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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Roca Buttercrunch Thins

Roca Buttercrunch ThinsI knew the Roca Buttercrunch Thins were coming out, but I still haven’t seen them in stores. There are four varieties, milk chocolate, 60% dark, dark truffle & caramel truffle. Luckily I got this sample box of the 60% Cacao Roca Buttercrunch Thins from All Candy Expo (the one that I was most interested in!). 

While I love the toffee center of Almond Roca (and the Mocha Roca), I’m not fond of the greasy mockolate coating and messy crushed almonds. (Yes, I sometimes scrape them off and just eat the center.) Isn’t it nice that Brown & Haley finally recognized that they can use better ingredients.

The 2.8 ounce box holds 8 pieces, each in their own little slot in a divided tray. It’s about the size of a VHS box (maybe a little thinner), but it seems like a lot of packaging and protection for what are probably pretty durable little candies.

The initial description of them as Thins was intriguing, I was picturing little toffee tiles like Valerie Confections sells. Instead I saw a post on Chocolate Traveler that showed that these are little sticks, which is fine with me.

Roca Buttercrunch Thins

The smell like toasted nuts, burnt sugar and dark chocolate. The dark chocolate coating, in my case, was slightly bloomed (and I blame myself for that, as it started to get absurdly hot in Los Angeles and didn’t follow my own precautions). The texture was just fine though. (And the last two got really bloomed, so I know what bloomed chocolate is in this case.)

I love the Roca toffee, it’s crispy and buttery at the same time. It has wonderfully complex burnt sugar flavors and the added nutty bits of almonds. The dark chocolate was also a smooth and creamy, adding a little more dimension with its own dark palate of flavors.

While I consider this a very successful confection, I find the packaging a little overdone. Does it really need to have both the fold over flap (hand purse style) box, plus the tray? The whole thing is then overwrapped in cellophane.

The price point, as far as I can tell from the Brown & Haley website is $3.95 a box, which puts it at over $22 per pound. For that price I’d either go up a notch and have some Carey’s of Oregon, Poco Dolce or Valerie Confections, or go down a notch and have a Heath Bar (why oh, why won’t they make them in dark chocolate?).

Related Candies

  1. Sconza 70% Dark Chocolate Toffee Almonds
  2. Shaymee’s Toffee
  3. Valerie Toffees & Nougats
  4. Enstrom’s Toffee
  5. The Rocas
Name: Roca Buttercrunch Thins: 60% Cacao
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Brown & Haley
Place Purchased: sample from All Candy Expo
Price: $3.95 retail
Size: 2.8 ounces
Calories per ounce: 150
Categories: Chocolate, Toffee, Nuts, United States, Brown & Haley, Kosher

POSTED BY Cybele AT 3:57 am     Comments (12)

Thursday, April 3, 2008

3400 Phinney: Fig, Fennel & Almond and Hazelnut Crunch

Theo 3400 Phinney - New BarsTheo Chocolate, the only all Fair Trade and Organic chocolate company that makes their confections from bean to bar in the United States is growing. This year they added two new bars to their 3400 Phinney line, bringing the total to four milk chocolate bars and four dark chocolate bars.

They are all a standard format of two ounces in four sections and feature artwork on the wrapper by Kitten Chops.

3400 Phinney - Fig, Fennel & Almond in 65% Dark

I picked my full-sized samples of the new bars at the Natural Products Expo last month. The Fig, Fennel & Almond in 65% Dark was the one I was most looking forward to.

Let’s see, favorite things:

Figs? I never knew fig love until I had my own tree. Check!

Fennel? Love it in salads, prefer licorice in candy. Check!

Almonds? I eat them every day. Check!

65% Dark Chocolate? Not too dark, not too dry is the way I like it. Check!

Upon first bite this was too dark, too complex, kind of a mess. But like some Philip Glass piece, the spareness of each note eventually started making music.

