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Mockolate

A faux chocolate product that contains some but not all the components necessary to be considered true chocolate. Mockolate is most often missing cocoa butter, which creates a frustrating illusion of chocolate but little of the taste or mouthfeel.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Baby Ruth Crisp & Nestle Crisp Bars

Baby Ruth CrispI got this one slightly smashed sample of the new Baby Ruth Crisp from All Candy Expo.

I’m a little hesitant to do a full review of the product based on a “fun sized” bar, so consider this a preview.

The wrapper says that the new bar is Baked Wafers, Caramel, Peanuts & Creme. It’s a nice white & waffle pattern background with the familiar Baby Ruth logo.

Baby Ruth CrispFrom the description it sounds like it could be the old Bar None. But a quick sniff and it’s clear that this is a bar with a strong peanut identity.

The layers are pretty complex. There are wafers and in between the lower wafers is a peanut butter creme. On the top of the wafers is a pretty thick layer of caramel and then some chopped peanuts.

The whole effect is a startlingly familiar flavor to the Baby Ruth but with the texture of a KitKat.

The only disappointment here is the chocolate. Nestle doesn’t really make many chocolate candies any longer and this new bar is no exception. I don’t have the ingredients, but judging by the other Nestle Crisp bars that I do have access to, this is a mockolate coating.

It lacks a good creamy component (more waxy) but has a little cocoa punch to it ... just no good dairy milk chocolate addition.

Nestle Crunch Crisp Old & NewThe addition of the Baby Ruth Crisp also marks the change in Nestle’s rebranding & repackaging of their Crisp bar line.

The new packages for Butterfinger Crisp and Crunch Crisp sport the tag line De * LIGHT * fully CRISPY

The most significant change is the reformatting of the bar.

The original Crunch Crisp was a long & wide bar. The new version is not only smaller (the overall weight of the package) but is also now a narrower (but slightly taller) bar in two separate pieces. The original was 1.74 ounces, the new on is 1.34.

Nestle Crunch Crisp Old & New

The last few times I’ve tried the Crunch Crisp bars the ambient temperature was over 80 degrees ... not the best climate for this bar.

Since then I’ve acquired these two versions and both benefit from temps in the high sixties. (Hooray for Southern California’s June Gloom.)

The flavor & overall ratio of crunch, creme & mockolate is similar with both bars. It reminded me a bit of chocolate pudding & ice cream cones. It’s harder to take a “big bite” of the new small bars.

Because of the wafers they seem less like candy and more like decadent cookies.

Since having the Q.bel bars, though, it’s hard to say that these are more than passably decent.

Butterfinger CrispThe Butterfinger Crisp disappeared from store shelves around me, and I thought it was discontinued. It turns out it was just going through this reformatting.

Like the Crunch Crisp this one has gone from 1.76 ounces to 1.41 ounces. It also goes from being manufactured in Venezuela to the United States.

The innards look virtually the same to the last one I ate four years ago.

It smells like fake butter flavor ... or maybe butterscotch candies. The crispy wafers are good, the cream in between is a little salty and has a light peanut butter taste (actually less peanutty than the Baby Ruth).

The chocolate on this seems less punchy and more like the waxy stuff from a Butterfinger Bar.

I’m sure the new two piece format makes production for both full serving & fun size much simpler. (And I really don’t have a problem with that, I like fun sized bars because sometimes I want variety for my “single serving”.)

Nestle Crunch CrispI don’t have much of an issue with companies making products smaller in order to keep prices the same (or raising prices) though in this case they’ve not only made it smaller, it’s not quite the same as before because the shape may change some ratios. Still, they pack some calories for such small bars - the new Crunch Crisp is 190 (was 250) and the Butterfinger Crisp is 210 (was 250).

Again, having found the Q.bel line, I see no reason to personally entertain this stuff any further unless I had some sort of financial issue that I couldn’t afford the Q.bel or no longer had access. (But these still wouldn’t be a choice high on my list. Nestle is capable of making chocolate and I think these would be much better with it.)

Expect the new line of Crisp bars including the Baby Ruth Crisp to hit shelves late August or early September.

