Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Candy Bites: The Sweet, Crunchy & Creamy

Ghirardelli Milk Chocolate & Peanut ButterMilk & Peanut Butter from Ghirardelli

This was a sample from All Candy Expo that I kind of ate before finishing the photo shoot. (I got the box obviously, but never did the unwrapped version.) I also shared most of it, even though I could have easily eaten it all by myself.

It’s a handsome light milk chocolate bar that lives up to the illustration on the package. It’s thick, each little section in the bar has a creamy peanut butter meltaway center (with crushed nut chunks).

I was dubious. But this won me over. Extremely creamy, so much so that it was like the milk chocolate and peanut butter were one. It didn’t feel greasy at all, even though it was thick and rich.

I have a bunch of other Ghirardelli filled bars (from the last ACE) that I still haven’t tried, this might push me to start opening them (I promise full photography on those though).

Rating: 8 out of 10

Red Bean White RabbitRed Bean White Rabbit from Shanghai Guanshengyuan Food, Ltd

I hadn’t had any White Rabbit in a while, so when I saw that it was on sale at Cost Plus World Market, I figured when it’s $1.50 a bag is the time to give it another go. Instead I spotted this Red Bean (Azuki) version and scooped that up instead.

The wrapper has little dark red stripes on it. Inside it still has the same delicate rice paper wrapper that melts in the mouth to form a slick, gelatinous good. The milk taffy inside is a slight & natural looking pink. The red bean flavor is light and woodsy and pleasant. It seems to mellow out the sometimes sweet taffy and mixes really well with the milk flavors.

Rating: 6 out of 10

Honey MintsHoney Mints from Honey Acres. 

I picked these up at the Fancy Food Show. They look like just about any other peppermint pattie. The interesting proposition here is that the center is creamed honey with a touch of mint instead of a sugar-based fondant.

The other interesting bit about this is that the dark chocolate shell is completely unsweetened. The sweetness of the center completely balances out the could-be-bitter coating. I tried a few times to just nibble off the chocolate bits, but these are pretty small (about the size of the York Peppermint Pattie minis) and I wasn’t getting a bit enough chunk to really tell. (And as I’ve found, 100% chocolate doesn’t have to be unpalatable.) The center is smooth and a little cool on the tongue, with that beeswax taste & texture added to the mix.

It’s a great little mint. Artisan Sweets is the only place I’ve seen them for sale. But if you do come upon them, especially if you can buy only one or two, it’s an interesting combination of the musky honey tones with the mellow mint and the pop of creamy dark chocolate.

Rating: 6 out of 10

Jungle ChocolateJungle Chocolate from Yachana Gourmet

I don’t know if this is considered candy. It’s called Jungle Chocolate and I’d probably put it in the trail mix or snack category. It’s just cacao nibs, lightly glazed with sugar cane juice and then mixed with some other jungle-grown edibles. The four varieties I tried were:

  • Jungle Chocolate with Pineapple - the tangy and sweet pineapple pretty much overpowered the tender and crunchy cacao nibs. But pineapple is good fresh, canned or dried and I ate all of this.
  • Jungle Chocolate with Macadamia Nuts - as nuts go, macadamias are pretty low on my list, but there’s something about how they go with the tropical butter within the cacao nib that worked here. I still might prefer pecans, but I doubt they grow in the Amazon.
  • Jungle Chocolate with Brazil Nuts and Essence of Coffee - right below macadamias are Brazil nuts. I don’t know if I’m sensitive to them or if everyone gets a sort of buzzing feeling on their tongue & gums after eating them. But the crunch of the Brazils is the perfect complement to the cacao nibs. The coffee wasn’t too strong and gave the whole thing a refreshing feeling like a well-brewed cup of coffee.
  • Jungle Chocolate with Raisins and Coconut - this felt like the most traditional trail mix out of the bunch. I love coconut and chocolate, and this coconut was buttery and crunchy at the same time. The raisins, while small, packed a lot of flavor in there.
  • While the mixes themselves didn’t wow me, I think I’d like to just try a plain old box of lightly sweetened nibs. (Or maybe lightly caramelized.)

    The selling point here is that they don’t melt. I’ve put these through the paces. They’ve sat in the car, they’ve been in my house in the 100 degree heat. It doesn’t melt, instead, like a stew, it just makes all the flavors even better. This is chocolate that goes places that chocolate can’t go. It has all that stuff that you crave, even if it doesn’t quite have the texture.

    It’s all fair trade, vegan and all natural. It’s a little expensive, but then again, knowing that the money goes right to a sustainable project in Ecuador may make it taste even sweeter. I wouldn’t call this a replacement for chocolate, but perhaps a replacement for other snack mixes. Retail is about $3.00 to 3.50 for a 2 ounce bag (that’s well packaged - protects the product, but not overpackaged).

