Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Last year Ritter Sport sent me a one of their Europe-only bars, Ritter Sport Espresso. I even bought one when I was in Germany in February. Now they’re selling them in the United States, which only makes sense since we’re the largest coffee consuming country in the world (source).
The bar is Fine Quality European Chocolate made with Natural Ingredients. The bar isn’t explained or teased much on the front, just with robust Arabica coffee and the back just gives the description as Milk chocolate with a coffee cream filling. It also has snowflakes on it, which leads me to believe that it’s a limited edition winter bar and might not be available year round.
The ingredients list is short, but not as pure as I’d like it to be when it’s advertised as being made with natural ingredients. (Just because it’s natural, doesn’t mean I want it in my chocolate bar.)
There’s a caution about shared equipment for peanuts, almonds, hazelnuts, other nuts and wheat. (Plus it contains soy and dairy ingredients.)
It’s real milk chocolate for the bar part, but the filling is primarily a sugar and oil paste. Palm kernel oil doesn’t have quite the same political reputation that palm oil does, nor the trans fatty content that partially hydrogenated oils. Still, I do not consider that to be a cream, even if cream is added to it. But let me set aside my ingredient rantings for a little tasting. Because I was really looking forward to this bar.
I don’t know what it is about the way that Ritter Sport bars are packaged or handled, but they’re always pristine when I open the package. (Sometimes the bars are broken, but not scuffed.)
The scent is dreamy. There’s a milky dairy note (a little caramel and butter) but the perfect level of coffee to it - rich and woodsy.
The chocolate is a little soft, and the center is even softer. The chocolate melt is cool and smooth, the center is a little grittier because of the coffee powder. The milk chocolate is quite sweet and the filling is less so, with a light salty note to it though there’s not actually any salt in it.
The espresso flavors are not quite ... because of all of the milk notes. It’s more like a dry cappuccino than an espresso, which would be made with a dark chocolate (dairy free would have been great for vegans). I expect there’s a bit of caffeine in here, since there’s real espresso powder, I made sure to eat mine early in the day.
It’s not the perfect coffee chocolate bar, but for about $2.00 or so, it’s achingly close I had to give it a 9 out of 10. The coffee flavors are pure, not flavored, and it’s not junked up with other caramel or hazelnut flavors. I wish it was really a ganache cream made with butterfat in there, but then it wouldn’t be $2 and probably wouldn’t be a shelf stable. Next step would be fair trade (but they do have a pretty good track record for ethical sourcing).
Monday, October 3, 2011
Ritter Sport makes dozens of different chocolate bars. A few are seasonal varieties, such as their new Milk Chocolate with Strawberry Creme which debuted last fall in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. (Some packages feature the pink ribbon, others do not.)
The picture on the front of the package along with the name of the bar gave me most of what I needed to know: Milk chocolate filled with a cream of low fat yogurt, strawberry and crispy rice.
The ingredients don’t quite match up with that description. The first ingredient is sugar, which is fine with me as I fully expect my candy to be mostly sugar. The second ingredient is palm kernel oil. Nowhere in my chocolate, low fat yogurt or crispy rice do I ever expect to find palm kernel oil. So, its dominating presence here is unwelcome but the bar is at least redeemed with its third ingredient, cocoa butter, one of my favorite butters.
The bar is a familiar format for Ritter Sport. It’s 100 grams and comes in a square bar made up of 16 sections (four by four). The recommended portion is six pieces, which of course doesn’t create a whole number of portions. (I found for this review one bar was a portion, which means that it replaced my breakfast calories and all my snack calories for the day.)
The cream inside the bar is a faint pink with spots of actual dried strawberries. In addition, there are little bits of crisped rice. The chocolate outside is sweet and milky, like the Alpine Milk variety (though I’m not certain which version of the many Ritter Sport chocolates they used for this bar). The cream inside is sweet and mostly smooth without being greasy. The crunchies in the cream were interesting, sometimes they were the crisped rice, so they were a little salty and a little malty. But other times they were freeze dried strawberry bits so they were tangy and would soften into a slick reconstituted fruit mush. I liked the different pops of tartness or saltiness to go with the cream and milky chocolate background.
