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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Candy Tease: October 2011

imageName: Angry Birds Fruit Snacks and Gummies
Brand: Healthy Food Brands
Description: The chewy candies are shaped to resemble characters from the Angry Birds video games, and packs feature the games’ logo and graphics. Made with fruit juice, all products are fat-, nut- and gluten-free, and come in cherry, lemon, raspberry, apple, grape and strawberry flavors. Angry Birds Fruit Snacks come in 2.25 and five-ounce peg bags with SRPs of 89 cents and $1.59 while Angry Birds Gummies come in 3.5-ounce theater boxes with a SRP range of $1.29 to $1.69.
Introduction Date: current
Notes: Angry Birds has been devouring your time, now you can devour them. Actually, I appreciate that the shapes are actually of the little characters. I hate it when I get a themed candy that’s just about the packaging, nothing inside is any different from the usual brand.

imageName: 3 Musketeers Coconut Bar
Brand: Mars
Description: Send your taste buds to paradise with the sweet taste of new 3 MUSKETEERS Coconut Bar. Coconut flavor has been added to the 3 MUSKETEERS signature light and fluffy chocolate nougat and then wrapped in rich, milk chocolate.
Introduction Date: December 2011
Notes: Mars has already introduced Coconut M&Ms, Coconut Twix and Dove Coconut Cream Eggs (and maybe you can count the Snickers Adventure Bar that had some coconut in it). Sometimes Mars’ innovations feel more systematic. They introduce a version of something with a new flavor, like Cherry M&Ms and then they say, “What else could have cherry in it?” So then we have Cherry 3 Musketeers, and then Cherry Dove Bars and so on. The other flavored center varieties of 3 Musketeers have been interesting, I did appreciate the Coffee one and Raspberry was interesting too. I’m not sure how long we’ll have to wait for the Chili & Lime 3 Musketeers or the Wasabi 3 Musketeers.

imageName: M&Ms Mint Dark Chocolate
Brand: Mars
Description: Consumers can add some cool to their crunch with new M&Ms Mint Dark Chocolate Candies. It’s a delicious, new way to experience the colorful, shareable M&Ms bite-sized candy they love, now with cool, refreshing mint combined with creamy dark chocolate and coated in a crunchy candy shell. Mars Chocolate has responded to consumer requests for variety and has shown proven success in adding new flavors to its iconic brands. Mint is a large and growing segment of the chocolate category.
Introduction Date: December 2011
Notes: These may have existed in the distant past and I’m happy to see that they’ll return. (It also appears that the seasonal Milk Chocolate Mint M&Ms will also be back.)

imageName:
Brand: Mars
Description: Consumers will experience the chocolate lover’s dream with new SNICKERS 3X Chocolate 2 to Go Bars. Layer after layer offers perfection, with roasted peanuts in chewy, chocolate caramel atop a fluffy chocolate-flavored nougat and covered in creamy milk chocolate.
Introduction Date: December 2011
Notes: I’ve never met someone who likes Snickers that would say that Snickers needs less peanut flavor. I’m not saying that this is going to be a bad bar, but if they only thing that’s still Snickerish are the peanuts, is is not going to go well. But what do I know, the experts at Mars (or their advisers) say, “In consumer testing, this new offering scored as high as the original SNICKERS Bar in overall product liking,1 and 67 percent of consumers said they would “definitely” or “probably” purchase SNICKERS 3X Chocolate Bars.”
A few years ago there was a Triple Chocolate Twix bar, it was chocolate caramel on a chocolate cookie covered in chocolate. So Mars already knows how to do this.
Don’t Miss: Gobble Monkey tried the UK iteration of the Triple Chocolate Mars Bar (really a triple chocolate Milky Way).

imageName: Sun Cup Caramel
Brand: Seth Ellis Chocolatier
Description: Seth Ellis is already know for their peanut free Sun Cups, which use sunflower seed butter instead. Now they’re expanding the line to include the new milk chocolate caramel cups. They’re also gluten free, tree nut and peanut free and use
Introduction Date: May 2011
Notes: Caramel Cups. I don’t really get them. Nothing against this one, they’re just not quite my thing. But they’re also gluten free, tree nut and peanut free and use Rainforest Alliance certified chocolate and finally, are Kosher certified.

