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Hard Candy & Lollipops

Friday, January 20, 2012

Napoleon BonBon Cola

Napoleon BonBon ColaNapoleon hard candies are made in the Netherlands and at one time were just a simple lemon candy with a sour center. Later they started adding other fruity flavors and of course the salted Dutch licorice.

When I was in Amsterdam last month on a brief layover, I popped out to the grocery store to see what else was new and I found these Napoleon BonBon Cola candies. I was excited to bring them home and eat them, though probably not review them. Then on Tuesday I was in the Farm Fresh Market at the Ferry Terminal in San Francisco and I saw them there too, so they’re available (though probably rather limited) in the United States as well.

It’s great to see them here, because there’s really nothing else like them in American markets (though Japan gets pretty close).

Napoleon BonBon Cola

The Napoleon construction of this candy is pretty easy to understand. It’s a sphere of nicely flavored and press molded hard candy with a little reservoir center of powdered sour lemon flavor with a slight fizz.

The cola hard candy is smooth and has a good even dissolve without sharp voids. The flavor is sharp and distinct, a spicy mix of cola nut, a touch of cinnamon and nutmeg and tart citrus. The sherbet center started to leak out as I sucked on the candy, giving a little pop of tart flavor and sometimes a slight fizz. The center also gives a slight cooling effect on the tongue along with the searing sourness when taken at full strength.

I liked them a lot, there’s a lot of interactivity considering the fact that they’re just a hard candy. Cola flavor is pretty rare in the United States in candy, which is too bad because it’s a great flavor that combines spice and citrus so well. I don’t drink soda, but I love the flavors that were created for them.

If you see these, give them a try. I don’t know if I’d special order them on the internet, but I’d certainly pick them up again if I saw them. They were especially good for the long drive back from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Hard candy is great for keeping me alert without too many calories.

Related Candies

  1. Skittles Fizzl’d Fruits
  2. Napoleon BonBon
  3. Zip Bomb
  4. Soda Can Fizzy Candy
  5. Zotz Apple
  6. Pop Rocks Cherry Cola
  7. Haribo Fizzy Cola

POSTED BY Cybele AT 2:41 pm     CandyReviewColaHard Candy & LollipopsSour8-TastyNetherlandsComments (2)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Luden’s Honey Licorice Throat Drops

DSC_5405rbIt’s the time of year when I find myself turning to cough drops. Not so much this year because of any particular cold, but it makes me feel like it’s winter. There’s something about the flavors of cough drops that are as essential to the early months of the year as cinnamon and nutmeg is to Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Spice and herbal flavors have all but disappeared from hard candy on the shelves at mass market retailers, so cough drops are a good place to find that. I picked up this classic looking box of Luden’s Honey Licorice Throat Drops just before I found the revived Pine Bros Softish Throat Drops. I was attracted to the name of the flavor, licorice and honey are both soothing and uncommon.

DSC_6372

The box is simple and elegant and features a belt & suspenders form of freshness protection. The drops themselves are inside a thick waxed paper sleeve inside the box, which has a tab top closure. Then the whole thing was inside cellophane shrink wrap. I appreciate the inner waxed liner, because the plastic overwrap only protects the drops while they’re in the store, not after I’ve opened them.

There are 14 drops inside and because these are therapeutic items, they’re not considered food and taxable in California. They’re marked as Kosher, but have no weight listed or a full nutritional panel.

DSC_5408rb

The drops are petite, with smooth rounded corners, they are about 3/4 of an inch long. The color is, well, rather dull, but at least it isn’t enhanced with artificial colors (or flavors). The dissolve is smooth and there aren’t any sharp voids in the boiled sugar base. The flavor is strong on the menthol, light on the honey and with only a touch of anise/licorice. It reminds me of a hard candy version of Fisherman’s Friend. The menthol is strong enough to give me that cool feeling in my sinuses, which are pretty clear at the moment.

I finished the box and now I’m inclined to try some other flavors, like Honey Lemon.

As a side note, the cough drop and candy connection really isn’t that surprising. William H. Luden, who made Luden’s Throat Drops, also created the 5th Avenue bar and made various other items like peppermint patties, chocolate covered raisins and peanuts plus hard candies. Though Hershey’s now owns the rights to the Luden’s candy products (though only makes the 5th Avenue now), Luden’s cough drop business is now owned by a company called Prestige Brands which makes products like Cloraseptic, Efferdent and Compound W. (Let’s hope they never combine the attributes of all three of those products.) The package I’ve reviewed, however, still said McNeill Consumer Healthcare, which sold off Luden’s in late 2010. So there may be some differences in packaging and more current products.

