their Licorice Allsorts.

Allsorts vary from company to company but are generally mild, sandwiched squares of flavored fondant and licorice along with various pieces of coconut fondant and the occasional jelly button covered in nonpareils.

I loved the colors and font on this package.

Leaf Liquorice Allsorts

My favorite was the little cream filled licorice tube. The outside was a tough and only mildly spicy licorice with a lemon cream center. Easy to eat in one bite.

Next came the plain licorice bites. Tough to chew but a good woodsy flavor along with some beets & charcoal.

Chocolate sandwiches had a slight cocoa flavor to them. The licorice slabs were less flavorful than the plain bites, I figure they must leach flavor into the fondant. The yellow layers were lightly lemon and the pink ones might be a slight strawberry.

Leaf Liquorice AllsortsI was fond of the blue jelly dots, though the nonpareil crunchies kind of fell off large parts of them, and there were only four in the whole bag. They’re still so cute ... I wonder how necessary the blue food coloring is and if anyone makes a white version. The jelly center is lightly anise, soft and smooth.

The little pink and yellow circles were coconut. There may have been some flavor in there as well, but the coconut was the big player here. The licorice centers were softer than the other pieces.

On the whole the Allsorts were pleasant. I found myself picking through the assortment and finding enough to eat in there and nothing left over at the end that I found so unpalatable that I would throw it out (and I’m not shy about throwing out candy I don’t like). They’re pretty to look at and don’t necessarily get stale even when left sitting open on my desk overnight.

Made in Denmark. I give them a 7 out of 10

Leaf Liquorice PipesFinally, thrown in the box amongst the bags of Allsorts & Schoolchalk were these little individually wrapped Liquorice Pipes.

I know that licorice shapes are pretty popular, and in many European countries there are dozens. Here in the states I think that licorce comes in whips (twists or laces) and perhaps Scottie dogs, and that’s pretty much it.

I have no idea how licorice and pipes became so intertwined, but from the first moment I opened this package, I felt that Leaf had this one nailed.

Leaf Liquorice Pipes

Not only is this piece of black, wheat flour based & molasses sweetened licorice shaped like an old tobacco pipe ... it has glowing pink embers in the bowl!

The licorice is softer and maybe even denser than the others, perhaps because they’re individually wrapped. They smell like toffee, anise and a little touch of sulfur, figs and banana notes. The licorice isn’t that strong, not like other “Finnish” licorice like Panda. It has more of a dark & mild spice cookie-like texture and flavor.

Made in Italy. I give them a 7 out of 10.

Leaf is a Finnish brand but available widely in Canada at drug stores & large retailers (WalMart, Dollarmax, London Drugs, etc.). In the United States they may be harder to find, so stick to import shops.

Overall, one of the cool things about licorice and the family of licorice candies is that it’s rather low in calories (usually about 100 to 110 calories per ounce), colorful and fun and with some fun flavor combinations. They can be very satisfying because of the wheat flour ingredient, but of course that means they’re unsuitable for those with wheat & gluten issues. Schoolchalk contains gelatin, so is not suitable for vegetarians.

Related Candies

  1. Darrell Lea Licorice & Ginger
  2. Young & Smylie Traditional Licorice
  3. Black Licorice Twists & Snaps
  4. Licorice Assortment
  5. Bassett’s Licorice Allsorts
  6. Dutch Licorice
Name: Schoolchalk, Allsorts & Liquorice Pipes
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Leaf
Place Purchased: samples from Leaf
Price: unknown
Size: 7 ounces, 10.6 ounces & .6 ounces
Calories per ounce: 106, 99 & unknown
Categories: Licorice, Italy

POSTED BY Cybele AT 1:58 pm     Comments (17)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Marich Easter Select Mix

Marich Easter Select MixAs an impulse by at Gelson’s (one of the upscale grocery stores in Los Angeles), I picked up this Marich Easter Select Mix.

I thought the packaging was really nice, better than the crunchy stand up bags that I usually see these sorts of mixes in (the current version of the Jelly Belly Easter mix was on the same shelf). The sleeve slips off to reveal the clear box, which opens easily and can be used for serving in casual settings.

It was expensive, though, for a mix of sugar candy (there were three foil covered chocolate eggs).

The package was $6.99 for 12 ounces ($9.32 a pound).

