Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Bars: Hershey’s, Niederegger, Ghirardelli & Hachez

Here’s a small selection of what I’d call Christmas chocolate bars. I’ve got to eat them up before the holidays - it may be too late for you to get them by Christmas, but there are some special ones that are worth picking up at the after-Christmas sales.

Hershey's Golden AlmondHershey’s introduced their Golden Almond Bar in 1977. It’s a thick bar and clocks in at 2.8 ounces. The bar design and packaging has changed little over the past thirty five years. It’s still wrapped in gold foil with a gold sleeve. Bars are sold either singly or in gold gift boxes of five bars (see a 1984 ad here). They’re not that easy to find, I usually see them at the official Hershey’s stores at Chocolate World or the Times Square shop.

The bar is simple, it’s just milk chocolate with lots of whole roasted almonds in it. It differs from the Hershey’s Milk Chocolate with Almonds bar as it’s supposed to be better quality chocolate. The ingredients do not differ from the Hershey’s standard milk chocolate which includes PGPR but is at least made in the United States and not Mexico as the other supposedly upscale Pot of Gold line is.

Hershey's Golden Almond

The bar is wonderful looking, it’s thick and has a great snap. It’s about 1.7 inches wide, 4.75 inches long and a beefy half inch high. There are some almonds in there though not as many as I feel are promised but they look like they’re fresh and of good quality. The chocolate looks a little darker than the standard Hershey’s but smells like I’d expect. It’s sweet with a slight yogurty tang to it.

The texture is smooth and fudgy, with a sticky melt and a light caramel and woodsy chocolate flavor. It’s not complex and it’s not extraordinary. But if you like Hershey’s chocolate and enjoy the decadence of a thicker piece, this is a good bar to choose. I liked the nostalgia of an actual foil wrapped bar, which is so rare these days. If there’s someone on your list that loves Hershey’s, this is a little bit more elegant way to give them what they desire.

Size: 2.8 ounces
Price: about $2.00
Rating: 5 out of 10

Niederegger Marzipan WeihnachtsschokoladeI’ll have more about my German adventures, including a tour of the Niederegger Factory in Lubeck in the coming weeks.

I found this seasonal bar called Niederegger Marzipan Weihnachtsschokolade at the Niederegger cafe at Marktplatz in Lubeck. The front of the package says Saftiges gewurz marzipan mit vollmilch-schokolade. So it’s a spiced marzipan in milk chocolate. The image shows almonds, cinnamon sticks and star anise. The ingredients don’t specifically list anise, just “spices” though cinnamon is a separate item.

Inside the paper wrapper there’s a stiff card (advertising the company and their website) and the foil wrapped bar.

Niederegger Marzipan Weihnachtsschokolade

The packaging did a great job of protecting the bar. It was glossy and unscuffed.

Niederegger Marzipan Weihnachtschokolade

The milk chocolate is very light in color (33% cocoa solids and 14% milk solids). The bar smells like milky chai, a little spicy and very sweet. The marzipan is moist and a bit like eating Snickerdoodle cookie dough. The chocolate is smooth, but doesn’t contribute much in the way of cocoa to this, it just nicely encases the marzipan. The texture of the marzipan is a little more rustic than the French style fondant type that’s used for creating figures and shapes. Niederegger is meant for eating and enjoying.

The ratios on the 100 gram bars from Niederegger favor the chocolate more than the enrobed little classic loaves. (I’ll get into that more in my master post.) If you’re looking for a starter marzipan that’s more about the texture and celebrates almonds as the source ingredient, Niederegger really can’t be beat. It’s not too sweet and doesn’t have any fake amaretto flavors to it.

I would prefer a version of this with dark chocolate, but I can’t argue with the traditional recipe they have. It’s a great balance of subtle spice, sweetness, milk and almonds.

Size: 3.5 ounces
Price: 1.95 Euro (about $2.50)
Rating: 8 out of 10

Ghirardelli Peppermint Bark BarsI’m no stranger to the Ghirardelli Peppermint Bark. They’ve been making it for years and it comes in a clever little square that’s perfect for some afternoon tea or coffee.

I found this set of bars at Target last month on sale for $2 each. They’re heralded as limited edition and come in milk chocolate and dark chocolate.

I’m not actually a fan of barks. I like my inclusions fully immersed in the chocolate. So the bar version of Peppermint Bark is perfect for my strange fondness for things being hidden in the chocolate.

Ghirardelli Peppermint Bark Bars

Unlike most Peppermint Barks, which combine white chocolate with crushed peppermint candies (like candy canes or starlight mints), the Ghiradelli version uses minty, artificially colored corn flakes. I haven’t the foggiest why they did it that way, but honestly, they created something unique enough to be a new genre.

Ghirardelli Peppermint Bark Bars

The milk and dark vary a little bit in their coloring. The milk version is sweet and has a lot of dairy notes to it from both the milk chocolate base and the white chocolate top (made with real cocoa butter). The mint is clean and bright, the little cereal bits are crunchy and a little salty and keep it all from being too cloying.