Related Candies

  1. Wonka Tinglerz & Nestle Buncha Crunch
  2. ReeseSticks (Revisit)
  3. Nestle Crunch (Now Even Richer Milk Chocolate)
  4. Butterfinger Stixx
  5. Nestle Crunch Dark Stixx
  6. Nutrageous
  7. Head-to-Head: Butterfinger vs. 5th Avenue

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:28 am     CandyReviewNestleCaramelCookieKosherMockolatePeanuts5-PleasantUnited StatesComments (14)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Hershey’s Whatchamacallit & Thingamajig

Hershey's Thingamajig & WhatchamacallitHershey’s Whatchamacallit was introduced in 1978. I remember the launch, the commercials and buying the candy bar quite a bit in the first few years when it came out.

It was a peanut butter & crisped rice bar covered in milk chocolate. It was simple, crunchy, looked really big and was satisfying.

Hershey’s has never seemed particularly proud or supportive of the Whatchamacallit. Their advertising for it waned after the eighties; maybe they wanted to go out on a bang with this classic commercial:

The Hershey’s website lists only four notable moments in Whatchamacallit history: introduction (1978), reformulation (1987), package redesign & king size release (2002). You can see the earlier, less “blasty” package design on Brad Kent’s wrapper archive and Mike’s Candy Wrappers (2002 & 2003)

The page mentions nothing about the second reformulation where the bar lost its milk chocolate and gained its rich chocolatey coating (circa 2006).

ThingamajigSo you can imagine how surprised I was to see that the Whatchamacallit earned a Limited Edition version, called Thingamajig.

This bar is made with chocolate, cocoa crisps and peanut butter. At first glance it sounds like it might be the original Whatchamacallit, the one without the caramel (well, that also had real chocolate).

Instead it’s a block of cocoa flavored crisped rice covered with a strip of peanut butter and then covered in Hershey’s inimitable imitation chocolate.

As with many limited edition products, this bar is slightly smaller than the original. It’s 1.5 ounces versus the 1.6 ounces of the Whatchamacallit.

Whatchamacallit & Thingamajig

Whatchamacallit on the left and Thingamajig on the right

It’s hard to review the Thingamajig in a vacuum, so naturally I’m comparing it to the Whatchamacallit. I’m also prone to wondering if, when Hershey’s was developing the Whatchamacallit, that they didn’t go through this bar as part of the evolution of the new product, obviously rejecting it.

The Thingamajig has a nice cocoa scent along with a whiff or roasted peanuts. It’s not quite a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup smell, but pretty close.

The bit into the bar is a quick snap, biting through the cocoa crispies is easy, they’re crunchy but have plenty of give since they don’t seem to be held together by marshmallow or peanut butter like the Whatchamacallit.

The mockolate coating is rather good ... I have to give Hershey’s credit, their fake chocolate can often be better than some other companies’ real chocolate. The cocoa flavors from the crispy center probably help.

The peanut butter is a bit salty, creamy and smooth (smoother than a peanut butter cup center).

Overall, it’s a nice experience ... probably not something I’d want again. I’m not sure why Hershey’s did it, but they’re not really taking any credit for it (they never emailed me about it, it doesn’t appear on their website) and it will probably disappear without any fanfare as well.

Rating: 6 out of 10

As a little side note, since I’ve never done an official review of the Whatchamacallit (which by now I’m rather dreading typing), I thought I’d add that here:

The bar smells like cocoa and toffee. The peanut butter crisped rice center is great. It’s buttery, salty, crunchy and has a good roasted nut flavor and a strong butter/dairy note to it. The caramel, though only a very thin layer, gives it a bit of a chew that holds it together in the mouth. The mockolate coating is creamy and melts well but offers no chocolate flavors here ... just a sealant for the crispy bar.

Rating: 6 out of 10

But most of all, I have to wonder why the Whatchamacallit isn’t a Reese’s branded product, getting the full benefit of the peanut butter branding.

I was really late in finding these bars in my area. Here are some other opinions on them: AV Club Taste Test (also a head to head), Cocoa-Heaven (head to head) and Candy Yum Yum.

Related Candies

  1. Q.Bel Crispy Wafer Bars
  2. Rising Cost of Candy - A Brief Study of Hershey Prices
  3. Palmer Nest Eggs
  4. I Miss: Bar None
  5. 100 Grand with Peanuts
  6. Snickers Cruncher
Name: Thingamajig & Whatchamacallit
    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: $.89
Size: 1.5 ounces & 1.6 ounces
Calories per ounce: 147 & 138
Categories: Mockolate, Peanuts, Caramel, Cookie, United States, Hershey's, Kosher, Limited Edition

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:44 am     Comments (33)

Monday, March 2, 2009

R.M. Palmer Quax - The Yummy Ducky

Palmer QuaxI will start by saying that I’m a sucker.