It’s a good quality bar (though not great, since a large portion is palm kernel oil) and is different from other American chocolate offerings. I found it on sale at Target for $1.66 over the weekend. For a 3.5 ounce bar of this it’s a good deal. Other bars are a bit lower in fat and have no palm kernel oil, but this is a limited edition item so it’s not as if I’m going to eat them all year round.
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
As if Ritter Sport doesn’t have a large enough repertoire of bars, they have been introducing seasonally-themed limited editions. I tried the Fruhlingsspezialitaten 2010 that I found at a local import shop earlier this year. They included Haselnuss Krokant, Cashew in Alpenmilch and Bourbon Vanille. The summer versions were not so easy to find in the States but some Ritter Sport folks were happy to help me out with some samples. The summer flavors were: Stracciatella, Pfirsich-Maracuja Joghurt and Waldbeer Joghurt.
The Stracciatella features 37% cacao milk chocolate and a bourbon vanilla cream filling with chocolate bits.
It’s been many years since I’ve had real Stracciatella, which is a gelato (Italian ice cream) with stripes of chocolate that form little crunchy flakes or chips. In my experience it was usually dark chocolate.
I recall being excited by the spring version of Bourbon Vanille, but then disappointed by the lack of rum-laden vanilla notes. Here too I thought that the kind of fudgy vanilla cream center was a little bland. It’s not fatty and doesn’t quite melt in my mouth. It also isn’t very flavorful ... but also not very sweet or sticky. The little chips in it are small and don’t really add much flavor to it. I think I would have been really happy if this was a dark chocolate bar, I think that’s the kick it needs - some really rich dark chocolate. However, plain vanilla ice cream with chocolate chips has never been a favorite flavor of mine, so this might be the perfect bar for folks who do like that.
Ritter Sport is also big on yogurt. I’ve tried their Yogurt, Strawberry Yogurt and Olympia bars before. The only other country that I’ve noticed with such a fanaticism for yogurt flavored candy is Japan.
The Pfirsich-Maracuja Joghurt is a white chocolate shell with a peach and passion fruit yogurt cream center. There are also little rice flakes thrown in there for texture and crunch.
The bar is simple and plain, a soft and creamy yellow/white chocolate bar.
When I saw the reviews of this bar, I really wasn’t interested. I like real peaches and I find passion fruit okay but not my favorite. So a white chocolate bar flavored with these ... along with yogurt (which is good stuff but not exactly a candy flavoring), well, I just didn’t think they could pull it off.
But they did! It’s utterly surprising. It smells like passion fruit - a tangy and sharp floral and tropical scent that goes well with the dairy yogurt note. The peach is a faint pine and pear whiff in the background. The white chocolate is sweet but rather smooth. The rice flakes give it a little crunch, like there are freeze dried fruit bits in there. It’s milky but mostly fruity.
I wouldn’t buy this often, but I do see its appeal and I’m glad that Ritter Sport is taking a few risks with outside the box flavors in their limited editions.
The Ritter Sport Waldbeer Joghurt seemed positively the tamest and safest flavor of the bunch. Waldbeer is forest fruits, or basically mixed berries. The package shows blackberries, blueberries and strawberries.
The format is similar to the Pfirsich-Maracuja Jogurt in that it’s a yogurt cream center flavored with fruit and studded with little crisped rice flakes. The chocolate on this bar is milk. At first glance it didn’t seem that different from the classic Strawberry Yogurt bar that Ritter Sport is already known for.
It smells nice, exactly like berry yogurt - there’s the floral notes of the berries and the dairy twang of the yogurt.
The flavors are pleasant and the yogurt takes a back seat as the berry flavors come forward. The milk chocolate is smooth and give a slight dairy contribution, but also keeps the whole thing from getting too sweet. The rice flakes have a little crunch, but there are also little bits of freeze dried berry in here too, so sometimes they’re tangy and sometimes they’re more of a light malty cereal flavor.
Overall it’s decent. Munchable and satisfying, but not quite what I’d find myself craving. These may be available online at shops like GermanDeli.com and eBay.com.
