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Monday, April 26, 2010

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough BitesThe box for Mint Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites says New! in the corner, but I know these have been around for at least 18 months. There’s no expiry date on the package, but the fact that I haven’t seen them at the drug store before gives me hope that they’re fresh. They certainly looked and smelled fresh.

The product itself references several other confections. The original Cookie Dough Bites are little soft and chewy bits of “cookie”, like eating uncooked dough without the chance of salmonella since they’re egg free. To make them a little easier to eat they’re covered in chocolate. In this new version they’re Mint Chocolate Chip, which is not a cookie flavor but is actually an ice cream flavor. Of course cookie dough is also an ice cream flavor now. Everything is an ice cream flavor now. If it’s not, watch some Iron Chef, I’m sure it’ll turn up there.

The box isn’t very attractive, though at least it stood out from the other Cookie Dough Bites varieties because this one is green, which means mint. I don’t care for the sheer number of fonts on the front (at least 6)  while the back is even worse.

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites

The nuggets are little discs of “cookie dough” covered in milk chocolate. They’re nicely panned but not so highly glazed so they’re waxy (though there is a little shellac coat on there that’s hardly noticeable). They’re about the size of a peanut but of course some are larger or smaller - some are conjoined twins.

They’re called mint chocolate chip and the image on the package shows the cookie middles with little chocolate chips but I never saw any. I bit many in half, but there was no indication of chocolate chips in mine. They’re covered in a milk chocolate and smell rather minty, kind of like ice cream. The centers are a little grainy, they way that cookie dough is, a great texture. The slightly gritty and minty center goes well with the sweet and milky chocolate outside. There’s no real cocoa flavor to it, but the mouthfeel is good. They’re sweet and the center is just a little salty, but they’re just lacking something.

I know that there are lots of folks who just love Cookie Dough Bites, but they’re just not my thing. I prefer a more substantial textural difference and better quality chocolate. I don’t need partially hydrogenated vegetable oils in my candy.

Related Candies

  1. Cookies ‘n’ Creme Showdown
  2. Brach’s Indulge Cookie Nibbles
  3. Ferrara Dark Chocolate Covered Biscotti
  4. Trader Joe’s Chocolate Covered Gingersnaps
  5. Cookie Dough Bites


Name: Mint Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Taste of Nature
Place Purchased: Walgreen's (Echo Park)
Price: $1.00
Size: 3.1 ounces
Calories per ounce: 128
Categories: Candy, Taste of Nature, Chocolate, Cookie, Mints, 5-Pleasant, United States, Walgreen's

POSTED BY Cybele AT 1:32 pm     CandyReviewTaste of NatureChocolateCookieMints5-PleasantUnited StatesWalgreen'sComments (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
Thursday, February 25, 2010

Whitman’s Marshmallow Eggs & Carrot

Whitman's Marshmallow EggWhitman’s is out of the box this Easter. Until I spotted these little Marshmallow Egg covered in Easter Pastelle I didn’t know that Whitman’s didn’t make anything but boxed chocolates.

Whitman’s is now owned by Russell Stover’s, so it isn’t surprising that they might move into the single serving items and it makes more sense that if they did, it wouldn’t be with an item identical to a Russell Stover product. The new line seems to be all “Easter Pastelle” covered marshmallows.

The eggs were priced as I expected, regular price was 59 cents but on sale at two for a dollar at Walgreen’s where I found them (also spotted at RiteAid).

Whitman's Marshmallow Eggs

I found them in three colors: Green, Yellow and Magenta.

I also found that they were not flavored, which might have been fun. A raspberry flavored Easter Pastelle coating with a plain marshmallow would be an innovative piece of candy. A white confection on a marshmallow is, well, ordinary.

Whitman's Marshmallow Egg

Each egg is one ounce. They’re approximately 2.5” long and 1” high. The Easter Pastelle is thin and not quite crisp. It smells like, well, an Easter basket. A fake vanilla and sugar scent.

The Pastelle coating is made of sugar, hydrogenated palm kernel oil and milk products plus some food coloring.

The marshmallow is very soft and foamy, moist and sticky, not chewy and latexy like some. It’s all very, very sweet. In the case of the pink one shown above, I got a bitter metallic aftertaste from the pink Pastelle. The green was tastier in that it had fewer aftertastes to mess with the tastes.