UPDATE 3/2/2012: The packaging has changed. I have to say that I’m a little disappointed, because they’ve looked the same as long as I can remember. But then again, the new boxes are quite nice as well.

Ludens Honey Licorice

Related Candies

  1. Krauterbonbons from Lubeck Christmas Market
  2. Villosa Sallos Licorice
  3. Perfetti Van Melle Golia
  4. Honees Honey Filled Drops
  5. A Bit of Medicine: Cocoa as Cough Suppressant
  6. The Apothecary’s Garden: Spices


Name: Honey Licorice Throat Drops
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Luden’s
Place Purchased: CVS (3rd & Fairfax)
Price: $1.19
Size: 1 ounce (approximately)
Calories per ounce: 100
Categories: Candy, Hard Candy & Lollipops, Licorice Candy, 7-Worth It, United States, Sav-On/CVS

POSTED BY Cybele AT 12:59 pm     CandyReviewHard Candy & LollipopsLicorice Candy7-Worth ItUnited StatesSav-On/CVSComments (5)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Krauterbonbons from Lubeck Christmas Market

Krauterbonbons Booth in Lubeck, GermanyI went to Germany last week on a Candy Junket sponsored by German Sweets, part of the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection. Our group consisted of 10 American journalists & writers and covered 1,500 kilometers and in only five days we saw seven confectionery factories (map).

Though the weather was rather dismal (but expected) with temperatures in the forties and rain the whole week, we still braved the brisk and damp weather to take advantage of the famous Christmas Markets in as many towns as we could. The first one we stopped at was Lubeck, Germany, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Christmas Markets (Weihnachtsmarkt) feature mostly food and hot alcoholic beverages but also a small smattering of seasonal tasties like confections and some giftware like Christmas ornaments, hats, leathergoods and other small items.

P1050115
The Weihnachtsmarkt in the Marktplatz of Lubeck, Germany.

P1050120One of the most common confectionery stalls that I saw at all three markets was the one that sold fresh candies nuts and gingerbread cookies. The cookies are for gifting and many were decorated garishly with frosting and had little affectionate sayings on them (photo). Most were heart shaped and came in a variety of sizes. Of course they’re horrible for bringing back in a suitcase, so I just looked at them.

The nuts were really appealing, just toffeed nuts of all kinds (photo). Almonds were the most common but each booth had a good assortment of walnuts, cashews and some peanuts. Some had more exotic flavors, the most common was a Christmas spice, but others had licorice or Nutella. The prices were pretty good, a little 100 gram (3.5 ounces) was 2.50 Euro and I believe they would mix if you asked.

Berlin Christmas Market at Alexanderplatz

The market in Berlin at Alexanderplatz near our hotel also had a small assortment of booths, again, most selling drinks and hot food and a more international fare of gift items (Russian nesting dolls, Indonisian carved bowls) as well as one confectionery stall with a rather large range of traditional candies from Germany and a few that looked more Nordic or Dutch.

P1050113

The booths that sold Krauterbonbons, and I saw at least three of them in Lubeck, all smelled quite strongly of anise. It was as if they were using aromatherapy to attract customers. Two of the booths looked like they produced the candy right there. They had a copper kettle, a large counter of marble and a small pressing machine that can either cut the little candy pillows from a pulled rope of the hot sugar mixture or mold press them into individual pieces. However, we walked through the Lubeck market twice, once on the night we arrived around 8 PM, then again the next day when we visited the Niederegger cafe at lunchtime. Neither time did I see them making any candy, nor any of the other booths. Perhaps it was all theater, and perhaps it was just something they did in the morning to make their inventory for the day.

As it was my first visit to a Christmas Market, I picked up a small bag of their Krauterbonbons Mischung (Herbal Sweets Assortment), which fit easily in my pocket and I thought would travel well.

DSC_6221rb

Inside the homely little plastic bag were 28 pieces in about ten different varieties. The shapes varied, some were just little pillows, others were rather rustic but pressed lumps and then there were the gems with their ornate patterns. They’re lightly sanded to keep them from sticking.

I can’t say what the flavors were supposed to be, as there was no key and many of the flavors I purchased were not sold separately (so I couldn’t match them up with the photos I took of the varieties in the jars at the booth).

