Monday, December 19, 2011
Chimes has always made eye-catching packages. They make a great set of tins for the Indonesian-style ginger chews. But even the bag version is gorgeous. I picked up the Chimes Orange Ginger Chews at the local Korean-run Japanese market in Little Tokyo (but I’ve also seen these at Cost Plus World Market).
For a sugar candy, they’re a little expensive, $2.99 for only five ounces. But they’re well packaged to keep the product fresh and the pieces are small so you get a lot of them.
The package says that it’s made with Pure Java Ginger. I have no idea what the reputation of ginger from Java is, the only ginger that I’ve actually noticed I eat a lot of is Australian ginger. (But Wikipedia cites that India grows the most.)
The initial flavor, after the dusting of sweet powdered sugar goes away is orange zest and a bit of orange juice. The chew is stiff at first, but gets pretty sticky as it softens up in the mouth. The dissolve is smooth and then it gets quite warm from the ginger. I didn’t get much of the rooty and earthy flavors, because the orange was so strong. But there was a very strong heat from the ginger.
The pieces are small, but pack enough punch for the size. My biggest frustration was with the little sealed wrappers on the pieces. They were devilishly hard to open, and then inside there was a bit of powdered sugar with varied and could be messy. Luckily folks are used to seeing me dusted with confectioners sugar and have never accused me of having a coke habit.
It’s a nice hot weather treat, you can really abuse them since they don’t melt and won’t leak out of the sealed wrappers. Ginger is great for upset tummies as well, and the flavor is fresh and invigorating so good for keeping you up without caffeine. I’m still most fond of the traditional just ginger version, but if you’re looking for something that’s not quite so gingery, this is a good starter option.
Friday, December 16, 2011
The package for the Spicy Apple Ginger Chews features The Ginger People‘s mascot, an anthropomorphic gingerman sitting on a pile of apples, eating a ginger chew. Kind of weird looking as well as creepy when you think of him being cannibalistic.
Soft and spicy apple-ginger candy. Natural, stimulating and delicious.
The candy comes in a small stand up pouch. It has a zipper seal, so it can be closed up. Reclosing is hardly necessary to keep it fresh though, as each piece is maddeningly sealed in un-tearable plastic that says “tear here” with an arrow at one end.
The pieces are about an inch and a half long, rather flat and kind of sticky. There’s a powdered starch coating on the outside to keep it from sticking too much.
The chew is smooth, the ingredients have no dairy in them, so I can’t call it a caramel. It’s made of cane sugar, ginger, tapioca starch, apple flavor, cinnamon oil and allspice oil.
The flavor is first, and foremost ginger. The woodsy and earthy flavors come out loud and clear then create a warming sensation that last for quite a while, some pieces were hotter than others and created a little soft burn. The apple flavor was vague but present only by comparison to their classic Ginger Chews. The cinnamon and allspice did add a bit more dimension to it, like a spiced cider drink.
They’re messy and difficult to get out of their wrappers, but they’re also simple, vegan and refreshing.
I like them for traveling, as I sometimes get motion sickness. Folks who are prone to upset tummies (especially for morning sickness) may find them both a fun candy and soothing. They’re a little expensive for a sugar candy at $2 for 3 ounces but the pieces are small and there are a lot in the package.
Gluten free and vegan but they’re processed in a facility that also handles peanuts.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Ah, Mandy’s Old Fashioned Confections. Just look at that charming packaging, how it speaks of artisans stirring a copper kettle of gooey butterscotch with a wooden paddle. Why, I can just picture Mandy herself swooping in to affirm that the mixture was cooked to perfection before it’s dumped onto a generations-old marble slab to cool.
In reality Mandy’s is distributed by ASA Foods, a 16 year old Southern California importer. They also make candy under the brand Fusion Gourmet, their best known candies are the Bali’s Best Coffee and Tea candies. All of their candy (as far as I know) is made in Indonesia ... a place that certainly knows about coffee.
While I may make fun it, the packaging is nice. The Butterscotch Flavored Hard Candy was nicely priced; I picked up this package for a dollar at the 99 Cent Only Store. It says it has 40 individually wrapped pieces and weighs 5 ounces. The ingredients are decent too:
Each piece is individually wrapped. Sealed tight. Yup, no moisture getting in there. They’re a little tricky to get open, but having spent some time in high humidity areas recently I can appreciate how that would make these even more appealing.
The candies are cute little disks, they’re just shy of one inch around (about the size of a quarter). They’re smooth and have a satisfying clink when dropped on a hard surface (and an unsatisfying tendency to split into a bajillion pieces when dropped on a hard surface). The package calls them Rich, Creamy and Buttery and I’m inclined to agree. They are wonderfully smooth. The melt is slow and silky, though not sticky. The butter flavor is good, though artificially flavored it doesn’t taste like microwave popcorn. There’s a light note of salt and a milky background to it. They’re like little toffee pieces, easy to crunch. Far to easy to crunch. That’s the way I was eating them, just crunching them up. Sometimes they’d get stuck in my teeth a little bit.
