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Kosher

Thursday, April 3, 2008

3400 Phinney: Fig, Fennel & Almond and Hazelnut Crunch

Theo 3400 Phinney - New BarsTheo Chocolate, the only all Fair Trade and Organic chocolate company that makes their confections from bean to bar in the United States is growing. This year they added two new bars to their 3400 Phinney line, bringing the total to four milk chocolate bars and four dark chocolate bars.

They are all a standard format of two ounces in four sections and feature artwork on the wrapper by Kitten Chops.

3400 Phinney - Fig, Fennel & Almond in 65% Dark

I picked my full-sized samples of the new bars at the Natural Products Expo last month. The Fig, Fennel & Almond in 65% Dark was the one I was most looking forward to.

Let’s see, favorite things:

Figs? I never knew fig love until I had my own tree. Check!

Fennel? Love it in salads, prefer licorice in candy. Check!

Almonds? I eat them every day. Check!

65% Dark Chocolate? Not too dark, not too dry is the way I like it. Check!

Upon first bite this was too dark, too complex, kind of a mess. But like some Philip Glass piece, the spareness of each note eventually started making music.

It took about half the bar, but I started liking it more and more. The fennel stands out in the scent of the bar, a light and grassy licorice or anise note. Upon letting a bite melt it becomes a bit acidic, a little tangy and rather like raisins, but fresher. Not quite figgy but the seeds help. Later the little bits of crushed almonds pull it all back together.

The chocolate is dry and not quite as buttery as I’d like for a “candy bar” but for a chocolate bar, it has a nice bitter component that keeps the figs from feeling to sticky sweet. Still, it requires a bit too much effort for me to just eat the bar.

Rating: 6 out of 10

3400 Phinney Hazelnut Crunch in Milk Chocolate

I had a very hard time with this bar ... I have a very hard time not eating it all before I finished writing this review.

It’s simply called Hazelnut Crunch Milk Chocolate.

It smells hazelnutty, and has little bits of crushed hazelnuts and a toffee crunch mixed into the creamy and rather dark milk chocolate.

The toffee bits are what makes this really fabulous. They’re very salty (in fact, there’s a lot of salt in this bar: 140 mgs) but man, each little milligram makes a little jolt of electrical energy delivering those flavors right to the pleasure centers of my brain.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Where I had trouble with the FF&A, the Hazelnut Crunch was one I couldn’t believe I ate the whole thing when it was gone. It’s a perfect afternoon bar, not too filling, not too sickly sweet and the little dose of nuts makes it feel very satisfying. In fact, I’d probably eat it anytime, anywhere ... but the Fig, Fennel & Almond would definitely need to be the kind of bar where I’d need to be in the mood.

Theo’s 3400 Phinney line is now Kosher (dairy).

Related Candies

  1. Zotter Candy Bars
  2. Theo Confections
  3. Vosges Haut-Chocolate
  4. Figamajigs
Name: 3400 Phinney: Fig, Fennel & Almond and Hazelnut Crunch
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Theo Chocolate
Place Purchased: samples from ExpoWest
Price: $3.25 retail
Size: 2 ounces
Calories per ounce: 140 & 165
Categories: Chocolate, Nuts, Toffee, United States, Theo, Kosher, Fair Trade, Organic, All-Natural

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:22 am     Comments (10)

Friday, March 28, 2008

Snickers Rockin’ Nut Road Bar

I know nothing about this bar except what is in front of me: Limited Edition Snickers Rockin’ Nut Road Bar.

image

I got it directly from the Mars company, but no press materials. So all I have to go by is what’s on the wrapper and of course what’s inside that chocolate enrobing.

The package says: Almonds, Caramel and Marshmallow-Flavored Nougat wrapped in Dark Chocolate.

I was kind of dubious. I wasn’t fond of the Hershey’s S’Mores bar ... but that’s S’Mores, this is Rocky Road, which has the addition of nuts and the subtraction of graham crackers.

Like all the limited edition Snickers bars, this is smaller than the regular, clocking in at 1.83 ounces instead of 2.07 for the original. I’m okay with the slight of .24 ounces, it’s a satisfying bar, it says so right on the back.

Snickers Rockin' Nut Road BarIt smells lightly of vanilla and dark toasted nuts with a touch of chocolate. The chocolate shell is decent, and sets off the sweet innards well. The caramel has a good mix of almond pieces in it, they’re all fresh and crunchy and much more noticeable than those in the Snickers Almond. The nougat though is where this bar really differs from all others I’ve tried. It’s not the grainy fluffed nougat that ends up in Milky Way and 3 Musketeers. Instead this is like a dense marshmallow. Smooth and not too sweet, a little stringy like the caramel.

It’s a completely different texture experience with this smoother “marshmallow flavored nougat”, kind of like real European-style nougats. (The ingredients list says egg whites, there is no gelatin in here like marshmallows have, so this is still vegetarian-safe ... and probably a nice option for vegetarians who miss marshmallows.)