I bought another molded Palmer Easter item. (A product which I generally consider a biodegradable decoration, not actually meant to be eaten.)

I have to hand it to R.M. Palmer. They do a great job of keeping their prices low and their designs contemporary.

Quax: The Yummy Ducky pretty much had me with the packaging. (It certainly wasn’t the description of Hollow Milk Flavored Candy Duck that sold me.) It looks just like a bathtub rubber ducky. But it was also on sale for only a dollar.

    Palmer Quax

Quax is a bit smaller than the average toy duck. He’s about 3 inches from beak to tail and three inches high.

He’s well molded, with a seam through his head and down his sides. (I would have thought it would be constructed with mirror-image sides, but this way presents a flawless face.)

He sounds like plastic, looks like plastic but thankfully smells like an Easter basket. (Mmm, vanillin.)

The ingredients are what I’d expect from Palmer:

Sugar, Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil (Palm Kernel and/or Palm Oil), Whey, Lactose, Skim Milk, Soy Lecithin, Colors (Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Blue 1, Blue 2, Red 40 & Red 3), Vanillin.

The packaging seems a bit excessive for such a tiny candy toy - it’s 4 inches wide and 6 inches tall. But it does have a little to and from tag area on the back for gifting.

Quax in WaterAfter a certain point though, I just had to know ... would it float?

So I got out a bowl of water and plopped my Yummy Ducky friend into it.

Sure enough, he floats. He floats just fine. But he’s not balanced, so try as I might, I couldn’t get him to bob like a duck should, upright (or even tail up like a feeding duck might). Instead he did the duck equivalent of belly up and rested on his side. What this duck needs is a keel. Or feet. Then I think we might have something, an edible decoration for a punch bowl.

At this point I was pretty happy with my one buck purchase. It was cute, it smelled better than some vinyl toy and provided at least 800 words for my review without even cracking it open.

imageBut I have to actually eat some, don’t I?

So I bit off the top of his skull.

The milk flavored candy has a very strong vanilla flavor with a little bit of dairy/dried milk going on. It’s incredibly sweet, actually throat searing.

It’s not that bad! Since it’s not trying to be actual chocolate, it succeeds at being better than plastic. I don’t plan on finishing it, but it was a fun little novelty item. It might even be amusing if they made them in a few sizes. You know, because they’re really not for eating, just decoration.

For those of you who for some reason now want to watch Ernie sing Rubber Duckie, here it is on YouTube.

Related Candies

  1. Guylian Twists
  2. Peeps inside a Milk Chocolate Egg
  3. See’s Hollow Eggs with Novelty
  4. Upscale Hollow Chocolate: Michel Cluizel & Hotel Chocolat
  5. Russell Stover Hollow Milk Chocolate Bunny
  6. Lindt Chocolate Bunnies (Dark & Milk)
Name: Quax - Hollow Milk Flavored Candy Duck
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: R.M. Palmer
Place Purchased: RiteAid (Glendale)
Price: $1.00 (on sale)
Size: 1.75 ounces
Calories per ounce: 154
Categories: Mockolate, United States, Palmer, Easter, Novelty, Kosher

POSTED BY Cybele AT 8:29 am     Comments (20)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Short & Sweet: Bites & Bites

I have more candy than I will ever be able to review at my pace of 5-7 products a week. Here are a few items I’ve tasted recently and some notes on them (most gratuitous photos). So here are some small bites of a whole week’s worth of candy. Get ready to scroll!

New Packaging & Marshmallow Size for Plush PuffsI visited with Anne Hickey and the Plush Puffs’ crew when I was at the Fancy Food Show. At closing time they gave me a box of their Vanilla Bean Marshmallows. It’s new packaging for them, which I really like. It’s still spare and highlights the product well.

But what I liked best is that they’ve made the marshmallows a bit smaller. Now they’re 1” cubes instead of the larger version I tried several years ago. This means that when toasted the center gets molten before the outside catches on fire. (There are important physical laws that even marshmallows must obey.)

The box has been sitting next to my stove top and some evenings I’ll toast up two or three for dessert on the gas burner. It makes the house smell wonderful.

(Original review.)

Seth Ellis Chocolatier Candied LemonsSeth Ellis Chocolatier Candied Lemons

I visited a few times with Seth Ellis Chocolatier while at the Fancy Food Show. They had a lovely array of samples, but for some reason I eschewed their truffles and became obsessed with their Candied Lemons.