Whitman's Marshmallow CarrotThe more exciting product in the new line though was this Whitman’s Marshmallow Carrot which cost a whole dollar.

The large orange carrot shaped marshmallow is covered in two different colors of Easter Pastelle, the orange body and a green carrot top. The whole thing weighs 1.75 ounces.It’s a little over 4” long, so it’s a hefty piece of fluffed sugar. This package has a little waxed card in it, I’m guessing this candy needed a little more support than the eggs. (It also helped to show off the product well in the package.

The flavor profile is similar to the Egg, except that the carrot is a little flatter, so there’s not quite as much marshmallow to Pastelle.

Whitman's Marshmallow Carrot

The marshmallow didn’t seem quite as moist either. But still, this is some intense sugar. I couldn’t eat more than two bites before I had to slip it back into its package.

These aren’t stellar, but they are different enough from what you can get in the drug store aisle from Russell Stover, RM Palmer, Hershey’s or Dove, so they have that going for them. Folks who like really high glycemic load (28 g total weight: 21g of carbs, 3g of fat) fluffed confectionery will probably go crazy for these. The carrot would make an amazing decoration on top of a carrot cake or a plate of Easter desserts.

I still think a bit of flavor thrown in would be interesting. Orange-flavored, Mint-flavored, Lemon-flavored coatings would really set this apart from the ordinary.

Related Candies

  1. Chocolate Covered Peeps
  2. Private Reserve Russell Stover and Whitman’s Reserve
  3. Cadbury Easter Mallows
  4. Elmer’s Dark Chocolate Heavenly Hash & Gold Brick Eggs
  5. Elmer’s Toasted Marshmallow Eggs
  6. Whitman’s Sampler Tin
  7. The Great Pumpkin Roundup
Name: Marshmallow Eggs & Carrot
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Whitman's
Place Purchased: RiteAid & Walgreen's (Echo Park)
Price: $.50 & $1.00
Size: 1 ounce & 1.75 ounces
Calories per ounce: 110
Categories: Mockolate, Marshmallow, United States, Whitman's, Easter


Name: Marshmallow Egg Covered in Easter Pastelle
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand:
Place Purchased: Rite Aid (Echo Park)
Price: $.50
Size: 1 ounce
Calories per ounce: 110
Categories: Easter, Whitman's, Marshmallow, Mockolate, 6-Tempting, United States, Rite Aid


Name: Marshmallow Carrot covered in Easter Pastelle
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand:
Place Purchased: Rite Aid (Echo Park)
Price: $1.00
Size: 1.75 ounce
Calories per ounce: 110
Categories: Easter, Whitman's, Marshmallow, Mockolate, 4-Benign, Rite Aid

POSTED BY Cybele AT 12:09 pm     Comments (7)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Lemonhead & Friends Jelly Beans

Lemonhead & Friends Jelly BeansThe new Lemonhead & Friends Jelly Beans stand out on the shelves among all the other Easter candies. The bright primary colors - mostly yellow and red are definitely spring-ish but not the usual pastels.

The small bag is jam packed with candy. It’s 14 ounces of little jelly beans made with real fruit juice. Most other bags on the same shelf were about 9 ounces.

This new version of the popular Lemonhead candy is rather similar to the new Chewy Lemonheads. They’re a jelly center covered with the tart and grainy shell that Lemonhead fans have come to know and love. (My mouth just waters at the thought of it.)

Lemonheads & Friends Jelly Beans

The beans are small, not quite as small as Jelly Belly, but pretty close. If you can’t tell already, they’re also vivid - strikingly, saturatedly vivid. They’re probably the most deeply colored jelly beans I’ve seen. I’m not that fond of too much food coloring for two reasons. The first is that it often leaves an aftertaste. The second is that it often colors my tongue and I don’t like people to know how much candy I’ve been eating. Other folks are not fond of artificial colors as they’ve been linked to hyperactivity in children.

The ingredients list an array of acids that I’m accustomed to seeing in candies: fumaric acid (fermented apples & grains), malic acid (found in grapes and green apples) and citric acid (found in citrus) but another that I hadn’t noticed before called adipic which Wikipedia tells me is used mainly as a precursor for the production of nylon. (That sounds alarming but doesn’t mean that it also isn’t food.)