Perhaps it’s because I have a bounty of these bars and have eaten at least five for this review (instead of the usual 1 or 2 for most reviews), it’s grown on me quite a bit. Dark chocolate was a good choice, it keeps it all from feeling heavy and sticky. Brian also liked them, but also stopped short of love (and I agree, regular Snickers is still the best.)

Still, I can’t tell you where you can find them or when they’ll be available. (Except, of course, from me if you read on.)

Here’s a special peek into the life of a candy blogger.

On February 27th I got an email from someone at Mars, thanking me for my positive review on the Twix Java and offering, “I will be happy to send you samples of new products as they become available.” (Emphasis mine.) She also mentioned that Mars has launched a new direct buy store, where you can pick up boxes of their candies, including the hard to find Munch and Snickers Dark. Instead of being more expensive than regular stores (like the M&Ms online store - $5.99 for 7 ounces of green M&Ms?) it’s about $.68 cents a bar.

Well, I’ve been looking for an “in” with Mars for quite a while, as I’d love to know about the new releases and get them in advance of release (it’s pretty frustrating to have people ask about something they found in the store, and I can’t find it in any stores near me and no where to order it on the web). I do get some notice from PR folks, but it’s not always consistent.

I replied with my address and reminded her that there is no need for thanks for any reviews, “I just call them like I taste them.” (And it’s not like I’ve raved about everything Mars has ever made, but in general I like their products and usually turn down offers for items I don’t think I’d like.)

Stuff from MarsThen on March 5th I came home from work and found this in my kitchen. Perhaps I don’t understand the term “samples” but even in the world of generous interpretations a single box of 24 bars would be an ample sample. A full case of the bars? (Yes, that’s 12 boxes of Snickers Rockin’ Nut Road Bars with 24 bars each = 288 bars.)

Plus a case of Twix Java! (360 bars.) And another more responsible box of 24 packages of Starbust GummiBurst (goo filled gummis) and another box of 24 Snickers Charged.

I wrote back to Mars, thanking them for their generosity, but gently nudging that I really don’t know what to do with all that candy (seriously, almost 700 portions!). She responded, “Share with your friends wink

So here I am, with oodles of candy. I’ve given away quite a bit, boxes to the office, a couple for raffle prizes for the American Cetacean Society, three to a neighbor to take to work.

It’s drawing time.

I’m offering a box of candy bars (your choice: Twix Java with 36 bars or this new Snickers Rockin’ Nut Road Bar with 24 bars - you can tell me which you want if you win). There will be two lucky winners of this drawing. The rules are as follows:

  • Leave a comment here and tell me your ideal candy bar. It can be one that already exists, a better quality version of an existing bar, something that was discontinued or perhaps something that no one’s ever made before. (Mine would be a pretzel base, with good chewy caramel, pecans and covered in dark chocolate. A decadent Take 5.)
  • Leave a real working email address. I will not share this with anyone, but I will need to contact you if you’re the winner. If I don’t hear back from you in 72 hours after notifying you that you’ve won, I’ll draw a new winner. (I’ve got to get these out of the house before it gets too warm.)
  • Don’t click the “get updates to comments” or else you’ll get hundreds of updates. (If you do it accidentally, there’s an unsubscribe at the end of each email.)
  • All entries must be received by April 5th at 10 AM Pacific.
  • I can only ship to addresses in North America. (I’ll run a contest that’s a little more international soon.)
  • Winners will be drawn randomly from all eligible entries.
  • And there you have it, dear readers. With great candy comes great responsibility.

    UPDATE 3/30/2008: Since this post has now been linked a couple of places (I kind of thought it was a treat for regular readers), I’m going to award three prize boxes instead of two if the entries reach 500. Just to keep the odds similar. (So if the deadline is coming and we haven’t hit it yet, tell your friends!) Thanks to everyone new who’s stopped by, I hope you keep reading!

    UPDATE 4/9/2008: Thanks to everyone who entered. I drew three winners: Elise, Stijn & Donna ... two picked the Snickers Rockin’ Nut Road Bars and one chose the Twix Java. They’re all in the mail on their way to their recipients! To everyone else who is interested in trying the bars, they’ll be available starting in July 2008 according to Mars. Comments are open again.

