Thursday, June 30, 2005
Name: Big Cherry
I had no idea there were made right here in Los Angeles. I also didn’t know that the Ben Meyerson Candy Co. is also behind all those Sunkist candy treats. It only makes sense then, that they’d have a big chocolate covered cherry in their repetoire. The primary curiosity of this candy, as Amy pointed out, is that the first ingredient on the label is not chocolate or cherries, but peanuts. Then sugar, corn syrup, CHERRIES and four items later is Cocoa. Hmm, might not be real chocolate on the outside.
It certainly smells nutty. Peanuts and cherries sound like a good combo. The wad is pretty big, picture a lumpy golf ball. Maybe it’s a bit bigger than that. It smelled chocolately and nutty and sweet.
I really should have taken a photo of the inside, because that’s the most interesting part. Inside is a bright pink cream - yes, pink like the package ... maybe brighter. The outside shell is thick and soft and the inside is well, thick and softer. There, far at the center was a dark, plump, red maraschino cherry.
I’m not overly fond of cherries and when I have chocolate I prefer the real stuff. The combo of peanuts and cherry cream was pretty good though a tad sweet without allowing the flavors to come through.
Rating: 5 out of 10 (because I don’t like cherries that much).
Thursday, June 23, 2005
Name: Reese’s Pieces Peanuts and Peanut Butter
Introduced last year, Reese’s Pieces Peanuts and Peanut Butter are a natural evolution of Reese’s Pieces (which have been around since 1978 ... why didn’t they do this sooner?).
They’re just Reese’s Pieces with a whole peanut at the center. The colors are the same RP colors, except for some reason they don’t quite have the consistent sheen to them, they’re slightly speckly. I don’t think it’s bad for the flavor or anything, they just aren’t as pretty as they could be.
I bought these at Target in a “theater box” and they’re a pretty good deal at 89 cents. I’ve not seen them in smaller bags anywhere. Actually, until I saw them at Target I didn’t even know they existed. The Reese’s site says that they’re a limited edition. Reese’s seems to be trying out a lot of different variations on their products lately, the inside out peanut butter cup, the white chocolate peanut butter cup and the Swoops. I still prefer just plain old Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Not just for the nostalgia, but it was just a great combo and sometimes you get it right the first time.
I always found regular RPs just a little too artificial in the peanut butter part, a little too sweet, a little too creamy. Well, that an all the hydrogenated oils. Where these succeed is the pure peanut taste of a real peanut in the center. It really balances out the greasiness of the RP filling and makes a nice combo. I’m still not likely to buy these over Peanut M&Ms for movie snacking, but I’m not sorry I tried them. If I went to the theater and these were available, I might pick them up. Unless they were like, $3 a box, which they’d probably be. Then I’d regret not sneaking them in.
The other thing is that the name is just too long.
Rating: 7 out of 10
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
Name: Wha Guru Chew
Reading over the ingredients list, I’m wondering what this has to do with the Yogi Bhajan. But I suppose even the most enlightened among us wants a sweet now and then. While there’s nothing bad about these caramel nut bars, they contain no trans fat and use brown rice syrup and evaporated cane juice instead of corn syrup, I’m struggling with the health food aspects of this. Aw hell, let’s just call it candy and be done with it.
These are fab. I can’t tell you how fab these are. The caramel is flavorful and soft, the nuts are fresh and crunchy and the smell is pure buttery sweetness. The only problem I have with them is that they’re very soft, so you taking them out of the package is nearly impossible and even getting the package open without scissors ended up too much of a challenge for me.
Cashew Vanilla - the right sweet notes of vanilla blended with buttery cashews. There are also sunflower seeds in here, which add an extra crunch and earthy taste to the bar to balance the sweetness of the caramel. A little touch of salt balances it all out.
Almond Ginger - it doesn’t smell quite as inviting as the cashew vanilla bar (I don’t think ginger smells that good inherently, as it has a rooty/earthy smell). But biting into this bar wipes away any hesitation that this bar will be as good as the former. The ginger pops out as a spicy base for the sugary caramel and the mild almonds. A slight trace of lemon zest links all the flavors together well.