Marich Easter Select Mix

The package describes the contents as A cheery Easter assortment of creams, milk chocolate eggs, mints and jelly eggs..

The colors are bright and pleasant and there is a really nice mix of shiny little candies, I definitely bought these for the looks.

There were only three Foiled Chocolate Eggs in my mix, which was fine with me as I wasn’t buying it for the chocolate anyway. I thought the foil was a little dated, but that really didn’t matter after I ate one. The chocolate is quite distinctive - very sticky and smooth, strong dairy and malt notes with some caramelized sugar in there ... really tasty. It’s a big change from Hershey’s or Dove.

Marich Easter Select Mix

The Easter Creams are a fondant, like Candy Corn. They come in a variety of different molds (chickens, rabbits, chicks and decorated eggs) and flavors (lime, lemon, strawberry, vanilla and something called Wildberry).

The creams are very firm and have a bit of a shiny shell on them (a confectionery glaze perhaps?). They don’t smell like much. The flavors are mild and exceptionally sweet. The texture is a bit crumbly but ultimately very smooth. I don’t know what this wildberry thing is, but it tastes like a cross between violet, bitterness and raspberry. My favorite was actually the lime followed by the vanilla. Lemon was good but far too close to flavorless and strawberry had a bigger pop of flavor but also an artificial color aftertaste for me.

Pectin EggsThe little Nonpareil Pectin Eggs were quite bright. The little crunchies are a combination of magenta, purple, orange, white and yellow ... quite a riot of colors. Which is too bad, because I’m pretty sure that the colors are what made the crunchies so incredibly bitter. I don’t know if there’s something going on with my tongue lately or these really are this weird.

The fun part though is the wonderfully smooth & tangy orange jelly inside. It’s a very firm and flavorful jelly, almost like a gummi. They brought to mind these gummis I had from Jelly Belly a few years back (that they don’t seem to make any longer).

I tried peeling them, but that was simply too much trouble.

Next were the huge Jelly Beans. They’re a full one inch long and have a slightly translucent quality to them.

The shell is thin and crisp, beneath that is a consistent grainy layer, then a smooth and light jelly center. The biggest disappointment was the clear one, which was pineapple. For some reason it was horribly bitter on the outside to me. I couldn’t figure it out, especially since I kept thinking when I ate them without looking that they were spiky blue (that something about my synesthesia).

Marich Easter Select MixThe Easter Holland Mints were the only other “chocolate” item in the mix. These were quite bit, bigger than the ones I get from Jelly Belly or Koppers.

The shell is flawless and shiny. It has a nice crunch to it, like an M&M. The dark chocolate beneath that is slightly bitter but otherwise creamy and mellow. The mint center is a soft but dry fondant (that’s uselessly colored light green). It’s a mild mint and the whole combination is great. There were only four in my mix, so I sadly didn’t get to enjoy many of them.

I’ve been seeing more Marich products in stores lately. I reviewed their Triple Chocolate Toffee a while back. I got a hold of a few handfuls of some of their chocolate items when I was working on a photo shoot for Candy Warehouse. I thought I’d share a few thoughts on those (not a full review):

Marich Capuccino AlmondsCapuccino Almonds

The almonds in my assortment were huge. Some of these pieces were an inch and a third long.

The almonds at the center are well toasted. The milk chocolate coating is a coffee flavored chocolate. It’s a nice combination, the coffee flavor tastes especially authentic (although a bit chalky towards the end, as I think they’re using real ground coffee in there).

Marich Dark Chocolate Covered GingerDark Chocolate Covered Candied Ginger

These little cubes of ginger have a thick and glossy coating of dark chocolate.

I always enjoy chocolate covered ginger and was frustrated when I bought it at Trader Joe’s and the pieces were a bit sticky. These are perfectly sealed in the chocolate shells. The ginger is at once woodsy and warming. The extra sugar balances it all out with some texture and sweetness.

Marich Raspberry Cheesecake

The Raspberry Chocolate Cheesecake was definitely the unique one in the bunch.

It’s a real dried raspberry center. Then it’s covered in dark chocolate. Then a white chocolate coating with a final veneer of raspberry flavor on that.