It took about half the bar, but I started liking it more and more. The fennel stands out in the scent of the bar, a light and grassy licorice or anise note. Upon letting a bite melt it becomes a bit acidic, a little tangy and rather like raisins, but fresher. Not quite figgy but the seeds help. Later the little bits of crushed almonds pull it all back together.

The chocolate is dry and not quite as buttery as I’d like for a “candy bar” but for a chocolate bar, it has a nice bitter component that keeps the figs from feeling to sticky sweet. Still, it requires a bit too much effort for me to just eat the bar.

Rating: 6 out of 10

3400 Phinney Hazelnut Crunch in Milk Chocolate

I had a very hard time with this bar ... I have a very hard time not eating it all before I finished writing this review.

It’s simply called Hazelnut Crunch Milk Chocolate.

It smells hazelnutty, and has little bits of crushed hazelnuts and a toffee crunch mixed into the creamy and rather dark milk chocolate.

The toffee bits are what makes this really fabulous. They’re very salty (in fact, there’s a lot of salt in this bar: 140 mgs) but man, each little milligram makes a little jolt of electrical energy delivering those flavors right to the pleasure centers of my brain.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Where I had trouble with the FF&A, the Hazelnut Crunch was one I couldn’t believe I ate the whole thing when it was gone. It’s a perfect afternoon bar, not too filling, not too sickly sweet and the little dose of nuts makes it feel very satisfying. In fact, I’d probably eat it anytime, anywhere ... but the Fig, Fennel & Almond would definitely need to be the kind of bar where I’d need to be in the mood.

Theo’s 3400 Phinney line is now Kosher (dairy).

Related Candies

  1. Zotter Candy Bars
  2. Theo Confections
  3. Vosges Haut-Chocolate
  4. Figamajigs
Name: 3400 Phinney: Fig, Fennel & Almond and Hazelnut Crunch
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Theo Chocolate
Place Purchased: samples from ExpoWest
Price: $3.25 retail
Size: 2 ounces
Calories per ounce: 140 & 165
Categories: Chocolate, Nuts, Toffee, United States, Theo, Kosher, Fair Trade, Organic, All-Natural

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:22 am     Comments (10)

Friday, February 1, 2008

Short & Sweet: Fancy Food Bites

Nougat aux FiguesLast year I ordered some wonderful products from Artisan Sweets which included this Nougat aux Figues: Cuit au Chaudron. I promptly took a photo of the product and then ate it.

Made by Suprem’ Nougat G. Savin in Montelimar, France it is much like the Arnaud Soubeyran Montelimar Nougat  that I’ve had previously, meaning it has wonderful lavender honey in it along with a generous embed of almonds. Of course it also has bits of figs in there too, as you might have guessed from the picture and name.

The figs gave the nougat a bit of texture, with the crunchy little seeds and combined well with the musky notes of the lavender honey. It seemed to make the whole thing a little sweeter, but it was a fresh taste. It’s expensive stuff, so it’s a sometimes-indulgence for me. ($8.00 for 3.52 ounces.)

Walters Handmade Honey NougatI picked up these nice sized samples at the Fancy Food Show from K.L. Keller Imports. She also handles the excellent G. Savin nougats

This particular nougat has full macadamias in it. It’s a light nougat, it actually felt lighter than many nougats in the hand. The scent was a light vanilla, almost like toasted marshmallows. Wow, the marshmallow comparison was evident once I bit into it. The nougat is fluffy and completely smooth ... there’s no hint of sugary grain to it at all.

While I was completely missing any honey notes and macadamias aren’t my favorite nut, this was fantastic. Sweet without being sticky or cloying and just the right balance with the neutrality of the macadamias.

Walters is a South African company (which explains the macadamias) and besides these samples and a store I found in the UK online, I don’t know where else to get this. I guess I’ll just have to keep hitting Keller’s booth at the trade shows. Here’s a review from Our Adventures in Japan of the Almond variety.