    Related Candies

    1. Snickers Charged
    2. Snickers Nut ‘n Butter Crunch
    3. Snickers Dark
    4. Snickers Xtreme
    5. See’s Scotchmallow
    6. Hershey’s S’mores
    Name: Snickers Rockin' Nut Road Bar
      RATING:
    • 10 SUPERB
    • 9 YUMMY
    • 8 TASTY
    • 7 WORTH IT
    • 6 TEMPTING
    • 5 PLEASANT
    • 4 BENIGN
    • 3 UNAPPEALING
    • 2 APPALLING
    • 1 INEDIBLE
    Brand: Mars
    Place Purchased: "samples" from Mars
    Price: $.68 if Mars sold them on their site
    Size: 1.83 ounces
    Calories per ounce: 131
    Categories: Chocolate, Caramel, nougat, Nuts, United States, Mars, Limited Edition, Kosher

    POSTED BY Cybele AT 7:46 am     Comments (893)

    Thursday, March 27, 2008

    Cinnamon Fire Twizzlers

    I teased Twizzlers Fire last fall when I first heard about them. Then I was further teased when Brian at Candy Addict found them (and loved them!) and I still hadn’t seen hide nor hair of them.

    Twizzlers Fire

    They turned up at Walgreens, and on sale to boot (well, it was strange sale where they’d charge $2.99 a bag to mortals off the street, but someone with a coupon could get 3 for the price of 2 or something like that, but I was charged $1.59 after I gave them my best, “I don’t understand, the tag on the shelf says they’re a dollar each, but I don’t want to buy three.” and then they tried to explain it and I just kind of kept sweetly repeating that I should be able to just buy one and still get a sale price, even if it’s not the super-low price. Finally they just put a key in the register and that’s what I paid).

    Twizzlers FireThese Twizzlers are the pull-n-peel variety. They’re a long, 9.5” long twist of 9 pieces of chewy “red licorice” in cinnamon flavor.

    Each of these ropes is just shy of an ounce (.988 ounces), so it’s a satisfying portion and about 100 calories to boot.

    They’re very soft, sometimes so soft that it’s hard to pull apart the ropes without breaking off pieces.

    They’re fun to twist and roll, even tie in knots or probably do macrame. (I should have photographed the little scarf I made for a Peeps Bunny.)

    And the taste? Well, it’s definitely a spicy cinnamon. It smells like Red Hots and has both a sweet flavor, a bit of a tangy bite and then after chewing for a bit, a low and pleasant cinnamon burn.

    I don’t know what’s taken Twizzlers so long to make a really good cinnamon twist like this, but I’m glad they did. For those minding their calories, you may enjoy the interactivity and the low caloric density and overall satisfaction of the candy. I’m not sure when they’ll come out with these in single serving packages, but they should.

    For some bizarro reason, these aren’t listed on the Hershey’s website even though they’ve been on shelves for at least three months.

    These are made with a corn syrup and wheat base, so they’re not suitable for those who cannot have gluten.

    Related Candies

    1. Gimbal’s Lavaballs
    2. Atomic Fireballs
    3. Good & Plenty (Fresh from the Factory)
    4. Twizzler Sourz
    5. Twizted Paradise
    6. Hot Tamales and Hotter Tamales
    Name: Twizzlers Fire Pull-n-Peel (Cinnamon)
      RATING:
    • 10 SUPERB
    • 9 YUMMY
    • 8 TASTY
    • 7 WORTH IT
    • 6 TEMPTING
    • 5 PLEASANT
    • 4 BENIGN
    • 3 UNAPPEALING
    • 2 APPALLING
    • 1 INEDIBLE
    Brand: Hershey's
    Place Purchased: Walgreen's (Echo Park)
    Price: $1.59 (on sale!)
    Size: 12 ounces
    Calories per ounce: 100
    Categories: Chew, Cinnamon, United States, Hershey's, Kosher

    POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:14 am     Comments (35)

    Monday, March 24, 2008

    Starbucks Chocolate

    Starburcks Chocolate Tasting KitI rarely go into a Starbucks, but I do drink their coffee at the office sometimes. I think my favorite blend of theirs is the Estima (which they don’t make available for our office, drat). At home I’m more likely to drink Trader Joe’s but I’m not a coffee snob, I’ll buy coffee at 7-11, McDonald’s, happily drink the stuff on an airplane and of course at many of the local coffee houses in Los Angeles.

    I’m not a “coffee drink” person. I just like a cup of coffee with some milk in it for the most part, but I’ll drink a capuccino now and then. I think coffee is a flavor that’s good enough to be savored by itself. No need for caramel, hazelnut syrup or other intrusions of flavors. (I do drink Mexican Mochas in November.)

    I was still eager to try the new line of Starbucks Chocolates and happily accept the offer from some PR folks for a tasting kit (shown here, which is not available for retail sale).

    Starbucks Chocolate TrufflesI am kind of picky about my coffee and chocolate combinations though. I like my chocolate smooth, and I don’t usually want to eat my coffee beans. (I had a seriously dangerous chocolate covered coffee bean problem in college that led to an EKG and some stern words from a doctor about moderation.)

    So I greeted the new Starbucks and Hershey’s chocolate venture with a little trepidation, mostly worried that both would bring the worst they had to offer to the products (Starbucks high prices and Hershey’s inflated prices for substandard quality or playing off the cachet of their Artisan Confection lines Dagoba & Scharffen Berger without delivering).

