Thursday, January 19, 2006
I’ve seen these bars in Cost Plus World Market and other stores that sell UK sweets and it looked like a very complicated bar. Michal, my generous reader who sent me a huge package of candy that I’ve been slowly posting here, was good enough to include this one.
A Lion bar is creme filled wafers, caramel and crisped rice covered in milk chocolate. I don’t know if the photo does it justice (you can click on it for a larger version). It’s a very sweet bar with quite a bit of texture to it. The package exalts that it’s “Dangerously Better” but doesn’t say what’s better about it or what else it might be better than. It reminds me a great deal of the other Nestle bar, the 100 Grand, which doesn’t have the wafers in the center but the same sort of caramel and crisped rice.
It’s quite a tasty bar and because of the variations in textures, the different crisps, the saltiness of the caramel, it’s a really satisfying bar.
I’m glad I’ve had a chance to try it because I figure now it’s an easily identified bar no matter where I may be in Europe when I’m on the metro and need a little candy boost. It’s a solid, middle of the road choice for snacking.
I haven’t the foggiest why it’s called a Lion bar, but there are a lot of incongruously named bars out there and I shouldn’t start picking at them now. The official website for the bar is German, but the bar says that it’s manufactured in France.
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
I hardly thought it was possible, but I found a marzipan I actually like. (See, I didn’t give up.)
The chocolate is good quality, slightly bitter but smooth and the center is a different kind of marzipan. It’s not the ultrafine paste that you find in some of the sculpted varieties. Instead this one has palpable bits of almond in it and a darker color (because of the coffee flavoring). There’s also only the slightest hint of amaretto, which is the actual thing I don’t like about marzipan. I love almonds, I just don’t like the “flavor” of almonds.
The bar doesn’t really have much of a capuccino flavor, but a pleasing scent and creamy quality that I found really compelling.
I doubt these are widely available, but I noticed that Cost Plus had quite a variety of this brand (they were on sale for the After Christmas clearance) so I might give their actual plain marzipan a try in the future or perhaps the Orange I saw on this site.
Interesting fact: Niederegger was founded by Johann Georg Niederegger on March 1, 1806 ... that means they’re going to celebrate their bicentennial of marzipan in a few scant months. Happy Birthday Niederegger!
Thursday, December 15, 2005
Name: Bits ‘n Fits and Bits ‘n Mints
I got a wondeful package last week from a reader, Michal, in Israel. (I sent her some stuff too, but sadly it has not arrived yet.) It was a huge box of all sorts of goodies that will take me about a month to savor properly (and photograph & review, fear not!).
The first grouping I have is from Hachez, which is a German chocolate company that’s been around since 1880. These (except for the dark chocolate one) are from their Cocoa de Maracaibo line. It’s an exceptionally rich milk chocolate that boasts 55% cacao from Venezuela. In the States the government says that you only need to have 10% cocoa solids to call your concoction Milk Chocolate. In Europe that standard is at least 25% cocoa solids. Even most semi-sweet chocolates don’t have 55% cocoa solids in them!
The most amazingly cool things are their “Bits” tins. The tin shape might be a bit familiar to some folks as it seems to be identical to those that hold “Hint Mints” that can be found at places like Cost Plus World Market and coffee shops everwhere. The neat thing about the Hint Mints is that the curved tin makes it easy to keep in a pocket. You don’t really wanna do that with a tin full of chocolate. But it’s a really elegant way to be social with your chocolate when you pull one of these out and offer a little chocolate nibble to a friend or someone you want to impress.
The dense milk chocolate for the Bits ‘n Mints is a little different. I wouldn’t call it waxy, but it doesn’t yield immediately. It sits on the tongue as it warms than then suddenly melts into a consistent puddle. It’s probably because there’s less fat in it than I’m used to in a milk chocolate. It takes a moment for it to come to body temperature, then it’s very smooth. I mean, really smooth. It’s literally like butter with a wonderful rich chocolate taste (very little milk taste to it) and a good cooling mint essence.
The Bits ‘n Fits are unlike anything else I’ve had before and pure little pebbles of delight. The outside is the same milk chocolate but the center is a mix of amazing roasted flavors. Inside is what I can only call a hazelnut toffee with a huge boost of coffee flavor. A warning though, the package says that not only does it have 1% espresso powder, it also contains 1% guarana, which is a cousin of caffeine except more expensive. I don’t know what that makes the “speed” content of this candy but at a little more than 1 ounce, you probably can’t go too wrong. They’re sweet and have a combination of textures that makes me wish they sold them around here.
