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Monday, October 18, 2010

Kraft & Ferrara Pan Caramels

Kraft CaramelsKraft Caramels are one of those products that transcends the definition of candy. Like chocolate chips, they’re also an ingredient in countless recipes. I’m more likely to see these bags in the baking aisle of the grocery store than the candy section.

Kraft Caramels were introduced in 1933, the same year Kraft brought Miracle Whip into people’s lives. In a strange twist, Kraft decided to sell their industry-standard caramels and spun them off with a few other brands to a new company called Favorite Brands. They made the caramels with the Kraft name for two years under the agreement, but after that they rolled them into their other candy brand, Farley’s and called them Farley’s Original Chewy Caramels. Well, I don’t know if you remember those years of not being able to find Kraft Caramels ... I’m not sure how brand aware I was at that time, but I think I considered myself confused and ended up buying Brach’s Caramels. Kraft got their caramels back in 2000 and I think they learned their lesson. (You can read more here.)

Kraft Caramels

The caramels are packaged simply and perfectly. Each cube is wrapped in clear cellophane, like little gifts with the surprise spoiled with the transparent packaging.

The color is beautiful and mine were fresh, slightly soft and glossy. They smells sweet, like vanilla pudding. The bite is soft and easy, but not a stringy chew. It’s also not quite a fudge texture. This style of caramel is called a short caramel, the sugar and milk is completely emulsified so there are no sugar crystals. The sugar is caramelize, so it has a light toffee note to it along with the mellow dairy flavors of the milk.

Kraft Caramels

The chew is interesting and flavorful, but lacks a bit of the stickiness that I desire in a caramel. I like a complex flavor and silkier texture. They’re sweet but at least have a salty note to balance that out. They stick in my teeth a bit, but don’t bind my molars together like some stale Sugar Babies can do.

The ingredients are decent enough for cheap candy: corn syrup, sugar, skim milk, palm oil, whey, salt, artificial flavor and soy lecithin.

I understand that one of the benefits to this style though is its versatility for recipes. They can be melted and added to other ingredients like swirled into brownies, drizzled on popcorn and of course their most popular use - caramel dipped apples.

There are 32 calories in each caramel cube and they’re still made in the U.S.A. Kosher.

Finally, an early TV commercial for Kraft Caramels:

Ferrara Pan Traditional CaramelsWhile looking for Kraft Caramels these past few weeks, I stumbled on these smaller bags of Ferrara Pan Traditional Caramels. This little 6.75 ounce bag also included sticks for making the classic caramel covered apples.

Ferrara Pan is known for their panned candies (hence the company name) like Lemonheads, Boston Baked Bean and Atomic Fireballs. A boiled sweet like caramels is kind of out of place, but then again Ferrara recently branched out into chocolate, so why not caramel?

Ferrara Pan Caramels

Turning over the bag to compare the ingredients I found something more substantially informative. Ferrara Pan doesn’t make these. They’re made by Embare in Brazil. Embare is a premiere candy maker in South America, known for their dairy-based confections like caramels and pudding mixes. Caramel has a fine tradition in South America, so why not go there for some great ones?

Ferrara Pan CaramelsThey look just like the Kraft version. They’re the same size, and have roughly the same variations. (Some are bigger than others and have little ridges on them from manufacturing.)

The cellophane seems a little heavier and is actually sealed at the ends. They’re soft enough to pinch. They don’t smell like much out of the wrapper.

The bite is much softer and chewier. They’re not quite a stringy caramel, but halfway between. They’re not as sweet as the Kraft variety, quite smooth and have a strong real vanilla flavor profile. The caramel notes are also great - a little toasty with just a hint or rum or molasses.

Each cube has 27 calories. I don’t actually mind that they’re made in Brazil and I appreciate Ferrara Pan saying exactly who is making the product.

Ferrara Pan Caramels & Kraft Caramels

On the left are the Ferrara Pan and on the right are the Kraft. They really do look the same.

The ingredient list on the Ferrara Pan version is longer: Sugar, corn syrup, skim milk, hydrogenated vegetable oil (soybean, cottonseed and/or palm kernel), whey, milk, cream, salt, soy lecithin, mono- & di-glycerides, artificial vanilla flavor.

I can’t say which is better for recipes, but I preferred the texture and flavor profile of the Ferrara Pan. But I can’t say that I really loved either, if I really wanted a bite sized caramel, I’d probably go for Sugar Babies, pay a premium for See’s ... or make my own.

