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Ginger

Thursday, November 6, 2008

GoNaturally Hard Candies

Hillside Candy has been making sweets for nearly thirty years and are best known for their line of sugar-free candies called GoLightly. GoNaturally is their new line of hard candies made with all organic ingredients. It’s also Kosher, dairy-free, gluten-free and corn-free.

Their initial offerings come in six different flavors:

     Honey Lemon          Cherry

Honey LemonHoney Lemon

Quite mellow, there’s no strong pop of either the honey or the lemon flavors.

It’s not really that sweet either, which makes it a rather nice change of pace and more soothing to the throat.

The pieces are rather small, about as big around as a penny. I loved the small size of the pieces and found with this flavor especially, the mild and true honey flavor kept me coming back over and over again until I finished the bag one afternoon. (Though each bag only holds 3.5 ounces, there are a lot of pieces because they’re so small - so I had a large pile of wrappers.)

CherryCherry

The funny thing, if you haven’t noticed already, is that none of these candies use any colorings. So while they vary slightly, they’re all a basic light amber color. Since the wrappers are opaque, there’s really no need for them to contain added colors to tell them apart.

Tangy and not terribly strong, it’s the typical cherry flavor. Not too much on the side of cough syrup, it reminded me of cherry popsicles instead.

This was my least favorite flavor, but mostly because I think that the malty dark flavors that the rice syrup gives the candy doesn’t go as well with the bright cherry flavors.

     Apple            Pomegranate

AppleApple

I wasn’t sure which way this flavor was going to go. Was it going to be Jolly Rancher Green Apple or the Japanese Mentos Fuji Apple? Well, it was a little of both. It had a definite acidic pop of the fake variety but also a good sprinkling of the apple peel flavors of real cider. I’ve always found the best thing about apples to be the wonderful crisp texture and crunch, so any candy that misses that aspect really misses with me.

I think kids may appreciate it this though, but it may not convert them from Jolly Ranchers.

PomegranatePomegranate

The curiously bright pink here belies the subtle flavor of the candy. It’s tangy and fruity like berries. It does a decent job of capturing pomegranate, which isn’t easy because most of the pom candies I’ve tried could have been named black raspberry or cranberry and I wouldn’t argue.

There’s a deep woodsy flavor to this, kind of like some red grapes have or, well, eating pomegranates. The dark molasses hint from the pomegranate or rice syrup does make this different from other pomegranate candies.

     Honey            Ginger

HoneyHoney

This is one of the candies that looked exactly like I’d expect a hard honey candy to look like. A little golden droplet.

The ingredients list has only three items on it: evaporated cane juice, brown rice syrup & honey. It tastes mellow, a little more mellow than a spoonful of honey but still a sweet little treat. Along with the Honey Lemon, this was my favorite.

GingerGinger

I’m always looking for good ginger candies because of my tummy upset issues and love of all things ginger.

These have an immediate woodsy taste, a little bit of a burn but mostly a taste of grassy sticks and spice.

I don’t know how well they’ll work with my sea-sickness and I doubt I’ll have them until whale watching season starts in January, I can see myself finishing this bag by next week.

My strangest issue with these was that they got soft and sticky. Los Angeles isn’t that humid, so I don’t think it was some sort of atypically moist condition that caused this. They’re not bad when they get softer around the edges, but they certainly don’t look as good and don’t have that crunch.

With that in mind, I don’t think they’d do well in an open bowl of candy, like a dish on your desk. Maybe a sealed jar or a zip lock bag.

I’m wild about the honey ones but didn’t have much of a feeling about the other flavors one way or the other.

This is an especially good product for those seeking a hard candy made without corn syrup or just something without artificial colors. It’s also made in the USA. The price is a bit steep for hard candy at about $2.50 per 3.5 ounce bag (though it’s certainly cheaper in bulk) but they do have some unique attributes, so there are definitely folks out there who will be thrilled to find the product and pay for it.

Related Candies

  1. Hammond’s Pantry Candies
  2. Loukoumi Artisan Confections
  3. Melville Candy Company Honey Spoons
  4. VerMints
  5. St. Claire’s Organic Mints & Tarts
  6. Chimes Ginger Chews
Name: GoNaturally Organic Hard Candies
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Hillside Candy
Place Purchased: samples from Hillside Candy
Price: $2.50 retail
Size: 3.5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 103
Categories: Hard Candy, Ginger, United States, Organic, Kosher

POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:14 am     Comments (4)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Hammond’s Pantry Candies

With the discontinuation of Reed’s Candies by Wrigley’s, I’ve been searching for similar candies. Hammond’s Candies is based in Colorado and makes hard candies and caramels using traditional methods and equipment. They’re known for their stunning hand twisted lollipops, ribbon and pillow candies. But they also make all sorts of traditional boiled sugar sweets including a line called Pantry Candies.