imageName: Sun Cup Mint
Brand: Seth Ellis Chocolatier
Description: Love Dark Chocolate? Love sweet cool peppermint? Then you are going to LOVE Dark Chocolate Mint Sun Cups.
Introduction Date: May 2011
Notes: They’re also gluten free, tree nut and peanut free and use Rainforest Alliance certified chocolate and finally, are Kosher certified. The only real issue I have with them is that they use white chocolate as part of the ingredients list. It’s not really a problem for me, but they had an opportunity to make a vegan product (which is pretty rare in the chocolate/mint fondant world) and kind of missed the boat for our animal-free and dairy-free friends.

imageName: Ritter Sport Espresso Bar
Brand: Ritter Sport
Description: Ritter Sport is introducing the new 3.5 oz. Milk Chocolate Espresso Bar, made with robust Arabica coffee. With the coffee sector still being a very “hot” category, this bar should do extremely well.
Introduction Date: unknown
Notes: This bar was introduced over a year ago in Europe. I got to taste it then and I’m eagerly anticipating it showing up on store shelves in North America. The milky flavors are quite strong, but the espresso is wonderfully rich and much more forward than the milky and sweet Cappuccino bar they make. We’re sadly lacking in actual coffee chocolate bars in the United States, this will fill that hole very well.

imageName: Red Velvet Cupcake Bites
Brand: Taste of Nature, Inc
Description: A new candy promises the fun of dessert in a bite-sized treat. Red Velvet Cupcake Bites feature a cupcake center, covered in creamy red frosting with a distinctive “red velvety” taste. The bites are a play on Taste of Nature’s Cookie Dough Bites candies.
Introduction Date:
Notes: I really loathe Red Velvet Cake, mostly because it’s just yellow cake with red food coloring in it. (But I do enjoy cream cheese frosting.) This candy has it all wrong, first because the coating (cream cheese frosting) shouldn’t be red, it’s supposed to be white and the center should be red. But whatever, I haven’t actually liked any of the other Cookie Dough Bites innovations anyway (need I remind you of the Cupcake Bites?). So I’ll just leave you with the ingredients to tantalize you .... Ingredients: Confectionery coating (sugar, partially hydrogenated palm kernel oil, nonfat milk powder, whole milk powder, cocoa powder, FD&C red 40 lake, natural flavor, soy lecithin (an emulsifier) and vanillin (artificial flavoring)) and cupcake bites (wheat flour, sugar, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil (palm kernel, palm, soybean, and cottonseed), corn syrup, fructose, water, palm oil, natural and artificial flavors, soy lecithin, salt and xanthan gum).

images courtesy of the respective manufacturers

Related Candies

  1. Candy Tease: Mars 2011 Announcements
  2. Candy Tease: Sweets & Snacks Expo 2011 Part 2
  3. Candy Tease: Sweets & Snacks Expo 2011 Part 1
  4. Candy Tease: Nostalgia in 2011
  5. Candy Tease- October 2010
  6. Candy Tease: Mars 2010

POSTED BY Cybele AT 3:15 pm     CandyNew Product AnnouncementHighlightNewsComments (18)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Amsterdam on Foot: Three Chocolate Shops

In January of this year I visited Amsterdam for the first time. I was fascinated and delighted by the sweets culture of the Dutch. My visit to the city was almost completely on foot. I arrived in a plane and left on a train, but the rest was just walking around within the area of the city known as the Canal Loop. Here’s my reference map.

Canal

I stayed right around the corner from the grand flower market, which wasn’t quite in its full glory as it was late January and many of the items they were selling were just bulbs. My goal when I visit most places is to experience candy as the locals do. Sure, I go to the touristy shops, but I love to see how candy is merchandised in grocery stores, convenience shops, vending machines and drug stores. What I found while in Europe is that candy is thriving and it’s for adults and children.

Bakery on VizjelstraatAmsterdam is a great city to visit any time of year, it’s easy to walk (or take public transportation) and really explore. As I’ve mentioned before, I like to balance my visits with tourist things (canal walks to historical locations & museums) along with living like the locals (grocery shopping, local markets and restaurants). Most of the people I encountered spoke English and I learned most of the common phrases in Dutch very quickly; reading signage (if it wasn’t in English) was also pretty simple with a smartphone dictionary app.

As with most European metropolitan areas, they’re not shy about sweets. Bakeries and access to chocolate and candy abounds. I’ll have more on my candy spotting in future posts. But here are three chocolate shops I visited in Amsterdam:

Pompadour Chocolates in Amsterdam on KerkstraatPompadour Chocolates

This is a little tea room style shop, the front is a chocolate counter, but up a few stairs past this and the shop widens out to a little cafe for tea, coffee and pastries.