    Starbucks ChocolateTheir new product line consists of chocolate bars and tasting squares. There is the standard dark and milk plus two infused with tea flavors (Passion Fruit and Chai) and then a Mocha dark chocolate and a Citron dark chocolate. As expected they also have chocolate covered coffee beans (in milk chocolate) and a line of four different kinds of truffle-style bonbons.

    The venture between Starbucks & Hershey’s is a strange one. Starbucks makes the sourcing of their coffee beans part of their marketing effort, with a pledge that they pay above market rates to the growers. It’s not quite fair trade (though they do have the Estima blend that is certified fair trade), it has certainly raised awareness of the issue of growers of our non-essential items like coffee and now chocolate. In this case the package makes note:

    Starbucks is committed to purchasing cocoa and coffee that are grown and traded in an ethical, transparent and sustainable manner. To learn more about our cocoa-purchasing practices, please visit us at starbucks.com/cocoa

    Starbucks Milk Chocolate Covered Coffee BeansIt’s unclear from that webpage if the chocolate in the Starbucks branded chocolate products was obtained within these principals or not. The package (on the other side) says “Manufactured for Artisan Confections Company Berkeley, CA 94710 USA under the authority of Starbucks Coffee Company”. (Emphasis mine) I’m still not sure who made these products. (Clay Gordon tried to get more info on this subject, but was unable, but I agree that the couldn’t be made at the Scharffen Berger space in Emeryville and I’m more inclined to believe they were made by the Dagoba folks.)

    The good thing is that the risk with these is low for the consumer. They’re all well priced items, none more than $5.49 and available at local drug stores and discount chains. (I already spotted the full line at RiteAid.)

    The ingredients on all the items are good, real vanilla, no PGPR though no indication what the cacao levels are on the products. (Well, also no indication of what the caffeine levels are on the coffee ones!)

    Starbucks Milk Chocolate Covered Coffee Beans

    To start, I tried the Milk Chocolate Covered Coffee Beans. They feature the Caffe Verona beans at the heart, sourced from around the world and prepared in the Italian roast style. Inside the little stand up box the glossy beans are sealed inside a clear cellophane bag. The size is 3.5 ounces and retails for $4.99 to $5.49.

    They smell very sweet, the chocolate is milky and soft to the bite (so no flaking off). The combination of the crunchy bean at the heart and the chocolate coating is nice. A bit on the sweet side for me, when it comes to coffee confections, but still very nice. The consistent quality of the beans are a highlight. I ate at least a dozen and didn’t get a chewy or acrid one. (7 out of 10)

    Plain Milk & Dark Chocolate from StarbucksAt the heart of all the confections, of course, is chocolate. The tasting squares are nicely wrapped little 5 gram pieces.

    Milk Chocolate. They say it’s, “Sweet, silky indulgence; rich & rewarding” and I’m inclined to agree. It’s a much smoother chocolate than I’m accustomed to from Hershey’s or even Scharffen Berger. It has some strong vanilla notes and a good milky texture. (8 out of 10)

    Dark Chocolate. They say it’s, “Deep, complex flavors; smooth and satisfying” and I think that was overselling it. It was rather sweet but still smooth. It lacked a depth of flavor, but it pairs well with coffee, has only the slightest acidic tang and has a good buttery melt. (7 out of 10)

    They come in both 3 ounce bars or a mixed bag of tasting squares (that include the Mocha Dark Chocolate). Bars are $2.99 and the tasting squares are $4.99-$5.49 for 2.6 ounces (kinda silly, really to pay so much more for so much less).

    Flavored Dark Chocolates from StarucksPassion(r) Dark Chocolate features a Tazo herbal blend of hibuscus & natural flavors. It has a very fruity scent and a grainy melt on the tongue. The little grainy bits are tangy and have a strong berry (and hibiscus) flavor to them with a tint of peach and passion fruit. It’s purely a personal thing but I thought this was dreadful ... from the texture to the combination of flavors, the sickly scent and the way it all overwhelms the chocolate. (4 out of 10)

    Citron(r) Dark Chocolate is also a Tazo blend of tea leaves and lemon oil. This one smells pleasantly of lemon, but very little of chocolate. The texture is not as grainy as the Passion, but still not smooth. The lemon essence was strong, but had no citrus tang to it, thankfully. Still, no chocolate flavors came though, nor much of the tea base either.  (6 out of 10)

    Drink Flavored Chocolates - Chai & Mocha from StarbucksMocha Dark Chocolate should epitomize this fusion of chocolate and Starbucks, right? It smells wonderfully rich, a combination of chocolate and coffee and a dollop of vanilla. It’s apparent looking at the square from the back that it has ground coffee beans in it, not just an infusion of flavor. It’s a bit grainy but crispy when chewed. It’s much like the chocolate covered coffee beans, but has a stronger chocolate flavor to it that isn’t quite overhwhelmed like the others. Still, I’m not one for the bits in there, but I admit that’s a personal preference.  (6 out of 10)