Each comes in a cute tin with a little clear window on top. Inside they’re tucked into a plastic bag to protect them from moisture.

Cinnamon Drops - these are sizable pieces, bigger than my pinkie toe. They’re sanded with a bit of sugar and have a soft and grainy appearance. The hard candy is smooth and flavorful. Instead of being just straight hot cinnamon, this hard candy has a bit of a touch of the woodsy, powdered spice as well as the burning cinnamon oil.

They have a satisfying crunch or simply dissolve without many voids or holes. It’s not quite the smooth & transcendent experience of Reed’s Cinnamon though.

Sour Balls - these are teensy little drops, smaller than a regular marble but larger than a pea. They come in lemon, lime, orange and cherry flavors. They have the same sanded exterior and a smooth dissolve. The citrus ones are nicely tangy but with a good rounded zest flavor (orange is a bit more muted though). They’re an old-fashioned sour though, don’t expect anything approaching battery acid.

Butterscotch Waffles - these were gorgeous little candies. They’re flattened squares (though some were little rectangles) with a smooth surface and little dimpled waffle pattern on them. They were a creamy, buttery flavor but lacking that little dash of salt though they are the closest I’ve found to the old Reed’s Butterscotch.

Licorice Drops - these definitely look the part. The same format as the Cinnamon Drops, they’re big and black and sanded. They’re made with real licorice root, so it’s a more complex flavor than just “flavored”. The big gripe I have with these, and it’s a huge one, is the large amount of artificial colors in the candy. It made my mouth greenish-black with only one. Not appealing or subtle at all. As much as I liked the taste (and finding licorice hard candies isn’t easy), the bitterness of the Red 40 (to my tongue) added with the unappealing mouth just turned me off and I didn’t finish the tin.

Lemon Drops - for those who don’t want to pick the lemon drops out of the Sour Ball assortment, here they are all alone. These large drops are perhaps a little muted in flavor, but the flavor goes all the way through and has a nice barley sugar tone to it.

Root Beer Drops - as with the cinnamon, I was hoping for a Reed’s experience here. Instead it’s rather more like a Root Beer Float than a plain old Root Beer Soda. These two-toned drops have the mellow woodsy flavor of root beer along with a creamy vanilla component. They’re smooth and flavorful but not quite spicy enough for my desires. Well, I take that back. This was the second tin I finished. (Butterscotch was the first.)

Ginger Drops (not pictured) - these little opaque candies were kind of peach/flesh colored. They didn’t smell like much and really didn’t taste like much at first either. Then the longer it dissolved the warmer it got, a light woodsy and rooty flavor, it was definitely ginger.

The offering in this line also includes Horehound, which I refuse to believe is a candy flavor but also suffers from over-coloring like the licorice.

They’re expensive, but nicely crafted and packaged and make a nice hostess gift or something to keep on your desk for those moments where you just have to have something. I like them much better than their lollipops which are exquisite to look at but don’t have the density of flavor and smooth texture of these.

Related Candies

  1. See’s Pumpkin Spice & Root Beer Lollypops
  2. Brach’s Soda Poppers
  3. Jelly Belly: Lollibeans
  4. The Apothecary’s Garden: Spices
  5. Goodbye Reed’s
  6. Pure Fun Candy Floss
Name: Pantry Candies
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Hammond's Candies
Place Purchased: samples from Candy Warehouse
Price: $9.99 a tin
Size: 12 ounces
Calories per ounce: 95
Categories: Hard Candy, Cinnamon, Ginger, Sour, Licorice, United States, Hammond's Candies

POSTED BY Cybele AT 8:46 am     Comments (15)

Friday, August 29, 2008

Darrell Lea Licorice & Ginger

Darrell Lea Soft Eating LiquoriceBack in May I got a fabulous box of goodies from All Candy Expo that included this package of Darrell Lea Soft Eating Liquorice. I dutifully took photos of it.

And then ate it all. And promptly forgot what it was like so I couldn’t review it.

So today I went out and bought a new bag, just so I could finish up this review. (My office is dangerously close to a Cost Plus World Market now.)

When I opened it up I remember why I didn’t review it.