The style of the chocolates is pure classic. Creams, truffles, candied fruits, caramels and chocolate covered nuts.

Pompadour Chocolates in Amsterdam on Kerkstraat

They had a good selection of gift chocolate in little stand up bags (chocolate covered nuts dusted in cocoa and powdered sugar, orangettes and boxes of Valrhona chocolate) appropriate as a hostess gift or to take home and enjoy. But mostly the shop seemed to be small baked goods (dipped Florentine) and chocolates.

I picked out a small selection of chocolates by the piece. They did have gift boxes, but I had mine in a little paper bag and took them back to the office to taste with my cappuccino.

Chocolates & Coffee from Chocolaterie Pompadour in Amsterdam

My favorite by far was the Honey Caramel with Hazelnuts & Dark Chocolate pictured there a little bit in the back. It was a caramel with a light touch of honey filled with whole hazelnuts. It was sliced and then dipped 3/4 into dark chocolate. A soft chew with lots of dark notes.

I also got a cappuccino & cognac (the twisty thing with a coffee bean on top) which was fluffier than most of my truffles and had a good leathery tang to the coffee notes and the The which was a little “dry” because it was on the intense side. In the back, the flat topped one is a nutmeg and wafer ganache: a bit of feulletine and some rich spice in a milky ganache. (I don’t remember what the other one in the front was - my guess is a dark chocolate, since I usually try to get a plain chocolate). I would definitely stop at this shop again. There are two locations.

Chocolaterie Pompadour
Kerkstraat 148, Amsterdam

P1010417The shop that I most wanted to visit was called Puccini Bomboni which also has several locations. My hotel was equidistant from both shops yet I had a bit of trouble getting there. For some reason the morning I decided to make that my coffee stop I chose to go to the Singel location only to realize that they didn’t open until 11 AM. The next day I tried going to the other location on Staalstraat but didn’t make it before they closed at 6 PM. On my third try I did get back to Staalstraat and because of my difficulties, I felt the need to buy nine chocolates.

The shop on Staalstraat is quaint and well situated on a quiet corner. They had lots of impulse items, prepackaged chocolate straws, nougats, chocolate covered nuts and house-made chocolate bars. The shop is lit in amber and had a warmer feel than Pompadour. Still, it was an overwhelming shop, mostly because the chocolates are huge. Seriously, they’re enormous chocolates.

P1010420

The counter is arranged with what seemed like two dozen varieties. I pondered (and took a few photos) while the woman in the shop fetched an appropriate box.

P1010422

I was attracted to the less common flavors and of course the liquor infused ones. I can’t remember exactly what I picked up but it went something like this:

Puccini Bomboni Collection

Aniseseed, Cognac, Cointreau, Lemongrass, Drambuie, Coffee, Mint, Nutmeg and Hazelnut Marzipan.

Each piece is substantial, some were over two inches long. They were lighter than I expected, the ganache center, made with all natural ingredients were lightly frothed into something that was more like a mousse than a dense truffle.

P1010421It was too much chocolate for me, even eating two a day, I found myself overwhelmed with them, because each piece was so huge. The liquor flavors weren’t intense in the way that some alcohol infused kinds can burn. Instead they go more of the flavor in there, so the cognac was leathery and smoky while the cointreau was just a touch orange. The nutmeg was a dreamy, creamy comfort with just a touch of the woodsy and aromatic spice.

I want to eat more of these, but I know that if I ever go back there again I’m going to end up in the same boat - too much chocolate all at once. So my tip to travelers is to make this your stop on your first day, not the last day. I would have gladly traded one of my dinners made of black bread and yogurt for Hazelnut Marzipan.

Puccini Bomboni
Singel 184, Amsterdam
Staalstraat 17, Amsterdam

Vanderdonk Fine ChocolatesVanderdonk Fine Chocolates

Vanderdonk is a little different from the other two I visited, they carried a lot of other chocolates from all over the world: Pacari, Taza, Bonnat, Pralus, Valrhona, Venchi and even some Dean & Deluca items. Their website has a good listing of the brands that they carry, the shop is nicely designed and well curated with only a few items from each of the brands.

They also had a selection of house made chocolates. I picked out three as a dessert for my soup lunch before I visited Rijksmuseum.

Vanderdonk Fine Chocolates

It was rather cold on that day and for some bizarre reason I decided to eat al fresco. It was probably less than 50 degrees and I huddled on a wind whipped bench by a duck-graced canal around the corner from the museum and sipped my quickly chilling squash soup before diving into my chocolates. The pieces were dense and had very mild flavors. They weren’t my favorite chocolates from the trip but they were a wonderful appetizer before strolling the museum and seeing Johannes Vermeer’s The Milkmaid in person. (It’s much smaller than I expected, and even much bluer.)