The dark version has two kinds of bits, the red bits and some little dark brown bits, which I think are little chocolate cookie pieces. The dark chocolate has a little smoky note to it which overshadowed the minty layer a bit, which I enjoyed. There’s a definite difference between the Ghirardelli Peppermint Bark and the Dove Peppermint Bark, which can also be found for comparable prices at similar stores. Personally, I prefer the Dove version, because it’s a bit butterier. This one is about the crunch, a grown up sort of crunch.

Size: 3 ounces
Price: $2.00 (on sale at Target)
Rating: 7 out of 10

Hachez Weihnachts Knusper BarThe last item I have is not quite a full review. The Hachez Weihnachts Knusper Bar (Christmas Crunchy Bar) is a darling looking bar. The soft white paper wrapper has a classically illustrated scene of a child ice skating on a pond.

Feine Vollmilch-Chocolade mit Zimt, Mandeln und Nussen

My German was getting pretty good, even though I’d only been listening to German podcasts for a week and was only there for a day. The front of the package said Fine milk chocolate with cinnamon, almonds and nuts. The little image also showed all of the above -cinnamon sticks, milk chocolate blocks, almonds and a hazelnut in its shell.

So I was very excited when I got it home and put at the top of my list to photograph and review before Christmas. I took it out of the wrapper, snapped it in half ... it looked and smelled so good:

Hachez Weihnacht Knusper Bar

The bar was glossy and showed no ill effects from the long journey (about 750 more miles on a bus at that point then the 5,700 mile plane ride).

I broke off a little piece of it to try after the photo, I was greeted by wonderfully smooth and milky chocolate and amazingly fresh, crunchy and crushed nuts and a hint of cinnamon. I could taste the hazelnuts and something else ... it wasn’t pecans, it was walnuts. What I didn’t realize was that while Nussen might be a generic word for nuts, it usually meant walnuts. (Walnusse is the more specific word.) So technically, I didn’t eat any of the bar. I had to spit it out and rinse out my mouth (I still ended up itchy and with a sore throat all evening - my allergy has not developed beyond this irritation stage). But I’m going to go out on a limb after eating many of the other Hachez products in the past week (which I’ll have reviews for) and say that this really is a good bar.

Size: 3.5 ounces
Price: 2.20 Euro ($2.89 purchased at Hachez factory store)
Rating: 8 out of 10

Do you have a favorite winter flavor combination? Anything regional or something from long ago that they don’t make any longer?

Related Candies

  1. Lindt Holiday Almonds
  2. Choceur Nougat Bites & Marzipan Bites
  3. Dove Peppermint Bark
  4. Al Nassma Camel Milk Chocolate
  5. Hershey’s Special Dark with Almonds
  6. Niederegger Ginger Marzipan
  7. Dove Caramels & Chocolate Covered Almonds


Name: Golden Almond
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Hershey’s
Place Purchased: gift
Price: $2.00 retail
Size: 2.8 ounces
Calories per ounce: 150
Categories: Candy, Hershey's, Chocolate, Kosher, Nuts, 5-Pleasant, United States


Name: Marzipan Weihnachtsschokolade
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Niederegger
Place Purchased: Niederegger Cafe (Lubeck, Germany)
Price: 1.95 Euro (about $2.50)
Size: 3.5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 143
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Christmas, Niederegger, Chocolate, Nuts, 8-Tasty, Germany


Name: Peppermint Bark with Milk Chocolate & with Dark Chocolate
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Ghiradelli
Place Purchased: Target
Price: $2.00
Size: 3.0 ounces
Calories per ounce: 153
Categories: Candy, Christmas, Ghirardelli, Chocolate, Cookie, Limited Edition, Mints, White Chocolate, 7-Worth It, United States, Target


Name: Weihnachts-Knusper
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Hachez Chocolade
Place Purchased: Hachez factory store (Bremen, Germany)
Price: 1.90 Euros ($2.89)
Size: 3.5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 161
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Christmas, Hachez, Chocolate, Nuts, 8-Tasty, Germany

POSTED BY Cybele AT 12:49 pm Tracker Pixel for Entry     All NaturalCandyReviewChristmasGhirardelliHachezHershey'sNiedereggerChocolateCookieKosherLimited EditionMintsNutsWhite Chocolate5-Pleasant7-Worth It8-TastyGermanyUnited StatesTarget

Comments
  1. Ritter Sport makes a Marzipan Dark Chocolate bar very similar to the one you reviewed here.  I wasn’t sure I would like it, but oh my, is it fabulous!  A few squares takes care of a sweet craving for me.  The sweet marzipan with the slightly bitter chocolate is the perfect marriage.

    Comment by Erika on 12/22/11 at 6:52 pm #
  2. I miss Hershey’s “Golden III” bar - it had toasted coconut and toffee chips in it (can’t remember if it had almonds too….). It was so yummy! Was in the same family as the Golden Almond.

    Comment by Kate on 12/28/11 at 12:32 pm #

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