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Kosher

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Four 99%-100% Chocolate

99-100% Chocolate BarsBefore I took on this challenge of the all-chocolate chocolate bars, I did take a test to find out if I’m a “supertaster”. People are divided into three categories: nontasters, regular tasters and supertasters.

Our tongues can detect five tastes: sweet, salt, bitter, sour & umami (savory). Nontasters (about 25% of the population) tend to enjoy more intensely flavor things such as super sours and liberally salted products, enjoy fatty & sweet foods while regular tasters (50%) shy away from intensity but sample liberally from all the major tastes & textures equally. Supertasters (25%) dislike stronger bitter & sour things and even high fat content foods. There are all sorts of scientific studies about evolution and how each of these types can be beneficial or detrimental to your ultimate longevity ... or enjoyment of that long life.

Although I have a very keen sense of smell, I am a regular taster. (I like coffee, super sours, broccoli & used to drink pickle juice - though I really like chocolate & cheese, I’m not that keen on other types of fatty foods.) So I figured I might be a good candidate for appreciating the more authentic tastes of the purest chocolate.

Dagoba Prima MateriaDagoba makes one of the few 100% chocolate bars and the only one that I could find that was organic. It’s called Prima Materia which means, literally, prime matter. It’s usually used to refer to alchemical ideas about the base matter that makes up the universe, that all matter can be changed back into and then reformed. Kind of like stem cells are for living creatures.

In this case, this is the essential chocolate - just beans from Madagascar, ground up and made into a bar.

At only $2.75 retail, it was about the same price as a baking bar (though smaller of course). I got this one as a sample at the Fancy Food Show in January.

Dagoba Prima Materia

The Prima Materia is a dark looking bar, nicely glossy with a solid snap.

The melt on this was a little sticky, I can’t really explain it. Whatever it is, it’s not terribly dry. The melt lets the flavors come out slowly. I taste a bit of cherries and raspberry at the very start, but once it melts a bit more it’s all about the dark mulch of the forest floor.

There’s a light yeasty note in there that reminds me of dark beer. The bitterness is noticeable, but not enough to keep me from eating more pieces. By far this is the most edible of the bars I tried. I wouldn’t say that I’ll be eating a lot of it, but with some almonds or cashews nearby, it’s an acceptable form of entertainment for a while.

It really doesn’t take much to satisfy my chocolate craving either. (Of course then I start craving something else, like a glass of water & some sweet caramels.)

2 ounces - 185 calories per ounce - Kosher
Rating: 5 out of 10

Ghirardelli 100% CacaoAfter Christmas this bar, Ghirardelli 100% Cacao Unsweetened Chocolate, was on sale for only $1.25, and found in with the baking products, I thought I’d throw it into the mix as a way to see if I was just being overly picky about what eating chocolate is in the first place (besides a fancy way to charge two or three times as much as chocolate chips).

The wrapper is very simple, but still quite compelling. The bar is large and flat, a little larger than the regular bars in the candy aisle, in this case it’s 4 ounces instead of 3.17 of the current Intense Dark line.

Ghirardelli 100% Cacao

To their credit, Ghirardelli is clear that this is a baking bar. So this is an off-label application of the confection.

As lovely as it was, and it is a lovely bar, nicely tempered, perhaps a bit stiff but a deep red-brown, they are correct in not promoting this as an eating bar.

The smell was quite woodsy, like cedar and a bit grassy. It tastes like olives and asparagus. Bitter, moisture-sucking, mulchy and green.

Looking at the nutrition label it’s easy to see why this is so chalky, it has less fat than the Prima Materia, a whopping 40 calories per ounce less fat. (Have i mentioned lately that I love cacao fat ... sometimes I wonder what it’d be like if donuts were made by frying them in cocoa butter.)

4 ounces - 145 calories per ounce - Kosher
Rating: 4 out of 10

Meiji 99% CacaoMeiji Chocolate Kolika Caca 99% Ita has a very short, but less “pure” list of ingredients: cacao, cocoa powder, soy lecithin & artificial flavor. (I’m guessing that’s vanillin.)

