Thursday, September 20, 2007
I’ve been on quite a nougat roll this summer, mostly because it’s a very satisfying candy that does well in the heat. The funny thing is, before this year I don’t think I considered nougat a summer candy, I’ve always associated nougat with Christmas.
My husband picked up these two nougat bars at a deli in Santa Monica. (He’s always so considerate that way!) It’s always a good sign when the ingredients list for a nougat starts with nuts. In this case it’s pistachios. They were nicely sized and spread out in the bar and provided the chewy crunch that sets off the sweet nougat so well.
This pistachio bar was also flavored with pistachio, so it had that perfumed taste rather like green tea ice cream and violets along with the grassy notes of the nuts. The honey didn’t stand out much, as I often prefer in my nougat.
The flatness of this bar made it particularly easy to eat. The nougat was also pretty soft. The only weird thing about it was because there was a wafer on each side, biting it was sometimes a little difficult (maybe I need my teeth sharpened) and the nougat wanted to spread out the sides of the wafers. Also, because there was more wafer by proportion, there was more of a “cereal” taste to it.
Overall, it wasn’t my favorite nougat of all time, but certainly portable and a nice after dinner snack.
There was a slight grainy note to the nougat, like little sugar crystals. The chocolate flavor was more like cocoa than chocolate but exceptionally nutty - the ingredients list both toasted almonds and hazelnut paste. Think of a very high end Tootsie Roll with nuts, I know it sounds weird, but it was still very satisfying.
The nuts were just as abundant in this nougat as the Pistachio. I wanted a stronger honey note to it, but it wasn’t too sweet and had a light texture that was definitely just the kick I needed during the summer heat.
Nougat also travels particularly well, so keep that in mind when putting together your air travel survival kit.
While at the All Candy Expo I made a point to stop by the booth of the American importer of Ferrara products. The company also makes the La Florentine line of torrones, you know, the ones in the little boxes that come in orange, lemon and vanilla and have stately portraits of royalty on them. That was the brand I used to get those in my stocking at Christmas, so they’re one of the first nougats I’ve ever had and quite special to me.
The bars above, of course, are more meaty portions (and more economical packaging). I grabbed a traditional Ferrara nougat bar which I’m excited to try after the Pistachio as well as their chocolate covered plain nougat (it comes in a large box and they’re not individually wrapped). I think nougat is a wonderful hostess gift, though some might disagree. (But if I’m the hostess and you’re coming to my house, I’ll think you’re pretty special and invite you back often.)
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
I was thinking back when I wrote the review of the new 3 Musketeers Mint about the original 3 Musketeers. I’ve been searching high and low for images of it, but alas there are none to be found via my diligent use of google. What struck me as so wonderful about the concept was that it was much like the long-gone 7up Bar and the still here Sky Bar - a combination of segmented flavors.
The old 3 Musketeers would have been the Neapolitan nougat of candy bars.
Imagine my surprise as I ducked in the Rite Aid on Friday to pick up some things for my vacation (yes, I’m on vacation right now as I type this) that not only did the store have much of their Halloween candy on display, they also had this Autumn Minis Mix. It doesn’t say limited edition or anything. Perhaps it’s seasonal, there are golden leaves on it, after all.
Here’s an old commercial I found from the days of black and white television animation:
All for fun, and fun for all! Alexander Dumas would be proud.
The little mini bars are tiny, about the size of a normal boxed chocolate. Take them out of the wrapper and put it on an elegant plate and it might even pass for one at a glance.
While I’ve never quite understood what French Vanilla is (and it’s often used as a description for candles and ice cream), I appreciate that this 3 Musketeers is a little lighter tasting. Where a regular one has a rather malty and dark salt flavor to it, this is light. It doesn’t quite have vanilla oozing from its pores as a flavor (more like the absence of any other flavors distinguishes this one), it’s still pleasant.
Against my better judgment, I love the Strawberry. It absolutely reminds me of Neapolitan ice cream! The strawberry is sweet and has a light caramelized sugar touch to it, a little floral-y and certainly on the fake side. But the soft, fluffy and rather foamy nougat pulls it off. The chocolate is passable enough as an enclosure and adds the cocoa flavor to bring it together (I can certainly see me hating it if it were covered in white chocolate).
The pink color of the insides is a little shocking and I’m guessing where the artificial colors listed in the ingredients are used. Kind of unnecessary in my book (especially since it seems that folks accepted the uncolored insides to the new Mint bar).
