Tuesday, November 8, 2005
Name: Ritter Sport Bars
I did a review of the teensy variety pack of Ritter Sport a few weeks ago, and it just so happens that Robin’s been helping me get more international sweets by having her writers traveling abroad pick up some candy for me to review. I have another half a dozen bars from this care package, so you can look forward to some other sweets picked up in Eastern Europe.
When I was taking the photos the first time around (above is my second stab at documenting these), the Rum Trauben Nuts (Rum, Raisins & Hazelnuts) smelled so incredibly good I all but two squares before realizing I had to take another picture.
Unlike other “rum flavored” chocolates, this is really rummy. If my German skills are good enough, I can tell you that this candy bar contains 2% Jamaika-Rum. The milk chocolate isn’t too sweet and the raisins are plump and tart. Combined with the ample crunch of the hazelnuts, I’m in love with this bar. I’m afraid that it’s not imported to the states, as I’ve never seen it before or maybe it is but I doubt it actually has that much rum in it when exported.
The Cappuccino is rather similar to the Jogurt bar. The filling is creamy and has a slight tinge of mocha to it, but also has a slight sour bite to it. Maybe think of it as a cappuccino cheesecake flavor. It’s pleasant, but doesn’t make me yearn for it like the Rum Trauben Nuss.
I like the Ritter Bars, they remind me a lot of Hershey’s. Every one of them has been dependably sweet and smooth, but not as complex as I’d want from a more high-end bar. But then again, this is candy and that’s what I want. Here’s their motto from their website, “Ritter Sport. Square. Handy. Good.”
Rating - Rum Trauben Nuss - 9 out of 10
Friday, October 28, 2005
I was really excited about doing this review. While I enjoy candy of all kinds, especially chocolate, it’s hard sometimes to balance that with not destroying the earth and human lives. Fair Trade is only recently developing as a mainstream option for many products. For those of you not familiar with the concept, first you have to remember that cocoa pods from which chocolate is made are grown in tropical regions all over the planet and require a large amount of space and time to cultivate. Those regions also happen to be ones where farmers are particularly poor and have fewer economic opportunities. I cannot claim to be an expert on this subject, but it seems to me that the folks growing cocoa, which is not necessary for life, should at least be paid a living wage for it and not be exposed to terrible working conditions. Since chocolate and candy is a luxury item, it seems to make the most sense to start with it and coffee and teas as a way of changing the lives of those in these areas.
Of course the most important thing about sending a message with your pocketbook is that the product be good. Good intentions are nice, but if the chocolate isn’t good enough for me to want more, I’m not going to buy it just because it’s the right thing to do because wasting food is also bad. (The next step, of course, is to have it easily accessible, too.) So, instead of skipping to the bottom for the verdict, I’ll say that these are worth the trouble of finding them.
The bars are not only fair trade, but made from all organic ingredients, including the sugar (which is organic raw and unrefined cane sugar) and nuts. Also, for those who are wondering, it’s certified Kosher. Inside the plain wrapper (which has some wonderful information inside about Fair Trade and Equal Exchange) the bar itself is sealed in a mylar like white plastic wrapper that seals out odors and keeps the chocolate fresh. The chocolate is made it Switzerland.
Organic Dark Chocolate with Almonds: a wonderful aroma arose when I opened this package. The chocolate is shiny and smooth and has a great snap and smelled chocolately, a little sweet and perfumy. Inside are lightly crushed (chopped?) almonds. The chocolate itself is 55% cocoa mass and has some wonderful fruity notes like you’d find in a good red wine. Not overly smoky or dry, it has a nice smooth finish was the cocoa mass is exceptionally smooth. For me, this bar rivals the Chocovic Ocumare.
Organic Very Dark Chocolate: incredibly dense, with immediate earthy tones, this is a very dark bar with 71% cocoa mass. The bar has a good snap and an incredibly smooth melt. There’s a noticeable acid note as it yields on the tongue and gives up more fruity flavors like apricot and cherry. The finish is dry and not at all sticky or sweet. But like I experienced with the Chocovic Guaranda, there are no middle notes to round out the flavor.
Organic Milk Chocolate: for fans of dairy milk chocolates, such as Cadbury, you’ll be very happy with this bar. It’s very much in keeping with the traditional Swiss milk chocolate. The first ingredient is not chocolate (that’s 38% though), it’s Whole Milk Powder. So, this is milky stuff, kind of sticky and though not overly sweet, it’s not a good association for me. That aside, this chocolate is exceptionally smooth and has nice cocoa undertones give the whole bar a toasty feeling. I think what does that is that one of the ingredients is ground hazelnuts ... not a lot of it, but it’s a nice nutty complement.
Ratings: Milk & Very Dark - 7 out of 10
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Name: Ritter Sport
Ritter is a German brand of chocolate that offers these squares of chocolate (large and small) in 18 different varieties. I picked up this mini-assortment at Cost Plus because I haven’t been able to find some of the more obscure ones in the 100 gram size.