Some were completely foreign to me. The little red puff was at first rather like raspberry, but there was a note of cola and maybe even Dr. Pepper (whatever that flavor is).

The light green flattened rod was pure peppermint. It was quite strong and fresh.

The black one that looks like a stylized corn cob is dark and sort of like molasses but lacking much else in the herb or spice area.

The brown rock looking thing was like a chocolate flavor, it tasted like black bread (Schwarzbrot with an hint of malt. If I had to find an American analogue, it’d be a chocolate Tootsie Pop. I actually liked this one quite a bit, it’s weird getting the flavor of dense, fresh bread in a hard candy.

The amber piece with a bee on it was honey, naturally. It was lovely. It tasted like honey and I wanted a whole jar of these, if not to eat, then just to look at.

There was also a single clear pillow with some black specks in it. It was a light anise and the exact flavor of the smell they were using to attract folks to the booth.

DSC_6224rb

The light green flower with the cross in the center (back right) was rosemary. It was really refreshing, a little like pine and menthol but without any hint of bitterness.

The ribbed one with the cross in the center was like a cough drop, a mix of flavors similar to Ricola. It was minty but not completely peppermint, there was a menthol component and maybe a little touch of honey. The shape was fun to look at, as I kept an example of each on my desk lined up while tasting.

The black one with the hammers on it was like the one that I thought was like black bread, but with a strong note of licorice to it. It wasn’t overly sweet and I found it very soothing, especially with some bland, black tea.

P1050106If I had more time and was able to scope better, I probably would have gone back and picked up the flavors that were missing from my assortment. Lubeck definitely had the best assortment of these little lozenges and of course I would have loved to have seen them making them. (Mental note, next time, add “When do you make the candies” to my list of phrases I might need.)

If you’re going to be in Germany in the winter, the Christmas Markets are definitely something you should see, if only for a few hours. I think they’re probably more appealing to folks who eat sausage and drink alcohol but the one we saw in Schmalkalden actually had some fantastic looking cheese and cured meats. The architecture of many of these cities is lit up so I really felt like I was part of the place.

I was hoping to see more of a variety of sweets, but I fully understand the 90% of the Christmas Market is about tradition and the time warp of walking around a square in the dark with pretty lights and a cacophony of sounds and smells. There were no chocolates anywhere, though some of the stalls sold long ropes of flavored licorices and I actually got a giant Smurf gummi at one of them. The smaller the town we went to, the more they felt like they were true community events, not just something made up for the tourists. Their Christmas celebration through Advent, though front and center at every town, felt less commercial and more about community, even if it was temporary.

P1050405
Zucker-Stuble in Schmalkalden

(Disclosure Note: The trip to Germany was sponsored, so I did not pay for my airfare, ground transportation, accommodations or food while I was there. At the factory tours we were given generous samples to consume on site as well as some to bring home. Any reviews of those products will be noted as to that fact. But I also brought a couple hundred Euros with me and spent them liberally and almost exclusively on candy both from the companies we were introduced to as well as many other Germany/European products that I found in my prowlings of grocery stores, department stores and the factory outlets.)

Related Candies

  1. Papabubble Amsterdam & Pillow Fight
  2. Nory Rahat Locum
  3. Panda Soft Herb Licorice and Licorice Cremes
  4. Pumpkin Pie Gourmet Candy Corn
  5. Niederegger Marzipan Orange
  6. The Apothecary’s Garden: Herbs (and some Bees)


Name: Krauterbonbons Mischung
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand:
Place Purchased: Lubeck Christmas Market
Price: $2.35
Size: 3.5 ounces
Calories per ounce:
Categories: Christmas, Hard Candy & Lollipops, Licorice Candy, Mints, 6-Tempting, Germany

POSTED BY Cybele AT 12:07 pm     Behind the ScenesCandyReviewChristmasHard Candy & LollipopsLicorice CandyMints6-TemptingGermanyComments (4)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Trader Joe’s Classic Holiday Candy Mix

Trader Joe's Classic Holiday Candy MixTrader Joe’s often does classic looking candies but with a “too hip for the room twist” on the flavors.

The Trader Joe’s Classic Holiday Candy Mix qualifies as classic solely in its looks. They’re cute little pillows and waffle pieces of hard candy but come in a curious array of flavors that are as much tropical as they are wintery. Pomegranate, Cherry Cream, Passion Fruit, Cranberry Orange and Lemon Ginger. The flavors are all natural and the colors are created with vegetable and fruit extracts.