Meiji is a good consumer brand in Japan. They make all sorts of candy, not just chocolate products. (My favorites are their Gummy Choco and Chelsea.)

It’s a pretty bar with 15 nicely shaped scored pieces. The package is also good, an easy to open paperboard box that fits back together pretty well to hold the leftovers (and there’s gonna be leftovers, who eats the whole thing?). I was encouraged that it had a pretty high fat content, too.

Meiji 99% Cacao

The bar wasn’t expensive ($1.99), which is probably a pretty good indication of what I should expect for a chocolate without any sugar. The scent is of the dark roasted cocoa flavors, a bit of charcoal. There’s a very abrupt high-note of the vanilla flavoring in there as well.

On the tongue it melts pretty nicely, but it’s quite bitter and dry. Keeping it further back on the tongue seems to help to recognize the other flavors that included a bit of a yeasty note of baking bread, wood smoke and burnt sugar.

I should note, in case you haven’t noticed so far, these are not low-calorie bars. In fact, this “sugarless chocolate” is some of the highest caloric density reviews I’ve ever done. (It’s the cocoa butter.)

But note that chocolate has a good amount of iron (10%), and about 3 grams of protein per ounce and 4 grams of fiber per ounce. That doesn’t even go into the positive effects that all those antioxidants have for your heart and circulatory system.

1.58 ounces - 161 calories per ounce (contains soy lecithin & artificial flavors)
Rating: 3 out of 10

Chocolat Bonnat 100%My passion for this bar can hardly be contained. The happiest part of this whole experience is that I know that once I’m done writing this, I don’t have to eat this bar any longer.

I was so excited when I bought the Chocolat Bonnat 100% Cacao. I’ve never had Bonnat before, the only experience I have with it is reading this exhaustive series at DallasFood.org about Noka and seeing the bars at several upscale stores. At $8 a bar (granted it is a big bar at 100 grams), I was hoping for some sort of miracle. I’ve come to realize there’s a reason that chocolate with sugar is so widely available ... it’s just better that way.

The wrapper, I admit, is lovely. The regular Bonnat bars have white wrappers with similar lettering, but the 100% gets the special brick red treatment, which should be a good indication that you should stop and think about it. 100% Cacao. No sugar, not even lecithin or vanilla. Stop. Hazard. Danger.

Chocolat Bonnat 100%

The bar was wonderfully tempered. (As wonderfully tempered as I was ill tempered when I was done.)

When I first unwrapped it, it smelled strongly of green olives. Later when I tasted it, I kept getting the strong, puckering flavor of green olives, grassy matcha and artichokes. These are all good things as far as vegetables go, but I don’t like them together and I don’t like them as the primary notes in my chocolate.

Here’s the thing, I hear my flavors. Well, not quite hear ... they have wavelengths in my head (and kind of colors that go along with them). Flavors create vibrations. And different kinds of flavor combinations create different combinations of these vibrations & wavelengths. It’s called synesthesia and many people have it to some degree.

So when I talk about things being harmonious, it’s not just a metaphor, it’s an actual description of my experience. In this case the bar was screechy. It was unripe, unrehearsed, stuttery, weak and tinny.

I’ve had the bar for a couple of months and have unwrapped it a few times to see if it was just that I’d had the flu, the lights in the house were at the wrong level, the moon was in the wrong phase or was in a bad mood. No, this is like Phillip Glass & Stephen Sondheim collaborating on some sort of atonal opera about database programmers performed by deaf alley cats in a poorly ventilated auditorium with squeaky chairs that pinch. It’s probably a wonderful intellectual experiment, but it’s not an enjoyable physical one. (But again, this may be an experience colored by the way that my brain processed certain things and might be just glorious to folks who don’t get the cacophony of wavelengths.)

3.53 ounces - unknown calories
Rating: 1 out of 10

The best news is that I have a deeper appreciation of my blended chocolates now and single origins even more so. As far as pure chocolate as being a “sugarless” alternative to regular sweetened chocolate, I think a very small quantity of sweetened chocolate will be more satisfying than a larger portion of one of these. But your mileage may vary. I definitely recommend the Dagoba if you’re itching to try just one. (The fact that it has a reasonable price is also a selling point.)

