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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Andes Mints & Dessert Indulgence

Andes MintsOne of my favorite candies as a teen were Andes Creme De Menthe Thins.

I’d buy them by the tray, which was usually about 99 cents at the IGA that I rode my bike past on my way home from my art class on weekends. They seemed a suitable treat for a budding artist. Wrapped in pretty foil ... named for a mountain range in Peru, but called by the French liquor flavor creme de menthe. At that time in my life I despised alcohol, except for a drizzle of Creme de Menthe on vanilla ice cream.

Over the years those tray package became more expensive and they started putting fewer candies in there. I recently bought a box for $1.00 and it had a scant 2 ounces in it ... but hey, it was back to the original price point! The candy is mockolate with a mint confection in the middle. They make a pretty cross section of dark looking chocolate flavored coating and the light green stuff in the middle. They have a cool feeling on the tongue and of course a pleasant mintiness that doesn’t overwhelm.

Andes Dessert IndulgenceRestaurants that serve them with the bill may even be perceived as classy. (Well, it’s classier than getting nothing at all!) The Tootsie site even claims that Andes Mints are the number one selling after dinner mint. I wonder what the number one before dinner mint is? I give them a solid 6 out of 10 as an adult, but back when I was a kid they were probably an 8 out of 10.

Andes has come out with a few other versions over the years ... none that I’ve tried. But I saw a display of the new Andes Dessert Indulgence at the All Candy Expo and was fixed up with ample samples. The Limited Edition Dessert Indulgence array comes in an 8.5 ounce bag with an assortment of three flavors: Raspberry Cream, Lemon Meringue and Key Lime.

Each piece is individually sealed in a plastic wrapper instead of wrapped in foil. They’re substantially bigger than a standard Andes Mint as well. Why? I have no idea. But the base ingredients are still the same: sugar and partially hydrogenated oils.

Andes Mint & Dessert IndulgenceKey Lime has only two layers, a base of light green and then a top level of a lighter green with little flavor crystals which is kind of like faux zest. The scent is fresh, like limes. However, as most folks who have had both key limes and more commonly used Persian lime there is a difference. Key Limes have a deeper flavor and a strange thick consistency to their juice. Persian limes have a high intensity and clear flavored tartness and a wonderfully bitter zesty flavor. This tastes like Persian lime ... or Lime Blossom candles.

Dessert IndulgenceLemon Meringue flavor should be characterized by a nice tart custard with a balancing toasted meringue that is less that a sweet complement and more of a fluffy cooling bath for the mouth. The Lemon smelled, like the lime, a bit floral and pleasant enough for me to want to stick a wick in it. The texture evoked similar feelings, as it wasn’t nearly as creamy as I’d hoped. It did have a pleasant tartness to it, but not that toasted, almost marshmallow flavor to complement it.

Raspberry Cream was such a disappointment. It smelled really strong ... too strong. The ingredient list does boast “freeze dried raspberry puree” and I have no doubt about that. The waxy texture and overly sweet start is then met by a strong taste of chopsticks ... or dried grass clippings. I know what the taste is, it’s raspberry seeds. It’s that taste you get when you puree unstrained raspberries and the seeds get in there, but in this case they became a really noticeable flavor. Hey, maybe it added some fiber!

Sometimes I like “white confections” but in this case, I felt pretty sick after eating five of them while typing them up (I’ve had about 10 total since I took the photos over the weekend). They just didn’t sit well with me. I really wanted them to be something else, which is always a bad idea. I should just accept them unconditionally for what they are. But they don’t have cocoa butter in them and the flavors are just ... well, not satisfying to me, not enough to get me to eat any more of them. So into the Limited Edition Giveaway they go! They only get a 4 out of 10.

Each piece contains 50 calories (regular Andes Mints have only 25 each).

Related Candies

  1. Junior Mints Deluxe
  2. Frey Supreme: White, Lemon & Lime and Citron & Poivre
  3. Confetti & Agrumetti
  4. Terry’s Chocolate Orange Confection
  5. Mountain - Regular & Raspberry
Name: Andes Mints & Limited Edition Dessert Indulgence
    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: Dollar Tree & samples from All Candy Expo
Price: $1.00 & Unknown
Size: 2 ounces & 8.5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 150 & 158
Categories: Mockolate, Mint, United States, Tootsie, Kosher

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:58 am     Comments (22)

Monday, October 29, 2007

Big Mo’ Bars: Peanut Butter & Creamy Caramel

Big Mo' Bar - Dale Earnhardt Jr.I’ve never made any secrets of my dislike of the cheap Palmer candies that are so ubiquitous at Easter. The one thing they’ve always had going for them, though, is that they’re cute.