Don’t take my opinion as gospel, see: Gigi Reviews Waldbeer Yogurt, Cinabar reviews Waldbeer Yogurt, Candyholic (German) reviews Waldbeer Yogurt and Stracciatella, ZOMGCandy reviews Stracciatella, It’s All About Limited Edition reviews Stracciatella and Jim’s Chocolate Mission reviews Stracciatella and Summer Limited Editions in Mini form.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
I enjoy following candy companies on Twitter and visiting their Facebook pages; they often point out interesting information about products and manufacturing that I wouldn’t have known about on their websites.
Last week Ritter Sport mentioned an article about the nine different kinds of chocolate. That’s not different bars, that’s nine different kinds of chocolate used for different purposes in their wide variety of bars, including four different milk chocolates.
Last week I also got a package from the Ritter Sport representatives in the United States of some of their new bars and even a few Europe-only varieties. The Ritter Sport Olympia is one of those bars not available in the United States. It was first introduced in the 1980 to coincide with the Olympics. Then it was brought back last year. It’s an interesting description for a bar: Joghurt - Honig - Nuss - Traubenzucker which is Yogurt - Honey - Hazelnuts - Grape Sugar.
The bar looks like most other Ritter Sport bars. 100 grams in a 4x4 array of pieces. Easy to portion and nicely sized bites.
The bar simply smells sweet and a little like cocoa breakfast cereal. There’s no hint of the honey or hazelnuts within.
Biting it, I was immediately struck with the taste of tangy goat cheese. It wasn’t a great initial flavor, it was like it was a little salty and gamey. But I kept at it, you know, because this is my job.
The milk chocolate is completely dominated by the dairy notes of the yogurt cream center. The cream is soft and fudgy, but pretty creamy overall. There’s a tangy note to it, like, well yogurt or buttermilk/sour cream. There are two kinds of crunches studded within - little bits of hazelnut and then little honeycomb crunches. There’s a light hint of honey from time to time that lingers at the end.
It’s vastly different from anything I’ve had in the United States but it reminds me of some of the dairy heavy Kinder products (though they’re rarely yogurty). It was hearty and satisfying and not too sweet. I liked the idea that it was like a Greek yogurt candy bar, but then I remembered, I like the idea of the Greek yogurt lifestyle more than the actuality. I can see why this isn’t sold in the US, but it might be fun for them to release it as a Limited Edition during Olympics years.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Here in the United States we have as many as 16 different Ritter Sport chocolate bars to choose from. In the United Kingdom the regular offerings number 19 and in Germany, the home of Ritter there are 23. But what Germany has in addition to their wide variety are the seasonal editions.
I picked up the three Spring Specialties, called Frühlingsspezialitäten 2010, at Mel & Rose Wine and Spirits last week on a lark. (In Europe the Summer Specialties are already available.) The three limited editions are Haselnuss Krokant, Cashew in Alpenmilch and Bourbon Vanille. They’re all milk chocolate bars.
The 100 gram (3.5 ounces) bars are the same square format made of a grid of 16 blocks of chocolate. The Haselnuss Krokant or Hazelnut Brittle isn’t exactly a brittle (a crunchy caramelized sugar).
The package, being an import, is all in German: Gefuillte Vollmilchschokolade mit einer Haselnuss-Creme (36%), Haselnuss- und Mandel-Krokant (6%) und Reis-Flakes (3%). A little online translation help and I think it’s: Milk chocolate filled with a hazelnut cream (36%), hazelnut and almond crunch (6%) and rice flakes (3%).
It’s a stunning bar with a sweet and nutty scent. It’s less about the milk chocolate and more about the textures and flavors of the center. It’s creamy and sweet with a milky hazelnut paste. Dotted in that are little rice flakes, kind of like the cornflake bar, but a little crunchier with less of a malty-corn note. Though it mentions hazelnut and almond crunch, I never quite got that specifically, but maybe I was confusing that crunch with the cereal.
It’s sweet and decadent, really fatty and creamy but with enough of a flavor punch from the nuts that I was satisfied with a row of four blocks. It’s too bad that this is a seasonal variety and most readers are unlikely to come across it. There was a similar piece in the Ritter Schokowurfel assortment called Crocant, which was just a hazelnut paste with crispies.
The next bar has a great spring flair. The Cashew in Alpenmilkch is a simple alpine milk chocolate (30% cacao) with cashews (14%). It’s not quite as nutty as the dark chocolate hazelnut bar that I’m accustomed to; the cashews here are crushed instead of whole.