All of the remaining bits of these bars will be taken next door to the neighbors this evening where I will donate them to Amy in the hopes that she’ll create some awesome and rich brownies out of them so that I may love this chocolate again.

Casey at Chocolate Note has far more appreciation for the most concentrated chocolate bars. For other deeper appreciations for these bars try the Seventy Percent for: Michel Cluizel Noir Infini & forum discussion about Bonnat & Cluizel.

Related Candies

  1. Michel Cluizel 99%
  2. Guittard Quetzalcoatl
  3. Dagoba Single Origin
  4. E. Guittard Single Origin Tasting Kit
  5. Scharffen Berger - Cacao Nibs

POSTED BY Cybele AT 8:24 am     All NaturalCandyReviewDagobaGhirardelliMeijiChocolateKosherOrganicSugar Free1-Inedible3-Unappealing4-Benign5-Pleasant

Monday, May 5, 2008

Hershey’s Favorites - Sugar Free

imageHershey’s has a line of sugar free candies, while they’re not a low calorie snack, they do have a lower glycemic index because they’ve substitute sugar for sugar alcohols. I gave their version of the Hershey’s Chocolate, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup and York Peppermint Pattie a try.

As is always the case, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. While sugar alcohols may lower the calorie count, they’re also not as sweet as sugar and sometimes have unwanted side effects. Here’s what the packages say:

Sugar Alcohols (Maltitol, Lactitol, Isomalt & Polyglycitol - sugar substitutes) are slowly metabolized carbohydrates that generally cause only a small rise in blood glucose levels

Sugar alcohols have another benefit, they do not promote tooth decay, as they cannot be metabolized by oral bacteria.

Say what? Polyglycitol? That’s a new one on me, so I looked it up:

A mixture consisting mainly of maltitol and sorbitol and lesser amounts of hydrogenated oligo and polysaccharides and maltotriitol. Manufactured by the catalytic hydrogenation of a mixture consisting of glucose, maltose, and higher glucose polymers; typically supplied as a syrup; may also be dried and supplied as a solid product

I’m well aware the many of these sugar alcohols can cause intestinal upset (and other euphemisms to erupt). For this reason I was exceptionally careful not to eat too much. I only ate two a day, even though a serving as determined by the package was 3-5 pieces.

Sugar Free Hershey's Chocolate Minis

Hershey’s Sugar Free Chocolates

Well, they look really good. Each one was a pristine little chocolatey block.

But there was something amiss. It has the same slightly fudgy, slightly grainy texture. But it’s cool on the tongue and the chocolate flavors are a little too much on the high range, lacking depth. The milkyness was missing completely.

It doesn’t taste like Hershey’s chocolate. It’s not bad, but it doesn’t really taste like chocolate ... it’s too sweet.

Here’s what I know about sugar alcohols: they don’t have as many calories as sugar, but they also don’t taste as sweet. In the case of maltitol it’s 90% as sweet as sucrose, which basically means that when they add it to something and they want an equivalent delivery of sweetness, they put more in. Putting in more sweetener means something else has to be reduced by proportion. My guess in this case is that they reduced the cocoa solids ... which are already pretty low in Hershey’s Milk Chocolate. (Or they reduced the milk, which may also reduce the flavor profile.)

As a low calorie treat, these do definitely have a lower caloric density:

139 calories per ounce for regular Hershey’s Chocolate
113 calories per ounce for Sugar Free Hershey’s Chocolate

If you like R.M. Palmer chocolate, you might find this acceptable.

Rating: 2 out of 10

Sugar Free Reese's Peanut Butter Cups

Sugar Free Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

Like the Hershey’s bars, these were lovely little cups of perfection at first glance. They’re wrapped in orange foil, not gold, so it’s easy for trained candy eaters to tell them apart. They seem a little smaller than regular Reese’s Minis (just shorter) but otherwise are glossy and pretty.

