Thursday, February 26, 2009
Malley’s Chocolates is a Northeast Ohio favorite. They started in 1935 and currently produce their candy locally in Brookpark and distribute to 17 of their stores, plus many other shops that carry their products. In addition, they make a variety of bars that are sold by groups & schools for fundraising. Not as well known as the World’s Finest line, these bars have an additional local flair to them.
Last October I visited the factory with my mother while we were in the Cleveland area. There is a tour, which amounts to walking up and down a hallway with huge plate glass windows that show the factory in action along with little displays about the history of chocolate and the company. While it is unguided, the factory workers are quite aware that there are people watching and even made a few little signs and held them up to tell us what was being made on each line.
The factory has several enrobing lines, production lines, kettles, mixers and even sorts & roasts their own nuts. That is coupled with their packaging & assembly. It’s all free to watch, so if you’re in the area, especially on a rainy day, it’s a fun diversion especially with kids.
The store features the entire array of their production from the fine boxed chocolates, their marshmallow favorites, foil wrapped novelties, chocolate dipped pretzels & cookies (called Malley Ohs!), nut & caramel clusters (Billy Bobs), Buckeyes (peanut butter balls covered in chocolate), mint meltaways and their line of candy bars. The general prices of their candy is $16 to $30 per pound for their fine chocolates and $10 to $15 per pound for their enrobed snacks.
I bought a box of chocolates for myself & to share with family while I was traveling, but brought home an array of their chocolate candy bars for review. (Though, sadly, they don’t sell them on their website.)
The wrappers are bold and actually pretty thick. They’re mostly an advertisement on the back for their fundraising programs. The company’s colors are mint green and pink, which features heavily in their packaging.
The bars are big, 2.25 ounces each and only $1.00 each, so it’s a great value for a quality product. The chocolate is real (and may be Guittard, I saw some Guittard boxes on the factory floor and no other company’s chocolate there, but some companies use from multiple suppliers). The ingredients are pretty straight forward, their chocolate is made sugar, milk, cocoa butter, chocolate liquor, soy lecithin & vanillin. Their dark chocolate is similar and does use milkfat in it.
I picked up their Milk Chocolate Crunch Bar (crisped rice), Peanut Butter Cups, Milk Chocolate Pretzel Crunch Bar and Dark Chocolate Pretzel Crunch Bar.
Once I opened the package it became clear why. Inside is a tray to protect the little cups. Instead of the fluted paper lining this tray is the mold for the cups.
They’re only 1.5” across and a half an ounce each.
They may be small, but they are darn cute and practically flawless.
Since I saw for myself that Malley’s roasts their own nuts fresh, I can only guess that they make the peanut butter for this cup themselves. It’s nothing like a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.
The center is so smooth it feels like it’s whipped. It’s not just peanuts though, it has a (un)healthy tippling of additional oils in it like palm kernel and rapeseed, more peanut oil and some non fat dry milk, sugar and the requisite salt.
The chocolate cup is also silky smooth, a little sweet and sticky but it has a good chocolatey punch to balance with the roasted flavor of the peanut butter. The peanuts have a slightly bitter toasted flavor to them.
The presentation of them is really appealing and even though I bought these in October and ate them in February, they were absolutely fresh tasting.
Rating: 8 out of 10
My main interest in Malley’s, truth be told, was that I heard they made a line of pretzel bars. I love a chocolate covered pretzel and have been lamenting that Hershey’s has cheapened their once-stellar Take 5. I was so sure I’d love theirs that I picked up two of each of their pretzel bars.
The bar is long with four segments alternating with a molding of the Malley’s logo and “Quality since 1935” then some little pinstripes. Each little block segment is about a half an ounce, a nice little portion.
With a bar with inclusions, thickness is important so that the chocolate and crunchies can mingle properly.
The milk chocolate is wonderfully sweet and smooth, there’s a dairy component to it, but it’s not too strong. There are lots of little salted pretzel bits that provide a light crunch and slight malty/cereal flavor.
It’s a really satisfying combination. Nothing fancy about it, just good old fashioned comfort.
Rating: 8 out of 10
The Malleys Dark Chocolate Pretzel Crunch has a reversed package design featuring the mint green with pink and brown accents. If I wasn’t looking for the bar, I probably would have mistaken it for a mint product.
This bar is much bumpier on the bottom, which pleased me, since that indicated lots of pretzels.
It smells like cocoa, on the sugary side.
The shiny tempering means that it has a satisfying snap to it, which goes really well with the crispy and light pretzel bits. The chocolate is semi-sweet, not deep or complex. It’s like eating pudding with pretzels. A little bitter bite to it, but for the most part it’s typical mass-produced dark.
Rating: 8 out of 10
The final bar (but didn’t photograph for some strange reason) is the Chocolate Crunch Bar which is milk chocolate with crisped rice.
By the time I got to this bar, I realized that I really liked the milk chocolate that Malley’s uses. Sure it’s sweet and sure it lacks some of the complexity that fine artisan milk chocolates can have. But it’s addictively eatable.
The thick bar has loads of big crisped rice. Crisped rice is great, it’s like nature’s malted milk balls. This bar had the perfect ratio of crisps and chocolate. Still a bit sweeter than I’d like but for the price I don’t think you can find a better chocolate and crisped rice bar.
Rating: 9 out of 10
If a kid comes knocking on your door to do a little fundraising, you might think you’re doing them a favor by supporting their cause, but you really can’t go wrong for a buck with this purchase.
POSTED BY Cybele AT 12:02 pm
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.