Tuesday, December 2, 2014
Perugina is one of Italy’s best known chocolate brands sold in the United States. Perugina was formed in 1907 and developed their best-known product, the hazelnut Baci (review) in 1922. Perugina was bought out by Nestle in 1988 but production remains in Italy.
The Baci is a whole hazelnut on top of a layer of gianduia (chocolate mixed with hazelnut paste) and chopped hazelnuts all covered in dark chocolate. They’re wrapped in silver foil with blue lettering, inside the wrapper is a little slip of glassine with a love quote in English and Italian.
Perugina is making a bit of a comeback in the United States, after being a bit hard to find for a dozen years or so. Not only are Baci now found at grocery stores and drug chains, they’re also releasing new versions.
Earlier this year Perugina announced the Perugina Baci Double Layer Candy Bar.
The bars are available in both milk chocolate and dark chocolate, I got samples of both from Perugina representatives to try. They’re big bars, at 5.2 ounces (150 grams), while most tablets these days are about 3.5 ounces (100 grams). They’re priced at about $5 or $6 retail.
The top layer is a solid, chocolate-like gianduia. It’s a milk chocolate with a finely ground hazelnut paste and some added crushed hazelnuts. The base is the 51% dark chocolate and the whole thing has whole hazelnuts mixed in as well.
The gianduia layer has a quick and smooth melt with a rather cool effect on the tongue. The hazelnut bits are crunchy and the flavors are generally roasted and nutty. The Luisa Dark is not terribly complex, but has a fruity note at first, like cherries with a touch of honey and toffee but it’s very slight compared to all the hazelnuttiness. It’s not that sweet, but quite silky overall.
It’s a wonderful mix of textures, the nuts are fresh and crunchy, the layers melt wonderfully and balance each other.
The alternate version of the Double Layer Bar is available in Milk Chocolate. The wrapper doesn’t say anything about the percentages of cacao, but there are 10 more calories per serving in the milk chocolate version (more sugar, less fiber than the dark chocolate).
The interesting thing to note about both bars is that they use sunflower lecithin, instead of soy lecithin. This is something that I learned about while touring confectionery factories in Germany a couple of years ago. European companies are making a switch from soy to sunflower for two reasons: the first is to make their products as low-allergen as possible and the second is to steer clear of any possible genetically modified ingredients. With the price being virtually identical, it seems like a great idea. The allergen statement does list the presence of hazelnuts and milk (of course) as well as the fact that they’re made in a shared facility with wheat and other tree nuts. There’s no statement about the chocolate sourcing. Unlike some other chocolate products that use hazelnut paste, there are no additional vegetable fats in here like palm oil.
This bar has a little more sodium than the dark bar, and it helps. It’s much sweeter, as it doesn’t have the bitterness of the base layer to counterbalance the sweet gianduia. However, if you’re a fiend for sweet, smooth milk chocolate and hazelnuts, then this is definitely a bar to consider.
I haven’t actually seen these in stores, though they’ve been out since June. I’d buy this again, though the fun part of unwrapping the foil is gone, I did like the larger proportion of dark chocolate in the bar versus the kisses.
Monday, December 1, 2014
There are so many kinds of candy canes these days, usually branded with other candies names and flavor varieties. There are: Starburst, Red Hots, Lemonheads, SweeTarts, Warheads, DumDums ... Bacon. They all pretty much look the same, They’re five or six inches long and have a little hook at the end.
In the case of Frankford’s Soda Pop Candy Canes, each candy cane is 1/2 ounce, which is a very generous size for a piece of sugar candy. There are 12 canes in the box, which is a bit of overpackaging ... but did protect my canes and is at least recyclable cardboard. There are three flavors: Orange Crush, Dr Pepper and A&W Root Beer. Yes, they’re soda pop flavors, but there’s no cola in there. This is where I went down the Wikipedia rabbit-hole…. The Dr Pepper Snapple Group also owns Squirt and Wink (both grapefruit sodas), IBC Root Beer and Hires Root Beer in addition to A&W Root Beer. Finally, they have RC Cola, which seems like the flavor they definitely left out here.