Mocha Capuccino are surprisingly nice. Not too sweet, a good texture and creamy counterpoint of the chocolate to the nougat. However, they don’t taste like coffee. Nope, they taste like pecans or maple, but not like coffee.
I don’t mind the flavor in the slightest, and considered it my second favorite of this bunch, but someone really needs to tweak their “coffee flavor” that they’re selling to these candy companies. (It could have been much worse, it could have been that dastardly Mocha that those limited edition KitKats had.)
Overall, these are a nice change up from the standard 3 Musketeers and the simplicity of the bar in the first place makes the flavor changes perfectly acceptable.
The price point on these, $3.79 for a 9 ounce bag was a bit hard to swallow. I prefer paying about $2.50 for these sorts of things, but I figured, I’m on vacation (or will be).
Monday, July 30, 2007
I pretty much love PayDay bars. They’re the original energy bar as far as I’m concerned. Long before I knew about glycemic indexes it was obvious that PayDay contained a lot of calories, but they’re slow and sustained. A nice hit of sugar and quick glucose and then along protein boost that keeps the tummy from growling and prevents that “I need a nap” feeling.
A PayDay bar, as the advertising tagline used to say, is mostly nuts. At its center is a log of inert and dense nougat. Covering that is a layer of usually firm caramel and then the whole thing is rolled in lightly salted peanuts.
The PayDay is one of the older candy bar brands in the country, first produced by Hollywood Brands, Inc. in 1932. During the depression bars like PayDay, that had both a hopeful name and high calorie count (mostly from fat and protein) were actually eaten as meal replacements. The brand has switched hands a few times (as shown in the Hershey’s timeline) but still remains unchanged, now made by Hershey’s.
The bars contain about 3.8 grams of protein per ounce, which is pretty high for a non-protein fortified bar. You can credit the high proportion of peanuts for that.
In the case of the Fresh from the Factory PayDay bars, they were in the fun-zie of .7 ounces (regular bars are 1.8 ounces). I like fun size bars, so this was a nice way to get the bars. (Kind of like the FFTF Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.) I’ve never had such a soft bar before, which is indeed a treat. I don’t mind the firmness of the usual bars, but the caramel is really much more present here than in any other bar I’ve had before. The nougat is soft and has a pleasant sweet fudgy texture. The peanuts taste like fresh roasted nuts and were all good quality (though not huge or anything).
PayDay bars currently come in a few different versions, including the Chocolatey Avalanche which replaced the limited edition real chocolate covered bar. I’ve tried the Honey Roasted PayDay and found it distractingly flavorful ... less about the nuts and more about the honey flavor. The original has survived for a reason, it’s good. It’s really one of the best Summer Bars there is. No chocolate so no worries about melting, long lasting energy to keep you going between meals.
The important thing is that the regular PayDay bar is just fine when it’s not factory fresh (a little time in a pocket or in a hot car to warm up and you can pretend).
You can order now for shipment the week of August 13, 2007. It’s $20 for a tub holding 2 lbs and 14.4 ounces. Not a bad price for nearly three pounds of fresh candy (however, the shipping, I believe is an extra $10 depending on where you live).
PayDay bars contain both milk and egg products, so are not suitable for vegans. Kosher.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
There comes a time in every candy blogger’s career where she has to admit something tough, something that perhaps she never wanted to say out loud to anyone before. But you, dear readers, deserve to know.
I’m a nougat freak.
I love turrons, torrones, French nougat, Italian, Spanish, South African, Australian ... it doesn’t matter. I just love the stuff. I’m a nut for it. And while my sense of adventure is sometimes muted by my pocketbook, it seems that never matters when I’m presented with nougat ... especially when I see the word HONEY on the ingredients.
At Bristol Farms over the weekend I spent a good ten minutes staring at everything in the candy aisle. The place has a very nicely provisioned candy aisle ... a full selection of Green & Black bars, Cafe Tasse, Jo’s comfort confections, Jelly Belly by the pound, Scharffen Berger and of course a healthy assortment of imported consumer goodies like Aero and Violet Crumble. There tucked between some pastilles and Panda licorice bars was this solitary representative in the nougat family: Flamigni Torrone Morbido con Mandorle e Pistacchi.
The green paper wrapper has an inner foil wrapper and it felt nice and soft ... just the way I like it. (Okay, I like it hard and crisp, too.)
That’s the good stuff, all the way from Italy. The ingredients? Almonds (30%), Pistachios (13%), honey, glucose syrup, sugar, candied orange and citron peels, egg yolks, flavors and wafers.