The little bars are about 1 1/2 inches square and sectioned into quarters. Overall, their chocolate is smooth, milky without tasting too much like powdered milk and the quality of the ingredients it top notch. They’re mass production candy, not frou-frou high-end stuff, but they offer some good variety to their line.
Here’s what I tried:
Marzipan - well, it’s sad that out of the 10 bars in the box, two of them were marzipan. I’m not fond of marzipan, but the texture was good and the almond paste fresh. The chocolate wasn’t the light dairy milk, but a mild semi-sweet. 6 out of 10
Jogurt - the other sad thing was there were two of these as well. Covered in the dairy milk chocolate, the center was a dense yogurt cream. A little sour, a little odd. Not unpleasant, but not really my thing. 6 out of 10
Knusperflakes - a corn flake crunch in milk chocolate. This is super, I will definitely buy this one again if I see it by itself. Better than a crisped rice bar because the corn actually has its own flavor to add. Rocks my world. You get the picture. 8 out of 10
Vollmilch - milk chocolate, rich, sticky and dairy-rich taste. Sweet and smooth. 7 out of 10.
Knusperkeks - a butter biscuit covered in chocolate. Simplicity. The biscuit is soft and crumbly, but not grainy like a graham cracker. Buttery undertones and lightly crumbly, it works well with the chocolate. 7 out of 10
Nugat - not really nougat in the sense of a whipped sugar, but more of a hazelnut paste. Sweet and very nutty. Not as smooth as a Baci. 7 out of 10.
Haselnuss - crushed hazelnuts in milk chocolate. Sweet dairy milk chocolate with good nutty crunch and flavor. 7 out of 10.
A fun thing to share with people. Each little bar is a nice snack, not as big as a whole candy bar and easy to section and share.
Rating - 7 out of 10 for whole package.
Monday, October 17, 2005
So, the Almond Joy cookies were nice. I loved the York cookies, but haven’t been able to find them again. What I have found are the Hershey’s with Almonds and the Reese’s (finally!).
Can I just say this about the Hershey’s with Almonds? OMIGOD! Awesome. Really. I wasn’t planning on reviewing them so close to the Almond Joy one ... but I wanted to photograph them, and once I opened the package and take a bit for the photo ... eek! They’re soooo good. I wanted to run down the hall and share them with someone else. I didn’t want to share them with someone else! They’re mine! I only have four!
The cookie part is light and crunchy with a good cocoa flavor like the cookie part of an Oreo, but lighter. The creamy chocolate topping has nicely roasted almonds in it. Not a lot of them, but enough for a good nutty flavor and texture. The chocolate is good and sweet and provides a good creamy balance to the slightly salted cookie. I wish they weren’t so hard to find and expensive as cookies go, but then again, I don’t want them in a larger package lest I eat more than four at a time. (I did share one.)
The Reese’s didn’t do much for me. They were peanutty, but lacked a creamy quality that the peanut butter cups have. I still think they’re a solidly good cookie - better than a Nutter Butter if you like chocolate with your peanut cookies.
Ratings: Hershey’s with Almond Cookie - 10 out of 10
Thursday, October 6, 2005
Name: Almond Roca and Cashew Roca
Almond Roca is cool. It’s the perfect hostess gift when you only have time to dash into the nearest drug store. Everyone likes it, it isn’t expensive, but feels like it is. It comes in a frighteningly pink tin, which is easy to slap a premade gold bow on. People who bring me Almond Roca don’t come off as cheap at all, I consider it a treat. (For the record, I don’t think anyone has ever given me Almond Roca, though I’ve been offered it at other people’s houses, no doubt someone else brought the host it as a gift.)
Almond Roca is a simple little invention - a small log, like a chubby pinky finger of crispy toffee is covered in chocolate and rolled in crushed almonds. (Sorry, it kinda looks like something you’d find in the cat litter but that’s probably why they wrap it in that sassy gold foil.) Cashew Roca is the same thing, only rolled in crushed cashews and wrapped in an even more luxurious cobalt blue foil.
Honestly, I couldn’t tell the difference between the two, the nuts are crushed into such small bits and their proportion to the overall mass of the toffee and chocolate is minute. The almond one has more calories, but besides the swap of nuts on the ingredients, they’re the same but maybe the cashew one is a bit creamier.
The coating is a bit disappointing though, it’s always a bit greasy, sometimes comes off in clumps. It’s not real chocolate, but a pretty good grade mockolate.
Still, it’s dang tasty.
Ratings - 7 out of 10
Monday, September 19, 2005
Name: Kinder Bueno
I’m a little confused by the name of this bar. Maybe my language skills aren’t that good, but I’ve had a dabbling of German and took five years of Spanish. Kinder, as far as I know is Children in German. Bueno means good in Spanish. The package for this particular treat was in English and French.