The second flavor I found for Mandy’s Old Fashioned Confections was the Caramel Flavored Hard Candy. This package is largely identical to the Butterscotch. This one describes the candy as Rich, Smooth and Creamy and uses browns as the predominant background color.
The description on the back of the package also says that Mandy’s makes an Orange Soda variety.
The package depicts the candies as dark brown in color, like coffee and cream. But the reality is not quite that way (though really not disappointing either). I put the caramel and butterscotch ones next to each other. See if you can tell the difference:
I don’t remember which is which. The ingredients are pretty much the same, too:
Again, it’s ultra smooth. The lightly salty hard caramel is very satisfying, especially when I crunched them up.
Though the flavorings are supposed to be different, they really don’t taste much different. Buttery smooth, salty, slick and satisfying.
I enjoyed both quite a bit, especially as it’s extraordinary hot this week, I get to enjoy a creamy treat that can take the heat. They’re a good deal, a really nicely sized piece and don’t have artificial colors in them.
There’s no statement about gluten or nuts on the package. They’re not Kosher (nor Halal). The freshness date was “best by May 2012.” They’re pretty diet friendly - even though they have 125 calories per ounce (about the same as toffee or caramel) the little pieces are only 4 grams each and 16 calories each.
Friday, July 9, 2010
I was cruising the aisles of Cost Plus World Market looking for a pick me up after Christmas and saw this rather generic looking Sukoka Soft Coffee Candy by Unican on the shelf. It said it was made with real milk and apparently real coffee, so I figured it’d have a little caffeinated kick. So I bought it. Then I ate them all, without reviewing them. So I had to buy another bag.
It seemed a bit on the expensive side, 3.2 ounces was $1.99. But it was also only $2 and it might be great, so why not give it a try.
Mostly the package was focused on the nutritional benefits: With 6% daily value Calcium in each serving, which is 5 pieces. So a little more than 1% per piece. There are 30 pieces in the bag, so at least I know if I went wild, I wouldn’t overdose on calcium.
Each little piece was individually wrapped and sealed. I’ve noticed this is common with candy from Indonesia (also Malaysia and Philippines), I’m guessing it’s because people buy single pieces and that the weather there is very humid so sugar candy needs to be well sealed to keep from getting sticky.
The description on the back of the package goes on to extol more of the virtues of the candy:
But I don’t think that the ingredients are the very best (that that they’re terrible):
I don’t know what condensed filled milk is, I’m guessing it’s sweetened condensed milk.
The pieces are about the size and shape of a cough drop. Just light and creamy brown lozenges. They smell sweet and like black coffee. The flavor is immediately like coffee ice cream: milky and with a soft bitter note of coffee and burnt sugar. The toffee notes are most evident and the coffee has a good mix of bitterness, charcoal and woodsiness. They’re firm but have a give to them that’s more dense and more dairy than a caramel. The chew is smooth but never quite gets grainy or diluted.
The coffee flavor wasn’t intense but it was satisfying and rich. I have no idea if there’s a measurable amount of caffeine in them, I didn’t notice any effects, and I’m rather sensitive to it. I bought this second bag yesterday and it’s already gone, so I must have liked them. I wouldn’t eat them for the health benefits though.
These are a great summer candy. They’re exceptionally durable, even in the heat they might melt a bit, but are still perfectly edible even if they lose their shape and reform. They’re creamy and rich, so it’s kind of like chocolate without the sticky mess. The individual wrapping means you can even tuck them in your pocket.
Unican also makes a milk tea version called Suteka and a mint chocolate one called Mint Choka as well as a whole line of fruity milk candies called Milkita (strawberry & melon). The tea one sounds like it would be very good. These are marked Halal and should be suitable for vegetarians (but not vegans, obviously).
Thursday, June 18, 2009
There are a lot of confections I call traveling candies. They’re candies that both deliver that sweet boost as well as some other function. I often use hot cinnamon for long car rides to keep me focused and of course coffee items like Nips or Coffee Rio are great for a teensy caffeine boost without fluids.
I also tend to get motion sickness, so ginger candies are a great way to feed my sweet tooth and soothe my tummy.
Here’s a candy from The Ginger People that combines both the soothing spice of ginger and the kick of coffee: Hot Coffee Ginger Chews.
The chews are just like the other ubiquitous Ginger Chews that are available unbranded at Asian markets or from The Ginger People or Chimes. (They’re all made in Indonesia.)
The soft little translucent chew is coated with a tapioca starch & sugar mixture. They still stick to the wrapper and don’t really look like much when pulled out. Sometimes I can find one that’s still block shaped, but most are smashed.
The scent is rather bland. Just sweet and maybe a little woodsy. But I popped one my mouth and the immediate sweetness gave way to quite a few flavors. There’s a strong root & earth component from the ginger then a very strong spicy warm feeling. The coffee kind of kicks in from the background - it’s rather weak coffee note but not tamed by any milk here like so many coffee candies do. It’s a brewed black coffee flavor.
It makes me wonder why I don’t throw sliced ginger into my coffee. It’s a really nice combination - the sugar is sweet but more like barley sugar with a mellow malty or toasted flavor to it.