Darrell Lea Soft Eating LiquoriceI cut the bag open and stuck my nose in there to get a good lung-full of the scent and there it was ... it smells like curry. Not in a bad way, by any means, but that’s why I didn’t review the first bag ... I wasn’t sure if that’s the way it was supposed to be.

So here I am with a second bag and I’m gonna have to say, “hey folks, this stuff really smells like and Indian spice shop!” It makes my mouth water, it’s a mix of curry, coriander, anise and black tea.

The pieces are kind of awkward - they’re long fingers. Thick and soft, they’re about three inches long and a matte black.

The flavor is dark and smoky. The molasses is pronounced but has a great mellow licorice mixed with a little hint of those spices I mentioned earlier. The chew is soft without being too sticky like Dots can be. Not too sweet and really munchable but satisfying.

Pretty good overall and certainly distinctive enough that I think I could tell this apart from most of the other Aussie style licorices I’ve had over the years. And I plan on finishing this package pretty soon as well.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Darrell Lea Ginger LicoriceThere are a lot of different licorice twist flavors out there, but most of them are fruity. So I was pretty excited to find this Soft Eating Ginger Liquorice at Cost Plus World Market (I bought these a couple of days ago and then realized I should review the black stuff, too, and went back.) If there’s one thing I’ve learned about Australia through candy, it’s that Australians make good licorice and ginger products.

Like the rest of their line, it comes in a kraft paper looking package, mellow and muted and boldly stating that it’s flavored naturally. The ingredients bear that out: Raw sugar, wheat glucose syrup, wheat flour, cane sugar, ginger puree (4%), water, modified food starch, palm oil, natural flavor, mono & di-glycerides, salt, citric acid, malic acid, spinach extract (color), liquorice extract, sodium bicarbonate, beta carotene (color) and sulphur dioxide (preservative).

Darrell Lea Ginger LicoriceThis one didn’t smell quite as appealing. Like the Buderim Ginger Gummi Bears, I found that this bag smelled a bit like Elmer’s Glue.

But I got over it.

The little fingers in this version are a little shorter at about 2 1/2 inches each but a little bigger around. The texture is different as well, though still soft they’re not as pliable and just a bit drier on the outside. But singly they smell less like wood glue and more like ginger tea.

The bite is a smidge less smooth, but boy howdy is it spicy. Right away there’s the woodsy peppery taste of ginger and then a throat warming burn. It’s not very sweet at all, much less than the other ginger chews that I like so much from Chimes and the Ginger People.

The wheat base of the chew makes it a little starchy in a way, but it also makes them rather filling and I think cuts through what might be a very spicy affair. It would be cool if they actually used molasses in these, they’d be like gingerbread (without the extra spices). But for ginger fans, this is a great new way to enjoy it. It’s a good munching food for movies, especially mixed with something salty like popcorn (I tried it with pretzels and it went well).

Rating: 7 out of 10

Darrell Lea has a pretty big range, I saw the Green Apple and Strawberry versions at Cost Plus as well. There is another version that are chocolate covered smaller nibs but their Australian website shows a much larger range of products (most of which sound fabulous). They’re Kosher and have no artificial colors or flavors.

Related Candies

  1. Young & Smylie Traditional Licorice
  2. Kookaburra Licorice
  3. Organic Finnska Soft Licorice
  4. Kenny’s Licorice Pastels & Root Beer Twists
  5. Altoids Chocolate Dipped Ginger Mints
  6. Dutch Licorice
  7. Chimes Ginger Chews
Name: Soft Eating Original Liquorice & Ginger Liquorice
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Darrell Lea
Place Purchased: Cost Plus World Market (Farmers Market)
Price: $2.99
Size: 7 ounces
Calories per ounce: 93
Categories: Licorice, Ginger, Darrell Lea, Australia, Kosher

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:29 am     Comments (11)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Sweet Earth Chocolate Cups

Sweet Earth Organic Chocolate CupsOn my way to San Francisco back in April I took a little detour off of 101 North in San Luis Obispo to gather some little organic and fair trade goodies from Sweet Earth Chocolates. They’re sold on the web and at Splash Cafe, which shares space with Sweet Earth’s confectionery kitchen. The two display cases at the cafe were well organized and kept the chocolate at a consistent temperature. (A little cold for immediate indulgence but perfect for storage.)

What attracted me to them is that they make candy not just fine chocolates. My curiosity was mostly about these candy cups that they feature on their website.

The little cups are about 1.25” at the base and 1.5” at the top. They weigh about .8 ounces with the wrapper on. (Bigger than the standard Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Minis.)