Related Candies

  1. Bequet Gourmet Caramels
  2. Grandma’s Caramels
  3. Caramel Texture Poll Results
  4. Werther’s Original Chewy Caramels
  5. Sugar Babies
  6. Caramel Previews: Mitchell Sweets & Caramoos


Name: America’s Classic Caramels
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Kraft
Place Purchased: Target (West Hollywood)
Price: $2.49
Size: 14 ounces
Calories per ounce: 111
Categories: Candy, Kraft, Caramel, Kosher, 5-Pleasant, United States, Target


Name: Traditional Caramels
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Ferrara Pan
Place Purchased: Rite Aid (Echo Park)
Price: $.99
Size: 6.75 ounces
Calories per ounce: 113
Categories: Candy, Halloween, Ferrara Pan, Caramel, 6-Tempting, Brazil, Rite Aid

POSTED BY Cybele AT 1:41 pm     CandyReviewHalloweenFerrara PanKraftCaramelKosher6-TemptingBrazilUnited StatesRite AidTargetComments (7)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Storck Merci

Merci Chocolate AssortmentStorck Merci were introduced 45 years ago by the German candy maker. It was always position as a hostess item, small individually wrapped pieces of chocolate in flavors to suit everyone.

The package calls it the Finest Assortment of European Chocolates. They’re priced pretty well for an upscale styled hostess gift, I paid $5.29 for my box that weighs 8.8 ounces (that’s less than $10 a pound). The ingredients are heavy on the sugar and milk and a bit lighter on the cacao content, but it’s all real chocolate in there.

I picked these up mostly because I’ve never reviewed them. But I was also curious if there was a difference between these and the newer Werther’s Chocolates.

Merci Chocolate Assortment

The assortment comes in a smart and spare little box. It’s made of thin card but styled to fit the sticks perfectly. There are 20 but only 7 varieties ... so the breakdown was a little odd for my tastes:
4 x Milk Chocolate
3 x Hazelnut-Creme, Dark Mousse, Hazelnut-Almond & Praline-Creme
2 x Coffee and Cream & Dark Cream

The little bars are three inches long and 3/4 of an inch wide. There’s a little score in the center to snap them in half easily. All are imprinted with the word Merci on each segment.

Merci Chocolate Stick Assortment

Praline-Creme

I didn’t take an individual shot of this one. It’s a milk chocolate bar, the wrapper has a purple band on it. The filling is a sweet cocoa paste that’s rather truffle like. It’s all quite buttery and melts well, there’s even a slight hint of salt to it. It didn’t do much for me, there’s something missing, probably a stronger chocolate note.

Merci Milk Chocolate Creme

Milk Chocolate

The focus on this piece is milk. Actually, it’s more like butter. The melt is silky smooth and quick with a slight grain to it. The dominant flavors are powdered milk, caramelized sugar and a light note of cocoa.

Merci Hazelnut Creme

Hazelnut Creme

It’s a milk chocolate bar with a filling of sweet, milky hazelnut paste. It’s very sweet but has a good grassy and roasted flavor of hazelnuts to it. I’d probably prefer it in dark chocolate ... but then again if I were really looking for a gianduia fix I’d go for some Caffarel. It’s definitely rib-sticking.

Merci Coffee Creme

Coffee and Cream

This was far and away my favorite. It smells like freshly ground coffee. There are two layers, a dark chocolate and a white chocolate base. The coffee is far and away the strongest flavor, so much so that I couldn’t really detect any chocolate notes in there. The texture is smooth and has an excellent melt that’s a bit firmer than the milk chocolate varieties. The coffee is bold with a light acidic note and a hint of charcoal and toffee.

Merci Dark Mousse

Dark Mousse

The Dark Mousse is dark chocolate filled with a chocolate cream. The bar was beautiful looking, glossy and nicely tempered. The chocolate has strong berry notes with a little hint of black pepper and raisins. The mousse filling was a little more of a paste than a cream but wasn’t very sweet, it was like a good chocolate frosting. The whole thing had a lightly dry finish to it.


Merci Dark Cream

Dark Cream

I was confused at this point about the difference between Dark Cream and Dark Mousse. Dark Cream was more like a dark bar, no filling as far as I could tell.

The flavor was like a dark milk chocolate, there were strong dairy notes, something I didn’t get at all from the Dark Mousse. It wasn’t as sticky or sweet as the milk chocolate and also had a hint of a dry finish to it without being chalky. It was firmer than the nut and milk versions of the little bars, but it was still pretty soft and melted quickly into a puddle in my mouth. (It was not swirled though like the Werther’s Dark Cream was.)

Merci Hazelnut Almond Milk Chocolate

Hazelnut Almond

This was my second favorite variety. As far as I can tell it’s just the milk chocolate with crushed almonds and hazelnuts. The scent is still sweet and milky but has a great roasted nut flavor. The little nibs of nuts are chewy and fresh - mostly hazelnut comes through.

I enjoyed these, though I hesitate to say that they’d satisfy any of my strong chocolate cravings. This had a wonderful texture and luxurious melt, but not a lot of cocoa punch. I see them more as accompaniments than stand alone treats.

Each stick is about 73 calories (it does depend on the variety) and features 14% of your recommended daily allowance of saturated fats. (But there’s also a bit of protein, calcium & iron in there.) There are also a lot of allergens in here. The only ones that aren’t listed are eggs and of course shellfish.