The packaging is simple, the box is a little smaller than a box of raisins or prunes. Inside is a half pound of hard candy in a simple cellophane pouch.

Trader Joe's Classic Holiday Candy Mix

The pieces have that classic Holiday Mix look to them. Most are the standard pillow style of hard candy. The hard candy is briefly pulled (either by hand on a hook or by machine) to add air and a silky shine to it. That is then wrapped around a slightly aerated but not as attractive center. The the log is then rolled down into a rope which is then put into a cutter that gently squeezes the candy as it cuts it. Other pieces are rolled through a mold that give the waffle weave before they’re cut.

Trader Joe's Classic Holiday Candy Mix
(I’m reviewing the candies from right to left)

Cherry Cream is deep red with amber stripes. The cream flavor is a little artificial, like a butter flavor instead of a real creamy note. Kind of like a cream soda. The cherry flavor is good, like a black cherry but with a sort of burnt berry pie note to it. Sometimes I thought that it tasted like Dr. Pepper.

Cranberry Orange (orange and dark red) was easy to spot, as the pieces were mostly half orange and half red. The orange flavor was front and center, the cranberry was just a tartness in the background with a little strawberry floral note.

Trader Joe's Classic Holiday Candy Mix

Pomegranate (pink, white & deep red striped pillow) It’s enchanting to look at an a nicely rounded pomegranate flavor with a lot of raspberry notes.

Trader Joe's Classic Holiday Candy MixPassion Fruit (peach and yellow waffle)  is a lot like fruit punch. It was tart and has a light berry note to it along with sort of syrupy melon flavor and some deep honey perfumes.

Lemon Ginger (yellow and white) were the easiest to figure out. This one tasted a little sparkly. Most of the pieces were the flat waffle but there were a few short straw ones too. The lemon is quite zesty and the woodsy ginger has a very slight warmth to it.

The candies are made in Mexico. I believe this is the same facility that also makes the Trader Joe’s Old Fashioned Sweet Sticks and the Life Savers all natural knock-off Sweet Story (and probably also the Organic Lollipops which are also sold as Yummy Earth). They’re made with glucose syrup which is from wheat, so they may not be suitable for gluten-free folks. There’s no other statement about allergens such as nuts or dairy products. They’re made with cane sugar but no other animal products so it’s up to you if you think they’re vegan. Kosher.

It’s a good price for all natural hard candy. It’s not extraordinary candy and probably only suitable for someone who actually like hard candy. The charming homespun quality does present a beautiful tableau in a dish and would probably be great as a decorative element on a Gingerbread House.

Related Candies

  1. Trader Joe’s Candy Coated Licorice
  2. Papabubble Amsterdam & Pillow Fight
  3. Brach’s Christmas Nougats
  4. Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Mints
  5. Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Tahitian Vanilla Caramels
  6. Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Crisps
  7. Regennas Clear Toys
  8. Ribbon Candy


Name: Classic Holiday Candy Mix
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Trader Joe’s
Place Purchased: Trader Joe's (Silver Lake)
Price: $1.99
Size: 11 ounces
Calories per ounce: 106
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Christmas, Trader Joe's, Ginger, Hard Candy & Lollipops, Kosher, 7-Worth It, Mexico

POSTED BY Cybele AT 1:55 pm     All NaturalCandyReviewChristmasTrader Joe'sGingerHard Candy & LollipopsKosher7-Worth ItMexicoComments (4)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Villosa Sallos Licorice

Villosa SallosI’ve seen the Villosa Sallos Salmiak Lakritz Bonbons at import shops before. Their simple mostly black and white design is quite eye catching, especially in riotously colorful candy aisle at Cost Plus World Market.

The hard candies are strong licorice with a hint of herb extracts and ammonia salts.

For a while I wasn’t sure what they were. The picture on the package just shows a brown rectangle with a highlight on it that might indicate it’s soft and chewy or filled with goo. Every time I’d see them in the stores, I’d feel the candies inside and they were always hard. When I was in German, I saw these a lot at the stores (they’re apparently one of the best selling licorice products there), so I figured they were fresh and exactly they way they should be.

Villosa Sallos

Inside the package are a couple dozen individually wrapped pieces. They’re well sealed and easy to open. The candies are one inch long and about 2/3 of an inch wide.

