Monday, September 20, 2010
Last week I reviewed the Werther’s Original CaraMelts which were a buttery flavored white confection. I found them confusing and disappointing. But I had hopes that Storck who makes the Merci Chocolates and Chocolate Riesen caramels could do chocolate well.
So I picked up these Werther’s Original Caramel Chocolates Dark Cream. They’re billed as Rich European Cream Chocolate Marbled with Smooth Creamy Caramel. That marbling of smooth creamy caramel had me worried, as I don’t think that you can mix caramel and chocolate together to make a chocolate-like product, it yields something more like a caramel product.
The ingredients sounded pretty good - there’s a lot of milk in there in various forms, but none of the weird tropical oils that I experienced in the CaraMelts.
The pieces are just like the CaraMelts and pretty much the same as the traditional Werther’s Original hard caramel pieces. They’re ovals about 1.25 inches long and a little under an inch wide. They have an attractive swirl of two kinds of chocolate, a dark milk chocolate and a white chocolate along with a hefty extra dose of cocoa. They’re wrapped in little twisted plastic with maroon color coded ends.
I loved the look of the swirly pattern, each piece was different and the swirls go all the way through the chocolate piece (not like some Hershey’s Kisses that just have stripes on the surface).
But let me back up a little bit here for a moment. When I was a teenager I was obsessed with candy. As I got older I found ways of getting money to buy it, but there was a certain lattitude in the house when I was growing up that sweets that you made were more permissible. So to ease a craving I would actually make candy or cookies. And sometimes I would make frosting. Just frosting and eat it. At first making frosting involved a recipe (and sometimes the smearing of the result on Ritz crackers, Saltines or bread). Later frosting was simply: butter, powdered sugar and cocoa. Cream until smooth and consume from the same dish. If there was no cocoa in the house, vanilla frosting would result. (Other variations of desperation would be brown sugar & butter, sometimes with peanut butter.)
The point of that story is that I’ve eaten a lot of butter mixed with cocoa. Pounds of it. I’m very familiar with the mouth feel, smell and the taste of it. The Dark Cream Caramel Chocolates are like chocolate butter. If that’s what you want, well, here it is. The melt is quick and smooth. There’s a buttery taste to it, but more of a clean dairy note than a powdered milk or yogurty tang. It’s certainly not at all fake tasting either. There’s a light salty note, like cocoa often has. They’re slick when melting, but not in a thin or greasy way.
In short, they’re very fatty. The cocoa flavors are well rounded, mostly woodsy, brownie-like with a little coffee note. But they’re cocoa flavors, I don’t quite get actual chocolate from it.
I liked them quite a bit, much more than I thought I would for a product that has, by my calculations, 170 calories per ounce. (Most chocolate is about 145 or so.) There’s also a lot of cholesterol in there for something called Dark Cream (I guess that’s the cream part) - 10 mg. But all that milk also gives the serving of 7 pieces (240 calories) 3 grams of protein, 10% of your RDA of Iron and 6% of your Calcium.
I like their packaging, as I’ve mentioned before, it’s spare and light but still protects the candy. It’s made in facility with all the major allergens: wheat, soy, milk, tree nuts, peanuts. (No eggs mentioned.)
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
In 1973 Toffifee was introduced in [then West] Germany. The candy was unlike anything else on the mass-produced market and capitalized on Germany’s fondness for hazelnut and chocolate. The candy was such a huge success in Europe, it was introduced in North America as Toffifay in the late 1970s with a large marketing campaign that still sticks in my head.
The tagline “Toffifay, it’s too good for kids” is gone but the rest of their description of the candy and marketing line of All Your Favorites in One are still used.
Though I doubt this is actually how they make them, this is what they say: We spin chewy caramel into a little cup, drop in a whole hazelnut, cover it in chocolate hazelnut filling and top it with a drop of delicious chocolate.
The international Toffifee website lists the components with precision:
I loved Toffifay when it was first introduced, though in my penny pinching days of college/grad school I could scarcely afford oatmeal & eggs and wasn’t about to pay candy bar prices for something half the weight.
Then when I did start working regularly I found the partially hydrogenated oil content to be a little disturbing. So I was happy to see that the ingredients have now shifted to naturally bad for you tropical oils like palm. The individual serving four-pack is pretty hard to find, but I picked up the 15 piece tray at the local KMart. Even though the expiry was nigh (August 31, 2009) they looked pristine & glossy.
There are a few ways to eat the candy: I usually bite it in half, as I have a well-documented fascination with what bisected confections look like and of course my own tooth prints.
