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.
Thursday, May 1, 2008
Wintergreen is a natural flavor derived from a few sources, one of them being the Wintergreen plant. It’s also found in the North American teaberry and birch bark. Wintergreen is sometimes called Winter Mint, but isn’t really a mint (in the sense that it’s derived from a mint plant), but it still falls into the “aromatics” of flavors. (Still, I characterize it as a mint flavor, because it reminds me tooth powder - yes, I’m old enough to remember tooth powder.) It’s a flavor that’s more popular in North American than the rest of the planet. It’s also a flavor found in Root Beer and Birch Beer, two other uniquely North American flavors.
For many of us Wintergreen is associated with things like Pepto Bismol, Icy Hot or Ben Gay. So even if you enjoy the flavor, other people associate it with those things and when they smell it they ask if you have sore muscles or a queasy stomach.
Canada Wintergreen are built on the flavor and don’t seem to have suffered for it. They’re a simple candy, just a firm sugar-based dough with some gums & gelatin in there to hold it all together in a firm chalky tablet.
Canada Mints are made by Necco, who makes another slightly different version of these called Necco Wafers in different flavors (the only real difference in the ingredients is some dextrose and glycerine).
They’re a bit more intense than Necco wafers. The texture of the tablet is a little softer than a conversation heart. They’re crumbly, not too sweet and have a pretty intense wintergreen flavor, so much that it makes my mouth a little numb. (There’s also a slight and quick-to-dissipate bitter aftertaste, but I chalk that up to the presence of Red #40.) I prefer the texture of these to something like the LifeSavers Wint-O-Green (but there’s no spark-making with these).
I pretty much love these and don’t care of someone thinks that I’ve been rubbing muscle-soothing balms into my muscles (but my pink tongue is probably a dead giveaway that it’s candy related). The only problem I can think of with wintergreen is that it doesn’t really go well with coffee.
Canada Mints come in a peppermint version in white as well (and supposedly a spearmint version that I haven’t found in years). They’re supposedly available in rolls, but I only ever see them in bulk bins or in these types of bags. I used to buy them a lot when I was a teen and when I was in college, I think because it was a dirt-cheap candy, usually less than a dollar a pound. Now I just buy Neccos every once in a while (mostly because they’re available in rolls).
The package heralds that they’re fat free. They’re also 100% carbs, for those watching those. (About 12 calories each, for those who just track that.)
As a strange side note, there is a plant that’s known as Canada Mint, Corn Mint or simply wild mint (Mentha arvensis) which is the only mint species native to North America. It’s not wintergreen flavored though. The name Canada Mint in this case was because it was sold in Canada starting in the 1880s and looks pretty much unchanged since then.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
As I tried to document back in October, there are about 100 different varieties of Hershey’s Kisses, all issued this year in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Kiss. Some are inventive new flavor combinations, some are rather poor executions of good ideas and still others are just different wrappers.
While it appears that Hershey’s has not reintroduced their seasonal favorite, the Mint Kisses, they did do a wide release of the Mint Truffle Kisses. They’re obviously a winter or holiday item with the snowflakes on the package. While I’ve been looking around for the vexingly hard to find Malt Crunch, I’ve had no trouble finding the Mint Truffle, so I waited to buy them at the best price.
The Kisses come in either a silver foil with green writing or green foil with silver writing. Inside there’s a minted dark chocolate shell with a light green minted truffle filling.
As with many of the other filled Kisses, these are a little greasy on the outside. (The Coconut Creme were huge offenders on this front.) They feel a bit cool on the tongue, that could be the huge dose of peppermint going on there but they also melt pretty easily as well. The truffle center isn’t super smooth, it’s more like a really soft and creamy mint frosting. It has a bit of a salty note to it, much more noticeable than the chocolate shell, this cuts through what would probably be a super-sweet Kiss. I like the little pop it gives it.
There are no partially hydrogenated oils in here but 40% of your RDA of saturated fats in just 9 Kisses. This bag also seems to be more generous than some. It has 11 ounces in it, most recent bags of limited edition Kisses are 8.5 ounces (of course that could just be the size that the other stores I frequent choose to carry).
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.