The texture is smooth and hard, kind of like a hard caramel like Coffee Rio, except it’s licorice. The overwhelming flavor is not really licorice, it’s a bit more rustic than that. It’s a mixture of molasses, caramel and a little touch of menthol and mint along with the soft licorice notes. There’s a little waft of ammonia now and again, but it’s not as strong and offensive as some other European licorices I’ve had.

Overall, it’s hearty and not too sweet. They’re more like a cough drop than a piece of candy, which was fine with me. While this wasn’t quite as good as the Amarelli Sassolini, my other European licorice favorite, they’re certainly more affordable.

I also picked up their Schul Kreide (Skoolkrijt or School Chalk) a few weeks ago as well at Mel & Rose Wine & Liquors. I found it rather expensive ($3.50 for a little 5 ounce bag) and a little understated compared to the Venco version I’m accustomed to. There’s also a Sallos Black & White review on Candy Gurus. I think I’ll try to track those down.

Related Candies

  1. 12 European Licorices
  2. Panda Candy Coated Licorice
  3. Goetze’s Licorice and Double Chocolate Caramel Creams
  4. Walkers’ Nonsuch Liquorice Toffee
  5. Van Slooten Lakrids Figurer
  6. Leaf Schoolchalk, Allsorts & Pipes


Name: Sallos Salmiak Lakritz Bonbons
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Villosa
Place Purchased: Rewe (Cologne, Germany)
Price: $1.35 (1 Euro)
Size: 5.29 ounces
Calories per ounce: 109
Categories: Candy, Hard Candy & Lollipops, Licorice Candy, 7-Worth It, Germany

POSTED BY Cybele AT 2:47 pm     CandyReviewHard Candy & LollipopsLicorice Candy7-Worth ItGermanyComments (1)

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Wonka Everlasting Gobstoppers Eggbreakers

Gobstopper EggBreakersWilly Wonka invented the Everlasting Gobstopper, a candy for children with very little pocket money. The basic concept behind a jawbreaker style candy is that they last a long time. The current, smaller versions of the Everlasting Gobstopper are not everlasting. In fact, they’re maddenly short lived, which is fine because they come in boxes that hold dozens of them. For quite a few years the Everlasting Gobstoppers have come in seasonal varieties, such as the Snowballs (white, green and red) for Christmas and Heartbreakers (thinner shells and heart shaped). For Easter there are Wonka Everlasting Gobstopper EggBreakers.

I love the little box. It holds 3.5 ounces and I picked it up for $.99 at Target, though I’ve seen it for as much as $1.59 at other stores. The box is really compact and cleverly designed and decorated. It’s easy to flip the little window open to dispense and the box holds what feels like a lot of candy.  I’ve seen Wonka use these before with their Wonka Runts Freckled Eggs.

Gobstopper Eggbreakers

The ovoids are about 3/4 of an inch high. They eggs come in five glossy colors: yellow, turquoise, green, purple and light red.

The outer color is flavored, but it’s all very light. The lemon is just a kiss of sweet lemon essence. The purple is more like a bouquet of lilacs than fruit-flavorful, the red is a dash of berry and green might be a just a whiff of apple.

The dissolve is smooth, smoother than most other jawbreakers on the market. The layers underneath become lightly tangy though no more flavorful. After two thin layers the shell on the compressed dextrose center is easily crunched. The centers are white and if they’re flavored it’s something generic. I get a bit of pineapple from it, but it could be lemon or even orange for all I can tell.

It doesn’t matter that everything is so muted. The look, sound, texture and the interactivity is what makes this a special candy. They’re lovely to look at, sturdy and are simply interesting to eat. The shape is mouth friendly (not quite a friendly as the Heart Breakers) and the flavor array is spot on. I know they could be more intense, but I liked the subtlety of them.

I plan on picking up more of these, especially if I see them on sale after Easter even though the regular Wonka Gobstoppers are about half the price.