They smell of sweet peanut butter.

The chocolate shell is similar to the Hershey’s bar ... the same cooling effect on the tongue, decent melt but lack of chocolate kick. No matter, the peanut butter center seems to overwhelm that in a satisfactory manner. The peanut butter is crumbly and sweet and creamy all at the same time. A little salty kick seals the simulation as being pretty close to the original.

145 calories per ounce for regular Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
116 calories per ounce for Sugar Free Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

I didn’t realize until after eating two of these that there was Sucralose in there too (this is the only one of the three that uses an artificial sweetener - though I could hear arguments that polyglycitol is also not natural at this point). I didn’t notice any of the ill effects that I get from Aspartame (headache, shakes & nausea) but there was a light lingering sweet and ever so slight aluminum-like metallic aftertaste.

Rating: 4 out of 10 (if it didn’t have the aftertaste, it’d be a 7).

Sugar Free York Peppermint Patties

Sugar Free York Peppermint Patties

They look exactly like the full-sugar York Peppermint Patties, smell a little chocolatey and very minty. The mini size is my favorite, so this was an easy one for me to wrap my head around.

The chocolate shell is only slightly sweet, which is pretty much the way the regular York is. If anything, this one had a better, less chalky melt to it.

The fondant center is a little different. First, it’s rather cool on the tongue. It’s a little grainy, which is fine with me, but then there were some other lighter grainy bits in there . But they weren’t sweet little grains, I’m wondering if the sugar alcohols create a different crystalline matrix. Even so, they’re tasty. Fresh, a bit chocolatey and of course melty and smooth.

102 calories per ounce for regular York Peppermint Patties
63 calories per ounce for Sugar Free York Peppermint Patties

As a lower calorie alternative, these are real winners. There are 30 calories in each piece.

Rating: 7 out of 10

In general Hershey’s has done a nice job of approximating the experience of their full-sugar candies. They look great, which is part of the appeal of candy. The packaging doesn’t even feel like a compromise (though the price does).

But these are only good if you can tolerate the sweeteners. If you’re one of the unlucky majority (it seems to be a majority) of the public who experiences the side effects, it’s pointless to eat this stuff. (I had a full box of each of these from a photo shoot and passed some along to a friend of a friend who is diabetic ... who did not react well to them.)

If you want to know if you can eat them, please, start slow unless you have no plans for the next day or so. I seemed to tolerate it pretty well, but again, only two pieces a day, not really the way you want to eat candy you can otherwise eat because of dietary restrictions. 

(Package images at top compiled from Hershey’s website.)

Related Candies

  1. York Mints
  2. Hershey’s Cacao Reserve
  3. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Line
  4. York Pinkermint Patties
Name: Hershey's Sugar Free - Chocolates, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups & York Peppermint Patties
    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: samples from CandyWarehouse.com
Price: $2.50 retail
Size: 3 ounces
Calories per ounce: 113 & 116 & 63
Categories: Chocolate, Mint, Peanuts, United States, Hershey's, Kosher, Sugar Free

POSTED BY Cybele AT 7:30 am     Comments (16)

Friday, April 18, 2008

Regional Flavors: Key Lime, Pina Colada & Huckleberries

Key Lime Coconut PattiesI reckon one of the best things about traveling is finding new candies that reflect the local flavor. I’ve collected quite a few of them over the years from friends & relatives who travel and have presented quite a few of them.

Some of them are kind of hokey, but some truly reflect the local ingredients that the region is known for. (Just look at all the wonderful things the South does with pecans, molasses and peaches.)

My neighbor & friend, Robin, just brought these goodies back from Key Largo, Florida last week. They’re two different kinds of chocolate dipped coconut patties made by Anastasia Confections. (Robin & Amy are the same friends that sparked the idea for Candy Blog via their seating arrangement at their wedding reception seating plan ... and have also graced Candy Blog with other confections like the big old mess of Peruvian goodies, Charleston Pralines, Cowgirl Chocolates Hot Caramels & Rocky Mountain Huckleberry Gummi Bears.)

