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Fondant

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Toffee Flavored Chocolate Covered Candy Corn

Chocolate Covered Toffee Flavored Candy CornThe newest thing about Candy Corn over the past five years has been flavors: Green Apple, Pumpkin Spice, Caramel Apple, Tangerine and on and on.  The odd thing is that their kin, little shaped mellocremes, have always come in different flavors - harvest mixes come in maple & chocolate and the Easter specialties often had delicate citrus & berry flavors.

So now comes the ultimate mash-up of candy corn. Both flavored and covered in chocolate. It seems odd that this product hasn’t succeeded before.

I found this bag of Toffee Flavored Candy Corn covered in Milk Chocolate at Target. They have a special line of little stand up pouches like this marketed in their house-brand.

The package is cute & compelling - a dark orange accented thick cellophane bag with a clear window to show off the shiny chocolate covered mix. I thought it was a little expensive at $2.99 ... but $7 a pound for a chocolate item isn’t that bad, and this is a Candy Holiday.

Chocolate Covered Toffee Flavored Candy Corn

About one third of the package is chocolate covered. The rest are plain Naturally & Artificially Flavored Toffee Candy Corn. The colors are a muted amber center with the stereotypical yellow base and white tip.

The package smells off-putting. It’s a fake butter flavor which leads me to a rant about toffee:

Toffee is carefully boiled sugar and butter. The essential qualities of toffee (as it’s made in America) besides the crunchy texture & cleave are the toasted flavors of the caramelized sugar and the creamy melt of the butter/heavy cream. It’s not about the butter flavor, it’s about the burnt sugar. So when someone offers me something toffee flavored I expect dark sugar notes not artificially flavored buttered popcorn.

I tried sampling it a few times and found it too artificial, so I left the package open overnight and that seems to have let some of the volatile organic compounds evaporate and it became a bit more appealing if bland. Rather like ordinary candy corn. I even detected the smell of milk & chocolate in there.

The plain candy corn is nicely textured. It’s soft but not too crumbly, it melts easily and though it’s sweet it’s not too sickly. It could have used just a tad more salt to sell the toffee flavor.

Chocolate Covered Toffee Flavored Candy CornThe chocolate covered pieces are very nicely panned. They’re huge and meaty, with a thick coat of chocolate.

It seems more sugary than the uncoated stuff. The milk chocolate isn’t particularly creamy, though the flavor profile has a fair bit of the dairy component to really sell the toffee part. I liked the combination of textures - the fondant of the candy corn has a crumbly texture, kind of like the center of a York Peppermint Pattie. (Which makes me wonder why I’ve never seen Mint Candy Corn and then the logical conclusion of Chocolate Covered Mint Candy Corn.)

I give them kudos for the attractive mix and the innovation factor here. It’s also available in Green Apple flavor (maybe some green apple fans would love it - I’m not keen on the combo of chocolate & green apple).

The package gives full disclosure: Candy made in USA. Bag made in China. Packed in Mexico. (Best by December 27, 2010) It also says that it contains milk, eggs, soy and coconut and may contain peanut & tree nuts. The only thing it doesn’t mention is gluten.

Related Candies

  1. Marich Easter Select Mix
  2. Candy Place Harvest Mix
  3. Brach’s Chocolate Candy Corn & Halloween Mix
  4. Milk Maid Caramel Apple Candy Corn
  5. Mint Cremes from the Makers of Jelly Belly
  6. Zachary Candy Corn & Jelly Pumpkins
  7. Candy Corn Kisses
  8. Milk Maid Caramel Candy Corn
  9. Gourmet Goodies Candy Corn
Name: Chocolate Covered Toffee Flavored Candy Corn
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Target
Place Purchased: Target (Eagle Rock)
Price: $2.99
Size: 7.8 ounces
Calories per ounce: 129
Categories: Chocolate, Fondant, United States, Halloween

POSTED BY Cybele AT 8:18 am     Comments (10)

Monday, August 24, 2009

King Leo Dark Chocolate Crunchy Patties

Dark Chocolate Peppermint Crunchy PattiesKing Leo is known for their mint sticks. Currently their branching out a bit and have a few new items. One is a line of Dark Chocolate Crunchy Patties in different flavors.

They feature dark chocolate and a fondant cream center, but the unique selling proposition here is crushed hard candy bits to give them a little crunch.

They come in a cute gable box. I liked it’s simplicity - it’s just a paperboard box, but looks cute and befits the classic contents. Inside the box is a cellophane bag with the chocolates ... not quite as elegant, but I’m sure much more efficient than the trays that Turtles usually come in.

I tried the Peppermint variety first.

peppermintcreams

They smell clean and minty with a little note of cocoa. While they’re called patties, they’re really not flat at all, they’re like a half-round candy.

The chocolate is very thick but nicely tempered with a good crack but doesn’t flake too much. The candy crunches are mixed in with the chocolate coating (pretty much just on the top).