Name: Longs - Cocoa de Maracaibo Classic & Espresso and Cocoa d’Arriba Orange
Cocoa de Maracaibo Classic - like the Bits ‘n Mints, this bar was incredibly buttery without being oily. The first ingredient for Hachez’s milk chocolate is not sugar, not butter and not milk solids, it’s Cocoa Butter. My favorite butter! The milk solids come in at 18% so there’s very little room for sugar in there. The milk flavors are much more evident in this bar than the Mints or the Espresso bar below. The milky flavor is very European like a much smoother, refined version of a Cadbury.
Cocoa de Maracaibo Espresso - similarly smooth and slick tasting, this bar has an intense burst of espresso flavor. Actually, don’t think of it as flavor as in something that comes out of a bottle, it tastes like freshly ground coffee smells.
Cocoa d’Arriba Orange - This particular Longs falls under the Cocoa d’Arriba line, which is 77% cacao chocolate from Ecuador. The bar smells like a combination of orange rinds and dark cocoa. With all the cocoa solids in this bar, there’s very little room for sugar. The bar is certainly chocolate with a substantial bitter bite but no real acidity or dryness that some bars have. It has woodsy flavors and of course the intense orange essence. I really liked this bar but probably couldn’t eat as much of it as I could with the Cocoa de Maracaibo bars.
I’ve seen some of the Hachez product in stores before and I hope they make a bigger run at the American market. I think this Cocoa de Maracaibo is unlike most other mid-density chocolate available right now. It’s rich without being too dense and retains all the wonderful qualities of the cocoa butter that so many high-end chocolate seem to sacrafice for that high cacao percentage.
I also have to commend Hachez for their website. Though it doesn’t break out info on all their products individually, they do have an English version and the photography and additional pages are really wonderful.
Ratings: Bits ‘n Mints and Bits ‘n Fits - 9 out of 10
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
Name: Ritter Sport Bars
I did a review of the teensy variety pack of Ritter Sport a few weeks ago, and it just so happens that Robin’s been helping me get more international sweets by having her writers traveling abroad pick up some candy for me to review. I have another half a dozen bars from this care package, so you can look forward to some other sweets picked up in Eastern Europe.
When I was taking the photos the first time around (above is my second stab at documenting these), the Rum Trauben Nuts (Rum, Raisins & Hazelnuts) smelled so incredibly good I all but two squares before realizing I had to take another picture.
Unlike other “rum flavored” chocolates, this is really rummy. If my German skills are good enough, I can tell you that this candy bar contains 2% Jamaika-Rum. The milk chocolate isn’t too sweet and the raisins are plump and tart. Combined with the ample crunch of the hazelnuts, I’m in love with this bar. I’m afraid that it’s not imported to the states, as I’ve never seen it before or maybe it is but I doubt it actually has that much rum in it when exported.
The Cappuccino is rather similar to the Jogurt bar. The filling is creamy and has a slight tinge of mocha to it, but also has a slight sour bite to it. Maybe think of it as a cappuccino cheesecake flavor. It’s pleasant, but doesn’t make me yearn for it like the Rum Trauben Nuss.
I like the Ritter Bars, they remind me a lot of Hershey’s. Every one of them has been dependably sweet and smooth, but not as complex as I’d want from a more high-end bar. But then again, this is candy and that’s what I want. Here’s their motto from their website, “Ritter Sport. Square. Handy. Good.”
Rating - Rum Trauben Nuss - 9 out of 10
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Name: Ritter Sport
Ritter is a German brand of chocolate that offers these squares of chocolate (large and small) in 18 different varieties. I picked up this mini-assortment at Cost Plus because I haven’t been able to find some of the more obscure ones in the 100 gram size.
The little bars are about 1 1/2 inches square and sectioned into quarters. Overall, their chocolate is smooth, milky without tasting too much like powdered milk and the quality of the ingredients it top notch. They’re mass production candy, not frou-frou high-end stuff, but they offer some good variety to their line.
Here’s what I tried:
Marzipan - well, it’s sad that out of the 10 bars in the box, two of them were marzipan. I’m not fond of marzipan, but the texture was good and the almond paste fresh. The chocolate wasn’t the light dairy milk, but a mild semi-sweet. 6 out of 10
Jogurt - the other sad thing was there were two of these as well. Covered in the dairy milk chocolate, the center was a dense yogurt cream. A little sour, a little odd. Not unpleasant, but not really my thing. 6 out of 10
Knusperflakes - a corn flake crunch in milk chocolate. This is super, I will definitely buy this one again if I see it by itself. Better than a crisped rice bar because the corn actually has its own flavor to add. Rocks my world. You get the picture. 8 out of 10
Vollmilch - milk chocolate, rich, sticky and dairy-rich taste. Sweet and smooth. 7 out of 10.