I’ve been on the prowl for good sources of Caffarel in the United States. Besides picking up those few pieces at The Candy Store in San Francisco and seeing them at trade shows, I’m completely at an impasse on how to find them besides hyping them on Candy Blog in hopes that more shops will carry them.

Caffarel - Conetto

And why? Their products are good quality and in most cases so freaking cute I want to put a leash on them and buy them squeaky toys.

Above is one of the new items they were showing called Conetto, which is like a teensy Drumstick Ice Cream Cone (warning, sound on that site).

The little confection is about 3 1/2” tall. The waffle cone holds a firm guanduia that is then rolled in little toasted cereal “nuts” with a few little chocolate chips tossed in there. The hazelnut paste is soft enough to bite like ice cream with the added bonus that it doesn’t melt. So take your time.

It only weighs .9 ounces, so it’s probably not a show-stopper when it comes to calories and since indulgence is partially about appearance, this might be an excellent calorie controlled treat. (Of course the wrapper doesn’t say how many calories, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’s not more than 150.) Now the only things holding me back are where to get them and how much do they cost?

BruCo confectionsAnother little sample from another hard-to-find Italian chocolatier.

BruCo makes wonderful flavored chocolate bars. I’ve had their orange one and rum one and thought they were quite nice with an attractive package. Last year at the Fancy Food Show I also tried their spiced chocolate and found it far too spicy for me. This year that had some other items that were definitely to my liking: BruCo Salt Tasting Chocolate, Ciocc’Olio & Cabosse.

BruCo Olive Oil Chocolate

Ciocc’Olio: The firm white chocolate center has a quick buttery melt. The taste is not strongly of olives. I was expecting a sort of grassy quality to it, but instead it was more nutty. It was definitely smooth and set off by the equally smooth and slippery melt of the dark chocolate shell.

Cabosse: I wasn’t quite sure what this was supposed to be. At first I thought it was a dark chocolate guanduia, but later I thought it was simply a firm ganache with cacao nibs in it. Strong and fruity, this was a nice piece, the perfect size and really attractive.

I also tried a Salt Tasting Chocolate set. I’ll probably have a full review of that at a later date. Basically it’s two different versions of a salted chocolate in one package. Hooray for variety.

Triple Chocolate ToffeeOne of the other companies that I see at the trade show a lot is Marich. They’re known for their fine panned chocolates, especially their Holland Mints and produced the first gourmet malted milk balls in flavors like Espresso and Peanut Butter.

They’re based in Hollister, California (which seems to be a hotbed of panning with other confectioners like Jelly Belly, Sconza and Gimbal’s nearby) but seem rather hard to find. Part of it is that they sell in bulk to many shops that repackage the product without reference to the supplier or they end up in bulk bins. In this case I found this little package of their Triple Chocolate Toffee at Ralph’s in Glendale after trying them at the All Candy Expo.

Triple Chocolate Toffee

They were absurdly expensive considering everything else in that aisle, $2.89 for that handful pictured above. But they are lovely to look at. They smell great too, like burnt sugar.

I didn’t know at first if the triple was referring to how much chocolate was on the outside or the fact that there were three different kinds. But suffice to say that either title works, because there is a lot of chocolate on each of these ... a pretty precise proportion that matches well with the chunk of butter toffee at the center. The toffee itself is wonderfully crisp and has that great cleave that very buttery toffee has. A little salty, it balances well with the not-so-dark but also not-too-sweet chocolates.

I’d probably pick these up again, but not at this price. Luckily Marich has a webstore.

Everything here gets an 8 out of 10 but no further specs as I don’t know retail prices (unless otherwise noted), calorie profile and often not even the ingredients.