Key Lime Coconut Patties

The first one I tried was the Key Lime Coconut Patties.

It has a lovely scent of lime, that unmistakable smell of key limes. Key Limes are softer on the tongue, I think. But they’re also more bitter but slightly less acidic. There’s something a bit chalky about key lime juice and the resulting key lime pies. This doesn’t quite capture all of that (as it’s not a custard), but it gets many of the notes. 

It’s all sweet with an overtone of the lime essences and of course a lot of sickly sweet coconut. The coconut is moist and flaky and the chocolate coating is a nice counterpoint.

It’s not a treat I’d buy often or eat a lot of in one sitting, but it’s a fun item to have one of, maybe with some tea or a glass of milk.

Anastasia Confections are Kosher.

Pina Colada Coconut PattiesThe Pina Colada Coconut Patties are similar to the Key Lime ones. They’re dipped in chocolate, they’re oddly tinted and smell like a fruity cocktail.

While Key Limes may sport a tart flavor as part of their profile, you can get by with just the essence of it and people will buy it. But in this case the pineapple here is only a faint waft. There are a light and creamy yellow color, still the same sweetness and crumbly flaky coconut. I liked it better than an actual pina colada (but no one’s quite figured out how to dip those in chocolate, have they?).

Another interesting thing I noted here is the resemblance of these to the Disney Mickey Coconut Patties I got last summer at Disneyland. I’m certain they’re made by Anastasia Confections (which is based in Orlando, Florida ... as is DisneyWorld). So if you enjoyed those at the park, you can get squared off versions via their website.

SpokandyAmy went to Spokane, Washington on a separate trip over a month ago and brought this unique item back. It’s made by Spokandy a chocolatier that’s been around since 1913. At first I thought that’s what the actual product was called. Turns out it’s just the name of the company.

The box is simple and elegant and says that it holds some Huckleberry Almond Bark.

The picture shows something that’s an indescribable shade of lavender. It’s not pale, it’s shockingly bright, yet still a pastel.

The picture is actually accurate. It really looks like that. It looks just like that.

SpokandyThey call it a creamy bright, flavorful huckleberry chocolate coating with slivered almonds blended for the perfect balance of flavor and texture. THis mouth-watering treat is not complete until we top it with real dried huckleberries..

It smells like blueberries and has a nice glossy appearance. The berries were not actually distributed evenly. Some pieces had no bits and others had huge clumps. However, the bark itself had a nice integration of slivered almonds.

It has a nice smooth and milky melt. It’s very sweet. It tastes a bit like BooBerry Cereal smelled. I enjoyed the almonds and the berries when I got them. But it’s not a real white chocolate confection there, there’s no actual cocoa butter, just an array of tropical oils and partially hydrogenated palm oils.

The color I couldn’t quite peg? That’s FD&C colors Red #3, #40 & Blue #1.

What it really needs is some salt, so maybe their Huckleberry Pretzels have a better balance. If this is one of your wedding or baby shower colors, though, this might be the candy for you.

Related Candies

  1. Parkside Candy Sponge Candy
  2. Confetti & Agrumetti
  3. Charleston Pralines
  4. Rocky Mountain Huckleberry Gummi Bears
Name: Coconut Patties & Huckleberry Almond Bark
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Anastasia Confections & Spokandy
Place Purchased: gifts from Robin & Amy (thanks!)
Price: unknown
Size: 2.7 ounces & 7 ounces
Calories per ounce: 128 & 140
Categories: Chocolate, Coconut, Nuts, United States, Kosher

POSTED BY Cybele AT 8:43 am     Comments (9)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Crispy Cat

Crispy Cat Organic BarsIt’s often puzzled me why there aren’t more organic candy bars out there. For the most part candy bars are made (or can be made) with all natural/organic ingredients pretty easily. Why no one does this is beyond me, so for the most part candy fiends with an eco bent have to eat just chocolate (sometimes flavored) or hard candies or pay for bars to be flown from far away places and pay ridiculous prices for kinky combinations ... in reality all I want is the tried and true candy bar, only made with pure ingredients.