Seth Ellis Chocolatier Candied LemonsIt’ might be because they’re so beautiful.

Perhaps it’s because of this little nugget from their website, “We candy the freshest organic lemon slices slowly, over twenty-five days, using a traditional European method to preserve the intense lemon flavors.”

The box contains one full lemon slice plus and extra quarter. Special bonus, the packaging is made with wind power (well, that and some tree pulp).

The candying doesn’t make the peel as soft as some others, but then again, sometimes that makes them gummy and flavorless. This definitely has a bitter bite and because the pulp is also still there, it’s quite tangy. The dark chocolate is creamy and also has a woodsy bite to it.

(Website.)

image

I must have been obsessed with lemon and lemongrass at the Fancy Food Expo because the other item I knew I had to bring home was L’Estasi Dolce Sweet Ecstasy Lemongrass Ginger Truffles.

Lemongrass is a bit of a strange flavor. I love it in Thai cooking (hot & sour soup especially). It imparts the zesty notes of lemon peel, but it has a soft side to it as well, that I can only compare to bubble gum.

These nicely sized truffles are a real ganache made with lots of real cream.

The center is soft and silky with an immediate soft flavor of lemongrass. Then there’s the warming power of the ginger. The woodsy ginger flavors never come forward, it’s just that little burn in the background. This all combines well with the slight dairy flavor of the cream and the mellow dark chocolate.

Rubicon Bakery CocoaBerriesOne of the Fancy Food Show items I mentioned in my show notes was Rubicon Bakery.

They not only make all natural, wholesome products right here in the United States, their mission is to help people in need by giving job training, jobs placement assistance to work their way out of poverty.

The package pictured here is a mock up used for the distribution of the samples, the real thing is much nicer.

Their Strawberry CocoaBerries may put them on the map even without the amazing backstory.
Rubicon Bakery CocoaBerries

They’re little meringue kisses, a little larger than a Hershey’s Kiss. The center is a crunchy fluffed egg white made flavorful by the addition of gobs of real freeze dried strawberries. To seal in the crispness, they’re dipped in bittersweet Guittard chocolate.

The freaky part about the whole combination is that it’s so tasty & satisfying yet so low in calories. They say that a serving of five is only 90 calories (about 100 calories per ounce, amazing for a chocolate product). So even if you ate a whole box of 15 bites, you’re still under the 300 mark of most king sized candy bars.

SFGate wrote about them last week too, those lucky dogs, it’s a local company for them.

Andes Mocha Mint IndulgenceLest you think that everything is a rave and everything is from the Fancy Food Show, I thought I’d mention the Limited Edition Andes Mocha Mint Indulgence.

These candies have single-handedly caused me to swear off of all Andes products except for the original Creme de Menthe.

While I rail against mockolate, I recognize it has its place and there are a few products that I like and still eat that have it. (Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews & Hershey’s 5 Avenue.)

The Mocha Mint Indulgence is a freak product. I don’t even know what it is. The pieces are ugly (sorry, no photo of the interior, this is supposed to be a tantalizing post). Putty brown mockolate over a layer of mint green confection like the center of the regular Andes.

It smells like minted cardboard. The texture is like grainy wax. The flavor is like musty Christmas candles found in a drawer at an estate sale.

Ococoa Nut Butter CupsTo close is something to restore our confidence in nuts: Ococoa Nut Butter Cups made right here in Los Angeles by Diana Malouf. I picked them up from her in person before Christmas but never go around to posting the review.

More than just gourmet peanut butter cups, these are tall cups filled with exotic nut butters & fruits. The flavor array is: Classic Peanut Butter, Pistachio Date, Sesame Fig, Hazelnut Chocolate, Almond Cherry, Cashew Apricot, Marzipan Truffle, Macadamia Guava, and Sunflower Honey.

The box is elegant and substantial.

Ococoa Nut Butter Cups

The cups are about an inch high with a cute ruffle of chocolate around the collar and an inch in diameter at the top.

Ococoa Guava & Peanut Butter CupThey were a bugger to photograph the interior, luckily their website has the fantastic and accurate cross sections that you can peruse. This one is Guava jam & macadamia nut butter. Probably the best experience I’ve had with macadamias & guava, which aren’t really my fave, but done very well here.

I was attracted most to the Sesame Fig, which I gobbled up after taking a photo. The sesame paste is combined with chocolate to create a sesame Nutella of sorts, though quite firm. Inside the center was a reservoir of fig jam. The toasted & grassy flavors of the sesame went well with the fresh & slightly tangy notes of the fig. Sunflower Honey was next on my hit list. Sunflower seeds have such a distinctive taste. This center was like a creamed honey with sunflower flavors.