If I’m in the city again, I do plan on visiting again to sample the other chocolate that they carry.

Vanderdonk Fine Chocolates
Nieuwe Spiegelstraat 72

My visit was much more than chocolate, but I’ll have some thoughts about candy and licorice at a later date.

Related Candies

  1. 12 European Licorices
  2. Papabubble Amsterdam & Pillow Fight
  3. Candy Blog at ISM in Cologne Day 3 Update
  4. Candy Blog at ISM in Cologne Day 2 Update
  5. Candy Blog at ISM in Cologne Day 1 Update
  6. Candy Blog goes to Europe: ISM Cologne

POSTED BY Cybele AT 5:15 pm     CandyCANDY BLOGChocolateNetherlandsHighlightShoppingComments (3)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Eat with your Eyes: Scotch Balls

K Chocolatier K Hiballs: Scotch

Most chocolate and liquor combinations are about the flavors. This one actually has a real sip of Scotch inside each chocolate sphere. Kind of like and alcoholic geode.

These little morsels are from K Chocolatier of Beverly Hills. This is just a tease, review to come.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:45 am     CandyChocolateHighlightPhotographyComments (1)

Friday, September 9, 2011

Eat with Your Eyes: Tic Tac Strawberry Fields

TicTac Strawberry Fields

A new flavor of TicTacs called Strawberry Fields. The candies are two different shades of pink but I think they were the same light strawberry flavor.

You can read an excellent full review at Sugar Pressure. They should be on store shelves now, but I haven’t seen them. These were a sample from the Sweets and Snacks Expo.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:34 am     CandyHighlightPhotographyComments (0)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Original Necco Wafers Return

Classic Necco Wafers Return Ad June2011Back in 2009 Necco revamped their 145 year old Necco wafers by going all-natural with the ingredients. This meant not only dropping artificial colors and flavors, but they also discontinued lime since they could not make it naturally.

Well, a scant two years later, the original (or at least pre-2009) version is coming back to store shelves. This little ad to the right is from June 2011, so your store might have them in stock now. (Of course some stores I visit never stopped stocking them, as they have a very long shelf life.)

So it turns out that some candy companies do listen to their customers, so never forget to let them know when you don’t like something ... or when you do.

(Personally, I preferred the All Natural version.)

POSTED BY Cybele AT 7:58 am     CandyNew Product AnnouncementNeccoHighlightNewsComments (10)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Eat with Your Eyes: Walnut

DSC_1539rb

I may be allergic to walnuts, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t think they make great companions for chocolate.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 3:07 pm     CandyHighlightPhotographyComments (2)

Friday, August 5, 2011

Eat with your Eyes: Queens Nougat

This is a little review, but mostly photos today. My husband was in China late last year and brought back some candy for me. One of the products is called Queen’s Nougat. There is no analogue product, as far as I know, in the United States. The candy comes in a simple bag.

Queens Nougat

The little pieces are about two bites and are an interesting construction of different confectionery items. The center is a mix of crisped rice and chocolate cream. It was firm and crispy. The top and bottom layers were firm and chewy nougat and then those were skimmed with a glaze of chocolate.

Queens Nougat

The whole candy was then wrapped in edible rice paper. The effect was excellent. The crunchy center was offset very well by the smooth and chewy nougat strips. Sometimes I would peel off the rice paper and eat it separately, because it does get a bit pasty, but sometimes I’d eat it all together because it became creamy with the combination of the sugars and chocolate.

If you ever see a hometown candy maker doing something like this, grab a few. It’s a great combo, rather like a decadent all-chocolate Whatchamacallit.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:50 am     CandyHighlightPhotographyComments (1)

Monday, August 1, 2011

Eat with your Eyes: Gummi Bowl

Haribo Color-rado Mini

Close up these Haribo Color-rado Mini look like their normal sized progenitors. Instead they’re teensy little versions of some of Haribo’s favorite products.

They taste just the same but give you a greater variety.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:17 am     CandyHighlightPhotographyComments (1)

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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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These candies will be reviewed shortly:

• Patric Chocolate

• Amano Chocolates

• Candy Rant: Stimulants are not Energy

• Candy Encyclopedia: The Difference Between Gummi and Jelly

• Candy Rant: If your Licorice isn’t black, it isn’t Licorice

 

 

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