Sweet Earth Organic Chocolate Cups

Turtle Cluster (the bronze wrapper - pictured unwrapped in the center)

This is the only milk chocolate cup in the bunch (they have other cups, but they have walnuts in them).

The one has a flowing caramel center with crisped rice in the milk chocolate.

The caramel is sweet but a little salty and rather buttery tasting. It’s a good consistency, not too much like syrup, though not chewy.

The whole thing was rather sweet and not creamy enough for me, but I have to say that the texture combo was great and really filled any craving I had for a fair trade & organic candy.

Sweet Earth Organic Chocolate CupsCranberry Ginger

Dark Chocolate. It’s a solid cup with a little decorative flourish of a piece of candied ginger and a dried cranberry on top.

The chocolate is sweet and just a bit grainy from the inclusion of the crystallized ginger. It has a light spicy bite to it. I felt there was more ginger to it than cranberry. In the bites where it was just one of the other, it was fine too.

It was a tasty little piece, and interesting change from barks because it’s so chunky and the inclusions stay moist & chewy.

Sweet Earth Organic Chocolate CupsToasted Coconut Fondant

Both of the cups that I ate were absolutely gorgeous. The chocolate was shiny and the little flakes of coconut on top told me what was inside.

It smelled only slightly of woodsy, tropical coconut (not like suntan lotion).

The fondant center was both sugary and coconutty. It wasn’t as soft and chewy as a Mounds bar. It was a bit firmer, but not at all gritty. A bit cool on the tongue, it was like a cake of confectioners sugar and coconut bits.

There was a lot of chocolate to it, which kept it from being too sweet, but also drowned out the coconutiness a bit. So consider this a more subtle coconut candy than Bounty or Mounds.

Sweet Earth Organic Chocolate CupsPeppermint Fondant

Dark chocolate. This cup has a natural fondant (not bright white) with a light touch of peppermint. The overall effect is fresh and balances well with the semi-sweet chocolate.

There’s a lot of chocolate on top, maybe more than I’m used to as proportions go with these sorts of things, so don’t think of it as a peppermint pattie.

I liked this one a lot, I know it’s not a hard thing to do well, but they did it.

Sweet Earth Organic Chocolate CupsRoasted Almond

This was probably the most irregular looking of all the cups. The lumpy top hinted at large almond pieces below.

Not only is it loaded with them, they’re not just roasted ... they’re caramelized. Each almond bit has a bit or a crunchy sugar shell and then the chocolate around it.

Crunchy, much less sweet than the others and entirely satisfying.

I also tried a vegan turtle while I was there, made with coconut oil instead of butter. It wasn’t quite a “caramel” in my book as the coconut flavor was detectable ... but it was still very tasty and felt like a no-compromise treat for anyone avoiding dairy. Unfortunately they were out of their peanut butter cups (and they do have a vegan dark chocolate version).

I’m hoping that these candy cups will show up at more cafes and as impulse items at natural stores (heck, any kind of store). With a retail price of about a dollar (they’re much less when you buy a whole box though.), it’s more than most of us spend on a candy bar, but as a fair trade and organic product, this doesn’t have the feel of a charity compromise. All of the dark chocolate offerings are also Vegan. You can buy online (they even do wedding favors) and their website has an up-to-date list of where they’re sold in stores.

UPDATE: Sweet Earth Chocolate changed their name to Mama Ganache.

Related Candies

  1. Crispy Cat
  2. Zotter Candy Bars
  3. Terra Nostra Pocket Bars
  4. Pure Fun & Yummy Earth Organic Hard Candies
  5. Endangered Species Chocolate
  6. Thompson’s Organic Chocolate
Name: Fair Trade Organic Candy Cups
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Sweet Earth Chocolates
Place Purchased: Splash Bakery (San Luis Obispo)
Price: $1.00 each
Size: .6 ounces
Calories per ounce: unknown
Categories: Chocolate, Nuts, Coconut, Caramel, Mint, Ginger, Cookie, United States, Organic, Fair Trade, All Natural

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:26 am     Comments (2)

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Candy Dump 2008 part 2

KitKat Peanut ButterI have lots more candy to tell you about that I haven’t done full reviews for. Here’s a half dozen of them.

First is the Nestle KitKat Peanut Butter from Canada. The format on this bar is the single chunky finger. This is actually larger at 1.76 ounces than the American single finger bar which is 1.59 ounces. I found this bar at Mel & Rose’s Wine & Liquors on Melrose Ave a month ago.

The bar is thick and chunky but follows the standard KitKat formula.