Cashew Apricot was really decadent, as the apricot’s pine-notes were offset by the deep toasted butter flavors of the cashews. The hazelnut was also stellar, the freshness of the nut butter was so different from many other guianduias I have regularly. (I shared some others and didn’t take complete notes on the rest.)

Unlike many nut creations that rely on salt to bring the nut flavors forward, Ococoa lets the sweetness of the nuts come through. The only problem I had with these, if it could be called that, was the construction. The chocolate cap on the top was very thick, so biting the pieces in half wasn’t very easy. While I don’t think it’s imperative that all chocolates be dissected, it meant that there was always a larger reservoir of chocolate at the end when sometimes I really wanted to end on a nut note.

They’ll set you back $22 for a 9 piece box.

Candy Addict also had an excellent write up on these back in December.

Related Candies

  1. Fling: Milk Chocolate, Dark Chocolate & Hazelnut
  2. Andes Fall Harvest Mix
  3. Candy Dump 2008 part 2
  4. Caffarel Figs & Chestnuts (Fico & Castagna)
  5. CocoaBella “World’s Best Box”
  6. Jacques Torres
  7. Chocolate Sunflower Seed Drops

POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:38 am     All NaturalCandyChocolatierFancy Food ShowReviewChocolateGingerLimited EditionMarshmallowMockolateNutsPeanuts7-Worth ItUnited StatesComments (6)

Monday, February 9, 2009

Butterfinger Buzz (Caffeinated)

Butterfinger Buzz (King Size)Nestle has jumped on the caffeination bandwagon introducing their Limited Edition Butterfinger Buzz.

I got a hold of the king size version (I don’t know if it comes in the regular size) via Nestle’s PR company who offered me some samples. I’ve been looking for them for about a month, as the Butterfinger Buzz Facebook page says they should be available at 7-11 and Walgreen’s.

Butterfinger Buzz (King Size)The name pretty much explains it all, it’s a Butterfinger with extra caffeine. The king size version is two smaller bars - 3.75 inches long & 1.85 ounces each (a regular bar is 2.12 ounces).

The package is a little confusing. It says with as much caffeine as the leading energy drink. The whole package has 80 mg of caffeine (the same as an 8 ounce Red Bull). But the recommended portion is one half of the package which nets you 40 mg of caffeine. 40 mg is about the same caffeine as 3 ounces of brewed coffee.

image

The little bars are less than attractive. The mockolate coating isn’t very chocolatey looking, it’s much lighter than most milk chocolate and has a chalky, matte appearance instead of a silky & shiny look. It does smell a bit like cocoa and peanut butter with a small whiff of Cap’n Crunch cereal.

The crunchy peanut butter candy center is rather different from the regular Butterfinger. First, it’s an unnatural red/orange color (thanks to Red 40!). It’s also denser. I’ve eaten three of these bars, just in case it was just that one bar that was a little off from the norm. The middle half of the bar is more like a hard candy than the flaky peanut butter crisp.

Other than the color & texture difference, I can also state that there is a definite bitter bite to this. (Who knows if it’s just the caffeine or and added contribution of the detestable red food coloring?) The bitterness lasts as a slight metallic aftertaste for several hours, at least for me. I don’t have this problem with coffee, which also has caffeine and can often be bitter, but will fade away after I’ve swallowed it.

I know these will likely generate lots of interest, especially from students, gamers and long-haul truck drivers. It is nice to have the option to get a little candy boost with some caffeine. This integration didn’t quite make the cut for me, though.

Mars introduced Snickers Charged around this time last year, which was 60 mg of caffeine as well as B vitamins & taurine.

Honestly, if Nestle wanted to impress me, they should make a gourmet Butterfinger, with some of their real Swiss chocolate. And I can have that with a cup of coffee and really a buzz going.

Related Candies

  1. Butterfinger Buzz (Caffeinated)
  2. Loud Truck Energy Gummies
  3. Caffe Acapella - Coffee Confections
  4. Butterfinger Stixx
  5. Head-to-Head: Butterfinger vs. 5th Avenue
  6. No Time & Black Black
Name: Limited Edition Butterfinger Buzz
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Nestle
Place Purchased: samples from Nestle PR reps
Price: unknown
Size: 3.7 ounces
Calories per ounce: 124
Categories: Mockolate, Peanut, Caffeine, United States, Nestle, Kosher, Limited Edition

POSTED BY Cybele AT 8:52 am     Comments (32)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Cream Drops versus Creme Drops

Vermont Country Store Cream DropsA few months ago I saw Creme Drops at the 99 Cent Store, but since it was hot out, I didn’t pick them. Then I saw Robby’s review on Candy Addict of the Necco variety and I thought maybe I’d made the right decision.