Lemonhead & Friends Jelly Beans

The five flavors are: Lemon, Orange, Grape, Green Apple and Cherry.

The bag definitely smells fruity, mostly citrusy.

Lemon is intense and sour. There are both tangy juice notes and a good dose of almost-bitter zest. It’s convincing. Kind of mind blowing.
Orange is also quite tart though has a more balanced sweetness. The orange notes are mostly juice and lacking a lot of the zestiness of lemon.
Cherry is powerful and floral with more of the tart cherry flavors than black cherry. Strong aftertaste of both the cherry flavoring and food dye.
Grape are nearly navy blue, not purple. The flavor is an intense version of SweeTarts and nothing like actual grapes. I love this stuff.
Green Apple is weird and chemical. There’s a woodsy apple note to it, but it’s very sour and has some strange artificial thing going on that I can only call “fake green apple.” Folks who like that stuff (like Jolly Ranchers) will enjoy it.

The levels of acid in these is quite high, so I wouldn’t recommend eating more than a small handful at a time. I found after more than a dozen of them it gave me a literal sour stomach. But for a little pick me up while driving or mixed with some other candies they’re definitely not your grandmother’s jelly beans.

I found them a little pricey for sugar candy compared to the cheap jelly beans usually around this time of year, but then again, they’re quite concentrated so it only takes a little. I liked that the bag was actually full. So many candies these days come in half empty bags, these feel sumptuous and indulgent.

There are no statements about the gluten free status on the package, they’re not vegan (confectioners glaze). Made in a facility where peanuts, tree nuts, milk, and soy is used. There was also a choking hazard warning (on all the Ferrara Pan products as far as I can tell). This was an extremely fresh package - the expiration date is 12/22/2011.

Related Candies

  1. Jelly Belly Honey Beans
  2. Tropical Chewy Lemonhead & Friends
  3. Spree Jelly Beans
  4. Judson-Atkinson Sours
  5. Gimbal’s Gourmet Jelly Beans
  6. Chewy Lemonheads & Atomic Fireballs
  7. The Lemonhead & Fruit Heads
Name: Lemonhead & Friends Jelly Beans
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Ferrara Pan
Place Purchased: Walgreen's (Echo Park)
Price: $2.49 (on sale)
Size: 14 ounces
Calories per ounce: 99
Categories: Jelly, Sour, United States, Ferrara Pan, Easter

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:18 am     Comments (10)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Ferrara Chocolate Strawberry

Ferrara Chocolate StrawberryI was a little dubious when Ferrara Chocolate entered the segmented spherical fruit made from chocolate market late last year. But I was impressed with the quality, availability and price. Ferrara Pan is best known for its other spheres such as Lemonheads and Atomic Fireballs. They used to be the importers and distributors of Toblerone, Terry’s Chocolate Orange and Cote d’Or chocolate, but when Kraft decided to handle that themselves, Sal Ferrara saw an opportunity to get that niche of sales for his company and moved into chocolate molding.

What’s most exciting about the new brand is the inventiveness of their “Chocolate Oranges”. The initial items were pretty much carbon copies of the existing Terry’s Chocolate Orange (Milk, Dark and Milk Chocolate Toffee Crunch). But now that the initial move into stores is over and hopefully folks sampled over the holidays they’re settling in and pushing the envelope a little more.

The Valentine’s Day version of the chocolate orange is part of the strategy to keep the oranges around for all holidays. This one is Strawberry Milk Chocolate and features a Valentine’s message on every segment.

Ferrara Chocolate Strawberry

There are 20 segments in the sphere. The red foil wrapper has a sticker that says Burst then Enjoy, but I do poorly at tasks that require just the right amount of force (watch me bowl sometime). So I just cleave it apart by wedging a knife between the segments.

Ferrara Chocolate Strawberry

There are ten messages on the slices, some are icons and others are little sayings. Be Mine, True Love, Only You and Hug Me. There’s no Marry Me but there are little pictures of a cupid, a set of kissing lips, a rose and the iconic Robert Indiana LOVE sculpture. (Well, it’s not quite the same icon, the O in LOVE is upright, not tilted.)

