Tuesday, February 16, 2010
The Twilight Candy Bar from Go Max Go Foods is a vegan version of Milky Way (Mars for those in the rest of the world).
The package is odd and incongruous. It’s lavender and has a simple and rather small name emblazoned on the middle of it, but most of the package is taken up with explaining what’s not inside: dairy free, vegan, no trans fat, no hydrogenated oils, no cholesterol, nothing artificial.
At over $2 per bar it is at least a beefy size (hah, I used a meat to describe a vegan bar) clocking in at 2.1 ounces.
Yes, that’s a whole lot of mock products there. Mock caramel (because real caramel contains butter and/or cream), faux nougat (because real nougat contains egg whites) and of course the rice milk mockolate (it’s possible to make real rice-milk chocolate without palm oils).
The bar looks, well, rather like a dud. The coating doesn’t have the bloom problem that my Mahalo did, but it’s also not shiny or crisp like real chocolate. Just kind of chalky looking with no sheen. It doesn’t smell like much either, just a little sweet and a little malty (which isn’t a bad thing in my book).
The construction of the bar is similar to Milky Way - a nougat layer on the bottom, caramel then covered in chocolate.
The caramel has some stringy pull to it, but not in the same silky way that a good dairy caramel does. This one is a little grainy (not a dealbreaker) with a well rounded saltiness, but severely lacking in the toasted sugar notes. Instead it tastes like brown rice, toasty but in a “toasted wheat bread” way, not a “sugar shell on a creme brulee” way. (But to be honest, the Milky Way caramel isn’t all that either.) The nougat is fluffy and has a hint of malt to it. It’s fine, but I’ll admit that this fluffed sugar nougat that American candy bars have isn’t really my favorite thing. The chocolate-flavored shell melts to a point, but not into anything creamy. It doesn’t impart anything chocolatey to the party.
In a way this bar succeeds because it’s just as throat-searingly sweet as a Milky Way. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t want to finish it. I think the vegan versions of the caramel and nougat are good enough for those who can’t eat the real stuff, but a good quality dark chocolate could have saved this bar.
(For anyone interested in the candy maker’s reaction to this post, check this out.)
Go Max Go is not organic, not fair trade, not Kosher and is made in a facility with dairy, eggs, wheat, peanuts and other tree nuts. They do market themselves as dairy free and gluten free, but there can be traces because of their manufacturing practices.
Monday, February 15, 2010
The packaging belies its special place: it’s not that crazy dreadlocked, barefoot and patchouli drenched candy bar. Nope, it looks like a little plastic wrapped, sugar sweetened tropical paradise. It bears all the signs of Hawaiian hospitality, including the name Mahalo, which means thanks and praise, while the hibiscus flowers which are abundant on the islands. The description on their website for the bar is:
Oh, chocolatey coating. Hmm, that doesn’t sound quite as paradise-like. I actually knew that going in with these bars. I’ve looked at them before at the store and online and just wondered what they were thinking. Dark chocolate is vegan, in fact, it’s pretty easy to find. So why go with this rice milk mixed with cocoa and palm oil. How on earth is palm oil better or more vegan than cocoa butter. (Well managed cacao plantations are more diverse than palm plantations because cacao needs shade, so there are other canopy trees - less monoculture.)
The bar looks pretty good. The mockolate coating has a few bloomed spots, but I don’t hold that against them, the texture seemed just fine. (I know that coconut can be very difficult because it’s also fatty.)
The bar smells like coconut and hot chocolate. The bite is soft and chewy. The coconut center is moist and the coconut bits are big and sticky. The almonds are nice, but I could have used one or two more at this price. They added a nice crunch though. The mockolate coating was barely noticeable but had a strange “not quite milk” flavor to it that I can only say is like cereal.
Go Max Go Foods makes a series of candy bars, a vegan version of several classics. This one is by far the best, mostly because it’s all about the chewy and sweet coconut and the chocolate is not the focus. With real chocolate this would probably be a much healthier and tastier bar but since there are few vegan coconut bar options, this is an excellent choice except for the price.
If you want vegan, try the Sunspire Coconut Premium Dark Chocolate - it’s cheaper, real and actually tastes better. (Review here, scroll past the foul milk version.)
Go Max Go is not organic, not fair trade, not Kosher and is made in a facility with dairy, eggs, wheat, peanuts and other tree nuts.
(For anyone interested in the candy maker’s reaction to this post, check this out.)
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
This tall tub of Gourmet Gumdrops at Whole Foods simply looked too good. (Here’s a photo of an in store display.)
Part of it might have been because they’re huge. Over an inch in diameter and an inch high, these are mega gumdrops.
And the flavors listed were just as compelling: pomegranate, acai, grapefruit, Meyer lemon, key lime and tangerine.
The price, well, that had me vacillating. The 18 ounce tub was $5.99 ... a great price for an all natural chocolate product, but a bit much for an all sugar candy.
Oh, but the flavors ... grapefruit gumdrops! So I bought them.
The ingredients are pretty simple: Corn syrup, sugar, corn starch (modified - non GMO), natural flavors, malic acid, sodium citrate, citric acid, colored with vegetable extracts (red cabbage, paprika, turmeric), freeze dried acai powder.
I had trouble counting when I took the photo and didn’t notice the difference between the acai and pomegranate drops, so only one is represented here.
The texture of the drops is great. They’re very heavy for their size, quite dense. They have a soft give, but not quite the same bouncy texture of a gummi. The outside is a small grain sugar (not the larger grain that I think most of us are accustomed to with gum drops). Inside, the bite is smooth, the texture of the drop is even ... not super sweet but definitely more intense than most mass marketed brands.