But then I saw these on the website for the Vermont Country Store and made a mental note. Well, that mental note didn’t sit there too long because a couple of weeks later VCS wanted me to try some of their candy and I specifically requested their Assorted Cream Drops.

Since it’s finally gotten cool in Los Angeles, chocolate shipping produces less anxiety than the other 8 months of the year. (They’re packaging for shipping was great, too, by the way. Everything arrived in great shape.)

Vermont Country Store Cream DropsThe best part of the description on their website: real chocolate.

The rest of the description is rather vague. The name they use is Chocolate-Covered Cream Drop Assortment with 6 Luscious Flavors but the box never actually list the flavors by name (but digging around on the description page does yield the list).

And the drops all look exactly the same.

So I set about picking them out of the box and cutting them in half, like it was some sort of logic puzzle like mine sweeper.

After eight of them (three were Lemon and not in a row), I determined that they are randomly loaded into the box. The dividers in the box do a great job of protecting the candies without any fussy papers. (Eventually I found that sniffing them carefully did allow me to pick out orange or maple, but then again, who wants one that I’ve held up to my nose? I think I’m better off poking holes in the bottom.)

image

Yellow = Lemon: sweet and creamy but a little like a scented candle. The bittersweet chocolate shell set the mellow center off quite nicely. It’s not very zesty, just a light aromatic lemon. All of the pieces had sugar grains in it though, unlike the other flavors. I’m guessing this was just a manufacturing glitch.

Beige = Maple: I could often sniff this one out, the maple flavor was quite pungent. It combined well with the sweet and slightly stringy fondant center.

Orange = Orange: reminded me of a creamsicle. Sweet and with a good mouthfeel and a nice chocolate note that cut that almost-too-sweetness of it.

Pink = Raspberry: this interior was very bright pink, which alerted me that this was probably the one with the Red Dye #40. It was all about the floral and perfumey flavors, not much of the rich tangy berry in there.

Brown = Chocolate: this is the mellowest of the bunch. It’s not so much chocolatey as just less sweet and slightly creamier. The filling is not quite silky, but the gooeyness is more than pleasant.

White = Vanilla: tastes exactly like a Junior Mint without the mint. The fondant center is wonderfully smooth, the chocolate becomes the star. It melts easily though admittedly the whole thing is very sweet. I would recommend eating these with strong black coffee or black tea.

These are a quality product. The consistency of the fondant center was fresh and glossy, the chocolate was good. They’re not really something that I would eat on a regular basis, when I have a box of mixed chocolates, I usually leave the creams for last so actually buying a box of creams isn’t something I’m likely to do. I prefer the slightly fattier creams that Fannie Mae (we had a box of those at the office recently) or See’s make. But if you’ve always wished that Junior Mints came in other flavors or perhaps want a less chocolatey or dark chocolate version of a Cadbury Creme Egg, then this might be for you.

Rating: 6 out of 10

Zachary Creme DropsI saw the Zachary version of Old Fashioned Creme Drops at the 99 Cent Only Store, this time with a festive wreath on them, so I figured they were fresh so I bought them.

The description on the package says: Creme Filled Center with Smooth Chocolate Flavored Coating!. So yeah, it’s mockolate. (But at least their snowflakes have six points.)

I had hopes though, since it’s also a full 12 ounces ... for only a dollar? That’s quite a value there. A one pound box of sugar is about $1.19 at my local grocery store.

image

Because they’re bagged and not in a box with little partitions, they are a little more scuffed than the Vermont Country Store variety. (But again, the price difference is absurd - VCS are $1.25 an ounce and Zachary’s are 8.3 cents an ounce.)

They also only come in one flavor, plain. (Or perhaps I should call it vanilla, but there is no vanilla or vanilla flavor listed on the ingredients.)

The shell is mockolate but has a dark, toasted scent.

image

The bite of the Zachary candy (left) is vastly different from the soft and glossy VCS variety (right). This is a solid fondant, similar to the center of a York Peppermint Pattie.