As for the Werther’s Chocolates that Storck also makes ... I don’t see any reason to pick those up instead of these unless you’re only going by price. The ingredients seem a bit better, I like the packaging and the fact that you get a variety in the box is a plus in my mind (though if you don’t like all the flavors that’s a negative). They really are a great hostess gift and a nice item to have on hand to serve with coffee or dessert. A little stack along with some cookies would make an excellent little treat without being too fussy. And the word Merci doesn’t hurt, everyone enjoys a little thank you.

Related Candies

  1. Storck Toffifay
  2. Choceur Coffee & Cream
  3. Ice Cubes
  4. Milka Alpenmilch
  5. Storck Chocolate Riesen


Name: Merci
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Storck
Place Purchased: Target (West Hollywood)
Price: $5.29
Size: 8.8 ounces
Calories per ounce: 164
Categories: Candy, Storck, Chocolate, Coffee, Nuts, White Chocolate, 7-Worth It, Germany, Target

POSTED BY Cybele AT 3:30 pm     CandyStorckChocolateCoffeeNutsWhite Chocolate7-Worth ItGermanyTargetComments (3)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Werther’s Original CaraMelts

Werther's Original CaraMeltsThe past few times I’ve been in Target I’ve eyed these Werther’s Original CaraMelts. I wasn’t quite sure what they were, but the did seem to be different.

I like the bag, it’s a little gusseted mylar/plastic bag that stands up easily. There’s not a lot of extra air or weight to it, so it seems efficient but still inviting and durable.

The package says that they’re Soft Creamy Caramel that Melts in Your Mouth. I didn’t know what that meant because the image on the front was just a drawing, not a photo of the actual product. The ingredients list didn’t actually sound that tasty: Sugar, Vegetable Fat (from one or more of the following: Sheanut Oil, Illipe Butter, Mango Oil, Sal Oil, Palm Oil), Cream Powder, Sweet Whey Powder, Butter Fat, Maltodextrin, Skim Milk Powder, Fat Reduced Cocoa, Soy Lecithin, Caramel Sugar Syrup, Artificial Flavor, Salt.

It sounds like some sort of artificial coffee creamer.

Werther's Original CaraMelts

The pieces inside are individually wrapped and look a lot like other Werther’s Original Caramel products. Each was well protected and emerged looking in good condition.

Werther's Original CaraMelts

The pieces are odd. They’re stocky oval swirls of solid “white confection” in some sort of butter toffee flavor. I was thinking they’d be like butterscotch baking chips. The color is kind of dead - it’s not yellow (or even artificially colored at all) but more of a that grayish color that some people turn before they faint. They’re shiny, but not slick looking. The color reminds me of support stockings.

The smell is, well, buttery. It’s fake but not like the Buttered Popcorn Jelly Belly. It’s pleasant and not overwhelming. There’s a lot of milky dairy notes to it, and guessing from the ingredients that’s an authentic scent. The bite is like a white chocolate confection. It’s quite smooth but lacks a good melt - it’s like the melting point is a little too high for the human mouth. So it’s vaguely waxy and greasy at the same time. The flavor is lightly salted and buttery with a toffee and caramel note.

I just can’t figure out why I’d want to eat these, unless I was looking to put on weight and perhaps get some calcium (8% of your RDA in 7 pieces). They’re not too sweet, but also just not very satisfying for any of the cravings I get on a regular basis.

I like the classic Werther’s products, but their diversion into chocolate products (I don’t know what to even call this) is hugely disappointing. I think the best caramel product Storck makes is Reisen.

Related Candies

  1. Rococo Bee Bars
  2. Storck Toffifay
  3. Werther’s Original Caramel Dreams
  4. Werther’s Caramel Coffee Hard Candies
  5. Werther’s Original Chewy Caramels
  6. Green and Black’s White Chocolate


Name: Werther’s Original CaraMelts
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Storck
Place Purchased: Target (West Hollywood)
Price: $2.29
Size: 5.2 ounces
Calories per ounce: 131
Categories: Candy, Storck, 5-Pleasant, Germany, Target

POSTED BY Cybele AT 12:26 pm     CandyStorck5-PleasantGermanyTargetComments (17)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

NewTree Dark Milk

New Tree Milk ChocolateNewTree is one of those feel good chocolate companies that balances the desires of the chocolatiers with nutritionists. Most of their products that I’ve tried until now have been their standard Belgian dark or milk chocolate blended with herbs or spices. Things like ginger, coffee, mint or lavender.

More recently they’ve been doing herbal infusions with alpha omega 3 fatty acids - so going more towards a nutraceutical than a simple decadent indulgence. One of the bars that seemed more mainstream is this NewTree Dark Milk 51% Cocoa I found at Target.

It boasts 3x more fiber, a full 51% cacao content and 30% less sugar than regular milk chocolate. I don’t usually expect my chocolate to do anything other than be chocolatey, but I thought I’d give it a try.

The box is simple, an easy to open tab top with a thin silver foil around the bar itself.

