Monday, September 12, 2016
The newest brand extension for Hot Tamales, made by Just Born (the company that also makes Peeps and Mike and Ike) are Hot Tamales Licorice Bites. The concept of cinnamon flavored licorice is not new, Twizzlers has had them on and off over the years, and smaller companies like Kenny’s Licorice have also sold cinnamon licorice twists. However, as far as I know, Hot Tamales Licorice Bites are the only cinnamon licorice in stores now.
Since they came out, I’ve picked up three bags. So, consider this your review spoiler that I like these.
The format is very simple, they’re little licorice nibs, like stubby slices of thick licorice twists. There’s a little hole in the center.
The texture is very similar to Twizzlers. It’s’ rubbery and crumbly and not really like anything considered food.
The cinnamon flavor is pleasantly warm with a little sizzle to it at times, like a zap from a static charge. They do tend to stick my teeth ... and the smell of them will contaminate any other food stuffs nearby. But I found them rather addictive. They’re not terribly sweet (in fact there’s 100 mg of sodium in each serving) and since they’re made from wheat flour, they’re also a bit more satisfying than straight sugar candy like the regular Hot Tamales.
These are a nice addition to the Hot Tamales line, similarly easy to eat and share. I hope they stick around.
Thursday, March 24, 2016
Just Born continues with their Peeps limited edition flavors. This season they’ve released three new Delight versions which are fruity flavors dipped in a white confection tinted and flavored to match.
I found two varieties and picked them up: Raspberry Delight and Lemon Delight Peeps.
The Raspberry Delight Peeps package shows both red and blackberries, though the description isn’t any more specific than simply raspberry.
The face that the inside and the outside of the Peeps are color-coordinated is oddly unsettling. The sugar crust is sparkly and a rather vibrant purple, but the innards are oddly dead looking.
The texture is exactly what you expect with a Peep, a crusty sugar shell, a light flavor and bouncy marshmallow texture. I actually enjoy slightly stale Peeps, so I let these packages sit open for a week after taking the photos of them. (So I ate one in its fresh state and the others in their stale state.) The raspberry is very mild, floral and a little jammy. There are little sour crystals in the crust and maybe in the fudge. The fudge is sweet, but also lots more flavorful than the marshmallow. I can’t say that I liked it, but it did add a textural difference and a little creamy note to the whole thing.
In this instance I liked this better than the Candy Corn and Pumpkin Spice Peeps, but not by much.
The lemon flavor is mostly sweet and has a “cleaning product” sort of vibe, with the light citrus scent but very little nuance. The flavor also has a few hints of salt and sour, which does give a little respite from the sugary notes. Overall, they’re perfectly edible, but the fudge element is grainy and sweet and waxy.
The Lemon didn’t work as well as the Raspberry, but still came off as a decent piece of candy. I find these little dipped Peeps to be ridiculously expensive for the type of candy they are. I buy them because they’re novelties and there weren’t many other new Easter candies this year. In the future, I’d prefer to just find a good small confectioner that makes their marshmallow in house and uses high quality, high cacao chocolate.
Monday, February 22, 2016
Easter is a special time in the candy cycle, because it’s really the only time of year that white chocolate is embraced. Fortunately there are some products that are actually good, not just a white confection but actually made with real cocoa butter and lots of milk. (Many white confections are just sugar and tropical oils.)
The new White Strawberry Shortcake M&Ms are a Target exclusive this year, and if you’re a fan of the other white chocolate holiday versions like the Candy Corn M&Ms and the White Peppermint M&Ms, these may be just for you.
The pieces are larger than standard M&Ms, they’re puffier and a little less regular. They’re delicate pastel colors in pleasing creamy pink, eggshell and white, kind of like a strawberry shortcake with a whipped cream dollop. That’s about as far as the shortcake theme goes, which is fine with me. (The Dove Strawberry Shortcake Crisp things were weird.)
The package this year holds 8 ounces. Years ago the limited edition flavors came in a 9.9 ounce bag, they’re reliably shrinking over time.
