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Kosher

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Mike and Ike Alex’s Lemonade Stand

Mike and Ike Candy BuffetLast year Mike and Ike let us vote for a new flavor blend and when the winner was clear, they announced the new Mike and Ike Lemonade Blends. But it wasn’t just a new flavor set, this one has a tie in with the foundation called Alex’s Lemonade Stand, which supports research into pediatric cancers.

There was also a stunning candy buffet, as you can see, that featured all the Mike and Ike flavors and little bags where you could design your own mix. (Mine was mostly pineapple from the Tangy Twister mix and some strawberry-banana from Tropical Twister and a strong dose of the new Lemonade Blends.)

I went to a press reveal at All Candy Expo last September where Alexandra Scott’s father told the story of his little girl who started a lemonade stand to raise money for cancer research, all while she was battling the cancer that would ultimately take her life at the age of eight. (There wasn’t a dry eye in the house, it’s an amazing story of a selfless kid.)

Just Born will be making a minimum donation of $100,000 a year for three years. (And this mix will return each spring/summer as well.)

Mike and Ike Alex Lemonade Stand

Finally the candies are hitting stores and I can post my review!

I was pleased with the quality of the Mike and Ike Tangy Twister, but didn’t care much for the set of flavors. Since citrus is one of my favorite flavor sets, I had a much better feeling about the new Lemonade Mix.

The new assortment has the following flavors: Lemonade, Raspberry Lemonade, Strawberry Lemonade, Lime Lemonade, and Tangerine Lemonade flavors. The odd part is that these flavors aren’t mentioned on the package, or even on the website, unless you dig deep into the Just Born press release archive. But there are little images of five different fruits on the package, so I guess folks need to make the jump themselves.

Mike and Ike Lemonade StandThe colors look like highlighter pens.

Yellow - Lemonade - a good zesty and really sour lemon. After chewing, as with most Mike and Ike, the flavor fades and it’s just pleasant and bland jelly candy.

Green - Lime Lemonade - not as tart as the lemonade, but has a good rounded lime flavor.

Orange - Tangerine Lemonade -  I was hoping this one would be really tart but it didn’t quite rise to that. It’s definitely tangerine and not orange though.

Light Pink - Strawberry Lemonade - I enjoy real strawberry lemonade and this has a nice mix of the fragrant berry and the tangy lemon-ness.

Purplish Pink - Raspberry Lemonade - not as tart as the strawberry, this has a more floral berry essence to it.

They’re all tasty and all have that lemony zazz to them. It’s easy to eat them together or separate your colors. I liked all the flavors ... I wish they were just a little more flavorful, but that would be wishing away one of the essential parts of Mike and Ike, which is the mellow jelly center. (Which is made with pear juice.)

Mariko at Candy Addict also had a preview of these and found them so good she’ll be happy to hear that they’re on shelves so she can get more now. For more fun Mike and Ike adoration, check out Jason Liebig’s photo set of his collection of boxes.

The package says that these are Gluten Free. The colors are all artificial, so I guess these are also Vegan.

Related Candies

  1. Hot Tamales Ice
  2. Mike and Ike Jolly Joes
  3. Mike and Ike Tangy Twister
  4. Hot Tamales and Hotter Tamales
  5. Mike and Ike Orange ‘n Cream
Name: Mike and Ike Lemonade Blends
    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: samples from Just Born
Price: $.65 retail
Size: 2.12 ounces
Calories per ounce: 99
Categories: Jelly, United States, Just Born, Kosher, Limited Edition

POSTED BY Cybele AT 7:36 am     Comments (13)

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Mint Crisp M&Ms (Indiana Jones)

Mint Crisp M&MsMars has a series of candies coming out with a marketing tie-in to the new Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull movie. (Which is set to premiere in the US on May 22nd.) This is rather similar to the stunt last year with Shrek the Third and the Pirates of the Caribbean movie the year before.

The standard Milk Chocolate & Peanut M&Ms got a new skin: a fun shift in their colors and little Indiana Jones inspired icons on some of them. Then, of course, to really excite candy fans they’ve done something completely new, the Limited Edition Mint Crisp M&Ms.

It’s not like they’re completely new though, there were once Crispy M&Ms in the United States (go to Australia if you miss them) and the seasonal Mint M&Ms.

Mint Crisp M&Ms

The package is one of the busiest known, rivaled perhaps only Pirate Pearls. There are lots of leaves all over the front, which at first I thought were mint, but turned out to be various palm and jungle-y things (I haven’t the foggiest what’s going on with Indy’s arm and that big palm leaf though). We’re encouraged to “Dig New Mint Crisp M&Ms” in the top left of the package and down in the lower right we’re told to “Get M before they’re Lost”.

The Green M&M wearing a pith helmet is looking admiringly at Indy saying, “Treasure is a girl’s best friend.” At first I thought it was a little creepy that Green has the hots for Indy, then I realized that the Green M&M is actually a year older than Harrison Ford. (M&Ms were introduced in 1941, Harrison Ford in 1942.)

Mint Crisp M&Ms

There’s only 1.4 ounces in the bag, but that little bit of air inside each center does wonders to bulk them up.

I was really looking forward to these, though it’s interesting to note that George Lucas has cautioned fans of the Indiana Jones movies not to build up their hopes to unreasonable levels. (And I think I know a bit about how much Lucas can let fans of a franchise down.)

They don’t look so great, some are horribly bumpy and the size variations are pretty extreme, from rather sphere-like ones smaller than a regular M&M all the way up to large ones that could be mistaken for Almond M&Ms.