The texture is smooth, but crumbly, kind of like an albino fudge.

I rather liked the center but the mockolate coating ruined it for me. It was sweet and had that stale Easter essence. It’s rather sad, I’d gladly take 1/3 of the quantity at twice the price if they were real chocolate because the centers are pretty good.

I can recommend these for people who already love them (and I shouldn’t quibble with folks who like what they like). I can recommend these for placing as a decoration on a tray of cookies or perhaps adding to a dessert plate when you’re really in a crunch and don’t like your guests (or know that they all have colds and would simply appreciate the fondant texture).

Rating: 3 out of 10

I kind of wish both varieties came in mint.

Related Candies

  1. Mint Cremes from the Makers of Jelly Belly
  2. Junior Fruit Cremes
  3. Cadbury Ornament Creme Egg
  4. Zachary Candy Corn & Jelly Pumpkins
  5. Cadbury Orange Creme Eggs
  6. York Chocolate Mint Truffle Pattie
Name: Assorted Cream Drops & Old Fashioned Creme Drops
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Vermont Country Store & Zachary
Place Purchased: samples from VCS & 99 Cent Only Store (Silverlake)
Price: $19.95 & $1.00
Size: 16 ounces & 12 ounces
Calories per ounce: 105 & 112
Categories: Chocolate, Fondant, Mockolate, United States, Zachary

POSTED BY Cybele AT 12:10 pm     Comments (12)

Monday, December 8, 2008

Trader Joe’s French Truffles

Trader Joe's French TrufflesI love truffles. I love dreamy, creamy, extra fatty chocolate.

I’m kind of a truffle purist. In my world, a chocolate truffle is chocolate with extra butterfat added to it and sometimes, if you wish, egg yolks. My recipe for truffle ganache is pretty simple: combine 1 cup of heavy cream and 8 ounces of bittersweet chocolate in a double boiler on low simmer. Allow to melt over the lowest possible heat, blend well - cool completely before refrigerating to solidify. (I usually double or triple that, but those are the proportions.)

Flavorings like mint extract or orange oil might be added. I usually make raspberry truffles by combining the ganache with seedless unsweetened jam or cognac ones by tipping in some cognac (then keep warm a while longer so some alcohol can evaporate to keep it from getting runny). But the list of ingredients is brief.

They can be rolled in cocoa or crushed nuts but I usually dip them, just because they keep better that way, are generally more attractive and are of course, neater than all that cocoa powder all over the place.

French Truffles - IngredientsTrader Joe’s has been selling French Truffles for years (though the package changes design from time to time). I tried them once, many years ago and thought something was off about them and never touched them again. Even though they’re an impossible price, at $2.99 for 8.8 ounces. And French! Because, you know, if it’s imported, it has to be good! (That was sarcasm.) I still didn’t buy them and avoided them when offered.

But I was on the prowl this weekend for Trader Joe’s holiday offerings and decided it was time to give these their due on the blog.

Now, I understand how price and mass manufacturing techniques can change a time-tested recipe. So here’s what it’s done to the venerable French Truffle:

Ingredients: Palm kernel oil, sugar, low fat cocoa, whey powder (milk), cocoa powder, soy lecithin, natural vanilla flavor.

If you gave me this list and asked me what that was, I’d say that was mockolate. There is no chocolate in here. No cocoa butter. There isn’t even any milkfat in here. Just palm kernel oil. (And there must be a lot because these clock in with a caloric density of 177 calories per ounce.)

Now, to be fair, Trader Joe’s does not state on the box that they’re chocolate truffles. Nope, they’re just French Truffles. (In fact there’s nothing else on the packaging to describe them except for some little lines that say that it’s all natural and contains no preservatives. Oil is actually a good antioxidant.)

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Inside the red box is a tough, gold mylar pouch. The French Truffles are just in there. No tray, no fussy packaging, just in an un-resealable bag.

The little domes of these French Truffles look like flattened spheres of pig iron we used to pick up on the railroad tracks when I was ateen. They look like little rusted bells.

They smell a little woodsy, a little like Elmer’s glue and a bit like cocoa.

The bite is smooth, they’re soft and yielding, but not at all chalky or crystallized like fudge can be.

The melt on the tongue is instantaneous. It becomes runny and slick. The sugar isn’t completely combined as it would be if chocolate was used, so there’s a bit of a grain to it. The cocoa flavors are mellow and rich with a strong smoky component.