Knusperkeks - a butter biscuit covered in chocolate. Simplicity. The biscuit is soft and crumbly, but not grainy like a graham cracker. Buttery undertones and lightly crumbly, it works well with the chocolate. 7 out of 10
Nugat - not really nougat in the sense of a whipped sugar, but more of a hazelnut paste. Sweet and very nutty. Not as smooth as a Baci. 7 out of 10.
Haselnuss - crushed hazelnuts in milk chocolate. Sweet dairy milk chocolate with good nutty crunch and flavor. 7 out of 10.
A fun thing to share with people. Each little bar is a nice snack, not as big as a whole candy bar and easy to section and share.
Rating - 7 out of 10 for whole package.
Friday, October 07, 2005
First, here’s a great value - 2.65 ounces for the price of a regular candy bar! And individually wrapped, so you can have some now and save the rest for later on. The package says that it has THREE servings.
I’d never tried these before and I’m not sure why. I know Storck best for their ultra-chocolately Riesen caramels. (Not for those without solid teeth or dental work.)
I know, fruit chews ... you’re thinking Starbursts and you’re not far off. What’s different about the Mamba is that there are only three flavors: Orange, Strawberry and Raspberry. Inside the main package there are three smaller packages of each flavor containing 6 chews.
The chews are soft and sweet with a good tart bite to them. Not quite as “juicy” as Starbursts, they have a bit more of an aromatic flavor to them, with a perfumey Strawberry and Raspberry along with a zesty Orange.
The only thing that confuses me is that the package says strawberry, orange, raspberry and lemon. With only three of the small packages within, you’re always gonna get shorted. Sadly, lemon is one of my favorite flavors and I’m sorry I missed out on that.
Rating - 8 out of 10 (great price)
Monday, September 19, 2005
Name: Kinder Bueno
I’m a little confused by the name of this bar. Maybe my language skills aren’t that good, but I’ve had a dabbling of German and took five years of Spanish. Kinder, as far as I know is Children in German. Bueno means good in Spanish. The package for this particular treat was in English and French.
All that linguistic stuff aside, candy is good in all languages. What we have here is a crisp shell filled with a hazelnut cream and covered in a very thin shell of milk chocolate. As with most candies, two pieces are better than one, so Kinder Bueno gives you two fingers. Each is further sealed inside a clear plastic sleeve to protect the crispy wafers from getting stale. The candy is basically a formed, crisp shell filled with a creamy, milky hazelnut paste and covered in a sweet and melty milk chocolate.
I know that all of the stuff in here is probably horrible for me, reading the ingredients in either language reveals copious amounts of palm kernel oil and 30% of my daily RDA of saturated fats (oddly enough no cholesterol). No matter, it’s really good. Hazelnut is such a wonderful complement to milk chocolate and the tasteless wafers, I’d probably accept a hit of 100% of my saturated fat.
It’s rich and creamy and the roasted flavor of the hazelnuts lingers. They were wonderful with my morning coffee. Even though they’re sweet the fatty texture spreads the goodness all over allowing all the notes of the nuts to come out. The filling is a little sticky, so keep some milk or coffee nearby to cut it. I would probably buy these again if I were to take a long flight or something where I really wanted an indulgence to go with bad airplane coffee. Even though they’re double packaged, these candies don’t travel well, so don’t throw an apple on top of them in your purse. I’m also eager to find some Kinder Eggs to try out sometime soon.
Rating - 7 out of 10
Monday, August 15, 2005
Name: Haribo Wheels Licorice
Yes, you can get licorice in whips, twists and bites, but I think that Haribo has the corner on the market when it comes to wheels. It’s really just a whip all rolled up into a disk. They look kind of like typewriter ribbon.
What I think is great about this licorice is that it strikes the ideal balance between texture, molasses and licorice flavor. Some licorice is really sweet, some kind of salty and some is just plain tasteless. This has a nice licorice punch without overwhelming (or causing those nasty licorice side effects) with a mellow and smoky molasses hint from the brown sugar and a good chew with a hint of salt to blend the flavors together.
I find I enjoy eating them by unraveling the spiral, but sometimes I’ll just bite right into the disk. By keeping them in these tight wheels, it allows you to have a soft, chewy whip instead of a hard and flavorless one.
I’d never bought these before, they’ll never displace licorice pastels, which are my absolute favorite incarnation of licorice, but I can still see myself buying these again as they are far cheaper than licorice pastels (why are they so expensive?).
Rating - 8 out of 10
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.