I’ve been warming up to the flavor of cherry in candies, so I’m wondering if I can also learn to love the flavor of Dr Pepper as well. The red candy candy certainly looks attractive, and just slightly different from a peppermint candy cane ... so that I didn’t expect mint. I didn’t photograph it, but the center of this candy cane is also red. The flavor is rather like Dr Pepper. It’s sort of black cherry and amaretto, though I’ve heard that it’s also supposed to be plum flavored. There’s no acidic bite, which you get a little with the soda version. Overall, it’s pleasant, it’s not very intense or vibrant, more of a soft flavor like vanilla. I didn’t care for how red it made my tongue, but that’s a personal preference.
Orange Crush is tangy and much more intense that I would have suspected, with a sort of sherbet creamy note. It’s a solid orange flavor, artificial but still well rounded.
A&W Root Beer smells nice right away. The flavor is sweet and soft, not too intense. It doesn’t have the peppery kick that some root beers sometimes show, instead it’s more on the mild and creamy spice side of things. Though there are lots of artificial colors in there, I didn’t notice them giving a bitter taste.
I think the flavor array is interesting, a little off the beaten path without alienating older folks with things that are too sour. There are a lot of other great soda flavors that Dr Pepper owns that would go great ... especially 7 Up and Vernors Ginger Ale. The colors are also a bit atypical, but I enjoy a little change from the standard green and red.
Wednesday, November 26, 2014
The best turkey to serve a vegetarian is not a texturized vegetable protein one ... it’s a chocolate turkey!
I hope you’re having a sweet holiday.
Monday, November 24, 2014
They’re described on the front as Red Velvet Flavored Marshmallow Dipped in Cream Flavored Fudge. The package is white and features a big window on front to see the three individually dipped Peeps nested in their tray.
I have to say that as odd as this Peep looks, it’s an impressive accomplishment. It really looks velvety. The deep red sugar crust also has a bit of shimmer to it, with little gold flecks. The base of the Peep is dipped in a white fudge to simulate the cream cheese frosting usually associated with Red Velvet Cake.
I’m not a fan of Red Velvet Cake, but I’ll go on record to say that this is one of the best candies to evoke the Red Velvet experience I’ve had. I’m not sure that’s a compliment, but that’s why I gave this a 6 out of 10 and not a 4 out of 10.
The marshmallow inside is a cocoa flavor. It smells like cake batter, which isn’t a bad thing either. The red sugar crust taste like red food dye. The white dip on the base of the Peep tastes like sugary wax. So, we have all the components of a red velvet cake: a cake that is neither vanilla nor chocolate, some extra red food coloring to give it an off flavor, and a solidified palm kernel oil coating.
The marshmallow is fine, it is lightly sweet but the cocoa helps to cut it. The cream base could have a little more salt in it, to evoke the cream cheese frosting a bit better. But overall, it’s just an entirely weird Peep. And at least it’s different from the regular Peeps.
Friday, November 21, 2014
Pecan Pie is actually just candy in a flaky pastry dough, as far as I’m concerned. The pecan pie filling is a cross between a custard and a fudge, a mix of fats and sugar ... all topped with caramelized pecans. Most pecan pie lacks enough pecans as far as I’m concerned, and I usually want mine in the filling, not just on top.
Even though this traveled about a thousand miles, it did well. The graham cracker base was just a little rounded off and about half of the pecans fell off the top. (But were very easy to just pour into my mouth from the package.) This version of pecan pie has milk chocolate ... which isn’t a bad thing, I often enjoy a chocolate pecan pie, or at least a pecan pie with a hot fudge sauce on it.
Like many pecan pies, the center here has no pecans in it, it’s just a penuche-type fudge center with excellent butter and brown sugar notes. The milk chocolate is actually less sweet than the center, which is nice, and the graham cracker moderates it all even more. The pecans are not integrated into this at all, which is disappointing, because they shouldn’t be the afterthought, they should be the center.
Still, as a confection, it’s quite nice, very sweet but a lot of textural interest. As a candy version of pecan pie, it fails. Don’t worry, I’m willing to eat Russell Stover’s mistakes.
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.