The little icons are themed shapes that include the letter M. There are pyramids, masks, a compass ordinal and even a hat like Indiana Jones wears. They’re rather irregular as well, but more obvious on the themed Milk Chocolate M&Ms:

But shape and color aside, it’s what’s inside that counts, right?

Mint Crisp M&MsThe crispy shell gives one kind of crunch, then a layer of mostly semisweet chocolate strongly flavored with mint and then a bland crispy center that has a light kick of salt to it.

They’re really easy to keep crunching away at ... a little chocolate, a little mint, a little crisped rice. Kind of like a Girl Scout Thin Mint.

I’d be happy to see these as a seasonal item, though I doubt I’d eat them as often as the Almond M&Ms. I suspect they’ll be a huge hit.

Rebecca already got a hold of these and has a review of the Adventure Bar, too. I’ll have the Snickers Adventure bar review soon. Thanks to Define23 for helping me to find them here in Los Angeles.

UPDATE: Sera at Candy Addict also has a review now & I have the Snickers Adventure Bar. These are also available as a limited edition in Japan, here’s a photo I found by CindyC81 (you too can share photos in the Candy Blog Flickr Photo Pool).

Related Candies

  1. Skittles Chocolate Mix
  2. M&Ms Razzberry - Limited Edition
  3. Cherry Almondine M&Ms
  4. M&Ms Line
  5. M&M Pirate Pearls
  6. Darth M&Ms
Name: Mint Crisp M&Ms (Limited Edition)
    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: CVS (Silverlake)
Price: $.79
Size: 1.4 ounces
Calories per ounce: 143
Categories: Chocolate, Mint, CookieUnited States, Mars, Kosher, Limited Edition

POSTED BY Cybele AT 6:16 pm     Comments (40)

Friday, April 4, 2008

Red Vines

Red Vines Original Red TwistsThree years of Candy Blog and for the most part I’ve concentrated on candies that were new to me. But this means that I’ve neglected some classic candies, like Red Vines.

The American Licorice Company was founded in 1914 in Chicago, IL and began making something known as Raspberry Vines in 1920. In 1952 they tweaked the flavoring and renamed them simply Red Vines.

I’ve opened the can of worms in the Red Vines Giveaway about the category of confection called red licorice. In their defense, the American Licorice Company has always skirted this by simply coming up with a new and trademarked name of Red Vines for their Original Red Twists.

Red VinesAmerican Licorice is now based in Union City, California.

Red Vines are so popular (apparently they’re Crazy Delicious when combined with Mr. Pibb) that they’re the number one non-chocolate candy in the western region of the United States. I don’t know what the number one non-chocolate candy is in the eastern region. As is the case with things like tissues being called Kleenex, all colas are called Coke or adhesive bandages being identified as Band Aids, Red Vines are simply the default for red licorice. (Though in other regions that’d be the same for Twizzlers.)

What are ya gonna call it otherwise? A twisted, wheat-based confection? A long, red chew?

The candies are sold in a variety of formats, some single vines and others in a pull apart bar or textured bites. They’re exceptionally durable and can withstand temperature variations within reason inside the sealed package without much deterioration or flavor or texture. The standard in the tray is about 8.5” long and is formed via an extrusion method with a twist (four complete twists per vine). They are hollow and have crimped ends. Each vine has about 35 calories. All carbs, no fat, a trace of protein.

They smell faintly like coconut, new flip flops and strawberry shortcake lip balm. (Mmm, the smells of summer.)

They’re soft and pliable, unless you left the package open or bought expired ones, then they’re stiff and hard. Either way, they’re only lightly flavored. They’re not terribly sweet, the first ingredient is corn syrup, but the second is wheat flour ... then citric acid, artificial flavor and Red 40. That’s it. Pretty simple really.

Though it may have been raspberry flavored at one time, I think the flavor is now simply red licorice. It tastes like red. It has only the lightest tangy bite to it (the citric acid) and doesn’t leave a funky aftertaste and is one of the few red candies that I don’t actually taste the red food coloring in.

The cool thing is that it’s cheap, easy to share and has that lowest common denominator factor that you’d be hard pressed to find someone who won’t join you when you offer it (and it’s usually because of allergens, not true dislike).

I don’t eat the stuff very often. It’s fine for movies or when I want to share with my husband (they actually make a pack of Bites which has a mix of the black and red which I’ve bought just for that purpose). I’m not saying it’s bad candy, but I’m happier to give it away than eat it. Red Vines just makes me want real licorice.

Related Candies

  1. Cinnamon Fire Twizzlers
  2. Kenny’s Licorice Pastels & Root Beer Twists
  3. Black Ace Licorice
  4. Twizzlers Rainbow Twists
  5. Twizzler Sourz
  6. Bassett’s Licorice Allsorts
  7. Twizted Paradise
  8. Panda Bars
Name: Red Vines
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: American Licorice Co.
Place Purchased: samples from Red Vines PR folk
Price: $1.29 retail
Size: 7 ounces
Calories per ounce: 99
Categories: Chew, United States, American Licorice Co., Kosher

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:25 am     Comments (33)

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)

    Page 47 of 63 pages ‹ First  < 45 46 47 48 49 >  Last ›

    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.

    Halloween Candy Season Ends

    -48 days

    Read previous coverage

     

     

    Which seasonal candy selection do you prefer?

    Choose one or more:

    •   Halloween
    •   Christmas
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    ON DECK

    These candies will be reviewed shortly:

    • Russell Stover Cake Truffles

    • Hachez Braune Blatter (Chocolate Leaves)

    • Dandelion Chocolate

    • Trader Joe’s Holiday Roundup 2014

     

     

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