But sometimes I like to scrape the chocolate disk off and then attempt to peel the caramel cup apart to have a really intense hazelnut & buttery choco experience.
They smell quite divine - a little buttery and a lot hazelnutty. The little chocolate disc is mediocre chocolate. It’s very sweet and a little grainy, but holds its own against the even sweeter hazelnut paste inside the cup. Of course what gives the candy its true punch is the whole hazelnut at the core. The caramel cup is a cross between the flavor of a good caramel (nice salty mix of toasted sugar and butter) and the soft & yielding chew of a Kraft caramel.
The combination of textures, sugar & fat work extremely well for me. I think the packaging is excessive (a plastic tray inside a paperboard tray sealed in cellophane inside a paperboard sleeve) but then again it was fresh and unmarred. Sometimes the little cups satisfy me in a way that few other candies can. But I’m always hesitant to pick them up simply because they’re over $25 a pound and when I think about what sort of candy I can get for that price, I usually hold out for the higher quality stuff.
I’ve always found it a bit odd that no other versions of Toffifay ever emerged. No Marzipan, no Peanut Butter, No Caramel Macchiato, no Rum Raisin.
Lance at Candy Addict declared them Awesomely Addictive and Esquire magazine actually gives them an endorsement (though the text indicates it’s against their better judgment), Candy Monster pronounces them Freakin’ Adorable and Rosa of ZOMG Candy eats hers by placing the chocolate side on her tongue.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
If I had to rank my all time ever favorite desserts, right there at the top would be a Pecan Pie I used to get at Larrupin’ Cafe in Trinidad, CA. It was a traditional styled pecan goo, more pecan than caramel but also had a healthy dose of chocolate in there. Then the whole thing was drizzled with a hot rum sauce. (Looks like I’ve mentioned this before!)
I knew going in that these Dove Pecan Pie Caramel Promises in Silky Smooth Chocolate weren’t going to measure up to that, seeing how there was no hot buttered rum sauce and no pecans.
The Promises are wrapped in foil. Because this was a Christmas-themed box, I think some of the missives inside were holiday related, such as Joy toy ... you, Warmth on the inside can melt cold on the outside or Togetherness in itself is a holiday treat.
They have a pleasant pecan aroma that smells a bit like Russian teacakes or shortbread. The milk chocolate shell is smooth and creamy and sweet. The caramel inside is thick and rich, with a strong woodsy pecan flavor ... a little over the top but effective at selling the whole “pecan pie” thing.
I would have loved to have real pecans in here, but as a nutless Dove bite, it’s pretty tasty. Sweet, but with some strong coffee they’re going really quickly.
Since they’re in Christmas packaging, look for these on the after Christmas sale, at 50% off they’ll be a great bargain.
Monday, November 17, 2008
Years ago, before the current rage of putting carbonated popping candy into chocolate, there was a Wonka bar called the Exploder. It was released in 1999, though I don’t recall seeing it until the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movie was released in theaters. And then poof, it was gone before I even got to try it.
Flash forward about four years and suddenly chocolate and pop rocks are all the rage. And finally Wonka (part of Nestle) has gotten back into the act. Earlier this year they released Wonka Tinglerz which they bill as Poppin’ Tinglin’ Chocolate Candy or Chocolattos que revientan en tu boca.
The package doesn’t hold much, just an ounce, but comes at a pretty dear price of a normal sized candy bar. (I got mine for $.69 at KMart.)
Nope, Nestle Wonka-fied these and the result is pretty surprising.
Instead of just chocolate covered unflavored pop rocks, it’s a combination of pop rocks and crisped rice. So biting into the bits, it was a gamble as to whether they were going to bite back.
The flavor isn’t as stellar as I’d like though. The chocolate is sweet and waxy and tastes more like powdered hot cocoa mix than rich chocolate. But the malty flavors of the crisped rice and of course the blend of textures sets this apart from other candies.
Rating: 6 out of 10
Above, on the left are Wonka Tinglerz. On the right are Nestle Buncha Crunch. Obviously Buncha Crunch are bigger nuggets (though some were the same size).
Pretty different, not just in size.
Buncha Crunch came along after I’d already made my crisped rice affections be known. As I’d already decided that I didn’t like Nestle Crunch much any longer, trying Nestle’s movie bite version seemed silly.
So at least I get to approach this with an open mind!
The movie box was a pretty good deal at only a dollar and filled with 3.2 ounces.