The scent is lightly floral, a mix of milk and strawberry. It reminded me of strawberry Nesquik. The chocolate is smooth but very sweet, has a good roasted chocolate note to it as well as the flavor of strawberry. There’s no tangy component, no freeze dried strawberry bits.

Each of the molded segments is nicely done. Mine were shiny and pretty much perfect - the only hitch was sometimes I broke off part of the design when separating it from the center.

The mix of strawberry flavor and milk chocolate isn’t exactly my favorite, but for what it is, it’s very well done. The chocolate is smoother than what I’ve been used to with Terry’s though absolutely still as sweet.

The idea of doing multiple designs on the segments is pure genius - it actually made me want to take apart the sphere to look at them all. Sharing it would certainly be in order, especially for Valentine’s Day. The price is certainly right at about $2.50 at most stores.

Related Candies

  1. Florida Tropic Oranges
  2. Ferrara Chocolate Oranges
  3. Ferrara Milk Chocolate with Almond Nougat
  4. Terry’s Chocolate Toffee Crunch Orange
  5. Limited Edition Strawberried Peanut Butter M&Ms
  6. Whoppers Milkshake Strawberry
  7. Meiji Gummy Choco
  8. Terry’s Chocolate Orange Confection
Name: Milk Chocolate Strawberry
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Ferrara Chocolate
Place Purchased: Walgreen's (Echo Park)
Price: $2.50
Size: 6.17 ounces
Calories per ounce: 148
Categories: Chocolate, United States, Ferrara Pan, Kosher, Valentine's Day

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:34 am     Comments (5)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Ferrara Chocolate Oranges

Ferrara ChocolateFerrara’s expansion into the midscale chocolate market has been quick. The first items I spotted are their Belgian chocolate bars, conceived to compete with Kraft’s Toblerone products. For the holidays this year they have three initial offerings of chocolate oranges in the style of Terry’s Chocolate Orange.

They come in the standard Milk Chocolate Orange and Dark Chocolate Orange as well as the Milk Chocolate Toffee Crunch Orange. They’re well priced at $2.50 each, and I’m guessing that deeper discounts will be found with holiday sales. I found my set at Walgreen’s, but I’ve also seen them at CVS.

Ferrara Dark Chocolate OrangeThe package is pretty, though not ornate or really much of a standout. The gold foil is a nice touch and the color-coding of the base of the boxes makes it easy to spot the flavor you might be looking for. They’re quite hefty, clocking in at 6.17 ounces (a Terry’s orange is 6.0).

On the front of the box it says that it’s a natural orange flavor so I was hoping the product was all natural, but I found reading the ingredients that it also contains vanillin (an artificial vanilla flavor).

I’ve always found Terry’s Chocolate Orange to be very sweet and I’m grateful that the sections are small because I’m rarely able to eat more than one or two at a sitting. I was hoping the Ferrara would be a little richer.

I started with the Ferrara Dark Chocolate Orange because I’d already had the plain Milk Chocolate from Ferrara and was very eager to try their dark. The bronzy orange foil has a sticker that exalts me to Burst then Enjoy (compared to Terry’s which is Whack and Unwrap). Inside the foil is a sectioned sphere.

Ferrera Dark Orange

The first difference I noticed is that it’s shiny and smooth. Terry’s have an orange rind texture. The second thing I noticed was different from a Terry’s was how solidly crafted this American orange is. When they say Burst, they don’t give me much indication of how much pressure to apply. So it took three fairly substantial smacks on a flat and firm surface to adequately dismantle the thing. (There’s a very good reason there are no photos of the Milk Chocolate Orange sections in this review as my ability to duplicate my success on the dark one was, well, unsuccessful.)

Each section is nicely molded and has a pretty orange peel and pulp design along with a version of the F crest in the center. The other side is blank.

It smells mostly sweet and with a light touch of orange. I didn’t get a lot of cocoa-vibe even from the broken orange. The snap is good, in fact the whole thing is very nicely tempered. It’s immediately sweet and has a strong orange essence to it. The chocolate is a little chalky and dry at the same time it has a cool and immediate melt. The dark chocolate actually has whole milk powder and milk fat in it, so it’s hardly dark chocolate though not milky enough to call it dairy milk chocolate.