Sounds good, and the egg yolks instead of egg whites colored me intrigued as did the citrus peels.
The bar was attractive unwrapped with the high percentage of nuts readily apparent.
The scent was only slightly of citrus and mostly of sugar with slight caramel notes and a little pistachio and vanilla thrown in. On the tongue though the honey flavor come out (not like the Nutpatch Nougat of course). Then come the zesty lemon peels and soft crunchy pistachios. It’s a riot of soft and mellow flavors and satisfying textures.
As long as you go into the bar realizing that it’s all about the subtle flavors and not about heavy honey or citrus, I think you’ll be pleased.
It’s definitely a bar I could indulge in every time I go to Bristol Farms (which is about five times a year, so certainly within the range of my pocketbook). I didn’t find much in the way of sources online, but Daprano has some other Flamigni nougats on their site.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Sometimes I wonder if these energy bars are really better than plain old candy bars. Back in the depression candy bars were meal replacements. Many were packed with nuts and over two ounces, which made them a pretty cheap source of satisfying calories at a nickle.
Of course the object these days is not the maximum number of calories per ounce, but how good the nutrition profile is.
When I want a little lasting energy & snack, I usually reach for some sort of nutty bar, as they tend to have a good amount of protein. Payday bars are always dependable. But I’m also a fan of Lara Bars, which are basically mashed up almonds and dates with a few spices thrown in. At about twice the price though, I often grab the Payday ... and I don’t feel that bad about it.
This sounded familiar. In fact, it looked familiar ... very familiar. The Take 5 features pretzels, caramel, peanuts, peanut butter and milk chocolate. Wow, not much difference there ... even in the ordering of the elements.
Well, Twisted was $1.29 and a Take 5 is $.89 at the 7-11.
I’ve reviewed the Take 5 before and I stand by it. It’s a good bar with a lot of variety of texture in it, not too sweet and because it’s in two pieces, it’s easy to have a little now, have a little later.
The Twisted bar is merely a Tiger’s Milk bar covered in weak chocolate with a pretzel thrown in. It smells like baby formula. It seriously tasted like I was chomping on vitamin leather or something. I often enjoy things that are rather unpalatable, just because I’m fascinated by all the different flavors there are and maybe catty things I can say about it. I didn’t enjoy this, even for the prospect of reviewing it. Luckily the two piece format of the Take 5 meant that I had a palate cleansing second piece at hand.
So you might feel like you’re doing the right thing when you eat this lower calorie version of a Take 5, but you’re certainly not going to enjoy it.
I have to admit that it’s probably unfair to match a candy bar with an energy bar ... but hey, that’s the breaks. They started it by packaging it to look an awful lot like the Take 5.
For some other balanced reviews of snack bars, check out I Ate a Pie’s special roundup from earlier this year.
Wednesday, June 6, 2007
I don’t usually buy into the stories behind candy, because a story is great but doesn’t amount to much once you put the candy in your mouth. It’s fun to read them on the package insert, you know, while munching away. But the story on Nutpatch Nougats is pretty good.
That’s some serious local food going on there ... I’m guessing the only thing that’s not local is the little edible rice paper wrapping.
I first tried Nutpatch in January at the Fancy Food Show at a booth run by Tassie Naturals that sells lots of other wonderful Tasmanian sweets, like Leatherwood Honey. But I was there for the classic nougat and Larry at Tassie Naturals was actually waiting for me. What I tasted back in January were samples, just slices from the large bar that they sell, wrapped in plain clear cellophane. Hey, I didn’t need any fancy wrappings.
But what I did need was another fix. So I emailed Larry back in March ... nope, it’s not ready yet. I had to distract myself with other things for a while.
So I wait ... and wait ... to hear back from Larry that he was ready to start selling Nutpatch Nougat in the United States. Then, just after Memorial Day I got the good news ... oh, it was not only good that they were ready to start selling but because the package changed, he insisted on sending me new samples. (Okay, insisted is strong, he said he would send them and I said, “Yay!”)
Almond Nougat - this nougat doesn’t have honey notes, no, it tastes just like honey. Like I’ve put honeycomb in my mouth, honeycomb studded with almonds. Sweet, mellow honey and almonds. A soft bite, good crunchy nuts and a smooth melt on the tongue with that crazy, crazy honey.