The idea behind the candy is pretty simple, globs of crisped rice covered in milk chocolate. They’re irregular, some as large as hazelnuts, some as small as peas.
Biting into them, they’re less than crunchy. There’s a lot of chocolate in most of them, which is a disappointment for someone who is expecting bunches of crunches.
The texture of the chocolate is decent. There’s a little waxy glaze on the bits but the chocolate flavor is mostly sweet, kind of musty and empty.
I was hoping the crunches would offset the sweetness or have a little salty kick. I can see these being a nice antidote to popcorn, but that’s about it.
Crispy M&Ms were far better at this game.
Rating: 5 out of 10
Monday, September 15, 2008
Bananas Foster is a New Orleans specialty created by chef Paul Blang?. The dessert consists of vanilla ice cream topped with bananas flambe’d in sauce of butter, dark rum, brown sugar, banana liquor and cinnamon. (I think it makes a great topping for pancakes or crepes.)
Dove has come out with a line of dessert-inspired bites including this one, the Bananas Foster and Tiramisu (made from lady fingers, marscapone and coffee). I picked the Bananas Fosters because I figured that the caramel format fit it really well (where I didn’t think it’d work as well with the Tiramisu in theory).
The little foil wrappers were a rather unsightly yellow color. Vaguely florescent, they don’t remind me of real bananas, it reminds me of Banana Runts. (But be warned as well, I rather like fake banana things, i you don’t that may interfere with your enjoyment.)
The Bananas Foster Silky Smooth Milk Chocolate Promises come tightly wrapped in a strange twisted stand up box that didn’t want to stand up for me. (And in my frustration I ended up opening it on the bottom instead of the top and now I’ve completely ruined it.)
Inside the foil is a light milk chocolate disk. It smells nicely of milk chocolate, sugar and green bananas. The bite is soft, but the chocolate snaps nicely, even in this heat. The milk chocolate isn’t particular intense, I think the aspect that Dove chocolate does best is silky smooth and that’s here all right.
The caramel filling is strange but completely consistent with the way that Dove has been making it for their other caramel filled Promises. It’s thick, but not chewy. It’s very smooth, but feels emulsified like pudding instead of like actual caramelized sugar and butter. But hey, caramel banana pudding is good, too. (I like butterscotch pudding with bananas in it.)
The banana flavor isn’t overwhelming, just a light touch. The caramel notes are non-existent, but thankfully the whole thing isn’t too sweet either. I wanted a little touch of rum and a little touch of brown sugar ... but while it wasn’t even close to imitating real Bananas Foster it was still satisfying.
Friday, June 27, 2008
You know what I love about Twizzlers? They call their licorice Twizzlers Licorice Twists. They don’t categorize it as a black licorice, which distinguishes it from the sad fruity red imitator. No, they just recognize that the word licorice is enough (and well, seeing the black twists in the package) to accurately describe this.
Twizzlers may not be innovative as a licorice twist product, but they’ve certainly been around for a while. Introduced in 1929, the Young & Smylie company was already around since 1849 making licorice flavored confections. Even as early as the 50s, licorice was considered a low-calorie alternative to other sugary treats. (Only about 30 calories per twist.)
Even if Twizzlers understands the classic appeal of licorice, it’s not that easy to find. I can find the Twizzlers Strawberry Twists in vending machines and convenience stores in a variety of sizes, including the bar of pull-apart twists. But the black stuff is hard to come by.
The twists are exceptionally shiny. They’re pliable, kind of like the plastic coating on copper wires, except of course that these bounce back.
The bite is pretty easy, and though they’re soft, they’re really not that easy to chew. They seem to get firmer as I tried to chew them up.
The flavor is only moderately licorice-y. It’s mellow and a bit woodsy, but lacks either a molasses & mineral complexity or even a pop of licorice or anise that lingers after swallowing. It also leaves a filmy bit of stuff stuck to my molars.
As drug store licorice goes, this is probably one of the least appealing I’ve had. I thought maybe I didn’t like it fresh, so I left the open bag out for a couple of days by a fan. It didn’t even get stale and it didn’t get better. It’s not horrible and I know it has its fans, but I’ve had this package for months and have actually had cravings for licorice but haven’t eaten it.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Now that I’ve covered the classic Twizzlers, the newish Rainbow Twizzlers and the fantastically hot Pull & Peel Cinnamon Fire Twizzlers, I thought I’d go off the beaten track and try the Twizzlers Chocolate Twists.