The tangy raspberry dusting mixes with the sweet and milky white chocolate to give that cheesecake flavor (or maybe more of a yogurt flavor). The real raspberry center certainly has a pop to it ... and a lot of texture which includes the seeds. The dark chocolate seems to enhance the seedy flavors. This one simply doesn’t work for me.

Pastel Chocolate CranberriesAlso on the red side of things were the Pastel Chocolate Cranberries.

The outside is a red-colored white chocolate, then a little layer of chocolate. The center is a dried cranberry.

What I liked about these were how tart and intense the cranberries seemed to be. I eat dried cranberries quite often, but they’re usually sweetened. If there were sweetened, it certainly wasn’t too much. The tangy chew of the soft and moist berries went well with the otherwise flavorless red shell.

A few other items I tried were a Peanut Butter Caramel that had a caramel ball center, a layer of peanut butter and then a thin chocolate shell dusted in confectionery sugar. The caramel wasn’t quite chewy enough for me so all the textures melded together.

I also tried a hard crunchy shell chocolate covered caramel. They looked like quail eggs. I can’t quite describe it, it was like a chocolate creme brulee.

They make a Dark Chocolate Covered Toffee Almond, rather similar to the Sconza one I tried a few years ago. The dark chocolate was good quality, nice and buttery. The nuts were well toasted, sometimes it seemed a little too much so though. The toffee was crunchy and crisp.

On the whole, they’re an inventive company that makes a lot of really fun products. Most are great quality, I would love to see them decrease the amount of artificial colorings (they do make a line of all-naturals, too).

Related Candies

  1. Milk Maid Caramel Apple Candy Corn
  2. Big Bite Gummy Bear
  3. Smooth n Melty
  4. Gourmet Goodies Candy Corn
  5. Krunchy Bears
Name: Easter Select Mix
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Marich Confectionery
Place Purchased: Gelson's (Silverlake) - plus samples from Candy Warehouse
Price: $6.99
Size: 12 ounces
Calories per ounce: unknown
Categories: Chocolate, Jelly, Fondant, Mint, United States Easter

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:38 am     Comments (6)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

House Brand Creme Eggs

While some folks find the Cadbury Creme Egg to be the ultimate achievement in Easter confectionery, be warned that there are some pretenders to that throne. At the stores this year I found two such “knock offs.”

Generic Eggs & Cadbury

I found Walgreen’s and CVS had their own eggs this year. The CVS brand is called Absolutely Divine and comes in gold foil with a purple and black logo ... which made me wonder if they were a dark chocolate product. The Walgreen’s version is in primary/secondary colors and comes in both the Creme Egg and Caramel Egg.

Easter Eggs: Creme & Caramel (Walgreens)What could a store brand have to offer? Well, the first thing I noticed about these CCE simulations is that they’re bigger. In fact the shelf box for the Walgreen’s said that they’re 14% larger. These eggs are like the once powerful Cadbury Creme Eggs in their original 1.38 ounce size (CCE are now 1.2 ounces).

Walgreen’s had these generic looking Creme Eggs on sale this past weekend for 40 cents each, which is not much less than an actual Cadbury Creme Egg. What I found so surprising is that I’ve been to that Walgreen’s at least twice before during this Easter season and these weren’t out on the shelves.

It was tough to read the wrapper. What I did get was that these are made in Canada and the chocolate shell is made of real chocolate.

Walgreen's Creme EggThe shell has a little line design on it, not the same as the Cadbury Creme Egg, so at least they’re using different molds.

Biting into the egg was a bit tough. It’s a thick shell and I was greeted with a creme that resembled a cordial more than the fondant than I was used to.

The difference between the egg white and egg yolk wasn’t quite apparent, though the best I could tell was there were two different colors of fondant in there. The center was sticky and inconsistent. Sweet, flavorless with little patches of clotted graininess.

Rating: 3 out of 10.

Walgreen's Caramel EggThe Walgreen’s Caramel Egg comes in a purple wrapper. It was pretty easy to unwrap, but it felt quite heavy.

Biting it was similarly difficult to the Creme version - the shell is thick and almost solid on either end with only a minor void for the caramel at the center.

The caramel isn’t chewy or flowing. Instead it’s more of a pudding-like goo. As far a flavor though, it’s like a good caramel pudding, it’s very smooth and has some toasted sugar flavors. The chocolate shell is a bit hard, a little grainy and very milky tasting.

