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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

New Candy Bar Poll Results


I agree completely with the majority of the voters: it’s the ingredients in a candy bar that compel me to try it. Package design comes in a close second in my book as well, especially when gauging whether the bar is fresh and described accurately. And pictures are nice too ... amp up my expectations with glossy chocolate and strings of chewy caramel .... drool.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 12:59 pm     CandyPolls

Expo West

I went off to another trade show on Sunday. Luckily it was practically in my own back yard (well about 40 miles away, so my only expense was gas and parking).

It’s called ExpoWest and focuses on Natural Products. This covers a huge range, from nutritional supplements to beauty products to foods & drinks and of course some sweets. While the candy content at this show as rather small, I couldn’t resist going and checking out the products from the chocolatiers and confectioners.

What’s also fun is stumbling across product lines I had no clue about ... and then letting you know about them.

I got to check in with some of the companies I’ve already covered here and see their new products:
Pure Fun  - they have some new hard candies, lollipops and candy canes. I also finally got to try their spicy cinnamon cotton candy ... yum!
New Tree - they have a few new bars since the last time I tried them (and I still haven’t tried the full line), so picked up some.
Sweetriot - they have a “cherry” version of their nibs and from my little taste test, they were pretty tasty, so they gave me a tin for later review. They’re also selling straight cacao beans (not nibs) for the really adventurous.
Terra Nostra/Bon Bona - I already have some of their new single origin truffles to try, and they have some exciting new “candy bars” coming out.
Endangered Species - I picked up their Zebra Bar (orange) and the Eco Rounds (dark chocolate and nibs).
College Farm Organics - they have some nice new hard candies (I really liked the coffee candy!) plus new Halloween packaging for their organic lolliops that should make it shelves this fall.
Scharffen Berger - new Milk Nibby Bar.
CocoaVia - the Mars “healthy chocolate” line. They’ve introduced a few new bars and milk chocolate covered raisins. I actually had a really nice chat with them and got samples of just about everything they’re making right now.
Newman’s Own - they had many of their chocolate items out for sampling and it confirmed for me that their chocolate is very sweet. They also have a new line of mints in tins (ala Altoids) but they weren’t sampling those.

New to me are:

St. Claire - mints and sour pastilles (they gave me a tin of their mints for “tummy upset” which I’ll boat test next weekend)
Seeds of Change - fair trade chocolate
Sjaak’s Organic Chocolate - actually not completely new to me (I’ll get into that in the review), but this is the first time I stopped and talked to them (I did visit their shop in Eureka last summer but it was mobbed and I left).
Tubi Licorice - makers of Tire Tread Licorice

I spent the whole day there and barely covered the whole show floor. As I got to the far corner Scharffen Berger was already closing down, so I didn’t get to chat with them much about their new products, but I did pick up the Milk Chocolate Nibby Bar. I also popped in and sampled some Green & Blacks (I just felt like a little dose of their white chocolate bar at that moment). I completely missed the Theo Chocolate booth, but I have a full set of their bars, so I’m good to go on them anyway.

I also missed the Divine Chocolate booth, which I didn’t realized until I was driving back. I’ve already sampled their bars, but I really wanted to talk to them about their kids bar in the UK, called the Dubble.

Since I was walking the floor anyway, I picked up just about every snack bar that was available ... I have about 20 pounds of them. This morning I ate something called an Attune Bar (Lemon Creme) which features 5 times the probiotics of yogurt. They also have a line of chocolate bars with similar virtues that I’ll review. The only one I missed was Lara Bar - they were all packed up when I got to their corner. Too bad, I think their new Jocolat line might actually qualify for a Candy Blog review (I haven’t seen them in stores yet, but did try some at the Fancy Food Show in January). I also picked up some samples of different fruit snacks (fruit rolls and leathers). I might do a round up review of them just as a sort of “would kids eat this, and should they?” kind of thing.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 12:18 pm     CandyFun StuffNewsComments (2)

Caffarel Gianduias

Caffarel makes more than the traditional milk chocolate Giandiuia morsels. At the Fancy Food Show I found out they make a Dark (Gianduiotto Fondente), a Cinnamon (Cannella) and even a mini Chili (al peperocino) one. I was excited to find out more about Caffarel at the show from one of the vendors that imports them for the American market, hopefully they’ll be getting wider exposure. At the moment they’re still found in Italian markets in large cities and shops that carry international chocolates.

For those of you who haven’t been around Candy Blog long, Caffarel makes the excellent Gianduia 1865, little hat-shaped hazelnut chocolate morsels.


Gianduiotto Fondente - this dark version made with Arriba cocoa is just as “stick to the roof of your mouth” rich as the traditional milk and hazelnut version. This one seemed to taste more of the deeper hazelnut flavors than the milk, with dark smoky notes and of course that slick and thick melt on the tongue. 

Cannella wasn’t just cinnamon dusted, it was spiced with the stuff with no hint of ground-spice-grain. It covered up a lot of the hazelnut flavors, but the texture was still thick and fudgy. Not too sweet, this was also the dark version of the giandiuia.

Giandiuia al Pepeprocino (chili) - had lots of peppery notes, not just the burn ... though there was definitely some burn. I was catching some more acidity in the chocolate on this one and some of the notes of fresh green peppers. If I had it to do all over again, I’d taste them in the opposite order ... this really gets to me! (I should have learned my lesson when I picked these up as samples at the Fancy Food Show ... I tasted it there and had the exact same reaction.) They’re smart to make this one a smaller morsel than the others (they call it a Gianduiottini).