    Chai Milk Chocolate includes Tazo tea leaves and natural flavors in milk chocolate. It smells quite rich, mostly of nutmeg, cardamom and clove. Though it looks grainy, it’s really quite smooth even with the little inclusions. It has a wonderful spicy mix of flavors without being too sweet. I’m a big fan of spicy chai but can’t stand how sweet it can be. This is a very nice mix, I almost like it better than the Dagoba bar (which has actual ginger pieces in it). (7 out of 10)

    What I found most surprising about this collection of chocolate tasting squares branded by a coffee company was that three out of the six of them were tea infusions and only one was actually a coffee flavor. Their slogan for the line of products is, “when coffee dreams, it dreams of chocolate” but I think it should be, “when coffee dreams, it ends up with tea in its chocolate.” Some sort of self-loathing or something. (Or adverse reaction to cannibalism, of course coffee doesn’t want coffee!)

    The curious part is that Starbucks is not selling these at their stores or even on their website. They’re a Starbucks experience without a Starbucks shop. Like the Choxie line at Target, I think they’ve done a nice job of finding the essential nature of what they have to offer, packaging them nicely and charging the appropriate amount that people are willing to pay for a personal indulgence.

    I’ll have a roundup of the Truffles in a separate post.

    Related Candies

    1. Caffe Acapella - Coffee Confections
    2. Joseph Schmidt
    3. Choxies in Boxies
    4. Dagoba Single Origin
    5. Scharffen Berger Tasting Squares
    6. Dagoba Chai
    Name: Starbucks Chocolate Covered Coffee Beans & Chocolate Tasting Squares
      RATING:
    • 10 SUPERB
    • 9 YUMMY
    • 8 TASTY
    • 7 WORTH IT
    • 6 TEMPTING
    • 5 PLEASANT
    • 4 BENIGN
    • 3 UNAPPEALING
    • 2 APPALLING
    • 1 INEDIBLE
    Brand: Starbucks (and Hershey's)
    Place Purchased: samples from Hershey's
    Price: unknown
    Size: $4.99-$5.49 retail
    Calories per ounce: unknown
    Categories: Chocolate, Coffee, United States, Hershey's, Kosher, All Natural

    POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:13 am     Comments (13)

    Thursday, March 20, 2008

    Lake Champlain & See’s Bunny Battle

    Lake ChamplainYou thought I was done with hollow chocolate rabbits?

    I can’t stop buying them. (And, um, taking photos of them, as this post will demonstrate, it’s mostly photos.)

    Here are a couple of other more upscale models, in case you still haven’t outfitted your Easter basket for the year. Call it my Bunny Battle, spawned in part by sticker shock at Whole Foods (who doesn’t come away from WF without some degree of sticker shock?).

    I picked up this extremely cute and extremely small goodie basket (I think they call it a favor basket) from Lake Champlain. It contains three filled half eggs and one tiny .6 ounce hollow milk chocolate rabbit. The price? $8.49.

    Now, lest you think that it’s the little eggs that are racking up the tally there, the bunny all by itself on the Lake Champlain website is $3.25 ... it’s just chocolate, nothin’ special there. Just all natural milk chocolate.

    Lake Champlain Eggs

    I’ll get to the bunny in a moment, but first the unique items in this little basket (well, more like a cup) are the Lake Champlain filled eggs. They’re lovely little half eggs with a pretty molded shell that has the Lake Champlain logo and the word “Vermont” on it.

    It comes with three eggs. I reviewed the blue foil wrapped egg before that has a hazelnut cream inside before, so I picked up the rest of the eggs in their set to make sure that I’ve covered them all. (The basket came with Raspberry, Caramel & Peanut Butter.)

    Lake Champlain Gold EggGold = Caramel in Milk Chocolate. The shell is sweet and firm, the center is creamy and flowing. It’s pretty salty on the inside and with a real taste of burnt sugars.

    Pink = Raspberry Cream in Dark Chocolate - very jammy center, definitely more fruit than chocolate.
    Light Green = Coffee Ganache in Dark Chocolate - this was quite a treat, rich and robust coffee flavor, a little salty and not at all sweet. Not quite enough filling for me though, it seemed like there was a lot of shell and not a lot of cream.
    Orange = Peanut Butter Cream in Milk Chocolate - oh so sweet. The filling is very light in color, much lighter than a Reese’s. It’s salty and a little grainy and very nutty.

    I didn’t want to overwhelm everyone with too many See’s items, so I’ve had these Rabbits for a while. I picked up one of the milk (small in gold foil) and one of the dark (in blue foil). They’re hollow, but still rather hefty.