Peanut Butter KitKat

There are wafers with cream filling then a thick stripe of peanut butter all covered in milk chocolate.

The package smelled strongly of raw peanuts when I opened it. Roasted peanuts have a deep and smoky tone to them, this was that higher octave scent, like freshly snapped peas mixed with peanuts.

The crunch of the bar was good, but there’s definitely a lot of chocolate in operation here. The peanut butter stripe is great. It’s very flavorful despite being so thin. It’s not sweetened at all, in fact it’s pretty salty. I preferred eating this bar like I eat most KitKats. I nibble off both ends of chocolate, then all the chocolate off the sides. Then I eat the less-chocolatey remains.

It was really good and I think I’d buy this if I could find it at my local store. Far more satisfying than a regular KitKat (4 grams of protein - one more than a regular) and not nearly as sweet.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Das  Caramelini - Ginger & CoffeeDas Caramelini has a couple of new flavors. Most of the other candy bloggers also go free samples from Katie Das and covered it far quicker than I did, so I didn’t put down my thoughts right away.

She sent me Ginger & Pistachio which I already reviewed and loved last spring. The new-to-me flavor was Cafe Cortado. It’s a vanilla caramel with coffee.

Unfortunately I’m not keen on coffee beans in my food. It might be that I have a problem with caffeine or it might be that I don’t care for the texture, but these just didn’t do it for me. I tried a few, but I was very aware that I needed to eat them before noon (as I don’t drink coffee after that) which always made me feel pressured.

The great news though is that the wrapping of the caramels has been changed to a heavier waxed paper. They no longer stick to the paper and are far easier to keep popping in your mouth. The box looks deceptively small but holds a quarter of a pound of rich, boiled sugar & butter. You can order direct on their website for about $6.99 a box (less if you order more).

Rating: 8 out of 10

Kaon CitrusI ordered these Meiji Kaon Citrus from JBox.com last fall. I wasn’t quite sure what they were, but citrus and gummi combined with a brand like Meiji and I figured I could take a chance.

They’re not a transparent gummi, instead they’re opaque and matte. They’re still very soft and bouncy. They have a distinct bite, not a rubbery as a German gummi. The thing that was most clear was that this is a real fruit product. The texture feels a bit like pear, there’s a slight grain to it. Then there were a few bits of zest in there.

The flavor is predominantly tangerine with a little dollop of grapefruit & lemon in there for good measure. Completely addictive, I ordered two bags and ate both. They’re small bags though at only 35 grams each. I can’t remember how much I paid for them and of course JBox doesn’t have them on their site right now. (Here’s the official webpage.) See Sera’s review.

Rating: 8 out of 10

HalvaI picked up these little beauties at the All Candy Expo as samples, but I still haven’t found them in stores.

The Traditional Halva bars from Sultan’s Finest Foods are little .71 ounce bits of plain halva. They’re smooth and creamy with a strong sesame flavor to them.

It’s the perfect portion size, if only I can find them somewhere. These are made in Tunisia, and may be the first Tunisian candy mentioned on the blog! They’re imported by Agora International and come in a sugar free version as well. I think these sorts of sesame snacks are ideal, especially for hot weather. It’s creamy and filling, not too sweet and of course does better in hot weather than chocolate.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Sencha Green Tea MintsI’ve seen the Sencha Green Tea Mints at stores for years. I just couldn’t get my brain around them for the longest time. I like a mint that has some zazz to it, and the idea of green tea in a mint seemed to defeat the purpose.

These were sample packages that I picked up at ExpoWest which is for natural products. They’re usually sold in little maroon or dark colored tins with a clear top. These compressed candies are made from xylitol & sorbitol, which are natural sugar alcohols. They have a cool feeling on the tongue (and shouldn’t be consumed in large quantities because of some digestive troubles they can cause) and a subtle flavor.

The three flavors I got were: Delicate Pear, which is just slightly fruity and sweet. Green Tea was subtle and while fresh tasting, didn’t leave that minty burn.
Lively Lemongrass was, well, lightly lemon, but not quite lively.

The tea ingredients are fair trade and xylitol is supposed to be a pretty good base for gum & mints (not bad for your teeth, but bad for dogs). It’s hard to find sugar free mints that don’t have artificial sweeteners in them, so if you’re looking for something that fits that niche, these might be for you.

Rating: 5 out of 10

Stained Glass Candy

I’m very late with my write up on Stained Glass Candy. I ordered it online about a year ago. I expected it to be pretty little hexagonal disks of candy (about the size of a quarter), but the photography on their website didn’t prepare me at all for how lovely this stuff was.