The pieces are uncolored in the center and not layered like some. The white chocolate is creamy and sweet and has the floral flavor of fresh strawberries. There are no dried strawberry bits in there, like some previous products have included.
The shell is crunchy and the center is sweet but balanced with the more milky flavors. There’s a lot of fat in there, from the cocoa butter, but they didn’t have a greasy texture. (But that could be that it’s kind of chilly, the Candy Corn version they make in the fall comes along when things are still warm in my area, and the cocoa butter can migrate through the shell in the heat. The flavor in this case reminds me quite a bit of the old Nestle Qwik strawberry milk.
I’m keen on these, but they push all my buttons. They’re pretty and not overly colored, they have a good flavor that’s not too artificial and the ingredients (though there are artificial colors and flavors) are petty decent. I hope they return next year with a wider release.
Saturday, February 13, 2016
I found the share size bag at Target, which is a great size for a new product like this. The bag has no further description aside from advising that they’re good for snacking or decorating. The little window in the bag shows that they are actually tiny hearts that are two layers, one white and the other a pastel.
As far as I can tell, there are five flavors:
The quality of the flavors is so widely varied that I can’t recommend them. It’s hard to tell them apart because they’re small and only colored on one side, so it’s easy to eat the wrong one if you’re avoiding a color.
I’d like to see Brach’s try again with these because the concept shows a lot of promise. But they’re fine for decorating and I only spent a buck on them. I was disappointed to see that they’re made in China, which means that Brach’s or Ferrara Candy Company didn’t actually make them at all.
Wednesday, February 10, 2016
Last year Tic Tac had a Valentine’s flavor called Be Mine Mix. It featured Strawberry & Wild Cherry in one box. The new version for 2016 has a couple of twists. First, there are three colors in the package, though the flavors are still listed as Wild Cherry & Strawberry Flavors. The appealing new feature though is that they’re printed.
Tic Tac introduced printed little pieces last year with the Minions promotion (which was pretty genius in appearance, though in the States the flavor was not banana as expected, instead it was Passion Fruit). Since Tic Tac invested in this new printer technology, they’re trotting it out for other versions, including the Candy Cane version for Christmas, which were just peppermint Tic Tacs with little red candy canes printed on them.
There are only three conversation starters here: I (heart) You, Hug Me and Be Mine. The type is quite wee, very hard for me to read without my reading glasses on, but love is for the young and able-eyed.
The lightest pink tastes a bit like Strawberry Cake. I have no idea what it’s supposed to be but the shell part is smooth and sweet with very little flavor at first, the next layer down has a tartness and a definite strawberry flavor note. The center is softer and has more strawberry flavor but a really pronounce “cream flavor” which is not to say that it’s actually creamy, it just has a vanilla and maybe even touch of butter note. I don’t like it much.
The medium pink is Strawberry, but this one, instead of the weird vanilla, the center has a menthol note on top of the berry.
The red is Wild Cherry. This is well done. The outside is slick on the tongue with a very mild cherry sweetness. The next level down introduces the more varied cherry notes, a deeper jammy flavor and of course the tart bite. The center has a bit more chalky tartness. As a whole, it’s pretty good. I’m not usually fond of cherry, but this was the best one in the mix ... but it could be because I really didn’t like the others.
All three go together pretty well, but as mints they’re not very refreshing as breath fresheners. The box is cute, but not distinctive as a Valentine’s item. I’d really only get this for someone as a gift or myself if I knew that I liked the flavors. The printing is certainly a novel addition to the brand, but it does decrease the enjoyment of the texture (the printing does not dissolve in the same way as the regular coating does).
Wednesday, January 27, 2016
There’s not much of a description on the package, just that the squares are filled with strawberry filling. The filling appears to be made from sugar, high fructose corn syrup, palm oil and freeze dried strawberries and colored with fruit and vegetable juice (very vague). It also has some added TBHQ as a preservative. There’s no indication of the cacao content of the chocolate itself, but I’d guess it’s somewhere in the low 60% range. Each square is 70 calories.
The squares are elegant and simple. They’re 1.75 inches square and sport the Ghirardelli logo in a beveled field. In my experience the packaging protects the pieces well and they usually look stunningly gorgeous.