Related Candies

  1. Wonka Fruit Marvels
  2. New Flavors: Skittles Sour & Wonka Runts
  3. Cadbury Popping Mini Eggs
  4. Gobstopper Heart Breakers
  5. Atomic Fireballs
  6. Anis de Flavigny
  7. Gobs of Gobstoppers


Name: Everlasting Gobstopper EggBreakers
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Nestle
Place Purchased: Target (Glendale)
Price: $.99
Size: 3.5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 113
Categories: Candy, Easter, Nestle, Compressed Dextrose, Hard Candy & Lollipops, 8-Tasty, Mexico, Target

POSTED BY Cybele AT 5:02 pm     CandyReviewEasterNestleCompressed DextroseHard Candy & Lollipops8-TastyMexicoTargetComments (1)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

See’s Orange Cream Lollypops, Mayfair Egg & Pecan Butterscotch Bar

See's Orange Cream LollypopsI visited See’s Candy Shop over the weekend to see what was new.

See’s has really been increasing their seasonal Lollypops over the past few years. I quite like their Root Beer and Cinnamon offerings. The newest is See’s Orange Cream Lollypops for Easter.

They’re not sold individually like the regular flavors, so I had to buy a package of 8 pops for $5.35. The woman at the shop in Sherman Oaks said that they were selling well, and they only had the few packages that were on the counter left.

They’re Kosher though not all natural as they have artificial flavors and even some artificial colors. They are a rather low calorie treat, considering how long it takes to eat one. They’re .71 ounces and 50 calories.

See's  Orange Cream

The pops are the same format as the classic versions - a big 1.25 inch tall block on a stick. The hard candy is like a toffee with plenty of cream but uncrunchable. The color is a light, peachy orange. They smell like a milky orange and reminded me immediately of orange sherbet.

They’re smooth and slightly milky. The orange is light and fresh but ultimately just sweet. There was no really intense flavor to it at all. It’s not bad, but perhaps a little disappointing, though I’m sure it will be a great flavor for children who often prefer more mild flavors. Is a big switch from the more intense flavors lately like Cinnamon.

Rating: 5 out of 10.

See's Pecan Mayfair EggSee’s makes a fair number of classic Easter Eggs. I prefer the smaller versions, mostly because they’re a lot of small bites. But there’s something luxurious and decadent about the huge, decorated chocolate eggs they make. Thankfully they come in a wide variety of sizes. The largest are around 12-14 ounces, the middle are 7-8 and the small one I chose is 4.2 ounces. The Mayfair with Cherries & Pecans comes in a little box, tucked into a fluted paper cup. It’s less decorated than it’s larger pals, just a little sugar frosting rose on top.

Years ago one of my favorite pieces in the box of See’s Nuts & Chews was the Rum Nougat. It featured English walnuts, rum, cherries, and raisins in a chewy nougat, all covered in milk chocolate. I had to give it up about 10 years ago when my walnut allergy became apparent. Oh, how I would love it if they made it with pecans. (But there’s still a dark chocolate covered nougat that has almonds in it, though no rum and is the basis of the Awesome Nut & Chew Bar.) The Mayfair is pretty close to that rum nougat, in that it has that rum note to the buttercream center along with the cherries and for Easter, it comes in a walnut or pecan variety.

See's Pecan Mayfair Egg

The egg is about three inches long and has a thick dark chocolate shell (made by Guittard, which is also based in California).

The Mayfair egg center is thick and moist. I was actually shocked at how pink it was, I thought the coloring would be limited to the cherries, but the fondant is also quite a vibrant shade of pink. The cherries give the center mixture a rum, vanilla and cherry flavor to it with less of a maraschino note than I’d anticipated.

The cherries are firm and moist, but don’t have much character otherwise. They’re not crisp, they’re not tart and they don’t really taste that different from the fondant since they’re more glace at this point than just syrupped. The pecans are crunchy and give a little bit of a woodsy note to the center, though the pieces were generally small and not quite as numerous as I would have preferred.

Generally, I don’t care much for candy that requires utensils. Normal folks can’t just take a bite of this, it’s intended to be sliced and served. The thick chocolate cracks when I cut it, the proportions of chocolate aren’t consistent. It’s sticky when you eat the slices. The small versions are simply better - they’re pretty from beginning to end.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

See's Butterscotch Pecan BarI usually buy my standard favorites by the piece. For the past few years this means I get two or three of the Scotchmallow and the Butterscotch Square.

The Butterscotch Square is not square and isn’t actually what I’d consider butterscotch either ... but that doesn’t stop it from being a fatty, melt in your mouth delight. The center of the square is a crumbly, slightly grainy brown sugar fudge. It has a deep salty and light molasses flavor with some hints of toffee. The milk chocolate gives it a creamy quality that serves as a counterpoint to the quick melting grain of the sugar.

