Thursday, July 14, 2005
Name: Dars Bitter Chocolate
This was one of the purchases from Japan I was most worried about ordering through the mail because of the summer heat. Luckily it made the trip in perfect condition.
Morinaga makes excellent consumer chocolate and for a decent price. I’ve had their Hi-CROWN chocolate and liked it very much. This one is about half the price and still comes in a snazzy package great for sharing. (In fact, I shared about a third of this with others.)
Inside the box is a mylar sealed tray with an array of a dozen chocolate nuggets, each a diminuitive bite of chocolate. Because I ordered this directly from Japan, there is no English wrapper on it and I can only glean a few things from the packaging. One is that it’s 45% cocoa solids and the other is that it’s dark chocolate. I have to say, if they’re not putting a lot of sugar in it, and it’s only 45% cocoa everything else must be cocoa butter and that’s a good thing. This is exceptionally creamy and smooth dark chocolate with a wonderful smokey chocolate flavor with a slight cognac note to it. Not too sweet and not at all grainy.
Bonus to Morinaga for putting a freshness date on there too.
Rating - 9 out of 10 ... if only I could find it easily nearby
Friday, July 8, 2005
Name: Green Tea and Black Sugar Caramels
I know, you must think me obsessed with caramels. But they are one of the most perfect expressions of sugar and fat. Soft, yielding, bursting with sugary flavor that lingers in the crevices of your mouth. They’re great for summer too, since they’re not subject to the temperature extremes of chocolate.
As promised, I’m ready to share my Japanese finds from my recent shipment.
First is Morinaga’s Kokutou Caramel. This is what’s known as a black sugar caramel, or probably what westerners know of as brown sugar or molasses. This caramel is darker than the milk caramels I’ve tried from Japan. It has a slightly rummy aroma and a definite molasses bite to it when chewing. It’s a really nice, smooth caramel with a good finish. There’s no molasses bitterness either. It’s not sticky, but plenty chewy with a good milky consistency.
Morinaga also makes a Matcha Caramel, which is a green tea flavored caramel. The nugget is definitely green. It smells of green tea and tastes just like green tea ice cream, with that same smooth roasted flavor and slight bitter tinge. Unfortunately after chewing for a while, it feels a little grainy and slightly bitter, like there are real ground up leaves in there. That aside, they’re quite addictive and both caramels complement each other well - so I can just alternate between the two all afternoon.
Rating: Kokutou Caramel - 8 out of 10
Thursday, May 12, 2005
Name: Hi-SOFT Caramel and Milk Caramel
First, I give high marks to Morinaga’s packaging team. Like the Hi-CROWN chocolate, the Hi-SOFT caramel comes in a spiffy hard box, perfect for carrying in a pocket or purse and fun to flip open to share. I’m not sure how many caramel products Morinaga markets, but these are just two I’ve found.
Of the two, I prefer the taste and texture of the yellow box Milk Caramel. Both are soft and chewy without being grainy, but the milky smoothness of the Milk Caramel far outweighs the Hi-SOFT’s keen box. Of course nothing will ever top the happy fat cows that got me started on the Japanese caramels.
In fact, of all the caramels I’ve tasted over the past few months, I like the Milk Caramel best. Looking over the ingredients it has the right mix of sugar and milk products, a dash of salt and something I didn’t expect - tea extract.
Rating: Hi-SOFT - 6 out of 10; Milk Caramel - 8 out of 10
Tuesday, May 3, 2005
One of the things I forgot to tell you about from my Little Tokyo excursion is Hi-CHEW. I’m guessing it’s the Starburst of Japan. It’s a fruit flavored taffy - white on the outside with a corresponding colored center to the flavor. I tried strawberry. It’s very flavorful and has a good soft chew. However, because they’re made with millet jelly, they have an odd sort of latexy chew to them. It takes some getting used to, but it’s a nice texture.
Rating: 7 out of 10
Wednesday, April 13, 2005
Name: Hi-CROWN Chocolate
I was attracted by the European cigarette box styling of this and expected to open it and have a wave of clove scent wash over me. However, inside was much more delightful. There were six chocolate wafers, each individually wrapped about the size of a thick stick of gum. They were scored in the middle, so you could break them in half.
The chocolate is smooth, buttery and very strong. Not too sweet though just a tad waxy to the mouth before it melts. Not at all bitter, but with a good solid acidic kick to it.
The price is quite appropriate for other types of premium chocolates and I will purchase this again. In fact, as a stocking stuffer, I would certainly prefer this to one of those chocolate oranges. The packaging is lovely and really sells the product. It’s protective and quite a conversation starter.
Rating: 8 out of 10
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.