Well, Palmer didn’t even capitalize on attractiveness in their new candy bar line called Big Mo’. I mean, why bother when you have Dale Earnhardt, Jr. on the package. The packages seem to have some sort of woodgrain on the lettering, which lends itself to an association with NASCAR especially well. I wasn’t going into this with high hopes, but really, this statement from Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in this article is really too much.

“At one point or another everyone has had their own idea of making the perfect candy bar, and this was my chance to do it,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “It’s really cool to have my name on a candy bar, and it’s a pleasure to partner with R.M. Palmer Company in putting this product on the shelves. I think Big Mo’ will be widely accepted, not just by racing fans but by everyone who enjoys a good candy bar.”

The bars come in two varieties at the moment: Milk Chocolate with Peanut Butter and Milk Chocolate with Creamy Caramel. If you pay special attention to the wrapper you’ll notice that the words milk chocolate are in teensy lowercase letters and the Creamy Caramel part is huge all caps about five times the size. See, they’re being responsible and telling you that it’s not about the chocolate.

image

The Big Mo’ Milk Chocolate with Peanut Butter is a large, king sized bar clocking in at 2.5 ounces. It’s divided into 10 sections, each filled with a smidge of roasted peanut butter filling.

I have to admit that the chocolate was far better than I expected. Smooth and very sweet and lacking a bit of chocolate bunch, it wasn’t waxy and complemented the darker flavors of the peanut butter very well. There’s not quite enough peanut butter in there for my tastes, but this isn’t about replicating the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, I think it’s about creating a new bar.

The portion is far too huge for me (as are most king sized), and they do call the whole 2.5 ounces a single portion which clocks in at 380 calories.

The Big Mo’ Milk Chocolate with Creamy Caramel also sports two different designs on its ten sections. The top row has the Dale Jr signature and the bottom says Big Mo’.

The Creamy Caramel bar breaks well at the section lines without any oozing, as is often the hazard with Caramellos. There were a lot of voids in this bar, little holes from air bubbles. There’s not a lot of caramel in each little section, which means that the proportions are heavy on the mediocre chocolate. In this case there’s no salty peanut butter to balance it out. Instead it’s a strange goo they call creamy caramel. It’s not glossy, instead it looks more like a thick gravy.

It has a strong woodsy taste to it, not in the slightest bit buttery as the description “creamy” would have indicated. A little on the nutty side of flavor and not a bad texture really, but not enough to balance out the super-sweet chocolate.

While I had some trepidation at the brand and a little irritation with Dale Jr for teaming up with them, I don’t think they’re bad bars. They’re far too sweet for me and I think the portion is ridiculous (especially given the caloric density of the peanut butter bar). Cut these in half. I don’t think they will survive the test of time, as history bears out that vanity candy bars never do. I haven’t seen these in stores yet, but I expect you’ll see them at the usual places that sell Palmer products, such as 99 Cent Stores and other dollar chains, but they could pop up at convenience stores. (Here’s the page on the official website that lists stores.)

Jamie at Candy Addict stopped short of calling the Peanut Butter one Awesomely Addictive and didn’t care much for the Caramel.

Related Candies

  1. Elvis Reese’s Peanut Butter and Banana Cup
  2. Palmer Nest Eggs
  3. Palmer Milk Chocolate Balls
  4. Head to Head: Rolo vs Caramel Kisses
  5. Hershey’s Take 5
Name: Big Mo' Bars: Peanut Butter & Creamy Caramel
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Palmer
Place Purchased: samples from All Candy Expo
Price: unknown
Size: 2.5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 152 & 140
Categories: Chocolate, United States, Palmer, Kosher

POSTED BY Cybele AT 6:42 am     Comments (12)

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.

image

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
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
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, October 25, 2007

Limited Edition Giveaway

Limited Edition GiveawayI have a lovely package of Limited Edition candies to give away to one lucky reader. Right now the package contains: Dark Chocolate Flavored Sixlets, Elvis Reese’s Peanut Butter & Banana Creme Miniatures, 3 Musketeers Fall Mix (Strawberry, Cappuccino & French Vanilla), Tropical Tootsie Pops, Twix Java, Candy Corn Kisses, Nestle 100 Grand versions (Coconut, Peanuts & Dark Chocolate), Peppermint Peeps, Limited Edition & Seasonal Pop Rocks and more!

How to enter:

  • Submit a comment here with your favorite Limited Edition candy of the past, present or future. (If it doesn’t exist, tell me what your perfect candy would be.)

  • Make only one comment ... leave a real email address (don’t worry it’s not published). Winning package can only be shipped in North America.

  • If you’d like to earn more than one entry into the drawing, simply make a donation in my name via First Giving to National Novel Writing Month. You’ll get an additional entry for each $5 you donate (it’s tax deductible). Read more here.

  • Deadline for comments & donations is November 15, 2007 at 10PM Pacific. Winner will be notified via email to make further delivery arrangements.