Hazelnut Nougat - this smells like hazelnut. And it made me realize that hazelnuts smell like freshly cut fruit woods. Oh, and then there’s the honey. It’s sweet and has that beeswax scent. Sweet, but not overwhelming. The whole thing tastes toasty. It’s sweet, but not throat-burningly. It feels like a treat, but it doesn’t have that sugar let-down later, probably because of the high nut content and all that protein.
There are a lot of nuts in these. Some nougats are excited to proclaim 25-40% nut content. Nutpatch Nougat is about 60% nuts by weight. Oh, and the number two ingredient on the list is not sugar ... it’s honey!
My biggest complaint here is that the nougat is packaged in this huge bar. At 5.6 ounces, it’s pretty big ... think two sticks of butter. It’s a little vexing to slice and of course if I wanted to just pop this in my picnic I have to bring a knife of pre-slice it. The Nougat de Montelimar at least can be pulled apart or bitten off easily. (Of course the Nougat de Montelimar is $3.45 an ounce and Nutpatch is $1.75 an ounce ... I think I can be troubled to pre-slice.)
While I was thinking that the bars would be the same as the nougat, the nougat seems different just by being molded into the chocolate bar. I don’t know if it’s because it’s been sealed from any oxidation or because the chocolate is just so thick and fragrant, but this bar is definitely more about the chocolate.
The little fingers of nougat are studded with hazelnuts. The bottom layer has the typical rice paper wafer, but the tops and sides don’t. The chocolate is overpowering ... not that that’s a bad thing. It’s very tasy dark Callebaut. But it does overpower the honey notes for me. But for what it takes away it brings something else that’s wonderful, an intense creaminess and extra woody flavors that boost the nuts. The hazelnuts definitely seemed stronger here.
As chocolate covered nougats go, this is pretty much at the top of my list, but if I had to pick ... if you put a plate in front of me that had these bars or a selection of the Holiday Nougat from Valerie Confections, I might go with Valerie’s, I just like the balance of the nougat and chocolate and of course the citrus boost. Of course the Holiday Nougat isn’t available right now ... so Nutpatch would satisfy an off-season jones. (No one is actually selling the Nutpatch Chocolate Bars yet, so it’s all hypothetical.)
More reading on Nutpatch Nougats: Other Nougat is Not a Patch on This. Where to buy? Right now you can order online at Natural Food Finds. I imagine since this is a very small operation, the nougat will be in short supply, so order it when they have it if you’re interested.
UPDATE 06/15/2007: Through some strange snafu, I quoted a price from the Natural Food Finds that wasn’t quite final. I said it’s $9.89 when in reality it’s now selling for $14.95 ... still a much better deal than most other fine European-style nougats (certainly still beating the Soubeyran). The good news is that Natural Food Find WILL give Candy Blog readers a $1.50 off until July 11, 2007. Just enter the coupon code CBJUN11 if you order to get the special reduced price deal. My apologies for any confusion to anyone.
No word yet on anyone selling the chocolate covered nougat bars.
Friday, May 18, 2007
Nope, no special text on these, they’re totally a regular product now.
So, go about your business. No need to hoard them or buy them on eBay. Just buy them whenever you want them.
Thursday, May 3, 2007
I found this bar at a store called Kearn’s on Beverly Blvd. in Los Angeles. I’ve passed by this little convenience store for 13 years without ever stopping in. Because it’s in an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood, I thought they might have an interesting selection (and perhaps some leftover Passover Coke). They carried a good line of candies, with a strong focus on jelly based ones (Sunkist Fruit Gems, anyone?). They also had some imported items, especially ones from Israel in the Paskesz brand.
I’ve had a few Paskesz candies and find them decent middle of the road fare, rather like Hershey’s or Mars but with a good wholesome twist on the ordinary crunch.
Looking at the Milk Munch bar it was pretty obvious that it’s a Milky Way knock-off (Mars knock-off for your European readers).
The milk chocolate is unremarkable. It’s sweet and creamy, but lacks any real chocolate flavor contribution here. The main flavor here is the rather cereal tasting nougat. Salty and perhaps a little malty, it tastes a bit like cookie dough. The caramel is nice and soft, but again, not very flavorful.
I was hoping for a Milky Way Bar here, but I got something a little more toned down but far saltier ... and Milky Ways are pretty sedate as it is. But there was something more dense about the nougat portion that just didn’t please me. And at more than the price of a regular Milky Way, it just wasn’t worth it.
Note from wrapper: made under the supervision of Rabbi O.Y. Westheim, Manchester
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