New Tree Milk Chocolate

The first thing I noticed was that the bar didn’t look anything like the package image. It doesn’t say New Tree on the pieces. It’s just a generic bar.

It’s a thin tablet, six by four. The snap is good, a little softer than a straight dark but not as soft as some fudgier milks I’ve had. The color is between a dark and a milk.

There’s a definite dairy scent to it, more than a cocoa note. The texture is smooth for the most part and rather light on the tongue. It’s a little sticky and has a cooling effect as it melts. It’s slightly chalky and every once in a while there’s a little fiber to it, or maybe it’s grit.

The cocoa notes are smoky and toasted, a light caramel tone and quite a bit of dairy.

The ingredients list is quite long: sugar, cacao mass, pure cacao butter, (inulin & oligofructose, dextrin) added for fiber, whole milk powder, natural vanilla flavor, vanilla bean powder extract, soy lecithin.

The trick with this bar is that the fiber takes up space that would ordinarily be occupied by sugar, milk or chocolate. The sweetness level of the chocolate is perfect, so the only reason to add more sugar would be because it’s cheaper than chocolate or milk. It doesn’t need more milk and any more chocolate and it wouldn’t really be milk chocolate any longer.

For folks watching their sugar intake, this is an impressive fete. There are 13 grams of sugar in a 40 gram serving, but also 2 grams of protein, 7 grams of fiber & 14 grams of fat and only 170 calories (about 20 fewer per ounce than standard milk chocolate). It doesn’t taste like a compromise and is actually a nice, less sweet but still rich experience. I ended up eating the whole bar, and not just because I was reviewing it.

It’s a bit expensive, but again, for something that’s slightly better for you than the usual candy aisle fare that doesn’t taste like “healthy candy” it would be a nice option.

Related Candies

  1. Green & Black’s Peanut Milk Chocolate
  2. Scharffen Berger Dark Milk (68%)
  3. Goldie’s Premium Carob Bar
  4. Scharffen Berger Milk Nibby Bar
  5. Choco-Omeg
  6. Adora Calcium Tabs
  7. New Tree Chocolates


Name: Dark Milk 51% Cocoa
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: New Tree
Place Purchased: Target (Glendale)
Price: $2.99
Size: 2.82 ounces
Calories per ounce: 120
Categories: Candy, New Tree, Chocolate, 7-Worth It, Belgium, Target

POSTED BY Cybele AT 12:46 pm     CandyNew TreeChocolate7-Worth ItBelgiumTargetComments (2)

Monday, June 14, 2010

Haribo Raspberries Gummi Candy

Haribo RaspberriesHaribo makes dozens of kinds of candy usually in fanciful shapes. The Haribo Raspberries Gummi Candy are kind of the other end of the spectrum. They look just like the real thing. They’re the same size and approximate the shape and texture of real raspberries and blackberries very well.

The Raspberries are a popular item for wedding candy buffets because they’re elegant with their sharp red and black colors but also because they do well in summer heat.

Oddly enough, before buying this bag, I’d never had the Haribo version before. I’ve had the Jelly Belly Confections brand, but saw no reason to try anything else.

I picked up this “value bag” at Target. Value is mostly accurate, it’s a half a pound for $1.49 - which is pretty good for Haribo. This particular bag was made in Turkey, I know that Haribo varies depending on which of their global facilities the candies are made in.

Haribo Raspberries

They are cute and exquisitely formed. Each is made up of a soft clear gummi center covered with black or red large nonpareils. The nonpareils themselves aren’t particularly flavored, the pop is in the center.

Haribo Raspberries

I don’t think there’s supposed to be a difference between the two, but I sense one.

The Black Raspberries are lightly bitter, like smoke, on the tip of my tongue. The center is a mild and tangy raspberry jelly. It’s not really gummi but completely smooth with only a slight bouncy chew. It wasn’t a full-bodied jam flavor, just a light floral berry juice.

The Red Raspberries were actually more to my liking, though much sweeter. I wish the nonpareils weren’t quite so sweet or at least had a little more flavor to them. But at least the red ones didn’t taste weird to me. (Odd because the only food coloring mentioned on the package was Red 40, my nemesis, which I would have expected to ruin the red ones.)

Overall, they’re pretty and probably fun for decorating or display, but not enough pop for me to keep eating. I will note again that these were from Turkey, the ones made in the German factory may be much better.

Related Candies

  1. Haribo Saure Dinosaurier
  2. Heide Red Raspberry Dollars
  3. Zachary Candy Corn & Jelly Pumpkins
  4. Haribo Fizzy Cola
  5. Jelly Belly - Full Line
  6. Haribo Gummi Bears vs Trolli Gummi Bears


Name: Raspberries Gummi Candy
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Haribo
Place Purchased: Target (Irvine)
Price: $1.49
Size: 8 ounces
Calories per ounce: 102
Categories: Candy, Haribo, Gummi Candy, 6-Tempting, Turkey, Target

POSTED BY Cybele AT 4:00 pm     CandyHariboGummi Candy6-TemptingTurkeyTargetComments (16)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Nestle Crunch - Even More Scrumptious

Nestle Crunch - Even More ScrumptiousOne of my favorite chocolate bars as a kid was the Nestle Crunch or Krackel. Both of them went downhill in the nineties (Hershey’s Krackel isn’t even a chocolate bar any longer) but the Nestle Crunch seems to be inching its way back to respectable. About two years ago Nestle released their “Now Even Richer” tweak, which improved the bar but it wasn’t hard when it was so waxy and flavorless before.