    See's Milk & Dark Chocolate Rabbit

    Lake Champlain & See's Milk Chocolate RabbitsThe See’s Milk Chocolate bunny is less than 5” tall, yet it towers over the little one bite Lake Champlain Hollow Rabbit.

    Lake Champlain Milk Chocolate - it’s sweet and milky, but smooth and has a very slick melt on the tongue, almost like it has hazelnut in it. ($3.25 for .6 ounces) The larger sizes are priced at: $15 for a 9.5 ounce solid rabbit and a novelty one driving a car for $20 for 8 ounces.

    Lake Champlain uses Belgian chocolate for their molded items. The ingredients are all natural.

    See’s Milk Chocolate - it’s sweet and slightly less milky, with more of a roasted base to it. It’s not quite as sweet as the Lake Champlain, but still has similar silky qualities. ($2.45 for 2.2 ounces.) There is a smaller one that’s solid that goes for $1.00 at the stores and the other hollow novelites available are $4.90 for 4.5 ounces and the largest standing rabbit is $8.50 for 10 ounces.

    Lake Champlain & See's Milk Chocolate RabbitsThe ingredients on the See’s are pretty standard, the only one that throws up a flag is the use of vanillin (but they also use real vanilla, go figure).

    So they both taste good. They’re both good quality. They’re both cute ... I’ll admit that I like the squat and fat Lake Champlain format, but the foil wrapping and doe-like eye of the See’s is awfully lovable, too.

    It comes down to two other things, I guess. Price and availability. See’s is pretty easy to find on the West Coast and of course you can order via the internet.

    There’s a nice campaign to raise awareness about the hazards of giving children real rabbits (or baby ducks or chicks) at the holidays called Make Mine Chocolate. While a chocolate rabbit is not going to engender the same sort of squishy lovey feelings in a kid that a real animal will, it’s much more humane.

    I had rabbits as a kid and I can attest to how much responsibility it is to care for a pet (especially one in a cage).

    Dark Chocolate See's RabbitFinally, there is my huge friend the See’s Dark Chocolate Hollow Rabbit who clocks in at 4.5 ounces.

    He sat around my office for weeks, I really liked the look of this rabbit in the light blue foil with his drowsy, heavily-lashed eyes and real bow.

    Eventually the foil had to come off though, I had no idea what was beneath, I expected something similar to the milk chocolate one. The 2.2 ounce version (which also comes in dark chocolate) has those little drawn on hairs, so you know it’s a rabbit.

    This one, well, it was startling. Mostly because it’s so stylized. I immediately thought of those Draw Me! ads that used to appear in the back of comic books and magazines.

    It’s so smooth yet angular. And the eyes are so vacant.

    The dark chocolate is tasty, very smooth but middle-of-the-road. Kind of like very good chocolate chips or a good cup of hot chocolate. A little hint of bitterness, no dry finish and a buttery melt.

    The bunny isn’t really that much taller than the 2.2 ounce one, just wider and of course has a very thick wall. (Honestly, I had a hard time ringing his neck to break him after I bit off the ears.) They come in milk or dark, but no white.

         Dark Chocolate See's Rabbit

    Related Candies

    1. Upscale Hollow Chocolate: Michel Cluizel & Hotel Chocolat
    2. Wonka Golden Egg
    3. Palmer Hollow Chocolate Flavored Bunny
    4. Russell Stover Hollow Milk Chocolate Bunny
    5. Lindt Chocolate Bunnies (Dark & Milk)

    POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:25 am     CandyReviewEasterLake ChamplainSee'sCaramelChocolateCoffeeKosherPeanuts8-TastyBelgiumUnited StatesHead to HeadComments (1)

    Wednesday, March 19, 2008

    Jelly Belly Dark Chocolate Jelly Beans

    Dark Chocolate Jelly BellyJelly Belly prides itself on its extensive flavor list. (See Brandon’s exhaustive tasting notes and listings of all the flavors that have ever existed.)

    Jelly Belly has had a chocolate pudding flavor in the mix for quite some time and I’ve avoided it for the most part. Chocolate is not a flavor, it’s an experience made up of far too many things like alkaloid compounds, monounsaturated fats and polyphenols that simply cannot be bottled and applied to other confections.

    Jelly Belly went ahead and introduced a new bean anyway, Dark Chocolate. I picked up some samples at the Fancy Food Show, tasted a few and then put them away for a time when I wasn’t innundated with so many good things.

    In short, chocolate jelly beans are to chocolate the same thing that Tootsie Rolls are. Something utterly different and unsatisifying if you were expecting anything approaching chocolate. However, if you’re looking for something that’s durable and attractive, but not necessarily tasty, these may be your new favorite.