I had no idea there was a See’s Butterscotch Pecan Bar, which is a pre-wrapped 1.6 ounce bar that combines a chocolate base, butterscotch layer and then a healthy heaping of pecan pieces. (I think it might be overshadowed by the Scotchmallow Bar.)

See's Pecan Butterscotch Bar

The bar is an excellent portion, a little lighter than a standard candy bar but the satiety level of the nuts more than makes up for it (210 calories but not as much fat as some other chocolate combo bars). The maple and woodsy notes of the nuts and their crunch combine well with the buttery toffee flavor of the crumbly butterscotch. The chocolate holds it all together, though provides far less of a flavor contribution on this iteration. This may be a new go-to See’s product for me.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Related Candies

  1. Godiva Spring Pearls
  2. See’s Lollypops
  3. Pete’s Gourmet Confections: Marshmallows
  4. See’s Egg Quartet
  5. See’s Scotchmallow Eggs
  6. Cadbury Orange Creme Eggs


Name: Orange Cream Lollypops
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: See’s
Place Purchased: See's Candy Shop (Sherman Oaks)
Price: $5.35
Size: 5.6 ounces
Calories per ounce: 70
Categories: Candy, Easter, See's, Hard Candy & Lollipops, Kosher, 5-Pleasant, United States


Name: Mayfair Egg with Cherries & Pecans
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: See’s
Place Purchased: See's Candy Shop (Sherman Oaks)
Price: $5.85
Size: 4.2 ounces
Calories per ounce: 113
Categories: Candy, Easter, See's, Chocolate, Nuts, 7-Worth It, United States


Name: Pecan Butterscotch Bar
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: See’s
Place Purchased: See's Candy Shop (Sherman Oaks)
Price: $1.50
Size: 1.6 ounces
Calories per ounce: 131
Categories: Candy, See's, Chocolate, Nuts, 9-Yummy, United States

POSTED BY Cybele AT 3:52 pm     CandyReviewEasterSee'sChocolateHard Candy & LollipopsKosherNuts5-Pleasant7-Worth It9-YummyUnited StatesComments (3)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Papabubble Amsterdam & Pillow Fight

papabubble windowPapabubble is an artisan candy shop that first opened in Barcelona, Spain in 2004. There are now shops in eleven cities around the world including Tokyo, New York, Hong Kong and Moscow. I visited the one in Amsterdam while I was in Europe earlier this year.

One of the conceits of the shops is that all candy sold there is made there. And all the candy they make is just plain old hard candy ... I say plain because the recipe and basic steps are quite simple. But the technique and craft is extraordinary. The centerpiece of the store is the candy kitchen, where the boiled sugar and glucose mixture is poured out onto heated tables to be flavored, colored and crafted.

papabubble storefront

The Amsterdam shop is tucked away on a narrow street (aren’t they all?) called Haarlemmerdijk a little to the northwest of Amsterdam’s Centraal Station. I took a tram over there then walked back to the station on my last morning in town.

This video features they New York store, but is still a great representation of how the candy is made at all the shops.

papabubbleThe shop, like many in Amsterdam, was narrow. (At one time property in the city was taxed on its width.) It’s quite deep and I was surprised to see at the back of the store area was a series of steep stairs, about five of them, that led down to the kitchen area. Like the video shown above, the work area for the candy makers is a long table with a clear glass backsplash so that customers can watch them do their work. There’s also the added advantage of looking down into the area from above as well.

The store is well stocked with previously made merchandise. All the items are hard candies, some are single flavors in a package, some are cut rock and others are pillow shaped confections.

papabubble pops

When I visited at the end of January, the pair of candy makers was just finishing up their latest batch of heart shaped lollipops. Not much to photograph there, just bagging the glossy candies. They did look great though.

What I really wanted though was to taste the diversity of the candy flavors that they used, and hopefully find an assortment that showcased what was unique about the Amsterdam Papabubble, as each shop does things customized to their own culture. I found a mix called Pillow Fight.

Papabubble Pillow FightThe bags are a tough matte silver back with a clear pocket on the front. They held 160 grams and cost 4.95 Euros - about $7.00 at the time. I thought that was a lot for about 5.6 ounces. But then again, it was made by real people, right there, and probably recently.

Pillow Fight is a mix of classic herbal and spice flavors, all in the pillow shape, which is made by taking a long rope of the hard candy and crimping it to make the mouth-friendly shapes. The other style of candy they make is what most folks know as Cut Rock. This is the same basic rope but usually has a design on the inner core that’s revealed when the rope is cross sectioned (one variety in my mix was this cut rock, as you’ll see below).