Nestle is going for it again with their Nestle Crunch Even More Scrumptious version. Since we’re in a crossover period where both the “Now Even Richer” and “Even More Scrumptious” version are on shelves, I picked up two for comparison.

Nestle Crunch - Even More Scrumptious

The bar’s shape and size is exactly the same. Same package design with the familiar red, white and blue colors that have been used for at least 50 years but of course updated from time to time. The mold has the bold CRUNCH lettering that lets you know what it is inside or out of the mylar. I prefer a bar with segments. While pretty molding is nice if you’re eating the whole bar yourself and don’t care about the sanitariness of biting right into it, I usually break my bar into pieces so I can share or portion. Though the ingredients on the old and new version are identical as is the nutrition information, flipping both bars over reveals the most significant difference:

Nestle Crunch - Current Formula & Even More Scrumptious

(Now Even Richer version on the left - Even More Scrumptious on the right)

Sometime in the mid-2000s (I think), Nestle started using these little BB shaped & sized crisped rice pieces. Not just in the Crunch bar but also in the 100 Grand Bar. I don’t like them. They lack the irregular air pockets that gives a Crunch bar its more rustic texture. But the big rice pieces are back, I took this as a good sign.

Nestle Crunch - Current Formula & Even More Scrumptious

(Now Even Richer version on the left - Even More Scrumptious on the right)

The color of the two bars is slightly different. It could be age, the new formula is obviously a fresher bar though both are within their freshness dates.

But what’s the difference in taste, how did they make it better without actually changing the ingredients or nutritional profile?

Well, it’s creamier. Not by much but the fact that the rice pieces are larger seems to make a difference as well. The bigger crunch makes the chocolate texture difference more noticeable. Is it really that much more scrumptious?, I’d say yes, there is some notable improvement in the creaminess and sweetness level of the chocolate. It still lacks a well-rounded chocolate flavor and texture. It’s far too sugar intense and not chocolatey enough for me, or even milky enough. It’s an entertaining enough piece of candy for the price, but not a satisfying bar of chocolate. It does earn the right to scootch up from at 6 out of 10 to a 7 out of 10. I hope the other holiday versions get this changeover, too.

(I think that’s Jenilee Harrison as the first bar-eater. What I got from this commercial is that it’s a candy bar that white people like.)

Related Candies

  1. Malley’s Chocolates
  2. Wilbur Milk Chocolate Crisp
  3. Nestle Milk Chocolate
  4. World’s Finest W.F. Crisp
  5. Nestle Crunch Crisp
  6. Nestle Crunch with Peanuts


Name: Nestle Crunch
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Nestle
Place Purchased: Target (Eagle Rock)
Price: $.69
Size: 1.55 ounces
Calories per ounce: 142
Categories: Nestle, Chocolate, Cookie, Kosher, 7-Worth It, United States, Target

POSTED BY Cybele AT 12:47 pm     CandyReviewNestleChocolateCookie7-Worth ItUnited StatesTargetComments (5)

Friday, April 2, 2010

An Easter Dash - Reviews in Short

Easter DotsEaster Dots come in one of the happiest looking boxes I’ve seen in a long time.

They’re also crazy cheap, most of the time a theater box like this that holds 7 ounces is just a buck. When I looked at the flavors on this box I was a little confused about what made these an Easter version besides the box (Mike and Ike come in holiday boxes that are the exact same candy). The flavors are Blueberry, Lemon, Lime, Cherry and Orange. The flavors of the classic Dots box are Strawberry, Lemon, Lime, Cherry and Orange. So in this version the Strawberry has been swapped for Blueberry.

These were very fresh. Tootsie does a good job of sealing up the boxes well and Dots have a clear cellophane overwrap.

Easter Dots

Once I opened the box I found out the big difference, it’s the color. Easter Dots are bright and opaque little nubbins.

Well, maybe there was another difference. These seem to be just as smooth but have a “shorter” chew to them, so they didn’t stick to my teeth like Dots usually do. I liked the freshness of the flavors, though it’s a little bland it’s also soothing. The blueberry was pretty convincing though I wish that one replaced the cherry instead of the strawberry.

Rating: 6 out of 10

Divine Milk Chocolate Speckled EggsI’ve been searching all over for these for the past month and finally found them at Whole Foods yesterday ... not with the candy but at the end of the cereal aisle.

Divine Milk Chocolate Speckled Eggs are all natural and fair trade milk chocolate eggs with a candy shell.

