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Friday, March 25, 2011

Eat with your Eyes: Organically Yours

Angell Bars

Here’s an array of organic candy bars from Angell. We’ve really come a long way from the days when organic sweets were limited to raisins and plain grainy chocolate bars.

I’ll have a full review soon.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 2:31 pm     CandyHighlightPhotographyComments (2)

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)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Eat with your Eyes: Spheres

French Candy Spheres

These are probably larger than you think they are, about the size of a shooter marble.

I haven’t actually eaten them yet, I just liked the way they looked. (I don’t know who made them, just that I picked them up at the French Pavilion at ISM Cologne.)

POSTED BY Cybele AT 7:23 am     CandyHighlightPhotographyComments (2)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Eat with your Eyes: Cows

Cows on Candy Wrappers

While I was sorting my candy from the ISM Cologne trade fair, I usually grouped products together in little baggies according to the manufacturer. At one point I found that I had a lot of little cream fudge pieces that had pictures of cows on them.

Luxury Cream Fudge

I reviewed this version of Polish Cream Fudge last summer.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:51 am     CandyISM CologneHighlightPhotographyComments (2)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Candy Tease: Nostalgia in 2011

imageName: Hershey’s Kisses Air Delight
Brand: Hershey’s
Description: Its light and airy texture causes the chocolate to melt with ease over your tongue, making it the ultimate chocolate indulgence. Comprising the launch will be 1.44-ounce Air Delight single serve bars and Air Delight Kisses packed in 9.4-ounce bags.
Introduction Date: June 2011
Notes: Aerated chocolate isn’t anything new, but it’s certainly not a product that’s gotten a lot of traction in the United States over the past 75 years. It will be interesting to see how the public will react. I found it odd that this news article I saw concentrated on how much money it saves confectioners to stuff air in their candy when ingredient prices are rising. I’d like to think that confectioners are doing it because it creates a different taste sensation; I’d like to think that candy companies actually want to make candy that consumers like, not just things that are profitable.

imageName: Bosco Milk Chocolate Bar
Brand: Bosco
Description: A bit of nostalgia lies in the all-new, all-natural Bosco chocolate bar. The 3.5-ounce bar is available in milk chocolate with a suggested retail price of $1.99-$2.49. The Bosco Products Co. is also the manufacturer of the iconic Hollywood Bosco Chocolate Syrup.
Introduction Date: In stores now (I’ve only seen them on the internet though).
Notes: I was more of an Ovaltine kid than a consumer of Nestle’s Quik, Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup or Bosco. So the allure of the bar is lost on me except for the fact that Bosco does have malt in it ... so maybe I need to get a hold of one of these bars.

imageName: Black Cow
Brand: Classic Caramel (Warrell Corporation)
Description: Traditionally a caramel dipped into chocolate, Black Cow was discontinued over two decades ago because the company that purchased the product did not have the ability to dip it into chocolate. Although these newer Black Cow bars will also not be chocolate-coated, Richard Warrell says that the chocolate caramel mix Classic Caramel has created should stir up redolent experiences.
In tandem with the reintroduction of Black Cow, the company announced the arrival of Slo Poke bars to the Classic Caramel family. Both varieties of 1.5-ounce bars have a SRP of 89 cents. Bite-size, 0.33-ounce, twist-wrapped varieties are also available.

Introduction Date: March 2011
Notes: Black Cow chocolate caramels disappeared from stores back in the 80s. I’m curious to try them, as I never cared for the original (the chocolate was waxy) but perhaps this new version is better quality. Classic Caramel also re-introduced Bonomo’s Turkish Taffy last year.

imageName: DryScream ~ Ice Cream Candy
Brand: Ferrara Pan
Description: Eat It With Your Hand, It Never Melts!
DryScream is an exciting and innovative new candy made from 100% real ice cream that you can eat with your hands and never melts! Made with the highly successful IttiBitz “Little Bitz of Ice Cream Fun!”, DryScream is sure to be a hit with kids, parents, and even grandparents. -Two Flavors: Vanilla Ice Cream with Chocolate Bits and Chocolate Ice Cream with Chocolate Bits

Introduction Date: available now
Notes: I included this one because it reminded me of Astronaut Ice Cream, which I had for the first time on a field trip to the Air & Space Museum in Washington, DC when I was in middle school. My guess is it’s like Dippin’ Dots at room temperature.