If there’s an issue with the filled squares from Ghirardelli is that they temper their chocolate to be very crisp and snappy ... so the filled pieces can be messy to eat when the chocolate breaks apart upon biting and the filling dribbles out. So, make an effort to bite on the diagonal, or pop the whole thing in your mouth at once.
The chocolate is sweet but with a nice dry woodsy note to it, which goes well with the strawberry flavors. The strawberry filling is quite like a finely pureed strawberry sauce. It’s not overly sweet, has a strong tangy note and just a touch of seed flavor to it (and some actual seeds).
Because the edges are so thick and the chocolate in the center is so thin, there’s a large variation in the proportion of filling to chocolate in any given bite.
I liked them quite a bit, it was the best imitation of a chocolate covered strawberry that doesn’t spoil that I think I’ve had. Ghirardelli Strawberry Squares contain soy and milk and may also contain traces of tree nuts. There’s no statement about gluten.
Monday, January 25, 2016
The new Dove Milk Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake Crisp Promises are for Valentine’s Day. I picked mine up at Target (and they may be a Target-Exclusive item).
The shortcake part is a little odd, conceptually. For a real strawberry shortcake, berries (often in a sweetened syrup) are ladled over a biscuit type baked good. Some folks prefer a spongecake or poundcake but the key here is that they’re all soft and cakey. The cookie pieces in this case are made from tapioca starch, rice flour, sugar, palm oil, baking soda and some salt.
The other odd part of this is that there’s milk chocolate ... so if anything, this is an imitation of a chocolate covered strawberry with a few gluten free cookie bits (this is not, however, a gluten free product as it’s made in a facility that also uses wheat and peanuts and tree nuts).
The pieces are not a swirl of milk & white chocolate, like some other recent versions. Instead this is a solid milk chocolate piece, flavored with some strawberry and dotted with little cookie inclusions.
The strawberry flavor is very strong, but the milk chocolate holds its own with a creamy dairy note and a little toasty cocoa flavor. The strawberry is floral sweetness, no dried berry bits in this version. The cookie bits are odd, since they’re made with starch and not actual wheat flour, they are actually rather starchy, though they don’t get sticky-pasty like some gluten free cookies I’ve had. The overall effect of the crunchy cookie bit is really nice, it aerates the experience because you kind of have to chew it instead of just letting the chocolate melt away, which I think boosts the strawberry notes.
They’re pleasant. The strawberry isn’t too artificial or plastic (it does say natural flavor on the package, though it’s kind of vague). I don’t know if I would buy these again, but I appreciated the effort and novelty.
Friday, December 18, 2015
I have a soft spot for Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookies. Mostly the soft spot is in my memory, because I don’t find the current day item meets my pickier standards. It shouldn’t be that hard to make a chocolate cookie with a minted chocolate coating.
So, if I can’t get my itch scratched with Thin Mints, perhaps I should turn it on its end and have something chocolate with cookies, instead of cookies with chocolate. Mars’ new Target-exclusive Promises for Christmas are just that: Dove Milk Chocolate Holiday Mint Cookie Promises.
The idea is simple, and certainly not original. They’re milk chocolate, lightly flavored with peppermint along with some crunched up chocolate cookie pieces.
The milk chocolate is fudgy and sweet, but definitely smoother than many other brands like Hershey’s and Nestle that are on the shelves at the moment. The little cookie bits are sandy and crunchy with a bitter note of charcoal and cocoa. Mostly they just sit in the crevices of my molars. The effect is a nice textural change from the smooth melt of the chocolate and a slight note of salt.
The ratio of chocolate to cookie is very good, definitely more chocolate, but they weren’t stingy with the cookie bits, they were in every bite. They were a little on the sweet side, which is really the profile of the Dove Milk Chocolate. Still, I’d love it if someone would do these in dark chocolate.
I hope Target brings these back next year and hopefully they’ll get wider distribution so everyone can enjoy them. But now I’d like someone to explain why I can’t have them all year, like the long gone Hershey’s Cookies ‘n’ Mint bar.
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.