The cumulative effect of these after a half a dozen is a strong and lingering warm sensation. (And a few little bits stuck in my teeth.)
The drawbacks to these are, first, that they’re vexing to get out of their wrappers. The plastic/mylar stuff is hard to tear open, and never quite opens the whole way. Not exactly easy to open yourself when driving. (This is what navigators were invented for ... not directing you where to go, but to unwrap & hand you your candy.)
Each piece has about 20 calories and no fat. If there’s caffeine in it, it’s not enough for them to note on the package (it’s a coffee extract so it’s not like some candies where you consume the whole bean). Their website says they’re gluten free (but the package doesn’t). They’re made in a facility that processes peanuts. Should be considered vegan, there’s no Kosher or Halal certification.
Monday, June 16, 2008
A few years ago I got an assortment of Malaysian hard candies that included a couple called Barley Mint. I wasn’t sure what Barley Mint was, I thought it was barley sugar flavored with mint. It was nice, but not what I’d envisioned and I put it out of my head.
Years later, I spotted a version of Mentos made in Indonesia called Barley Mint and I was again intrigued to taste them. Luckily they were in the latest gaggle of Mentos (yes, that’s the term for a large group of Mentos) from Santos of Scent of Green Bananas.
I’ll have more on the rest of them later (including Strawberry Yoghurt, Spearmint, Tropical Mix & Black Currant).
The green package features images of the little chewy dragees and mint leaves. The mints themselves were less green, kind of a light celadon.
They didn’t smell like much, maybe like a box of TicTacs.
Biting into them is was quite apparent that Barley Mint is not any ordinary mint.
It’s like peppermint, cool and fresh, but then there’s a lingering flush of something ... something floral or fragrant. Roses? Soft Musk? Whatever it is, it’s not a minty flavor. It’s not orange blossom or any sort of blossom. It’s musk. Like the Australian Musk Sticks. Mixed with mint. And maybe a little touch of mellow and creamy banana. I know, it sounds weird, and it probably is.
It’s not that strong, not like the more intense Peppermint Mentos, but it’s certainly strange and for anyone who doesn’t like soapy flavors, it’s sure to be a turnoff. There’s a very clear reason that these aren’t distributed in the US and this roll is quite lucky to have found me. I’m eating them all.
They felt fresh without being too strong. The mint would linger for a bit, but the musky flavor stayed for at least a half hour after consumption.
I don’t know quite what the flavor has to do with barley, but maybe Musk Mint wouldn’t have sold as well even in Indonesia.
These are not Halal (or Kosher) but do not contain gelatin so are suitable for vegetarians.
Wednesday, November 1, 2006
Starting from the left the light yellow-green ones are Apple. It’s a mild apple, not very tangy, but floral and sweet and very pleasant. The candies themselves are a little smaller than the normal Mentos, not just small pack like you’d get Lifesavers.
In the middle are little lilac wonders in Grape, these were, to put it mildly, odd. They were kind of concord grapey and completely unlike those malic acid wonders you find in a roll of SweeTarts. These were floral and had a sort of balsam note that reminds me of concord grape skins when you eat them fresh off the vine. At first I was a little put off, but I chalk that up to the whole expectations thing. When I stopped thinking about it, I really like them and now I’m regretting sending a bunch of them off to the Mentos winner last month.
The more vivid green ones are Watermelon which are very sweet and have an odd note of mint to them (which could be a manufacturing problem). The melon flavor is true and has that sort of woodsy note to it, but no tartness to it. Not my fave but not terrible.
Tuesday, October 3, 2006
You thought Pink Grapefruit and Licorice Mentos were exotic? How about these flavors from the Philippines ... sent to me by Santos of Scent of Green Bananas. They’re both citrus flavors: Dalandan Fresh and Juicy Ponkan.
Dalandan Fresh comes in green, yellow and blue wrappers, but the candy itself is a lovely sherbet orange. A dalandan is a citrus commonly known in the Philippines as the Sweet Orange. They’re likened to Valencia oranges, but the main difference is in the appearance. A ripe dalandan has a green peel (hence the wrapper is green).
The candy has a nice chew, of course, and a good sweet burst of orange essence with a bit of a tangerine or clementine note and maybe a little pomelo thrown in. It’s more sweet than tangy, but the flavor is pretty intense. I miss the sour notes that are in the Pink Grapefruit but this is much better than the plain orange available in the mixed fruit box.
The Juicy Ponkan flavor comes in an intense orange wrapper but the candy inside is a soft orange. Like the dalandan, the ponkan is a citrus but this one is in the tangerine/mandarin family and has an orange rind that’s leathery and easy to peel. It’s a bit more tangy than the dalandan and has a more robust flavor with floral notes, tartness and a zesty essence that lingers.
I really liked this one, but they’re both a great change from plain old orange. Every once in a while one would have a slight minty or menthol taste, which made me wonder about the manufacturing process. Both varieties were manufactured in Indonesia for the Philippino market. (More about ponkan here.)
UPDATE (10/9/2006 - 3:02 PM) - No more entries, please… we have a winner! (To be announced shortly.)
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.