Even the underside of the bar didn’t display much when it came to the nutty contents. (The hazelnut bars are distinct with their nubbly bottoms showing off the large, whole hazelnuts.)
I’ve noticed alpenmilch bars often have a softer texture and bend more than break because of all the milk. This one wasn’t soft or fudgy, it had the same satisfying snap to it.
It smells sweet and nutty and a little like yellow cake. The chocolate notes are just a hint of caramel and a lot of dairy milk. The cashews give it a fresh crunch, a little soft and grassy without the floral notes that pistachios often bring. The overall flavor notes I get though are much more on the bakery side of things than chocolate - honey and fresh angel food cake.
A touch of salt might add a little more dimension to this, but then again this bar stands out as different from the other nutty Ritter Sport bars I’ve had. They hit on something that’s not just a different set of ingredients but a different taste profile that might just win some different fans.
This bar uses the full milk chocolate as does the Haselnuss Krokant instead of the alpine milk of the Cashew in Alpenmilch.
I was hoping this bar would be a straight vanilla cream version of the Yogurt bar or perhaps if that center is too tangy, maybe like the Cappuccino bar. The scent was a bit more like the former than the latter. The format is the same, a firm cream center inside a molded milk chocolate bar. I was hoping for something that approached the vanilla experience of the Green & Black White Chocolate bar but a ganache.
I can’t say that the smell gave me much hope for the bar, and it went downhill from there. It was sweet and it did have some deep oaky and tobacco notes that I like when I stuff my nose into a bundle of whole vanilla beans. But the milky/yogurt notes also gave it a spoiled vibe, it reminded me of Gouda, actually more like Play Doh. Completely non-toxic but not exactly mouth watering. The texture is good, the center is soft and though not silky smooth, it’s not too grainy either. It’s a bit like a super-smooth fudge but not fatty enough to be a ganache. The chocolate is overpowered by the cheese and vanilla to the point where all I got was the sweetness and melt.
It’s like someone made a vanilla flavor from reading about what it’s supposed to taste like instead of the actual stuff. Maybe if someone gave this to me and didn’t say it was supposed to be bourbon vanilla I’d say, “Wow, this is the best Ritter Sport maple syrup and chevre bar I’ve ever had.” But it didn’t go down like that. It just turned me off. This was the one bar in the assortment that I didn’t finish.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Ritter Sport makes a bar for everyone. I don’t know how many different varieties they’ve actually make and I know I haven’t tried more than half of them. They have an awesome website that does everything I want a candy maker’s website to do: inform, entice and engage.
This new bar isn’t even listed on the website yet: Ritter Sport Neapolitan Wafers. The burnt orange wrapper stands out in the rainbow of bars, different enough from the saffron yellow Cornflakes bar (my favorite). I know, my photo makes it look orange-red, but it’s just one of those colors that computer monitors just don’t like to display without a lot of tinkering.
The package describes it as milk chocolate with chocolate cream filled wafers and praline. In Ritter-speak, praline is a hazelnut cream.
The bar is beautiful. All Ritter Sport bars are beautiful. A bulky square, four by four, with thick sections. In this case it’s thick enough to hold the layers inside so it’s more bitable. (Other solid varieties are a little harder to bite, there’s more gnawing involved or I suppose I just snap off the pieces.)
The bar is not quite what I expected. I thought the praline would be between the wafer layers.
Instead there are wafer layers, a kind of bland and crispy wafer like a rice cake, but between them is a thin bit of mild and sweet chocolate cream. So far so good. Then on top of that is a rather generous hazelnut paste. It’s sweet and nutty and a little rib-sticking thick. The crunch of the wafers gets a little lost, as there’s just not enough to offset the thick praline. I’m not saying it’s bad, I had no trouble finishing the bar, but I kind of wanted the ratios to be a little bit different.