    Rating: 7 out of 10

    New York Cheesecake KissesLimited Edition New York Cheesecake Kisses from Hershey’s

    I finally found these at Target, hiding on the backside of a display in the Valentine’s area (well, it was the Valentine’s area, but was then the Easter area). The package looks a heckuva lot like the Vanilla Creme Kisses that I might have seen them already and just passed them by.

    Cheesecake as a “flavor” seems a little odd, but then again, so does Buttered Popcorn, Apple Pie and Chili & Chocolate, so never judge a flavor by its name.

    New York Cheesecake Kisses

    They’re, I dunno, like the Vanilla Creme, a little more tangy. I think they’re more like yogurt. Or yellow birthday cake.

    It doesn’t matter much to me, this Kiss has brought back that limited edition weariness that I experience from time to time. I haven’t been fond of any of the more subtle filled Kisses. While I like subtle and respectful balances in my haut chocolate, I kind of like my mass manufactured stuff loud & proud. I’ve had them sitting in my desk for months and I think that pretty much sums up how I felt about them. I could take them or leave them, but mostly I left them.

    Rating: 5 out of 10

    Related Candies

    1. Ghirardelli Intense Dark
    2. Hershey’s Mint Truffle Kisses
    3. KitKat Tsubu Ichigo and Hershey’s Strawberries ‘n’ Creme
    4. Scharffen Berger - Cacao Nibs
    5. York Pinkermint Patties
    6. White Rabbit

    POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:01 am Tracker Pixel for Entry     All NaturalCandyReviewGhirardelliHershey'sCaffeinatedChocolateCoffeeEthically SourcedLimited EditionNibsNutsPeanuts5-Pleasant6-Tempting7-Worth It8-TastyUnited StatesTarget

    Comments
    1. If you had to compare the Ghirardelli with Green and Black’s, which one do you prefer? On the whole, I’m not impressed with Ghirardelli and only starting to sample G & B.

      Comment by Norlinda on 5/28/08 at 1:51 pm #
    2. On a trip to Ecuador a few years ago, I ran into an America who was trying to help the Jungle Chocolate folks market their product in the U.S. It looks like she succeeded, which is good news for the project. At the time, cacao nibs were not generally available and I’d never tried them. On their own, I find them to be a bit too bitter, so adding a bit of sweetener and balancing them out with fruit seems like a good idea. We enjoyed the packages the marketer gave us and found that they made a nice high-energy snack, and that a few pinches went a long way.

      Comment by JR on 5/28/08 at 3:28 pm #
    3. Hi Cybele,

      I wasnt too impressed by those Kisses either…I found them way way to sweet for my liking.

      That Ghirardelli peanut butter bar looks divine - gonna have to track some down for CM!!

      Comment by James@ChocolateMission on 5/28/08 at 11:26 pm #
    4. Seems you were more impressed with the Azuki Bean White Rabbit than I was, I just quite frankly didn’t like it.

      Comment by Terry on 5/28/08 at 11:41 pm #
    5. I’m a big fan of the Ghiradelli squares that are filled.  The dark chocolate raspberry is fantastic.  one square will do ya though - plenty sweet!  I’ll have to give the PB ones a try now. thanks for the review!

      Comment by Stephany on 5/29/08 at 4:15 am #
    6. In regards to the Honey Mints, I’ve seen them sold at a place called Clover in Columbia, MO.  And I’ve tried them, too; they weren’t quite my thing.  Interesting, no doubt, but not something I’d eat regularly.

      Comment by Jennie on 5/29/08 at 5:40 am #
    7. I picked up the Ghiradelli PB bar in Borders the other day - it’s super yum!  I think it is what pb and milk chocolate SHOULD be - the Reese’s cups are way too dry and salty for me!

      Comment by April on 5/29/08 at 6:01 am #
    8. I’d heard about the ghirardelli pb bar and can’t wait to find it! Despite my love for Reese’s mini cups, I’m always on the search for great choco/pb combinations.

      I recently purchased and devoured a bag of the dark chocolate mini Reese’s pb bat that is part of the Batman promo line. Although there was not enough pb, they were pretty good.

      And, I think I may have found near perfection in the Koeze Cream-Nut dark choco clusters. Pecans, pb, drenched in dark choco. I found them in a store on Cambria, but might break my own rule and drop scads of money to order more online. Heaven!

      Comment by KateC on 5/30/08 at 10:17 am #
    9. The Ghirardelli bar looks lovely! Gotta find me some of that! smile

      Comment by Sera on 5/30/08 at 10:36 am #

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