They’re freakishly expensive at $4.99 for 3.5 ounces, far more than I’d be willing to pay on a regular basis. I really only bought them because I’d been searching so hard for them it seemed weird to find them and then get decide they were too expensive. The chocolate is made from beans from the Kuapa Kokoo cocoa cooperative in Ghana. Seems like Easter is one of those holidays where folks may want to pay more attention to the social responsibility behind the treats.

The stand up box is charming. Inside is a little clear cellophane bag with a little more than a handful of eggs.

Divine Milk Chocolate Speckled Eggs

They’re very similar to Cadbury Mini Eggs. The shape is more football than pear. They beautiful muted colors and a matte finish.

The shell is smooth and softly decorated. The shell is quite thick and crunchy. The chocolate inside has a silky melt, a little sticky with a good caramelized dairy note. I liked them a lot and will probably buy them again next year. Hopefully they can be found in larger packages for better value. (Also, Whole Foods could do a better job of putting them where people can find them. I went to three different stores and it wasn’t until the fourth circuit of the one at 3rd & Fairfax that I found them - even after asking a stockperson.)

Rating: 7 out of 10

Sour Patch BunniesThe Sour Patch Bunnies are like many other Easter versions of regular candies. As you can imagine these are little bunny shaped candies instead of being shaped like spiky haired children.

I liked the box a lot, it was easy to tell apart from the regular Sour Patch offerings. The only quibble is really the packaging. Like many theater box candies, inside the box the candy is inside a plain cellophane bag. As I mentioned above, the Dots are just tumbling around in the box and there’s a cellophane seal on the outside. For this version I have to open the box top completely to get the bag out, dump the candy into the box and then I’m faced with an opening that is really too large for dispensing.

Sour Patch Bunnies

They’re a little lighter in color compared to the Sour Patch Kids. Honestly, I prefer this. They’re colored enough that I can tell them apart and guess the flavor and that’s really all I need. Other than that, the shape was so vague, unless you told me these were bunnies I wouldn’t have known. Pink is the classic Swedish Fish flavor with a tangy coating. Green is lime, yellow is lemon and orange is orange. A biting sour coating, a chewy sweet jelly candy in the center ... they’re great.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Russell Stover Peanut Butter PastelleI bought this Russell Stover Peanut Butter Pastelle Rabbit online from Russell Stover. I just couldn’t find it in the stores and thought it was a unique product.

The rabbit is similar to the white chocolate one I tried last year (and didn’t like that much, so I wonder why I was curious about this one). It’s a peanut butter coating (like peanut butter baking chips) with a peanut butter filling.

The three ounce flat rabbit is nicely molded. The butterscotch color is also really appealing. It smells like vanilla pudding and peanut butter. The coating though is a bit waxy and stiff, it melts but not in a dreamy way that good white chocolate does. But it’s not too sweet, which is a relief as well. The filling is a crumbly peanut butter with a salty note and a dry grainy crunch. I kind of got into it. I’d prefer it in a smaller format though, maybe one of the smaller eggs they do.

Rating: 6 out of 10.

Brach's Classic Jelly Bird EggsBrach’s Classic Jelly Bird Eggs are cheap jelly beans. I don’t know what classic is, the package gives no indication what the flavors are.

They’re only 99 cents for a generous 9 ounce bag. Even at that bargain price, they’re not much of a deal. They’re pretty enough to look at and probably decorate with, but they’re inconsistent in flavor and execution. I also resent not knowing what’s inside. It’s not like the bag is tiny and has no room for information like the flavor array.

Brach's Classic Jelly Beans

White is pineapple. It’s sweet and floral but bland. Green is lime and rather strong but lacking zest. Purple is grape and is utterly stupid ... seriously, it tastes like sweet stupidity. Black is licorice. All of the black ones seemed to be smaller than the other jelly beans. Still, they were tasty and well done. Pink is bitter and just dreadful. Perhaps it’s strawberry. Red is not as bitter but still dreadful. Orange is sweet and empty. Finally there’s yellow, which is actually pretty good, it’s like a sugared lemon peel.

Rating: 4 out of 10

Brach's Spiced Jelly Bird EggsSo as annoying as I found the Classic beans, you’d think I would be happy with the Brach’s Spiced Jelly Bird Eggs which are quite clear on the front that they feature spice flavors.

I was hoping for rich flavors, but of course I know Brach’s well enough that I really won’t be getting much more than a decent looking product. The bag doesn’t promise much more than a good value, so I should probably adjust my expectations.

Brach's Spiced Jelly Beans

Red is a mild cinnamon, not as good as Hot Tamales and kind of tinged with some of the mint notes, but still pleasant like a cup of spiced chai. White is peppermint. I have to say that a peppermint jelly bean is a little odd especially since it’s so grainy but still fresh tasting. Pink is wintergreen which I really love except when there’s too much food dye like this one that has a weird bitter clove & plastic aftertaste - but at moments it’s kind of like root beer. Purple is clove and is actually mild enough for me to enjoy though true clove lovers will probably be disappointed. Orange is sweet and again lacking in any pizazz. Black is again licorice and pretty good (though it makes my tongue dark green).