As usual the Ritter Sport milk chocolate was excellent. Milky with little caramel and smoke notes, it’s a bit on the sweet side. Overall it was a little on the sweet side for me (a dark chocolate version, please!) and I’m wondering if the mini version might be a little better on the ratios of crunch to sticky thickness. The crunch sensation isn’t quite the same as a KitKat, if you were wondering. It’s simply not grainy enough and too nuanced. They also use hydrogenated palm kernel oil and palm kernel oil in the fillings, so it’s not all pure nutty, milky & cocoa ingredients in there.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
It’s a simple bar, described on the wrapper as dark chocolate with peppermint filling. I fully expected it to be like a molded York Peppermint Pattie.
Where this is different from the York Peppermint Pattie is fat. While a York is marketed as a lowfat food, it clocks in with a smidge from the dark chocolate coating, about 2.5 g per 39 g serving.
Ritter Sport Peppermint, on the other hand, has a liberal amount of fat in it, about 11 g per 38 g serving. At first I thought it was because there is more chocolate, ratio-wise, in the Ritter Sport. But looking at the ingredients, it lists palm kernel oil in there (which I’m guessing isn’t in the chocolate, since it does say it’s chocolate and not a chocolate flavored shell).
Some would find that disconcerting, or perhaps even a reason to eschew it. I, on the other hand, have often wondered what a fattier York Peppermint Pattie would be like.
The bar was lovely to look at. Glossy and dark, though not as dark as some dark chocolates. It smells mostly of peppermint, delicate and refreshing with a little acidic twang.
The snap of the chocolate was good. It broke along the segments easily and there was no sticky goo emerging from the margins. Biting into an invididual segment though, that was a very nice feeling. The chocolate shell keeps its shape well, not shattering into a bazillion flakes.
The mint filling is silky smooth, whatever fat is in there is doing a wonderful job of keeping it from becoming a fudgy blob or a crystallized chunk. Instead it’s almost like a white chocolate truffle - sweet and minty but not watery or milky. The chocolate is buttery smooth as well, and melts readily but without any sort of greasy tastelessness. It’s a little bitter, a little dry and the perfect balance for the sweet center.
I don’t know why Ritter Sport hasn’t sent this to the States before, it’s definitely not like other chocolate & mint fondant options here, so it’s allowed to occupy its own niche. I hope it’s not seasonal, because I think this is a perfect item for a crisp fall picnic. (I give these suggestions as if I live this sort of life, which I don’t, but go ahead and imagine it.)
Jim’s Chocolate Mission has been doing an awesome job documenting far more Ritter Sport than I’ve been able to. (Of interest to me are the Trauben Cashew, Neapolitan Waffle and the Voll Erdnuss.)
Friday, January 18, 2008
I haven’t written about Ritter Sport in a while, but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been eating them. There’s a wonderful feature for the All Candy Expo attendees, it’s a candy room where they give you a little bag and you can fill it to the top with candy in a huge room of bins and barrels of the stuff. I found a tub of Ritter Sport Minis and took home about two pounds of the tiny buggers.
But I also stopped at the booth for the Ritter importer to see what was new and found a few bars I’ve never reviewed, including this hefty White Chocolate with Whole Hazelnuts bar.
I’ve hung onto this bar for a while because I really need to be in the “mood” for white chocolate. It was 43 degrees this morning in Los Angeles when I got in my car to go to work; brisk weather usually helps to push me over into the white chocolate territory.
The wrapper says whole hazelnuts and they’re not kidding. Just look at that first bite I got! The bar itself is a lovely creamy ivory color, a little on the yellow side.
What the front label leaves off that the back mentions is the whole description for this bar: white chocolate with hazelnuts & crispy rice. (Turn it over and the hazelnuts are quite evident sticking out as are the little nibs of rice.)
The bar smells like hazelnuts and milk with a light touch of vanilla. It’s not until I bit into it that I got the malty notes of the crisped rice (hey, barley malt is actually listed on the ingredients).
Most of the hazelnuts are large and nicely toasted to bring out their flavor. The crisped rice adds a texture to the bar as well, keeping the pure white chocolate (made with sugar, cocoa butter, cream, skim milk, whey, lactose and vanillin) from feeling too sticky or cloying. I think it could use a smidge more salt (there’s a little in the crisped rice) but for non-white-chocolate consumers, this could be a gateway drug (well, the real gateway drug for white chocolate would be Green & Black’s White Chocolate bar).
It’s a very pleasant bar and I had no trouble finishing the whole thing.
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