The package didn’t look like it was going to do a great job of protecting its valuable contents. The little pillows already looked like they had a light sanding of pulverized brethren on them already. But my concerns were unfounded. The way they mix up the candy, the ends get a little worn and there is a bit of sugary dust at the bottom of the bag. But everything was quite dry (which keeps it from becoming sticky and losing its shine). All I needed to do when I got them home was pour them out on a paper towel and lightly roll around to shine them up.

The other style of packaging they have are little plastic jars. They’re great to look at and of course hold more candy and are probably easier to serve yourself from.

Papabubble Lavender Pillows

Lavendel (Lavender) - purple stripes - these were by far the prettiest little pillows. The lavender flavor is a lot like rosemary, a strong oily and mentholated flavor.

Papabubble "Pillow Fight"

Anijs (Anise) - black & white stripes - this was a mild and flavorful anise drop. Sweet and with a great crunch ... I like to crunch my candies. The pillows seem to have a lightly aerated center. Basically, the warm candy mixture is pulled on a hook like taffy to add a little air into it which gives it a little bit lighter texture and smooth melt.

Bergamot - light orange with orange stripes - this was similar to the lavender, it’s aromatic and sweet but has a balsam note to it. I didn’t feel like it was quite bergamot, but it still had a citrus zest quality to it.

Beterschap! (Cough Drop) - This was the only cut rock in the bunch - round cream color with red cross in center - the word beterschap means “get well”. It tastes rather like a cough drop - part cola, part cinnamon and part menthol. It was one of the most strongly flavored candies in the bunch.

Cola - yellow & orange stripes - is rather bold. It’s tangy and has a strong lime and nutmeg note to it. I liked it, but that’s likely because I appreciate cola candy because it’s not that common in the States.

Mojito (Lime & Mint) - light green and yellow stripes on a clear background - this one was tangy and minty. Kind of like a cough drop. Mojitos aren’t a favorite drink of mine, but are more successful for me because fresh spearmint tastes so different from spearmint candy. This version had a lot of lime oils in it, which made it much more medicinal for me.

Papabubble

Scherpe Kaneel (Sharp Cinnamon) - magenta and green - the color didn’t say cinnamon, but it was most definitely sizzling cinnamon.

Lemongrass Gember (Lemongrass Ginger) - yellow & green - this was very bold, the ginger notes were strong and a little more on the side of extract than the earthy, fibery root is fresh. The lemongrass did feel authentic though, not too sweet and no hint of tartness.

Eucalyptus (aqua with white stripes) - wasn’t as strong as I’d hoped, but still smooth and soothing with a light freshness. It was so mild, for a while I wasn’t sure what it even was until I looked at the little flavor guide.

 

I would love to spend more time at the shop and to have seen them making candy from start to finish, unfortunately my schedule didn’t allow it. (They open at 11 AM and my train was departing at 12:20 PM and I just didn’t hit it right when I arrived a little after eleven and they said they wouldn’t be ready for more crafting for another 30 minutes.) Of course my dream would be to learn how to make candy like this from start to finish. It looks like a lot of work and care goes into it, along with a bit of personality - each shop has a slightly different offerings based on the artisans themselves and the culture of the clientele.

The candy is expensive, but it really is to notch, far and away better than the similar Christmas mixes I sometimes pick up at the drug store. Besides, candy that you saw being made always tastes better, just like kettle corn and cotton candy. I plan to visit the New York store for sure next time I’m in the city and if you’re traveling the world, check to see if there will be one near you.

Papabubble
Haarlemmerdijk 70
1013 JE Amsterdam
Netherlands
+31 20 626 2662

I give the shop a 9 out of 10 and the candy itself an 8 out of 10.

Related Candies

  1. Candy Source: Albanese Candy Factory
  2. Rococo Bee Bars
  3. Daffin’s Candies Factory & World’s Largest Candy Store
  4. Disneyland for Candy Bloggers
  5. The Apothecary’s Garden: Herbs (and some Bees)
  6. Treat Trip: Jelly Belly Factory

POSTED BY Cybele AT 6:58 pm     All NaturalCandyCinnamonGingerHard Candy & Lollipops8-TastyNetherlandsHighlightFeatured NewsShoppingComments (4)

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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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