Friday, January 28, 2011
It took me three tries to get into this little shop in Amsterdam called Puccini Bomboni. The first time I went to visit was Thursday and I arrived at 10 AM ... to find out that they’re open later in the evening at that location, so they also open later. So later that evening I decided to visit a different location that was closer to my hotel, only to find out that they don’t stay open late on Thursdays. Well, this time I read the hours on the door very carefully and returned on Friday morning at 9 AM and it was well worth the effort. (And I’d say that the several miles I walked just to get it was probably a good idea.)
I’ll have more about the chocolates later, but let me say that they are huge, delicious and I’m so disappointed I don’t have a shop like this near me.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
This is a little milk chocolate truffle from The Peninsula Chocolatier. My husband brought back a lovely box of fine chocolates from Hong Kong for me.
Monday, January 24, 2011
ISM Cologne is the world’s largest confectionery trade fair. For over forty years it’s featured the best in European candy and biscuits (cookies). About 1,500 companies from 70 different countries around the world come to display their wares to buyers, wholesalers and brokers.
I’ll be attending this year, with a full press pass to cover the show. The show lasts four days, starting Sunday, January 30th to Wednesday, February 2nd at the 4th largest convention hall in Europe, Kolnmesse. The exhibits cover more than one million square feet. (I’m bringing good walking shoes.)
I’m really excited to go to Germany, which has such a rich and varied tradition of candy. They have such a wide array of confectionery traditions, from their invention of the Gummi Bear, traditional devotion to dairy milk chocolate and marzipan and globally known brands such as Ritter Sport, Haribo and Kinder (part of Ferrero).
My journey will begin in Amsterdam, where I plan to spend three days checking out the local licorice and chocolate scene. Then I head to Cologne via ICE (high speed train) on Friday. I’m hoping to spend a day before the show starts visiting local German stores to see how and where candy is sold to get a sense of how confections fit into daily life in comparison to North America. Cologne is also home to the Chocolate Museum, so I plan to get a world-class education on chocolate.
Posting may be a little lighter here for the next ten days or so, but after I get home with my lovely samples and photos, I’ll have lots to share.
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
I get advance tastes of new candies, but I often post about them months before they hit the stores. Here’s a little review of reviews of new candies:
Snickers Peanut Butter Squared from Mars is a new introduction to the Snickers family of candy bars. It’s not a limited edition and is available in single serve size and fun size bags.
The regular package is two squares of candy. It features nougat, peanut butter and caramel covered in chocolate. It’s a bit less of a textural marvel than the standard Snickers. Folks who like a softer chew may prefer it, but it left me wanting a real Snickers bar.
I saw these first at the checkout at Target.
See full review for Snickers Peanut Butter Squared. (7 out of 10)
The new Hershey’s Drops come in two varieties: Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Drops and Hershey’s Cookies ‘n’ Creme Drops. They’re large chocolate beans with no candy shell, easy to pop in your mouth or share. The milk chocolate variety isn’t different enough from a typical Hershey’s Kiss for me, even if there’s less unwrapping. But the Cookies ‘n’ Creme is interesting because there are so few candies that use the white confection like this. (Though there is a Kiss version, too.)
I saw these first at Von’s (photo) in stand up bags.
See full review of Hershey’s Drops (7 out of 10)
Like the Hershey’s Drops, the new Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups Minis are here to making snacking easier. They little cups are easy to pop into your mouth and don’t require layers of wrapping like the foil-wrapped, fluted-cupped miniatures. They’re going to be great for baking.
See full review of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Minis (7 out of 10)
I teased these last summer and I’m doing it again. New PEEPS Chocolate Covered Raspberry Flavored Marshmallow Hearts in single-serve packages. This year, PEEPS Brand Marshmallow Candies are melting hearts with their new PEEPS Chocolate Covered Raspberry Flavored Marshmallow Hearts. Delicious milk or dark chocolate cover raspberry flavored PEEPS to create a scrumptious chocolate and marshmallow experience.
I tried the Peeps Peppermint Trees for Christmas and found them to be poorly made. I bought six of them and all were oozing, cracked and sticky inside. (Even the ones that weren’t cracked still had deflated centers.) I’m hoping the quality control for the Raspberry version will be better, because I think it’s a great idea.
I don’t think they need the colored marshmallow centers though, it just adds more ingredients that do nothing for the flavor (in fact, I’m prepared that the pink will taste bitter to me).
Finally, another tease. Mars is introducing a new Limited Edition Twix Coconut this spring. Look for it to hit shelves in April 2011.
Like the Coconut M&Ms, these have no coconut in them. Instead it’s a traditional Twix with a cookie base, caramel stripe and chocolate coating plus a light touch of coconut flavor.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
It’s hard to keep track of what’s new and what’s returning on store shelves for Christmas. I’ve found there aren’t that many new introductions, but there are plenty of tried-and-true favorites back again this year.
I think a lot of candy companies introduced limited editions as a sort of test marketing and found that bringing back fringe favorites on a regular schedule satisfies those who crave the special items but doesn’t detract from their regular product lines.
Here are a few candies that I’ve reviewed in the past and a few new ones I’ve spotted on shelves again this year. Just because something is not on this list doesn’t mean it’s not made this year, just that I haven’t been able to track it down.
• Hershey’s Candy Cane Kisses (old review when they were made with real white chocolate)
• Peeps Chocolate Covered Peppermint Trees (Milk & Dark Chocolate)
• Paul Frank Nestle Crunch Bar (can be a greeting card - see above photos)
Mars & Wrigley’s
• Life Savers Tin - holds 7 rolls of three different varieties - comes in Butter Rum, Cherry or 5 Flavor package design
Farley’s & Sathers + Brach’s
• Brach’s Christmas Nougats (Peppermint & Wintergreen - no one has seen Cinnamon on shelves - review)
• Tootsie Roll Candy Cane Pop Drops (review)
• Ribbon Candy (I suspect this is just a repackage of Sevigny’s, as so few companies make this now)
• Swedish Fish (red & green) in bags or theater boxes
Other Items of Interest
• Giant Toblerone Bars
What are you looking forward to most? And what are you having trouble finding this year? What did I leave out?
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
I reviewed Candy Blox a few years ago (here).
I did a candy buffet for the Night of Writing Dangerously write-a-thon/fundraiser for National Novel Writing Month back in November. I thought that the Candy Blox would be a perfect little treat for folks looking for something to play with and eat.
What surprised me was that they’ve changed a little since the last time I tried them. They’re much brighter and quite a bit more dense. There are fewer colors (yellow, blue, green & red) but that makes them look much more like Legos. They’re still stackable and realistic.
I’m a big believer in gifts of insanely large quantities of mundane products. So if there’s a Lego fan in your life, why not 11 pounds (that’s the box it came in, I ordered it from Jack’s Wholesale Candy & Toy in downtown Los Angeles)?
Oh, the other thing I found out? When researching the vegan status of all the candies I offered at the buffet, I had to write to Tootsie, who makes these, and they said that the Calcium Stearate comes from an all vegetable source. So these are actually vegan!
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Sometimes I meticulously photograph things with the intention of doing an exhaustive review.
And then I eat them.El Rey makes chocolate from Venezuelan beans. Not only is it really good quality, it's pretty reasonably priced.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
I liked this photo because I felt like the chocolate had some personality. There’s a swirl on top, but it’s turned away, like the chocolate is being coy. Or perhaps I snuck up on it and took this photo.
This is from Gail Ambrosius, which I’ll get around to reviewing for the holidays.
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.