Peanut Cashew - this one diverges from the recipe of the above two which are sweetened primarily with brown rice syrup and evaporated cane juice. This is sweetened with clover honey (and barley malt syrup). This honey base makes for a less viscous caramel but really amps up the flavor. The first tone you get upon biting into it is a strong orange essence. In addition to the peanuts and cashews are sesame seeds and sunflower seeds. Of the three this was my least favorite, though still worthy of trying.
Friday, June 03, 2005
Dovetailing with my earlier post about revisiting classics with new interpretations, Hershey’s recently launched “Candy to Go!” It’s just smaller packaging of their previously introduced Bites, but what I found interesting is that I thought most candy was packaged for going ...
These are perfect little bites of candy bars. I picked up three at the store on the lot today. Kit Kat Bites, Reese’s Peanut Butter Bites and York Bites. Each is about the size of a small marble, more or less. The York bites are exactly what you’d expect, dark chocolate covering a mint cream center. The Reese’s bites are covering a peanut butter cup filling (not that waxy Reese’s pieces stuff) and the Kit Kat bites are like little Kit Kat cubes.
Here’s my thing: I like appropriate ratios. In the case of the Reese’s bites and the York bites, the ratio of chocolate to filling is appropriate. Though the chocolate in these little poppers is slightly different - because it’s in a spherical shape, I think they toss a little resinous glaze on it. This makes for a slight waxy coating, which in one respect is good, because you can actually hold them in your hand for a moment without getting melty all over you, but it also means that you’re eating this resin and that you need to kind of get past that when you put it in your mouth.
In the Kit Kat bites, it feels like too much chocolate (Kit) and not enough crisp wafers (Kat).
The other odd thing about these are the portion size: 2.75 oz and that’s a full serving. Most candy bars are about 1.5 oz and have about 200 calories. The Reese’s bites have 410 calories! If you can control yourself and not eat them all at once, you’ll make it to fifty without a coronary. Me? I ate the whole York Bites and then moved on to the Reese’s and of course had to open the Kit Kat for a taste. Sadly, all that’s left now are some of the Kit Kats.
Name: York Bites
Good chocolate, nice mint, pretty much a tiny spherical peppermint patty. The only problem I had with these was the variation in quality. Some were soft and fresh, but others were rather hard. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that they’re spoiled, maybe the chocolate didn’t seal in the filling completely and they dried out.
Name: Reese’s Peanut Butter Bites
Okay, of the three, these smelled absolutely divine when I opened the package. A wonderful roasted peanut scent with the sweet overtone of chocolate. Really, these smelled awesome. They taste good, and I think I’d buy them again, especially as something to eat when at the movies, but I still prefer the miniatures for the ratio of chocolate to peanut butter.
Name: Kit Kat Bites
My least favorite of the three, but I’ve always been fond of Kit Kats and buy them often. But my favorite thing about Kit Kats is deconstructing them while I eat, which means prying off each layer with my teeth. That’s not really feasible with this iteration, so I’d just have to eat them and where’s the fun in that?
I’m not always fond of miniatures or giganto bars, but I think that Hershey’s really did a nice job of inventing these as candy that stands alone without the other versions. As always, freshness helps, if these were old and had bloomed or something, I’d find them absolutely unappealing. But I find these to be the perfect movie food or good to tuck in your bag to share with others.
UPDATE: It looks like these didn’t go over very well and have been discontinued. The remaining inventory can still be found at discount stores like 99 Cent Only. (But be sure to look at the expiration date before you take a chance.)
Friday, May 27, 2005
Name: Milk Nougat
Nougat is tough stuff to define. Some nougat is light and fluffy, others are crackly, sticky toffee-like candy. This is the latter. The little bricks are hard and crack when you smack them on the corner of a table. You can easily bite off a third of it and after it gets warm in your mouth is has a nice give for chewing.