Though it’s expensive for hard candy at $12.95 a pound (when you order 2 pounds), I figured I’d give it a try. The cool thing is that you can custom design your flavor mix, so I chose one pound of herbs & spices: cinnamon, hot cinnamon, wintergreen and anise. The second pound I did as fruits: banana, orange, lemon and pineapple.

Each piece came sealed in a little clear plastic sleeve with the name of the flavor printed on it. This was helpful as I’d ordered both cinnamon and hot cinnamon (definitely a difference!). The shapes were lovely, the colors clear (except for banana), distinctive and tasty. I loved the pineapple and anise especially.

The downside is that they’re a little softer than some hard candies, so they either need to be stored in a fridge to keep them from losing their shape eventually or just eaten quickly. The softness also means that they stick to teeth and can’t be crunched. But I kind of like slowly shaping them to the roof of my mouth.

I probably wouldn’t order these again unless I had a special need for them like a party or something. They’d make nice wedding favors or for a shower or something. But at five times the price of regular hard candy, it’d have to be a very special occasion or a very special flavor.

Rating: 6 out of 10

Related Candies

  1. VerMints
  2. Shigekix Aha! Brain (Citrus)
  3. St. Claire’s Organic Mints & Tarts
  4. HiCHEW Yuzu & Valencia
  5. KitKat Caramel
  6. Halvah and Turkish Delight

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:09 am     All NaturalCandyReviewMeijiNestleCaramelChocolateCinnamonCoffeeCookieEthically SourcedGingerGummi CandyKitKatMintsNutsPeanuts5-Pleasant6-Tempting7-Worth It8-TastyCanadaJapanUnited StatesComments (9)

Monday, December 10, 2007

Menu for Hope - Win a $100 Chuao Gift Certificate

Menu for Hope is a fundraiser for the UN World Food Programme. The Menu for Hope III raised almost $63,000 for the WFP. I’d love to see MFH4 top $100K - it shouldn’t be hard, there are dozens of wonderful prizes.

I’m donating a gift certificate for Chuao Chocolatier worth $100. This prize can be yours if you win the prize drawing for item UW26. The raffle tickets are $10 each, you can buy as many as you like and select how many go for which prize. There are many other fine prizes as well, please see the master list on Chez Pim, the host of this program and the West Coast prize list on Rasa Malaysia. (Here’s a roundup of the candy-related ones.)

imageThe traditional techniques of European chocolatiers combine with pure Venezuelan chocolate and infusions of fresh ingredients and flavors in Chuao Chocolatier’s collection. Choose from a huge array of items in their webstore including their hot chocolate mixes, fine bonbons, chocolate bars and highly portable ChocoPods. There’s something there for every kind of chocolate lover: those who love the comfort of creamy milk chocolate caramels, those who crave the heat of spicy caramelized cacao nibs and even those adventurers who might want to go for a chevre, pear and black peppercorn bonbon.

The winner can chose a certificate good in the retail stores or on the website (it will not be good in both places).

Chuao Chocolatier is based in Encinitas, California.

If you would like to bid on this item use code UW26.

If you’re not interested in bidding, well, here’s a review of some items I picked up over the weekend:

Chuao Coco Nibs SnackEveryone seems to have a cacao nib product these days. Chuao’s is quite different. Their Coco Nib Snack may not even be considered candy, it might be a nut product. They start with small nib pieces, caramelize them with a little bit of sugar and toss them with a smidge of salt and chipotle & pasilla chilis. They look kind of like burnt Grape Nuts cereal.

It has a nice toasty flavor, not really spicy and not even that sweet. It does have some coffee and malt tones along with other dark chocolate and charcoal notes. This is nice to put in a little shot glass and tip into your mouth for a snack and would probably go well on ice cream, tossed in salads or maybe in a stuffing.

Chuao Orange SticksI love the combination of orange and chocolate. I especially enjoy it when the combination includes real orange peel. There’s something wonderfully essential yet complex when using whole ingredients.

These Dark Chocolate Orangettes are made with candied orange sticks dipped in chocolate. The orange is a bit sweet, but nice and soft. It’s not at all grainy either, so it’s smooth with a strong orange essence.

Chuao GingerettesGinger is one of those great crossover roots. It works great with savory food because it has such a great earthy spiciness. But it also works as a sweet base for all sorts of candies.

Candied ginger is a wonderful way to experience ginger. It’s so simple and uncomplicated. Candied ginger can come in a few different formats. Medallions (slices), cubes, julienne slices and even planks.