    Dark Chocolate Jelly Belly

    They got the color right, they’re pretty. A little on the dark purple side (cuz of all those artificial colors like Red 40, Yellow 6 & Blue 2) and containing not more than 2% of actual chocolate.

    But they’re postively bitter to me. I chomp down ... there’s a mild sweet taste, like cocoa made with hot water, but then there’s a strong bitter blast. I’m not sure if it’s all the antioxidants (hah!) or the artificial colors, but they’re just inedible.

    I thought at first it was just a bad bag, or just me. So I opened a different sample bag that was sent to me later by Jelly Belly. Same thing! Turns out I’m not alone, both Caitlin & Brian at Candy Addict recorded the same reaction.

    Related Candies

    1. Sixlets & Limited Edition Dark Chocolate Flavored Sixlets
    2. Jelly Belly Licorice Bears
    3. Tootsie Roll Mini Chews
    4. Sport Beans
    5. Jelly Belly JBz
    Name: Dark Chocolate Jelly Beans
      RATING:
    • 10 SUPERB
    • 9 YUMMY
    • 8 TASTY
    • 7 WORTH IT
    • 6 TEMPTING
    • 5 PLEASANT
    • 4 BENIGN
    • 3 UNAPPEALING
    • 2 APPALLING
    • 1 INEDIBLE
    Brand: Jelly Belly
    Place Purchased: samples from Fancy Food Show
    Price: unknown
    Size: .75 ounces
    Calories per ounce: 98
    Categories: Jelly, United States, Jelly Belly, Kosher

    POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:02 am     Comments (4)

    Tuesday, March 18, 2008

    Hot Tamales Spice Jelly Beans

    imageThis is one of the most incongruous bits of packaging I’ve seen in a while. Hot Tamales branded jelly beans, in spice flavors ... okay, so far so good. But the colors are all, I don’t know, racy.

    Spice jelly beans are far from racy. They’re eaten by little nostalgic old ladies and middle-aged European guys as palate cleansers. These are packaged like they’re supposed to appeal to the NASCAR crowd (not that they wouldn’t enjoy them ... Mike and Ike even have an association with NASCAR).

    But still, spice jelly beans are hard to find these days, and it’s even harder to find them made in the USA. (Yes, I get emails from people looking for American made spice jelly beans.)

    Just Born is known for it’s jelly bean type products, which are their Mike and Ike and Hot Tamales as well as their lesser known line of Teenee Beanee, a gourmet jelly bean.

    What strikes me as especially odd about these (on top of everything else) is that Just Born also has a line of spice jelly beans that Sera at Candy Addict just reviewed yesterday!

    image

    They’re lovely looking beans, a little bigger than the Jelly Belly everyone is so used to these days, but not as large as the Brach’s Jelly Beans.

    The variety has five flavors (the only ones left out of the “traditional” spice mix are licorice and lemon): Wintergreen, Peppermint, Clove, Spearmint and of course Cinnamon.

    The color mix is a little odd too, the assignment of colors defies ordinary candy traditions, but I suppose none of that is written in stone either. At least they have a key on the back.

  • Wintergreen = Pink: It’s a pretty pink, a little darker and easy to confuse with the red sometimes. The wintergreen is soft and mellow, almost like a teaberry instead of a Lifesavers Wint-O-Green.

  • Cinnamon = Red: pretty much what you’d expect, a spicy and zesty cinnamon with a very light burn to it.

  • Peppermint = White: it reminds me of those Brach’s Ice Blue mints, just a mild peppermint, which is pretty rare these days with all those curiously strong things around. Refreshing.

  • Clove = Yellow: as a candy purist, the universal color for clove is purple or lavender. Yellow is downright counterintuitive. All that aside, I thought it was nice. It has a good blend of the aromatic elements of clove along with the slight bitter volatile side. I’m not a big fan of clove, but this didn’t bother me when I ate it by accident. (Because they’re yellow!)

  • Spearmint = Green: the lightly translucent green had only a touch of spearmint, not quite as spicy as a good Spearmint Leaf, but still, a nice mellow bean that’s easy to keep eating.

  • Really, all that’s missing here is Licorice. But the Licorice beans were sold separately ... literally, in their own bag. There’s also a separate bag of Hot Tamales Cinnamon Jelly Beans, but that’s just silly! Hot Tamales are cinnamon jelly beans!

    The beans are traditional pectin thickened, many just use corn starch these days. But they’re not Kosher for Passover (but plain old Kosher). They’re also gluten free. I don’t know if these will be sold year round of if they are just a seasonal offering.

    Thanks to Rebecca on Flickr who helped me find these!