Think of the nougat chips that you have in a Toblerone bar ... these are like that only with a very strong butter flavor instead of honey and peanuts.
I like the consistency and fresh flavor. The Milk Nougats are also wrapped in that fantabulous edible rice cellophane. However, after chewing them down to the last little bit, a very strong and artificial butter flavor erupts. Like the that artificially flavored butter you get in bad movie theater popcorn. It doesn’t go well with the delicate vanilla of the nougat or the hearty peanuts.
I’m a huge nougat fan, I love the stuff from Italy (torrones) and the French nougats (both soft and hard) and was a bit disappointed with the unpleasant butter taste to these. Alas, that’s affected my rating. I’ll give other Chinese nougats a try if I run across the, as everything else, including the packaging and tiny bite size of these is excellent. Also, the price can’t be beat. European nougats are often over $5 a pound.
Rating: 5 out of 10.
Thursday, May 19, 2005
Name: Peanut Butter Ginger Chews
I happen to love ginger. I love the stuff the Ginger People put out. I think I’ve seen this product offered by them as well.
Imagine a peanut butter taffy chew (with real nuts in it) and add some spicy ginger and you’ll have Peanut Butter Ginger Chews.
They’re soft, but not sticky. Chewy but not hard. Crunchy and smooth.
I was kind of dubious when I took it out of the package, because it looks like a powdery turd. But they’re rather addictive. And unlike the regular ginger chews, these aren’t as sticky and the peanut butter keeps them from giving you a hard sugar rush.
Rating: 8 out of 10.
Friday, May 13, 2005
Name: Botticelli Bites
I was excited to see these at Big Lots. I’ve been buying something called “Cookie Joys” made by Harry London Chocolates from Trader Joe’s for a few years now. I assumed that these were the same thing. And they probably were - about four years ago when these were probably manufactured.
I guess this is one of those things you learn the hard way from buying at the closeout stores. Chocolate is not something to buy on the cheap. Most often I am sorry when I do.
These came in three different flavors - Mint Chocolate, Chocolate Peanut Butter and Double Chocolate. Only the Mint Chocolate ones did not have a bloom on them.
The Chocolate Peanut Butter looked fairly good (as they do in the photo) but the peanut oils must have gone rancid. The Double Chocolate were just plain white and chalky and I tossed them after sorting through to see if any of them were good.
However - if you ever find the Harry London varieties, I heartily recommend them. Hershey’s introduced a mint cookie bar a few years back which I was positively addicted to. This is the new replacement for it.
EDIT: Since writing this review I’ve found out that Botticelli is owned by Alpine Confectionery that also owns Harry London. They’re the same thing, just different packaging. Obviously these were stored improperly and were past their prime, thus got a poor rating.
Rating: 2 out of 10 (because I actually ate some of the mint ones, otherwise it’d be a 1)
Name: White Chocolate Reese’s
Someone left the peanut butter cups in the sun and they got all bleachy white.
I think this was a brilliant idea. First, I love Reese’s. Mostly I love the miniatures, the ratio of chocolate and peanut butter is ideal and there’s less of that “hold it by the edges so you don’t get chocolate on your fingers” thing.
My biggest problem is that I like white chocolate in concept. I like the idea of just the buttery smoothness of chocolate without the cocoa to it. But white chocolate is never like that. Instead it’s like sugarwax. And it smells like fake vanilla, which always reminds me of Easter. However, I think the White Chocolate Reese’s uses this to its advantage.
Because the peanut butter is more savory than sweet, it really cuts the oversweet of the white chocolate and makes an excellent mix of flavors. The scent of vanilla mixed with the nuts and slight grain of the peanut butter is a nice combo.
I’ll probably not buy the cups again, but I’m kind of curious about the ratio in the miniatures they mention on the Reese’s website. And here’s a weird comment, I think they should have put them in white cups instead of brown ones. The color combo just makes the white chocolate look dingy.
Rating: 7 out of 10.
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