imageName: Pine Bros. Throat Drops
Brand: Pine Brothers
Description: Four classic flavors: Honey, Licorice, Lemon Citrus and Wild Cherry
Introduction Date: available now
Notes: I’ve been hoping that these would make a comeback. They’re a glycerin based throat drop, stiff but soft and with a smooth and soothing melt. I ate these like candy when I was a kid. Right now I’ve only seen them at Vermont Country Store sold in round packages instead of the classic box with a waxed paper liner.

imageName: Chocobloc Air
Brand: Chocolat Frey
Description: Made of top quality milk chocolate, Chocobloc Air is infused with airy bubbles and contains almond, honey and nougat. 
Introduction Date: on shelves in Europe
Notes: Think of these as an aerated version of the Toblerone bar. Frey chocolate used to be sold at Target, but I haven’t seen them there for a couple of years. They are popular at Duty Free shops in airports though, so keep an eye out for them there.

Related Candies

  1. Candy Tease- October 2010
  2. Bonomo’s Turkish Taffy - Chocolate, Vanilla & Strawberry
  3. Bubble Chocolate (2010)
  4. Frey Supreme: White, Lemon & Lime and Citron & Poivre
  5. Space Food Sticks

POSTED BY Cybele AT 12:49 pm     CandyNew Product AnnouncementHighlightFeatured NewsComments (5)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Eat with your Eyes: Papabubble

Papabubble

These little hand made candies are from Papabubble in Amsterdam. There are locations in New York City, Tokyo, London and Barcelona as well.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 2:46 pm     CandyHighlightPhotographyComments (4)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Valentine’s Day Candy Spotting 2011

There appeared to be fewer new Valentine’s candy introductions in 2011, but many of the tried and true favorites are back on store shelves. Here’s a look at what I’ve been able to find:

Necco Sweethearts - Real Heart
The biggest news in Valentine’s Candy this year continues to be about Necco Sweethearts and Conversation Hearts.

In 2010 Necco introduced their new packaging, flavors and colors for the classic Sweethearts. (See the comparison of the two here.) This year the classic version was to return, though sold only at discount stores. The only confirmed sighting of the candy is at Family Dollar. Frustrated lovers of the classic version are turning to eBay and message boards to purchase the limited supplies.

3 Musketeers Cherry

Mars/Wrigley’s

Dove Promises are available in several different variety packages in both Valentine’s themes and the standard colors.
Dove Dark Chocolate Cherry Swirl Promises (also available in bar form) are brand new for 2011. They feature, as the name sames, a swirl of dark chocolate with a cherry flavored white chocolate.
3 Musketeers Cherry (original review) returns again as a seasonal edition. Available only in minis, the bright mylar packaging features little love sayings on them.
Life Savers Valentine’s Mix - individually wrapped pieces in the oh, so romantic flavors: Fruit Punch, Cherry & Pineapple

Heart Shaped Junior Mints

Tootsie

Heart Shaped Junior Mints (original review)
Valentines Tootsie Rolls
Cherry Tootsie Pops - just one flavor in a bag
Dark Chocolate Covered Raspberry Cremes (like Junior Mints but with a pink raspberry fondant center)
Valentine Dots (cherry and vanilla and passion fruit and vanilla Dots)

SweeTart Hearts

Nestle & Wonka

SweeTart Hearts (original review)
Gobstoppers Heart Breakers (very hard to find, usually in bulk online)
Nestle Butterfinger Heart (milk chocolate with chips of Butterfinger center mixed in)
Nestle Crunch Hearts

Hershey's Heart's Desire

Hershey’s

Reese’s Hearts (foil wrapped molded hearts filled with Reese’s peanut butter - original review)
Reese’s Valentine’s Hearts - like the Reese’s Egg only vaguely heart shaped
Cherry Cordial Kisses
Hugs & Kisses - a mix of regular chocolate Kisses, Almond Kisses and Hugs (swirl of white confection & milk chocolate)
3 Lb Solid Milk Chocolate Heart (it doesn’t say “I Love You” on it, just Hershey’s)
Marshmallow Hearts (review of Halloween version)

Trader Joe's Truffle Hearts

Trader Joe’s

Dark Chocolate Truffle Hearts (original review)
Gummy Tummy Hearts (like the Gummy Tummy Penguins but only in the Cherry flavor - review of those)
Rabitos Royale (original review) - chocolate covered brandied figs
Belgian Chocolate Mix Box (I haven’t purchased this particular assortment of Belgian chocolates, but nearly all of Trader Joe’s picks have been good ones)

Cinnamon Hearts

Brach’s

Cherry JuJu Hearts
Cinnamon Jelly Hearts  (original review)
Cherry Cordial Nougats
Peppermint Valentine’s Nougats (review of Christmas version)
Conversation Hearts (large & small)