In the case of Chuao’s Gingerettes, they use little medallions, about the size of a quarter. They’re candied until just a the “jellied” stage and don’t have any of that crystallized sugar coating on them. So it’s all smooth. Then they’re dipped in dark chocolate.

Chuao Chocolate Ginger MedallionsThe unique selling proposition here is that in addition to the spicy ginger, these have a light dusting of chili powder. It’s not a really strong cayenne, just a light spicy burn that goes well with the other light spicy burn that is ginger.

These are nice to simply eat or serve on the side of a piece of apple pie or perhaps some ice cream.

Previous Chuao Reviews: Chuao Chocolatier’s BonBon Selection, Chuao ChocoPods, Chuao Filled ChocoPod Collection.

So now that you’re drooling you want to buy a raffle ticket or two, right?

Donation Instructions:

  • Choose a prize or prizes from the complete prize list on Chez Pim before December 21st.
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  • Specify the prize they would like to bid for in the ‘Personal Message’ section in the donation form. Each $10 donate will get one raffle ticket toward a prize.  For example, a donation of $50 can be 2 tickets for UW01 and 3 tickets for UW33. Please write 2xUW01, 3xUW33. Be sure to check the box that allows them to see your email address so they can contact you if you’ve won.
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    Don’t have any money to spare but want to help people?

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    1/11/2008 UPDATE: The winner of the raffle drawing was Melissa Wong! Congratulations!

    POSTED BY Cybele AT 6:07 am     CandyChocolatierReviewChuao ChocolatierChocolateGingerNibs8-TastyUnited StatesComments (1)

    Wednesday, August 29, 2007

    VerMints

    The mint market is well, full of mints. So what’s a company gonna do to distinguish themselves from the crowded field? Ver thinks it’s hit on the right balance of novelty, quality and qualifications. Their line of six different flavors are vegan, Kosher and gluten free, nut free and all-natural (and featuring many organic ingredients).

    vermints-peppermintVer containers are cute little steel tins that are easy to open and close and feature eye-catching designs that reflect the flavors inside.

    The blue tin was predictably Peppermint, their original flavor. Unlike a mint like Altoids, these aren’t blindingly strong. Just simply, well, mints. The texture is pleasant. Not chalky, but a little crumbly but sufficiently dense. The intensity of the mint grows (though sometimes one mint may be stronger than another) as it dissolves and leaves a breath-freshening coolness when it’s gone.

    vermints-wintermintWinterMint is what I’m guessing is wintergreen since it features wintergreen oil in the ingredients. I think wintergreen flavor is undervalued in our culture and I blame Pepto Bismol for giving us the association of wintergreen with being sick. (Some additional blame goes to Ben Gay for making us think of locker-rooms and old people.) Upon reading a little more on the subject, wintergreen is not to be taken lightly as it can be toxic in very large doses, which you really can’t achieve with a tin.

    This was like one of those big Canada pink mints (wintergreen is also called Canada mint), but not as chalky. Smooth and peppery, I enjoyed these quite a bit. There were also little bits of real peppermint leaves in the pastilles.

    vermints-gingerWith my motion sickness difficulties I tend to eat a lot of Ginger candies. I like to strike a balance between their spiciness, the amount of actual ginger in the candy and of course the overall taste. Too much spice and I can’t maintain my intake (though fanning my mouth often takes my mind off of nausea ... so that’s effective).

    These crazy mints have a lot of ginger flavor in them and burn on my tongue right away. It dissipates after a moment and I forget about the inital scalding by the time I eat another one.

    They have two kinds of ginger in them: ground ginger root and ginger flavor. I think ginger goes particularly well with Maple Syrup.

    vermints-cinnThe bright red tin is hard to miss and easy to guess the flavor is cinnamon (well, they call it CinnaMint).

    It’s definitely cinnamon, completely spicy, kind of woodsy and a little sweet. There are peppermint leaves in this one too, but I think it would have been better to throw a few little bits of cinnamon in there while they were at it. But they didn’t ask me.

    For a while I was pronouncing this as Very Mints ... not realizing, first that they were spelled Ver with no I in there after the Ver. It wasn’t until I got the VerMONT connection that I understood the name. I still think Very Mints is a good name, too. I might start calling the state it Very Mont.

    vermints-chaiThe two flavors that set this set apart are the flavor combos. This one, Chai features Fair Trade teas from Honest Tea. Of course this means that this ingredients simply say that it contains “Organic Chai Tea” which is a pretty vague thing, kind of like “cake mix”. I can taste a bit of the black tea background, some cinnamon and strong clove, a little nutmeg. I’d have liked, of course, more cardamom and perhaps vanilla notes. And less clove. Just make a clove mint and leave clove out of the other candies.