    Related Candies

    1. Hot Tamales Black Licorice Jelly Beans
    2. Gimbal’s Lavaballs
    3. Hot Tamales Ice
    4. Lifesavers Jellybeans
    5. Cadbury Dairy Milk Whispers
    6. Starburst and Jelly Belly Jelly Beans
    7. Hot Tamales and Hotter Tamales
    8. Jelly Belly - Full Line
    Name: Hot Tamales Spice Flavored Jelly Beans
      RATING:
    • 10 SUPERB
    • 9 YUMMY
    • 8 TASTY
    • 7 WORTH IT
    • 6 TEMPTING
    • 5 PLEASANT
    • 4 BENIGN
    • 3 UNAPPEALING
    • 2 APPALLING
    • 1 INEDIBLE
    Brand: Just Born
    Place Purchased: Albertson's (Los Feliz)
    Price: $1.50 (on sale)
    Size: 14 ounces
    Calories per ounce: 99
    Categories: Jelly, Mint, Cinnamon, United States, Just Born, Kosher, Easter

    POSTED BY Cybele AT 7:22 am     Comments (8)

    Friday, March 14, 2008

    Gimbal’s Gourmet Jelly Beans

    Gimbal's Gourmet Jelly BeansGimbal’s is one of those candy companies where you’ve probably had their products, you just don’t realize it because they’re often sold in bulk. They have fun little sour jelly stars, sour sanded bears and licorice scottie dogs.

    They also have an extensive line of Gourmet Jelly Beans.

    They’re similar to Jelly Belly, they’re a similar smaller size, have different color codings for the flavors and in this instance, come in an assortment of dozens of flavors in one bag (41 in this case). I’ve seen these 7 ounce bags for sale at Walgreen’s, usually for about $2. I know that CandyDirect.com sells single flavors of these (and you may find them in bulk bins that aren’t identified by brand). At only $3.40 a pound online, that’s about a third off to half off the price of Jelly Belly.

    Gimbal's Jelly Beans

    I don’t have tasting notes for absolutely every flavor, but here are a few of the highlights of what I picked out of the mix over the past week:

    Tiramisu - like a caramel coffee creamer.
    Wild Cherry - tangy and with those dark woodsy cherry tones ... you know, cough syrup
    Roasted Marshmallow - a slightly toasty/caramel vanilla
    Bubble Gum - oh yeah, that’s bubble gum, I can almost taste the bad comic printed on wax paper
    Strawberry Daquiri - rather nice, like strawberry & lime
    Strawberry Cheesecake - like the daquiri without the twist of lime
    Watermelon - yes, that’s watermelon
    Root Beer - hey, that’s zazzy! I like it, I want a whole bag.
    Chocolate - really, what are these doing in here, some things are simply not flavors, chocolate is one of them. Worst part is I kept thinking that they were either licorice or root beer and disappointed every time.
    Red Delicious - tasted like a candied apple, not very strong or tart, just a sweet apple flavor.
    Cinnamon - not as spicy as the wonderful Lava Balls (but there was supposed to be a sizzling cinnamon in the mix, but I never found it), but still a pleasant mild spice.

    Gimbal's Jelly BeansYes, they have a buttered popcorn flavor ... but I picked all of those out and didn’t even taste them. I don’t care for actual buttered popcorn, nor things flavored like buttered popcorn.

    Too many reds! There’s cherry, cinnamon, raspberry, fruit punch, red delicious. I had similar problems with the orange/yellow things. But this is an issue with many candies that have too many flavors in one bag.

    I’d probably prefer to buy a more narrow mix of these, like just fruits or maybe carnival flavors (toasted marshmallow, bubble gum, red delicious, root beer… maybe someone needs to invent a funnel cake flavor).

    The beans are nicely formed and all had an even amount of distinctive flavor.

    Gimbal’s is not only Kosher, but also a facility free of most of the major allergens. They are tree nut/peanut, gelatin, gluten, dairy and egg free. So if you like Jelly Belly but have to avoid gluten and peanuts, this would be an excellent option. As a bonus, Gimbal’s are less expensive than Jelly Belly. Just harder to find.

    Related Candies

    1. Gimbal’s Lavaballs
    2. Lifesavers Jellybeans
    3. Cadbury Dairy Milk Whispers
    4. Starburst and Jelly Belly Jelly Beans
    5. Jelly Belly - Full Line
    Name: Gourmet Jelly Beans
      RATING:
    • 10 SUPERB
    • 9 YUMMY
    • 8 TASTY
    • 7 WORTH IT
    • 6 TEMPTING
    • 5 PLEASANT
    • 4 BENIGN
    • 3 UNAPPEALING
    • 2 APPALLING
    • 1 INEDIBLE
    Brand: Gimbal's Fine Candies
    Place Purchased: samples from All Candy Expo
    Price: retail $2.00
    Size: 7 ounces
    Calories per ounce: unknown
    Categories: Jelly, United States, Easter, Kosher

    POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:57 am     Comments (9)

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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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    COUNTDOWN

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    ON DECK

    These candies will be reviewed shortly:

    • Orgran Molasses Licorice

    • Rogue Chocolatier

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