Related Candies

  1. Fancy Food Show 2010 - Day 3 Notes
  2. Marich Chocolate Sea Salt Cashews
  3. Laica & Caffarel Chocolate Eggs
  4. Caffarel Figs & Chestnuts (Fico & Castagna)
  5. Nougat de Montelimar

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:07 am     All NaturalCandyReviewCaffarelMarich ConfectioneryChocolateCookieNibsNougatNutsToffeeWhite ChocolateFranceItalySouth AfricaUnited StatesRalph'sComments (3)

Friday, October 26, 2007

Sconza 70% Dark Chocolate Toffee Almonds

Sconza 70% Dark Chocolate Toffee AlmondsThere was nothing wrong with the elegant simplicity of a chocolate covered almond. It could hardly be improved upon. Or could it?

Sconza introduced Dark Chocolate Toffee Almonds featuring “70% cacao international blend chocolate” at the All Candy Expo last month. I was really looking forward to them, as I think Sconza makes great panned candies, especially nuts.

Sconza is based in Oakland, California, one of the best confectionary areas in the country. Sconza has an interesting product line that includes such wonderful items like Jordanettes (Jordan Almonds), incredible toffee coated nuts and even a line of impossibly-large-to-eat jawbreakers.

This new chocolate covered almond capitalizes on one of those things they do so well, toffeed nuts.


Each generously sized almond is covered in a crunchy and thin coating of butter toffee. It’s salty and crispy and provides a satisfying crunch when biting through the thick coating of very dark chocolate.

The chocolate is strong, with dark fruity overtones and some coffee notes. The almonds are fresh and crunchy and provide a mellow counterbalance to the salty toffee and rich chocolate.

I love these. They’re only vaguely sweet, so I don’t feel sick after eating a handful. At the same time only one or two are extremely satisfying. They’re beautiful to look at smell positively divine.

I haven’t seen these in stores yet, but I’ve found other Sconza toffee and nut items at places like Bristol Farms (a high end grocer). I don’t know what the retail price is, but I think $4.00 for a bag would be such a deal.

Name: Dark Chocolate Toffee Almonds
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Sconza
Place Purchased: samples from All Candy Expo
Price: unknown
Size: 5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 141
Categories: Chocolate, Toffee, Nuts, Sconza, United States, Kosher

POSTED BY Cybele AT 7:02 am     Comments (11)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Walkers Nonsuch Toffee

One of the cultural differences it took me a while to get over was the British insistence on calling caramel “toffee”. I can forgive them, mostly because they do such a nice job making soft toffee in the classic butter caramel style. For those Brits reading, in the US we call toffee a hard crack, boiled sugar and butter mixture.

Walkers' Nonsuch ToffeeLast weekend I went to a new British food shop called The British Food Shop in Laguna Niguel. They had a very nice selection of consumer candies from the United Kingdom at decent prices, everything also looked exceptionally fresh. I picked out quite a few things, including some Walkers’ Nonsuch Toffee.

The big slabs aren’t much to look at, unless you hold it up in bright light and admire the depth and richness of the pure caramelized color ... like it’s a Tahitian pearl or a puppy.


The bars aren’t really user-friendly and a bit hefty at 3.5 ounces. They have little sections in them, but the best way to eat the candy is to chill it and then whack it firmly on the corner of the table or counter. I find this works best if you put it in a ziploc baggie first, lest it burst its way out of the package.

The toffee smells buttery and rich. It’s a very firm caramel chew, so it helps to prewarm it in the palm of your hand or in your mouth for a moment before trying to chew it.

It’s ultra smooth, not too sweet and barely salty. The burnt sugar notes and true butter flavor are a simple pleasure.

The package states that there are no artificial colors or preservatives, but neglects to mention the artificial emulsifier (E471, also known as mono and diglycerides of fatty acids, which may be from an animal source). 8 out of 10

Treacle ToffeeThe other variety I couldn’t resist is their Treacle Toffee. For those of you unfamiliar with the term treacle, it’s basically molasses and is often called golden syrup. This toffee features 13% black treacle, which sounds extra good.