For me it was simply too sweet and without some sort of milk flavors or intense cocoa notes, it just bored me. It’s attractive to look at and fun to share, but I would probably be disappointed if I got this in my stocking year after year.

Rating: 6 out of 10

Ferrara Milk Chocolate Toffee Crisp OrangeThe Milk Chocolate Orange is probably the classic of the bunch. It’s handsome and just as expertly made as the dark version (though I was not able to expertly disassemble it - see the milk toffee version below for a reasonable facsimile of what yours would probably look like).

The orange scent from this version was sweet and had a slight milky and caramel note to it. I was looking forward to this one because I rather liked the milk chocolate in the Belgian chocolate bar. However, after eating a few slices, it didn’t seem quite the same. It’s not quite as creamy or milky, though sometimes tempering and flavors can create changes. But I also noted on the box that it didn’t say anywhere that it was made from Belgian chocolate, so maybe it’s not the same at all. (I’d consult the wrapper for the Belgian chocolate bar but I ended up using the box as an impromptu knife sheath on Thanksgiving). My guess is that the Belgian stuff was more expensive and those bars were 3.5 ounces ... this is over 6 ounces for only 50 cents more.

There’s a slight grain to it as it melts and I’m really missing the chocolate flavors. Still, I found it much more munchable than the dark version.

Rating: 6 out of 10

Ferrara Toffee Crunch Orange

The final variety is orange shaped but not orange flavored. The Milk Chocolate Toffee Crunch is a milk chocolate studded with toffee bits. Reading through the ingredients it’s clear that they’re really toffee (made with butter and not cheap butterscotch hard candies. It looks pretty much like the milk chocolate one.

It has a slight cereal scent to it in addition to the milky sweet smell. It’s sweet and slightly grainy with a strong milky component. There are little chips of toffee with a good salty and buttery note. The chips, however, are very small, so there’s no additional texture of crunching them, just the little salty texture change. As with the other varieties, it was so very sweet that I found that two slices were more than enough to give me a sore throat and craving for pretzels or plain almonds.

Rating: 6 out of 10

Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Orange

Based on the above analysis, I believe that the Trader Joe’s Chocolate Oranges (available in dark and milk) are the same. They have similar ingredients, 20 sections and all weigh 6.17 ounces. They’re also priced about the same at $2.49 per orange.

Nope, I was wrong. Turns out the Trader Joe’s are made by SweetWorks who makes the Florida Tropic brand line. See more here.

Overall, I think the Ferrara products are nice quality and are certainly easy to find. I appreciate seeing a product like this that’s American-made (so often fresher and cheaper because they don’t have to import). They’re also Kosher. They’re not quite to my taste, but if I can’t get folks at the office to eat these I’m going to try making them into a decadent orange & chocolate pudding.

Coming up soon, the other chocolate oranges from Florida Tropic (photos of the varieties here).

Related Candies

  1. Ferrara Belgian Milk Chocolate
  2. Terry’s Chocolate Toffee Crunch Orange
  3. Ferrara Dark Chocolate Covered Biscotti
  4. Slice of Orange Hot Chocolate
  5. Cadbury Orange Creme Eggs
  6. Terry’s Peppermint Orange
  7. Terry’s Chocolate Orange
Name: Chocolate Oranges: Dark Chocolate, Milk Chocolate & Milk Chocolate Toffee Crunch
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Ferrara Chocolate
Place Purchased: Walgreen's (Las Vegas, NV)
Price: $2.50
Size: 6.17 ounces
Calories per ounce: 155, 148 & 142
Categories: Chocolate, Toffee, United States, Ferrara Pan, Kosher

POSTED BY Cybele AT 12:10 pm     Comments (5)

Friday, December 4, 2009

Christmas Dots

A couple of month ago I reviewed the set of trio of Dots candies for Halloween: Bat Dots, Candy Corn Dots & Ghost Dots. For Christmas Tootsie can only muster one holiday version: Christmas Dots.