Crispy Cat Toasted AlmondCrispy Cat has a nice line of candy bars that seem to defy that notion that candy bars have to be made with sub-par ingredients. Their bars are also dairy free, gluten free, non GMO and use a large proportion of organic ingredients (70-90% organic, depending on the bar). In fact, their ingredients list only looks long because they put things like “organic” or “made with gmo” all over it.

They come in three varieties: Toasted Almond, Roasted Peanut and Mint Coconut ... all with dark chocolate.

Here’s what Joel, the founder of Crispy Cat has to say:

Growing up ... I loved candy. Over the years .... I learned to love my body. This candy bar is the result of trying to satisfy both cravings. I now live happily ever after. I hope you will too. P.S. Try ‘em cold.

Crispy Cat Toasted Almond

The Toasted Almond features dark chocolate, crispy rice & toasted almonds.

It has a wonderful dark, woodsy and chocolatey aroma. The bite is a bit stiff, it’s not quite crunchy and certainly not chewy. It’s just lumpy.

Once I got used to the complex center, I was pleased with the combination of flavors and textures. It’s part crisped rice, a little bit of a caramel-like chew to hold it together, a toasted sugar flavor and some pieces of almonds for an added crunch. I would have preferred a lighter crunch to it, something easier to chew (either crispier or softer).

Crispy Cat Mint CoconutI admit, I thought Mint Coconut is a weird combo. I love mint, I love coconut but I don’t put them together. (Well, partly because it probably never occured to me.)

This bar also has a crisped rice center. In this case it’s a bit fluffier and softer than the others, with a light peppermint scent.

Instead of the firm and chewy center, this one was a bit crumblier and has big pieces of naturally sweet coconut in it. It’s an interesting flavor combo, very tropical and fresh, a bit of a grassy note to the whole thing.

I can’t say that I loved this one, in fact it was my least favorite of the three. But I can’t help but be pleased that someone is paying attention to coconut these days. I love the stuff.

Crispy Cat Roasted PeanutThe Roasted Peanut bar was much softer (and a little flatter) than the Toasted Almond.

The center felt fattier though had the same number of calories as the Toasted Almond at 220 it has 10 grams of fat (TA has only 9).

The dark chocolate is rather bitter but has a decent melty texture. The crunchy rice, peanut butter and peanut chunk center is tasty. It’s dark and nutty, a bit salty and only lightly sweet. This one hits it out of the park as far as a peanut candy bar can go.

It definitely tasted like a candy bar, not one of those nutrition bars.

I was kind of surprised to see that they weighed only 1.75 ounces, it’s actually bigger than a Snickers bar, which gives the perception of a much larger mass of satisfaction.

Overall, these are fun and have very few compromises. And what’s the biggest one? Price. These retail for $2.50 ... that’s three times the price you’d pay for a non-organic bar. Pretty startling. But compared to other premium meal replacement bars, they can hold their own. The two nut varieties have 4 grams of protein (not from soy, though they do use soy lecithin so they’re not soy free) and 2 grams of fiber. They also clock in at 220 calories, which is a decent snack. I’d probably prefer these in a smaller variety though ... they’d make an awesome Halloween Treat if they came in snack size.

The Roasted Peanut bar is the one most likely to appeal to kids but none are too mature to miss with a true candy bar fiend.

I’d also recommend a bit of a change in the design of the package. I’m not sure who it’s supposed to appeal to, but it’s not grabbing me. They call themselves “tree huggin’ treats” and have the image of a couple of arms around a tree on the left size of each wrapper. (I’m not sure where the cat comes in.) The website looks completely different and inconsistent from this (but I’m not keen on the web’s cartoon designs either).

I’m not quite sure about them, they’re definitely on the right track and I’d be most inclined to eat the Roasted Peanut again, but if I were faced with eating one of these or a Lara Bar, I’d probably go for the Lara Bar.