I think the problem is that I’ve already had some pretty good spice jelly beans from Hot Tamales (Just Born) and there’s really no need to switch brands, the price is comparable, availability is the only issue.

Rating: 5 out of 10

Related Candies

  1. Halloween Dots: Bat, Candy Corn & Ghost
  2. Divine Fair Trade Chocolate
  3. Whoppers Reese’s Peanut Butter Flavored Candy
  4. Dots Elements: Earth, Air, Fire & Water
  5. Cadbury Popping Mini Eggs
  6. Hot Tamales Spice Jelly Beans
  7. Cadbury Mini Eggs
Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The All American Chocolate Bunny Battle

Cadbury - Dove - Bliss BunniesThe cornerstone of an Easter Basket is the chocolate bunny. There are many to choose from and most often it’s about how it looks. I picked up three foil wrapped milk chocolate rabbits of similar size for a little comparison.

All were about the same price, between $3.99 and $4.49 (though prices vary from store to store, I picked all mine up at Target before the good sales started). All are American made, all are milk chocolate and all are Kosher. In the running are: Cadbury Dairy Milk Solid Milk Chocolate Bunny, Hershey’s Bliss Hollow Smooth & Creamy Milk Chocolate Bunny and Dove Fairy Bunny Silky Smooth Hollow Milk Chocolate Bunny.

Dove - Cadbury - Bliss Bunnies

Each is similar in size, thought the Cadbury bunny is solid so weighs a little more. Though they come in boxes, I’m not sure they’d go into the Easter basket that way. So here they are out of their boxes. I found all of them to be overpackaged, especially considering how many chocolate rabbits (Lindt is most notable) that are sold simply wrapped in foil without a box or plastic form shield.

Cadbury - Dove - Bliss Bunnies

Side by side it’s easy to see how the different milk chocolates are vastly different colors. Cadbury is the lightest and has an orange hue. Hershey’s Bliss is the darkest and from my reading of the ingredients and nutrition label it has the least fat (more milk solids and sugar).

Cadbury - Dove - Bliss Bunnies

They’re all three dimensional bunnies with nice molds. They were all pretty much flawless out of their wrappers as well.

Cadbury Solid BunnyThe Cadbury Dairy Milk Solid Milk Chocolate Bunny is made in the United States by Hershey’s from imported “chocolate crumb” from Cadbury’s facilities in the UK (at least that’s what I learned via the NYTimes in 2007).

The ingredients are different than the UK Cadbury Dairy Milk. There is no additional vegetable fat in there, but it does contain PGPR, an additional emulsifier often used in less expensive chocolate. (If you’re curious about the differences between the UK and US Dairy Milk, check out this head to head comparison.)

Sugar, milk chocolate, cocoa butter, lactose, soy lecithin, PGPR, natural and artificial flavor

They all came with a crazy amount of packaging, the Cadbury bunny’s box was more than two inches taller than the rabbit inside. But it’s a generous size, a full six ounces which at the selling price of $4.49 it was the best value of the bunch.

Cadbury Solid Bunny

The rabbit is a rather realistic representation, no anthropomorphism by the designers. It’s a classic sitting rabbit with high ears. The foil is great, the only one of the bunch that has a design on both sides. (The wrapping style is kind of like a chocolate coin, the two sides are a heavy printed foil and have a seam all the way around.) The fact that he could be seated facing either way was a great feature, especially if you’re designing an Easter basket for a particular tableau.

Cadbury Solid Bunny

My Cadbury bunny was soft, even though my house was a cool 68 degrees. Biting off the ears was pretty easy, but after that I had to take a knife to him and give him a few quick jabs to break him up.

The chocolate has strong caramelized sugar and yogurty dairy notes. The texture is sticky as it melts though not as sweet as I expected at first. The cocoa is mild and woodsy ... it’s the classic dairy milk chocolate I think most people are familiar with. It’s a little grainy and gritty.

I was a little irritated at how hard it was to eat, requiring a knife or the unsanitary gnawing. But he was lovely. Here are some more shots I took if you want to see some other views:

Cadbury Solid Bunny Cadbury Solid Bunny Cadbury Solid Bunny Cadbury Solid Bunny Cadbury Solid Bunny

Hershey's Bliss Hollow BunnyThe Hershey’s Bliss Hollow Smooth & Creamy Milk Chocolate Bunny was a little confusing. There were two products on the shelves at Target from Hershey’s (here’s where I picked all of these up). There was this Bliss bunny, which I thought was a good comparison to the Dove one, and then an identically molded one that was just “Hershey’s” but with a blue bow instead of a lavender one (I photographed the back of the package for later comparison).

The Hershey’s Bliss one has no PGPR like the Cadbury or classic Hershey’s recipe, but of course a price tag to match (in this case a dollar more).