They’re not terribly sweet, almost salty (as cocoa can taste sometimes) though there’s no additional salt added to them (the natural sodium is 30 mg per serving). The buttery texture is really compelling and they don’t feel greasy on the tongue or waxy.

All that said, after eating one or two, I don’t feel like I’ve eaten chocolate. I don’t get that same kick.

As a confection, they’re certainly worth the $3 for the box. But to get 80% of my saturated fat in five pieces, especially when that saturated fat isn’t of the non-lethal cocoa butter variety, I think I’ll give these a pass now and in the future. There are far better real chocolate products from France or Trader Joe’s.

Though it’s sometimes hard to tell who makes Trader Joe’s products, I’m quite convinced that these are made by CHOCMOD.

Related Candies

  1. Starbucks Truffles
  2. Trader Joe’s Irish Cream Chocolates
  3. Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels
  4. Ice Cubes
  5. Frangos Dark (62%)
  6. Choxie Champagne Truffles
Name: French Truffles
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Trader Joe's (Chocmod)
Place Purchased: Trader Joe's (Silverlake)
Price: $2.99
Size: 8.8 ounces
Calories per ounce: 177
Categories: Mockolate, France, Trader Joe's, All Natural

POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:34 am     Comments (33)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Rally Bar

imageI picked up this Rally Bar at Hershey’s Chocolate World last month. The only place I know these are being sold is at the Hershey’s stores, as a few other candy bloggers have mentioned. (Hershey’s Insider, Jim’s Chocolate Mission & Sugar Hog.)

The Rally Bar was one of the few candy bars introduced by the Hershey’s company under its own brand name during the 70s. Sure, Hershey’s has plenty of chocolate bars with inclusions and they also have other candy bars like Almond Joy and Fifth Avenue but those were made by other companies that were later purchased by the Hershey’s corporation.

The Rally Bar wasn’t much of an innovation. It’s a nougat center with a coating of caramel, rolled in peanuts and then covered in a chocolatey coating.

I remember them existing when I was a kid, but I also recall them having a yellow, orange and red wrapper, not this generic white wrapper. The Rally isn’t quite extinct either, it’s found in some small enclaves around the world.

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I was intrigued by the idea that Hershey’s would re-release nostalgic bars. Kind of like bringing back Good & Fruity.

The bar looks nice, it’s great to get a fresh candy product. Thought it wasn’t a real chocolate coating, it was glossy and smelled sweet and milky.

Biting into it, I got a feeling that this was familiar. The nougat center is a decent toasted vanilla flavor, the caramel around it didn’t do much for the flavor but adds a great texture and cements the peanuts to the bar. The nuts were well roasted and of the three bars I’ve eaten, only one had a bad nut. The mockolate coating is rather smooth, certainly less grainy that Hershey’s Milk Chocolate is these days and at least let the stars of the bar, the nougat and nuts come through.

After seeing them on Frances’ blog post though, I was pretty convinced that these were not really the Rally Bar, but just repackaged Oh Henry! bars as sold in Canada.

imageimage

On the left is the Canadian Oh Henry and on the right is the Rally Bar.

They look rather similar. Each weighs 2.2 ounces (larger than most American bars). And Hershey’s no longer makes any of its candy in Canada, leading me to believe that they’re now made in the United States and exported. (Perhaps some Canadians could confirm this.) And they’re both mockolate.

The only appeal I see in this bar is the nostalgic value, whether you’re Canadian or American and remember it from the 70s. There are plenty of other bars that are remarkably similar and could probably serve the same role. Snickers, Chocolatey Avalanche Payday, Oh Henry (USA) and of course Baby Ruth. But I’ll finish the ones I picked up. No use letting them get stale.

Related Candies

  1. Trader Joe’s Lumpy Bumpy Bar
  2. Head to Head: Twisted vs Take 5
  3. Payday Avalanches
  4. Chocolate Payday
  5. Pearson’s Buns
Name: Rally Bar
    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: Hershey's Chocolate World (Hershey, PA)
Price: $3.69 for four bars
Size: 2.2 ounces
Calories per ounce: 136
Categories: Mockolate, Nougat, Caramle, Peanut, United States, Hershey, Kosher

POSTED BY Cybele AT 1:41 pm     Comments (12)

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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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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:

• Patric Chocolate

• Amano Chocolates

• Candy Rant: Stimulants are not Energy

• Candy Encyclopedia: The Difference Between Gummi and Jelly

• Candy Rant: If your Licorice isn’t black, it isn’t Licorice

 

 

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