Want to win some? Check out Crispy Cat Chronicles, if you can guess Ann’s new baby’s height, weight & birthdate you can win three cases of the bars of your very own.

Related Candies

  1. Theo 3400 Phinney Bars
  2. Organic Surf Sweets
  3. Russell Stover Organic Pecan Delight
  4. 100 Grand Coconut
  5. Pure Fun Candy Floss
  6. Coffee Beat
Name: Crispy Cat Bars: Toasted Almond, Mint Coconut & Roasted Peanut
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Crispy Cat
Place Purchased: samples from ExpoWest
Price: $2.50 retail
Size: 1.75 ounces
Calories per ounce: 126
Categories: Chocolate, Cookie, Nuts, Peanuts, Mint, Coconut, Canada, All Natural, Kosher

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:06 am     Comments (5)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Ghirardelli Intense Dark

Intense Dark Premium Assortment: 72%, 60% with mint or espressoGhirardelli has really expanded their line of chocolate bars over the past five years. Not only that, I see their products everywhere now thanks to the expansion of higher end chocolate into grocery stores and drug chains. They even have a charming chain of ice cream stores.

But I’ve ignored them on the blog for a long time. Probably because my initial impression of them has been that the chocolate bars is waxy and bland. But they’re wildly popular and have been making chocolate since 1852 in the Bay Area, one of my favorite candy destinations, so I needed to put those impressions to the test.

That’s not to say that I don’t use their chocolate chips, I prefer them to Nestle’s Toll House Morsels or Hershey’s Baking Chips and they’re often on sale for a decent price.

So I picked up this assortment of tasting squares after Christmas when they were on sale. They feature the new line of Intense Dark in three different flavors.

Intense Dark: Espresso EscapeThe Espresso Escape wrapper says: dark chocolate with finely ground espresso beans in 60% cacao. As usual I was worried about the bits of coffee beans, but in thsi case they really were so finely ground as they matched the particle size of the cocoa solids.

Roasted brewed coffee flavors mixed with the woodsy taste of real beans. Very little chocolate flavor here, it’s all coffee but with a smooth chocolate texture. Good cocoa butter melt, very silky. Light vanilla overtones. But the cedar and smoke is quite tangy.

While I enjoyed the texture quite a bit, the flavor was just a little too, well, Intense (tm).

Intense Dark: Mint Bliss

The Mint Bliss package says: dark chocolate with natural mint in 60% cacao. What the front of the package doesn’t mention is that there’s also some unidentified “artificial flavor” in this as well.

Nice buttery texture, but an incongruous tangy and musty taste along with the peppermint. It’s more of a fresh peppermint leaf taste, not a pure peppermint oil, which is a nice change of pace from their Peppermint Bark that I had over the holidays. But the combination of flavors still doesn’t quite jive for me.

Intense Dark: Twilight DelightThe Twilight Delight wrapper simply says 72% cacao in big bold, gold letters.

It has a nice buttery melt with a light cool feeling but the flavor is a little thin. It’s a little fruity, on the raisin side of things.

It’s sweet, only the lightest trace of bitterness. Light dry finish.

Ghirardelli has some other versions in their Intense Dark line, including the Midnight Reverie that has 86% cacao, Evening Dream with only 60% cacao and two other flavored 60% called Citrus Sunset & Toffee Interlude. They also have some filled bars that I haven’t tried yet.

Overall, it’s nice stuff, certainly worth the price and a fun little pickup for coffee or after dinner, maybe a mid-day munch. I like the 10.6 gram squares, it’s a good size for a little taste of chocolate.

Note: the Mint Bliss & Espresso Escape have milk fat in them, so are unsuitable for vegans, but the Twilight Delight is milk-free (though made on equipment that processes dairy).