As far as this brand goes, I rather liked this Caramel Egg ... not enough to buy it again, but as a simulation of the venerable original, it at least meets expectations.

Rating: 4 out of 10.

Absolutely Divine (CVS)The CVS Absolutely Divine Creme Egg didn’t look like much in the store. There was no explanation on the display box, and actually finding the “creme egg” part on the wrapper was pretty tough sleuthing that involved carefully flattening the foil after unwrapping.

I fully expected these to be made in Canada like the Walgreen’s counterpart ... that they just came spilling off the line to be randomly divided into different groups for different foil wrappers. This was more shocking when I read that they have identical ingredients and molding. But origins aside, the important part is how much they cost and how they taste.

I paid 50 cents each for these.

CVS Absolutely Divine EggThe egg was similarly thick-shelled.

The creme center was also similarly inconsistent, though not quite as flowing as the Walgreen’s version.

The chocolate shell was disgusting. It tasted like roasted cardboard. Musty, grainy and overly sweetened, perhaps steamed cardboard.

The sweet filling was completely overpowered by this too-much-bad-shell. And the name, well, they’re absolutely not divine.

Rating: 2 out of 10.

I have one other piece of not-so-shocking info. These are all sticky. Not something to be eaten while using a keyboard.

What I came away with is this: if you love Cadbury Creme Eggs, buy Cadbury Creme Eggs. If you don’t like Cadbury Creme Eggs, these aren’t going to persuade you that they’re a great candy. Spend the extra eight cents or whatever the price difference is and get the real stuff.

Related Candies

  1. Cream Drops versus Creme Drops
  2. Junior Fruit Cremes
  3. Vanilla Creme Kisses
  4. Cadbury Canadian Creme Eggs
  5. Cadbury Orange Creme Eggs
  6. Cadbury Mini Eggs
Name: Creme Eggs & Caramel Egg
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Walgreen's & CVS
Place Purchased: Walgreen's (Echo Park) & CVS (3rd & Fairfax)
Price: $.40 & $.50
Size: 1.38 ounces
Calories per ounce: unknown
Categories: Chocolate, Fondant, United States, Canada, Designer Imposter, Easter

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:45 am     Comments (14)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Manhattan Chocolates Dipped Mint Cremes

Manhattan Chocolates Chocolate Dipped Mint Cremes - Kosher for PassoverTonight marks the start of Passover (the 15th of the month Nisan).

The dietary restrictions during Passover not only mean no grains, chometz, except for matzo meal but also no kitniot (legumes). This means a lot of the ingredients commonly used for candy preparation are forbidden during this festival. No peanuts is obvious, but also no corn syrup, no soy lecithin, no cornstarch, no soy or canola oil.

Most observant Jews I know simply go without candy during this time or stick to the tried-and-true holiday specialties like macaroons or chocolate dipped matzo. I know that it’s possible to make great candy that’s Kosher for Passover - something that goes beyond the mediocre Manischewitz molded chocolate items.

The Gelson’s Market near my house had a nice display of Passover items near the entrance and I was pleased to see a few more upscale and decadent items than the common jelly slices. I picked out these Chocolate Dipped Mint Cremes from Manhattan Chocolates.

Manhattan Chocolates Chocolate Dipped Mint Cremes - Kosher for Passover

The box was pretty, just green themed on white with chocolate drip along the top. Inside it was a little less upscale. The mint cremes are nestled in little cubbies in a plastic tray, which isn’t such a big deal, except that the candies were much smaller than their little nooks, so they rattled around quite a bit when I carried them home ... and is probably why they look a bit scuffed. (A piece of that fluffy, corrugated waxed paper would probably help.)

The ingredients look great: Chocolate (sugar, chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, vanilla), sugar, tapioca syrup, natural and artificial flavors. (During the rest of the year there’s soy lecithin in the chocolate and corn syrup instead of the tapioca syrup.)

There are 15 pieces in the box, which holds 6 ounces (so each piece is .4 ounces).

They’re rather tall, more like a cream chocolate than a patty, a little larger in diameter than a quarter.

The chocolate shell is nicely done, no voids or little leaky spots. They smell sweet and a bit like toasty hot chocolate. There’s only a slight whiff of mint.