Molasses is revered for its nutritional profile, it’s like sugar, only with plenty of necessary minerals (calcium, magnesium, potassium and iron). Those minerals add a wonderful woodsy, nutty taste to the sweet syrup. I’ve had a craving for molasses for a few weeks, I’m guessing it’s an essential mineral I’m missing or something. I’ve been pondering a recipe for Molasses and Peanut Butter Bread Pudding. But that’s neither here nor there ... this is a review of toffees!

This toffee smelled like pecans, maple sugar and a cedar closet filled with caramels and honey all at once.

This chew is just as smooth and satisfying, if a little less sweet than the original variety. I really enjoyed both the depth of the flavor and the consistent chew of it.  9 out of 10

Now I’m curious to try Walkers’ other nutted varieties of their toffee and of course the licorice variety. The company has been making toffee (and only toffee) for over a hundred years and is still run by the Walker family. I like the idea that a company that makes a quality product can simply continue doing so generation after generation. Toffee may not be the most popular candy category any longer (chocolate is), but it still has an important place in the confectionery pantheon.

Related Candies

  1. Storck Chocolate Riesen
  2. Sugar Babies
  3. Caramel Previews: Mitchell Sweets & Caramoos
  4. Valerie Toffees & Nougats
  5. Enstrom’s Toffee
Name: Original Toffee & Treacle Toffee
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Walkers' Nonsuch
Place Purchased: British Food Shop (Laguna Niguel)
Price: $1.77
Size: 3.5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 137
Categories: Caramel, United Kingdom

POSTED BY Cybele AT 6:09 am     Comments (18)

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Honey Roasted Peanut Roca

imageI tried the Honey Roasted Peanut Roca for the first time at the All Candy Expo in Chicago last summer. It took quite a while before I saw it in the “wild” and I was really surprised that my first sighting was at the 99 Cent Only stores.

I don’t have a photo of the innards, but I can tell you that it looks just like any other Roca. The foil wrapper on this one is coppery-orange but the little turd-looking candy is just like you’d expect.

The aroma was definitely peanutty with a strong initial crunch in the toffee. The toffee softens quite quickly to a firm chew and then becomes very buttery and a tad grainy as the sugar gives up its structure. I didn’t get much of the Honey Roasted Peanut vibe but the toffee was certainly competent (and I’ve eaten a lot of toffee this week.)

The faux chocolate coating on the candy was less than satisfying though. Rather greasy and soft, it was held in place by the peanut bits stuck to it. I appreciate that they’re experimenting, but this particular one was distracting for me. It didn’t add any “chocolate” flavor to the mix.

On a side note I did try the Candy Cane Roca while at the Fancy Food Show. The combination of toffee and minted chocolate was kind of odd, but overall nice. I don’t think I’d buy it, but I’d pop a few in my mouth if they were sitting in a candy dish.

I found the packaging for Honey Roasted Peanut Roca a little odd on this one as well. Perhaps it was that it was sold at the 99 Cent Store, but the incongruous 3 PIECES on the lower left kind of cheapened the whole thing. It also didn’t look like it belonged because of the font and it didn’t have the gold shadow the rest of it had. I know, I’m being super picky here. But I actually looked at the label rather critically when I first picked it up because I thought it was some sort of knock-off.

I think I’m going to stick with Almond Roca.

Name: Honey Roasted Peanut Roca
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Brown & Haley
Place Purchased: 99 Cent Only Store
Price: $.50
Size: 1.2 ounces
Calories per ounce: 167
Categories: Mockolate, Toffee, Peanuts, United States, Brown & Haley, Kosher

POSTED BY Cybele AT 6:04 am     Comments (3)

Monday, January 15, 2007

Short & Sweet: Japanese Goodies

I have too much candy and at one review a day I’m never going to get to it all.

And if I review more than one a day, well, I’m just not going to have enough time for anything else.