All that linguistic stuff aside, candy is good in all languages. What we have here is a crisp shell filled with a hazelnut cream and covered in a very thin shell of milk chocolate. As with most candies, two pieces are better than one, so Kinder Bueno gives you two fingers. Each is further sealed inside a clear plastic sleeve to protect the crispy wafers from getting stale. The candy is basically a formed, crisp shell filled with a creamy, milky hazelnut paste and covered in a sweet and melty milk chocolate.
I know that all of the stuff in here is probably horrible for me, reading the ingredients in either language reveals copious amounts of palm kernel oil and 30% of my daily RDA of saturated fats (oddly enough no cholesterol). No matter, it’s really good. Hazelnut is such a wonderful complement to milk chocolate and the tasteless wafers, I’d probably accept a hit of 100% of my saturated fat.
It’s rich and creamy and the roasted flavor of the hazelnuts lingers. They were wonderful with my morning coffee. Even though they’re sweet the fatty texture spreads the goodness all over allowing all the notes of the nuts to come out. The filling is a little sticky, so keep some milk or coffee nearby to cut it. I would probably buy these again if I were to take a long flight or something where I really wanted an indulgence to go with bad airplane coffee. Even though they’re double packaged, these candies don’t travel well, so don’t throw an apple on top of them in your purse. I’m also eager to find some Kinder Eggs to try out sometime soon.
Rating - 7 out of 10
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
Name: Out of Africa Macadamia Nut Chocolates
I don’t think I’ve had a better story to accompany a candy for this blog than this one. The short story is a friend, Will, went to Africa and brought me this candy.
The long (and great) story that goes with it is one of the internet, passions and following dreams. Will and I met while writing novels (actually we met while drinking coffee and procrastinating writing novels) and have gone on to have many adventures together like walking the Los Angeles Marathon, writing more novels, hiking to the bridge to nowhere and a half a dozen photo safaris.
Well, damn if he didn’t go off and go on a real life safari and take a gazillion photos with his new bride viewing African wildlife. And damn if he wasn’t sweet, and brought me something I’d probably never have otherwise:
Inside this cute little box that looks like something someone would bring back from an African safari, including the name, “Out of Africa.” Inside is a plump macadamia nut covered in sweet milk chocolate. Simplicity itself. Thank goodness those candy makers realize that this will spend its time in a suitcase and they’ve packaged the candies in a little tray. Sweet!
I had three for breakfast this morning (and two when I took the photos). Only one left!
Rating - 7 out of 10
Friday, August 26, 2005
Before I had a candy blog I had trouble getting people to bring me gifts from their travels. Maybe I was too embarrassed to actually ask for candy from other countries, but now it’s a given that if any of my friends (hell, friend’s friends) goes anywhere interesting, they are tasked with bringing something back.
At first the name was kind of scary. Krachnuss sounds like “knuckle cracker” to me. And that hazelnut on the package? It’s bigger than a chestnut. However, open up the wrapper and it’s pure delight.
Those are whole hazelnuts in there. It makes for a rather lumpy bar and the hazelnuts are poorly distributed, but man are they good! Not roasted too long, they have an excellent snap and slightly sweet tinge to their nuttiness. The milk chocolate is sweet and smooth and doesn’t try to upstage the delicate hazelnuts. I love hazelnuts, by the way (or filberts as they’re called in the Pacific Northwest) and love how they’re the peanuts of Europe. Even the packages, which give information about possible allergens only mention soy and almonds - there’s no note about any peanuts.
Over the past few weeks the topic of Ice Cubes has come up a few times. At a party, in my interview on Radio Open Source and when Jay gave me this candy bar. For those of you not familiar with Ice Cubes, they’re a little chocolate cubes made with hazelnut paste. However, the pernicious part about them is that the first ingredient is hydrogenated coconut oil. I’m lucky my arteries are still open. My first year in the dorms in college there was a little store on campus that let you use your meal card to buy food - I bought a tub of 100 of these (probably cost me the equivalent of 10 meals). Though I love them, I’ve been trying to resist them ever since then.
Well, along comes a Ragusa bar, and thank goodness the Swiss have made a more wholesome version. You can’t tell from the photo, but the bar is about 5 inches long, 1 inch wide and 3/4” high, and pretty dense for its volume. This little bar is filled with a smooth and cool truffley filling and studded with whole hazelnuts. (If this sounds good, you might also want to try Perugina’s Baci.) Man, this is a good breakfast. The nuts give it just enough of a protein balance to keep the sugar charged filling from causing glycemic overload.
The bar is a bit messy to eat. It’s wrapped in a thick aluminum foil and the chocolate coating only covers the top and bottom, so the sides get kind of sticky. I still haven’t managed to get to the end of the bar and master popping the last of it out of the wrapper. It’s also been a bit warm here in Southern California the past few days and I wasn’t keeping this in the fridge, so on top of its natural softness, it’s downright limp. I might just go get a spoon.
Ratings - Krachnuss - 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.