    It’s pretty good and a nice change of pace from the others. The spicy notes are refreshing and I think gives me pleasant breath.

    vermints-cafeThe last flavor is Cafe Express which features Fair Trade coffee from Green Mountain Coffee Roasters. The ingredients list both coffee and natural coffee flavor and they certainly smell like sweet, sweet coffee. The flavor is a little less intense, mellow and coffee-ish. On the good side of that, there’s no coffee breath afterwards. On the bad side, they feel more like candy than a breath mint. Not that there’s anything wrong with that since they’re pretty much gone now.

    Overall I prefer the texture of these to Altoids, they’re a little smoother and the binder gums in there give them a very slight slippery feel on the tongue as they dissolve. The flavors are more pleasing than the similarly-textured Pastiglie Leone and completely different from the also-vegan friendly St. Claire’s Organic Mints.

    Curiosities & other facts associated with these mints:

  • The mints are made in Canada.
  • The tins are made in China.
  • They contain “pure Vermont spring water” as an ingredient ... which means they must be shipping it up to Canada.
  • They contain two thickening gums - agar (derived from seaweed) and gum tragacanth (which I sometimes think is related to the coelocanth but is actually from some legume plant - okay, I’ve made that joke before ... but you may have missed it the first time!).
  • They contain organic tapioca syrup instead of the usual corn syrup (which is often GMO) and organic maple sugar syrup.
  • They’re Kosher.
  • Each mint contains 5 calories - there are approximately 40 in each tin.

  • Related Candies

    1. Hot Tamales Ice
    2. St. Claire’s Organic Mints & Tarts
    3. Anis de Flavigny
    4. Chocolate Dipped Altoids
    Name: VerMints Variety
      RATING:
    • 10 SUPERB
    • 9 YUMMY
    • 8 TASTY
    • 7 WORTH IT
    • 6 TEMPTING
    • 5 PLEASANT
    • 4 BENIGN
    • 3 UNAPPEALING
    • 2 APPALLING
    • 1 INEDIBLE
    Brand: VerMints
    Place Purchased: free samples
    Price: $2.50-$3.00
    Size: 1.41 ounces
    Calories per ounce: 130 (I think it's lower than that)
    Categories: Mint, Ginger, Coffee, Canada, Kosher, Fair Trade (some ingredients), Organic (some ingredients)

    POSTED BY Cybele AT 7:49 am     Comments (12)

    Thursday, June 28, 2007

    Altoids Chocolate Dipped Ginger Mints

    About six months ago I got to preview the new Chocolate Covered Altoids. They were tasty, but I never found myself gobbling them up.

    image

    At the RiteAid the other night I finally found the missing piece to the trio of flavors: Ginger. I don’t know why they were so hard to find, believe me, I looked just about everywhere locally. Now, I’ve heard that the ginger ones are bad. But I like Ginger ... I love Ginger ... do you think I will love Chocolate Dipped Ginger Altoids?

    They’re woodsy, spicy and strong. The chocolate flavor only stands up to the ginger for a moment, then backs away and gives the normally chalky candy some texture.

    I’ve had them on my desk for about 24 hours and they’re pretty much gone. I’ve gobbled them up. Sure they’re burning me up, but sometimes I just like that in a candy. They’re a little expensive, too expensive for me to have them more than sometimes.

    I think I’d like them in Liquorice as well ... but I doubt that’s gonna happen any time soon.

    As with other Altoids, these contain gelatin and are not suitable for vegetarians. The are also manufactured on equipment that processes milk, wheat & nuts (tree & pea).

    Name: Altoids Chocolate Dipped Mints - Ginger
      RATING:
    • 10 SUPERB
    • 9 YUMMY
    • 8 TASTY
    • 7 WORTH IT
    • 6 TEMPTING
    • 5 PLEASANT
    • 4 BENIGN
    • 3 UNAPPEALING
    • 2 APPALLING
    • 1 INEDIBLE
    Brand: Callard & Bowser (Wrigley)
    Place Purchased: Rite Aid
    Price: $2.59
    Size: 1.76 ounces
    Calories per ounce: 152
    Categories: Chocolate, Ginger, United States, Wrigley

    POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:18 am     Comments (11)

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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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    ON DECK

    These candies will be reviewed shortly:

    • Wonka Randoms (and some Rowntree)

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