Christmas Dots

Christmas Dots are red and green with white snow caps. So they’re festive looking, but are they festive tasting? Well, they’re Cherry and Lime flavored with Vanilla tops. Neither Cherry nor Lime have ever been considered a Christmas or even Winter flavor as far as I’m concerned (though I think vanilla is a nice touch).

The smell like vanilla. In fact, they smell an awful lot like the Candy Corn Dots, which I thought were more like vanilla pudding Dots (in a good way). These are like Jell-O and Cool Whip Dots in my two least favorite Jell-O flavors.

The lime is tangy and has a good zest note to it, but it also has a severely bitter component. The vanilla offsets it well, kind of like a lime creamsicle.

The cherry is very strong though not as much on the tart side of things, so it’s quite sweet. It’s also bitter, but in a more artificial coloring note than an actual natural citrus oil way. The vanilla balances this rather well, though I still didn’t like them at all, I found eating the vanilla tops to be palatable enough.

It might have been fun to really mix it up with these with something like Spearmint and Cinnamon with Vanilla. As it is, these are pretty enough to eat, but prettier to just decorate with.

In an unrelated story (to Christmas candy), Tootsie and the Orthodox Union announced that Tootsie candies including Tootsie Rolls, Frooties and Dots will be Kosher, with items arriving on store shelves soon.

Related Candies

  1. Halloween Dots: Bat, Candy Corn & Ghost
  2. Gourmet Gumdrops
  3. Dots Elements: Earth, Air, Fire & Water
  4. Dots
Name: Christmas Dots
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Tootsie
Place Purchased: Walgreen's (Echo Park)
Price: $1.00
Size: 7 ounces
Calories per ounce: 92
Categories: Jelly, United States, Tootsie, Christmas

POSTED BY Cybele AT 12:23 pm     Comments (1)

Monday, November 30, 2009

Russell Stover Santas

Russell Stover has a large assortment of holiday treats in Santa-themed packaging. What’s nice about them is that they’re always fresh and moderately priced (often on dramatic sale for three for a dollar but usually about 50 cents a piece). I picked up every variety I could find this year:

Russell Stover Santas

What I noticed first was that the packaging is inconsistent in its design. Sure they’re all a mylar wrapper, but beyond that the Santas are different drawing styles with the Maple Cream, Strawberry Cream & Coconut Cream sporting the same Santa holding a gift aloft as he sits in a chimney. But The Peanut Butter Santa is more streamlined, the Marshmallow Santa has some freaky bright red cheeks and insanely short arms and finally the Marshmallow & Caramel Santa is in the style of the European Saint Nicolas complete with staff.

What I also found out is that the definition of “Santa Shaped” is pretty loose in Russell Stover’s world. It’s not quite as egg shaped, and maybe the tapering ends can be a feet/boots and a head. But really, it’d be best to just call these Christmas Lumps or Snow Clods.

Russell Stover Peanut Butter Santa

The Peanut Butter Santa is pure simplicity: a peanut butter bar covered in milk chocolate. The shape of it is kind of figure-like. It’s the smallest of the pack as well, clocking in at only .75 ounces. It smells nutty and sugary and a little bit like peanut butter cookies. The milk chocolate is quite slick and melts easily, it has a light cocoa flavor to it. Most of all the salty peanut butter center is grassy-tasting. It’s a strange green flavor more like edamame than roasted peanuts.

It was tasty enough for me to finish it easily, but being small didn’t hurt either. The center is moister and a bit oilier than the center of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Tree (or Egg or Cup). This wasn’t a bad feature, just different.

Rating: 7 out of 10
Size: .75 ounces

Russell Stover Maple Cream Santa

I thought perhaps I’d tried these before and looked up to find that I reviewed the Maple Cream Egg way back in 2006. But the Russell Stover Maple Cream Santa is actually different. While the Easter version is coated in dark chocolate, the Christmas version is Milk Chocolate.

The amorphous lump didn’t remind me of Santa’s silhouette in the slightest but the maple cream flavor is a bit more Christmassy than Easterish so kudos for that, Russell Stover.

It’s been a while since I’ve had the dark chocolate version so I’ll spare us all comparisons. What I can say is that this is ludicrously sweet. The milk chocolate is sugary and not terribly creamy and the center while moist and fluffy is also throat searingly cloying and sticky. The maple flavor was simply a flavor, not something that felt natural or integrated into the candy itself.