Of course I can’t find any online sources for these. But I did see that Candy Warehouse has those little mushrooms for sale and Williams-Sonoma has little hazelnut praline eggs for Easter.

Name: Giandiuia: Fondente, Canella & al Peperocino
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Caffarel
Place Purchased: samples from Fancy Food Show
Price: unknown
Size: unknown
Calories per ounce: unknown
Categories: Chocolate, , NutsItaly, Caffarel

POSTED BY Cybele AT 6:17 am     Comments (6)

Monday, March 12, 2007

KitKat Red Bean & Fruit Parfait

DSC07962rI’m a mochi fan. When I’m down in Little Tokyo here in Los Angeles I like to pop into Fugetsu-Do and buy some wagashi with red bean paste (they do a lemon one with white bean that’s pretty good too). It’s not a mainstream taste for the American market though.

I was pretty excited to hear about the KitKat Azuki, though I had my doubts about how well it’d go with chocolate.


As KitKats out of the package go, this has to be the most unappealing.  It has a base of white chocolate but the little sticks are a light pink with some dusty mauve tones, just kind of mousey looking. It smells milky with a little touch of an earthy quality to it.

The first bite is crisp and sweet and it isn’t until later as it’s all mashed up in the mouth that the red bean notes come out. It’s not a loud and obvious flavor, just a light earthy quality, a little like beets or kidney beans. It’s not as unnerving as the Pumpkin ones from last year, but not something I’m terribly interested in again. This experience does not diminish my desire for mochi.

DSC07958rI have to admit that I liked this one. I saw other people chatting about it on the internet and I thought it sounded horrible. The Fruit Parfait KitKat seems to be a mix of banana, melon, orange, blueberry and strawberry flavors if the photo is accurate.

I can’t say I have a lot experience with fruit parfaits ... are they like a fruit tiramisu? (On a vaguely related note, in my youthful ignorance I thought that tiramisu was a Japanese dessert before I’d actually had it.)

It’s another one of those white chocolate KitKats.


The bars really aren’t that attractive with their rippled colors of white chocolate. They smell like a cross between bananas and yogurt. The taste is rather similar. The white coating isn’t too sickly sweet and has some nice berry flavors with an overall banana background. I even got some melon and blueberry flavors in there sometimes. The wafers are crisp and feature a cream filling that’s a little pink and has more of the berry flavors to it.

I liked it. I ate it. I hope I don’t run across any others, it’s one of those candies that doesn’t make me feel good about myself for liking it. (Is it the polka dots on the package? The smell? The word Parfait? Should I run a poll?)

Name: KitKat Azuki & Fruit Parfait
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Nestle
Place Purchased: gift from Amy & Santos (thanks!)
Price: unknown
Size: unknown
Calories per ounce: unknown
Categories: White Chocolate, Cookie, Japan, Nestle, KitKat, Limited Edition

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:36 am     Comments (11)

Friday, March 9, 2007

Peeps Lollipop Rings

Peep Pops PackageI was thinking to myself as Easter approaches and candy season comes to a close ... it’s sad that there’s no way to get that “Peep Flavor Experience” without all that fluffy marshmallow. You know, because Peeps are all about flavor. So imagine my surprise when I was at the drug store and I saw Peeps Lollipop Rings.

They come in two flavors, actually. The first, in the traditional yellow is simply Marshmallow flavor. The second, in the bismuth pink is the new-millennium-classic flavor, Strawberry Cream.

Yellow Peep PopBeing an eternal optimist (no, really!), I thought maybe this gorgeous little smooth Peep pop on a ring was going to taste like toasted marshmallows. Like the Jelly Belly jelly bean. It smells sweet and maybe a little milky. Oh, but the taste ... it was immediately tart. I pulled it out of my mouth and looked at the package. Had I mixed it up with the strawberry one?

The tart taste was not sour, more like yogurt. Just a tangy bite, kind of milky. It’s a smooth taste, the pop is good quality with no voids at all. It’s easy to crunch too, if you can manage to get your teeth around a good corner.

The ingredients fully explain the taste here: sugar, corn syrup, water, lactic acid, citric acid, sodium citrate, artificial flavors, corn starch, acacia gum, titanium dioxide, artificial colors. (Made in China) If you took out the corn starch and put in some gelatin you’d have a Gummi Peep (mmm, Gummi Peeps).

Pink Peep PopThe Strawberry Cream flavor didn’t join the Peeps line up until 2000. I’ve never actually tried them, as the idea of Strawberry Cream Peeps (or Hearts) has no appeal for me.

The flavor is rather yogurt-like. A creamy flavor, not very intense and sweetly fragrant of fake berries. It reminded me of Frankenberry Cereal.

The pops are super cute and very well made. They had a consistent appearance and the ring platforms were of good quality (not some sort of easy to shatter plastic that rips up your mouth). They even fit on my ring finger.

Note: though these candies are branded with the official Peep (tm) logo, they are not made by Just Born, instead they are manufactured by Flix Candy under a licensing agreement. (Just like you don’t expect that Just Born sewed those little Peep plushies, right?) They also make a Peeps Pop Slider which is kind of like those lipstick candies. (Reviewed by Jeanna at Wisconsin Candy Dish.)

Name: Peeps Lolliop Rings
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Flix Candy (licensed from Just Born)
Place Purchased: Rite Aid (Hollywood)
Price: $.69
Size: .84 ounces
Calories per ounce: 113
Categories: Hard Candy, China, Just Born, Peeps, Easter

POSTED BY Cybele AT 8:05 am     Comments (7)

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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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