Name: Intense Dark: Coffee, Mint & 72% Dark
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Ghirardelli
Place Purchased: Walgreen's (Echo Park)
Price: $2.50 (on post-Christmas clearance), regularly $9.99
Size: 8.63 ounces
Calories per ounce: 145
Categories: Chocolate, Mint, Coffee, United States, Ghirardelli, Kosher

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:15 am     Comments (9)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Snickers Adventure Bar (Indiana Jones)

Snickers Adventure BarI was looking forward to this bar when I heard about it at All Candy Expo last September. It was teased, “Satisfy your taste for adventure! Rich chocolate. Crunchy nuts. And a cliffhanger kick of exotic spice and a hint of sweet coconut flavor.” That description doesn’t sound that gripping, but still a tasty combo.

The bars began showing up on store shelves in the past few weeks, along with the other tie-in items like the new color & icons in the Milk Chocolate M&Ms and Peanut M&Ms as well as the Mint Crisp M&Ms.

Here’s the obligatory and gratuitous cross-section:

Snickers Adventure Bar

It looks like a regular Snickers, it has the same milk chocolate coating and two layers inside. The top layer is caramel studded with peanuts and the bottom is a fluffed nougat.

There is a faint whiff of coconut, but I’m not getting any chai spices in there.

Adventure Bar MinisI actually found the Minis first, and found them a little bland. So when I saw the full sized bar, I picked that up too, thinking maybe that would have the promised adventure.

Still, all I’m getting is a bit saltier nougat and the coconut flavor mixed into the caramel.

It’s not bad, but certainly doesn’t live up to its name. If you’ve always wanted a coconut Snickers (and I know a few people mentioned a love of coconut in the Snickers Rockin’ Nut Road Ideal Candy Bar question) this might be the bar for you. Of course it may also be a big disappointment for true coconut fans, as there is no actual coconut in there. You might just want to pick up an Almond Joy and smash it on top of a regular Snickers for a better effect (and a true mash up!).

M&Ms Peanut Indiana JonesWhile this may have disappointed me (and the Snickers Rockin’ Nut Road Bar didn’t), I’ve got to give them props for trying some new things instead of just using the same ingredients in different ways (like the Snickers Nut ‘n Butter Crunch) or taking away an element (like the Snickers Xtreme).

The package design is a bit better on this one, I think, than the Mint Crisp M&Ms. Don’t forget to check out the new colors of M&Ms, too.

The Milk Chocolate M&Ms are in a muted color palatte: Red, Brown, Amber and Cream.

M&Ms Indiana JonesThe Peanut M&Ms also come in Red, Brown, Amber and Cream with the traditional Yellow thrown in.

They all have assorted new icons on them, integrated with the letter M in some way. I like the one that’s wearing the Indiana Jones hat and the map ordinal. There are also various pyramids and native masks. Some of them feel a bit like a retread of the Pirates of the Caribbean, including the skull. But I guess that’s the genre of movie. The Peanut ones rarely have a legible icon on them as well, but hey, that’s the hazard with using a real peanut center.

All of the Indiana Jones tie in Mars products are available in stores now. I found mine at CVS and Walgreen’s.

I don’t think many folks are excited about the Adventure Bar. Check out reviews by Sera at Candy Addict and Rebecca at Sugar Hog.

Related Candies

  1. Starbucks Truffles
  2. Elvis Reese’s Peanut Butter and Banana Cup
  3. 100 Grand Coconut
  4. Mounds Island Orange
  5. M&M Pirate Pearls
  6. Dagoba Chai
Name: Snickers Adventure Bar (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 (bar) & Walgreen's (minis)
Price: $.79 and $3.59
Size: 1.87 ounces & 10.5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 134
Categories: Chocolate, Caramel, Coconut, Nougat, Peanuts, United States, Mars, Kosher, Limited Edition

POSTED BY Cybele AT 5:31 am     Comments (13)

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)

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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.

Candy Season Ends

67 days

Read previous coverage

 

 

Which seasonal candy selection do you prefer?

Choose one or more:

  •   Halloween
  •   Christmas
  •   Valentine's Day
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ON DECK

These candies will be reviewed shortly:

• Dandelion Chocolate

• Seely’s Mint Patties and Ivory Melts

• Honey Acres Patties

• Yum Junkie Pufflettes

• Candy Encyclopedia: The Difference Between Gummi and Jelly

 

 

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