So here it is, a “Short & Sweet” review of a buncha stuff Japanese stuff:


High Concentration Milk Candy (made by UHA) -are little hard candies, kind of like a hard toffee. They taste distinctly of milk and are very sweet. They’re also rather satisfying without being too sticky. I’m sure there’s some high calcium content in there but the wrapper was all in Japanese.


Cubyrop (made by Bourbon) - oh they’re such cute candies! Little fruit flavored hard candies in Strawberry, Pineapple, Orange, Peach, Lemon, Muscat and Grape. Some flavors were very tasty, but I didn’t care much for the peach, which was a rather difficult flavor to distinguish from the orange. Lots of vitamin C.


They came in little wrappers that held two little candy cubes. They were completely random, so you’d never know when you were going to get a muscat and grape together.


Look Nut ala Mode (made by Fujiya) is a strange little tray of chocolates in a box with a wide, envelope-like flap. Great for sharing, they’re pretty and of descent quality even for less than $2.00.


It took me quite a while to realize that there were four different nut flavors ... not that each chocolate contained all flavors. I have no idea, beyond the rather green pistachio one which was which. I enjoyed all of them except for the macadamia, which seemed more coconutty.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 6:49 am     CandyReviewBourbonUHAChocolateHard Candy & LollipopsNutsToffee6-TemptingJapanComments (14)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Shaymee’s Toffee

imageHolly Moly! More toffee!

This stuff, Shaymee’s Aussie Toffee, isn’t actually from Australia, but made right here in California.

They boast about their real, all natural ingredients including organic cane juice and fresh butter as well as their genetic predisposition to great toffee on their website. They also list a long variety of flavor combinations for their bulk toffees: Dark Chocolate Macadamia (shown), Dark Chocolate Espresso, Dark Chocolate Almond, Milk Chocolate Almond and Milk Chocolate Pecan. They also have single serving packages that have three pieces (2 ounces) of the Almond in both Milk & Dark Chocolate.

imageThe wide array of nut combos have one thing in common, a hefty plank of sweet, salty and crisp toffee at their center. A good buttery (and chocolatey) scent combined with a good cleave of the toffee. The pieces were about four bites each for me. The were very buttery tasting with a mellow salty hit that kept everything in balance.

The nuts weren’t overly abundant in any of the varieties, but definitely gave a flavor definition to all of them. My favorite, even though it was milk chocolate, was the Pecan. The Almond was quite good, with a good nutty taste and a slightly crumblier texture than the others. Macadamia reminded me of coconut, it felt a little butterier. Espresso was dark and mysterious and quite tasty to have the bitter bits of coffee in the chocolate to balance out the sweet caramelized sugars. The quality of the chocolate was particularly good - mellow and creamy without even a hint of chalky grain.


I supplied a large assortment of these to the family over Thanksgiving alongside the Charles Chocolates and everyone was duly impressed with both.

I love that the pieces are regular and dipped in chocolate. I much prefer that to the rustic broken planks that always seem to have the chocolate fall off of the last pieces in the box.

The best part about all these toffees is the price. You can pick up a half pound on Amazon for $7.19 ... less than $15 a pound for premium toffee? Sure the packaging isn’t as elegant as some others, but stuff it in a gift basket with some nice coffee or hot chocolate and someone will definitely love you. If I have a criticism it’s that all the toffees look the same when dumped out of the package. Once I mixed them together on a plate for serving to friends I completely lost track of which was which. (Of course as a good hostess I offered to bite everyone’s toffee pieces to discern the nut.)

You can also buy it in plenty of Whole Foods-styled stores all over the West. If you’re in the store and want some toffee, definitely give the single serve package a go.

Name: Nut Toffee Assortment
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Shaymee's
Place Purchased: samples from Shaymee's
Price: retail $7.99
Size: 8 ounces
Calories per ounce: 120
Categories: Chocolate, Toffee, Nuts, Coffee, United States

POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:34 am     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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These candies will be reviewed shortly:

• Trader Joe’s Holiday Roundup 2015

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