The Bliss bunny wins for the least amount of packaging, if you can call this winning. Inside the box was a formed plastic piece that went over the front-facing side of the bunny but like the others, there was a lot of empty space in that box.

Hershey's Bliss Hollow BunnyBliss is a relatively new chocolate line from Hershey’s, it was introduced barely two years ago with a parallel line of products and pricing structure to the Dove line. The packaging and foil wrapping doesn’t quite rise to the level of elegance or chic sophistication that Lindt, Godiva and Dove have been perfecting for so long. But it’s what’s inside that matters ... well, in the case of hollow chocolate bunnies, it’s what’s inside the foil that matters, the really inside is nothingness.

Bliss was the lightest bunny in the bunch at only 4 ounces.

The shape is of a bunny on its hind legs, front legs kind of up in a begging position. She’s not carrying a basket or anything. The molding is nice, the details are pretty good, especially on the ears. I don’t care much for the design of it but the shape is good. It feels substantial, which is important to kids. It’s not easy to put a thumb through the side or anything.

The Bliss bunny had an excellent sheen. It broke nicely and wasn’t too soft. The bunny itself had thick sides, but not too thick that breaking it was difficult. (I actually like hollow bunnies more as I get older - I like the illusion or size but the ease of portioning.)

Hershey's Bliss Hollow Bunny

The chocolate was smooth and creamy, with a rich milky flavor with a little Hershey’s twang, but not too much. It’s sweet but not throat-searing and not at all gritty or grainy. I liked it much better than the Hershey’s rabbit I had last year and better than the Bliss foil wrapped pieces.

Here are more photos to give you a sense of the scale, wrapping and molding:

Hershey's Bliss Hollow Bunny Hershey's Bliss Hollow Bunny Hershey's Bliss Hollow Bunny  Hershey's Bliss Hollow Bunny

Dove Fairy Hollow BunnyThe final rabbit is the Dove Fairy Bunny Silky Smooth Hollow Milk Chocolate Bunny. This one diverges from the classic rabbit shape and goes a little into the weird territory. This bunny has fat, fat butterfly wings (I don’t know how some conservative folks feel about mixing fairies with Easter).

The box has the most packaging, a clamshell formed clear plastic piece that protects the bunny and holds it in place. It did its job well, as my bunny looked great in and out of the foil. The back of the box has a poem about the Fairy Bunny, a poem that tells the story of this magical Easter bunny who has a product placement deal with Dove.

This ingredients looked okay, there’s PGPR in there but it comes after the flavorings. (I’ve been told that PGPR is great for manufacturers because it makes molding easier.)

Dove Hollow Fairy Bunny

The Dove bunny is by far the best looking one in and out of the foil, but definitely on the feminine side with its lavender wing accents and luscious eyelashes. (Even the whiskers look feline-sexy.)

It’s a squat bunny, so it doesn’t feel quite as decadent as the Bliss one, even though it weighs a half an ounce more at 4.5 ounces.

Dove Hollow Fairy Bunny

The walls of the chocolate were inconsistent. Some spots were thick and beefy, others, like the sides and bottom away from the edges were quite thin.

The bunny has a soft milky and woodsy scent, not too sweet. The texture of the chocolate is creamy and smooth. As I had my bunny open for tasting for a couple of weeks, I noticed that the flavor profile changed. I’ve noticed this with molded items that have a lot of surface area, and especially with chocolate that has PGPR. The flavor gets a little rancid ... not full on “my goodness, this is spoiled” but a subtle “this was better last week”. So I found myself gravitating, much to my surprise, to the Bliss bunny.

This bunny still wins for its looks, here are some more glamor shots:

Dove Fairy Hollow Bunny Dove Fairy Hollow Bunny Dove Hollow Fairy Bunny Dove Hollow Fairy Bunny

On the whole, all three are good quality. They’re expensive by the ounce when you compare it to other chocolate like little foil wrapped pieces or big bars. But they’re also a special item for an Easter basket, gifting or just using as a decorative item. I suggest going for the chocolate you like ... but sometimes aesthetics trumps taste. Don’t forget to check out your local chocolate shop though - there’s something special about buying local from a company that molds their bunnies on site.

Related Candies

  1. Lake Champlain & See’s Bunny Battle
  2. Upscale Hollow Chocolate: Michel Cluizel & Hotel Chocolat
  3. Palmer Hollow Chocolate Flavored Bunny
  4. Russell Stover Hollow Milk Chocolate Bunny
  5. Lindt Chocolate Bunnies (Dark & Milk)
Name: Cadbury, Bliss & Dove Milk Chocolate Bunnies
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Cadbury (Hershey's), Bliss (Hershey's) & Dove (Mars)
Place Purchased: Target
Price: $4.49, $4.49 & $3.99
Size: 6 ounces, 4 ounces & 4.5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 148, 142 & 152
Categories: Chocolate, United States, Mars, Hershey's, Cadbury, Kosher, Easter

POSTED BY Cybele AT 12:33 pm     Comments (4)

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Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.

 

 

 

 

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