They’re not as firm as something like Dots - more like Chuckles, so even though they do stick a bit in the teeth, it’s not a solid mass, they’re soft and a little drink of water washes away the bits. (Or you know, follow your dentists recommendation and brush after eating.)
Key Lime (colorless) - I have a word for this! It’s fresh. Biting into it is like rubbing the rind of a fresh lime. The flavor is both tart and sweet, not at all bitter. It’s not quite a key lime texture (which is a little dusty and dry) but the flavor is practically perfect.
Meyer Lemon (yellow) - very zesty, almost to the point of melting me with its caustic oils but still a really vibrant piece of flavor. I loved these, but they burned my tongue if I ate too many. And I kept eating too many.
Tangerine (orange) - though this one is the most stereotypical of the lot - it’s part Tang juice drink and part orange zest, it was still one that I pulled out to eat first.
Pomegranate (magenta/purple - not shown above) - raspberry and balsamic vinegar. Sweet, sticky with a low bitter afternote. A little high sour bite.
Acai (darkest purple) - cloying, dark and soapy. A little bit violet with a hint of concord grape. There’s no tang or tartness to it. My experience with acai is rather limited.
Each gumdrop weighs about 13 grams (.46 ounces) and has about 47 calories.
I found two different packages of these. The first, as shown above was a big tub. Then yesterday I realized that I didn’t have all flavors for review (I shared my big tub and friends picked out the citrus flavors) so I went back and bought some more. This time they were in the short tubs sold by weight with a generic deli label on them. At least I was able to just pick up a half a pound and compare the different packages to get ones that had fewer of the purples.
These are really great gumdrops. They have the smooth, soothing texture the gives flavor from start to finish. The texture is similar to Turkish Delight, but has a more full bodied flavor that includes more than the fragrance & zest. The colors and shape are appealing and of course the all natural thing is great - I like to taste my fruit flavors, not artificial colors. The price is steep, but then again the Pate de Fruit that I like to pick up every once in a while is more expensive, so these are a nice middle ground.
They appear to be vegan though not peanut/nut free and there’s no statement about gluten.
POSTED BY Cybele AT 8:55 am
Thursday, July 12, 2007
I’ve been holding onto the news since January and the Fancy Food Show that Jelly Belly is coming out with a line of all natural jelly beans. This means no artificial colors, preservatives or flavors (the colors I know are a big concern with some parents and hyperactivity in their children). Jelly Belly is currently test-marketing the new beans on the west coast at Whole Foods. The new line includes ten flavors at the moment. I picked up a package of Tropical Fruit Blend Jelly Belly.
This blend has six flavors: banana, coconut, lemon, orange, pineapple and strawberry. The flavors are actually from real fruits (the ingredients list things like coconut flakes, banana puree, pineapple concentrate, etc.). The colors are created using natural colorings like annatto extract, cabbage juice and curcumin.
The standout flavors for me were banana, which tastes like a really ripe banana and pineapple, which has a nice tangy bite to it and then a smooth sweetness.
If I have a complaint it’s that the color combination made it nearly impossible for me to tell the beans apart. The pineapple was kind of a colorless bean as was the coconut and the lemon on the yellow side and then the orange was more of a light peach but I still got them confused in dim lighting situations. The unmistakable beans were strawberry (though I didn’t care much for the flavor on this one, it tasted a little canned and metallic) and banana (the mottled one).
If I were looking for this blend of flavors and I had a choice between the all natural and the regular ones, I’d absolutely go for the all natural. They taste great and I already get confused about the color keys for Jelly Belly anyway.
The package also says that Jelly Belly - All Natural are gluten free and Kosher. They do contain beeswax so may not be suitable for vegans.
For those of you who don’t get the JellyBelly.com newsletter, they’re running some pretty awesome sales in their outlet. For some bizarre reason they’re clearing out their Christopher’s Fruit Gems at insanely low prices ($2.99 for a box of 2 lbs unwrapped or $14.99 for 9 lbs in a basket of the individually wrapped ones). They also have something for licoricians (licorice-lovers) with their 15 ounce licorice assortment at only $9.99. And finally, for fans of games of chance, from now until Monday, July 23, 2007 or while supplies last, if you order 2-4 bags of Belly Flops you pay only 6.00 each. But if you order five or more bags, the price is slashed to only 5.00 per bag! (That’s $2.50 a pound for Jelly Belly, not gonna do better anywhere else.)
Thursday, June 02, 2005
Name: Sweet Dark Orange and Sweet Dark Espresso
I probably shouldn’t buy chocolate bars called “sweet” and expect something other than sweet. And this being a candy blog, I should probably stop mentioning that I find candy sweet. I’m just calling them like I taste them.
These bars are of excellent quality. Smooth and without grain. The chocolate has good flavor, not much vanilla essence, mostly a roasty, robust chocolate flavor. Each has a flavor added to it. The Espresso has an excellent rich coffee flavor and of the two, I liked the mix of flavors best. It’s not as sweet, and stays true to espresso’s smoky vibe.
The orange one has a wonderful orange peel aroma to it, but the chocolate flavor gets lost in it and of course, I found it a little too sweet.
The chocolate yielded well, melting smoothly on the tongue. Of course it helped that it was very hot over that weekend that I picked them up. I took the bars next door and Amy and Robin agreed that the espresso was the best.
It should probably be mentioned that Newman donates all proceeds from sales to charity and the products are, to the best of their ability, fair trade and organic. But for a high priced “gourmet” bar, I expect just slightly better flavor balance and meltiness.
Rating: Espresso - 7 out of 10
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.