Chocolate Mousse Marshmallow Bears

Just Born

PEEPS Chocolate Covered Raspberry Flavored Hearts - I have not actually seen these in any store.
PEEPS Chocolate Mousse Bears (original review)
PEEPS Pink Marshmallow Hearts and PEEPS I (heart) U
PEEPS Vanilla Creme Hearts
PEEPS Strawberry Creme Hearts

Jelly Belly Love Potion

Jelly Belly

Conversation Beans (original review)
Deluxe Valentine’s Mix - a combination of pink, red & white jelly beans and mellocreams and gummy hearts
Jelly Belly Valentine’s Jelly Bean Mix (original review) featuring Bubble Gum, Coconut, Cotton Candy, Strawberry Cheesecake and Very Cherry

Russell Stover Heart

Russell Stover

Heart Shaped Boxes (original review)
Truffle Heart (some egg reviews)
Marshmallow Heart (review of the rabbit versions)
Strawberry Cream Heart
Caramel Heart
Peanut Butter filled Heart
Coconut Cream Heart

Ferrara Chocolate Strawberry

Other Items of Interest

See’s has Cinnamon Hearts and Cinnamon Pops again. (original review)

Elmer’s Chocolate  boxes (original review) are back on store shelves

Lindt Lindor Truffles Limited Edition - Milk Chocolate with a Smooth White Filling

Ghiradelli Luxe Milk squares selection in Valentine’s packaging (original review)

Ferrara Milk Chocolate Strawberry Ball (original review) the twist here is that the segments have little love messages on them.

Gimbal’s Honey Lovers and Cherry Lovers jelly bean heart mixes - not strictly Valentine’s day, but certainly appropriate (Cherry & Honey reviews)

Heather from Candy Addict also has a candy shopping roundup for 2011.

So what are you seeing on store shelves, or maybe not seeing this year? What are your tried & true favorites?

POSTED BY Cybele AT 1:17 pm     CandyValentinesHighlightShoppingComments (10)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Candy Blog at ISM in Cologne Day 3 Update

PezThere are some trends that I’ve noticed at the confectionery show. One of them is the lack of trends. There is very little trendiness, perhaps I noticed this because I’m from Los Angeles where we’re very trend conscious. But as far as I can tell, confectionery, at the moment, is all about doing what it does well. It’s not retreating, it’s not fighting back, it’s just putting itself out there: proud and sweet.

I feel like confectionery apologizes for itself a lot, at least in the United States At this show, there’s very little talk of 100 calorie treats or obesity crises. The only politic notes are conversations about Egypt and sometimes about Fair Trade and chocolate slavery issues.

Caffarel's really big gianduia
(That’s a really big loaf of Caffarel’s Gianduia)

Most of the confectioners and representatives I’m meeting are proud to talk about why their product is the best in its class, or at the very least, why they think it’s the best in their market.

I like that. It’s a simple sort of thing and sometimes gets lost in the shuffle. Maybe it’s because I’m approaching these folks as a writer who wants to hear their story, instead of a buyer who wants to make a good deal.

Valentino Chocolatier

If there’s disappointment from me about the show, it’s that there are a few very big confectionery companies that are not represented: Haribo, Ritter Sport, Mars/Wrigley, Nestle, Kraft and Lindt are the biggest ones. There are other large companies that also have huge booths (honestly, if my house and yard can fit in the space, I can’t call it a booth) with receptionist and appointment books who do not wish to talk to the likes of me. This is fine, I can continue my relationship with these brands like the rest of Candy Blog’s readers, as a buyer and consumer. To that end, since I’ve been in Europe I’ve visited dozens of stores, just so I could see what’s on shelves and buy what everyone else is buying. So don’t think that just because I went to Germany and the trade show didn’t have any Haribo that I didn’t pack up this extra suitcase with some stuff from the grocery store.

The last day of the show is about to begin, and I admit I’m more than a bit weary but also a bit energized because I still have some important meetings. (Really, I dread packing and leaving this lovely city.)

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:22 pm     CandyISM CologneHighlightFeatured NewsComments (3)

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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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COUNTDOWN.

Halloween Candy Season Ends

-58 days

Read previous coverage

 

 

Which seasonal candy selection do you prefer?

Choose one or more:

  •   Halloween
  •   Christmas
  •   Valentine's Day
  •   Easter

 

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ON DECK

These candies will be reviewed shortly:

• Lindt Chocolate Cookie

• Hachez Braune Blatter (Chocolate Leaves)

• Dandelion Chocolate

• Trader Joe’s Holiday Roundup 2014

 

 

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