Once I bit into one, the cream revealed its mintness. It’s soft, the cream is quite silky with only a slight small grain to it. It’s not flowing soft like a Junior Mint and not hard and crumbly like a York Peppermint Pattie ... just a bit in between.

The dark chocolate shell is sweet and not quite bitter enough to offset the very sweet center. But overall it’s a very good post-Seder treat to refresh the palate after those bitter herbs.

I wouldn’t call these glorious or anything, but if I were in a week where I was limited in my choices, the Manhattan Chocolates seem very promising as a line. They’re also lactose free - all year round.

Carl at the National Confectioners Association also found that Oh Nuts! has a great selection (and there’s still time to order before Passover ends).

Related Candies

  1. Ritter Sport Peppermint
  2. Mint Cremes from the Makers of Jelly Belly
  3. Sweet Earth Chocolate Cups
  4. Joyva Joys
  5. Halvah and Turkish Delight
  6. Candy Source: Economy Candy, NYC
  7. Manischewitz Frolic Bears
Name: Chocolated Dipped Mint Cremes
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Manhattan Chocolates
Place Purchased: Gelson's (Silverlake)
Price: $2.99 (on sale!)
Size: 6 ounces
Calories per ounce: 121
Categories: Chocolate, Mint, Fondant, United States, Kosher

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:53 am     Comments (5)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Ritter Sport Peppermint

Ritter Sport PeppermintHere’s another item I knew was coming out but it took me months to find it. Ritter Sport Peppermint isn’t exactly new, but newly available in the United States.

It’s a simple bar, described on the wrapper as dark chocolate with peppermint filling. I fully expected it to be like a molded York Peppermint Pattie.

Ritter Sport PeppermintWhere this is different from the York Peppermint Pattie is fat. While a York is marketed as a lowfat food, it clocks in with a smidge from the dark chocolate coating, about 2.5 g per 39 g serving.

Ritter Sport Peppermint, on the other hand, has a liberal amount of fat in it, about 11 g per 38 g serving. At first I thought it was because there is more chocolate, ratio-wise, in the Ritter Sport. But looking at the ingredients, it lists palm kernel oil in there (which I’m guessing isn’t in the chocolate, since it does say it’s chocolate and not a chocolate flavored shell).

Some would find that disconcerting, or perhaps even a reason to eschew it. I, on the other hand, have often wondered what a fattier York Peppermint Pattie would be like.

image

The bar was lovely to look at. Glossy and dark, though not as dark as some dark chocolates. It smells mostly of peppermint, delicate and refreshing with a little acidic twang.

The snap of the chocolate was good. It broke along the segments easily and there was no sticky goo emerging from the margins. Biting into an invididual segment though, that was a very nice feeling. The chocolate shell keeps its shape well, not shattering into a bazillion flakes.

The mint filling is silky smooth, whatever fat is in there is doing a wonderful job of keeping it from becoming a fudgy blob or a crystallized chunk. Instead it’s almost like a white chocolate truffle - sweet and minty but not watery or milky. The chocolate is buttery smooth as well, and melts readily but without any sort of greasy tastelessness. It’s a little bitter, a little dry and the perfect balance for the sweet center.

I don’t know why Ritter Sport hasn’t sent this to the States before, it’s definitely not like other chocolate & mint fondant options here, so it’s allowed to occupy its own niche. I hope it’s not seasonal, because I think this is a perfect item for a crisp fall picnic. (I give these suggestions as if I live this sort of life, which I don’t, but go ahead and imagine it.)

Jim’s Chocolate Mission has been doing an awesome job documenting far more Ritter Sport than I’ve been able to. (Of interest to me are the Trauben Cashew, Neapolitan Waffle and the Voll Erdnuss.)

Related Candies

  1. Christmas Mint Round Up
  2. Ritter Sport White Chocolate with Hazelnuts
  3. Junior Mints Deluxe
  4. Ritter Darks
  5. Ritter Sport Capuccino and Rum Trauben Nuss
  6. York Pinkermint Patties
Name: Small World Chocolates: Select Origin
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Ritter Sport
Place Purchased: Cost Plus (Third & Fairfax)
Price: $1.99
Size: 3.53 ounces
Calories per ounce: 142
Categories: Chocolate, Mint, Germany, Ritter Sport

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:49 am     Comments (16)

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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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