Rating: 5 out of 10
Size: 1.25 ounces

Russell Stover Strawberry Cream Santa

While the Strawberry Cream Santa is also milk chocolate like the Cream Egg, this one lacks the pretty little swirls and curls on the top. It does smell a little like berries, but mostly it smells like milky chocolate. It’s quite sweet and has only a faint hint of strawberry and is rather similar to a Nestle Strawberry Qwik shake. I know it was really sweet, but I like the texture of the cream center that Russell Stover uses for both this one and the Maple Cream. It’s rather like a marshmallow cream, quite smooth and fluffy and moist without being runny.

Rating: 5 out of 10
Size: 1.25 ounces

Russell Stover Coconut Cream Santa

The Coconut Cream Santa is also unlike the Cream Egg in that it’s milk chocolate, not dark chocolate. In this case as well, I think the sugar-laden milk chocolate is simply over the top. I like the coconut flake texture of the cream filling and the nice size of the piece, but the sugary quality of the chocolate with its grainy and fudgy melt is just too much. It’s amazing what a difference dark chocolate can make, but it does.

Rating: 6 out of 10
Size: 1.25 ounces

Russel Stover Marshmallow Santa

Things were looking up when I found the Dark Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Santa. I didn’t really expect this to be terribly different from the Easter Rabbit version, except that one was huge at two ounces and only in milk chocolate where I shopped.

This one was by far the most attractive of my Santa set, a nicely detailed figure of Santa Claus scratching his head. Unfortunately I smashed him somewhere along the way and his face was a little worse for it (or maybe he wasn’t scratching his head, maybe he was holding his hand over his nose and cursing me).

The marshmallow is latexy and has a chewy pull. Not too sweet and with a faint whiff of vanilla flavoring.

Rating: 7 out of 10
Size: 1.00 ounces

Russell Stover Marshmallow & CaramelThe Marshmallow & Caramel Santa Covered in Milk Chocolate is the only other in the collection that estimates the shape of Santa Claus.

Of course this one looks like it could be a Mummy or Generic Figure for Unisex Bathroom Door.

It’s smaller in dimensions from the Dark Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Santa, yet it’s actually heavier, it’s the same 1.25 ounces as the Cream Santas. I’ve had the Caramel and Marshmallow Pumpkin before and found it interesting.

Russell Stover Marshmallow & Caramel Santa

This one seems to be more evenly balanced between the caramel and the marshmallow. It’s dense for a marshmallow product, the marshmallow is fluffy and has a light hint of vanilla to it with a smooth and velvety melt. The caramel isn’t runny nor quite chewy but has a good stringy pull to it.

It’s lacking a punch like the See’s Scotchmallow, but for 50 cents and in the shape of a clothes pin, well, I don’t want to sound too ungrateful for a decent piece of candy especially since this one seems to have the proportions just right. I wish the caramel was a little more chewy, a little more salty, but still a fun piece.

Rating: 7 out of 10
Size: 1.25 ounces

Related Candies

  1. Russell Stover Eggs (2009 edition)
  2. Reese’s Enigma & Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Eggs
  3. Russell Stover Marshmallow Rabbits
  4. Russell Stover Eggs
  5. Russell Stover Eggs (2007 edition)
  6. See’s Scotchmallow Eggs
  7. Russell Stover Coconut Wreath
Name: Santas: Peanut Butter, Maple Cream, Strawberry Cream, Coconut Cream, Marshmallow and Marshmallow & Caramel
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Russell Stover
Place Purchased: Walgreens & Rite Aid (Echo Park)
Price: $.50 each
Size: .75 ounces to 1.25 ounces
Calories per ounce: 130 to 160
Categories: Chocolate, Caramel, Coconut, Fondant, Marshmallow, United States, Russell Stover, Christmas

POSTED BY Cybele AT 1:29 pm     Comments (11)

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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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ON DECK

These candies will be reviewed shortly:

• Dandelion Chocolate

• Seely’s Mint Patties and Ivory Melts

• Honey Acres Patties

• Candy Encyclopedia: The Difference Between Gummi and Jelly

• Candy Rant: If your Licorice isn’t black, it isn’t Licorice

 

 

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