The package is actually pretty, a maroon colored background with a big window to peek in at the shiny brown ropes. A little logo splash advertises that they’re made with REAL Hershey’s Chocolate. Turning over the package, the ingredients do list both chocolate and two different kinds of cocoa.
I admit going into this that I have my doubts about how good these could possibly be.
They’re attractive. They’re also soft (and don’t get as stale as the regular Twizzlers when you leave the bag open next to a fan for several days as I did in the Candy Blog Labs over the weekend).
Instead of having pinched ends like Twizzlers, these are open ... perhaps with the addition of chocolate they’re not as pinchable?
They’re a much softer chew, less like a plastic dough than Twizzlers. More like a brownie batter.
But the chocolate flavor is watery, lacks any creamy component to buoy the fakeness of it.
The only thing these are good for ... actually they’re fantastic for ... is as straws. Chocolate milk, plain milk ... even soy milk! They don’t have the crimps in the end, so they’re ready to use, right out of the bag. They do get a little soggy if you leave them in the drink, but a little nibble off the end and you’re ready to go. (I tried them with coffee, actually, not as good.)
Think of the environment benefits! No more plastic drinking straws ... instead these are edible and probably biodegradable. (Though a lot more expensive, there were 14 straws in this package for $1.25 and $1.25 would probably get you a bag of 50-100 straws.)
Friday, June 13, 2008
It also fits because they really aren’t any other sort of candy. They’re not a chew like a taffy. They’re not chocolate. They’re not compressed dextrose. They’re not toffee, not caramel ... not marshmallow nor nougat. In fact, the only thing that adequately describes them is “Red Licorice” and even that’s confusing (especially when you get into flavors that aren’t red). While I’ve debated what to categorize these as before, I can only call them a wheat based chew. (Which sounds less than appealing.) Both Twizzler & Red Vines identify themselves as twists.
Twizzler Strawberry Twists are attractive little ropes. They’re insanely glossy and firm, but these were definitely fresh.
The bite is short, and when I say that it means that when you chew it up, it comes apart quite easily. So instead of becoming one chewy mass in the mouth, these become some sort of amalgam of smaller crumbles. (This is similar to how some caramels are dry, almost like a fudge and others are stringy and chewy like a taffy.)
The taste is sweet and mild, with more of the scent of strawberry jam than the taste of it. There’s no tang to it, it’s all mellow and sweet, kind of like a strawberry flavored pound cake.
I find them appealing, but not enough to eat them if they weren’t in front of me. I’ve had them in the candy cupboard since late March when I picked them up on sale at KMart. I think part of it is that red wheat based chews are simply not my thing. They’re a good thing, just not a good fit for me.
They’re a great candy option especially for mindless eating during the summer at the movies. Because they’re wheat based they’re rather low in calories. They do have a pinch of fat in there (1 gram per serving), which I’m guessing is to keep them supple. There are about 38 calories per twizzle.
There are a lot of folks who compare Twizzler and Red Vines. What I found a little surprising when I first started investigating the difference between the two earlier this year was that Red Vines are a raspberry flavor. Twizzler are strawberry. So they’re not really a one to one comparison. However, Red Vines does make a Pink Strawberry version, so I thought that would be an ideal place to start for a head-to-head.
Twizzler were introduced (I believe in the licorice variety) in 1929 though Y&S (Young & Smylie Licorice) was founded way back in 1845 in Lancaster, PA. The Hershey Company bought Y&S in 1977. Red Vines originated in 1920 (though the Strawberry variety came along much later), they’re made by the American Licorice Company then based in Chicago, IL (now in California & Oregon). So they have a concurrent regional evolution but are now on opposite sides of the continent.
The first difference is the color, obviously. The Twizzler are a deep and opaque red. The Red Vines are a strange pink that’s vaguely translucent.
And once you bite a Red Vine the difference becomes quite clear. Red Vines Pink Strawberry are tart. Not tingly tangy, just lightly sour (citric acid is listed on the ingredients, which does not appear on Twizzler).
The texture of Red Vines is more chewy than a Twizzler, a little more like dense dough and it holds together. It also sticks to the teeth.
So when it gets right down to it, they are different. Actually different enough that there’s no need to compare them (the old apples and oranges). Just try them both, eat whichever you have a preference for, though it’s entirely possible to like both.
Twizzler are Kosher and if you find the Canadian version, they’re nut free. The American package doesn’t have an allergen notice about tree nuts, peanuts or milk but does contain soy and wheat. They may also be suitable for vegans.
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.