Friday, February 17, 2012

Double Dutch Sweets: The Ramona Bar

Double Dutch Sweets - The Ramona BarThere are chocolate candy bars and fine chocolates and then there’s something in between ... it’s the artisan candy bar.

Double Dutch Sweets in Oakland, California makes an artisan confection called The Ramona Bar. Think of it as a Snickers made by hand.

The bar is set apart from other mass-manufactured fare at first glance. It’s wrapped by hand in foil with a lively printed sleeve that gives the simple description: layers of buttery caramel and honey nougat with roasted peanuts dipped in dark chocolate and finished with sea salt.

Double Dutch Sweets - The Ramona Bar

The tall and beefy bar is quite a portion for an artisan product. It’s 1.8 ounces packed into barely 3.5 inches.

The ingredients are mostly organic and all natural. The construction of the bar will seem familiar. A nougat base studded with peanuts, topped with a generous layer of caramel, then coated in Venezuelan origin dark chocolate with a sprinkling of maldon sea salt.

Double Dutch Sweets - The Ramona Bar

A Snickers bar is 2.07 ounces, so just a little larger and features a milk chocolate coating. There are so many other differences though, it’s hard to even compare the bars. The Ramona Bar has a similar bite, it’s thick and has a mix of textures. There are far fewer peanuts in the Ramona than a Snickers, and the nougat tastes more like a plain nougat while a Snickers has a peanut flavor to its nougat.

Double Dutch Sweets - The Ramona Bar

The caramel was really the star here; for me it was the ideal texture - chewy, stringy, smooth and with a dark toasted flavor and notes of salt. The addition of the salt on top of the chocolate though was sometimes just a little too much. The nougat was not as good for me. It was less of a French style nougat or Italian torrone, which has a mostly smooth texture, kind of like a dense marshmallow. This was more like the fluffed stuff of Snickers or Milky Way fame. It was like a fluffy fondant. It did have a less-grainy texture that was almost cool on the tongue as it dissolved. The textures worked well together, just as they do in a Snickers, but I was missing a flavor component from the nougat and the strength of lots of peanuts. (Or Almonds, if they wanted to go that way.)

The bars cost $6.00, which is about a little more than $53 a pound. (A Snickers bar, at $1 a bar would be about $16 a pound.) Is it six times better? Well, I feel better because the ingredients are great and someone really cared about the bar and it’s made with Venezuelan chocolate, so I wouldn’t be worrying about child slavery. But it’s not my perfect candy bar. For $6, I want my perfect candy bar. For $1, I can accept less than perfect. But it might be your perfect candy bar, and you might not know until you try. (I’m still happy to try all other bars that Double Dutch Sweets comes up with.)

The bars are gluten free.

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Name: Ramona Bar
Brand: Double Dutch Sweets
Place Purchased: samples from Fancy Food Show
Price: $6.00
Size: 1.8 ounces
Calories per ounce:
Categories: All Natural, Bay Area, Candy, Caramel, Chocolate, Nougat, Organic, Peanuts, 7-Worth It, United States

POSTED BY Cybele AT 3:02 pm Tracker Pixel for Entry     All NaturalBay AreaCandyReviewCaramelChocolateNougatOrganicPeanuts7-Worth ItUnited States

  1. Thanks for shining a probing light on another fascinating small-brand candy.  It’s refreshing to read an honest and sometimes critical take on something mainstream food sites might deem “artisanal, expensive, therefore, infallible” ... and approve with a rubber stamp of pretense.  It’s also nice to see that a common candy like a Snickers can hold its own against something priced at least 6x its cost.

    Don’t get me wrong; it’s a positive write-up, and it made me wish we had more local sources for these regional and low volume candies in the panhandle.  That caramel seems worthy of a $6 gamble.

    I did notice this:

    “A Snickers bar, at $1 a bar would be about $16 a pound.”

    I’ve been seeing the “Slice and Share” 16 oz bar for $9.99 locally, and that was before Valentine’s Day, when they were still being offered as a holiday novelty.  They might even be on closeout now… just saying grin

    Comment by Tim on 2/17/12 at 5:37 pm #
  2. Wow- at the beginning of the review it looked so promising and interesting…then fizzled. Also, that price? No way jose!

    Comment by Amanda on 2/18/12 at 7:47 pm #
  3. Somebody wake me up when confectioners’ obsession with dark chocolate is over, please. (And no, “dark milk” doesn’t count.)

    Comment by Alix on 2/20/12 at 10:33 am #
  4. Alix, totally agree about the “dark” chocolate fixation.  It’s become the yuppie BMW of the candy world.  It doesn’t automatically improve every candy by addition, but it’s become obligatory.  Anything milky on a $6 candy bar might seem… gauche.

    But I don’t think the dark obsession is just in the confectioners’ minds.  It does seem that part of it is current consumer trends/tastes… give it time.

    It sounds like the problem with this bar was failure to execute the concept as well as a similar and far cheaper product (e.g, Snickers).

    Comment by Tim on 2/20/12 at 7:29 pm #
  5. I was drooling over the pics you posted for this Ramona Bar…thinking you got it on a trip to Holland. When I realized it came from Oakland, my heart started beating fast. I am going to go over there this weekend and try to find this beautiful piece of candy.
    Love your site.

    Comment by Freesia on 2/22/12 at 9:19 am #
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