  • Regular reviews will continue below as usual.

    POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:52 am    

    Terra Nostra Pocket Bars

    imageTerra Nostra is a favorite chocolate brand of mine. I know, I’ve never written about their bars before. I’ve been buying the Organic Dark Chocolate with Pecans and Raisins since I first saw it at Trader Joe’s ... I’m guessing at least six years ago. I was never a fan of chocolate and raisins until I met Trader Joe and he changed my mind with his wonderful dark chocolate covered raisins in a tub. With that in mind, I gave that bar a try, drawn by the pecans and dark chocolate and pretty well sold on the addition of the tangy, chewy raisins.

    It’s not the most complex bar in the world, but it’s a good all around contender when it comes to satisfaction. My biggest problem with it? It’s too big. Yes, I know that the 3.5 ounce size is pretty popular when it comes to premium bars, but it’s just too big for me to finish in one sitting and I want a lot of variety in my life.

    Terra NostraImagine my pleasure at seeing that Terra Nostra is bring out a new line of “Pocket Bars”. At only 1.5 ounces, which means a nice sized portion of chocolate, and they even come with a little zazz to make them more like candy bars.

    Each bar is four sections, slightly domed, for most of them to accommodate a filling of some sort.

    Creamy Caramel in Satin Milk Chocolate - this was an excellent bar, far superior to most other single-serve caramel bars I’ve had. The milk chocolate is rich, creamy and has a lot of the complex dairy flavors to it. The caramel, though rather syrupy is salty and smooth with a pretty good hit of butter to it. (7 out of 10)

    Creamy Caramel in 60% Dark Robust Chocolate - this was a nice bar! The dark chocolate is robust, just like they say, with some coffee notes that set off the salty, sweet and gooey caramel center. I’d prefer a caramel that wasn’t quite so gooey (think Caramello) and it does have a little bit of a grain to it. The whole thing comes together nicely. (7 out of 10)

    Terra NostraGoji Berries and Pink Himalayan Mineral Sea Salt in 73% Dark Chocolate - this one took away all the fun of being a candy bar and injected a bunch of trendy items. Goji berries are also known as wolfberries; they’re little red berries (related to tomatoes and deadly nightshade) about the size of a peanut, they’re always sold dried. Goji berries tangy, kind of dry and leathery; though they do have some distinctive flavors, but they’re also really fibery. I’m often left with some piece that feels like a wad of chewed paper - really, I shouldn’t have to spit bits of my chocolate bar out. The chocolate itself doesn’t taste salty, just less sweet (but it’s hard to do a one for one comparison with the others since this is the only 73% dark bar in the range). Honestly, this bar just clicked with a bunch of my pet peeves about trendy foods ... if you want to read something really fun, try this piece from the Sydney Morning Herald about the goji berry. (5 out of 10)

    Pomegranate Truffle - a base of 60% cacao dark chocolate has a rich chocolate truffle filling flavored with pomegranate. The dark chocolate is creamy, but not too dark or dry. The truffle center is a light and creamy truffle, not greasy but smooth and of course with a tangy & berry bite of pomegranate. The pomegranate kind of overwhelms most of the chocolate flavors, but blends so well with the texture. (8 out of 10)

    All the bars are certified organic ... not that it makes them healthy or anything. The Pomegranate Truffle and Goji Berry dark bars are suitable for vegans, however they are made on machinery that also processes dairy (and peanuts, soy and tree nuts). Terra Nostra also participates in Equi-Trade programs, though their bars are not specifically certified Fair Trade. They’re fun little bars and if presented with an array of commercial mass-produced bars and these, if price is not the deciding factor, you might want to give them a try.

    (Top photo of Robust Dark with Raisins & Pecans courtesy of Terra Nostra)

    Related Candies

    1. Theo 3400 Phinney Bars
    2. Rice Milk Chocolate Bars
    3. Equal Exchange: Espresso, Mint & Nibs
    4. Dagoba Hazelnut
    5. Thompson’s Organic Chocolate
    Name: Creamy Caramel, Pomegranate Truffle & Goji Berries with Pink Himalayan Sea Salt Bars
      RATING:
    • 10 SUPERB
    • 9 YUMMY
    • 8 TASTY
    • 7 WORTH IT
    • 6 TEMPTING
    • 5 PLEASANT
    • 4 BENIGN
    • 3 UNAPPEALING
    • 2 APPALLING
    • 1 INEDIBLE
    Brand: Terra Nostra Chocolate
    Place Purchased: samples from All Candy Expo
    Price: unknown
    Size: 1.5 ounces
    Calories per ounce: 127-154
    Categories: Chocolate, Caramel, Canada, Terra Nostra, Organic, Kosher

    POSTED BY Cybele AT 6:42 am     Comments (4)

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