The cream center is a mellow and smooth fondant - softer than a York Peppermint Pattie but firmer than the gooey version inside Junior Mints. The package shows that the center is pink, thankfully it’s uncolored.

The mint is quite powerful and lingering. Each piece is pretty sizable too - about 3/4 of an ounce. So it’s a good portion, it feels decadent and satisfying - and also comforting since it’s not terribly fussy.

The chocolate isn’t quite as creamy smooth as I would have liked, but it is real and if it weren’t for the egg white they used in the fondant these would be vegan.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Dark Chocolate Lemon Crunchy PattiesThe next variety on my list is the Lemon.

The package is similarly themed with vertical stripes, this one obviously going with yellow. As an array the four varieties are quite attractive.

One of the issues of tossing enrobed chocolates into a bag like this is that they get a little scuffed up. These were shipped to me by Quality Candy, the company that runs King Leo these days, so they may be more bumped around than what you’d get in a store. (I haven’t seen these in stores yet but they’re supposed to retail for about $6.00 for a 6 ounce package.)

lemoncreams

Unlike the Peppermint, these barely betrayed their cream flavor. They smelled a little like citrus oils, but mostly like sweet chocolate.

The centers of the lemon version were pastel yellow. The cream center is both tangy and sweet with a good pop of zest to go with it. The crunch in the chocolate and the comforting lemon flavor was pleasant and definitely different. The dark chocolate actually went very well with the lemon in this case - I got the distinct flavors of both without one winning out.

The cocoa flavors of the chocolate aren’t the most complex, but they stand well to the lemony notes.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Dark Chocolate Orange Crunchy PattiesThe Orange package has smart looking two-toned orange stripes that set off the chocolate photos and the gold logo much better than the other varieties.

I’m a sucker for orange and chocolate, especially orange and dark chocolate. But I admit that I was a bit dubious of the Orange ones going in, because I thought they were going to be more like an orange hard candy mash-up with some chocolate than a fine cream.

Opening the inner cellophane package, these smell like cocoa and a bit like peppery orange.

orangecreams

Like the lemon, the orange creams are tinted and slightly tangy.

The orange and dark chocolate goes well together and has a nice blend of both the citrus oils and the juicy orange notes. These were by far the crunchiest of the patties I had, which was quite refreshing.

I rather liked these two citrus varieties, especially as a summer chocolate treat because they didn’t seem as sickly sweet.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Dark Chocolate Raspberry Crunchy PattiesThe last package was Raspberry with riotous pink and magenta stripes & accents.

Quite simply, these smelled strongly of raspberry. It wasn’t so much that it felt artificial, it was simply that it was strong.

When I took the photos, I had a little dish of my sample pieces that I usually enjoy after dinner. In this case I had the little dish sitting by me in the living room. I ate the orange and lemon ones, but left this one sitting there overnight (the bitten one, I ended up putting the whole ones away for later). Well, the next morning I came down to the living room and couldn’t believe that one little candy could actually scent a room that size.

raspberrycreams

Scent aside, they’re cute and a little flatter than the others. The center also seemed firmer and crumblier than the others.

It has the same light tangy quality and the interesting combination of the creamy and bittersweet chocolate with the crunchy candy bits. Overall it was far too much raspberry for me, but I enjoyed the simulation of raspberry seeds with the hard candy.

Rating: 5 out of 10

King Leo was founded in 1901 and is thought to be the oldest trademarked candy brand in the United States. They were bought out by Quality Candy Company in 2000. At that time the brand was just a line of peppermint sticks (three versions), since then Quality Candy has expanded the flavors and variety of products. They’re made in state of the art facility in Tijuana, Mexico. (You can read more about it in this trade magazine article - warning PDF.)

Overall I liked them, but find the price point a little steep ... but then again looking over the ingredients they haven’t mucked it up with too many unwholesome things - yeah, artificial flavors, but it’s real chocolate and real vanilla. The initial offering of flavors is a good variety without being too weird so I expect them to do well.

Quality Candy sent me a huge box with one package of pretty much everything they make ... and I’m pretty sure they sent similar samples to other blogs, so expect to see a lot people talking about them for the next few weeks.

Candy Addict starts with their Choco-Crisps, Candy Yum Yum had some heat issues and put her Crunchy Patties in the fridge and is giving some away, Todo Candy has a great video that shows how humungo this box was.

Related Candies

  1. Rogers’ Chocolates Victoria Creams
  2. Christmas Mint Round Up
  3. Cream Drops versus Creme Drops
  4. Junior Mints Deluxe
  5. Cadbury Orange Creme Eggs
Name: Dark Chocolate Crunchy Patties: Peppermint, Lemon, Orange & Raspberry
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: King Leo (Quality Candy Company)
Place Purchased: samples from Quality Candy
Price: $6.00 retail
Size: 6 ounces
Calories per ounce: 121
Categories: Chocolate, Fondant, Mint, Hard Candy, Quality Candy Co, Mexico

POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:33 am     Comments (5)

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)

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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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